Sound Transit's University Link light-rail extension opens March 19. Seattle Times readers weigh in on how the expanded line will change the way the get around the city.
Service on Sound Transit’s 3-mile, $1.8 billion University Link light-rail extension opens March 19. We asked readers if the new route will change the way they get around Seattle, and whether it will influence their attitudes toward future light-rail lines.
Here is what they had to say:
“Unreliable and sardine are two words that describe today’s current state of affairs. Aurora buses, often damp and cramped, are at the mercy of regional traffic forces ranging from the Mercer Mess to an overturned fish truck. On days when it really gets bad, walking home is a faster solution.
I’m looking forward to using Link’s big, open, dry, reliable trains zipping under the surfaces’ worries. It’ll be a little out-of-the-ways to get to UW station for the daily grind, but that’s a small price to pay for getting so much time back. The Burke-Gilman Trail, within a stone’s throw, enables worry-free and exercise-full commute when Mother Nature lets us pedal once again. This is going to change everything.”
–Mike Bjork, Wallingford
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“When the Northgate extension is completed, it certainly will make a difference, and, better yet, the Lynnwood link will be amazing. It can’t come soon enough.
As long as the Sound Transit 3 measure does not include property taxes, I will support it. The new route should include Boeing and downtown Everett or the money will not be spent well enough to garner enough people utilizing the north Lynnwood to Everett extension. I’m sure more votes would be gained if Boeing is included. If Boeing is not included, north-end voters may not help pass the measure.”
–Paul Gunderson, Lynnwood
“I have a disability and do not drive. I use light rail and buses almost everyday. Currently, I am working full time during the day and take evening classes at Broadway at night. I take light rail from downtown to go home. If the new light rail starts, I am planning to go to UW to get a master degree. It will be convenient for me, and I will feel safe to take light rail to go to UW without transferring buses.”
–Miao Miao Dang, Mount Baker
“It will help but it will also be difficult for me to use because I get around primarily by bicycle, taking transit for the middle part of long trips. So for me from Green Lake, it is definitely attractive for me to be able to do a short two-mile ride to UW station, hop on Link with my bike and then get off on Capitol Hill and ride to my destination. But Sound Transit is not making it easy to take bikes on Link trains. Each train needs to have one car with a large open area where you can easily roll on lots of bikes. Especially now that it serves UW, there is going to be a huge demand for people bringing bikes on the trains. And not just students, but family and cargo bikers who can’t hang their bikes on the train (and let’s be honest, many people can’t hang a “normal” bike on Link trains).
To make things worse, Sound Transit is continuing to install coathanger-style bike racks at their stations. These racks are completely useless. The only way to reasonable lock a bike to them is to use the outside edge, so you get two bikes securely locked per rack. The rest of the bikes in the middle are a buffet for bike thieves. Sound Transit has been told repeatedly for years to switch to the standard staple racks like SDOT has been installing. But it has refused to do so.”
–Glen Buhlmann, Green Lake
“I will use University Link on occasion, but the new link to the Eastside will really change everything for me. We need transit to move to a world-class city and region, the sooner the better. More Eastside lines are vital.”
–Tom Neir, Kirkland
“Through grad school at UW, drinks on Capitol Hill, and work in downtown, U-Link will be (almost) everything I ask for. Riding the 49, 43, 70, 71, 72 and 73 is treacherously slow — U-Link will make it so much easier. Plus, Sound Transit said it’s adding cell service to the tunnels!
A successful double tunnel boring project in Seattle?! Under budget and ahead of schedule?! Ridership predictions through the roof? You bet I’m going to vote yes on Sound Transit 3. The agency has shown it can be responsible stewards of our money, and deliver what we want in a timely manner.”
–Marlon Herrera, Eastlake
“Metro does not offer bus service beyond a.m. and p.m. peak periods to northeast Seattle and Wedgwood, and only in one direction. The new light rail allows me to say later for work or leisure downtown, take the light rail to the UW and take advantage of expanded bus service. Right now, I need to take Uber home at $18 each way to go north after 6:30 p.m. So I have expanded options, more consistent service, and more peace of mind for a flexible schedule
Although I support light rail, Sound Transit’s approach of elaborate, over-planned, and long-term delivery schedules are awful. Compared to TriMet in Oregon, SoundTransit cannot deliver needed service in the near term because it takes so long to get started. I begrudgingly support it, but not how it will be executed.”
–Tyler Winchell, Wedgwood
“It will make traveling around the U District more of a nerve-wracking nightmare, as the already clogged sidewalks surge with transit riders rushing to and from the transit station. I am a senior citizen resident of the U District who has already had to forego a walking routine in my immediate neighborhood due to sidewalk congestion or disrepair. When I must drive to appointments or on shopping trips, I avoid driving through U District streets if at all possible, heading toward the freeway to go north and south rather than a more direct route through U District surface streets.
I am generally opposed to the huge outlays of tax dollars going toward the light-rail corridor. The transit stations lack sufficient pick-up/drop-off points so that commuters can connect quickly and easily to surface transit options. And, east-west surface transit options are insufficient to meet the traveling public’s needs. The light-rail system seems to focus too much on the needs of commuters who wish to travel north and south on work days. But residents and visitors alike need and want to travel in the evenings and on weekends and holidays. They want to go east and west, to recreational destinations, and to shopping areas and warehouse stores to pick up groceries and supplies that are not easily carried onto a train. More attention and money should be directed toward improving surface transit options, and in thoughtful consideration of the fact that not all Seattle residents are physically fit adults.”
–Shirley Nixon, University District
“I think light rail will change the mix of the UW, Capitol Hill and downtown. Soon it will be very easy to move around the various areas — from the Amazon jungle, to the Hill, to the U District. It will be nice to hop on the train and go explore areas I would rarely go today because I don’t want to deal with traffic or parking. This change will make the downtown retail district much more appealing to me. Today it’s a walk, and if it’s raining, I’m not likely to do it, and traffic is so bad that an Uber or Lyft is just not worth it. Tomorrow (after March 19) a simple train ride downtown makes it very worth it. It’s a game changer and is a big step forward in morphing Seattle into an 18-hour city.”
–Kris Nichols, Capitol Hill
“It will change the way I get around Seattle to a very limited extent. I have two boys, ages 8 and 11 (with my older son on the autistic spectrum). It’s hard enough to get anywhere on time with them using a car. Car-oriented transportation is unquestionably the most efficient means of getting my kids to their many scheduled activities on time (or at all).
There is limited parking at the co-op where I live, which has nearly 50 units. We have recently lost about 30 percent of the parking spots near our building due to bike lanes, which are used by a relatively tiny fraction of people. And now we are about to lose additional parking spots because of roadway changes related to Sound Transit 3. Meanwhile, a high-density residential building is being built across the street. I’m in favor of mass transit generally, but since ST3 will leave me with nowhere to park my car, I will vote against it unless something is done to restore the limited parking at our co-op.”
–Anthony Murawkski, University District
“I live on Capitol Hill, and University Link will make it super easy to get to and from the airport since doing so will no longer require a bus + train combo. Also, I work in Redmond, so I’m really excited for my commute to and from 520 to be more reliable and to not ever have to ride the 43 again! Getting to and from Mariners games in the summer will be a snap. I’m already car-free and a daily user of the bike share, Pronto, so this transit extension reinforces my desire to be green and not drive or contribute to Capitol Hill’s ongoing parking issues. If only Seattle had invested in rail sooner.”
–Ashley Ernst, Capitol Hill
“With the opening of the UW and the Angle Lake stations, parking at the stations will become harder each day. I have attempted to ride the light rail to downtown but could never find parking near the south-end stations. This is one of my major problem with the current planning: no parking. Try finding parking at the south-end station after 8 a.m. — it cannot be done!”
–Robert Deppe, SeaTac
“I live in the Maple Leaf neighborhood in northeast Seattle, and the way Metro is changing the bus routes in order to funnel everyone to the UW stadium station is going to make it slower and harder to get to downtown. There is going to be nothing fast or efficient about using the UW stadium station as a transit hub. Metro is also making it hard to get to the Northgate Transit Center, where you can take the 41 bus downtown, which is still going to be a faster option than the route changes they are making. Removing the current 66 bus route is a mistake, especially since SDOT is “studying” the exact same route so they can put a Metro Rapid Ride route in sometime between 2019 and 2021. When I asked an SDOT representative “why not just keep the current Metro route 66?” the reply was “that’s King County Metro’s decision.”
–Ann Testroet, Maple Leaf
“I work at UW and fly out from SeaTac quite often, so this is a huge help with getting to the airport. I’m also way more likely to go out after work to downtown or Capitol Hill. I think this is one of the best things we have done in this area. And it is a feat to be ahead of schedule and under budget on the project, as opposed to the waterfront tunnel. Sometimes government does work! Good job, Sound Transit!”
–Mike Crowley, Ballard
“I would like to take classes at UW. I live in Des Moines and hate to drive to Seattle. The light rail would make going to UW feasible, especially with a parking garage at South 200th Street.
Is there any possibility for express rides from the airport to UW? Would special express trains with no stops between the airport and UW reduce the commute time? My adult children cannot afford to rent a house in Seattle. An express ride would make renting a house near the airport feasible as they work at UW.”
–Toni Lally, Des Moines
“I live in Columbia City and I am the librarian at Adams Elementary in Ballard. My 4-year-old daughter travels with me; she attends a preschool on the grounds of the school. Instead of driving a hellish commute through the heart of the city (usually 45 minutes for an 11 mile commute), I will ride light rail to Husky Stadium and ride the rest of the way on the Burke-Gilman with my daughter on the back of my bike. I won’t save any time, but I will no longer have shell shock from my nightmare commute. Now when I get home it takes me 30 minutes to decompress from driving. I look foward to relaxing train rides and calming bike rides. Viva la light rail!”
–Chris Oswald, Columbia City