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A drone shot of construction at the future Lynnwood light rail station

How often will trains arrive when the 1 Line launches to Lynnwood?  

With some creative solutions and a few trade-offs, we can retain current service levels when it matters most, reducing crowding and serving four new stations.

Publish Date

If you’re eagerly awaiting the 1 Line extension opening to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood this fall, you might have heard that we previously projected a need to reduce peak-hour service from today’s 8 trains per hour (every 7.5 minutes) to just 6 trains per hour (every 10 minutes), a 25% cut in capacity.

Our planning staff projected that this service cut would severely affect your onboard experience — leaving trains so crowded that riders might not be able to board at some stations during peak times, particularly on weekday afternoons. 

Why did we project a need to cut peak service? As we’ve shared before, our capacity for train operations, maintenance, and storage is severely constrained until the 2 Line connection over Lake Washington opens in 2025

The full 2 Line, from Redmond Technology to Northgate, was intended to open first, providing Lynnwood trains with critical access to our new maintenance base in Bellevue. But construction delays have pushed that connection into late 2025, leaving us with the challenge to retain as much service as possible with only half the planned storage and maintenance capacity. 

A map shows the 1 Line from Angle Lake to Lynnwood in green and the 2 Line from Lynnwood to Redmond in blue. It also shows the locations of the OMF Central in Seattle and the OMF East in Bellevue, where trains are maintained and stored.

The good news 

On March 7, we presented a new plan that will allow us to extend service 8.5 miles to Lynnwood while keeping today’s peak service levels of 8 trains per hour. We project that trains will still be crowded at times, but much less than previously projected. Here’s how we’re going to do it:  

  1. More train storage locations: With our current SODO maintenance base filled to capacity, we will begin storing nine 4-car trainsets overnight at Angle Lake, SeaTac/Airport, SODO, and Northgate.  
  2. Extra trains and “gap” trains: During special events or if we notice exceptional crowding, our Link Control Center will deploy extra trains.
  3. Keeping express bus service in the mix: To help riders provide additional options and interim capacity, we will temporarily keep ST Express Route 510 in service from Everett-Seattle, running in the peak direction every 15 minutes. We’ve also proposed a new temporary Route 515 from Lynnwood, with peak-direction service every 10 minutes. These bus routes will continue until the 2 Line opens and we can double service between Lynnwood and Seattle, with 15 trains per hour (every 4 minutes) during peak hours. 
  4. Doubling trips on the Sounder N Line, bringing that service back to its pre-COVID levels and providing additional capacity between Snohomish County and Seattle. 

The trade-offs 

Taken together, we expect this plan to provide the best possible passenger experience given our constraints. But there are trade-offs, too. Here’s what you can expect:  

  1. Less frequent trains, starting at 8 p.m.: To retain service when demand is highest, we’ll reduce some service when demand is lower. With our SODO maintenance base over capacity, we will rotate trains in and out for maintenance and cleaning, beginning earlier in the day. As Lynnwood testing is getting underway, this change will happen in late March. We will reduce service to every 12 minutes between 8-10 p.m., compared to today’s 10-minute service. This will increase wait time by an average of 1 minute for approximately 4,500 riders. 
  2. “Span of service” adjustments: Storing trains at the ends of the line will also change early morning and late-night service. Because we’re storing trains at Angle Lake and SeaTac/Airport overnight, morning service from those stations will begin up to 21 minutes earlier than today. Service from Northgate will also begin 6 minutes earlier. Because trips will generally begin at the ends of the lines, this means service through downtown Seattle will start about 15 minutes later. 

Late at night, we’ll no longer be ending northbound trips at Stadium Station, but at Beacon Hill. This means service between Beacon Hill and Stadium will end almost two hours earlier than today. Passengers at Beacon Hill can continue downtown on Metro Route 36.

Variability in your experience: Until the 2 Line fully opens, we will be running all of our systems at maximum capacity, and this may make service less resilient when disruptions occur. Train lengths, on-time performance, and cleanliness may fluctuate, and it may take us longer to recover from service disruptions. 

We think the tradeoffs are worth keeping service levels high and crowding as low as possible.  

Trains are beginning testing now, and opening day is just a few months away. Opening service to Lynnwood will expand the 1 Line by 35% overnight, and we will be serving Snohomish County with light rail for the first time. We’re excited, and we hope you are too!  Be sure to sign up for project updates for all the latest news, including our official opening date, which we hope to announce soon.  

Sign up for project updates here.

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