Saturday, July 18, 2009

Central Link Grand Opening

Othello Station during testing, from Wikipedia.

Today marks the first day of the rest of Puget Sound's history: the opening of Sound Transit's Central Link, the first stage in the large-scale Link light rail network. I went for the ribbon cutting, since I always like firsts (search for "9:33 AM"). Note: while I do live in Bothell, I usually drive to Lynnwood on weekends.

I left early this morning via the first southbound 511, then transferred to a 7. I didn't know that they had shuttles for the occasion, but ran to a 97 shuttle to Mt. Baker Station. Note that the one I rode was a Metro DE60LF, not a Sound Transit bus. The shuttle driver missed the station, and had to turn around south of Columbia City station, and negotiate the small residential streets until we got back.

Now, I didn't actually have an inaugural ride ticket, since I had work at the time they were available, but I still managed to attend the ceremony behind the "public fence." Various people, including engineers and local activists and leaders gave their speeches. However, the most ceremonious act was when the mayor of Tukwila rode a Link train North and Greg Nickels rode another Link train South to Mt. Baker Station. They performed the ribbon cutting, then the inaugural riders, including the mayors, were allowed on the trains. To my surprise, I also managed to get a seat on the southbound inaugural train, which was a three-car train. There was plenty of seating.

The ride was quite smooth, with some great views and cool art. Everyone was very excited, and surprised at how comfortable the ride was. There's even A/C, which is likely what contributes to the most of noise that the Times was complaining about.

I rode from Mt. Baker, to Tukwila (the train turned around without forcing us to transfer at the end, which isn't normal service), back to Westlake Center, and lastly down to the International District. There was a lot of roundabout walking to transfer from northbound to southbound in the Tunnel, including exiting to the surface and re-entering.

I'm extremely excited to see what this new light rail line spurs. Who knows, I may be riding it from Lynnwood on my commute to Seattle!

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