Because of a shortage of Link light rail operators, Sound Transit is temporarily reducing peak-time service.

Link will run every 12 minutes — down from every seven to eight minutes — during peak hours on weekdays, the transit agency said in a statement.

Service during off-peak hours will not be affected. The reductions started Monday.

The cutbacks are blamed on COVID-19, which has caused several light-rail operators to stay home as a precaution, to care for others, or to recover from infections.

Service reductions are expected to last a few weeks, but could go longer if the coronavirus outbreak deepens in the region, according to Sound Transit spokesman John Gallagher.

Three more operators will finish training in mid-January, but that may not be enough to fill the gap. King County Metro Transit operates the trains with a cohort of 78 operators spread across the whole week. The peak-time reductions reduce weekday staffing by eight shifts.

Advertising

Link light rail’s schedule from before the pandemic lists peak hours from 6:06 to 8:28 a.m., and 2:16 to 6:23 p.m.

During the reduction, Google Maps, One Bus Away and other applications and websites may not have accurate information for all trips.

Ridership is at a fraction of where it was before the pandemic. At its lowest point, in early May, Sound Transit said its bus and rail network was carrying 21,000 daily weekday passengers, down more than 85% from before the pandemic. Riders have slightly increased since then.

Information can be found at the transit agency’s website and passengers can request help with trip planning by calling 888-889-6368, TTY Relay 711.

Four transit workers in the Puget Sound area have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late February.

Metro reported an uptick in positive tests last month, with 20 workers catching the virus Nov. 1-20, though it’s not clear how many of those are work-related. The agency has taken several countermeasures, including new shields next to bus drivers, mask dispensers and passenger load limits to encourage social distancing.