I rode the light rail yesterday, and I couldn't get a goofy smile off my face for almost the whole time. I'm a public transportation fan, but not a transportation wonk, so I'll have to defer to the experts on whether the light rail will do everything it should, or if it's the best use of transportation dollars and so on. But it exceeded my expectations by far.
I was surprised by how scenic the light rail was. Granted, it was a gorgeous day and you could see for miles anyway; the views of Mount Rainier were amazing. But the view of downtown, too, was at an angle I'd never seen before—from high above Sodo—and Seattle looks really grand from that side. But there are some moments once the train passes through Beacon Hill* where all you can see are trees all around and it feels like you're taking a train to the wilderness, and I expect those moments are only going to get eerier and better once the rain and gloom comes back.
I can't wait for the light rail to extend further north—I can't wait for more streetcars, either—but I'm glad it's going south first. Seattle's always been a north-minded city, and the light rail calls attention to some under-recognized neighborhoods. It's also going to be a drastic change for some residents: Somewhere near the end of the line, the train passed over a couple who were frolicking, naked, in their backyard pool.
I've been enjoying reading the terrified comments on the Seattle Times stories about the light rail: Crime is going to skyrocket! People are going to die in accidents on a daily basis! The light rail's jostling motion as it rides on the elevated portions of the rail wrenched my back! Looking back on those comments will be incredibly entertaining; everything about the old-fashioned, fearful Seattle Way started to change on Saturday, and it's about goddamned time.
* The Beacon Hill station is probably my favorite; it feels like a real subway station, and its dark, cool blue is an uncommon color for public transit. It appeals to the depressing, depressed Seattleite in me.