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Here’s what Sound Transit says about hottest June 12th in Seattle history light rail service problems

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The arrival of light rail service on Capitol Hill has, indeed, been like magic that puts Broadway within minutes of every stop on the line. But this week has been a rough one for Sound Transit service with a major disruption Wednesday and a series of smaller snafus that followed Thursday.

Sound Transit says don’t give up on the magic of Capitol Hill Station just yet — the week’s problems have been a coincidence of bad luck and a few holes in the system that are being actively — if not a little slowly — patched. With more hot days in Seattle to come, here is what Sound Transit says happened.

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Wednesday’s huge delays were especially unlucky. On the hottest June 12th in Seattle history, some pieces of infrastructure gave in:

… a piece of equipment that keeps the tension in our overhead wires between the Mt. Baker and Columbia City Stations expanded due to the heat. That led to the wire sagging, which in turn led to two of our trains becoming disabled. For several hours, we had to single-track trains through the area, slowing service while we identified and fixed the issue.

By afternoon, a bad day for transit got worse due to what ST says was an unrelated “outage” in the train operating system:

About an hour later, the entire Link system came to a halt when our train operating system suffered an unexpected outage. This issue was unrelated to the previous one, but it compounded the difficult commute. For about 35 minutes, no trains were able to run. Making matters even worse, the outage affected our platform signage and public address system, which meant that we couldn’t effectively inform passengers on the platforms of what was happening. We did send rider alerts and tweet updates (sign up at this link.)

Thursday, many riders worried that the system was again headed for problems as delays rippled through the system after what a spokesperson says was a train breakdown in Pioneer Square.

“We identified the issue that caused that failure and took the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” the spokesperson says of Wednesday’s major outage.

As for the platform signage and public address system failure, many riders mistook those problems as business as usual for the system’s troubled arrival screens. In spring of 2018, we reported on Sound Transit’s start of a multi-year project to make the display signs at Capitol Hill Station and across the rest of the system work.

The full-system replacement won’t be ready until 2023, the Sound Transit representative said but they “hope to have some improvements to the current system in the near future.”

Capitol Hill Station marked it third birthday this March. Its present? Converted stair access to provide an alternative when the station’s frequently busted escalators are out of commission.

Meanwhile, the other smaller but louder rider complaint from the week when the on-board announcement system was utilized? Sound Transit says its sometimes crazy loud announcement volumes on the trains is a “known issue.”

Light rail from Capitol Hill with all these problems and nuisances? That remains magic.

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8 thoughts on “Here’s what Sound Transit says about hottest June 12th in Seattle history light rail service problems

  1. This is why Metro should have kept the express #194 between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. I shudder at how many folks might have missed their flights due to these incidents.

  2. ..Another great example of when CHS is the only publication talking about something. (Sound Transit didn’t even have anyone on their media sites posting about this until after it had been resolved.)

  3. Escalators and elevators constantly down in every other station for weeks at a time. Communications related to service interruptions is completely lame. And unintelligible. It’s as if they’re surprised at the volume of people depending on all of the above.

  4. I wish there could have been some communication between ST and Metro that would have allowed bus drivers to warn their passengers about Link service delays. I got off a bus in the U district to take Link on Wednesday when I would’ve been better off staying on the bus. (Yeah, I know I could probably have found some kind of service advisory on my phone but that’s not something I’m in the habit of routinely checking for.)

  5. what got me during the outage is that all those people were sitting on the train waiting for whatever and nobody told anyone what was going on. the security guard at the capitol hill station was on his cell phone talking to someone but not telling anyone on the train anything. another excuse……….

  6. I was at the international district station on Wednesday night when this was happening I asked a sound transit security what the issue was his reply “no clue!”. It’s very disappointing they can’t get their shit together.

  7. So, they started the display sign project last year, 2018. Its due to be finished in… 2023? It takes 5 years to get accurate times on 5 or 6 monitors? Well, I can’t wait to see these new signs, they must be incredible.