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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