High Capacity Transit
In 2016, the ballot measure Sound Transit 3, abbreviated as ST3, passed. The measure looked to expand the region’s transit network by building 62 miles of additional light rail and 37 new stations, bringing the total length of the light rail system to 116 miles. Additionally, there will be an extension of the Sounder commuter rail to DuPont and bus rapid transit lines on State Route 522 and Interstate 405.
Currently, the existing light rail system is one line that runs from Northgate, through downtown Seattle, to Seatac, and ends at Angle Lake. In 2024, the Lynnwood Link extension project will expand the regional rail system to Snohomish County with an added 8.5 miles of rail. This brand new extension will activate four stations – Shoreline South/148th, Shoreline North/185th, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood City Center.
Expected to be completed sometime between 2037 and 2041, the Everett Link Extension will add 16 miles of light rail and six new stations connecting Snohomish County residents to the regional light rail network. Because the Everett Link extension is still in the beginning stages of its timeline – Sound Transit is continuing to engage with the public, agencies and Tribes for the development of its station and track alignment alternatives. Currently, the planned stations will be located at West Alderwood, Ash Way, Mariner, SW Everett Industrial Center, SR 526/Evergreen and Everett Station, plus one provisional (unfunded) station at SR 99/Airport Road.
For more information, click here for project updates.
As part of ST3, Sound Transit is in the process of building out their Stride bus rapid transit program – a fast, frequent and reliable bus service, connecting light rail and communities north, east and south of Lake Washington. Riders riding the Stride system can expect buses to run every 10 minutes as they become connected with the regional transit network.
The bus rapid transit system will comprise three lines – S1, S2, and S3. The S1 line will go from Bellevue Transit Center to Burien Transit Center, connecting communities along I-405 and SR 518 and adding connections to Link light rail at Bellevue and Tukwila. The project includes a new transit center in South Renton and five Stride stations.
The S2 line will run from Lynnwood City Center to Bellevue Transit Center, connecting communities along I-405 and SR 518 and adding connections to Link light rail at Lynnwood and Bellevue. The project includes a new five Stride station – Canyon Park, a SR 522/I-405 Transit Hub, Brickyard, Totem Lake, and NE 85th.
Finally, the S3 line will run from Shoreline South/148th to the SR 522/I405 Transit Hub in Bothell. This line will allow for riders to connect to Link light rail at Shoreline South/148th or to the S2 line in Bothell.
All Stride BRT lines have projected opening for 2027/2028.
Stay up to date with current timeline happenings on the system on the project’s webpage.
The Swift Bus Rapid Transit is a bus rapid transit system operated by Community Transit with two existing lines in service – the Blue and Green lines. The Blue line runs Everett Station in Everett and Aurora Village Transit Center in Shoreline. While the Green line runs from Seaway Transit Center in Everett and Canyon Park Park & Ride in Bothell.
To better connect Snohomish County riders to the opening of the Lynnwood Link Extension, Community Transit is expanding the Blue line to run from Aurora Village Transit Center to a new Swift station at Shoreline North/185th. This proposed extension has an opening date of 2024.
Expanding on the Swift system, the Orange line will be opening in 2024. The Orange line will run from Edmonds College to McCollum Park and Ride. This brand new line will allow connections to Link Light rail with a stop at the Lynnwood City Center station. Further stops include Swamp Creek Park & Ride and Ash Way Park & Ride.
and Age- and Ability-Friendly Communities
In 2020, the Puget Sound Regional Council adopted VISION 2050, a long term regional planning document that lays out the vision for growth and transportation investments in the following four counties – King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish.
VISION 2050 sets a specific policy for targeting growth near existing and future high-capacity transit:
Attract 65% of the region’s residential growth and 75% of the region’s employment growth to the regional growth centers and high-capacity transit station areas to realize the multiple public benefits of compact growth around high-capacity transit investments. As jurisdictions plan for growth targets, focus development near high-capacity transit to achieve the regional goal. (VISION 2050, MPP-RGS-8, page 43)
VISION 2050 defines “high-capacity transit station areas” as:
Areas within ½ a mile of existing or planned light rail and streetcar stations, commuter rail stations, ferry terminals, and within ¼ mile of all bus rapid transit stations. (VISION 2050, Glossary of Terms, page 128)
This means that areas that are within a quarter-mile of Community Transit’s Swift bus line stations and Sound Transit’s Stride line stations would fall under “bus rapid transit stations,” and areas within a half-mile of the stations that are planned for Lynnwood and Everett’s Link extensions would be categorized as “planned light rail.”
By following VISION’s 65/75 policy and building housing near high capacity transit and jobs, people will have greater mobility and access to jobs and social services. This is especially important in creating age- and ability-friendly communities. According to Disability Rights Washington, approximately 25% of Washington State residents cannot drive due to age, ability, vehicle access, or other reasons.
In Snohomish County, 8.2% of people under age 65 have a disability. There is another 15% of county residents who are older than 65, and the state Office of Financial Management projects the county’s 65+ population to increase to more than 22% by 2040. This increase in older adults is at a faster rate than the statewide average.
As this portion of the population grows, a major challenge is building secure and affordable housing choices for older adults so they can stay in their communities as they age. An AARP survey found that 77 percent of adults age 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term — a number that has been consistent for more than a decade. However, many single-family homes are located in isolated locations and are unwalkable due inadequate sidewalks and curb ramps.
This means that aging in place can only be possible if we concentrate new development in regional growth centers and near high capacity transit. By doing so, we can ensure better mobility for those with disabilities and older adults and allow them to live dignified lives with freedom.