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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit's Link light-rail service turns five


Sound Transit officials last week marked five years of Link light-rail service in Seattle, noting the line has continued to post double-digit annual ridership growth since its opening.

Link trains began operating between downtown Seattle and Tukwila on July 18, 2009. The final section to SeaTac and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport opened six months later.

The line's ridership during its first five years totaled 36.6 million through May, the latest month of available data, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.

Other Link facts include:
• The average weekday ridership is 33,600;
• The highest ridership day of regular service was 71,500 riders, which occurred on Feb. 2 when the community held a Super Bowl championship celebration for the Seattle Seahawks NFL team; and
• Estimated round trips since opening day between downtown Seattle and SeaTac International Airport is 800,000.

The system services 13 stations between downtown and the airport, including stops at the major Seattle sports stadiums, Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley neighborhoods.

A 3.15-mile underground light-rail extension to the University of Washington with two stations is scheduled to open in first-quarter 2016, six to nine months ahead of its original construction schedule and about $150 million under budget, Sound Transit officials said.

Another 4.3-mile extension to the Northgate neighborhood is scheduled to open in 2021 with three new stations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/24/2014