With suitcases full of holiday cheer, many neighbors are taking the light rail from Capitol Hill Station to SeaTac — and vice versa — this week. Others are picking up weary, fresh-off-the-Link family and friends at the Broadway light rail station.
The travelers CHS spoke with during the holiday rush said they are choosing light rail for a variety of reasons — cost and convenience topped people’s lists.
CHS hung out at Capitol Hill Station, which opened in March, Thursday morning to chat with travelers coming to and leaving the neighborhood for the holidays.
Just after 10 AM, the station wasn’t very busy, but riders with suitcases heading to the airport made up a fair share of people waiting on the platform.
Emily and Yancy Dominick and their son, Franklin, were making their way to Indiana for the holidays.
The Link is a regular form of transportation for them to and from work.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to do it going to the airport on a big trip from Capitol Hill,” Emily said.
Traveling for Christmas meant the Dominicks had more luggage than usual when they head out of town. They typically try to pack lighter but didn’t have concerns about the light rail being too crowded with people and bags.
They choose to take the Link over an Uber or Lyft ride if it’s convenient, Emily said. If it’s late the family opts for a car, but prefer the less expensive light rail.
Yancy likes that they don’t have to deal with traffic by taking the Link.
— Sound Transit (@SoundTransit) December 22, 2016
In anticipation of increased holiday travel, Sound Transit is running longer, three-car trains through Sunday. “Skip the lines and take Link to @SeaTacAirport or pick up your visitors at the station!” @SoundTransit tweeted on Thursday.
Kimberly Reason, a Sound Transit public information officer, told CHS there is no rider estimate for the holiday weekend.
“But given holiday travel surges, we’re being prudent to ensure we’ve got the capacity to handle holiday reveler loads,” she wrote in an email.
The trip between the two stations takes a cool 42 minutes, according to Sound Transit. Google estimates driving would take about 22 minutes without traffic, but that comes at a higher cost — either paying for a car or taxi or paying to park your car.
Joe and Sue Baker arrived at Capitol Hill Station from SeaTac shortly around 10:15 AM, heading to the city to visit family. They’ve taken the Link on previous trips to Seattle.
“We come from Denver where it’s very, very similar,” Joe said, so they know they system and said it’s worked well for them every time.
He said their light rail trip wasn’t busy at all.
“We had an entire seat for our luggage,” he said.
While the Dominicks and Bakers may be Link regulars, Chris Dailey, who is heading to Pennsylvania was taking his second Link trip since moving to Seattle in August.
The last time he flew, he had to leave for SeaTac before the light rail was running. This time he opted for the Link because it’s cheaper and he doesn’t have to worry about car traffic.
Rachel Macfarlane, who was traveling to Dallas, Texas, usually takes light rail when heading to the airport and it has always gone smoothly for her.
She likes it because doesn’t have to drive or deal with parking and the Link hasn’t ever been crowded when she’s taken it.
“I like taking public transit in general (for) environmental reasons,” Macfarlane said.
To people taking the light rail to the airport for the first time, Macfarlane says, “Do it. It’s easy.”
Don Wilkison and Stephanie Roberts, of Kansas City, Missouri, have been in Seattle for the past few days and have been using the light rail to get around.
The duo took an Uber from the airport during this trip to the city due their schedule, but have taken the Link from the airport to downtown prior to Capitol Hill Station’s completion.
“It’s great, easy to get around,” Wilkinson said.
Roberts, who lived in Seattle for 18 years, said her life would have been very different if the Link had existed then.