Northgate light rail station opens as Sound Transit forges ahead on expansion

Oct 2, 2021, 6:50 AM | Updated: 8:28 pm
sound transit...
Light Rail riders board a northbound train out of the U-District station early Saturday. (Sound Transit)
(Sound Transit)

A trio of new light rail stations opened on Saturday, marking the debut of a long-awaited Northgate light rail expansion.

Light rail finally reaches Northgate, a promise 25 years in the making

The Northgate light rail route spans 4.3 miles, with two other new stations in the University District and Roosevelt connecting it to the rest of the city.

A majority of the extension is underground, except for the 0.8 mile stretch of elevated track leading into the Northgate station. The University District and Roosevelt stops along the extension are underground.

During peak hours, trains will run every 8 minutes. A trip from Northgate to the Westlake station in downtown Seattle will take 14 minutes.

Other projected travel times are:

  • Northgate to University of Washington โ€” 7 minutes
  • Northgate to U-District Station โ€” 5 minutes
  • U-District to Westlake โ€” 8 minutes

It’s estimated that trips between Capitol Hill and the UW will end up being faster as well, thanks to trains no longer having to slow down to switch tracks just south of the university.

Sound Transit projects that there will be 41,000 to 49,000 daily riders on the Northgate extension by 2022.

Sound Transit charts its path ahead facing $6.5 billion budget hole

Empty light rail trains began running on the new tracks between the University of Washington and Northgate in early September as part of pre-revenue service. That period was used to make sure that stations, tracks, utilities, escalators, elevators, systems and vehicles all worked as expected.

Sound Transit will next turn its attention to opening its Bellevue station in 2023, followed by Lynnwood, Federal Way, and Redmond by 2024. An expansion in West Seattle was recently delayed two years to 2032. Link light rail in Ballard is currently scheduled for 2035, while a downtown Everett station is set for 2036.

KIRO Radio reporter Chris Sullivan contributed to this story.

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Northgate light rail station opens as Sound Transit forges ahead on expansion