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Ridership on Sound Transit's Link light-rail system jumped 27 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year.
The opening of new stations as part of Sound Transit's University Link extension helped to significantly boost ridership. However, the agency's trend of double-digit ridership growth would have continued even without the new extension, which opened in March, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.For instance, ridership during the portion of the quarter before University Link began service was up 12.5 percent compared with ridership during the same period in 2015.Second-quarter figures will be the first to fully reflect expanded ridership following the opening of the extension, which increased weekday ridership from 35,000 to 60,000, agency officials said.Meanwhile, ridership on the agency's Sounder commuter-rail service from Seattle to Everett and Lakewood, Wash., set an all-time quarterly record with 16,292 average weekday boardings, marking a 15 percent increase over the same period in 2015. Overall ridership across all of Sound Transit's modes of transportation rose 10 percent.The sharp increases in Link and Sounder ridership reflect the demand for "fast, reliable mass transit," said Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine. He noted that the upcoming Sound Transit 3 ballot measure will provide an opportunity for riders to "get out of traffic and onto a light-rail system that connects the entire region."The ballot initiative will ask residents to vote on various tax increases to pay for a host of transit expansions, including adding 58 miles to Sound Transit's light-rail system.