Monorail renovation begins ahead of Kraken hockey team’s exit to Seattle Center
As time goes by, contractors for the 1-mile Seattle Center Monorail will gut and renovate both stations in anticipation of hockey fans riding the historic trains in October.
The waiting area space will increase. Passengers will pass through automatic fare gates, similar to those used by people walking on state ferries. The new arrangements are expected to increase flow and capacity, compared to the old method where everyone walks past a ticket office.
Construction staging begins Monday, and then monorail service will be closed April 12-30 during the demolition phase of the project, said Tom Albro, owner of Seattle Monorail Services, a private operator of city-owned trains.
He estimated 4,000 fans from a sold-out crowd of 17,100 would ride the monorail to Climate Pledge Arena, home of the National Hockey League’s new Seattle Kraken franchise and four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm.
Transit use could benefit from the construction of the Kraken’s headquarters next to Northgate Station, a potential gathering place for hockey fans, where light rail service begins in September, 14 minutes away of Westlake.
Westlake Center itself contains underground parking, as do other buildings near the monorail.
If the monorail is nearly as popular as Albro says, pro hockey could be a catalyst to help revive the scruffy downtown Seattle, where visitation fell 59% last year due to office closures from coronavirus, cruise bans, vandalism, shoplifting and more visible homelessness. More than 163 businesses have closed permanently since the pandemic hit, the Downtown Seattle Association said last month.
To make room for more passengers, the Westlake monorail station will expand inside the third floor of the Westlake Center mall, tearing down an existing wall. Digital train information panels, brighter lights and larger canopies are planned.
The ticket offices will move to the outskirts. Five automated gates are planned at Seattle Center (with a chrome, art deco look like vintage trains) and six at Westlake. People with ORCA cards and pre-purchased tickets can show the fare and boarding at all gates.
Kraken game tickets, being developed as a smartphone app, will also serve as Transit GO tickets on Sound Transit buses and light rails, but not on Sounder commuter trains, the spokesperson said. the agency, John Gallagher. The metro bus fare will also be included in match tickets and subsidized by the team, according to officials.
Light rail travelers arriving at Westlake station can ascend the mall’s escalators and transfer to monorail trains. To handle post-game surges, the escalators are being renovated so both can point down late at night, Albro said. The company recruits monorail operators, technicians and service agents.
The station upgrades were designed by VIA Architecture, whose extensive transit portfolio includes stations in Vancouver, British Columbia, SkyTrain and Angle Lake station in SeaTac.
The Kraken announced in February 2020 that it would invest $6 million in improving monorail stations. Team officials said only two other major sports teams, the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, have similar carrying partnerships.
On the other hand, early predictions from arena developers Oak View Group in 2017 indicated that around 80% of visitors would arrive by car. Public transit could become convenient for more fans in 2024 when the Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond light rail extensions are completed.
The group is abandoning the architects’ more ambitious plan, proposed in 2018, which would build exterior walkways in 2024 along the southern corner of the mall building.
That’s primarily because mall executives insisted on bringing arena crowds through their property to encourage retail, according to Albro.