Watching a brand-new race...
Watching a brand-new race... Charles Mudede

In 1972, the American physicist P. W. Anderson published an influential paper titled “More Is Different.” What did he mean by this? Simply, there is a point when you have so much of something—so many cells, so many ants, so many people—that something new emerges. Moreover, that new thing could not be predicted by its constitutive elements. Nothing about an individual ant tells you anything about its colony.

In June 2014, Link's boardings crossed the 1 million mark for the first time. After that achievement, the light rail system experienced steady and often very impressive but never unusual growth rates. Then in April 2016, the system made a quantum leap to 1,657,616 boardings (PDF), which is nearly an 80 percent increase from the previous year, 923,815 boardings. (It's also 200,000 more boardings than Sound Transit had predicted for the month.) The reason for this sharp increase is, of course, the opening of the University of Washington Station and Capitol Hill Station. What is now in reach is 2 million boardings in a month, as the summer months are Link's busiest.

By just adding three more miles of track, Seattle entered a new era of transportation. The addition of 733,801 boardings means something new is bound to emerge. More means different. We can expect a new tone of being in this city, a new kind of feeling. There will now be two Seattles or two ways of prehending Seattle. There will be people who prehend it by Link (the deeper Seattle) and those who cannot. Sound Transit promises to speed up the expansion of the system, which means expanding the feeling that's emerging.