Why Sound Transit is not rolling out more 3-car light rail trains

Southbound trips

Northbound tripsSound Transit may consider it an encouraging problem to have that the chief complaint among riders of its recently expanded light rail system is that trains are sometimes overcrowded. During last week’s Sound Transit board meeting, members asked transit officials to respond to public demand for more capacity and explain why more three-car trains are not running on the mostly two-car system.

It turns out that even with the huge boost in ridership since the Capitol Hill and UW stations opened in March, Link light rail is still well within its capacity on most trips.

“We cannot guarantee that everyone will have a seat during peak hours, nor was that how the system was designed or funded,” said David Huffaker, Sound Transit’s deputy executive director of operations. Continue reading

Commuters take their first spin through Capitol Hill Station

IMG_4946Amarinthia Torres was watching a stopwatch on her phone while she waited to board a train at Capitol Hill Station Monday morning. 35 minutes door-to-door was the time to beat to get to her office at a Columbia City nonprofit. That’s how long her typical commute takes by riding the 9 bus from her Capitol Hill apartment.

Even if the light rail took a little longer with added walking times, Torres said she expected riding the new U-Link Light Rail line would replace her usual commute. “I’m hoping it will be less stressful,” she said.

Many riders at Capitol Hill Station had similar thoughts Monday morning during U-Link’s first weekday morning commute. Capitol Hill Station opened Saturday with a slice of a giant pair of scissors and a few booms of confetti. While Sound Transit’s new 3.1-mile U-Link extension from downtown to UW via Broadway will expand tourism and nightlife opportunities, the train’s success will ultimately depend on appealing to daily commuters.

U-Link’s first Monday morning appeared to go off without a hitch as riders tried out new morning routines in hopes of shaving some time and hassle off their commutes. Some riders were confused to see out-of-service trains come through the station as the peak schedule wound down around 8:30 AM. Those trains will resume running at 3:00 PM for the afternoon peak. The real-time arrival signs remained accurate for tracking the next rideable train. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s next stop: Transportation Choices shows sneak peek of UW Station

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choice

More teaser pics from UW Station and an update on the transportation happenings in Olympia here from Transportation Choices

Last Tuesday, we told you the Big Red Wall around the future Capitol Hill Station was beginning to come down in preparation for U-Link’s expected 8% under budget, six or so months early depending on who’s counting, early 2016 (March?) start of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Capitol Hill.

Pfew! That’s exciting!

So, how about a look at the other end of the equation! Here’s a peek inside your northern light rail destination adjacent Husky Stadium, courtesy Transportation Choices:

TCC got an inside look at both stations today, and here are some pictures of the highlights of the gorgeous UW Station (Capitol Hill station pictures are embargoed but we assure you, it looks great!).

We’re only a little envious of you, TCC, and your embargoed pics of the Broadway light rail station. At least we know what Capitol Hill Station art will look like integrating works by Capitol Hill artist Ellen Forney and a massive “Jet Kiss” sculpture by artist Mike Ross. And, of course, we did get to do this: