On occasion, when I make a cross-lake journey using Sound Transit’s ST Express, I step upon a bus that’s packed tighter than a can of sardines. Today ended up being one of those days — even though my trip took place before rush hour. My suspicion is that the Blue Angels’ practice had something to do with it, because the squadron’s performance over Lake Washington caused Interstate 90 to be closed twice (once in the morning and once in the afternoon). This forced the rerouting of the 550 Express, which normally goes over I‑90.
I chose to wait until after I‑90 was reopened to go back across Lake Washington. But apparently many other people had the same idea, because the 550 I walked onto had barely any room. After the doors had closed, I turned to the person behind me (who had graciously made room for me) and said, I wish we had light rail running through this corridor.
“Oh, man,” he said. “That’s what we need!”
All the people around us nodded their agreement.
Another spoke up and lamented that East Link was still more than a decade away. “That might be true,” I replied, “but at least the project is moving forward.” I explained that just last Thursday, the Sound Transit Board had selected an alignment for East Link which Bellevue’s City Council could live with. Everybody who was following the conversation seemed very pleased to hear this.
Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman can bluster all they want, but the reality is, the people of Puget Sound want this project. They voted for this project. And they expect Sound Transit to build what it promised.
The beauty of light rail is that it offers a faster, cleaner, more reliable commute. Light rail is something people know they can depend on. The service is frequent enough that you can ride without a schedule. Trains don’t have to dwell as long at stops as buses because people just walk on or off (no standing at the door waiting to pay your fare!) And you don’t have to worry about traffic, because light-rail runs in its own right-of-way.
People who have to cross Lake Washington on a regular basis (like me!) have been ready for East Link for a long time. We want it to come it online as soon as possible… and we wish that it already had.