One of the many (and sometimes contradictory) claims you'll hear from light rail opponents, including those fighting Sound Transit 3, is that people won't ride it. Trains don't go enough places, they'll say, or they're not as good as buses.
News from Sound Transit today calls bullshit on that argument. The agency released new ridership numbers today showing that not only did Link ridership spike to a record high on Friday, but average daily light rail ridership is higher than it's ever been.
According to Sound Transit, the light rail system set a single-day ridership record Friday with 101,000 boardings, as fans flooded a University of Washington football game and a Mariners game. Throughout the month of August, weekday ridership averaged 69,100, up 70 percent from August 2015.
Newly opened stations at Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium are obvious boons to the Link system.
"Clearly, opening the U-Link extension in March dramatically increased our ridership overnight," says Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick, "but we've been continuing to grow a lot since then. It's not just with U-Link, It's across the whole system."
Sound Transit's entire system—Link light rail, buses, and Sounder commuter rail—is seeing record-high ridership. Weekday ridership across the entire system averaged 154,000 boardings, which is 27 percent higher than last year, according to the agency.
To meet increasing demand, Sound Transit is running more trains with more cars during rush hour and special events and plans to continue doing that. (They're budgeting for increased maintenance, too, says spokesperson Bruce Gray.)
Which brings us to the agency's PSA of the day: Stop boarding only the first or second train car. Gray says the agency sometimes runs three-car trains but only the first two are completely packed. Sound Transit is now considering signs or announcements to let people know when a three-car train is arriving.