King County Metro, Sound Transit reach agreement to continue integrated rail operations and maintenance through 2023

This news release was issued jointly by King County Metro and Sound Transit.

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King County Metro has operated and maintained Sound Transit Link light rail since it launched in 2009. If approved, the new agreement will continue the dependable service to the region through Dec. 31, 2023, and potentially through December 2029.

"Integrating Metro and Sound Transit operations is a key priority for me, and this agreement continues the strong partnership between both agencies to serve the region with reliable rail service for years to come. As both Link light rail and bus ridership increase, we are meeting demand and making sure service is as seamless as possible," said Executive Constantine.

"This agreement sets the stage for continuing Sound Transit's fruitful partnership with Metro as Link continues to serve more riders," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "We appreciate Metro's readiness to partner with Sound Transit by controlling some costs immediately while pursuing further efficiencies going forward. The professionalism and commitment of Metro's operators and leadership will continue helping to expand Link's success in giving riders an alternative to ever-worsening traffic jams."

Whether it comes to planning, operations, and vision, the integration of King County Metro and Sound Transit projects and services has been key to serving the region successfully. This new agreement has clearer lines of authority, cost containment, operating rules, data reporting and other language which reflects the lessons learned in a decade of joint rail operations.

Sound Transit carried 24 million passengers on Link light rail in 2018 as it traveled between the University of Washington through downtown Seattle and to Sea Tac International Airport and Angle Lake – a 20-mile system with 16 stations. More than 370 King County Metro employees operate and maintain Link light rail service from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily under the current agreement, which totaled $46 million for service in 2018. Link light rail operations and maintenance costs are projected to be $66 million in 2020 as the agency ramps up efforts to open service to Northgate in 2021.

King County Metro's partnership with Sound Transit to operate light rail during this rapid expansion keeps light rail operation dependable and stable through the demonstrated strength of Metro's rail division, and offers the best path to seamless operations and a positive experience for customers.

"As the mobility provider for the region, our employees provide reliable, high-quality service to our customers," said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. "We believe this agreement sets the foundation for investing collaboratively in the growth of the region, with the workforce and the vision to deliver."

This partnership is as crucial as ever, as King County Metro builds on its ridership success and moves toward its long-range vision, Metro Connects, and Sound Transit plans light rail extensions to the University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate in 2021, Bellevue in 2023, and Redmond, Lynnwood, and Federal Way in 2024.

By working together, the agencies can find better efficiencies, improve the customer experience, handle emergencies, use public resources wisely, and provide economic prosperity.

"When using transit, our riders don't necessarily make a distinction between the various services and providers, which is why continued coordination with Sound Transit is vital for ensuring the mobility of all residents and maintaining the seamless network that our combined regional system offers," said King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board Member Dave Upthegrove.
 
"This renewed agreement between Metro and Sound Transit ensures we can all continue benefiting from a skilled, dedicated and professional workforce — a workforce with decades of experience providing outstanding public service," said King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board Member Joe McDermott.

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"Integrating Metro and Sound Transit operations is a key priority for me, and this agreement continues the strong partnership between both agencies to serve the region with reliable rail service for years to come. As both Link light rail and bus ridership increase, we are meeting demand and making sure service is as seamless as possible."
Dow Constantine, King County Executive

"This agreement sets the stage for continuing Sound Transit's fruitful partnership with Metro as Link continues to serve more riders. We appreciate Metro's readiness to partner with Sound Transit by controlling some costs immediately while pursuing further efficiencies going forward. The professionalism and commitment of Metro's operators and leadership will continue helping to expand Link's success in giving riders an alternative to ever-worsening traffic jams."
Peter Rogoff, CEO, Sound Transit 

"As the mobility provider for the region, our employees provide reliable, high-quality service to our customers. We believe this agreement sets the foundation for investing collaboratively in the growth of the region, with the workforce and the vision to deliver."
Rob Gannon, General Manager, Metro 

"When using transit, our riders don't necessarily make a distinction between the various services and providers, which is why continued coordination with Sound Transit is vital for ensuring the mobility of all residents and maintaining the seamless network that our combined regional system offers."
Dave Upthegrove, King County Council

"This renewed agreement between Metro and Sound Transit ensures we can all continue benefiting from a skilled, dedicated and professional workforce — a workforce with decades of experience providing outstanding public service."
Joe McDermott, King County Council

For more information, contact:

Alex Fryer, King County Executive Office, 206-477-7966