Sound Transit Making Progress

So I get the photo of the week from Sound Transit and read the RSS feeds.  I must commend Sound Transit on their efforts to really get information out there, it seems, they surpass TriMet in this endeavor.  I also can’t help but feel it is the low key nature of Portland that TriMet gets this from, but should step out and take the lead on these efforts.  As I mentioned previously, it would be awesome if TriMet tried to actively coordinate high ridership needs against opportunities such as shows, sports events, etc.  I suppose they do it some, but I barely see any of it via their website.  This should really change.

However, check out some of these bits from Sound Transit.

Here’s a shot of a Sounder Train arriving.  Just think of all those auto f-tards that say nobody rides the train.  Seriously, you auto nuts, look at that image and say that again?  700 people where on that train!  That’s efficient movement of people.  Each passenger consumed the equivalent  of a Prius stuffed with 4 people – but oh wait, they had the use of space, someone else drove em’, and…  oh hell, the train just kicks driving’s tail.  All of these people can consume alcohol and not have a care in the world, they won’t get arrest for DUI after the game!

Anyway, enough of my ranting on the stupidity of driving and the awesomeness of taking the train, it is however kind of a no brainer in this situation.

In other Sound Transit news, there will be some rocking, head banging trains heading to Tacoma Dome for the AC/DC show coming up.  Of course, this is a no brainer too, because how is somebody going to go to an AC/DC show and not drink?  That’s insane, so jump on the train, have a case o’ beer, and take the train home.  That is THE life of luxury right there.

The last tidbit of Sound Transit news is about their light rail.  It hasn’t hit the ridership level of our Blue Line here in PDX, but it has already surpassed the Yellow Line or Red Line respectively.  At over 12k per day already, and on some days well surpassing that.  This is all without the line not even being 100% done.  The airport extension still has to open later this year, which will easily bump it up another 500-1500 per day.  I do think that Sound Transit will hit their ridership expectations of 29k by middle of 2010 as they’ve suggested.  Which will still have them just shy of our Blue Line, however by the middle of 2011 I’m pretty sure they’ll surpass Blue Line Ridership and start needing those 3 car LRV Trains.  Good thing they’ve planned for that, we’re stuck with 2 car trains in PDX unless we blow billions upgrading the entire system.  I believe, even though I need to check, that Sound Transit has blown past their bus route ridership leaders with the start of the Link Light Rail.

…and my last tidbit of info, or rant more like it is simply a message to Sound Transit, “Fix the damn ticketing on the LINK!!!!”   It is annoying as hell.  Even the local media has picked this up!  I know, I know, it isn’t THAT complicated, but the problem is that it is complicated for any new rider.  Sound Transit & TriMet both have this issue of confusing ticketing.  I’m still one for the “buy a ticket for each ride” because it just can’t get screwed up.

In addition to all this, Seattle is much more of a 24hr city, and in turn, runs their light rail and buses many more hours than PDX (which really isn’t smart form a $$ perspective for TriMet, so I can’t blame em’).

So that is some tidbits that I’ve picked up recently, and I just love that Sound Transit plays with the community this way.  I long for TriMet to reach out a little bit more in this regard.

Soon to come I hope to get the website write up done and published – I’ve got a number of sites to review still.  So stay tuned and keep enjoying the ole’ Transit Sleuth’s work.  🙂


  1. Wouldn’t Tri-met serving the drinking crowd at 2:30-3:30 be a good public service that could be supplemented by public safety dollars? It seems that not having the service means that people tend to drive more to bars rather than take transit. That’s not a good recipe.


  2. There are two problems with TriMet trying to provide service.

    1. Downtown, where a large part of the drinking in the area occurs, people just walk or ride bikes. They don’t even bother to try transit. This is of course awesome, but makes for really low ridership numbers.

    2. In the burbs most people just drive, and yes, drink and drive. TriMet has no chance of capturing much of this crowd to begin with.

    So there options are to tell people to not walk and ride bikes to bars, and take TriMet instead. I don’t imagine that would work well. The other problem is costs, liability (the itty bitty bit TriMet actually does have) becomes a much much higher cost trying to serve the 2am-4am crowd.

    I’d love to see the service myself, but can’t imagine it ever becoming feasible.


  3. "There are two problems with TriMet trying to provide service."

    The problem with that argument is that 85% of all trips in the Portland metro area are taken by private automobiles. So should TriMet give up and go away?

    TriMet just doesn’t even market its own service, unless it’s a new line opening up. You never see TriMet marketing its own routes (especially the bus lines) like a common retail outlet would advertise its locations. So of course most people walk/bike/drive to their location. Only a statistical few take the bus – and then only when it’s so freaking convenient (i.e. "free" parking) and for a specific purpose (i.e. commute to/from work) and on a specific vehicle (i.e. a certain MAX train, a certain express bus route). For everything else – there’s your car.

    Granted, up north in Seattle the percentage of trips by transit is about identical to Portland, but at least I get the impression that they’re trying. You see transit being developed to serve people, not developers and politicians. You see the commuter trains between Everett, Seattle and Tacoma that move HUNDREDS of people at once. You see the express buses with the nice shiny motorcoaches. You see the route-deviation buses that actually go into the neighborhoods and will provide as-close-to-door-to-door service as is possible. Transit stations are nice, oversized, prominent locations where you actually can wait for a bus in something more than a two-person common bus shelter (i.e. Willow Creek "TC", Hollywood "TC", Parkrose/Sumner "TC", Lake Oswego "TC").

    Since TriMet willingly serves the post-New Years crowd, it can certainly provide the service the other 364 drinking nights out of the year.


  4. "You never see TriMet marketing its own routes (especially the bus lines) like a common retail outlet would advertise its locations."

    Very true. Even though I generally don’t compare TriMet to any privately operated organization, TriMet doesn’t hold a candle to those efforts and efficiencies. But I digress…

    Considering TriMet spends a rather large amount of money on marketing one would think it could be coordinated a little better. Maybe the individuals in the department do make endeavors, but it isn’t all that visible like Sound Transit’s efforts.

    Now if we compared TriMet’s to King County Metro’s, things would be reversed. King County Metro seems often to be running a secret stealth service – I’ve heard so many people complain about how hard it is to figure out what is going on with the Metro buses, but I’ve rarely heard/read the same complaints against Sound Transit.

    Your other points are really good too. As for the door to door service, keep in mind in the more urban areas of Portland (i.e. between the west hills & 82nd) there are a lot of buses that provide that level of service. When exceeding that primary boundary the service starts to dissipate almost as fast as the density. I could point out numerous areas though (as I’m sure you could also) where a bus route could garner a solid ridership in a very short period of time.

    As always Erik – thx for the comments.


  5. "keep in mind in the more urban areas of Portland (i.e. between the west hills & 82nd) there are a lot of buses that provide that level of service. When exceeding that primary boundary the service starts to dissipate almost as fast as the density"


    Whereas up north there is a real effort to serve the entire district (or at least so it seems) TriMet (and its partners) openly admit to saying "we’re going to provide good service in the core, and if you live in the burbs we’re not going to try — but we’re still happy to collect your taxes".

    I like Sound Transit’s funding mechanism where revenues and expenditures have to match – you can’t use East King County’s money on downtown improvements, for example, or use Snohomish County revenue in Pierce County. Everyone gets what they pay for; and right now with TriMet the downtown core has received a disproportionate amount of capital investment at the expense of Clackamas and Washington Counties. Yes – Clackamas County is finally getting MAX lines but do you really count a MAX line that barely enters the county and doesn’t really SERVE the county?

    Washington County at least has a MAX line between Beaverton and Hillsboro and that WES line…but according to the TriMet Board member for the county the westsiders still pay more than what they get in return.


  6. Erik, I agree with you that TriMet service should be better marketed.

    However, think about this … it doesn’t have to be TriMet that does the marketing.

    We had a similar discussion in L.A. how information for a street festival was hard to come by, and how Metro didn’t market it.

    I said that this is something that riders can do for themselves if the agency is too slow to organize and implement marketing.

    Erik, you and Adron could team up and market TriMet routes, and even run a profitable Web site and publishing house.

    One of the best examples of crowd-sourced transit marketing is Rail Life, a site and blog promoting activities by Phoenix’s new light rail line. It can be seen at Phoenix, Arizona!

    The strategy also spawned another blog, a light rail food review site,

    Think along this same vein. You could bring together a Yelp-like review, a Google Map mash-up, and bring together where to live and where to go. If you get enough advertisers, you can even produce a print guide.


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