Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fare Enforcement

I took the newish Seattle light rail from downtown to the airport Friday.  It was my first time on this new way to get to the airport.  M complained about it because it used to take 30 minutes to get to the airport from UW on the express bus and now it takes 90 minutes because that bus has been replaced by the light rail which meanders out there.  From downtown it took 40 minutes. 

I asked the man I sat next to what he thought about it.  His complaint was that everyone rides for free because they never have people checking tickets.  It's like the Berlin subway in that you buy a ticket but you don't have to go through any gate.  They enforce it by having people randomly board a train and check tickets.  He thought they were going to go out of business because so many people didn't pay. 

As he was saying this we stopped at a station and these guys got on.

My seat mate was pleased.  It seemed that most people had tickets, but they did take one person off the train.


  1. I love the Seattle light rail! My only complaint is that the connection to Union Station for Amtrak trains is apparently still under construction, with sidewlaks closed, so I had to walk in the street, towing my carry-on bag. There was no ramp to get to the station, just a stairway.

    I was told that by next summer there will be an easy handicapped-accessible connection between the light rail Pioneer Square station and the railroad station.

    I do like being able to get to Westlake Center from the airport in about 40 minutes without dealing with traffic. That makes it easy to run in to downtown for a quick shopping trip at Pike Place Market (think spice shop) when I have a couple of hour layover at Sea-Tac.

  2. Yeah, I'm not so pleased with the light rail. It used to take 20 min on an express bus to get from downtown Seattle to the airport, and now it takes 40 min by light rail. And I was so excited about it when it was being built! Boo.
    - M

  3. HarpboyAK,
    There is an accessible way to get to Amtrak. Instead of heading to Jackson, go towards the Starbucks and walk on the south side of Union Station (Weller St - the walkway by Uwajimaya). There is a crosswalk across 4th Ave S and bridge to Amtrak with an elevator to take you from 4th Ave S level to the Amtrak station level.

  4. Hey, Anon#1, not sure what bus you were riding that took only 20 minutes to get from downtown Seattle to the airport -- the 194 that was replaced by Link light rail had a scheduled running time of about 30 minutes.

    The train is still a better bet than the old 194 -- it has 2.4x more trips each way so passenger wait time is less. And it's not dependent on the freeway, which can get tied up in a heartbeat by even a minor fender-bender.


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