Transpo Notes: Digital announcements coming, trends in security incidents and pessimistic service plans

Buses outside U District station on a cloudy day. (Credit: The Urban Planner)

This Transpo Notes roundup tackles a mix of transit stories, including:

  • New digital advertising screens appearing in Link stations;
  • Trends in Security Incidents on Sound Transit;
  • Draft of Sound Transit for a realistic service plan for 2023; and
  • Disparate impact of Sound Transit and disproportionate revisions to charging policy.

Link Station’s New Digital Advertising Screens Are Coming Now

Users of the link may soon begin to notice the appearance of digital advertising screens in stations. Wednesday, Urban planner Transportation reporter Ryan Packer tweeted about multiple screens at Capitol Hill Station. Reached by email, Sound Transit spokesman John Gallagher said the pilot program will total 20 screens, including “two screens in the UW station, four in Capitol Hill, six in Westlake, six in University Street, one at the stadium and one at SeaTac/Airport.”

Only three stations currently have functioning screens, Gallagher said, including University Street, University of Washington and Capitol Hill stations, but that trend is expected to accelerate rapidly with “all but three screens…functional by the end of the day.” mid August”. Gallagher added that “the last three screens at Westlake will not be installed until the end of October once the ticket machines are removed from this station to make room for them.”

The screens were originally scheduled to be installed starting in the spring, but detailed engineering was still underway at the time. More stations will eventually get digital advertising screens, which will provide more and more revenue to the agency. By the 13th year of the deal with Intersection – the company providing the screens – revenues will reach nearly $2 million per year with only a very low prevalence of screens. As part of the deal, Sound Transit will eventually own the equipment, while Intersection will be responsible for its maintenance. Sound Transit may also use certain advertising space for agency campaigns, such as customer etiquette and safety messages.

Security incidents down on Sound Transit but still high

Slide showing the evolution of security incidents on the Sound Transit system. (Credit: Sound Transit)

In absolute numbers, Sound Transit has saw an improvement in safety across the transit system since 2020. Reported security events fell 25% in 2021 across all categories except medical incidents. Vandalism, biohazard, vagrancy and trespassing rates were all lower than 2019 figures. However, medical incidents reached 1,018, well above the 692 and 770 incidents reported in 2020 and 2019 respectively.

Agency staff said the main reason for the increase in medical events was drugs, particularly fentanyl overdoses. This has been problematic on Link trains and at Link stations where drug addicts use drugs, although some people involved in these medical events simply arrive in the Link system after taking drugs and then overdosing. Agency staff and first responders have protocols in place to deal with medical events, but they can disrupt service and generally traumatic events. The increasing trend in medical events is concerning and reflects the increase in fentanyl overdoses through King County.

A big caveat to consider alongside improving safety trends is that overall Link ridership was still down in 2021 compared to 2019. This means that the number of incidents traffic-related safety issues are in fact still high, and therefore more frequently experienced by passengers than in 2019. the past. On Saturday, a serious incident occurred on a Link train heading to Stadium Station when a the pilot pepper sprayed about eight other pilots, then fled.

At last week’s meeting, Claudia Balducci, King County Council Member and Sound Transit Board Member, mentioned that a a Bellevue Transit Center runner was brutally beaten in mid-July and later died injuries sustained in the attack. She said safety must be a top priority to maintain pilot confidence. “Part of providing a system where people need to go is making sure they’re safe when they do,” Balducci said.

Sound Transit has a contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office for patrols and contracts with three security companies. To address staffing challenges, the agency approved another security contract with a service provider in July. The agency is also evaluating activation strategies at stations, particularly Mount Baker, to promote community, economic and safety development.

Sound Transit’s draft 2023 service plan isn’t optimistic

The proposed map of the 2022-2023 service plan. (Credit: Sound Transit)

The sound transit is seeking feedback on its 2023 service plan until August 16. Overall, the proposed service plan recognizes the staffing shortages that transit agencies are facing regionally and does not provide a meaningful resolution to the planned service delivery on the ST Express bus network. . Link and Sounder managed to see some restoration of service – although the latter experienced widespread delays and contractor mismanagement.

By 2021, the agency had developed a much more optimistic plan to augment and consolidate ST Express bus service for Pierce County and Snohomish County routes. While Route 535 improvements were partially completedplans have largely stumbled as transit operator retirements, resignations and promotions forced emergency reductions on bus routes, including discounts of approximately 20% off routes operated by Pierce Transit, 10% off routes operated by Community Transit, and 5% off routes operated by King County Metro. Sound Transit has taken steps to ease the pain by moving Route 566 operations from Pierce Transit to Metro to avoid further service cuts.

Functionally, the service plan does not alter planned services, leaving the door open to service restorations and plan implementation if staffing conditions improve. Sound Transit expects lower service levels on Routes 566, 577, 590 and 592 than approved service levels and substantial changes to Route 580. The service plan proposes the removal of the SR 512 segment from Route 580, which includes stops at SR 512 Park-and-Ride and Lakewood Station. Instead, Route 580 would only operate between Puyallup Station, the Red Lot and the South Hill Park & ​​Ride lot and its service would be coordinated with Pierce Transit’s Route 400 to meet specific trips from Sounder.

Itinerary Approved/Target Service Levels Current Service Levels
566 Peak during the week: frequency of 20 minutes Weekday peak: frequency of 20 to 40 minutes
577 (combined with 578) Weekday peak: frequency of 6 to 8 minutes
Noon on weekdays: frequency 15 minutes
Weekday evenings: 30-minute frequency
Late nights during the week: frequency of 30 minutes
Weekend: frequency of 15 minutes
Weekday peak: frequency of 10 to 12 minutes
Midday on weekdays: frequency 30 minutes
Weekday evenings: frequency of 30 to 60 minutes
Late nights during the week: frequency of 30 minutes
Weekend: frequency of 30 to 60 minutes
590 (combined with 594) Weekday peak: frequency of 6 to 9 minutes
Noon on weekdays: frequency 15 minutes
Weekday evenings: 30-minute frequency
Late nights during the week: frequency of 30 minutes
Weekend: frequency of 15 to 30 minutes
Peak during the week: frequency of 10 minutes
Midday on weekdays: frequency 30 minutes
Weekday evenings: 30-minute frequency
Late nights during the week: frequency of 30 minutes
Weekend: frequency of 30 minutes
592 Peak during the week: frequency of 20 minutes Peak during the week: frequency of 30 minutes

It’s hard to be optimistic about the shortage of transit operators, in part because local elected officials have shown no signs and no sympathy for service cuts in the transit system. Their inaction directly exacerbates a decline in transit service even though they have many tools at their disposal to improve staffing conditions.

Sound Transit Adopts Title VI Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden Policy Revisions

Last week, the Sound Transit Board of Directors adopted updates to the agency’s disparate impact and disproportionately burdensome policies on populations protected by Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any program or activity receiving federal funding. The Federal Transit Administration requires local transit agencies to measure the impacts of decisions related to these policies to understand how low-income and minority populations might be affected. The changes are the following:

Topic Running Newly Adopted
Determine if a service change is “major” 25% change in platform hours and or half a mile (bus) or a half-mile change (rail) to the stop location 25% change in income hours and or a quarter mile (bus) or a half-mile change (rail) to the stop location
Threshold of protected road for low-income and minority populations Any numerical difference above the district average (anything above 0%) identifies a protected route 5% absolute difference for modifications identifies a protected route
Benefits and impacts on protected and unprotected populations on all roads with changes over several years For all changes implemented in the past two years and changes proposed for next year 20% more negative impact or less benefit protected populations identifies potential impact on equity
Impact of the tariff change for protected populations Any numerical difference from the system mean identifies a potential impact on equity 20% more impact on protected populations use of relative difference (ratio) identifies potential impact on equity
Impacts of facility location on protected populations No explicit policy in place, but any numerical difference from the system mean used to identify a potential impact on equity 5% absolute difference from system average identifies a potential impact on equity


Senior Reporter

Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is particularly interested in how policies, regulations and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in big cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use planning and transport issues and has worked for The Urbanist since 2014.