The Seattle Metro (Link Light Rail)

Seattle is widely known for being one of the most prosperous cities in the United States, full of businesses, middle-sized firms, and academic institutions of a very high quality.

It is located 155 kilometers to the south of Canada, in the state of Washington, specifically, on the King county.

Even though archeological evidence suggests that the land of Seattle has been populated since 4,000 years ago, the first European settlements did not arrive until mid-19th century. Currently, it has a little over 3,700,000 inhabitants within its metropolitan area, which has an arear of 21 square kilometers.

Just like any other big city, this metropolis has big transportation systems, in which you could count all of the avenues and highways that function as roads for the mobility of the citizens. The transportation services available include bus lines, suburban rails, and two fast tram routes.

That last system of transportation is called the Link Light Rail, and it crosses the city from North Seattle to the south of the city. It has a length of 35 kilometers, 21 stations, and two lines.

The system had two inauguration dates for each line, even though both lines belonged to the same project and the construction works for both lines began almost at the same time. The Tacoma Link line began to operate on the year 2003, while the Central Link line began operations on 2009.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac)

This time gap between the inauguration of both lines was the consequence of the project´s funding during the mid-90s, when opponents of the municipal government argued that the city did not need a system of transportation of that kind and harshly criticized the government for funding the project. Nevertheless, the Link Light Rail ended up being built, and became an important mean of transportation for the people of Seattle.

Lines

The Link Light Rail has two main lines, and it has a total of 35 kilometers of railway length and 21 stations. The light rail transports over 80 thousand users daily, resulting in a yearly ridership of approximately 24 million passengersp

The two routes have no connection between each other since they both offer transportation on different regions within the city.

Central Link

It began operations on July 18th, 2009. It is 32.4 kilometers long, and it offers service to 16 stations. Its journey starts to the north of the city, at Washington University, and then goes through downtown Seattle, until it finally reaches the south of Seattle, at the region of SeaTacp

Stations: University of Washington, Capitol Hill, Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, International District/Chinatown, Stadium, Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach, Tukwila International Boulevard, SeaTac/Airport, Angle Lake

* See the “stations and connections” annex for more information.

Tacoma Link

This line began operations on August 22nd, 2003. It has 2.6 kilometers of length, and it is divided in six stations. Its journey starts on the northern end at the center of the Tacoma neighborhood, and it travels throughout most of the region. Its journey ends near the Tacoma Dome.

Stations: Theater District, Commerce Street, Convention Center, Union Station, South 25th Street, Tacoma Dome

* See the “stations and connections” annex for more information.

Seattle Metro Seattle Metro

Fares

The tickets to board the Seattle Link Light Rail can be acquired at ticket vending machines at stations, through the use of the Transit GO Ticket app, or, instead of using tickets, you could buy the refillable cards called ORCA. The Transit GO Ticket app is available for free on the application online stores of mobile phones.

ORCA CARD

These cards have a price of 5.00 dollars, and can be acquired at vending machines, authorized stores, and ORCA centers. The ORCA card for young people (between the ages of six and 18), and the cards known as the ORCA LIFT, which allow the user to obtain special discounts depending on the zone where they live, can only be bought at ORCA centers or obtained through regular mailp

Once you get one of these cards, you will get the possibility of loading them an amount of up to 300.00 dollars, or you could choose to pay a monthly plan. The latter option costs 18.00 dollars per month, and the card will keep charging you monthly until you reach the amount of 207.00 dollars.

However, the ORCA card is only valid on the following public transportation firms within the city: Sound Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Seattle Street Car, King County Water Taxi and Washington State Ferries. This card will allow you to make a single payment to travel via fast trams, ferries, bus lines, and suburban trains.

Fares

The fares for trips on the Link Light Rail trains depend on the number of stations that you decide to travel to. In other words, the light rail’s fee depends on the distance travelled.

On the website www.soundtransit.org, you will find a table with the fares that you need to pay to use the public transportation to move around the city of Seattle. The prices range from 2.25 $ (for short trips) to 3.25 $ (for long trips).

Young people (between the ages of six and 18) will have to pay a lower price than the rest of the users. In this case, the established fare is of 1.50 $, regardless of the distance travelled.

Meanwhile, people over 65 years of age and users with disabilities only pay 1.00 $ per journey.

Children under five years of age travel for free.

Seattle Light Rail Seattle Light Rail

Schedule

The Link Light Rail opens its doors to the public at 5:00 am, and it remains open uninterruptedly until 1:00 am, offering 20 hours of service per day. These are the business hours from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and holidays, the trains begin operations at 6:00 am, and they cease operations at 12:00 am.

The train frequency can vary between six minutes and 15 minutes, depending on the time of day. Below, you will be able to see the train frequency during different times of the day:

Monday - Friday

  • 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. 15 minutes.
  • 6:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. 6 minutes.
  • 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 10 minutes.
  • 3:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 6 minutes.
  • 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. 10 minutes.
  • 10:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. 15 minutes.

Saturdays – Sundays – Holidays

  • 5:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. 15 minutes.
  • 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. 10 minutes.
  • 10:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. 15 minutes.

Rules

  • You may bring in your pet to the trains and buses of the city of Seattle, as long as they are leashed by their owner or caretaker. They could also be transported on cages.
  • Always bring your ticket or your ORCA card with you while riding the trains and buses of the city, since an inspector may ask you to show it. If you do not possess either one, you will be fined.
  • Make sure to keep your belongings with you in a way that does not obstruct the other passengers. You may place them in your lap or below the seats.
  • In order to keep a peaceful and harmonious environment while riding the Link Light Rail, it is of great importance that the users avoid invading the personal space of other travelers.
  • If you wish to play any kind of multimedia content with any kind of device, make sure to use your headphones. This way, you won’t disturb the other passengers.
  • If you carry food or drinks with you, you need to make sure that they remain completely sealed. This way, their smell won’t be able to disturb the other passengers.
  • As a hygienic measure, the users need to be fully clothed and wear shoes while they travel on the trains and buses of the city.
  • It is prohibited to lie down and to put your feet on the trains’ seats. If you do any of these actions, you may be fined.
  • Avoid distracting or disturbing the light rail’s personnel on the trains and stations.
  • Any actions that may encourage vandalism or assaulting other passengers, you will be stopped immediately by the light rail’s personnel.
  • It is prohibited to eat on the stations and trains of the system.
  • You cannot smoke neither cigarettes nor e-cigarettes on the facilities of the Link Light Rail.
  • Avoid littering the trains and stations.
  • You cannot drink alcoholic beverages nor hallucinogenic substances on the system’s facilities
  • It is not allowed to carry potentially hazardous materials, flammable materials, explosives, nor corrosive materials on the trains and buses of Seattle.
  • You cannot carry firearms with you.
  • Do not abandon your belongings on the stations.
Seattle Metro

Connection to the airport

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located 21 kilometers away from downtown Seattle. This distance may seem like a long one.

However, thanks to a direct connection that the Link Light Rail has with the airport at the SeaTac/Airporteste station, this journey ends up being quite fast and comfortable.

The trains of this transportation system depart from the airport each six or 15 minutes. The stop is located near baggage claim area of the airport, which is at the north of the airport, right after crossing the suspended bridge located in said area. In specific cases, such as when you suffer from a health problem, you can board a small electric car that transits between the baggage claim area and the light rail stop. This way, you won’t need to walk.

Once you are on the stop, you will only need to wait for your train, which will get you to Seattle in approximately 40 minutes. The vehicle’s business hours are the same as the rest of the Link Light Rail system, which is between 5:00 am and 1:00 am on weekdays, and 6:00 am and 12:00 am on weekends. The price of the ticket is of 3.25 $.

Additionally, there are also some bus stops and taxi lines outside of the airport that could transport you to any destination within the city in case that you need a ride with more privacy or if you have too much luggage.

Future expansions

On 2008, a voting poll was carried at the King county. During the voting, the authorities approved the construction of new light rail railroads to be done between 2021 and 2024, in a project that was called Sound Transit 2, which would expand the Link Light Rail system. These new extensions will reach the neighborhoods of Northgate and Lynnwood, which are located at the north of Seattle, and will also reach the regions of Bellevue and Overlake, which are located to the east of Seattle.

Also, the blueprints of the project show that improvements on the current services will be done, such as renovating the trains, railroads and stations. Additionally, new stations on the current routes will be built.

Touristic attractions

Seattle, just like any cosmopolitan city, offers its visitors a wide variety of leisure, art, and entertainment facilities that the citizens have access to, especially at the downtown area. Some of these facilities are available for free, while others require a fee.

One of these facilities is the Seattle Public Library. This place is an architectural masterpiece made out of steel and glass, and it is a place that encourages people of all ages to read. It is located in downtown Seattle, this library has become a must-visit place to those who want to take good photos while they visit the city. Additionally, its interior has a huge number of books, which can be read for free within a calm and cozy surrounding. This building is located a couple of blocks off the Link Light Rail’s University Street station.

Also, travelers can find the Seattle Art Museum. This place is a space with a big diversity in exhibitions, where visual works and well-illuminated galleries have been available since its inauguration on 1933. Without a doubt, this is a must-see place for art-lovers, who will be able to enjoy magnificent works of a sublime composition. These artworks include a mix of city-related pieces and works inspired by the American geography.

This museum is just a few blocks off University Street station and the Pike Place market. The museum frequently hosts new art collections, which has pieces from both the United States and other countries. Therefore, it is common to find works from Europe, Asia, Oceania, and even from Native American tribes. Also, its modern architecture is one of its highlights, which makes this museum an ideal place to strike a pose for your photos that will bring you back sweet memories from your vacation on this North American city.

Annex: connections at stations

Central Link stations

  • University of Washington: It is localized on the University of Washington campus, specifically, at the intersection between Montlake Boulevard Northeast and Northeast Pacific Street. This station has been offering service since March 19th, 2016.
  • Capitol Hill: This station is located on the Capitol Hill neighborhood at the north of Seattle, at the intersection between Broadway and East John Street. It has been operational since March 19th, 2016.
  • Westlake: This station is located between the third and sixth avenue of Pine Street, very close to the Westlake Park, and right at the center of the city. It has been offering service since 2009.
  • University Street: This station is located below the third avenue, at University Street from downtown Seattle. It has been operational since the year 2009.
  • Pioneer Square: This stop is located on James Street, on the center of Seattle, very close to the city’s Chinatown. It has been offering service since the year 2009.
  • International District/Chinatown: This station is located to the south of Jackson Street, right at the Chinese neighborhood, or in other words, the Chinatown. It has been offering service since 2009.
  • Stadium: This station is located on the neighborhood of SoDo, at Royal Brougham Way. It’s been operational since July, 2009.
  • SODO: This station is located on the SoDo neighborhood on Lander Street. It’s been offering service since July, 2009.
  • Beacon Hill: This stop is located on the Beacon Hill neighborhood, on the intersection between Beacon Avenue South and South Lander Street. It’s been operational since July, 2009.
  • Mount Baker: It is located on the Mount Baker Neighborhood, between Rainier Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This station has been offering service since 2009.
  • Columbia City: This station is on the Columbia City neighborhood, specifically, between South Alaska Street and South Edmunds Street. It has been offering service since July 18th, 2009.
  • Othello: It is located on the NewHolly neighborhood, between South Othello Street and South Myrtle Street. It has been operational since 2009.
  • Rainier Beach: This station lies on the Rainier Beach neighborhood, to the south of South Henderson Street. It has been offering service since the year 2009.
  • Tukwila International Boulevard: This station lies on the suburb of Tukwila, on the intersection between State Route 99 and State Route 528. It has been offering service since the year 2009.
  • SeaTac/Airport: This station is located on the SeaTac neighborhood, between International Boulevard and South 176th Street. It’s been operational since 2009.
  • Angle Lake: It lies on the neighborhood of SeaTac, to the south of Seattle, on the intersection between 28th Avenue South and South 200th Street. It’s been offering service since September 2016.

Tacoma Link stations

  • Theater District: This station is located on the intersection between Commerce Street and South 9th Street, on the region of Tacoma. It has been offering service since August 22nd, 2003.
  • Commerce Street: This stop is located on the intersection between Commerce Street and South 11th Street, on the neighborhood of Tacoma. It’s been operational since 2003.
  • Convention Center: It is located in Tacoma. This station lies right at the intersection between Commerce Street and South 15th Street. It’s been offering service since the year 2003.
  • Union Station: It is located near the University of Washington (Tacoma campus), between South 19th Street and Pacific Avenue. It’s been operational since the year 2003.
  • South 25th Street: This station is located in Tacoma, between South 25th Street and A Street. It’s been offering service since the year 2003.
  • Tacoma Dome: This station is located to the south of Tacoma, on 424 E 25th Street, very close to the Tacoma Dome stadium. It’s been operational since the year 2009.

Connections

The Seattle Link Light Rail has many connections with other transportation systems, including suburban trains and bus lines, which complement each other.

Below you will see the stations of each line that have some sort of connection:

Central Link

  • University of Washington: It connects the bus services of the firms King County Metro, Sound Transit Express, and Community Transit.
  • Capitol Hill: It connects with the First Hill Streetcar Seattle tramway service and with buses from the King County Metro firm.
  • Westlake: It connects with the Seattle Center Monorail, the South Lake Union Streetcar tramway service, as well as the buses from the King County Metro, Sound Transit Express and Community Transit firms
  • Pioneer Square: It connects with the buses of the Community Transit, Sound Transit Express and King County Metro firms. It also connects with the ferries of Washington State Ferries, King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Fast Ferries
  • International District/Chinatown: It connects with the buses from the King County Metro, Sound Transit Express, Community Transit and BoltBus firms, with the Sounder commuter rail trains, as well as the First Hill Streetcar tramway service.
  • Tukwila International Boulevard: It connects with the buses from the King County Metro and RapidRide firms.
  • SeaTac/Airport: It connects with the buses from the RapidRide, Sound Transit Express and King County Metro firms.
  • Angle Lake: It connects with the buses from the King County Metro and RapidRide firms.

Tacoma Link

  • Theater District: It connects with the buses from routes number 1, 2, 3, 16, 26, 45, 60 and 490.
  • Commerce Street: It connects with the buses from the firms Sound Transit Express, Pierce Transit and Intercity Transit.
  • Union Station: It connects with the buses from routes number 582, 586, 590 and 594.
  • Tacoma Dome: It connects with the buses from the firms Pierce Transit, Sound Transit Express, Intercity Transit and Greyhound. It also makes a connection with the Sounder commuter rail suburban rail service.

Metro map of Seattle

Metro map of Seattle Full resolution
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Seattle Light Rail map

  • Also Known As: Light Rail
  • Passengers/Day
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • $2
  • Seattle Metro Official Website

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