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Don’t hate the station, hate the game

October 18th, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

Beacon Hill Station. Photo by Wendi.

Erica C. Barnett calls Beacon Hill’s gain the rest of Southeast Seattle’s loss in a Publicola article titled “South End Screwup”:

Today’s loser: Residents of Southeast Seattle who might, had Sound Transit not decided to build an expensive (and over-budget) station through Beacon Hill, have had two more light-rail stations in their part of the city.

Barnett’s analysis appears to be in error, however. She claims that:

…The distance between stations on the south end of the line is much longer than in the central, north, and (planned) east portions of the line: Nearly two-and-a-half miles from station to station, compared to just over 1.5 miles for the north section and just over a mile for the central portion.

However, the 2009 Seattle Transit Blog article in which she has found this statistic is not referring to Southeast Seattle when it describes “South Link.” The existing light rail line, from Westlake south to Sea-Tac, is known as “Central Link,” and is listed on the STB article with an average station distance of about 1.2 miles. “South Link,” on the other hand, is used in the STB post to refer to the extension of the line from Sea-Tac to Tacoma (or Redondo/Star Lake — it’s unclear which version of the proposed line is being referred to here). The distance between the Rainier Valley stations actually averages (very roughly) 1.25 miles.

Also mentioned in the Publicola article is a statistic from the February 2010 Metro/Sound Transit rider survey (also discussed on Seattle Transit Blog), showing low ridership numbers at Beacon Hill station, with only two percent of riders boarding at Beacon Hill. To put the number in context, this total was just above SODO and Stadium stations (one percent or fewer), and just below Mount Baker, Othello, and Columbia City (each of which accounted for three percent of daily boardings). SeaTac/Airport (30%) and Westlake (23%), unsurprisingly, accounted for the highest number of boardings.

More recent numbers released by Sound Transit last month (February – June station activity based on actual boarding data instead of survey responses as was the February survey) found here and here show Beacon Hill Station with more boardings than Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach, SODO and Stadium, and more deboardings than all of the above plus Mount Baker, and only a few short of Pioneer Square.

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