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Sound Transit, NJ Transit mark light-rail anniversaries


Sound Transit's Link light-rail system yesterday marked its seventh year of service amid strong ridership growth.

In May, for example, Link ridership jumped nearly 83 percent compared to the same month last year, according to the agency's most recent ridership figures. The system logged 1,777,520 rides in May 2016, versus 971,753 in May 2015. In addition, the system averaged 65,409 weekday boardings in May.

Photo: Sound Transit
Link has logged 64.4 million rides from its opening in 2009 through May.

As reported in May, ridership on Link soared 27 percent in the agency's first quarter, which ran from Jan. 1 through March 31. The University Link extension, which opened in March, helped to significantly boost ridership during the quarter.

"Seven years after the first Link trip, we have a greater appreciation for how historically significant that moment was for our region," said Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine in a press release. "It was the day that commuters began to experience the benefits of reliable, high-capacity light rail, and they've been demanding more ever since."

This fall, Sound Transit plans to open its 1.6-mile light-rail extension from the SeaTac/Airport Station to the new Angle Lake Station at S. 200th Street in SeaTac, Wash.

In 2023, the agency is on track to operate nearly 50 miles of light-rail lines extending to Lynnwood, Wash., in the north; Bellevue and Redmond, Wash., to the east; and Kent/Des Moines, Wash., in the south. Contractors have begun East Link construction in downtown Bellevue late this spring, while the light-rail extension to Lynnwood is in final design.

In addition, voters will decide whether to continue expanding the system through the Sound Transit 3 expansion plan, which will be placed on the November ballot. If approved, the plan would add 62 additional miles of light rail, bringing the agency's total to 116 miles.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of its Broad Street Extension of the Newark light-rail system.

Photo: NJ Transit

The $207.7 million, 1-mile extension links Newark Penn Station with Newark Broad Street. The Federal Transit Administration provided $166 million for the project under a full-funding grant agreement.

"The opening of the Broad Street Extension was a milestone moment for public transportation options for NJ Transit, and this service is thriving today," said interim Executive Director Dennis Martin in a press release.

On an average weekday, NJ Transit's Newark system accommodates more than 19,000 trips, representing more than 12.2 million annual passenger miles, according to the agency.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/19/2016