News, Transportation

Light Rail to Run Only One Car on Nights, Weekends Beginning Oct. 2

train1Seattle Times (RVP news partner):

To save money, Sound Transit plans to shorten its light-rail trains to only one car during nights and weekends, starting Oct. 2.

The change is expected to reduce maintenance costs by about $460,000 a year, or 1 percent of the $46 million operating budget for the 16-mile Link line.

A single rail car will run after 7:30 p.m. weeknights and all weekend, unless a ballgame or other event requires more capacity, said spokeswoman Kimberly Reason. Read more.

Photo/do communications

16 comments on “Light Rail to Run Only One Car on Nights, Weekends Beginning Oct. 2

  1. I still have not ridden the train yet, almost did a couple of times to the Sounders games but I always find a reason not to (safety, economics, and convenience) I figure if you drive you can get there early, pay $15.00 – $20.00 for parking, split a six pack with your friend before the game and you don’t have to pay $33.00 for 2 beers a piece inside. Plus I would have to walk a mile and a half or so at night to get home.

  2. For sure transit takes away some of the tailgate experience – I like your idea, Mark. But I also like the transit experience as part of the whole game-day experience: I am generally less stressed when not driving, so it’s just a relaxing way to get to an event, and I can either picnic outside prior to the game (saving the $33 on 4 beers as you say), or feel a little less violated when dropping megabucks for food inside.

    As far as the 1 car at night policy, this seems a bit short-sighted. Of course there should be reduced trips, and maybe (?) the usage patterns indicate that the one-car-per-night is justified. However, there is a diminishing return effect where if the trains are not available enough, people just won’t ride it. If I had to wait over 1/2 an hour, then I would be much less likely to ride the train. It seems to me that the best ‘investment’ would be to pace the cars in such a way as to maximize ridership before people just start saying ‘No.’

    I might suggest the following:
    1. Advertise the connection to downtown to increase ridership in the off-commute hours (“Just think! You’re only 15 minutes from the restaurants and movie theaters” – apologies to CC Cinema…)
    2. Maybe think of ‘night’ as starting at, oh, 10PM instead of 7:30PM. There is a lot of activity on Friday and Saturday nights downtown – maybe try to take advantage of that fact
    3. Is there anything keeping ST from running empty trains back to Seattle without picking up passengers? There may be no value in that (the train is already making the trip – might as well pick up), but it seems that after 9PM, there is probably a lot more traffic heading out of downtown than in.
    4. Possibly unrelated (and possibly not), make the stations a little more secure (or, well, a lot more secure). If I DO have to stand around in the Rainier Valley for 30+ minutes, I’d like to think I’m reasonable safe. Turnstiles, paid-entrace areas, etc…. If you don’t even need a ticket to get on the train, then you can be certain there are people on the train without tickets.

    As usual, Seattle/Puget Sound demonstrates its ability to take a good transportation idea and really mess it up.

  3. This is the mayor’s way of dealing with potential increasing crime related to light rail. Cut service which forces more people to be waiting and riding at the same time.

    Did you know you have been tasked with protecting your fellow citizens from thugs? Do you think your fellow citizens will protect you if you are beaten and robbed at a light rail station in front of everyone?

  4. I have seen a lot more security in the stations since the incident with those girls. I’m an older woman and I find that light rail is a great way to get to down town. AH, to not have to look for parking, or pay for parking!!

    I’d rather have 1 car trains coming with the same frequency,(instead of two car trains coming less often)… that’s what makes this such a great way to get downtown. You know, there’s great parking less than 2 blocks from the Othello station, you really ought to try it once, it’s fun!

  5. Erich
    I don’t think they will be running less often just with one less car so there shouldn’t be more than a half hour wait.
    Actually with 3 beers each it’s $49.50, ouch.
    Plus we’ve been parking in the same spot since the first game last year so we all kind of know each other. I guess you can see the same people on the train but it’s not the same.

  6. My 15-yr-old rides the light rail downtown all the time—especially on the weekends. Her BF, who lives in Magnolia, uses it to visit her here in the SE. I’d hate the idea of him waiting 1/2 hour at the Othello Station after dark. Ten minutes or less is about as long as I’m willing to take.
    As a family, we’ve taken LR to the airport. If wait times for a train got longer, we’d be less likely. 20 minutes can be the difference in missing a flight. I’ve never seen the trains so crowded that capacity might be an issue, so 1 car with the same run times will probably be fine. If the wait times start to lengthten, then all bets are off.

  7. “Did you know you have been tasked with protecting your fellow citizens from thugs? Do you think your fellow citizens will protect you if you are beaten and robbed at a light rail station in front of everyone?”

    1. Yes
    2. No

  8. Horrible news for me as I mostly ride it on weekends and eves. Damn, what use is this city if it isn’t open, libraries included.

  9. Folks, I don’t believe the train is going to be cutting frequency as mentioned earlier, just running with one car trains every 10-15 minutes instead of two car trains.

  10. “A single rail car will run after 7:30 p.m. weeknights and all weekend, unless a ballgame or other event requires more capacity…”

    While never daring to assume anything when it comes to Sound Transit, I’m working on the theory that a Mariners, Sounders, or Seahawks game merits the second coach during the evenings and weekends.

    I wonder how Sound Transit defines “other event” to merit the second car. An Alice in Chains concert? WWE Raw? Seattle Auto Show? Handel’s “Messiah”? I don’t think Sound Transit has a clue, but my guess would be “no” to “all of the above.”

    One of the biggest concerns involving light rail transit remains travel between one’s home and the train station. Sound Transit, Metro, and the car haters at city hall haven’t grasped that potential riders won’t embrace the medium if riding the train requires lengthy waits on MLK or Rainier Avenue for the a connector bus… particularly as the weather becomes colder and wetter and evenings become darker sooner. For some of us, the walk between a bus stop and home further reduces the likelihood of “riding the wave.”

    Those who ride the light rail to sporting events – myself included – park in one of the adjoining neighborhoods. Reality bites. As much as one might love the planet and reduce one’s reliance on fossil fuels, one weighs the risk of getting jumped for an iPhone or ducking bullets on South Henderson Street. Guess what? Sound Transit finishes a distant second.

  11. “unless a ballgame or other event requires more capacity”

    Turns out this was a lie. My family and I were cramped into single car trains (along with hundreds of other fans and other customers) both ways to the Sounders FC game today.

  12. @Veranda
    That sucks (great game though) We parked in our regular spot grilled some sausages had a couple of beers and a couple shots of Jagermeister and it was game time.

    Thats pretty lame if the ydidn’t add another car, but hey, it is ST.

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