Last week, returning from my trip to Albuquerque I was compelled to do a thing I rarely do; I called a friend to come pick me up from the Sea-Tac Airport. Part of the reason this is a rarity for me is because I don’t travel by plane nearly as often as I’d like to. Another reason is simply that as flawed as it may be, in the greater Puget Sound Area we have transit to and from the airport. At least. . . most of the time.
My itinerary had me arriving from Denver at 12:15. I knew that’d translate to at least a 15 minute lag time between landing and Linking, and I also knew that Link runs slightly truncated hours on Sundays. Better safe than sorry, I reached out to a friend and got a ride. Good thing I did, since the Denver Airport is a sick beast and we spent an hour and a half on the goddamn runway.
But I digress.
The flight was full; ostensibly all the passengers on it, provided they did not live in walking distance of the airport, had to get home. Statistically speaking, not all of them lived off a light rail stop. But it’s likely a good chunk of them did, which begs the question:
why can’t Link Light Rail run later?
I hear this all the time from bar customers as well– it’s 12:18 am, they want another drink, but they also need to get from Columbia City back to Capitol Hill (or I suppose, vice versa) without drunk driving. This is a secondary benefit; currently Link only stops at a few neighborhoods that could be accurately described as nightlife hubs. Extended hours could help the nightlife try-hards to boom their business, but I’d buy the argument that there aren’t the funds or ridership to support a 3 am train from Othello to University Street. Yet.
But people go to and from the airport at all hours of the day and night. I don’t take planes as often as I’d like, but when I do, I often find myself outside of Link’s hours. A train that ran every half hour on the hour– or even hourly– throughout the night would make a lot of people’s lives a lot easier. In a town that increasingly feels like we get all the worst of a Big City without all the benefits, this could be one.
Sound Transit has seen consistent increases in ridership since opening. I have no doubt that a consistent late night line may be slow at first, but would ultimately be viable. Furthermore, a line like this could help demonstrate the value of mass transit to folks who wouldn’t have opportunity to use it otherwise.
And I wouldn’t be stranded (but for the kindness of friends) at the goddamn airport at 1 am. The airport bars even close by then! It’s dumb.
So let’s not wait for light rail to be everywhere to maximize it’s usefulness now. Though let’s be real; it’s not the Seattle aiport. . . it’s the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. So while we’re at it, let’s expedite service to T-Town.