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Seattle-area agencies to begin early planning for Eastside rail-bus connections

Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit will host an open house tomorrow to review early planning for the Seattle area's Eastside transit service related to the 2023 opening of the East Link light-rail extension.

According to planning efforts now under way, riders of many bus routes that use Interstate 90's increasingly congested Lake Washington crossing will move onto rail service, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.

Decisions on specific routes won't be made for quite some time, but the agencies are increasing their joint planning and integration efforts under an initiative driven by King County Executive and Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine.

"Through continuous innovation we will create greater operating efficiencies and help expand service by getting the most frequent, rapid and reliable service for every transit dollar," said Constantine.

Bus and light-rail service would connect at regional transit hubs, including the Mercer Island and South Bellevue stations, and buses no longer will need to traverse the congested I-90 crossing, Sound Transit officials said. Now in the final design process, the stations are being planned with an emphasis on easy transfers between trains and buses, they said.

The 14-mile, $2.8 billion East Link Extension is designed to create a congestion-free transit connection between King County's biggest population and employment centers.

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More News from 8/11/2014