Changing Trains

There was a man on the southbound platform at Westlake Station this morning, with a camera. He was snapping several photographs. I think he was trying to get a good shot of the Link train coming in from Capitol Hill. I wondered if he was a tourist from out of town, a blogger, a light rail enthusiast, a shutterbug – or some combination of these things.I realized then that (maybe) I don’t look as conspicuous as I think I do when I’m out photographing random stuff.

passing the station

Now arriving at University Street Station

I’ve been thinking lately about how much of a change just two more stations and 4.2 miles of new track has made. Link light rail trains feel different now.

I can barely remember what it was like when Westlake was the start of the southbound trip. The train would stop, the doors would open, and three or four people would board the back car with me. I’d have my choice of seats in an empty train. The back of the platform at Pioneer Square Station would be practically empty when I exited the train.

These days, a full train arrives at Westlake Station. Sometimes it’s just as easy for me to stand for the next two stations as it is to pick a seat next to a stranger.

The Westlake and Pioneer Square platforms are now packed with people. There seems to be more people boarding the train in the Downtown Transit Tunnel as well. Somehow, it’s become something more than just two new stations up north – more people seem to be using light rail rail overall now.

For me, in my short three-station Downtown commute, Link used to feel like merely an alternative to the buses. Now it feels like an actual commuter line.

I’m finding litter on the trains more often now. (That’s a downside of success, I suppose.) It’s not a lot – just more frequent.

Link light rail never used to be a viable option for my commutes home. Now it’s my main option home. (That 6-block walk home from Capitol Hill Station is much more preferable to me than the bus transfer at 4th and Pike, even though the 47 gets me just about to my front door.) The northbound train is always packed on the trip from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill. The train is nearly full when it arrives at Pioneer Square Station. I don’t mind, really. In fact, I’m glad for Link’s success. (I’m still wishing Sound Transit would put more 3-car trains out there, however.)

I was thinking about riding the 47 home today, just for the change of scenery. It all depended on a library book I had on hold. If it arrived at the Capitol Hill Library today, I’d ride light rail home, since the library less of a detour from the station. If it was still in transit at the end of the day, it would be the 47 for me, The book arrived this afternoon, so I had another light rail commute home.

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