Sound Transit Board approves Spring 2024 opening for eight 2 Line stations
Sound Transit today announced that the Link 2 Line can begin operating passenger service between South Bellevue and Redmond Technology stations in Spring 2024. The Sound Transit Board approved opening the eight-station segment for service prior to completion of the full East Link Extension.
Service on the 2 Line is proposed to run with two-car trains every 10 minutes, 16 hours a day. The final service level will be approved by the Sound Transit Board as part of the 2024 Service Plan. This action is expected in October.
This initial 2 Line service will offer Eastside passengers reliable, traffic-free trips between South Bellevue and Redmond Technology stations. Service will also connect passengers to Overlake Medical Center, the Spring District and the BelRed area.
The Board’s action included provisions to meet ridership demand on the 1 Line, including maximizing peak-hour service, adding bus service in Snohomish County and support for Lynnwood passengers until the opening of the full East Link Extension.
“It’s an exciting step to connect more communities via fast, carbon-free Link light rail, and opening these stations on the Eastside is the opening act of the 2 Line,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “From Redmond to Bellevue, people have a new option to get to work, school, and all the things that make this community special, and I’m excited to see what’s next when the 2 Line crosses Lake Washington in 2025.”
Sound Transit is working with regional transit partners on plans to coordinate the 2 Line opening closely with other spring service changes on ST Express, King County Metro Transit, and Community Transit bus routes. This coordination will support ongoing regional mobility connectivity for riders across all regional transit modes and services.
Existing ST Express and King County Metro routes including Route 550, B Line, and other local routes are anticipated to continue operating on their current routes until the full 2 Line opens in 2025.
“Almost exactly one year ago, when we first learned that Eastlink light rail would be significantly delayed due to workmanship issues on the I-90 bridge, I proposed that we open an Eastside-only starter line. Today, I was pleased that the Board unanimously decided to approve this plan,” said Sound Transit Board Member and King County Council Member Claudia Balducci “This pivot from a long-established plan to adapt to changing circumstances is a testament to hard work, creativity and nimble action by agency staff, as well as the overwhelming enthusiasm by cities and community members from across the Eastside who know how transformational these generational transit opportunities will be and how important it is to open them ASAP.”
“The City of Bellevue and Sound Transit have partnered on a multimodal future for many years, and today’s outcome marks a significant step in realizing our shared vision for mobility on the Eastside. We are thrilled that new light rail service will launch this spring, connecting people in Bellevue to their jobs and destinations,” said Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson.
“I applaud Sound Transit’s commitment to bring light rail to the Eastside next year through this creative approach,” said Redmond Mayor Angela Birney. “Increasing both connectivity and reliability with additional transportation options, the East Link starter line will improve access for our community and make a positive impact throughout the region.”
This incredible accomplishment required significant commitment and collaboration across the entire Sound Transit Team, with King County Metro who hires for and operates our service, and by our federal, state, and local partners for every required review and approval,” said Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. “It was seriously hard work to assess and then remove the barriers to accelerate opening of light rail on the Eastside by Spring 2024, and there were many moments where it looked like this would be an impossible task in the time available to us. I am proud of the team’s unwavering dedication as Sound Transit continues to make history with the opening of each extension connecting the region through the largest transit expansion program in the country.”
Voters approved the East Link Extension in 2008 as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. Construction on the project began in 2017, including sequential excavation mining of the one-half-mile Bellevue tunnel, which was completed in 2020. Light rail test trains have been operating across the alignment to test the overhead electrical power system and train signal system, and simulated service is expected to begin in early 2024.
The Sound Transit Board authorized up to $43 million from the existing East Link Extension $3.68 billion budget to fund the activities necessary to open the East Link Starter Line in Spring 2024.