Community Post

Light Rail to & from the CD

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

0 thoughts on “Light Rail to & from the CD

  1. Since the 8 doesn’t run through the neighborhood on the weekends (or holidays) we of course can’t travel from Madison Valley to the train to head for the airport (or anywhere else) on Saturday or Sunday :(

  2. didn’t mean to sound all negative, but it would be so awesome to be able to use the train to go to the airport, or to work downtown ~ and it just doesn’t really work for me. I applaud their efforts to get people to leave their cars behind…but….???

  3. The #8 running more often, at night and weekends is part of the routing change Metro is planning. I think they will implement in the fall because they wanted to let light rail opening get settled down.

    That said, it doesn’t do anything for us. I don’t think it ever was meant to, unless you are going to the airport or later to the east side. I think those are still big maybes for me.

  4. My wife & I took a ride on the light rail over the weekend. While it was nice, not sure who and how many on a daily basis will actually ride this into the city.

  5. …this weekend to go to the soccer game at the stadium. It was very pleasant though twice the distance of taking the 14 straight down Jackson. :-)

  6. ST estimates it will be about 23,000 a day. There are a lot of transit-dependent folks in the Rainier Valley, so I think it’ll be well used. We’ll see soon enough!

  7. The purpose of light rail is mostly for when people are going longer distances. And, then they added stations along the way. When we are within (yes a long) walk for a healthy person to downtown, then I am not sure it makes sense. I’m gonna try it out when the bruhaha dies down, just to see the stations and experience it.

  8. The wife and I have talked about taking the bus to the Mount Baker station (or hoofing it, since we walked the same distance to QFC during Snopokalypse 2008), and then taking Link to Westlake when we want to hit stores downtown. That would be mildly time consuming, but less expensive than driving and parking.

    Of course, if we can just hold our breath for 11 years, we’ll have the I-90 & Rainier station much closer, and then we’ll be able to take light rail not only downtown, but to the sterile facade of a shopping mecca that is Bellevue Square Mall. :/

  9. It’ll cost $2.50. Your bus transfer works on the light rail, you’ll just have to pay to go to the second zone, like you would if you were taking the bus to the airport.

    I walked down to the “Pioneer Square” station on James Street on Saturday. There wasn’t any line and the train ride was delightful. Since I work downtown right near that station, I’m looking forward to all opportunities to hop the train south to visit my fave parts of Columbia City since it’ll be more convenient now.

  10. What KT said – Metro does quarterly service updates, and they wanted to wait to change the 8 until light rail had some time to run for a bit.

    The new 8 routing will be excellent, and the improved frequency (and Saturday/Sunday service) will also be huge.

    I understand trepidation and uncertainty about the system – and definitely agree that Raininer/90 stop will be great for the neighborhood. As far as destinations…sure, right now maybe Tukwila station isn’t everyone’s favorite :) but give it time. As the areas around the stations develop in the valley, I suspect there will be more and more reasons to take the train. I also suspect we’ll see streetcar service up Jackson to MLK at some point, which will give us another connection to the light rail.

  11. to allow smooth transfers from various spots. I hope Metro gets that, especially for the areas that have lost some of their bus service. Remember that they removed many trees to accomplish this. Hopefully, many will be replanted, or should I say replaced?

  12. I live well within one of the purple circles on the map – just off Rainier near the big Safeway – and for me it’s not a time savings to take light rail. I’ve only ridden it twice so far to work, but the bus seems to have a slight edge:

    Walk to bus: 5 min (timed for catching express)
    Walk to rail: 17 min (timed for catching train w/minimal wait)

    Express bus ride: 25 min
    Rail ride: 20 min

    Total bus to downtown: 30 min
    Total rail to downtown: 37 min

    It’s also a block or two furhter from rail than from the express bus to get to my 2nd bus to get to work. I like the rail but it’s just not a time savings for me. And during the winter months, that 17 minute walk to the station is really not something I’m going want to do.