The new light rail feels a lot like riding a train to space

The future of Seattle public transportation is AWESOME

March 22, 2016



On Saturday morning, I got up at the butt-crack of dawn because I got to ride a train. Let me explain. 

A few weeks ago, someone told me I would be one of the first people to get to ride the brand-new Link Light Rail that Sound Transit would run from University of Washington to Capitol Hill. I am a pretty big infrastructure nerd (aka I kinda like bridges and public transportation and stuff). I was so down.

Now, if you know anything about Seattle, especially if you are from here, you know that the commute to pretty much everywhere sucks. There is literally NO good way to get from the U-District to anywhere else. Well when I got on the Light Rail, I saw the future. My mind was opened up to a world of public transit and there's no going back. I must tell everyone.

From the outside, the UW station is already super cool. The doors are at the bottom of the big, window-covered building and they open up right to the front of Husky Stadium, which is overall already impressive to look at. It'll take some getting used to having the building out there, but what's even better is what is underneath it. 

When you walk in, you can either take the elevator to the platform that sits like, 1,000 feet below (it's more like 200 feet, but it feels like more) or you can take the series of escalators that each drop you further and further underground until you reach the platform. If you go, I highly encourage the escalators (de-escalators?) and here's why...

It feels like you are in a scene out of Stargate! Seriously, it was the most real-life sci-fi moment I have ever had, and I have ridden Space Mountain at Disneyland... 

The tiles were illuminated with blue LEDs that were cut throughout, and to add to the space-weirdness that you start feeling as you descend, they actually had a projector playing a loop of spacey looking stuff on your way down. Then, you get to the bottom.


(Gregr takes cooler pictures than me)

They brought out the new chrome trains like they were the headlining DJ at a rave. It was dope.

First of all, I have never seen a bunch of nerds all cram on a train so excitedly since me and my little brothers get on Space Mountain for the first time, nor have I seen anyone cheer for the mere arrival of a train pretty much ever. I was glad to see I'm not the only one that finds urban planning and public transportation as fascinating as I do. 

After a bunch of festivities where the mayor pulled a rope and "turned the station on," the chrome trains (everything is chrome in the future, we all know that) came down the rails like they were stars of the show, everyone crammed on and we were off to Capitol Hill.

But here is where I really started to lose my mind. We got to Capitol Hill in LESS THAN FOUR MINUTES! Hold up. This is a game-changer. Mostly a game-changer if you like to party before UW football games, which I am sure all the Cap Hill homies are going to be stoked about. Then the conductor told us we passed 300 feet below Volunteer Park and accelerated at 51 mph up the steepest point in the entire Light Rail track. This blows my mind. If you take the building The End studio is located in then doubled the height and submerged it completely, that's about how deep underneath Seattle we were.

This was both terrifying and AWESOME. 

The Cap Hill station is just as spacey, but artsy because, you know, Capitol Hill. 

There is a fully deconstructed pink jet that hangs above you, and you are greeted by some sweet art as you ascend back into daylight.

The best part of the ride is when we hit the uphill portion and I felt my back push into the support I was standing next to. This was cool, but I envision this being very awkward when you are pressed next to a stranger and g-force puts you up against each other. Awkard, or a plot to the next Seattle-based Rom Com? You decide. 

The whole experience felt less like using public transportation and more like riding a new space-themed ride at an infrastructure-based theme park. If you are trying to have fun for a couple bucks in Seattle and you like trains, or if you have somwhere to get (specifically UW or Capitol Hill), I highly suggest checking out the new Light Rail stations! They are finally making Seattle feel like a real city (with subways and everything)!