Streetfilms: Seattle’s Link Light Rail — The Start of Something Big

Right now, Seattle is making as serious a commitment to transit as any city in the nation. Recently, Streetfilms got to take a tour of the newest addition to the city’s network —
the 13-station Link Light Rail, which opened in
mid-2009.

The route is beautiful, swift, and has great multi-modal connections. Service is frequent, with headways as short as 7 minutes during rush
hour, and never longer than 15 minutes. And like many of the newest American light rail systems,
the stations feature copious art.

Seattle has a lot of car commuters, but in a sign that many are looking for more efficient and environmentally friendly ways
of getting to work, the new light rail line will be followed by several more additions to the city’s transit network. As Seattle’s Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl told us:

[Voters] in November 2008, by 57 percent — which was a thrill in a recession economy — voted to expand our light rail system, and our commuter rail system, and our buses… to add another 36 miles of light rail in the region. And to add 65 percent more capacity to our commuter rail system.

We’d like to thank everyone who talked to us for this shoot, especially Bruce Gray from Sound Transit, and Andrew Schmid for arranging it all. And of course a big shout out to the intrepid scribes over at Seattle Transit Blog, who cover the local transportation scene with zeal and gusto.

  • Read my lips: “No park & ride.” Good idea.

    Nice livery design on those vehicles, also like the “Orca Card”, very localizing! I hope that people take their bike helmets off whilst on the train, lest they send the wrong message. Seating looks comfy, but wonder if it is overlit at night…

  • I wouldn’t exactly call 7 minute rush hour headways frequent. That’s the problem with all these new light rail systems, they are not frequent enough. Frequent is every 3 minutes. Very frequent is every 90 seconds. 7 minutes…..is merely ok. 15 minutes sucks. Anything above that is unusable.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Jass is at the nexus of capital and operating, headways.

  • Jass — there’s a guy saying that the plan is to go to 3-minute headways once some tunnels are built that will increase the passenger counts.

    Great video. Makes me want to move to Seattle. (Too bad my kids’ grandparents are a 3000-mile plane ride from there.)

  • I’d love to see a nicely curated gallery of the best in station art. I’ve always loved the Market East station in Philadelphia, for instance; really attractive but still with simple functional tile (http://bit.ly/9Xv0ib). As a basic structure for a mural it’s something I’d love to see at more stations.

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Seattle area voters will vote this November on a $53 billion transit expansion package. But along with new light rail lines stretching across the region, Seattle will also be getting a publicly owned parking empire. In total, the plan calls for $661 million in spending on parking at transit stations. At an astounding $80,000 per stall, that will fund 8,300 parking spots. Zach […]