NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

Sound Transit’s University Link light rail extension opens to the public for free rides

Flanked by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the Emerald City’s First Gentleman, Michael Shiosaki, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray this morning used a giant pair of ceremonial scissors to cut open a ribbon at the entrance of Sound Transit’s new Capitol Hill Station, signaling the opening of Sound Transit’s University Link light rail to the public after seven years of construction.

Scene at the University Link ribbon cutting

Confetti cannons fired after the ribbon was cut, creating a festival-like atmosphere (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

A large crowd of “Golden Ticket” winners, who’d just taken their first ride on U-Link, burst into cheers and applause as confetti filled the air and began streaming back into the station to get on trains going north to the University of Washington and south to Westlake Center in downtown Seattle.

The ceremonial ribbon cutting ended an hour of opening morning festivities that began with a “Power Up” celebration at the University of Washington Station (led by Executive Constantine), an inaugural ride for the Golden Ticket winners (who were joined by members of the media and VIPs) and a second “Power Up” celebration at the Capitol Hill Station (led by Mayor Murray).

Murray proceeded to shake hands with the first few dozen people waiting in line to go into the Capitol Hill Station, thanking them for their patience during construction and their participation in the opening festivities.

And with that, the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations officially opened for business. They’ve been very busy all morning long, but Sound Transit has done an excellent job keeping people moving. The agency is running three-car trains at six minute intervals to handle the demand.

Riders detrain after inaugural "Golden Ticket" ride

Riders detrain after inaugural “Golden Ticket” ride (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

As a thank you to taxpayers, Sound Transit is offering free rides up and down the line all day long. (Click the link to open a virtual commemorative ticket good for unlimited free rides on your smartphone prior to boarding at any station.)

So far, it’s been smooth sailing, with no glitches or delays of any kind.

Happy, smiling passengers are getting their first taste of what it’s like to zoom underground between downtown, Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington… a trip that takes just eight minutes or less.

Inside and adjacent to the new stations, there are musicians, food trucks, informational booths, and games for all to enjoy.

Sound Transit and the City of Seattle invite you to come on down and experience University Link for yourself. It’s your turn to ride!

Getting to University Link

Sound Transit recommends you walk, bike, or take the bus to get to one of the new stations. Or, alternatively, you can get on Link itself at one of the original stations, and travel north to reach Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

Get there. There is no parking at either station. Transit, biking, ride-sharing and park-and-ride are all great ways to get to the event. Special event shuttle service will connect Northgate Transit Center to University of Washington Station during the event.

Be prepared. We’re planning for sunny skies, but Northwest weather in spring can be unpredictable. Stay comfortable by dressing in layers and keeping a small umbrella handy. Many areas will be covered.

Get social. We love to hear from you! Share your launch day experience with #ULink2016 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

We’re here for you. For your convenience, our customer service office will be open during Launch Day. They can be reached at 1-888-889-6368 from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Enjoy your ride!

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