Photo courtesy Oran Viriyincy
Seattle’s Sound Transit
ridership got off to another strong start in 2014 with 7.5 million boardings in the first quarter, a jump of more than 8% compared to the same quarter in 2013.
It was the busiest first three months of the year in Sound Transit history. Link light rail ridership grew 15%, with 2.3 million first quarter boardings and an average of almost 30,000 on weekdays.
The ridership figures come amid recent headlines saying Seattle is the nation’s fastest-growing city.
“Transit is the future for moving our region’s commuters and economy,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The demand for both buses and congestion-free light rail will keep growing. The good news is that Sound Transit remains on track to expand the region’s light rail system from 16 miles to 50 miles by 2023.”
Recently-released U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Seattle had the highest growth rate in the nation — 2.8% — from July 2012 to July 2013. Seattle added nearly 18,000 residents during the one year period to bring its population up to about 652,000. The Seattle Office of Economic Development says the city also added nearly 15,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2013.
The first quarter ridership increases included:
- Central Link light rail: 29,919 average weekday boardings and 2.3 million boardings for the quarter.
- ST Express regional buses: 58,659 average weekday boardings and 4.1 million boardings for the quarter.
- Sounder commuter rail: 11,843 average weekday boardings and 759,942 boardings for the quarter.
In the coming months the Sound Transit Board will continue a process to plan for the projected 30% population growth the region will see by 2040 by updating the region’s Long-Range Plan. Updating the plan will set the stage for considering where light rail and other regional transit services should expand after current voter-approved projects are complete.
Sound Transit is continuing its strong track record of delivering voter-approved projects. The University Link light rail extension is set to open six to nine months early in the first quarter of 2016 and is tracking more than $100 million below budget.
The agency remains on target to deliver more than 30 miles of light rail expansions by 2023 despite a cumulative 29% reduction in funding for the 15-year Sound Transit package due to the impact of that national recession.