We know that service interruptions are never fun, and the latest changes to Link that started last weekend have made for some tough travel at times.
We’re replacing damaged rails south of Westlake Station, so trains must run on a single track. That means trains are already running about every 26-30 minutes through the downtown stations, which makes the trains extra crowded.
In turn, trains are sharing a single platform, meaning it takes longer for passengers get on and off trains, unavoidably adding time to an already long wait time between trains.
(On weekends, no trains run between Capitol Hill and SODO stations. Instead, passengers can take shuttle buses, which stop at every station.)
We want to remind you of the tips and advice that we previously offered. If you have other easily available transit options, you may want to consider them.
For example, if you’re traveling from Capitol Hill to downtown on a weekday, a King County Metro bus may be your best bet. If you are already downtown and heading to Sounder or a ferry, consider taking a bus instead.
Also, if you have flexibility, try to ride outside peak travel times. Our trains were busiest yesterday afternoon between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
If you are traveling during peak times, you should be prepared for longer waits as trains will need to spend more time in stations to allow passengers to board and disembark.
Most of all, pack your patience and be kind. It’s just going to take longer to get to where you need to go, and you’ll be sharing the space with a lot more people. That’s especially true of your fellow riders with disabilities, so give them a seat and the space they need to enter and exit the trains.
The work in the downtown tunnel is necessary for the upkeep of the system. We’re replacing a section of rail that has made the train ride bumpy and is wearing out faster than other sections of rail. Also, we’re replacing the bond boxes, which carry train signals and have been breaking down, causing systemwide delays.
At Westlake Station, rail "sticks" - lengths of rail as shipped from the plant - are being welded together using an exothermic chemical reaction that produces light, smoke, and a lot of heat. These welds are being ground smooth in preparation for installing lengths of track in the tunnel.
This work is noisy and dusty as our contractors remove concrete and other debris. This construction can also be smelly, even though exhaust fans run through the tunnel. Some of you may have noticed diesel fumes from the equipment in use.
The Fire Department has tested the air quality in the tunnel, and the air is safe. However, some people with sensitive respiratory systems may find the fumes uncomfortable.
The changes will make for a more reliable and better passenger experience. Still, that’s not much comfort when you’re waiting for a crowded train in the cold.
We really appreciate your patience through this period. We’re hopeful that as everyone gets accustomed to the new schedule, things will go more smoothly. We’ll be out there to help you navigate through this tough travel period.