SEATTLE - A new 3-mile segment of Link light rail is scheduled to open Saturday, adding service from the University of Washington to downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac airport.
"We are now four days from changing how this city and this region get around," King County Executive Dow Constantine said.
Sound Transit service at two new stations, UW's Husky Stadium and Capitol Hill, begins 10 a.m. The stations connect to existing rail service, which currently runs between the Westlake station in downtown Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The agency says the university extension will add 71,000 riders to the system by 2030.
"Just opening these two stations is going to come close to doubling our light rail ridership over time," said Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit. "Whenever you connect big employers and big densely population areas by rail, people flock to it."
Link light rail will eventually run to Lynnwood in the north, Overlake in Redmond to the east and south of Sea-Tac airport. Another new station is expected to open this fall in SeaTac, which would extend light rail 1.6 miles south of the airport. Sound Transit 3, before voters this fall, could connect "the spine" father than that.
"Our region needs a light rail spine," said Andrew Villeneuve, of the Northwest Progressive Institute as he checked out the new stations Tuesday. "Adding these additional stations at Capitol hill and the University of Washington is just huge because a lot of more neighbors can now get onto the system."
The University Link will open six months ahead of schedule and $200 million under budget.
Sound Transit says an inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony open to the public will take place at 10 a.m. at Capitol Hill Station's north entrance at Broadway and John. A countdown ceremony will also take place at the University of Washington Station at 10 a.m.