Modes of service

Using different modes on different routes, Sound Transit is building a connected system to move people throughout the region.

Bus Rapid Transit

people waiting at cross walk as bus turns

Starting in 2024, Sound Transit's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines will open. BRT will provide fast, frequent and reliable bus connections to communities along the I-405 and SR 522 corridors. Like rail, BRT speeds boarding and deboarding times by including off-board fare payment and multiple-door entry and exit. New bus lanes and transit priority improvements help riders enjoy faster service and avoid traffic congestion. Many stations include expanded parking. With buses running as often as every 10 minutes, this new service connects to the growing Link light rail network at Shoreline, Lynnwood, Bellevue and Tukwila as well as to other transit service provided by Sound Transit, Community Transit and King County Metro.

Link light rail

Link light rail on track with clouds in background

Link light rail is an electric train, rapid transit system connecting widely-spaced stations throughout the region. Because it operates in its own right of way, Link is immune from traffic, offering fast and reliable travel times 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Each 2- or 3-car light rail train comfortably carries 400-600 riders.

The Link system currently serves a 22-mile line between the University of Washington and Angle Lake, south of Sea-Tac Airport. With voter approval of system expansion in 2008 and 2016, the light rail system will grow to 116 miles with new stations opening every two to five years. The next stations to open are Northgate, Roosevelt and the U District in 2021.

Tacoma Link is an electric rail service traveling in the roadway, with six stations on a 1.6-mile line running from the Tacoma Dome to the Theater District in downtown Tacoma. A six-station extension to the Hilltop neighborhood opens in 2022. The line will further extend to Tacoma Community College in 2039.

Sounder commuter rail

Passengers getting in sounder train

Sounder commuter rail is a heavy rail service operating primarily during peak commute hours. Sounder operates on tracks owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, but Sound Transit owns the trains and stations, which include facilities to connect to local transit as well as parking and pedestrian access. Sounder trains are operated by BNSF and maintained by Amtrak. Sounder trains travel at speeds up to 79 miles per hour. Each Sounder South train has seating for about 950 passengers, while each Sounder North train seats between 300-450 depending on length.

Sounder North runs between Everett and Seattle each weekday while Sounder South runs from Lakewood or Tacoma to Seattle. Sound Transit also provides popular special event service to weekend attractions such as Seahawks games. Under the Sounder South Capacity Expansion program, Sounder South trains will extend from seven to 10 cars, and new stations at Tillicum and DuPont will open in 2036.

ST Express bus

ST ride the waves bus turning a corner

ST Express buses run on long-range, limited-stop routes serving major population and employment centers throughout the region. ST Express routes are intended as interim services while new light rail and bus rapid transit is built. As those new services open, Sound Transit will periodically re-evaluate ST Express routes.

Sound Transit's bus fleet includes 40 and 60-foot buses running on diesel, hybrid power or natural gas. The fleet also includes 37 double-decker diesel buses operated on routes between Seattle and Snohomish County.