Case Study

Sound Transit Extends Light Rail Throughout Greater Seattle

Getting cars off the road and residents onto public transportation

This Washington State public transit agency is planning and constructing 62 new miles of light rail to complete a 116-mile system with extensions to Everett via the Paine Field Industrial Center (Boeing Field); Tacoma via Federal Way and Fife; downtown Redmond; Ballard via South Lake Union and Seattle Center; West Seattle; and a new light rail line from south Kirkland through Bellevue to Issaquah.


Seattle is one of the last American cities to adopt an extensive transit system. Residents have quickly embraced public transportation. As the region grows, car traffic has actually gone down. City officials indicate average daily traffic in Seattle proper has stayed flat, and even declined a little since 2006. During this period, the city added more than 116,000 residents, the second biggest percentage increase among America’s 50 largest cities. However, building transit systems in today’s market takes years to complete. Tackling such an ambitious expansion project costs billions of dollars and depends on a giant roster of contractors.

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