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Ridership up for Sound Transit trains, buses, light rail

More people are riding Sound Transit trains, light rail and buses in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013. - COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
More people are riding Sound Transit trains, light rail and buses in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit

Sound Transit ridership got off to a strong start in 2014 with 7.5 million boardings in the first quarter, a jump of more than 8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013.

It was the busiest first three months of the year in Sound Transit history, according to a Sound Transit media release. Link light rail ridership grew 15 percent, with 2.3 million first-quarter boardings and an average of almost 30,000 on weekdays.

The ridership figures come amid recent headlines saying Seattle is the nation's fastest-growing city.

"Transit is the future for moving our region's commuters and economy," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "The demand for both buses and congestion-free light rail will keep growing. The good news is that Sound Transit remains on track to expand the region's light rail system from 16 miles to 50 miles by 2023."

Recently released U.S. Census Bureau statistics show Seattle had the highest growth rate in the nation - 2.8 percent - from July 2012 to July 2013. Seattle added nearly 18,000 residents during the one year period to bring its population up to about 652,000. The Seattle Office of Economic Development says the city also added nearly 15,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2013.

The first quarter ridership increases were as follows:

• Central Link light rail: 29,919 average weekday boardings and 2.3 million boardings for the quarter (15 percent weekday increase from Q1 2013)

• ST Express regional buses: 58,659 average weekday boardings and 4.1 million boardings for the quarter (7 percent weekday increase from Q1 2013)

• Sounder commuter rail: 11,843 average weekday boardings and 759,942 boardings for the quarter (5 percent weekday increase from Q1 2013)

The full annual ridership report can be found at soundtransit.org/Ridership.

In the coming months the Sound Transit Board will continue a process to plan for the projected 30-percent population growth the region will see by 2040 by updating the region's Long-Range Plan. Updating the plan will set the stage for considering where light rail and other regional transit services should expand after current voter-approved projects are complete.

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