Sound Transit intern Asela Chavez-Basurto smiles in the Great Hall at Union Station.

Inside Sound Transit: The intern experience

Publish Date

This month, we meet Asela Chavez-Basurto, one of Sound Transit’s summer interns. 

It’s the latest in our regular series introducing you to the people who work here at Sound Transit trying to make it easier for you to get to where you work, live and play every day.

I am constantly meeting people passionate about their work and asking them how they got here.

Chavez-Basurto works in the planning and innovation group in our Planning, Environment and Project Development (PEPD) department. Her team is focused on our regional transit projects, as well as services for sustainable and livable communities. 

She is working on Sound Transit’s bike program, managing two projects that will have a real impact at Link light rail stations. She said her intern experience at Sound Transit has been “very enriching.”

“I always have something to work on, but at the same time, I have the flexibility of choosing how to do it and the opportunity to propose improvements,” Chavez-Basurto said. “I’m also involved in activities like mentoring, training, talks and tours that are helping me grow professionally.”

Asela Chavez-Basurto and other interns tour the construction site at Northgate Station.
Asela Chavez-Basurto and other interns tour the construction site at Northgate Station.

Chavez-Basurto is originally from Mexico, where she studied architecture, and has been living in the Seattle area for the past five years. She is earning a master’s degree in urban design and planning at the University of Washington. 

“I would like to work on planning or creating public spaces, specifically, around bus stops and train stations,” she said. “I want to create spaces that are safer, more accessible, enjoyable and are inclusive of pedestrians and bicycles. I also want to get licensed as an urban planner and keep traveling around the country and the world.”

Sound Transit offers internships in many different disciplines, from engineering to finance to communications. Each summer, our interns tour a light rail station under construction, have lunch with our CEO and present what they’ve been working on to colleagues throughout the agency. 

Sound Transit's 2019 summer interns.
Sound Transit's 2019 summer interns.

Q: What do you tell your friends you do for work?

A: I tell them that I work for the agency that runs the light rail. I say that I am managing a project to find out how people with bikes combine public transit and cycling. And that I am coordinating a plan on how to advertise incoming on-demand bike lockers to Link stations.

Q: What’s your passion outside of your internship and studies?

A: I love reading books, particularly fantasy novels and non-fiction. I also enjoy knowing more about Japanese culture: animation, music, food, customs and language. Seattle is a great place to find all of these if you go out and explore.

Q: What attracted you to work at Sound Transit?

A: I live on the Eastside and ride ST Express every day. I chose not to own a car, so I learned how to depend on public transit to get anywhere. When I decided to study urban planning, I started to become curious about the way routes are planned, their location and their frequency. I would always be thinking about the process behind the express routes, so when an internship opportunity at the PEPD department came up, I didn't hesitate to apply!

Q: How do you get to work?

A: I take ST Express 545 or a combination of ST Express 542 and Link. In the morning I find it more convenient to take the 545 route. In the evening I usually take Link and then transfer to route 542 at the University of Washington. Recently, I started a daily log of my commute times so I can more easily decide which route is better.

Q: What three things would you take with you to a desert island (besides food and water)?

A: My husband (does he count as a thing?), my Kindle and a solar-powered laptop with planning software; just the basics to start designing and building my own city!

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