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Puget Sound Transportation Projects

Tacoma Link Light Rail Line - Writings



Another Year Passes (2005)

Busy, busy year for me...laid off in fall 2004, started a new job in spring 2005, kept me busy. Still have some good examples of the value of Tacoma Link for all of you.

In December of 2004 my brother and I attended Tacoma's First Night festival on the 31st. This is an arts festival that takes place downtown. Part of the festival involves going to all the museums downtown for free. Since the museums, restaurant and festival's events all took place along the light rail line, it made sense to use it. My brother and I parked at the Tacoma Dome Station, then rode down to the museums where we toured the history museum, the Museum of Glass and the Art Museum. Afterwards, we had dinner at the Harmon, then took the train to the Theater District for the party. The train was packed full with people headed to the night's events. This festival could have not easily taken place without Tacoma Link.

In early spring 2005 my mom and I attended the 9/11 exhibit at the Washington State History Museum. Since it's main entrance is right across the street from the Union Station stop, we rode Link to the exhibit. When the museum closed at 5, we took Link back. With 5:00 being quitting time for most businesses, the train was packed full...with commuters coming from employers downtown. Now sometimes Link is not thought of as a serious commuter line, it is too short, it goes nowhere, it is in Tacoma, etc. But remember again: the end station, besides being a major bus transfer point, has a 8,000 car garage. And the line winds through downtown, which actually has quite a few employers (as I discovered during my job search)

In April/May 2005 I had a series of interviews with Frank Russell (that unfortunately did not end in a job, but that's another story). Now, Frank Russell is about two blocks from the 9th street Link station. And while Russell has nice benefits and interesting positions, one thing they do not have is employee parking. So my thinking after the multiple interviews was....park at the Tacoma Dome Station garage, take Link to 9th, then walk the 3 blocks to work. Reverse the process going home. Unfortunately I never got to try it, but this again showed what one could do with Tacoma Link

Over the July 4th weekend Tacoma hosted the Tall Ships Festival. This ran along the Foss Waterway from the Museum of Glass down to Thea's Park. The most logical way to attend, with Dock Street closed, was to park at the Tacoma Dome Station and take Link. We did this on Saturday, and the trains headed to the event were packed full. In fact, when we left, near closing time, the trains headed back were also packed full...and the drivers were running much faster than normal. Yet another event that would have been difficult to host without Tacoma Link.

On November 30th, MultiCare held a special employee night for the Festival of Trees at the Tacoma Convention Center. On this night, Link ran until 9pm to accommodate the people attending this event. On the public nights, Link ran its normal hours. We were unable to attend the event, but when we were discussing it, we planned to use Link to get to and from the event.

9 Months On... (Spring 2004)

So Link has been running in Tacoma now for about 9 months. I still have been unable to make it down there during a work day, but from the weekends I have only seen the trains empty once. In fact, Link just hit 50,000 riders! While most of my rides on Link have been to check it out or shoot photos/video, I have used it to actually go places downtown. My friend and I attended The Harmon Brewery for dinner one night. Instead of fighting over the limited street parking or paying in a pay lot, we parked for free at the Tacoma Dome Station and got off at Union Station. From there it was less than a block to the restaurant.

In general, because of the Link I have spent more time downtown in the past year than I have since the early 80's, when I used to go downtown with my grandmother, especially before Sears moved to the mall. It is so much easier to not have to pay to park, to be able to get on and off at major areas. And the growth/rebirth of downtown has gone far to help this as well.

Over Easter weekend my mom and I explored the Union Station area. Now, UW Tacoma, a major college, is there. So a lot of shops, including a large branch of the UW Bookstore, have opened in the area. On the other side are several museums. The Washington State History Museum, the Museum of Glass and the Bridge of Glass, plus the Tacoma Art Museum. In front of the Museum of Glass is the Foss Waterway Esplanade. It is now very nice and an interesting place to visit.

Furthermore, my main reason for moving to the Seattle area was that I am very interested in the arts. Until recently almost every major art company and group in Seattle were located at the Seattle Center. Especially while in college, the buses went directly there from the dorm and I had friends who also shared my interests. Well now after graduation, I am on the Eastside and most of those friends are gone. It's expensive to park in Seattle. It's very hard to get into Seattle in the evening. With Link, it is FAR better to park at the Dome for free, then go down to the museums or the theaters on the train.

Getting something similar on the Eastside? Years, if ever. Link in Seattle has faced numerous issues. Running something over to the Eastside is at least 20 years away. As I am reexamining my career, going back to Tacoma is looking more and more attractive.

Tacoma's Maritime Fest (September 2003)

My friend and I went to Tacoma's Maritime Fest near the end of September. While none of the events took place close to Link, Link played an important part as you shall see. The first event we planned to attend was a ride on Tacoma Rail, down on the Tideflats. The Port was running shuttles, but after 30 minutes of waiting we discovered the "shuttle" was a 15 passenger van. With 20+ people ahead of us, including many people with kids in carseats, we decided driving was a better idea. So we drove down and found a spot.

After the train ride we decided to go to the actual fest on the waterfront. Unfortunately the location for the Fest has very limited parking. Since we knew the shuttles weren't working I suggested Link. I figured we could park for free, take Link for free, cross at the Bridge of Glass, and walk the rest of the way. It was a bit of a walk but whatever.

On the way back I noticed the footpath up the >Murray Morgan bridge was still open. I suggested we take that and hop on Link earlier. This path dropped us out on 11th street. Unfortunately, there is no Link station near 11th, despite the fact that there is a lot of commerce there. However, the South 9th station was 2 blocks away, so we walked that. After all the walking (on a fairly hot day), it was so nice to sit and ride in air-conditioned comfort....

Shuttle to the Fair (September 2003)

On Tuesday September 9th a friend and I took one of the Pierce County Transit shuttles to the Puyallup Fair from the Tacoma Dome station. This was the first time I had taken a bus from this station (which also serves Sounder and Link) and the first time I had been in the area during rush hour. There are definitely a lot of users of the Seattle to Tacoma buses...all the ones we saw coming through-both directions-were packed solid. A steady stream of cars was leaving the station.

While waiting for our bus we walked over to Freighthouse Square, noticing the Link was running and had a significant amount of riders on it. I could also see how useful it would be to transfer between Sounder, Link and buses at this station.

Riders on Link

Several times I have been in Tacoma and been on Link. While at no time the cars were packed full, considering that most times I was there on a weekend, that's not surprising. However, considering that some predictions were that there would be no riders, the fact that each train I saw had at least 9-10 people on it...