Sound Link Light Rail in Seattle

604533623_RXBdz-S[1] Finally after decades of yapping and years of construction the Seattle Sound Transit Link Light Rail is finally up and running.  With the sun gleaming in the windows of the Portland Union Station, Jo and I arrived, to take a seat and await the arrival of our fellow traveling crew.  I spoke to the red cap while waiting to reserve four seats together.  Michael finally arrived and we took point near the north east side of the station enjoying the sun beaming through the upper windows.  As the time grew close to departure, Josh texted me and was running a bit close to the wire.  He fortunately arrived in time, we boarded, and we took a walk to the Bistro.

En route we enjoyed a good round of conversation while in the Bistro.  The conversation ranged from transit, buses, to heavy rail and intercity idea.  Of course high speed rail came up too, and the faux idea that it is getting built.  The real idea is that we’re merely trying to get back up to the speeds we ran rail in the USA 50-60 years ago.  With solid running, good dispatching, and minimal freight interruptions we rolled into Seattle King Street Station on the Amtrak Cascades #500.

607585464_DmAvH-S[1]607585463_ikGHy-S[1] We all waited for the arrival of Abhijeet & Paul (our Videographer) whom arrived in short order.  With that we where all off trekking around the King Street Station fence and up the walkway over the tracks, by Union Station, and then down into the International / Chinatown Station for the Link Light Rail.  It took a while to figure out what a day ticket would be.  Instead the expectation was that users would pick their start location and destination.  This however, is not exactly what we where trying to do, we wanted a round trip with a single stop off.  After a while we figured out that a round trip ticket was equal to a day ticket.   After a purchase of a full round trip we all went back down in the station again and boarded the next LRV set that arrived heading toward Westlake Station.

604600341_T8jq9-S[1]  We arrived at Westlake and went up the multiple escalators into the mall.  There we grabbed some food at the mall food court.  One of the awesome transit features of this mall is the number of modes that it connects to now.  604598899_Q4JgD-S[1]There is the Seattle Monorail, South Lake Union Streetcar (A.K.A. SLUT), Link Light Rail, Metro Buses, Sound Buses, and a few others that drive into the area.

After grub we headed back down to Westlake Station to board the south bound LRVs for Tukwila.  I have to mention that Westlake Station is really something impressive.  It is a grand station unlike the others along the downtown tunnel system.

604537770_rebKG-S[1] 607589974_M5fmc-S[1] After we all boarded we made a straight run all the way to the Tukwila Station.  The run down through the wooded area north of Tukwila is amazing.  The LRVs ride along raised tracks that stand at minimum a few dozen feet above the ground.  As we rolled parallel to the highway we actually passed steady moving traffic.  We hung out in Tukwila for a few and checked out the station.  There where two li
nes of people at the ticket machines that where about 40 people long each.  I was honestly surprised to see this, but good to see solid ridership anyway.

We all made it back for our Amtrak Cascades #509 trip home to Portland.  All of us, I’m sure could say we’re now well versed and a bit impressed by Seattle’s Light Rail.  I’ll have a write up in the near future of what I believe, from what I have sleuthed, of what the ridership will be and where their pain points and positive points of the line will be.

Overall, thumbs up!  But Sound Transit – PLEASE – fix the stupid ticketing.  Offer a day ticket or at least just a straight flat rate each way or something.

Transit Sleuth TV:  Produced, edited, and created by Paul Peterson

Transit Sleuth TV: Seattle’s Link Light Rail from Paul Peterson on Vimeo.


  1. Great post and video package!!! I’m now realizing how far behind Phoenix is when integrating different transportation modes. We’re trying!! 🙂
    On a side note, the pictures and video make me want to go back to Seattle for a visit. Or better yet, a Seattle/Portland combo trip..hmmm…
    Nice work guys!


  2. Nice video! Sound Transit installed 2 more ticket machines at Tukwila this week to alleviate the lines but people really should get the ORCA card and skip the lines. Too bad there’s no daily price capping or day pass option for ORCA.


  3. This is a fun site. Especially for those of us with interest in riding and enjoying public transportation. Whether it be occasional or heavy duty interest and use!
    Keep posting.


  4. Just watched the Seattle link video. Neat video. Perfect music background. Paul did an excellent job. You all are becoming veterans at this!


  5. Thx for the comments everyone!

    Tony – if you’re ever swinging up this way, lemme know and we could do a day of wondering here in PDX & a day in SEA/TAC area. I’ve been gathering the key points I’d like to video & write up. It could be for a whopper of a huge blog entry – or better yet, multiple entries. 🙂


  6. Thanks for the info, Adron! I hadn’t realized that Sound Link was up and running, and I hadn’t realized that Seattle now had a streetcar – I guess I’m out of it! What an unfortunate acronym!


  7. Awesome video! I was just a little kid when we visited Seattle and barely remember it, so it’d be great to go back and ride light rail, and to do the same in Portland too. Until then, thanks for Transit Sleuth TV!


  8. FYI, a Round Trip ticket is valid on all rail and bus up to face value shown on the ticket all day. In your case, you probably got a $2.50 Round Trip for $5 (Seattle DDT to Tukwila)? That ticket is good for any ride up to $2.50 on Metro, Link, Sound Transit, PT, CT and all others that accept the Puget Pass. The same is true from a Sounder Machine, A round trip from Tacoma to Seattle is $9.50 ($4.75 face value), the Round Trip Ticket is good as a bus pass and Sounder pass (In this case on anything since $4.75 is the highest one way fare charged) all day. Keep that in mind, Its handy to have a day pass like that to get around, I typically buy one even when I am not using Sounder, because day passes during the week don’t exist from any bus agency, The Link machines now make it easier and more convenient to get one! You can also purchase day passes from either machine up to 14 days in advance. =)


  9. Thx for the tidbit… I’ll definitely keep that in mind next trip to Seattle.

    Might be sooner than later too. Contemplating taking the bikes up via Amtrak Cascades and doing the bike n drink thing. Should be fun.


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