East Link Light Rail Bellevue
Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

Sound Transit has set the wheels in motion for the start of passenger operations on the highly anticipated Link 2 Line, facilitating travel between the South Bellevue and Redmond Technology stations. This is scheduled to take place in the Spring 2024. Notably, the strategic move to initiate service on this eight-station segment prior to the full completion of the expansive East Link Extension has gained the approval of the Sound Transit Board.

The forthcoming service on the Link 2 Line has been outlined to feature the operation of two-car trains at a frequency of one every 10 minutes, ensuring a remarkable 16-hour daily coverage. The definitive blueprint for service, however, will be formally sanctioned by the Sound Transit Board within the comprehensive 2024 Service Plan, an action slated for deliberation this upcoming October.

A fundamental stride towards enhanced connectivity, the Link 2 Line service is poised to offer Eastside commuters a reliable trip connecting South Bellevue and Redmond Technology stations. The broader spectrum of service will further extend to encompass travel options to key locales such as Overlake Medical Center, the Spring District, and the BelRed area.

Among the facets encompassed by the Board’s decisive action is a commitment to address the burgeoning ridership demand on the 1 Line. This commitment includes a strategic amplification of peak-hour service, strategic augmentation of bus services in Snohomish County, and support for Lynnwood passengers until the East Link Extension is brought into effect.

Dow Constantine, Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive, couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for the groundbreaking move. He remarked, “It’s an exciting step to connect more communities via fast, carbon-free Link light rail, and opening these stations on the Eastside is the opening act of the 2 Line.” Constantine’s sentiments reverberated with an eagerness to witness the forthcoming crossing of Lake Washington by the 2 Line in the consequential year of 2025.

Underpinning the seamless implementation of this transformative endeavor is Sound Transit’s active collaboration with regional transit partners, concretizing plans to harmonize the introduction of the Link 2 Line with other imminent spring service adjustments across transit networks like ST Express, King County Metro Transit, and Community Transit bus routes. This is poised to fortify the continuum of regional mobility connectivity for passengers across an array of transit modes and services.

Assuring continuity, existing ST Express and King County Metro routes, notably including Route 550 and the B Line, are anticipated to remain operative on their current trajectories until the comprehensive realization of the Link 2 Line in the year 2025.

Claudia Balducci, a member of the Sound Transit Board and King County Council, commended the unanimous decision to embrace an Eastside-specific starter line, a proposition that emerged in response to unexpected challenges. Balducci emphasized, “This pivot from a long-established plan to adapt to changing circumstances is a testament to hard work, creativity and nimble action by agency staff.”

Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson also expressed her elation, underscoring, “We are thrilled that new light rail service will launch this spring, connecting people in Bellevue to their jobs and destinations.” Echoing this sentiment, Redmond Mayor Angela Birney applauded Sound Transit’s commitment to bolster connectivity and reliability, ushering in a positive impact throughout the region.

This landmark development traces its origins back to 2008 when voters gave the nod to the East Link Extension as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. The comprehensive construction initiative, launched in 2017, and the completion of the one-half-mile Bellevue tunnel in 2020 followed. Light rail test trains have been traversing the alignment, evaluating the electrical power system and train signal system.

The Sound Transit Board, with a visionary outlook, has earmarked a budget of up to $43 million from the existing $3.68 billion allocation for the East Link Extension. This financial commitment is geared towards facilitating the requisite operations to signal the arrival of the East Link Starter Line come Spring 2024.

Comments are closed.