Transit Agencies in Puget Sound – Riding Sound Transit light rail

Monday, December 31, 2012

Sound Transit Link Light Rail car
Brian is writing a series of articles about transportation options in the area

Riding Sound Transit light rail
By Brian Doennebrink

Sound Transit Link oversees the operations of link light rail that presently operates from Westlake Station in downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac airport and a second segment that runs between the Tacoma Dome and South 9th in Tacoma. 

Construction and/or preparation is underway to extend the Central Link line (1) northward, first to the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium (ETA 2016), then Northgate (ETA 2021), and – via Shoreline – Lynnwood (ETA 2023); (2) eastward from the International District/Chinatown Station, to Overlake/Redmond (ETA 2023); (3) southward, from the Sea-Tac station, to South 200th (ETA 2016), with preliminary work towards an extension to the Federal Way Transit Center. Meanwhile, ST is in the information-gathering stages for expanding Tacoma Link, with alternatives in most directions from the present line.

Orca card reader
Fares on light rail in Tacoma are presently free, although there have been discussions about changing that. On Central Link, the fare depends on how far you travel. Their website has a matrix of fares that range, for Adult passengers, from $2.00, their base fare, to $2.75 (see below). You need to have valid fare before getting onto the train, as you cannot purchase tickets on board. 

You can use an ORCA card, and ORCA card readers (look for their bright yellow housing) are at the train platforms. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket from a ticket vending machine (TVM).

Ticket sales
An example of the latter is a trip from Westlake Station to Sea-Tac Airport. Day passes – good for travel on the service, date, and stations printed on the ticket – cost two times the one-way fare. For youths, all one-way fares on Link are $1.25 and Day passes $2.50. For Regional Reduced Fare Permit holders, their one-way fares are $0.75, Day passes $1.50. A trip from Westlake station, the present northern terminus for what’s called “Central Link,” to Sea-Tac airport is estimated to take 37 minutes.


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