The new Northgate, Roosevelt and U District Link light rail stations opened Oct. 2, and we had a great day celebrating with the community.
We saw a lot of (masked, thank you) smiling faces in person and happiness online about new connections, quicker trips and the greener way to get around – thanks so much to everyone who joined the festivities.
Check out some of the highlights of the day in our latest video below or here in the photo gallery from opening day:
Opening these new stations was incredibly exciting, and we’re just getting started, with 25 new light rail stations coming to the east, west and farther north in the next three years.
But we also saw some frustrations with long lines for ticket vending machines, out-of-service escalators and bus route changes.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions we’ve seen so far about the new service, and the answers!
If you're on Twitter, feel free to ask us anything we haven't covered @SoundTransit or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s up with the broken escalators?
Yep, that was a bummer. We had a few escalators down throughout the day at Roosevelt and U District Stations due to mechanical issues.
You can test these things for hundreds of hours but there's nothing like full loads all day to really put them to the test. The escalators in the new stations are heavier grade than previous stations, and so are the warranty protections from the manufacturers. One manufacturer ended up flying in a specialist from overseas to (successfully) address software controller issues at Roosevelt Sunday.
But we know that non-functioning escalators negatively affect the passenger experience, especially for people with disabilities.
The good news is that all vertical conveyances in the new stations have been up and running since Sunday.
Where are the escalators from the U District platform?
U District is a very cool (and very deep) station, with blue and orange wayfinding features and a large staircase in the middle of the platform.
We’ve heard from passengers who think that the stairs are the only option to get up from the platform, but that’s not the case.
There are elevators and escalators at either end of the platform.
Where is my bus stop?
Several King County Metro, Community Transit and Sound Transit Express bus routes have changed to better connect to light rail.
And many of the agencies are sending ambassadors out to help riders navigate their new commutes.
One of the biggest points of confusion we’ve seen is the transfer between route 522 and Link light rail at Roosevelt Station.
For a smooth transfer experience, we added two new stops next to Roosevelt Station. We're also improving the signage for the northbound buses.
There will also be a future bus stop (currently under construction) at 12th Ave NE at NE 67th St. In the meantime:
- Southbound riders should exit the bus at the temporary Bay 4 at 11th Ave NE/NE 65th and enter Roosevelt Station one block east.
- Northbound riders should exit the train, head up to ground level and cross 12th Ave. NE to board Route 522 at Bay 3. We’re coordinating bus service with train arrivals to help minimize your transfer times.
How much bike parking is there?
We heard that more bike parking is needed, especially for large events like the opening of the new stations and John Lewis Memorial Bridge.
In station design, we always reserve space to expand bike parking as the system expands and ridership increases.
If we start to see excess demand on a regular basis, we would be prepared to expand the amount of bicycle parking, but we do want to give it some time and see how it works. So far we've had excess bike parking capacity at all the stations since opening day.
For more information about combining your bike ride with transit, contact email@example.com.
Do I have to pay to park at Northgate?
There are many park-and-ride options around Northgate Station, including the Northgate Station Garage.
It is $15 to park on the top level of the garage, which is not Sound Transit property, but free to park elsewhere.
What’s the best way to pay?
Getting an ORCA card will help make paying, transferring and boarding easier. (Keep in mind – you can use any ORCA reader to tap on or off!)
But there are other options.
We saw long lines for the ticket vending machines on Saturday.
If you're an infrequent rider (sports fans) and don't want an ORCA card, use your phone to buy a ticket via the Transit Ticket Go app.
It’s a safe, contactless way to pay.
When you're ready to board, simply activate the ticket on your phone and get on (you don’t need to tap on a card reader).
Show your ticket to a fare ambassador if asked.
Where’s the restroom?
There are public restrooms available on the mezzanine level at Northgate Station. Feel free to ask our ambassadors or security personnel if you can’t find them!
Are the signs on the platforms supposed to display real time arrival information?
More accurate real time arrival information is on the way, when we upgrade our Passenger Information Management System (PIMS) in 2023.
Until then, we are having ongoing discussions about the platform displays to determine how to display the most useful, and accurate, information.
Under the current system, the next train arrival estimates can be wildly inaccurate during service disruptions, which is exactly when accurate information is most important.
The signs are on and displaying other messages, including train frequencies.
Will you have busking at the new stations?
We’d love to! We were waiting until the stations opened to identify the locations to put the stars at the station entrances that designate busking areas.
When does the next Link extension open??
We’re doubling the length of Tacoma Link as part of the extension up to Hilltop, which should open next year.
In 2023, we’re opening 10 stations in one day as the East Link Extension connects Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond Technology Center.
In the mood for more Northgate? Our friends the Seattle SeaChordsmen wrote this song as a celebration of the light rail extension. Feel free to sing along!