For anyone from the Central District who took a trip on light rail this weekend, it’s easy to feel a bit jealous of our neighbors to the south. They’ve got a shiny new, smooth, quick ride to and from downtown. Most of us will have to be content with our often crowded bus lines, at least until the new light rail station opens at I-90 & Rainier in 2020.
There is one destination where light rail should provide a quicker and more reliable ride than the bus – it’s a great connection to and from the airport, and we’ve got several bus lines that make it easy to build a trip.
The best place to connect with light rail from here is the Mt. Baker Station at Rainier & McClellan. You can get there from the 48, 8, or 14 bus lines. To find out which will be easiest for you, try this google map and change the first field to your own address. For example, from 23rd & Cherry, it only takes 11 minutes to get to light rail.
Once you get to the Mt. Baker station, your ride time to the airport will be about 30 minutes, including a shuttle bus between the Tukwila station and the actual airport. Total cost for bus and light rail fare will be about $4.
Wondering if it would ever be worth your time to take light rail downtown? We’ve run the numbers, and found that the answer is no for anyone who lives north of I-90. Here’s a map that shows how close you have to be to save time by taking light rail vs. the normal bus routes. If you live within the purple circle, you’ll almost always save time by walking to the Mt. Baker light rail station instead of taking the bus. If you don’t mind a longer walk, the yellow circle shows the area where you’ll often save time, given the unreliable schedules of the bus as it navigates through crowded streets. Otherwise, you’ll want to take your normal bus route to and from downtown.
View Mt. Baker Station – Walking Distance in a larger map