Tag Archives: DSTT

Catching up (a little)

While I’ve been focused on learning to fold an umbrella stroller with a baby on my chest, a bag on my shoulder, and a two-year old in my grasp (more on that in a future post), the transit world has continued to turn–sometimes around unpleasant corners.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the video of the tunnel beating, but I’ve been paying attention to the discussion. It feels very close to home and very threatening, both because the victim turned out to be the cousin of a family friend, and because it happened on the heels of the assault I recently witnessed on the 4. I’ve never felt that the tunnel was particularly safe,* but that was mostly because of the stairwells and other areas where it would be easy to corner someone. I certainly didn’t think that a major assault could happen on the platform, in front of several witnesses.** Then again, that’s what I said last month.

On a happier note, Clarence from Streetfilms paid a visit to our fair city earlier this month. He came to check out Link and has posted some cool videos from his trip (including one of him biking with Mayor MCGinn) on the Streetfilms site.

More catching up to come.

UPDATE, 3/4: The Link video’s up.

* For me, stops and stations have always felt much less safe than buses–for a variety of reasons.

In this case, they were witnesses who were paid to prevent such an assault from happening–or so we thought. Now, of course, there’s an outcry about the quality of tunnel security and transit security in general. (We’ll see what happens with the new contractor.) Lord knows I want buses to be safe (and how!) but as far as I know, no one’s offering up additional sources of funding.

Trains in the tunnel!

Starting today, light rail will be running in the bus tunnel–to test the system before Link starts operating in July. From Sound Transit:

Here are some things to know about tunnel operations during the next two months:

• Buses will continue to stop in the same locations at each of the five tunnel stations. Customers will board the bus at the same bays;
• Light rail trains will not carry any passengers until July 18, but will be stopping at mid platform to simulate boarding during the weeks leading up to the launch. Initially trains will be arriving every 10 minutes in each direction at every tunnel station except Convention Place;
• Buses and trains traveling in the same direction will be controlled by a signal system that is designed to keep a safe distance between the vehicles;
• There could be some slight delays in bus service, as bus and rail staff become more familiar with using the new systems in real time;
• Basic tunnel safety is still important. Never cross the tunnel roadway. On the platform, stand behind the yellow safety strip. Be careful of gaps between the platform and vehicles when boarding and exiting buses. If there is an emergency, which requires exiting the tunnel, use the stairways located in each station. Do not use the elevators or escalators, because they will be shut down in an emergency; and
Starting Saturday, May 30, the DSTT [Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, that is] will be open from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays and Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to midnight on Sunday for all current tunnel bus routes. When the DSTT is closed, tunnel bus routes will operate on Second, Third, Fourth or Fifth avenues in downtown Seattle.

I won’t be at the press conference this morning, and I’m thinking I should probably avoid the tunnel altogether between now and July 18th. I might just lose my mind and actually try to board one of those trains.

Bus tunnel’s back in business

Yesterday, I hit up the tunnel reopening celebration at Westlake Park.

The first person I ran into was Josh, an old acquaintance from my college days who now works for the city. He was there representing the S.L.U.T.

Josh, SLU trolley representative

Which reminds me: We haven’t had a discussion about this controversial transportation project yet. I’d be happy to entertain opinions now, if anyone’s interested. But I digress.

Next, I ran into my favorite transit planner, Jack, who was, per usual, ready with answers to all my “which route will take me…?” questions. He also had a Metro hat with the cool, new county logo. How can I be down, Jack?

Jack, a super-smart transit planner

Inside the tunnel was cool, too.

Bus tunnel: mural at Westlake stop
Inside the bus tunnel

The light rail signs were getting me hype.

Bus tunnel: light rail sign

Here’s one of the warnings about the mirrors:

Bus tunnel mirror warning
Danger Alert: Low Bus Mirrors

To be real, though: Despite the cool murals and shiny, clean floors, I have to say, I find the bus tunnel a bit boring. I still don’t understand why Metro and Sound Transit don’t rent out commercial space in there (and, for that matter, at other major stops and transit centers). As a bus rider, I’d love to spend my wait (and, on occasion, my money) at a bus-stop-adjacent newsstand or sandwich shop. Even a convenience store (forgot to buy toilet paper? in need of some Excedrin?) would do.

But even more important than my personal comfort and convenience is the prospect of our transit agencies earning lots of revenue from rents. Maybe then the 27 could run more often and the 194 could run later. OK, so we’re back to my personal comfort and convenience, but hey–a bus chick can dream.

Transportation safety, part III

Real Change editor Adam Hyla has an interesting article about the bus tunnel in this week’s issue. Apparently, some drivers are concerned that the light-rail-focused engineering adjustments are not ideal for buses.

The problems can be summed up by a measurement: 14 inches, the height from the light rail tracks embedded in the road to each station’s platform. That height makes for a nearly even transition between the floor of the trains (which don’t arrive until 2009) and the station platform.

But Metro’s diesel-electric hybrid buses ride lower than the trains. So, to make bus floors approximately the same height as the platform, Metro poured a four-inch-high concrete bank sloping up the road bed to the curb. As they approach their stops, bus drivers must negotiate this bank, steering their right wheels up it sidelong and onto a lip. Their 60-foot coaches need to come within six inches of the curb.


The 14-inch platform height also means that the buses’ right-hand mirrors sit at a height of about five and half feet — extending over the passenger area — within striking distance of any unsuspecting commuter.

The likelihood of a person getting hit by a bus mirror seems pretty slight (especially given the precautionary measures that Metro GM Kevin Desmond discusses in the article), but the concrete bank is an issue worth keeping an eye on. Those of you who ride bus-tunnel routes regularly: Keep me posted!

9/24: a big day for transit

I’ve already mentioned two of the transit-related happenings that are scheduled for the 24th: the reopening of the downtown bus tunnel and the first day of operations for Microsoft’s Connector bus service. Now, we have another cool development to look forward to: new trains!

Today Sound Transit announced expanded Sounder commuter rail service starting September 24th that includes two new weekday round trips on the south corridor and one on the north corridor. The new south corridor trains include the introduction of a new “reverse commute” train that will run from Seattle to Tacoma in the morning and return northbound in the evening.

The reverse commute train will for the first time enable commuters to ride Sounder to jobs in South King County and Pierce County. The additional runs expand Sounder service hours in both the north and south corridors, with the first train starting at 5 a.m. and the last train making its final stop at 6:55 p.m.

Fabulous. No disrespect to the 590, but I’ve always wanted to take the Sounder to Tacoma. (Hey, where were you guys when the Frida Kahlo exhibit was at the Tacoma Art Museum?) Even better, folks who actually have to commute south can ride.

Not to bring up wraps again, but:

To celebrate and promote the brand new reverse commute route Sound Transit unveiled a special locomotive wrapped in a vintage design dubbed the “City of Destiny train,” a moniker chosen to honor Tacoma’s motto of more than 100 years.

This is fitting, considering that the motto resulted from Tacoma’s selection (over Seattle) as the terminus of the Northern Pacific railroad.

I had to work today, so I couldn’t attend the unveiling, but Sound Transit Andrew was kind enough to send me pictures:

New Sounder train (from the side)
New Sounder train

What’s not to like about a train with a picture of the Mountain on the side?