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Light Rail Ridership Takes Off in Seattle After Expansion

Besting all expectations, ridership numbers have increased 83 percent since Seattle's Sound Transit light rail system added two new stations, connecting downtown to the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood and the University of Washington.
August 14, 2016, 1pm PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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The opening of two new Sound Transit stations in March of this year has resulted in a significant bump in Seattle transit ridership, according to data released by the transit agency. Josh Cohn of Next Cityreports that Sound Transit data shows that ridership in May 2016 is almost double what ridership was one month prior to the station openings. While Sound Transit had expected the number of boardings to increase to 1.8 million by September, they were surprised to achieve that goal four months early. In response, Cohn reports that the agency has increased the number of three-car trains it is running at peak hours to meet the demand.

Sound Transit recently released its May ridership report. There were over 1.77 million boardings on light rail in May 2016, an 83 percent increase over May 2015’s ridership. Perhaps even more telling, light rail had 904,000 boardings in February (the last month before the expansion), which means ridership has nearly doubled with the new stations.

The good ridership news precedes the scheduled opening of four new stations through 2021, and the proposed 62-mile expansion of the system through a ballot measure dubbed Sound Transit 3 (ST3). ST3 will go before voters this November and, if approved, would raise $54 billion through "property, sales and motor vehicle excise taxes through 2041" and a mix of Federal grants, fares, and other revenue sources.

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Published on Thursday, July 28, 2016 in Next City
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