Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Travel Light... Link is here to stay

One of the biggest weekends, infrastructure wise, in the history of this region is finally coming to close as Central Link Opening Weekend winds down.

It's still a bit difficult to believe that the trains are really, truly, and surely here to stay for good. Central Link is no rail exhibition brought in from some other town (if such a thing could even exist) thought that is what it seemed like at times this weekend. Rather, it is greater Seattle's newest and greatest way of getting around.

And it's only going to get better.

Five months from now, Sound Transit will be inaugurating service on the last stretch of the initial line (Airport Link) which will bring light rail directly into SeaTac. Then, in seven years, University Link will open, bringing light rail under Capitol Hill and the Montlake Cut into the state's largest center of higher learning.

For now, it's possible to travel from Tukwila to Westlake Center and points in between without ever getting stuck in traffic, thanks to Central Link.

Interest in the line was high for Opening Weekend. Sound Transit counted approximately 92,000 boardings in all, including 41,000 today. That's an initial estimate; the figure may rise tomorrow morning as Sound Transit gets more complete data, as it did this morning (45,000 boardings were estimated yesterday, but the revised number released this morning was 51,000).

Opening Weekend also disproved (as we knew it would) one of the most outrageous myths that anti-rail fanatics have long propagated: that light rail only siphons riders from buses. In reality, light rail attracts a large number of people who would otherwise drive if the only transit option were buses.

It wasn't hard to find people on Link this weekend who don't normally take mass transit. There were even riders who had never tried public transportation before.

They joined those who have been waiting, waiting, and waiting for this weekend all their lives: greater Seattle's rail advocates, many of whom have traveled extensively or are transplants from other cities that have rail.

Many of them led in the cheering during boarding of Link trains, and cheering again when the train rolled away from the platform.

A huge congratulations to Sound Transit for fulfilling high expectations this weekend. The agency successfully accommodated big crowds with no catastrophes or major breakdowns. There were merely a few minor inconveniences here and there, like a broken escalator or stuck elevator (that had no one in it).

The reliability of light rail was showcased for all to see.

The trains ran and ran smoothly. Stations were extremely well manned by event staff. There was musical entertainment, drinking water, and plenty of information about riding the system at pretty much every station. Lines weren't too bad and most people seemed to be happy with the crowd control.

The Sound Transit team, led by Chief Executive Officer Joni Earl, put in very long hours and are to be commended for a job well done.


Blogger Claw said...

Actually the stuck elevator did have someone in it:

July 20, 2009 7:04 AM  

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