*Editor's note: this is a special blog post from our 1 Line extension opening sponsor partner Amazon. To see a full list of sponsors, check out our event page.*
The opening of the Northgate Link Extension is a big deal for our region.
After extending light rail over four miles north from the University of Washington Station to Northgate Station on Oct. 2, tens of thousands of new and returning riders will use the system daily.
With supporting bus connections from our partners at King County Metro, the system allows for new commuting options and more connected neighborhoods, as well as opportunities to skip some of the worst traffic in our region.
When we open the Tacoma Link Extension, the East Link Extension (2023), the Lynwood Link Extension (2024), and the Federal Way Link Extension (2024) our region will be more connected than ever.
But building light rail is only one part of the story.
Local employers like Amazon have long recognized the benefits of improved regional mobility. As riders throughout the region have more options to travel, employers like Amazon are rising to meet the moment and supporting efforts to improve our region’s transportation ecosystem.
Rather than build their own campus, Amazon decided to embed their headquarters in Seattle’s urban fabric. By making this decision, Amazon would go on to become a major stakeholder in our region’s efforts to increase transportation options.
As their presence grew to become one of the largest employers in the region, Amazon recognized the value in making sure their employees have a wide range of transportation options to walk, roll or ride to work.
They offer free ORCA cards to all Seattle employees, encourage bicycling to work with a monthly subsidy, and have invested in local infrastructure around their headquarters.
Their efforts seem to be working. According to Amazon, over 50 percent of their Seattle employees use public transportation/carpooling options and 20 percent walk or bike to work.
Amazon isn’t just focusing on their current employees - they are also thinking upstream and supporting future growth of transit, and Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Back in June of 2021 Amazon and Sound Transit announced that Amazon will provide $100 million to build affordable housing near Sound Transit light rail stations.
This will speed up the development of up to 1,200 new affordable apartments near light rail stations in the region and help ensure that moderate-to-low income families can afford to live in great neighborhoods with easy access to reliable transit, jobs, schools - you name it.
Amazon is also a sponsor of the Northgate Link Extension Grand Opening Celebration. Their support of the event has allowed us to bring an improved experience to riders during the opening event and to expand our reach to new audiences.
We thank Amazon for joining in the celebration of the grand opening and for recognizing the benefits of bringing more riders on light rail.
As the region keeps evolving, we’re excited to see efforts from other stakeholders in the region to ensure that folks not only have transit options but are also encouraged to use those options while commuting.