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8/26/2016



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit's Q2 light-rail ridership soared 77 percent


Ridership on Sound Transit's Link light-rail system jumped 77 percent in the second quarter compared with ridership in the same period last year.

The opening of Sound Transit's University Link line in March largely drove the ridership increase, agency officials said in a press release. The second quarter was the first full quarter after the opening of the line, which features stations on Seattle's Capitol Hill and at the University of Washington.

Photo: Sound Transit

The agency's light-rail system logged 63,577 average weekday boardings and 5.2 million overall boardings, representing increases of 76 percent and 77 percent, respectively. More than half of the ridership growth came from the two recently opened stations on the University Link line, Sound Transit officials said.

In addition, Sounder commuter-rail service recorded 1,063,055 boardings, marking a 13 percent increase compared with 2015's second quarter, according to Sound Transit's most recent ridership report. The commuter-rail system logged 16,186 average weekday rides, representing a 12 percent year-over-year increase.

"The results could not be clearer — people love having a fast, reliable way to get where they need to go," said Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine. "Sound Transit will roll out many miles of new Link light rail service, starting next month at Angle Lake. We will meet the region's growing transit needs, giving people a fast, reliable alternative to sitting in traffic.

The agency is pushing a plan to build 62 miles of light rail under the proposed Sound Transit 3 sales tax initiative, which Seattle-area residents will get a chance to vote on in the November elections. To learn more about the initiative and Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff's plans to promote it, read this feature in Progressive Railroading's August issue.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit's board yesterday approved a plan to lease land adjacent to the Capitol Hill light-rail station. Under the terms of the agreement, Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen will pay $19 million upfront to lease the land for 99 years. Sound Transit will retain ownership of the land.

Gerding Edlen plans to build 400 new apartments, new community and daycare centers and a plaza. Construction could begin in spring 2018, with the units ready for tenants in late 2019.

The plan marks the agency's largest housing development project ever, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.



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