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Saturday’s ULink launch promises to be a hell of a party. Here’s what you need to know to have a great time celebrating a historic day for Seattle’s transit.

8-10am: Golden Ticket Ride

If you won a Golden Ticket to be on the first train from UW, check in at UW Station between 7:30-8:25am. You’ll get a golden lanyard and commemorative ORCA card with 2 weeks worth of fare loaded, and in the event of queues during the day on Link trains, the pass will allow you to skip to the front of the line. You can freely tour the station until 8:25, after which riders will head to the UW platform for an 8:45 ceremony and departure to Capitol Hill. After a 9:00 ceremony on the Capitol Hill platform, Golden Ticket riders can remain and tour Capitol Hill Station until 9:30.

10:00: ULink officially opens

Join Mayor Murray at the North Entrance to Capitol Hill Station for the official countdown, with confetti cannons and much nerdy rejoicing.

Please note that if taking transit to the festivities, agency trip planners have Link operating all day. This is a technical error. You will not be able to use Link to reach Capitol Hill or the UW until 10 a.m.

Fares and ORCA

Fares are free all day if you have the above ticket either printed out or available to show on your phone.  ORCA-to-go will be available at both stations all day, offering regular ORCA cards in addition to youth, RRFP, and ORCA Lift verifications. And this is just the beginning, as ORCA-to-Go will be serving ULink stations through April 16.

Food and Drink

Come for the trains, stay for lunch. ST will have a variety of food trucks, including Snout & Co, Moto Surf and Raney Brothers BBQ at UW Station and Athena’s, Jemil’s Big Easy, and Street Donuts at Capitol Hill Station.

In addition, you can get a taste for the Broadway Farmer’s Market’s permanent home adjacent to the station on Nagle Place. The market will host a pop-up version from 9am-5pm, with a wide variety of vendors including Nash’s Organic ProduceTonnemaker Family Orchard, Sno Valley MushroomsNature’s Last Stand, El Chito‘s, Loki Fish Co.’s, Mystic KombuchaMiri’s Poffertjes.


Sound Transit has booked 6 DJs and more than a dozen other performance artists, and they’ll be playing all day at the station concourses and mezzanines. See the full lineup here.

Game Zones

Each station will host a Game Zone with a variety of all-ages activities. UW Station will host a bicycle petting zoo (to show off unusual and unique bikes), a Build-­a-Train station, Funhouse Selfie Station, Giant Jenga, Giant Connect Four, and Chess & Checkers. Capitol Hill Station will have similar offerings (minus the bike petting zoo).

Expo Pavilion

Both stations will also have an “expo pavilion” with a series of information tents including Sound Transit’s Art , Bike, and Security programs, Cascade Bicycle Club, facepainting and temporary tattoos, Jet City Improv, and agency reps from Metro, Pronto, SDOT, Seattle Children’s, Sounders FC, WSDOT’s 520 project, the Capitol Hill Chamber, Gerdling Edlen (Capitol Hill Station’s housing developer), Seattle Central College, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and Swedish Hospital.

The Marketplace

The “Marketplace” section at UW will host Sound Transit and nearly 100 volunteers with Transportation Choices Coalition to discuss ST3. BikeWorks will also host a bike valet with free tuneups at both stations.  At Capitol Hill, the pop-up Broadway Farmer’s Market will also be in the Marketplace section.


The most important part of the day, of course, is Seattle Transit Blog’s all-ages ULink Launch Party at Charlie’s from 3-5pm, with various other groups, such as the Sierra Club and Seattle Subway hosting their own parties nearby for their staff, volunteers, and activists. Start with ours before heading to theirs!

Blog Open Thread

After a morning guest piece reflecting on the long road to get to ULink, the blog will have a day-long open thread with photos, anecdotes, and more.

After #ULink2016, we’ll do this all again 5 years from now with 3 new stations for #NorthgateLink2021.

49 Replies to “ULink Launch Day Details”

  1. You’ll get a golden lanyard and commemorative ORCA card with 2 weeks worth of fare loaded

    E-purse or the equivalent of a Business Passport?

    1. Even without a golden ticket, there’s still the free 1 week ORCA card that Metro is offering people.

  2. Careful, Tim. Dining and sleeper cars could already be on the drawing boards. So nobody will tell you you can’t eat snacks, or make you get off at the end of the run, like they do now.


  3. dumb question, but don’t laugh, (i live and work in West Seattle, no rail here). Will the pass above work if you catch light rail, say downtown, and take it to U district / capitol hill? Or does it only work if you get on at those 2 stations. thx

    1. My understanding is that it will work for any station / as much riding as you would like throughout the day. The pass you get by email is exactly like it is pictured above with no unique ID number or anything. I kinda doubt they will be fare enforcing on Saturday anyhow.

    2. I hope the inspectors are in warn-only mode to avoid giving new/occasional riders a bad taste of Link. The lost fares will be repaid several times over if they have a pleasant experience touring Link on extension day and become regular riders.

    3. If they’re going to give away free passes, paying for the fare inspectors to be out there to begin with seems kind of pointless.

      1. Well, they should be there as welcome staff and friendly fixtures, albeit expensive ones. If people have a good experience meeting one on opening day, they’ll have less anxiety when meeting one on a day of ordinary operation.

      2. Depends on their primary purpose for being out there. For TriMet’s Orange Line opening there was no fare but they needed to be out there to answer all manner of questions from people who had never taken transit before.

        Probably something like that with this.

    1. I doubt it. There is already a sign at Husky Stadium Station that says “Northgate by 2021”. It is clear that ST thinks (and IMHO for good reason) that the north stations are more important.

      1. @Petey,

        I suspect ST will have some sort of celebration for Angle Lake later this year, and they will probably put a sign up for the southern extension once they have an actual target date.

        But of course the celebration for Angle Lake will be smaller than for U-Link. Two stations and an estimated 70k or so riders IS a bigger deal than one station, a parking garage, and an estimated 5k riders. It’s not ST, it is just reality.

      2. Oh, I am sure they will do something. It is just telling to me that they could have a sign that said “Angle Lake this fall, Northgate by 2021!” but did not bother.

    2. Angle Lake Station is not much of a destination, just a P&R. Not enough for five band stages and a farmer’s market. Although Bailo may be there to cheer. And ST will probably have an opening ceremony. And I’ll want to do a group ride and a walk to Angle Lake Park, perhaps as a picnic.

      1. I thought the plaza next to the station was built so Tukwila could have an outdoor space for a farmers market or festival area?

      2. A farmer’s market at Angle Lake? That’s news to me…. are there enough people near by to keep one alive?

      3. Any plans on adding 1/3 mile of sidewalk along St. 200th St. to connect Angle Lake Station to the Des Moines Creek Trail?

      4. (In past years I might have had more on-the-ground info, but the main reason I’m down there is mountain biking at South SeaTac Park and I haven’t been mountain biking much this year.)

  4. I suppose there will be lots of people standing around at all of the current stations, waiting to get on the first northbound train to make stops at Capitol Hill and UW station. I was thinking of doing this at Beacon Hill, figuring the 9:45ish train would be the one to catch.

    1. I hope they run 4 car trains on Saturday. I remember opening day of Central Link being quite cozy on the trains!

      1. I don’t think ST owns enough cars to do 4-car trains on every train all day long.

    2. Given that ST is running shuttle buses from Northgate TC and is offering free rides and has nine band stages and a farmers’ market to attract people, it better have 4-car trains.

      1. Yeah, I wish the shuttles were mentioned in the post. Are these free shuttles? If not, what’s the cost? What’s the end time for them?

      2. nevermind. I see they updated the website:

        “…a free shuttle departing every 15 minutes to University of Washington Station. Shuttles leave from the south end of the transit center on NE 100th Street; the last returning shuttle to Northgate leaves University of Washington Station at 6:10 p.m.”

  5. Heading out from Smokey Point at 5:45 a.m. to catch the Golden Ticket train in time. Going to be quite a day.

  6. I’ve been spending more time playing with the KC Trip Planner to compare before and after route times after the bus changes kick in. There are various routes I only take weeklt or monthly, etc. It’s kinda discouraging to see that the ride times will increase. Yes, I know in many cases there will be more frequent service, but I’m the type to arrive at a stop when the bus is arriving, so actual travel time is what I focus on. And I realize that in five years the times will be way less once more stations open. Short term though I’m going to be spending more time sitting on transit in many rides.

    I don’t suppose anyone has a Golden Ticket for sale, do they? I was on the initial ride when Link opened in July 2009 and I’m kinda bummed they didn’t have the same type of ticket giveaway this time.

    1. How much time do you show waiting for a transfer?

      One issue with trip planners is that they assume a certain +/- for transfers, so it may show a transfer taking 12 minutes when Link is running every 10 minutes because it assumes the 2 minutes isn’t enough time to make a ruliable connection.

      1. Yeah, I guess I’ll have to see what reality is like in terms of time spent crossing the street, getting down to the platform, and waiting for the next Link. .

        I was looking at going from north u-dist to westlake station at 8am on a weekday. Trip Planner has me getting to Bay 4 SB at 8:14a and then hopping on Link at 8:25a.

      2. That figure seems very pessimistic. At that hour, you probably won’t have to wait for than about 3 minutes or so for some sort of bus down the Ave. or 15th. Especially if you use OneBusAway to see which stop to wait at for the bus that’s coming first. Once you’re on the bus, the ride to Montlake/Pacific is about 5 minutes tops (Metro did some nice stop consolidation on 15th a few years ago). So, conservatively, you’re getting off the bus at Montlake/Pacific around 8:10 or so. That puts you down at the train platform at about 8:14, and on a train sometime between 8:15 and 8:20 (at 8 AM on a weekday, trains are every 6 minutes). Which means that by 8:25, you’re already at Westlake Station. Travel time on the 71/72/73 express to Westlake Station from 45th and the Ave. is about 20-25 minutes with the express lanes open (more than half of which spent just getting through the U-district), so total travel time will probably be about a wash.

      3. There’s only so far a trip planner can go when there’s connections. Your starting bus is 4 minutes late? Maybe that means you miss your train and are now running 10 minutes late. Or maybe it means you wait 1 minute on the platform instead of 5 minutes and arrive at the same time.

        That being said, according to OBA on weekdays between 8-9am there are 13 buses coming down the Ave and 26 coming down 15th and 5 coming down Roosevelt, all going to UW Station. So yeah, frequent service that makes trip planning kind of unnecessary.

    1. Its already got the money to be built. I believe the only question at this point is when construction will begin. I don’t know the answer to that one.

  7. This is all incredible…until one thinks of how much of the public’s money that is being used to celebrate this public investment. This element probably never enters most of the proponent’s minds, however, as that’s other people’s money. We’ll probably never know how much this celebration cost taxpayers. It will be interesting to see whether the hype attracts hordes of people, and it’s a brilliant indirect campaign event for ST-3, again something most proponents won’t see; I suspect it will attract legions. I plan to wait until after the hubbub subsides.

    That being said, this is a major step forward in our light rail system. I’ve said for years that this will at least double ridership. I’ve also questioned for years why the 43rd/Brooklyn station wasn’t included with this extension, as that will have a much-greater impact from/for the university community. I now wonder whether, with this line ahead of schedule, how much longer we would have had to wait for the one next station? Of course, the plans were already set, and the tunnels just being drilled!

    1. If the celebrations and the day of free rides leave tens of thousands of riders with a good experience, it is money well spent, especially this close to the ST3 election.

    2. Its a rounding error in a multibillion dollar project. A project that has come in $200million under budget and 6 months ahead of schedule. That’s 6 months more revenue collection, which means lower bond service cost. PR is usually money well spent even for a public agency.

      In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.

    3. Every project has a marketing/outreach budget. Not having a marketing budget is like a computer without a web browser. It’s just not a practical expectation in our society.

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