Showing posts with label Link. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Link. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mark's Wish List for Northwest Transportation

After a break longer than intended, I'm returning to the blog with my wish list for transportation in the Northwest. In the holiday spirit (and for a little fun), I'm writng this as a "letter to Santa Clause."

Dear Santa Clause,

We've been pretty good here in the Northwest. There seem to be more people riding the bus to work and just get around in general. We finally opened our light rail line in King County this year. Passenger rail has improved with the opening of an Amtrak station in Leavenworth, as well as the addition of another run to Vancouver, BC. We also have passed additional plans for light rail going to the Eastside and at least one more streetcar line in Seattle.

All that said, I want to present you with my wish list for Northwest transit. I realize time is short for this Christmas (and let's be honest, some things take time anyway). But if you can see what you can do to get some of these rolling, I think we'd all appreciate it here.

  • Expand light rail throughout the region by adding new inter-city lines, as well as intra-city lines
  • In-fill stations to fill the gaps in the existing Central Link line (one somewhere near the Boeing access road would be really appreciated)
  • Increase feeder lines to the light rail stations
  • Implement working, grade separated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) where light rail is not feasible and ridership potential warrants the investment
  • Consolidate the major metropolitan transit agencies in the Puget Sound into one agency with operations specialists in each former agency's service area to improve efficiencies and coordination between agencies, while still maintaining the existing knowledge of local needs.
  • Develop infrastructure to support transportation alternatives to the automobile (a network of bike lanes/paths, footpaths and multi-use paths)
  • Improve and increase the safe bike storage capacity at transit centers and park & rides
  • More bike parking throughout the region
  • Frequent, high speed passenger & commuter rail on dedicated right-of-ways
  • Pass a vulnerable users law in Washington similar to that in Oregon

Thank you, Santa, and have a happy holiday season!


Monday, July 27, 2009

First ride on the Link

**No pictures yet. I'll add some once I've uploaded them from the camera**

Saturday brought a surprise for Maurie and me. Our first ride on the new Central Link light rail line. We'd gone down to Pike Place to look for something, but after being in the crowds for a bit, we didn't really want to go back into a hot apartment with all the noise from the Seafair Torchlight Parade going on that evening.

We ended up going down into the transit tunnel (feels weird not calling the bus tunnel any more!) I was hoping to get a look at a Link train. But none were at the platform. Maurie says I was a bit crestfallen at that. While we were on the mezzanine, one did pull in. We looked down on it, and Maurie suggested taking the train for a ride. So, off to figure out how to do the payment and ride.

One of the Sount Transit folks told us I could just tap my ORCA card to the reader, and Maurie just needed to show her Puget Pass if asked. So, we boarded and headed south to Tukwila station.

The ride was very nice. Quite quick to get down through Seattle. We left Westlake station at about 6, I think, and the southbound train was full. No vacant seats, and a lot of people standing. As we went south, nuturally, it thinned out some. But by the time we reached Tukwila station, there were still plenty of riders.

We de-boarded at Tukwila, thinking we'd have to move over to the other track for the northbound train. There was no indication that the train we just arrived on would just reverse direction from its place in the station. So, after looking for a bathroom (and finding one open porta-potty that badly needed service), we got on what we thought was the next northbound train.

We rode back north to Columbia City where we got off the train to see a movie. The first thing we noticed when we got off the train was that in the small park next to the station was a sign listing what was nearby...restaurants, cinema, shops, a market, etc. Maurie had been commenting on the ride north that something like this would be very helpful for riders.

As we walked through Columbia City, we noticed that the business district was still fairly lively. Several folks walking the street, a few businesses still open, lots of restaurants and bars open. In nearly every window was a poster welcoming Link riders. Most every business had a special for people who show their ride ticket or ORCA card. For example, the Columbia City Cinema offers $2 off adult tickets in the evening (I can't remember what they were for matinee showings).

We dropped into the Columbia City Alehouse for an appetizer and beer and then walked the neighborhood until our 9:40 movie.

After the movie, we caught a 12:30 train back to Westlake. This train had a handful of other riders. The south-bound trains out of Seattle were more full with people leaving the city.

We really enjoyed the ride. It will make it so much easier to get to points south of downtown. A couple of observations:

  1. Bathrooms at the stations need to be better maintained (only porta-potties at one? what's with that?)
  2. Fare/payment system is confusing. Require every rider to obtain a ticket from the ticket vending machine. And fit them to read Puget Passes!
  3. The art work at the stops is awesome! It really makes the stops more inviting.

All in all, I'm glad we had the unplanned evening out on the train, especially since I turn in my ORCA pass on Friday at the end of my current contract.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Successful Link Opening Weekend

Well, I've still not ridden the new Link light rail in Seattle, so I don't have much I can say about it. However, on Sunday as we headed to the coast for day relaxing on the beach, we did see a couple of trains running along I5 (one north-bound, one south-bound) and both looked packed to standing room only. It may have been a weekend of free rides, but it looked promising. Reports are 92,000 riders over the weekend. I've still not seen ridership reports for Monday, but I'm confident that while reports are that they were low, that they'll grow as we get used to having light rail, and development happens around the lines, we'll see those numbers go up.

Seattle Tranit Blog has been all over opening weekend, and is following the latest on it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Opening Weekend for Link

In case you've missed it (and if you live in or around Seattle, I'm not sure how you could have), The Link light rail line from downtown to the airport will open on Saturday. Sound Transit has details on the opening here. The folks over at Seattle Transit Blog have been counting the days to this, and I have to say that Ben and company really seem ready to party as a result of the long-awaited opening.

There will be free rides all weekend. Be prepared for long lines and crowded platforms and trains all weekend. Also, there are no round-trip rides. To give everyone a chance to ride, once you get to one end, you have to get off the train and get back in line. There will also be shuttles running the route if you don't want to wait in line again.

Personally, I think I'll be waiting to take my ride on Link until after the festivities

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Something to get you excited for Link!

I found the video below on Streetfilms last week. It adds to my excitement for the opening of the new Link line running from downtown to the airport.

The Seattle Transit Blog also covered the opening of this line in January and February.

I've been excited for Link to come to Seattle for some time. Tacoma's had their line up and running for a few years now, but the community that could really use a ton of help with transit options, has been without a large-scale light rail option. Now, in less than a month, it will be a reality here. Don't get me wrong I like both the monorail and the South Lake Union Street Car, but their service is really limited in scope.

A couple of things stood out to me about the Phoenix system:

  • From its beginning it links three cities (including two university campuses)
  • Ridership exceeded expectations from the beginning
  • The line has become a magnet for urban development

I'm hoping that Seattle will embrace Link the way that Phoenix has. I've been in the Puget Sound area for 30 years now. In that time, I've seen our traffic get worse, and relief slow in coming. The creation of Sound Transit helped start us on the way to fixing that. Now I look forward to expansion of Sound Transit's service through light rail to really help change the way we look at our mobility and our cars.

I'm confident that once Link goes to the U-district and finally to the Eastside we will see a real transformation of the way we travel through our region.