All Aboard! Get to Know Seattle’s Transit and Light Rail

Apr. 17, 2018 Moving to Seattle


Continuing our series discussing Seattle Transit for those moving or new to the Puget Sound, we introduce Link light rail. Operated by Sound Transit, the light rail travels from the Angle Lake park and ride in Tukwila, through the Sea-Tac  Airport, and finally terminates at the University of Washington, with 16 stops in between. It’s similar to riding a subway, and while primarily above ground, the six downtown stations are all below ground.

As shown in the graph above, the Link light rail has seen an increase in ridership over the last couple of years, which is largely due to the recent openings of two new and highly-requested stations – the UW Station and the Capitol Hill Station – as well as the Puget Sound region’s unparalleled growth. There is also a separate Link light rail in Tacoma, which makes six stops through Downtown Tacoma. It’s not connected to Seattle just yet, but is planned for expansion in the next couple of decades; however, if you’re living and working down in Pierce county now, the light rail may be an option for you, too.

What is ST3 / Sound Transit 3?

With the increase in residents taking Seattle transit, the light rail expansion planning is far from over. Recently approved by the residents of King and Snohomish counties, ST3 secures funding of Sound Transit expansion to 2040. While controversy remains over ST3’s method of calculating vehicle taxes for funding, the package as approved makes the following improvements:

The plan is largely based on input from the public, and if passed in November, will include the following light rail extensions:

  • 62 miles of light rail with stations that will serve 37 additional areas in the Puget Sound
  • A speed-up of currently funded and passed extensions by 2-5 years
  • Access north to Everett (As part of previous plans, the Northgate station opens in 2021 & Lynnwood in 2023)
  • Access south to connect to Tacoma by 2030 (As part of previous plans, South 200th Link opens in 2016 & Federal Way in 2023)
  • Access southwest to West Seattle with stops at the West Seattle Junction
  • Access west and northwest to Queen Anne, Wallingford, Westlake, Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods
  • Access east to the East Side as far north as Downtown Redmond and as far south as Issaquah (As part of previous plans, the East link expansion, with stations connecting Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Microsoft’s Redmond campus will open in 2023)

For a more in-depth view of all future light rail plans, take a look at this custom Google Map. Also, for a map of all of ST3 additions (including express busses and the Sounder) check Sound Transit’s interactive map.