Star power: Seattle light rail sees multiple record ridership days in July

Aug 12, 2023, 12:52 PM

Image: Sound Transit implementing ways to make light rail safer....

Sound Transit implementing ways to make light rail safer. (Photo from Sound Transit)

(Photo from Sound Transit)

The stars came to Seattle in July and the fans used public transportation to come see them.

Bolstered by the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and superstar Taylor Swift’s two concerts at Seattle’s Lumen Field as part of her Eras Tour, over 1 million riders took to the Sound Transit Link light rail, Metro buses, and the water taxi over three high-profile days in July, King County Metro reported in a press release Friday.

Most notably, the light rail set single-day ridership records four times in less than two weeks in July. First, on Tuesday, July 11, the day of the MLB All-Star Game, there were an estimated 115,600 riders. That broke the previous record which was 108,500 riders set on Oct. 3, 2019. Transit agencies went fare free on July 10-11 across King County Metro and Sound Transit to support riders and the MLB All-Star events, including the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Then, Sound Transit Link set another single-day light-rail ridership record with 119,500 boardings on Friday, July 21. But that record was eclipsed twice again during the days of the Eras Tour concerts with 126,000 riders on Saturday, July 22 and a whopping 136,800 on Sunday, July 23.

“Whether they donned baseball jerseys or friendship bracelets – or both – legions of fans stepped up and filled trains, buses, and water taxis for these spectacular events, and helped transit ridership soar to new heights,” King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine said in a statement.

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The transportation agency reported more than 631,000 boardings via buses, water taxis, special shuttles and streetcar on July 11, the day of the All-Star Game, and July 22 and 23, the days of the Swift concerts, which is how the number reached over 1 million riders overall during those three high-profile days.

Ridership demand also saw a boost the weekend of Swift’s concerts with the Seattle Mariners’ home games against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Capitol Hill Block Party, and Bite of Seattle at Seattle Center. All told, July saw 11 days with Link ridership of more than 100,000 boardings, the agency said.

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These rider volumes are as high as freeway traffic counts, The Seattle Times noted in a recent piece. The paper said “full trains show travelers and taxpayers getting a return for the Puget Sound region’s massive transit investment — some $5 billion in local and federal funds from 2003-2021 to create the 24-mile 1 Line from Northgate to downtown and Angle Lake.”

“The strength and vitality of our regional mobility network – over rails, roads, and water – continues to provide high-value connectivity as evidenced by this record-breaking ridership. And we are going to keep setting new records as our regional transit investments expand …” Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm added in the release.

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Star power: Seattle light rail sees multiple record ridership days in July