How the ULink Light Rail Extension Affects Pioneer Square and the Rest of Seattle

You probably heard that ULink, the latest extension of Link Light Rail, opened last weekend.  It extends the Sea-Tac / Downtown Seattle line to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.  It represents a major milestone in bringing 21st century mass transit to Seattle, but many people we've spoken to don't realize it's impact on Pioneer Square and other neighborhoods along the line.

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We jumped at the chance to ride the new line on opening day and were thoroughly impressed.  Not only were the stations beautiful and the trains bustling with energy and excitement, the ride times to Capitol Hill and UW were almost unbelievably short, opening the door for residents and workers of Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District, Capitol Hill, and Montlake to move freely between neighborhoods, for lunchbreaks, shopping, work, and nightlife.  

Approximate ride times - tPC's closest stop is International District/Chinatown

Approximate ride times - tPC's closest stop is International District/Chinatown

 

For our coworking business, proximity to the light rail line means we can pull coworkers and staff from Rainier Beach, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, and University District without ever having the difficult conversation about finding parking in Pioneer Square.  Students commuting to UW can live as far south as Rainier Valley and travel to campus in under 30 minutes, without a car!  

On Saturday, we tested the line to UW and back, stopwatch in hand.  Here are the ride times from our closest station.  There is a Pioneer Square Station, and an International District Station within walking distance of The Pioneer Collective, but the ID Station is closer, about a 5 minute walk.

Ride times [Northbound] - from International District Station

  • Downtown Westlake Center - 6 minutes
  • Capitol Hill Broadway Station - 9 minutes
  • University of Washington / Husky Stadium - 15 minutes

Ride times [Southbound]  - from International District Station

  • Beacon Hill - 6 minutes
  • Mt. Baker - 9 minutes
  • Columbia City - 12 minutes
  • Othello - 16 minutes
  • Rainier Beach - 19 minutes
  • Sea-Tac Airport - 31 minutes

 

Early press and Twitter reaction was overwhelmingly positive as well.

If the new ULink extension has you excited for the future of transit in Seattle, there are some key organizations and upcoming milestones you should be aware of.  First, the Seattle Transit Blog and the hard working folks (and tPC members) at Seattle Subway are the go-to resources for all things transit related in Seattle.  Seattle Subway is made up of advocates, engineers, transit geeks, and passionate citizens, working within the system to push Sound Transit to build the interconnected system Seattle missed out on in the late 1960s and in 1912.  Seattle Transit Blog is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that covers transit news for the greater Seattle area. 

Both groups are pushing for ST Complete, their vision for what they call a "once in a lifetime opportuntiy for high capacity transit in Seattle and the Puget Sound Region."  This issue will be on your ballot this November.  In the meantime, how can you help further the cause? 

1.  Email the Sound Transit Board and tell them you support going big on ST3, including a Ballard/UW line.

2.  Tell your friends about the upcoming ballot measure and volunteer to help Seattle Subway get the word out.

3.  Vote to fund the ST3 plan in November!

Helpful links and further reading - Want to get caught up with a deep dive into our transit present and future?  These links provide a good place to start.

South Seattle Light Rail commuter?  Check out our Link Coworking Pass for Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, Columbia City and more!