The Link light rail system is a huge regional investment, and we work hard to keep it in good repair.
That can mean making some hard choices, especially when it comes to scheduling maintenance work that we know will inconvenience our passengers.
We need to prioritize maintenance that keeps our existing 1 Line in great shape, especially as we get ready to welcome thousands more passengers per day when trains extend to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood next year.
This past summer, Link riders responded with patience and understanding as we completed a series of system repairs. And for three weeks starting in mid-January, we ask for your patience once again as we tackle more work on the 1 Line in downtown Seattle.
What this means for you:
Starting Saturday, Jan. 13, through the end of service on Sunday, Feb. 4:
- On weekdays, 1 Line trains will run only every 26 minutes between Northgate and Angle Lake.
- Additional weekday trains will run between Northgate–University of Washington, and between Stadium–Angle Lake, for combined service every 13 minutes in these areas.
- If you board at stations outside of Capitol Hill or downtown Seattle, you’ll need to stay alert to which train you choose. Half of the trains will serve all stations along the 1 Line, while the other half will terminate at either University of Washington or Stadium stations. If your destination is downtown or Capitol Hill, you may wait for the full-service train, or ride the additional service train to UW or Stadium stations, and then wait 13 minutes to transfer to the next train that goes all the way through.
- On weekends during this period, trains will run every 15 minutes between Northgate–Capitol Hill and between SODO–Angle Lake. Bus shuttles every 10-15 minutes will replace trains between Capitol Hill–SODO and serve all closed stations.
Why such a dramatic disruption?
The four downtown Seattle stations — Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, and Int’l Dist./Chinatown — are nearly 20 years older than the Link system itself. They opened for bus operations in 1990, and they were built to accommodate both buses and trains at the same time. This legacy of bus operations required design decisions that continue to make repairs to these stations much more disruptive than our more recently built stations.
For example, because buses and trains ran together in the tunnel between 2009 and 2019, we embedded the rails into the tunnel roadway, rather than on top, as they are in all our other tunnel stations. As a result, replacing any rails in those stations requires substantial demolition and rebuilding work.
During this disruption, we’ll be completing two major projects at the same time:
- We will replace 500 feet of northbound track between University Street and Westlake at the sharpest curve in the entire Link system. These rails are worn and have made for a bumpy ride for passengers for years. Without replacement, the worn rails will eventually become a safety hazard.
- We will replace 58 “bond boxes,” which provide signal connections to the tracks. All of these are located in between the rails. These bond boxes were progressively damaged by buses between 2007 and 2019, leading to occasional signal failures and train delays. Replacing the bond boxes requires that no trains run through those sections until replacement is complete.
We can have nice things!
We know this is a major disruption for our passengers, and we know that this will inconvenience you and increase your travel time. We’re passengers too, so we feel the pain with you.
We don’t take these decisions lightly. We evaluated a wide range of options to come up with the best plan to get the work done while maximizing the service we can reliably provide.
By scheduling these projects during the time of year when our ridership is at its lowest, we’re hoping to limit the number of passengers we affect, avoid overcrowding, and complete this work before we welcome thousands more riders aboard when Lynnwood Link opens later in 2024.
Once this work is complete, rides will be smoother, safer, and more reliable for all 1 Line passengers. To take advantage of this disruption and reduce future passenger inconvenience, we’re also tackling five other minor tunnel maintenance projects during this time.
Keep up with our blog, The Platform, in the coming weeks for more information about the disruption and tips on how to navigate it.