Tag Archives: Link

Upcoming events for transit types

MEHVA Santa’s Lights Tour
What: Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association‘s annual, vintage-bus tour of “Seattle’s best holiday lights.”
When: Saturday, December 12th, 7 PM – 10 PM
Where: Buses depart from–and return to–2nd & Main.
How much: $5 (Children under 5 are free.)

First Hill Streetcar Community Open Houses
What: The First Hill Streetcar (which we Puget Sound voters approved as part of ST2) is now scheduled to break ground in 2011. The open houses will present the streetcar’s “alignment options” and provide an opportunity for public feedback.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
6 PM – 8 PM
Seattle Central Community College
101 Broadway

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
6 PM – 8 PM
Yesler Community Center
917 E. Yesler Way

Thursday, December 17, 2009
6 PM — 8 PM
Union Station
401 S. Jackson

How much: Free, of course

Link’s Seatac Station opening
What: Light rail service to the airport begins.
When: Saturday, December 19th, 10 AM
Where: Seatac Airport, my holiday-traveling friends
How much: Train fare

Merry Christmas, Seattle

Link’s Airport Station will open on December 19th.

Passenger service at Sea Tac / Airport Station begins at 10 a.m. on Dec. 19th. Normal Link operating hours are from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. Sea Tac / Airport Station connects to the airport garage via a pedestrian walkway. Airport passengers will follow a separated guideway through the garage to the main terminal. Luggage carts will be available at the station.

See you on the train!

27 + Link = Seahawks!

Despite the fact that my Sonics are long gone, Nerd and I were still able to witness a Detroit/Seattle matchup this weekend. I am, of course, happy the Hawks won (What about them Seeeeeahawks?!), though sad for my beloved that his team lost. Then again, given the mood of the Hawks fans in the first quarter (and Nerd’s prominently displayed Lions gear), it’s probably best that things turned out as they did. I digress.

Is it just me, or is Link’s Stadium Station not the best stop to use to get to Seahawks Stadium? Of course we loved having an excuse to ride Link, but, given the amount of walking (backtracking north, that is) we had to do, it would probably have made more sense for us to get off at the ID station–or just to have walked the entire way from Pioneer Square.

Regular Seahawk/Sounder Link riders, what say you?

A whole new world

There was lots of shakeup talk on the buses today: rider-to-rider chatter, cell phone conversations, bus-wide discussions, and endless questions for drivers.

The new 48
Metro’s less-heavy weight

I have to say, as much as I loathe change (and as much as I will surely miss hopping the 48 for all my southbound needs), the New Bus Order actually seems to be working in my favor. Some examples of the goodness:

The 8 now runs in my neighborhood on weekends. Folks, I have been dreaming of this day for most of my car-free life (six-and-a-half years and counting), and I cannot believe it’s actually happened. Capitol Hill (specifically, the north end of 15th Ave) will be seeing at lot more of me on Saturday afternoons.
• The 27 now connects with the 17 instead of the 25. I love this for several reasons, the most important of which is that my brother Jeremy recently moved to Ballard, and Metro now provides what amounts to a door-to-door ride from my place to his. (Much beloved) brother aside, I have a lot more reasons to go to Ballard than I do to go to Laurelhurst.* And honestly, the connection just seems to make more sense. While the 27/17 combo eliminates an already necessary transfer between the Central District and Ballard, the 27/25 combo is slower and less direct than the two-bus options (48+75 and 48+30) between the CD and Laurelhurst.**
• Now that the 14 stops at Mount Baker Station, I have four ways to connect with Link: 27 to DSTT, 4 to DSTT, 48 to Mount Baker Station, and 14 to Mount Baker Station. I don’t go to the airport all that often, but when I do, I’ll have more control of when I come and go.

I’m sure I’ll discover more things to like (and not) as I ride more.

Your turn. How have Metro’s latest changes affected you?

* No offense to all my former school buddies who lived there back in the day–I do miss our excursions to the Mr. Peepers-era U Village–or to the very alt-commute friendly Children’s Hospital.
** Really, though, there’s no fast way to get from where I live to Laurelhurst, despite the fact that it’s not all that far.

9/19: Putting the “shake” back in shake-up (or, RIP, 42)

Big (big!) bus changes take effect tomorrow. It’s a rather odd mix of light rail-related service reductions and tweaks (48 no longer runs south of McClellan*; south end of the 8 route operates on weekends (!); 14, 48, and other south-end routes now stop at the Mount Baker light rail station) and Transit Now implementations (2 and 13 have added a few daily trips).

You can find the details here.

Service changes start Saturday
Two friendly Metro types spreading the word about the changes at 3rd & Union

I am still confused about one thing: The page that lists the changes doesn’t include the 194. Does that mean it will continue to operate to the airport until the Link line is completed? I’m definitely not complaining (though, to be fair, we tried the Tukwlila Station shuttle–with Chicklet and luggage–and it was pretty painless)–just wondering.

*Guess I’ll be riding Link a little more than I originally planned. Of course, the 8 also runs south now and also stops right in front of my house; I’ll have to see what the new route is like.

Link: Our first “real” ride

On Saturday evening, I finally caved to Nerd’s nagging to ride Link again, and we decided to head down to Columbia City for something to eat. It was our first time riding for real–as in, not on a opening/celebration day–and I am happy to report that (despite the rumors I’ve heard about empty trains) we had tons of company on our ride. If anything, we had too much company; we had to stand for the first several stops.

We also hit our share of new-travel-mode snags. For example:

• Payment was confusing. When we got to Pioneer Square station, we first thought we had to use our Orca cards in the ticket machines upstairs. We struggled to figure out what to do until a nice ST employee (who was servicing one of the machines), told us that we didn’t need tickets. We only needed to swipe our cards on the card-reading machines–once before boarding and once after debarking–inside the stations. He also warned us that if we forgot to swipe on the way out, our cards would be charged $2.50, which is the cost of the most expensive ride.

Soon after we boarded the train, the ST fare police came aboard and asked us to demonstrate proof of payment. Everyone in our car held up their tickets; we held up our Orca cards. It’s not clear how the guy knew we actually swiped them, and it’s really not clear how this proof of payment system will work as more and more riders get Orca cards. Maybe I’m missing something?

• The train had “technical difficulties.” Midway through the climb to the Beacon Hill Station, our train stopped at a little booth-type thingie, and two official-looking men with orange vests got on. They stomped their way through the train for about five minutes (without explanation), then left. The train continued to Beacon Hill Station, at which point the driver came out of his booth and kicked us all off with a short, barely intelligible explanation. One of the other passengers told me that the bells were not working, so that train could not be driven with passengers.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for the next train (after all the drama, ours was only a minute or so ahead of the one behind it), and the rest of our trip went smoothly–except, that is, for all the stops at lights.

We decided to skip the train ride home and instead opted for the trusty (ahem) 48. The ride was without incident, except that when I swiped my Orca–a little over an hour after paying my fare on Link–I was charged the full $1.75 fare. Guess the “transferrable fares” part isn’t up and running quite yet.

One Link photo I didn’t post

Chick and Chicklet at Othello Station

No, I haven’t been hitting Three Girls too hard this summer–well, not any harder than usual, anyway. I decided, since I had so much fun (ahem) busing while pregnant in ’07, I’d give it another whirl.

Yes, folks, Bus Nerd and I are expecting another little one early next year–January, to be exact–and facing what will surely be the greatest test of our car-free life thus far: busing with two babies.

Link opening, part II (or, Less talk, more pictures)

Disclaimer: As y’all already know, I’m no photographer, so I apologize in advance for any visual offense I might cause. Any halfway decent photos in this post were probably taken by Bus Nerd. On to the trains:

On Friday afternoon, I took a preview ride from Westlake Station to Tukwila Station and back. It was a good overview of the entire line.

Stadium Station
Stadium Station
SoDo art
SoDo art
View of the city
View on the climb to Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill Station
Beacon Hill Station
View of Franklin HS
View of Franklin from Mount Baker Station
Train vs. bus
Racing the 194
Train vs. bus, part II
Gaining ground
Tukwila Station
End of the line

On Friday evening, Bus Nerd and I attended Tuxes and Trains, a black tie train celebration/fundraiser for Transportation Choices Coalition in Union Station’s Great Hall. We had a blast. Did I mention that Union Station is air conditioned?

Bus Nerd all gussied up
My handsome date
Commemorative root beer
A commemorative root beer from the event

On Saturday, Link’s official opening day, Nerd, Chicklet, and I rode the rails as a family.

Chick and Chicklet on the train
Chick and Chicklet on the train
Othello Station
First Stop: Othello Station
Chicklet waiting
Chicklet, digging the toddler-safe seats
Othello Street Fair
Othello Street Fair

Transportation Choices had a booth at the fair, and they were giving away “day one” stickers and other fun swag. They also had cool “travel light” t-shirts for sale. I bought one and then left it at the booth, so I don’t have a photo.

Taco bus
Taco “truck” (ahem) at Othello Street Fair
Satisfied customers
Two satisfied customers

Next: Back north to Columbia City

Chicklet in stickers
A sticker lover’s dream
Link cookies
Link cookies (!) at Columbia City Bakery
Meal discount for rail riders
As they (OK, I) say: Ridership has its privileges

Link opening: a recap (or, Bus Chick rides the train)

I haven’t been posting moment-to-moment updates on the light rail opening–in part because STB has you more than covered in this area, and in part because my life has (yet again) been getting in the way of my blog. (More on that in a future post.) If I’m honest, I’ll also admit to some residual negative emotions related to the way the line was implemented in the Rainier Valley, which, though they have not prevented me from vocally advocating for light rail in Seattle–and for this particular line–have tempered my giddiness somewhat. I digress.

So far, I’ve ridden Link twice: once, on a Friday afternoon preview ride* from Westlake Station all the way to the end of the line in Tukwila, and once (actually, more than once) up and down the in-city part of the route on opening day. Folks, I was excited to ride the train–so excited that I sat through an hour and a half of self-congratulatory speeches just so I could participate in the preview ride Friday–but I could not possibly have anticipated how amazing it would feel to actually ride it. It was so ridiculously cool to zoom through my beloved city on a train (a train!) and imagine what it will be like when future lines are built. My daughter, who, at 20 months, has already decided that Seattle is not a train town (Bus Chick: “We’re going to ride the train today.” Chicklet: “In Vancouver!”), will have to be disabused of that notion.

The preview ride was nice. I was able to experience the line from beginning to end: the tunnels, the views, and all of the stations. (Pictures to come later this evening.) Riding on Saturday will go down as one of the highlights of my life. Zipping from one station to another–stopping to get a bite or play at a park or cool off at a library–without ever once checking a schedule was absolutely liberating. If it hadn’t been for Chicklet, Nerd and I would have ridden all day.

The trains were cool (which reminds me: it’s about time to chat about buses and AC), comfortable (even standing is better on Link), and clean (which doesn’t mean much when a system is brand, spanking new, but still). A very nice voice** and LCD sign kept me apprised of where I was, so I could concentrate on managing Chicklet, calming down Bus Nerd (as you can imagine, he gets a bit excited about trains), and keeping my eyes peeled for an open seat.

Now that I’m finished gushing (see? my giddiness hasn’t been tempered that much), I’ll move on to the stuff that’s less than ideal:

• I’ve heard all the reasons why the section that runs through the Rainier Valley is surface, and I still don’t like it. Four lanes of traffic plus a train makes MLK way too wide, and crossing that street is nothing short of an ordeal. If you’re lucky, you’ll make it across before the light changes. If not, you’ll be stuck waiting again (sans barrier), right next to the tracks. If the goal of all the street improvements that accompanied the track was to make Rainier Valley’s neighborhoods walkable, it hasn’t been achieved.
• The Columbia City stop is a really long walk from the main business district.
• There is no stop at Southcenter.*** This would make the line about a bazillion times more useful, for folks who need to get to jobs and for car-free types like me who need to get to a mall from time to time. I don’t know the details, but my understanding is that this was blocked by the City of Tukwila. I cannot imagine why.
• I’m still not sure about how the payment stuff works. I get that I can use an Orca e-purse or pass. What I don’t understand is how much I’ll pay if I transfer from Metro to Link or vice versa.

Final verdict: Except for the occasional airport run or sporting event, I won’t be using light rail much. It doesn’t come to my neighborhood, and when I go to Columbia City or Rainier Beach, it’s a lot easier for me to catch the 48 right in front of my house than it is for me to go downtown and get on a train. This is unfortunate, since my little two-day taste has me dreaming of daily rides.

What’s more important than my direct benefit, though, is Link’s long-term impact on our region, which I truly believe will be phenomenal. I am so grateful that we’re finally on our way.


*The preview ride was for VIPs. I was included as a member of the press. (Thankfully, ST defines the term quite loosely.)
**I was a little jarred, though, when I heard the exit instructions. The voice says, “Exit to my left/right.” Is the idea for us to believe that the train is talking to us?
***Yes, I am aware that this issue (and the one about surface rail in the Valley) has been covered ad nauseam, but hey. The way I see it, there’s a reason for this.