Sound Transit marks 10 years of serving customers

Publish Date

More than 100 million carried in first decade

Saturday, Sept. 19 marks the tenth anniversary of Sound Transit's passenger service. The agency served its first passengers on that day in 1999, rolling out the first ST Express regional buses linking communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Over the last decade Sound Transit's blue and white wave has spread across the region. Service expansions have included more ST Express routes, new transit centers and direct access HOV ramps, Sounder commuter trains between Tacoma and Seattle as well as Everett and Seattle, Tacoma Link light rail, and Central Link light rail service that got underway in July.

As Sound Transit has added more and more services over the past 10 years, the riders have followed. The agency saw a little more than 1 million boardings in 1999; last year more than 16 million riders chose Sound Transit to get where they needed to go.

"We've done a lot in our first decade, and more is on the way," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

ST Express was the first service Sound Transit launched after work began in 1997 to implement the Sound Move ballot measure. Since then, ST Express buses have carried more than 82 million riders to their destinations via limited-stop express routes.

Today the ST Express fleet includes 243 buses that make 1,382 weekday trips on 26 routes. The fleet includes 40- and 60-foot diesel buses, 60-foot hybrid buses, 40-foot natural gas buses, 45-foot over-the-road coaches and one 40-foot hybrid bus. Sound Transit contracts with Community Transit, King County Metro and Pierce Transit to operate and maintain ST Express buses.

So far, Sound Transit has invested more than $800 million in new transit centers, park-and-ride lots, direct-access freeway ramps and other capital projects supporting the ST Express network and other bus service around the region.

Sound Transit's popular Sounder commuter rail service carried its first passengers on Sept. 18, 2000, with two round trip trains each weekday between Tacoma and Seattle with stops in Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila. Today, nine Sounder round trips operate on that corridor, and in November 2008 voters approved expanding service by 65 percent with longer trains and four more round trips. Everett-Seattle Sounder service got underway in 2002 and now includes four daily round trips, with stops in Mukilteo and Edmonds.

Tacoma Link light rail service began in August 2003 and surpassed its 2010 ridership projection in the first year of operations. Central Link light rail opened on July 18, 2009 between downtown Seattle and Tukwila, and direct service to the airport is on schedule to start this December. University Link light rail is under construction and scheduled to open in 2016. The 2008 Sound Transit 2 ballot measure approved 36 additional miles of light rail to form a 55-mile regional system.

Here's a look at Sound Transit's first decade of service by the numbers:

ST Express

  • 26 routes
  • 21 corridors served
  • 243 buses in the ST fleet
  • 5 million hours of service over 10 years
  • 106 million miles run over 10 years (a trip to Mars and back)
  • 12.5 million ST Express passengers carried in 2008
  • $800 million building new transit centers, HOV direct access ramps and park-and-ride lots


  • 9,400 average weekday boardings
  • 11 locomotives
  • 58 passenger cars
  • 2.7 million Sounder passengers carried in 2008

Tacoma Link

  • 3,100 average weekday boardings
  • 930,000 riders carried in 2008
  • 20,500 Tacoma Link boardings during the Tall Ships Festival, July 4-6, 2008
  • 3 vehicles

Central Link

  • 92,000 boardings on opening weekend, July 18-19, 2009
  • 14,400 estimated average boardings on weekdays in August
  • 35 vehicles
  • 7-1/2 minute service frequency during peak hours
  • 20 hours of service each weekday
  • 400-person capacity on a two-car train, with ability to expand to four car trains


CONTACT: Bruce Gray-(206) 398-5069 or