For several months, the elevator at the east end of the pedestrian overpass at SeaTac/Airport station was out of service. Riders requiring the elevator needed to ride Link to Tukwila International Boulevard station and then ride Metro’s RapidRide A Line bus service to South 176th Street. If you were unaware of this, take pride that you didn’t have to listen to the frequent audible reminders played every few minutes throughout Link’s alignment.
That elevator has since been repaired, but right on cue another nonredundant elevator has failed. Not to worry, Sound Transit has you covered with another announcement:
The Tukwila International Boulevard Station ground level elevator is out of service. Southbound Link passengers requiring elevator service, ride Link to SeaTac/Airport station, and from International Boulevard and South 176<supth Street, transfer to northbound RapidRide A Line to Tukwila
If you missed part of that 19 second monologue, never fear, because 22 seconds after it finished it will be replayed in its entirety. And if you missed it the second time around, you needn’t wait even four minutes to hear it twice more.
This message, much like the previous elevator messages, are far too long and play far too often. I had to re-listen to the clip multiple times in order to type an accurate transcript (albeit from a low quality cell phone recording). The fact that the DSTT stations are cavernous echo chambers certainly doesn’t help their intelligibility, but if the announcements are so difficult to understand the answer should be improving their understandability and not increasing their frequency. Further, since the announcement only applies to southbound Link riders, the announcement need not play more than the headways of southbound trains. And much like the train warning announcements, they need only play on the southbound side of the station.
These announcements are in addition to the usual barrage of noise pollution alerting riders to policies that are clearly spelled out with signage and pavement markings throughout the tunnel. Yesterday I recorded the audio during my wait on the platform. For this sample, the total duration of audio announcements is 113.2 seconds which equates to a solid 20% of the time. It would have been slightly longer if one of the quot;train now arriving" message hadn’t preempted one of the security announcements.
With so many announcements playing so frequently they become noise both figuratively and literally. And since the routine announcements sound exactly the same as the urgent announcements, they may have just done the opposite of their intent and trained regular riders to completely ignore them.
A full visual transcript of the announcements: