First Airport Passenger

Sound Transit provided a media ride on Link to SeaTac/Airport Station this morning, just after they officially took occupancy (meaning the station’s “done”). It so happens that photographer Cian Hayes, who has taken photos for STB in the past, is returning to Ireland for the holidays today, so we sent him to get station photos on his way to the airport. We checked with Sound Transit, and he is indeed the first passenger using Link to the airport to take a flight.

71 Replies to “The First Airport Passenger”

    1. I am flying to Australia on the 20th and planning to use Link from downtown to SeaTac.

      I’m looking forward to giving the new station a try.

  1. Kind of annoyed the local media is referring to it as a “quarter mile walk” to the airport. There are LOTS of “quarter mile” walks at SeaTac airport…It’s not one of the most pedestrian “efficient” airports in the world.

    1. I think this talk about the walk is a wonderful reflection of our society. Can we seriously not handle a walk of a quarter mile on a level surface. I am not athletic by anyone’s description, but I can handle a mile with ease. How sad is it when a quarter mile is such a big deal. And we wonder why everyone is so fat.

    2. Looks like Southcenter mall is a quarter mile long too, from east to west. Of course with the expansion, the walk is going to be longer. Then you add in the walk from the parking lot and in & out of stores, it’s quite a marathon. Anyone in the media complain about that?

      1. I just laugh when people complain about walking 1/4 mile. I walk 1 mile to the nearest Link station. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been to a dozen Asian airports over the past year and walking a 1/4 to their rail systems is average, many are a lot longer. In fact, most US systems are just as far away and much more confusing than the SeaTac Link station. This will be so easy to get to.

      2. I have limited airport experience but I have to say it. San Antonio Airport’s transit access sucks! Outdated info on the drives that fools you to believe that the downtown bus stops at the terminal but instead you have to take an employee shuttle to a parking lot and then transfer to a city bus. I wasted 2 hours waiting for a bus and looking for a shuttle. Phoenix Sky Harbor requires a shuttle bus (automated people mover coming soon) that takes about 10 minutes to get to the light rail station plus time to cross the street.

      3. That’s what I was about to write phil… Of course, I would have used Bellevue Square for my example. *GRIN*

      4. I would just laugh if Kemper Freeman criticized Airport Link for being to far from the terminal while at the same time being a proponent of an Bellevue alignment that would mean walks of more than twice as far to get from the station to Downtown Bellevue.

    3. A quarter-mile is what – four blocks? Wouldn’t that be like walking from 5th Avenue to 1st Ave (or a transfer from Route 545 to a 21)?

  2. Curious if the Seatac officials have made any estimates on the number of workers at the airport will now take it as a commute.

    1. That’s actually a point I’ve heard made a couple of times. Employee use will probably be pretty high. There are also a couple of office buildings there, and some hotels and such. It won’t just be airport passengers.

      1. I’m interested to see what happens to the Tukwila station lot. Free parking (with a small link fare) makes it attractive for those (excluding employees) who need to park at the airport (and can’t take link otherwise) for a number of hours but not overnight (e.g., day commuters to portland, people meeting multiple flights, etc.).

      2. This is actually the main draw in transit links to airports… The percentage of passengers who use Link will be relatively small, due to carrying large amounts of luggage, renting cars for travel, being picked up by loved ones, etc. The number of employees however will be significant.

      3. An employee can pay $53 a month for employee parking, which is cheaper than driving and taking the train to the airport 22 times a month at $4 a round trip or even a $2 monthly PugetPass at $72 a month.

      4. But an employee paying for parking also has to pay for gas and sit in traffic, furthermore they may have a discount or subsidized transit pass available through work which would reduce the cost of taking transit.

      5. And with employee parking, they still have to sit and wait to transfer to the shuttle bus. Their parking lot isn’t anywhere near the airport…

  3. The ORCA readers are up at the station. We believe Brian may be the first revenue passenger on Airport Link. :)

      1. Next, we’ll need a screenshot of your ORCA transaction history with the date and time highlighted.

    1. It keeps getting delayed. There’s not a date, it’s a matter of “when we make it work” from Sound Transit now. They’re hoping that’s measured in days.

      1. We mean the next train arrival data on the readerboards – when the next train is coming.

  4. Need to be at the airport at 7 saturday. Can you get ST to run a train a few hours before their opening event that day?

  5. I just read the article in the Seattle Times about the opening of the Airport Station. Why is it impossible for Mike Lindblom to write an article without editorializing?

    1. Zed,

      Given what we do here, I really don’t have a problem with stories written with an editorial perspective. It’s not like what he said was untrue or even unfair.

      1. I don’t know, Martin. I like Mike Lindblom in general, but a disproportionate amount of that article focused on the distance to the terminal and the horrors of not being sheltered from the elements. And for a newspaper, there is definitely a problem with “stories written with an editorial perspective,” especially if those stories aren’t billed as news analysis. What you do here is great, but STB and the Times have different mission statements.

      2. I don’t mind editorializing either, but the line in the article about the station ambiance being shrouded in jet fumes was pretty ridiculous.

      3. There’s such a thing as objective truth, but I’m not sure there’s such a thing as an objective viewpoint of what aspects of a story are important.

        I guess I’m just beyond worrying that someone’s delicate viewpoint is going to be warped by the Times. So if the critique is “Lindblom isn’t a light rail booster,” that’s probably a correct observation but not necessarily something that he’d take as an insult.

        If the argument is that he’s anti-rail, I can’t comment on his subjective mental state but he’s certainly not John Niles.

      4. Mike is definitely not anti-transit. He’s often reflecting the comments that members of the public are saying. It’s not his fault we don’t like them. Keep in mind, most of the public doesn’t use transit. What we might want to do is encourage Mike to go to STB and other sources for a “pro” quote when he writes features like this.

        The constant refrain for Park & Rides in SE Seattle is a good example. Reporters aren’t being anti-Link if they write about that. It’s a real, often mentioned comment.

        We all know that it’s not productive to build the lots. I even have plenty of reason to believe it’s people’s easy solution to problems that have nothing to do with ST, and could and should be addressed in other ways. But if a reporter were to write all of those things, I’d consider that more editorializing than capturing the comment in the first place.

      5. Of course there’s such a thing as an objective viewpoint of what aspects of a story are important. Identifying it is one of the most basic elements of journalism.

        As I said, I like Mike Lindblom. Of course he’s not John Niles. I didn’t say he is anti-rail in general, and I would never even think of suggesting that a transportation reporter ought to be a light-rail booster, or a booster of anything at all.

        But it’s difficult to read today’s airport station piece without noticing that the article starts with the assumption that certain design elements are shortcomings, and then proceeds to focus on those perceived shortcomings.

      6. Michael, you only think Mike Lindblom isn’t anti-transit because he was pro-monorail. Everything he writes can be seen through that lens.

      7. No, Ben… Mike only became “pro-monorail” because a few of us spent considerable time over the years talking with him and educating him about the plans, project, technology, etc.

        The result was consistently better articles from him than from other media outlets or other writers at the Times.

        As I’ve said before, if we don’t like what papers are printing about transit than we should call/e-mail reporters to make corrections or call out biases, we should pitch news stories some times, and we also need to thank writers who print great stories.

    2. Baggage carts are available for a $4 rental fee,

      So, $4 to push your baggage a 1/4 mile and $2.50 for Link to take you and your baggage from the airport to downtown. Maybe ST should offer a $4 ticket that includes cart rental. A P&R (push and ride) lot at the airport :=

      1. don’t know why anyone would get a baggage cart, it’s not like you can take it with you on the train… anyone taking the train will be well aware of the value of wheeled luggage / packing light

      2. I’m not a big user of carts at the airport but it’s a big deal to some. Say for instance just walking is difficult or you’re taveling with a small child/children. It’s quite possible you have someone waiting at the other end of the line to help with the bags.

        Re: you get to drive the cart Driving the baggage cart, $4. Driving the LRT, priceless :+)

      3. I’m a big proponent of riding transit – and an even bigger proponent of riding bikes. However, when it comes to luggage I have one message for ALL Americans. PACK LESS!. I’m shocked by the people who need carts. I went to Europe for six weeks and I took only one carry on bag.

        Use your head people. Pack light and you will be happier.This applies to families too!

  6. Is there any video yet of the actual walk between the airport terminal and the station (either direction)?

    1. We’ll have a write-up soon with pictures and video. I believe Oran captured footage of the walkway to the terminal.

  7. It is too bad that hundreds of 194 riders in the Kent/Des Moines area are losing there best option for this. But were South King residents. Second class citizens in the keys of King County and Sound transit.

    Also, what is this about Sea-Tac trying to force the owner of property next to Link to sell so they can make the area prettier. No property rights in Sea-Tac I see.

    1. The 574 still stops in all those places, and there will be pseudo-BRT along the
      Hwy 99 corridor in a few months. You’re only a second class citizen if you think you are. SeaTac isn’t trying to make the area prettier, they’re trying to create a sustainable downtown that is good for our environment and for that city.

      1. The 194 goes to Seattle the 574 does not. This will mean a longer and more expensive ride.
        Sea-Tac is trying to do this by taking someones private property. that is Wrong.

      2. Quite frankly, if a parking lot owner isn’t selling, that’s a great use of eminent domain. There was a reason for Kelo.

      3. Kelo was the worst Supreme Court Decision since the 1970s. This not what the founders intended for eminent domaine. Protect Property rights, Fight Sea-Tac.

        Don’t Tread On Me.

      4. Stand with James and Doris Cassan. Fight Sea-Tac Tyranny.

        Don’t Tread On ME.

  8. Is long term parking available off airport near a station such that it would be convenient to park and take transit to the airport? I’m thinking of somewhere safe for a week or two.

    1. Any of the off airport lots that are “safe” include shuttle service on demand. There are usually 10% off or such coupons available to print on the internet. I don’t know that it’s appropriate to this blog to post the brand name of my favorite. Also, if you have an early morning flight, the hotels near the airport typically will include free parking for the duration of your trip with their one night room rate. Concerning yourself about being “near” the airport and taking transit are at odds.

    2. We were thinking of just taking a taxi from our house near the U District to Westlake, then getting on the train there.

  9. Darn it, my friend is arriving at 11:45pm Tuesday. I was hoping to take him home on the train in style. But even if the train is still running, it’ll be too dark to see anything. So I’ll either have to tell him to take the 174 or wait at the airport till morning.

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