Light rail stations shift lives of Seattle commuters

KING 5's Lili Tan reports.

For some commuters in Seattle's Capitol Hill, this is life one year after the light rail,

“It’s made life a lot easier,” Oliver Krengel said.

“Now, I can get to work without much of a hassle. I don’t have to deal with Seattle traffic,” Jarryd Baxter said on his way to work in Columbia City.

Sunday marks one year since Sound Transit opened light rail stations at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill, plus the $1.8 billion tunnel connecting the two stations.

This year, the transportation agency says ridership has spiked 78 percent in February, as compared to February of 2016 before both stations opened.

“I used to just never leave the hill because it was just such a pain, and now it's so much easier,” said Elena Tarrasova, who was on her way to a business meeting in Pioneer Square. 

This week, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff told KING 5 News that more expansion plans are in the works.

“We are in the ground building light rail to Bellevue and on to Redmond. We are in the final planning to get up to Federal Way and up to Lynnwood,” Rogoff said.

However, just as riders crave more possibilities, the blueprint for President Trump’s budget, which cuts federal transportation dollars, may delay Seattle’s light rail expansion.

Plus, there’s the recent sticker shock over higher car-tab fees to pay for more public transportation.

“I think it's worth it. I have two cars, and I don't mind paying the extra for tabs and extra taxes,” Tarrasova said.

Sound Transit was expecting more than $1 billion from the federal government to extend light rail to Lynnwood and Federal Way, but leaders may have to decide which projects to delay if Congress approves President Trump’s full budget, which is expected to be released in May.

Copyright 2017 KING


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