Huzzah, Light Rail!

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When I was a little kid and my family would get stuck in traffic, I remember asking my parents, "Why don't we just build a subway? Those don't get stuck in traffic." I thought that would be the coolest. Little did I know that Seattle-area voters had already shot down such proposals on multiple occasions. (Notice in that first measure how much would've been paid for by the feds (more than 2/3) and then look at the map of what it would have built.)

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View of the old Rainier Brewery from a Link train
Forty years after we first rejected the idea and twenty-some years after I wished for one from the backseat of my parents' station wagon, we finally got our trains. And if the numbers are any indication, people are pretty excited. 92,000 riders took advantage of the free rides over the weekend--51,000 on Saturday and 41,000 on Sunday.

I was one of those who rode on Saturday, and I must say, it was pretty cool. The ride was smooth and the above-ground portions often scenic--Franklin High School looks particularly majestic rising above the trees at the Mt. Baker station. (Of course, MLK has

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its share of empty lots, etc., some of which will soon be developed.)

And the stations themselves were impressive--the Beacon Hill and Tukwila stations, for example, had some great art. In fact, the transit nuts at Seattle Transit Blog say the new line has the best artwork of any line except Stockholm's vaunted Tunnelbana. Most importantly, of course, the trains will arrive every 7.5 to 10 minutes (15 at off-off hours) and never get stuck in traffic. It's just the beginning of a system that'll take a long time to get built, but at least it's a beginning, which is better than we've ever had. Huzzah!

 
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