Sound Transit Explains Why It Can't Run Trains After 12:35 a.m.


Several of the lines on the Chicago L run all night. I know they're old but I bet they've been upgraded with computers and stuff. Another answer is to schedule maintenance for Sunday late night (when fewer people are out partying, resting up for work on Monday) or for Monday late night (when restaurants etc are often closed for their day off).
I like the idea of trains that go until last call, but in general, these are not "cost efficient" - they're not cost-efficient ever during peak periods, and the "high demand of Seattle's excellent bars" is one of the most naive statements I've ever, ever heard.
Thanks, Sportlandia, for the productive contribution to this.. oh, wait.

What are you trying to say? That we shouldn't have light rails at all? You just undermined your own argument by saying that "they're never cost-efficient". What are you basing that on? Are you including the unseen economic consequences of cars or are you talking about light rail in a vacuum? How do you define "cost-efficient"? What does that even mean? It isn't a business, it's public transportation. If you take your idea to its logical conclusion, we would have no light rail at all and we'd only be worried about "cost-efficiency" (isn't the term "cost-effective"?).

Who's the naive one here? You sound like a pseudo-economist who never actually talks to people, interacts with people, or actually goes out and does stuff in Seattle. I used to work downtown and got off work at 1 30 am. I guess I should walk home..?
Your crappy website ate my entire comment, so I'll just say Lamest. Excuse. Ever.
#3, I wonder if numbers on cost efficiency would look better (and more accurate) if we didn't just look at revenue per rider during those extended hours, but ALSO any reduction in costs associated with drunk driving accidents (I'm thinking police response, tow trucks, and medical costs the city pays for the uninsured or underinsured). Bet we'd see a much closer alignment in investment versus return when that's taken into consideration.
Thanks to everyone who voted for Mayor "Cars First" Murray.
So, Sound Transit explains why they can't run late-night trains, but we should all sign a petition asking them to do it anyway…reality be damned?
That's a rather inadequate explanation, I think. They seriously need to shut the entire system down for three hours every day to run tests on the signage?

Isn't computerization supposed to reduce the amount of human work?
So they're updating software every single night?

Try this: first Monday each month they get their 3 hours to update the system. Even my iPhone doesn't update that often. And wait, why would they ever need to update this software?

Anyway, sounds like it's only part of the story. And maybe a cherry picked part intended to sound ridiculous. They do have to clean trains, etc. Please tell me this is only part of the story.
If you have to shut down the entire system every night to run tests, it sounds like the software for the light rail needs to be replaced.

Imagine if Google was unavailable for a couple hours every night.
Why not change last call to midnight? It would solve the issue of not having trains to carry the drunks home
the Paris Metro shuts down around 12:30 IIRC.
Totally sounds like bureaucratic BS. They literally have 5 other early mornings each week they can run their tests and updates; in any other context that should be more than sufficient to maintain the integrity of the system. My guess is they simply don't want to be bothered paying drivers and other overhead costs associated with extended operations.

That's generally when the last train leaves its end-of-the-line departure station, so it's still possible to traverse major parts of the Metro somewhat later. Also, last time I was there the operating hours were extended on Saturday and Sunday mornings until about 2:15 a.m., so again fairly easy to get around after closing time.
87.5% uptime isn't acceptable for any software system I'm aware of, let alone a bunch of...signs?
"maintenance and checks" ???
How do other, you know, world-class cities with metró/light-rail lines that run all night do it? Are those lines all manual or something?
Three hours every night? o_O ...I could buy that if part of the argument was "since the system is still so new", but once it matures a bit and things are in fine running order...
Also, there's no redundancy in "this computerized world"? What happens if the main controller gear goes offline for some reason? Is there no backup controller gear that can be brought on-line immediately? Who designed this system, Laurel and Hardy?

@13 -- All of Paris shuts down around 12:30pm... there's oddly very little late night activity in that city, except in isolated pockets. Even then people can still take the Noctambus that makes circuits all night long.
What does never-sleeping NYC do? Does their subway shutdown over night?
Why on earth do they need to *start* running trains at 4:15am? Esp. on Saturday or Sunday morning? If they really need 3 hours nightly, maybe they could keep the existing schedule for Sunday-Thursday, but for Friday and Saturday nights run the last train at 2:30am, then do the maintenance between 3am-6am.
@Orangesoda: Imagine if Google was unavailable for a couple hours every night.

Wait, Google is open all night?? They're working miracles over there!

If ST can't figure out how to use its high tech system as effectively as the (presumably?) less technologically advanced all-night systems, such as NYC then maybe they are making some bad policy decisions. What's the point of building enormously expensive permanent infrastructure if it can't be utilized to its full capacity? Public transportation NEVER makes a profit in any city, that's not it's purpose, I don't see how it could operate at much more of a deficit. Plus there are many low-income workers who get off late at night and can't afford to drive. How about the equity concerns of shutting transit down (most buses too) before those people can get home? Such a love-hate relationship with ST!
The morning news thread has been deleted. I do believe that's a first for the slog.

The Morning News & comments haven't been deleted, they've just dropped off the front page. Go to the bottom and click the "Next -->" link.
@3 - "Cost efficiency" is not a useful metric for public infrastructure. We don't ask the Pentagon to be cost-efficient. Government is not business.

It's weird, I've done that 3X in two different browsers. The first entry that comes up on the second page is from Wednesday afternoon. But if I click on Charles' slog profile, I can find the news linked there. Not saying the issue isn't necessarily my own general incompetency, but the slog's been being ridiculous of late. And I just checked yet again and it doesn't show when I attempt to access it in the manner you describe.
Listen to @17. If you have a redundant system in place, you can run on the backup while you do tests and updates to the primary.
@18: maybe because the airport gets going around that time?
On the one hand, yay, late night light rail! On the other hand, pee and vomit everywhere.
@4 it sounds like a car would be your best option. I say that as a practicing transit service planner for one america's largest public systems who hasn't, in the 20th year of my working career, ever used a car to commute.

The reason the statement about the bar thing is naive is because in reality, there is very little demand for Seattle's bars - not nearly enough to make a meaningful change in the "efficiency" of transit service in post-last-call hours. There is a term for these late-night routes: Hauling Air. Public transit is almost always run at a deficit, which is fine, but that doesn't mean there's no credit limit, in fact, sacrifices are made all over the place. Throw in the fact that your cost of labor (the biggest operational cost) can be anywhere from 4x to 8x more expensive for these weekend overnight routes (not only are you paying bonuses for that time, your operators are surely going to be in OT time as well) compared to peak hours.

Also, not that many people go out Friday and Saturday evenings - perhaps in Mr. Powell's bubble on Capital Hill it seems like "everyone" is out, but it should be obvious that the amount of activity during those times is minuscule compared to daylight hours.
@6 there were 118 drunk driving incidents in Seattle in the past year [it's unclear if this is a rolling year or 2015 data, but whatever, we're in the ballpark]

Seattle has a 20% transit mode share, so let's be generous and say late night transit would be subscribed at half that level (10%) and that fully 25% of those trips would be made on light rail, saving us 3 incidents a year. Let's also be generous and put the cost per incident at $500,000 each. So we're saving $1.5 million dollars. Sound Transit's adopted budget for 2016 is $1.3 billion. So you've shaved 0.1% off that total. That figure doesn't change the math at all, and all those numbers are vastly inflated.

Have you ever actually BEEN on Capitol Hill, or in Ballard, Fremont, the U District, Belltown, Pioneer Square, et al on a weekend evening? I live in Ballard and work on the Hill and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the sheer density per foot-squared on Friday and Saturday night is magnitudes above what you would see on a weekday. Or is this supposed to be one of those Yogi Berra-inspired oxymoronic: "nobody goes there - it's too crowded" kind of ironic observations?
@30 No, it's just that non-nightlife people aren't counted for 3/5ths just because they aren't in your demo. How many places are closed at 12am that are full of shoppers and workers in the day? How crowded is the sidewalk at 4pm compared to 12am? I know you can't see past your own nose, but consider that folks who aren't cool-as-thou are fully equal to you. Unless you think they aren't. anyhow, go away, your argument is dumb on it's face and even dumber in the context of even back-of-napkin math.
The answer is simple: take the light rail to your nightlife destination, hook up with someone who lives near one of the bars you frequent, then go home on the early morning train. You'll make lifelong friends, and have many interesting stories to tell when you get older and less attractive, with absolutely no interest in staying out past 9pm.
Is maintenance of every train performed every night? It seems they could find a rotation that allowed one or more to be taken out of service while the others are used.
The London Underground ("The Tube") shuts down nightly around midnight for service. Buses replace the more popular lines, and everyone has adapted to the night buses -- pub-crawlers and late-night after-theatre diners share buses the same way they would share the Tube. Seattle will find a way to survive.

So basically, people only deserve decent public transit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.? Seattle stopped rolling up its sidewalks after dark a couple of decades ago, and the citizens out and about after the workday crowd heads home pay just as much in taxes as they do. If we're going to be a 24 hour city, and for all intents and purposes we're moving towards that at head-spinning rapidity, then our transit options need to reflect that reality.
Nice pic Charles.
@18 Uh, one of the largest employers in the area starts first shift at 5:30am.
@34: Yes, but you know what else shuts down by midnight in London? 95% of the bars.