Light Rail Kicks Metro's Butt in the Snow

Thumbnail image for snow bus2.JPG
Those riding the bus today may have visions of Snowpocalypse, the 2008 snowstorm that caused huge delays for public transportation, derailed the city and ultimately got Mayor Greg Nickels booted out of office. With only a few flakes on the ground this morning, King County Metro has put its buses on snow routes and told riders to expect delays. DW's own Curtis Cartier spent 40 minutes waiting in Greenwood for the 28. He gave up and took the 5 instead, only to get stuck in a hellish commute to downtown that took an hour and 15 minutes.

For light-rail riders, well, it's time to gloat.

Two years ago, light rail wasn't yet operating, and South End commuters had to put up with long delays like everybody else. This year, riders get to see the beauty of big, hulking trains. "They just roll right over the snow," says Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick. Plus, they're on tracks rather than the road, which means there's no danger of sliding. "It's steel on steel," he says.

Thumbnail image for light rail.jpg
In short, the trains have been running absolutely normally--seven to 15 minutes apart, with no added travel time. (That's aside from one 11-minute delay this morning due to a mechanical problem, not the snow, Patrick says.)

That doesn't necessarily mean light-rail riders never have to worry about inclement weather. Patrick says freezing rain presents a particular danger due to the overhead electrical system used by the trains. If ice forms on the wires, that could cause a breakdown.

But Patrick says there is a solution: Sound Transit can run the trains all night long, rather than stopping them between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. as usual. That should keep the ice from building up. But so far today, there's no ice, and none is expected, Patrick says.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow