The Seattle Times Friday (1/04) article “Slide parks Sounder Again” is another example of how neither they nor Sound Transit recognize the absurdity of ST’s Northline Sounder operation.
Sound Transit spent more than $500 million creating the Northline Sounder operation, presumably under the dubious assumption that large number of riders would choose to ride a train to the King Street Station rather than an express bus route to central business district.
My 06/12 post “Sound Transit’s Other Debacle” explained in detail how the Northline Sounder failure to attract riders along with the high operating costs for the train has forced ST to subsidize each rider by up to $20,000 a year (doesn’t include depreciation or capitalization costs)
The Seattle Times chose to ignore the operating cost subsidy, depreciation costs and those associated with the initial $500 million. Instead their 10/24 Editorial, “No Way to Run a Commuter Line” criticized ST for not meeting ridership expectations because “Sounder North had not met expectations” for reliability with comments “getting to work cannot be a roll of the dice”. They implied Sound Transit should do “something” to prevent the mudslides that forced cancelling train service and “simplify things” to attract commuters who preferred destinations other than King Street Station.
My 10/26 blog post pointed out the Times recommendation to prevent future blockages would be very expensive or they would have been done long ago. The Times suggestion to “simplify things,” presumably meaning provide alternative Seattle destinations, was not practicable.
The recent 1/04 article essentially debunks the entire Times 10/24 editorial. Commuters within walking distance of the King Street Station, aren’t that concerned about the cancellations. They know they always have the bus option in either direction with very similar commute times. However, whenever possible they much prefer to spend an additional $1.00 in fare to ride in a partially empty train rather than a standing-room-only bus.
Unfortunately ST doesn’t accept the fact that not enough commuters use this option to make Northline financially viable. Most public transit systems would reduce the number of expensive train trips and increase number of buses. ST prefers to keep the buses crowded in a futile attempt to increase train ridership. (Central Link ridership has benefitted from cancellations or “rerouting” of competing bus routes.) It's what happens with a public transit system that only gets about 5% of its funds from fare box revenues.