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Originally published Monday, April 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM


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Q&A | Dalai Lama | Bus a miss | Name that bridge

Q: For Mariners and Seahawks home games scheduled on weekend afternoons, it's not unusual for extra Sounder train runs to be scheduled for...

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Q: For Mariners and Seahawks home games scheduled on weekend afternoons, it's not unusual for extra Sounder train runs to be scheduled for the convenience of fans and to help ease traffic and parking congestion.

So, why aren't any extra Sounder trains scheduled for the Dalai Lama's Seattle visit in a few days — especially for the big Seeds of Compassion event scheduled this Saturday at Qwest Field and expected to draw more than 50,000 people? After all, that's a crowd nearly comparable to average attendance at a Seahawks game.

A: Special Sounder service has to be requested, says Sound Transit spokeswoman Linda Robson. Seeds of Compassion event organizers made no such request.

Scheduling special-event Sounder runs is more than just putting it on a calendar, says Robson. The Sounder shares Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks, so schedules must be coordinated with freight traffic as well as any construction or maintenance activity at the time.

And, too, there's the matter of who picks up the tab for extra trains. The M's and the Seahawks have an agreement with Sound Transit for special game-day service. And there've been special trains for some big events, such as last year's Boeing 787 Dreamliner unveiling (Boeing picked up the $54,000 tab for that one).

Although a special train might have helped, event spokeswoman Pam Eakes said daily traffic advisories will be distributed to the media and posted online at

Q: Getting home after the M's opening-day game last Monday evening was anything but a home run for Jill Walker.

"I and several other people waited at Fourth Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way for the [Metro Transit] route 41 bus to pick us up to take us to Northgate," she said. "We waited over an hour in freezing cold weather and rain. A couple of people called Metro and they said the bus was coming [but that] it was just delayed in traffic."

Walker, of Seattle, says a Sound Transit driver did stop and allowed those waiting to get on her bus to warm up. The driver even took them uptown to Third Avenue and University Street at no charge so that they could walk a block to Union Street to wait for their bus.

"The first bus came by and only had room for five people, so we had to wait another 45 minutes for a second bus. I finally got dropped off at Northgate at 9:10 p.m.," said Walker. "Pretty pathetic for mass transit."

In her opinion, driving her own car and paying $40 to park might be a better deal than taking two hours to get out of downtown Seattle. "Kudos to the Sound Transit driver," she added.

A: Opening-day miscommunication. That's what Metro spokeswoman Linda Thielke calls what happened. She says the Seattle Police Department changed its traffic-control plan for M's game days this year to include a street closure on Royal Brougham Way, which Route 41 and other Metro buses had been using. Buses were rerouted another way.

Metro's practice is to post alerts at closed bus stops near the stadium to direct riders to where to board when buses are rerouted. But Metro had not received the revised traffic plan from the city by Monday, so no alerts and no reroute information got posted.

Metro and the city simply failed to communicate.

Walker's complaint about the Route 41 not serving northbound Fourth Avenue and Royal Brougham Way is justified, "and we are very sorry," said Thielke.

Q: West Seattle resident Paige Kanaby and her dad are at odds. He thinks the West Seattle Bridge has another name, and that it is just called the West Seattle Bridge because it's the bridge to West Seattle.

Daughter disagrees, arguing that the actual name is the West Seattle Bridge. "Hopefully you can help us," she said.

A: Sorry, dad. Daughter is right. Wayne Wentz, the Seattle Department of Transportation's traffic-management director, says the Seattle City Council changed the name from West Seattle Freeway to West Seattle Bridge in 1997, and posted signs were revised at that time to reflect the name change.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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