Central Link

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Central Link
Sound Transit Link Light Rail logo.svg
Sound Transit Central Link Vehicle.jpg
Sound Transit Central Link Vehicle
Type Light rail
System Link Light Rail
Termini University of Washington
Stations 15
Daily ridership 65,409 (May 2016, weekdays)[1]
Website Sound Transit
Opened July 18, 2009[2]
Owner Sound Transit
Operator(s) King County Metro
Character Underground, at grade, elevated
Line length 18.75 mi (30.2 km)[6]
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 1,500 Volts DC,[3][4][5]
overhead catenary

Central Link is a light rail line running between the University of Washington in the city of Seattle and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the city of SeaTac. It is one of the lines in Sound Transit's Link Light Rail system. Service operates seven days a week, from 5 am to 1 am Monday through Saturday and from 6 am to midnight on Sundays. Trains are composed of two or more cars,[7] each with a capacity of 200 passengers—74 seated and 126 standing.[8] Opened on July 18, 2009, Central Link initially operated between downtown Seattle and Tukwila,[2] on a 13.9-mile (22.4 km) route. Service was extended by 1.7 miles (2.7 km) from Tukwila to SeaTac Airport on December 19, 2009,[9] and by 3.15 miles (5.07 km) from Westlake to the University of Washington[10] on March 19, 2016,[11] for a system total of 18.75 miles (30.18 km).[6]


Geographic route map of Link light rail as of March 2016, including extensions currently under construction.
Central Link
Lynnwood Link Extension &
Northgate Link Extension
University of Washington
Montlake Cut
Capitol Hill
First Hill Streetcar to Pioneer Square
Seattle Center Monorail
South Lake Union Streetcar
University Street
Pioneer Square
Sounder commuter rail
to Everett
to Vancouver
First Hill Streetcar to Capitol Hill
International District/Chinatown
First Hill Streetcar to Pioneer Square
Sounder commuter rail
to Lakewood via Tacoma
to Portland
East Link Extension (2023)
StadiumGreyhound Lines Greyhound
Beacon Hill
Mount Baker
Columbia City
Rainier Beach
Duwamish River
Tukwila International Blvd. Toilets unisex.svg
SeaTac/Airport Toilets unisex.svg
Angle Lake (2016)
Federal Way Link Extension (2023)

The northern terminus is at the University of Washington, next to Husky Stadium, where construction on a northern extension is in progress. From there, it travels through a tunnel to Capitol Hill Station on Broadway. The tunnel then transitions into the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel at Westlake Station.

Westlake Station is near the intersection of Pine Street and 4th Avenue. Central Link trains operate inside the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, sharing the right-of-way with diesel-electric hybrid buses. The route serves four of the tunnel's five stations (Convention Place Station being the exception). After exiting the southern end of the tunnel at International District/Chinatown Station, the route joins the SoDo Busway (formerly 5th Avenue S.) as a traffic-separated surface route, where it has priority for all intersections. The route serves two stations on the busway and then rises to an elevated section through the SoDo neighborhood.

West portal of the Beacon Hill Tunnel

The route then enters the Beacon Hill Tunnel under Beacon Hill and makes one stop at the underground Beacon Hill Station. Exiting the tunnel, the route becomes grade-separated on an elevated bridge. It serves Mount Baker Station near Franklin High School before it becomes an at-grade surface route on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. and serves three stations in the Rainier Valley.

Central Link as it descends the grade from the elevated bridge over Martin Luther King Jr. Way S.

Continuing south on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., it again becomes grade-separated on an elevated guideway and runs alongside Boeing Access Road, E. Marginal Way S., Interurban Avenue S., SR 599, and I-5. Just north of SR 518, the route turns west and parallels SR 518. It stops at Tukwila International Boulevard Station before crossing International Boulevard and running in the center of the North Airport Expressway all the way to the southern terminus of SeaTac/Airport Station, an elevated station lying northeast of the parking garage, immediately west of International Boulevard. An extension south of the airport is currently under construction and scheduled to open in September 2016.


Station Name Opening Year City/Neighborhood Location Platforms Notes
End of line; future extension (Northgate Link Extension)
University Link Tunnel
University of Washington station entrance - May 2016.jpg
University of Washington 2016 University District, Seattle under Montlake Blvd NE & NE Pacific St Island
Capitol Hill Station platform on opening day, March 19, 2016 - 01.jpg
Capitol Hill 2016 Capitol Hill, Seattle under Broadway & E John St Island Connection to First Hill Streetcar.
Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel
Link Light Rail at Westlake Station (10873527453).jpg
Westlake 1990 Downtown Seattle under Pine Street, between 3rd, 4th and 5th Avenues Side Connection to Seattle Center Monorail and South Lake Union Streetcar.
Link trains at University St station in 2010.jpg
University Street 1990 Downtown Seattle under 3rd Avenue, between University and Seneca Streets Side
Pioneer Square 1990 Pioneer Square, Seattle under 3rd Avenue & James Street Side Connection to Colman Dock (Washington State Ferries) and King County Water Taxi.
Link train at International District-Chinatown Station.jpg
International District/Chinatown 1990 International District / Chinatown, Seattle under Union Station at 5th Avenue S & S Jackson Street Side Connection to First Hill Streetcar and King Street Station (Amtrak & Sounder).
Connection to future extension (East Link Extension)
Sound Transit Stadium Station.jpg
Stadium 2009 SoDo, Seattle SoDo Busway &
S Royal Brougham Way
Island Connection to Greyhound.

Larger platform to accommodate large crowds attending events at Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.

Sound Transit SODO Station.jpg
SODO 2009 SoDo, Seattle SoDo Busway & S Lander Street Side
Beacon Hill Tunnel
Sound Transit Beacon Hill Tunnel.jpg Beacon Hill 2009 Beacon Hill, Seattle under Beacon Avenue S & S Lander Street Island
Sound Transit Central Link Mount Baker Station.jpg
Mount Baker 2009 Mount Baker, Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Way S & Rainier Avenue S Side
Surface (Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Platform View Columbia City Station View.jpg
Columbia City 2009 Columbia City, Seattle MLK Jr. Way S between
S Edmunds & S Alaska Streets
Othello Station.jpg
Othello 2009 New Holly, Seattle MLK Jr. Way S between
S Othello & S Myrtle Streets
Rainier beach stn.jpg
Rainier Beach 2009 Rainier Valley, Seattle MLK Jr. Way S & S Henderson Street Island
Path to Station.jpg
Tukwila International Blvd 2009 Tukwila SR 518 & Tukwila International Blvd Side 600-space park & ride lot
SeaTac Airport station wide cropped.jpg
SeaTac/Airport 2009 SeaTac East of airport parking garage Island Pedestrian bridges to main terminal and kiss-and-ride center at International Blvd
End of line; future extension (Federal Way Link Extension)


Light rail train testing in SoDo.

Central Link operates using a proof-of-payment fare system. Passengers are required to purchase a paper ticket or tap their ORCA (and receiving a valid permit to travel) before boarding trains. Sound Transit fare inspectors or police officers randomly board trains and check for valid proof-of-payment. Passengers who are caught traveling without valid proof-of-payment can be fined $124.

The fares for Link are distance-based: $2.25 base fare plus 5 cents per mile, rounded to the nearest 25 cents.[12] The maximum cost of a one-way ticket is $3.25, for a trip between the University of Washington and Sea-Tac Airport.

Passengers who pay using ORCA must tap their cards before boarding and after alighting trains. Passengers using ORCA are charged the maximum fare from the station they are traveling from and are issued a permit to travel when they tap before boarding and, if necessary, receive a refund when they tap after boarding.

Adult fares for Central Link are as follows:[12][13]

University of Washington
$2.25 Capitol Hill
$2.50 $2.25 Westlake
$2.50 $2.25 $2.25 University Street
$2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 Pioneer Square
$2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 International District/Chinatown
$2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 Stadium
$2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 SODO
$2.50 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 Beacon Hill
$2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 Mount Baker
$2.75 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 $2.25 Columbia City
$2.75 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 Othello
$2.75 $2.75 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 $2.25 $2.25 Rainier Beach
$3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $2.75 $2.75 $2.75 $2.75 $2.50 $2.50 $2.50 Tukwila International Blvd
$3.25 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $2.75 $2.75 $2.75 $2.75 $2.75 $2.50 $2.25 SeaTac/Airport

Sound Transit also offers discounted flat rate fares for qualifying Central Link passengers as follows:

Discount type Fare
Senior (65+) / Disabled / Medicare
(Regional Reduced Fare Permit required)
(ORCA LIFT card required)
(6–18 years)
(0–5 years, with fare paying passenger)


Paper transfers are not accepted or issued on Sound Transit routes. Passengers who use ORCA may transfer between Sound Transit routes or routes operated by most other Puget Sound transit agencies within two hours of initial payment. If the fare for the second route is higher, the difference will be charged.


Central Link operates on the following schedule:

Time Headway
Weekdays 5:00 am – 6:30 am 12
6:30 am – 9:00 am 6
9:00 am – 3:00 pm 10
3:00 pm – 6:30 pm 6
6:30 pm – 10:15 pm 10
10:15 pm – 1:00 am 15
Saturday 5:00 am – 8:00 am 15
8:00 am – 10:00 pm 10
10:00 pm – 1:00 am 15
Sunday 6:00 am – 8:00 am 15
8:00 am – 10:00 pm 10
10:00 pm – 12:00 am 15

Travel times[edit]

The vehicles operate with an end-to-end travel time of 44 minutes over the 18.75-mile (30.18 km) route[6] between the University of Washington and SeaTac/Airport.[14] Travel times are as follows;[14] all times measured in minutes.

University of Washington
4 Capitol Hill
8 4 Westlake
10 6 2 University Street
12 8 4 2 Pioneer Square
14 10 6 4 2 International District/Chinatown
16 12 8 6 4 2 Stadium
18 14 10 7 6 4 2 SODO
21 17 13 11 9 7 5 2 Beacon Hill
22 18 14 12 10 8 6 5 3 Mount Baker
25 21 17 15 13 11 9 8 5 3 Columbia City
30 26 22 19 18 16 14 12 9 8 5 Othello
33 29 25 23 21 19 17 16 13 11 8 4 Rainier Beach
38 34 34 32 30 28 26 24 21 20 17 12 9 Tukwila International Blvd
44 40 36 34 32 30 28 27 24 22 19 15 11 2 SeaTac/Airport

There is an 8-minute brisk walk from the SeaTac Airport station to the Alaska Airlines check in at the north end of the airport.[15]

The 36-minute travel time from Westlake Station to SeaTac/Airport Station was similar to the 32-minute scheduled travel time of the now cancelled King County Metro Route 194 bus from Convention Place Station to the airport.[16] Wait times are shorter and access is better, as light rail runs more frequently and during more hours of the day than Route 194 did, and serves more stops between downtown and the airport. Since light rail operates on its own right of way, it is not subject to delays due to traffic congestion.[8] King County Metro discontinued route 194 on February 6, 2010.[17] Riders who boarded Route 194 at the Kent/Des Moines or Star Lake (272nd) freeway stations and are destined north of the airport now have to board ST Route 574 and transfer to light rail at SeaTac/Airport Station. Expanded service on Sound Transit routes 577 and 578 now provide a direct connection between the Federal Way Transit Center and Downtown Seattle. Unlike the former route 194, routes 577 and 578 do not serve the Federal Way Park & Ride,[18] but shorten the trip between Downtown and Federal Way by 26 minutes.[16][18]


Ridership has significantly risen since the line opened in July 2009 and saw 12,000 boardings per weekday. The completion of the line to its ultimate destination, the airport, subsequent passengers from closing Route 194, and shifting of bus routes to feed into the light rail contributed to the increase. Average weekday ridership reached 21,774 by May 2010 and 32,000 by June 2013.[19][20]

Sound Transit measures ridership by using the infrared sensors built into the doorways.[21]

By 2015, ridership had reached 35000/day for weekday traffic; with the opening of the UW extension March 19 2016, weekday ridership has jumped to roughly 60,000/day.[22]


Operations and Maintenance Facility

Kinkisharyo-Mitsui was chosen to design and manufacture low-floor light rail vehicles (LRVs) and provide additional equipment and support. Thirty-five light rail cars were delivered between November 2006 and September 2008. Each vehicle is 95 ft (29.0 m) long, 8.7 ft (2.7 m) wide, accommodate 200 people each (74 seated), and double-ended to allow travel in either direction. Two-car trains will be used initially, but as ridership increases, trains can be up to four cars long. Prior to University Link construction being completed, only two-car trains could be used, due to the length of the stub tracks at the north end interlocking. Now that University Link is open, 3 and 4 car trains are possible. The maximum speed of the light rail vehicle is 65 mph (105 km/h).

An additional 27 LRVs have been delivered to Sound Transit by Kinkisharyo at a rate of one a month, beginning in August 2010.[23] The current plan is for 180 total units for the system by 2030.[24]

The overhead catenary that supplies electricity to the LRVs is fed (from substations) at 1,500 Volts DC,[3] a departure from the normal voltage for U.S. light rail systems, 750 V,[4] with Central Link being the first light rail system in North America to use 1,500 V.[5] Sound Transit's other light rail line, the 2003-opened Tacoma Link, uses 750 V.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "May 2016 Service Performance Report" (PDF). Sound Transit. July 7, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Sound Transit: Countdown to a new era: all aboard Link light rail starting July 18". Sound Transit. April 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Adopted 2009 Budget" (pdf). Sound Transit. December 2008. p. 53 (Central Link Operations Overview). Retrieved 2012-11-28. 
  4. ^ a b Taplin, Michael (October 2009). "Miraculous in Seattle" (feature article on Central Link at the time of its opening). Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, pp. 380–381. UK: LRTA Publishing. ISSN 1460-8324.
  5. ^ a b Middleton, William D. (April 2006). "Sound Transit Builds for LRT". Railway Age: 43–45. Retrieved 2012-11-28. 
  6. ^ a b c "Schedules". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  7. ^ "Draft 2009 Service Implementation Plan" (pdf). Sound Transit. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  8. ^ a b "Link Light Rail Train Specifications". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  9. ^ Lindblom, Mike (December 19, 2009). "Early holiday arrival: light rail to airport". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  10. ^ Daniels, Chris; Green, Josh; Courtney, Ricky (March 19, 2016). "University Link light rail opens". KING-TV. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  11. ^ a b "SoundTransit - Link light rail fares - Adult Fares". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2015-05-30. 
  12. ^ "Board adopts fares for Link light rail; adult trips will range from $1.75 to $2.50". Sound Transit. March 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  13. ^ a b "Link light rail - Link weekday schedule". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  14. ^ "Traveler tip: Taking light rail to Sea-Tac airport". The Seattle Times. June 3, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  15. ^ a b "Metro Route 194". King County Metro. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  16. ^ "Metro Schedule and Route Revisions September 2009 & February 2010". King County Metro. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  17. ^ a b "Sound Transit: 577 Seattle - Federal Way / 578 Seattle - Puyallup Weekday Bus Schedule". September 19, 2009. Archived from the original on October 22, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  18. ^ "May Link Ridership Another Record", Seattle Transit Blog, June 22, 2010
  19. ^ "Link light rail celebrates fourth anniversary amid big crowds". Sound Transit. July 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  20. ^ "Light Rail Averaging 12,000 Riders per Weekday So Far", Seattle Times, July 31, 2009
  21. ^ "Sound transit ridership summaries"
  22. ^ http://www.kinkisharyo-usa.com/successstories-soundtransit.html
  23. ^ "Link LRT: Maintenance Bases, Vehicles and Operations for ST2 Expansion" (pdf). Sound Transit. 

External links[edit]