I’m a Seattleite without a car. New Link light rail extension is a game changer for commuting and comfort

The new Northgate Link light rail extension, which officially opened last weekend to the celebrations and accolades of local and state officials, makes living in Seattle Without a car, it is much easier, finally meeting one of the hallmarks of urban life.

Arriving in Seattle after living in New York City, I was disappointed in the lack of a central public transportation system comparable to the efficiency of the subway. Sure, there are many Bus routes and streetcars, but even the latecomers get stuck in traffic and have hardly any routes that go east to west.

That unreliability even became a persistent source of anxiety for me when traveling to Lower Queen Anne, so much so that I began the process of searching for a Used car last year, along with everyone else in the country amid the pandemic’s impact on traffic. So when King County officials announced in the early spring that three new light rail stations would open in the fall – including one just a 10-minute walk from me in the growing Roosevelt neighborhood – I told myself I’d put up with that purchase a little longer.

Last week, I took to Link’s new extension to run a few basic errands around town: going downtown to shop for household items, returning online orders to Nordstrom in Westlake, and meeting a friend for dinner and drinks. on Capitol Hill. This is how it was:

Entrance to Northgate Station with closed escalator.

SeattlePI

Escalator cuts persist, but new perks:

The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the sleek new Northgate Station was the cutting of the escalators, a persistent issue at light rail stations that makes accessibility difficult, even though the elevator was still in service. Out-of-order escalators were actually a common theme on my trip, and I found several more at University Street and Westlake stations in downtown Seattle.

Earlier this year, Sound Transit said it would spend a total of $ 8.7 million over the next three years to repair dilapidated escalators, noting that many of the modes of transportation (both escalators and elevators) in the corridor of the center are over 30 years old.


While the escalator exit was certainly a bummer at a new station, Northgate has restrooms, a bonus that will hit several other future light rail stations by 2024.

Too many universities and U:

With the opening of the District U station, Sound Transit is now confused with three stations that include a reference to the university. There is University Street Station in the central business district, University of Washington Station at Husky Stadium, and U District Station along University Way Northeast.

Those who have lived in Seattle long enough to know that the University of Washington is not near University Street may not find it confusing, but newcomers, travelers, and those who speak a foreign language are likely to do so.

Sound Transit even considered renaming the stations to avoid the inevitable confusion. Last year, Sound Transit surveyed more than 14,000 people and came up with the name Union Street / Symphony Station, a nod to the Seattle Symphony performing at Benaroya Hall. However, those plans were later scrapped due to backend glitches, and the Board of Directors said that University Street Station would retain its original name until 2021.

While the renaming of University Street Station is again being considered by the board, it is unclear if it will pass. TO Fiscal Note shows that renaming the station would cost roughly $ 800,000 to replace everything from visual signs to audio advertisements.

The train arrives at Northgate Station.

The train arrives at Northgate Station.

SeattlePI

New era, new colorful signage:

Along with new art installations at the three new stations worth visiting, riders can expect to hear new line names after Sound Transit. renamed its service lines last month in preparation for expansion in the coming years.

The Link light rail, which now runs between Angle Lake and Northgate, is called Line 1, colored green on maps. The Tacoma Link is now also the T Line, in orange. Sounder North is now called Line N, and Sounder South is called Line S, both light blue in color. When the East Link extension launches in 2023, it will be called 2 Line and will be bright blue in color. Future extensions will be lines 3 (pink) and 4 (purple).

If you’ve only taken Line 1, like I have, the switch isn’t all that confusing, but it’s something passengers need to be aware of as the system continues to grow for years to come.

Do you have any questions? Just ask:

The only group of people likely to be more excited about the new extension than non-car riders is the Sound Transit staff, who are literally everywhere at the new stations to answer questions.

Riders should also expect to see plenty of fare ambassadors at each of the new stations offering help buying fares and connecting to bus routes. the new pilot program launched last month to replace fare enforcement with an emphasis on education, including helping income-eligible riders earn a ORCA ELEVATOR card.

Traffic safety still maintains a presence at the stations.

Convenient bus route and parking connections:

Speaking of bus routes, the new Link extension in my neighborhood means that my regular bus to South Lake Union and downtown, the 26X, was one of 18 bus routes removed and replaced. as part of King County Metro’s fall service change.

However, I found that my connecting bus route to Green Lake in the transit center was literally steps from the station, making it a quick and convenient connection to Metro. Additionally, the new electronic signs at the bus stop also provided an accurate estimated departure time, unlike some of the more outdated downtown.

Although it’s a feature I won’t be using, the parking lot situation seemed convenient too, though it could get busier on busier game days when more people head south to the stadiums. The station has 447 free parking spaces on a first-come, first-served basis in the nearby garage. Other nearby parking options include Northgate Mall Garage, Thornton Place Garage, and Metro parking.



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