ST riders urged to prepare for snow as region braces for winter

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Signing up for rider alerts, checking for service disruptions ahead of time, dressing warmly are ways riders can increase their preparedness

With weather forecasts predicting another "La Nina" winter, Sound Transit riders are urged to prepare for winter commutes by taking proactive steps to increase their "snow-how" for riding Link light rail, Sounder commuter rail, and ST Express regional buses.

The best way for Sound Transit riders to plan ahead for snow is by signing up to receive rider alert e-mails and/or text messages. Rider alerts offer a great way to stay informed since weather impacts vary by transit service and riders have the option of choosing what updates they want to receive, including alerts for specific bus routes, Sounder north line, Sounder south line, or Link light rail. Sound Transit posts updates as information becomes available. To sign up, visit www.soundtransit.org,  mouse over "Schedules," and select "Alerts."

During snow events, Sound Transit will post current rider alerts at www.soundtransit.org/alerts. Other information about commuting during winter months is available under the "Rider Guide" tab. Riders without internet access can get up-to-date information by calling 1.888.889.6368.

It is important to note that snow reroutes and service cancellations are not reflected in itineraries generated by the trip planners found on transit agency websites. Riders should check rider alerts and make necessary adjustments to their travel plans.

During adverse weather it is important to dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes or boots, and be prepared for delays. Riders should allow plenty of time to get to stops, stations and transit centers, and use caution when walking in wet or icy areas.

Tips for specific Sound Transit services include:

ST Express buses

Sound Transit operates 26 regional express bus routes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Traffic conditions affect buses, and chained buses travel much slower. During heavy snow, buses will likely be running off their schedules, some buses may be placed on snow routes, and others may be canceled. Riders should bundle up and be patient. Route by route changes will be posted on www.soundtransit.org, so riders should check the website often as conditions change throughout the day. Buses will follow their normal routes as long as streets are safe for travel.

Sounder commuter rail

Sounder commuter rail has a great track record for getting riders between their destinations during snow. For crews in the field, the main operational challenge is to keep snow or ice from freezing track switches. Track maintenance crews are trained and ready to deploy to the field to manually thaw and release switches during heavy snow and ice.

A major potential impact to Sounder riders lies on the north line serving Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds and Seattle, where heavy rain or melting snow can cause cancellations of service due to mudslides that block the Burlington North Santa Fe tracks on which Sounder operates.

  • During significant service disruptions, riders will be directed to use bus routes serving their area.
  • For safety reasons, cancellations due to mudslides remain in effect for 48 hours to allow crews to clear tracks and secure affected surface areas.

Central Link and Tacoma Link light rail

Sound Transit works to maintain normal Central Link and Tacoma Link light rail service during inclement weather, although minor delays can occur. When necessary, the agency operates trains through the night after the systems close to passenger service to prevent ice from forming on the tracks and overhead power lines.

More information on preparing for winter commutes can be found at Rider-Guide/Winter-weather.xml.