July 18 marked an important date for commuters in the Puget Sound region: the 10th anniversary of the start of Sound Transit’s Link light rail service. Over that time, Link has had more than 134 million total boardings and has seen ridership grow from an average of just over 15,000 weekday boardings to about 77,000 today.
“In the past ten years, more and more riders in the region have learned that Link is a dependable option to arrive at their destination,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Redmond Mayor John Marchione. “I want to thank the millions of riders who have made Link so successful and the voters in our region who continue to support the expansion of the system.”
On its opening day in 2009, Link covered 14 miles of service between the Westlake and Tukwila International Boulevard Stations. Since then, Link has grown to 22 miles. Service to Sea-Tac International Airport was added in December 2009, to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington in March 2016 and to Angle Lake in September 2016.
“Because of Link, riders have been spared countless hours sitting in ever-worsening traffic,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “Link’s tenth anniversary comes at a time when we are expanding the network to the North, South and East. By the time Link’s fifteenth anniversary comes around, we expect that more than twice as many riders as we have today will have discovered the advantages of fast, effective light rail.”
In the next five years, Link will add 22 stations and expand to more than 50 miles of rail service. In 2021, Sound Transit will begin light rail service to the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. In 2023 trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue and Overlake. Next up will be the extension of light rail to Lynnwood, Federal Way and downtown Redmond in 2024. By 2026, daily weekday boardings are projected to be between 257,000 and 303,000.
Future Link extensions approved by voters in 2016 as part of ST3 are planned for West Seattle (2030), Tacoma Dome (2030), Ballard (2035), Everett (2036), South Kirkland (2041) and Issaquah (2041). With these additions, the system will grow to 116 miles and is projected to serve about 600,000 riders every day.