The journey begins: Link light rail opens for service this Saturday
What to expect opening weekend
Link light rail opens for passenger service between downtown Seattle and Tukwila on Saturday, July 18, with free rides all weekend before moving to regular paid service on Monday. Here's what riders can expect during opening weekend.
Inaugural ribbon cutting
The Link inaugural ribbon cutting happens on the plaza at Mt. Baker Station on Saturday morning at 8:20 a.m. Immediately prior to the ceremony, news media are invited to join the mayors of Seattle and Tukwila on the station platform as their trains arrive carrying representatives from their respective cities.
After the ceremony, ticket-holders for the two inaugural trains (one northbound and one southbound) will move to the platform and board the trains. The majority of inaugural ride ticket holders are members of the public who received tickets through radio giveaways and other promotions.
Schedule, service levels opening weekend
The free opening weekend light rail service will operate with special hours:
Saturday - 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday - 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Trains will depart each station about every 7-1/2 minutes throughout the day. Sound Transit has made provisions for a high volume of riders on the opening weekend; lines are expected. The number of riders picked up at each station will be limited to a predetermined number to preserve capacity for passengers to board at other stations. Each launch weekend train will carry about 350 riders, including standees.
All riders must deboard upon reaching one of the line's termini (Westlake for northbound trains and Tukwila for southbound trains). Upon reaching a terminus, riders can wait in line again to return via light rail, or choose the potentially quicker option of bypassing the light rail line and returning via free shuttle buses. Special shuttle buses will run along the route opening weekend and stop at every station. All rides are ADA accessible.
What services will be available at stations?
Each station will feature a welcome portal staffed by Sound Transit to provide information about wait times and answer questions about opening weekend and regular service.
Portable restrooms will be provided at each station, along with family-friendly acoustic entertainment at all stations. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from nearby local restaurants and stores. There will be a food vendor at Tukwila International Boulevard Station.
PLEASE NOTE: Free connector buses from Tukwila to Sea-Tac International Airport will be available from July 20 through the opening of direct light rail service to the airport in December 2009. However, the connector buses will not be in service on the opening weekend.
While Sound Transit is not making a specific prediction for the number of riders on the opening weekend, provisions are in place to manage a significant turnout. In addition to the start of Link service on July 18, about 60,000 fans expected to attend a noon Sounders FC soccer match at Qwest Field. The Bite of Seattle at the Seattle Center will also draw about 450,000 people over the weekend.
Getting to the stations
There is no parking at Link stations in Seattle, and parking at Tukwila will be extremely limited. Riders are encouraged to bus, walk or ride their bicycle to a station. Bicyclists are encouraged to leave their bikes at special staffed "bike corrals" that will be available on opening weekend. For a list of transit centers and bus routes that can connect you with downtown Seattle on July 18 and 19, visit /Projects-and-Plans/Project-Updates/Traveling-Downtown-July18-19.xml. For more information about all Sound Transit services and help planning your entire trip, visit www.soundtransit.org.
For detailed maps and much more information on opening weekend and regular service see: www.soundtransit.org/linklaunch.
Follow us on Twitter
For up-to-the-second information during opening weekend events follow Sound Transit on Twitter at Twitter@ST_TravelLight. We'll tweet all day about which stations have the shortest lines, what's happening at the stations and behind-the-scenes updates. Twitter updates will also be posted at www.soundtransit.org/linklaunch.