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A view from the mezzanine of a Link train pulling into University Street Station
Media Caption
We're taking steps to address rider concerns.

Improving the rider experience in 2023 

Publish Date

Julie Timm is the CEO of Sound Transit.

We’re excited to tell you about changes we’re bringing to Link this year to improve your riding experience.  

As transit systems nationwide continue recovering from the challenges of the pandemic, we are investing in a number of ways to welcome people back to the system as we see ridership climbing above pre-pandemic levels. 

One of the most visible changes that we will be making is the introduction of station agents at Northgate and Westlake stations, the busiest on the system, as part of a year-long pilot program.  

Teams of agents will cover the stations 16 hours a day to help answer questions, provide directions and in general supply riders with some extra support when they need it.  

Agents have already started working weekdays and we’re hiring more staff to cover weekends as soon as possible.  

We have had a Station Agent at our SeaTac/Airport station for several years and at Sounder stations since that service started in 2000.  

The station agents also provide another set of customer-focused eyes in the station so we can quickly respond to the needs of our riders.  

The pilot program provides an opportunity to evaluate how we may further expand their roles at other Link stations as the system continues to grow.  

The station agents aren’t the only new faces you’ll be seeing.  

Our Board recently approved agreements with four security contractors to provide civilian security officers at Sound Transit stations and on board 1 Line trains. 

These contracts were signed in February 2023, and the hiring and training process is underway. You will start seeing more security officers throughout our system in the coming months. 

The benefit of having multiple vendors is that a single provider is not on the hook to provide the more than 300 security officers needed to be fully staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

If one vendor is experiencing staffing challenges, then one of the other three providers can be tapped to rapidly fill that gap.  

We have a lot of other improvements in the works this year. Here’s a few of the other changes riders can expect to see in the coming months. Stay tuned for details and timing.  

  • New station cleaning protocols to provide more frequent power washing and new trash cans at the platform level of downtown Seattle tunnel stations.  

  • Partnering with King County Community Health Services to have crisis response teams on trains and checking downtown stations to help those who need to connect with resources.

  • Testing new seating on 1 Line trains with more durable and easy-to-clean materials. 

  • Lighting improvements at Rainier Valley stations to replace original fixtures with new energy-saving LED lighting.

A before and after of the improved LED lighting in an escalator bay at Mt. Baker Station
The after and before photos of the lighting improvements at Mount Baker Station.

Finally, we know that the performance of escalators and elevators, particularly in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT), remains a concern for many of our riders, and addressing those concerns is a top priority for us.  

We continue to have crews dedicated to repair work with the requirement that they must respond to reported issues within one to two hours.  

Other long-term elevator/escalator improvements are coming for the downtown stations. 

This year we begin the procurement process to start escalator equipment modernization, which is currently planned to start at the International District station early next year.  

The past few years haven’t always been easy for our riders, and we appreciate your patience.  

We want you to know that we have heard your concerns and are taking steps to address them.  

We’ll keep you informed as we introduce new changes throughout the year. Keep an eye out for them, as we do our best to make your ride great. 

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