NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Big milestone for Sound Transit: Ridership on Link light rail has surpassed that of ST Express

Rid­er­ship on Sound Tran­sit’s Link light rail line just keeps going up.

Today, Sound Tran­sit released its lat­est rid­er­ship num­bers, show­ing a 71% increase in Link light rail rid­er­ship com­pared to the same peri­od in 2015. The mas­sive growth is being dri­ven to a large degree by the Uni­ver­si­ty Link exten­sion, which brought light rail to Capi­tol Hill and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton back in March.

The num­ber of peo­ple rid­ing Link has now sur­passed exceed­ed the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing ST Express bus­es for the first time in Sound Tran­sit history.

Impor­tant­ly, though, Link’s big gains have not come at the expense of ST Express rid­er­ship. The data shows those rid­er­ship fig­ures on the agen­cy’s net­work of region­al express bus­es have basi­cal­ly remained unchanged.

Sound Tran­sit says aver­age week­day board­ings came to 65,805, which is an 8% increase over the sec­ond quar­ter of 2015.

Crit­ics of Sound Tran­sit occa­sion­al­ly like to allege (with­out foun­da­tion) that intro­duc­ing light rail ser­vice will can­ni­bal­ize bus rid­er­ship. How­ev­er, the expe­ri­ence of oth­er cities has been that build­ing rail increas­es tran­sit rid­er­ship overall.

And that is what we’re now see­ing here in our own region.

We’ve now added three new light rail sta­tions this year: Capi­tol Hill, UW, and Angle Lake The result has been a net win for tran­sit, which is an excel­lent out­come for our region. As we con­nect more neigh­bor­hoods to the rail spine, we’ll like­ly see fur­ther jumps in rid­er­ship. Mean­while, we will con­tin­ue to have Express bus ser­vice as part of our mul­ti­modal tran­sit net­work, while adding two BRT lines with ST3.

Sounder com­muter rail con­tin­ues to see rid­er­ship gains too. Like ST Express, it was intro­duced years before Link began oper­a­tions, so it is a more mature tran­sit ser­vice. Yet it’s still grow­ing. Rid­er­ship is up over 2015, with aver­age week­day board­ings at 16,186. That is a 12% increase com­pared to the sec­ond quar­ter of last year.

Rid­er­ship on the Taco­ma Link street­car is down slight­ly, which was not whol­ly unex­pect­ed. Plans are under­way to extend the street­car so it goes fur­ther, and when new sta­tions open, that should help dri­ve rid­er­ship back in a pos­i­tive direction.

The next Link light rail sta­tions to join the sys­tem will be U Dis­trict, Roo­sevelt, and North­gate, all slat­ed to come online in 2021. The open­ing of those sta­tions will rev­o­lu­tion­ize trav­el between down­town and neigh­bor­hoods in North Seat­tle, pro­vid­ing peo­ple with a grid­lock-free alter­na­tive to Inter­state 5.

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One Comment

  1. Hi,
    rid­er­ship Sep­tem­ber num­bers is
    82,4 % for Link light rail and
    32% for Sys­tem Total
    Sound Tran­sit Oper­a­tions Sep­tem­ber 2016 Ser­vice Per­for­mance Report


    # by Rejean Benoit :: November 30th, 2016 at 11:06 AM

One Ping

  1. […] quar­ter­ly rid­er­ship keeps climb­ing, and now exceeds region­wide ST Express rid­er­ship despite cov­er­ing a frac­tion of that […]

    Ping from News Roundup: Victory Lap :: December 1st, 2016 at 10:40 AM
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