But there is some good news. As of Thursday, buskers are permitted to perform at the Capitol Hill and University of Washington light rail stations. The change of heart is thanks to a Sound Transit pilot project. The program, which runs through February, could serve as a prelude to permanent policies for public performers.
"In the spring, right around the time we were preparing U-Link and Capitol Hill stations, we heard people were really wanting to busk," said Kimberly Reason, a Sound Transit public information officer.
Some of that feedback came in after The Stranger ran a guest editorial supporting busking. That feedback was then used to develop the pilot project, which selected the two stations because they are highly trafficked and have 24-hour security, she said.
Busking guidelines are still strict, however.
For now, musicians and street performers are limited to performing at the UW and Capitol Hill stations. Although they are prohibited from playing on the train platforms themselves, performers are allowed on the stations' mezzanines and outdoor plazas in areas designated with a silver star placard. They can play for up to two hours.
Performers are—understandably—prohibited from using amplifiers. Although street performers are not allowed to include fire or knives in their acts, a Sound Transit press release ominously warns: "Performers perform at their own risk."
Here's to hoping this project provides another stage for fine folks such as Pike Place Market piano man Jonny Hahn and the University Street station's French horn-player. Be nice, grumpy commuters.