Yesterday, Link Light Rail had its first birthday, one year after revenue service was inaugurated on July 20, 2010. One year has passed by extraordinarily quickly, and while the past 365 days have not gone by perfectly, I think most of us can conclude that this was a good inaugural year. I’m not one of the lucky thousands that get to commute by Link daily, but I often spot the trains in the downtown tunnel, and every day they get fuller and fuller. Whenever I am on the trains, the atmosphere is generally bubbly. People are chatting. Kids are gazing out the windows. And you always have someone enjoying a book. People are glad that there’s finally some form of rapid transit here in Seattle.
The people I talk to are eager to see Link built out to the U-District, then to Northgate, south to Federal Way, and to the Eastside. I often say that our younger generations have a greater stake in this region’s future than anyone else. This isn’t age bias– it’s a fact. Link isn’t just for us to use at the tail-end of our lives. It’s for the whole lives of the babies and will-be babies of 2030, 2060, and further in the future. By the time North, South, and East Links are completed, we’ll all be a little bit older and perhaps wiser, but I don’t think any of us will change our minds about how building Link was a good thing. Hopefully we can all say, “I’m glad we finally got this done.”
Link has had its share of critics. Make no mistake about it. They’re still around and they’ll be around for a while. They’ll be poring over documents and EISes, conducting peer reviews and studies, and will spend their whole lives proving something that people no longer care about. But 2008 was living proof that voters across this region are seeing mass transit as a real alternative. Critics alleged that Sound Transit falsely advertised the ST2 plan with bloated facts and figures. Come 2030 and ask any transit rider: will they really care?
Looking back at the pile of posts we had on opening weekend, it’s clear that this is something we were and continue to be excited about. When we’re all old and frail, and Union Station is lined with portraits of Link’s conception, wouldn’t it be worth it to say, “I was there. I saw it happen. I helped make it happen.”? Happy first birthday, Link.
Post your personal Link experiences below. We’ll be sharing them for the rest of our lives.