Sound Transit: ridership way up, but funding, south expansion on hold

The Sound Transit September ridership report shows continued growth.

The Sound Transit September ridership report shows continued growth across the board.

Sound Transit set all-time ridership records on its commuter trains, buses and light rail in September with average weekday boardings topping 98,000 systemwide. The average weekday number tops the old record of 96,488, set in August, and is a 13 percent improvement over September 2011.

Ridership is up by almost 12 percent through September compared to last year.

“The growth we are seeing shows more and more commuters want to save their money, time and sanity by taking advantage of our trains and buses,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Our services offer people a way to get around that not only improves their lives but boosts our regional economy and protects our environment.”

Sound Transit saw particularly strong growth on the Sounder North commuter rail line, which set a new record of 1,212 average weekday boardings  — a 19 percent jump over September 2011.

The Central Link light rail continued its strong annual growth with an average of 28,549 weekday boardings, a 13 percent improvement over 2011. Special events in September helped Central Link set a new record for 27,773 average Saturday boardings.

The increase in ridership comes after Sound Transit officials have said that funding may not be adequate for the expansion planned for the network into South King County and beyond.

Yet work has begun to determine alternative solutions for increasing transit capacity for Federal Way and South King County.

“So even though we don’t have funding to construct all the way to Federal Way, what we want to do is get into a position where we have an approved alignment, an approved number of stations and locations,” said Kimberly Reason, media relations and public information officer for ST.

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