Transit changes ahead in South Snohomish County: Officials provide update during Lynnwood Chamber gathering

Sound Transit North Corridor Government and Community Relations Director Erik Ashlie-Vinke addresses safety issues raised by attendees.

Safety, parking and schedule changes related to the new Lynnwood Link Light Rail extension and Swift Orange Line were among the points of discussion when representatives from Sound Transit and Community Transit spoke at the Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.

Set to open later this year, the Lynnwood Link will extend Sound Transit’s light rail system 8.5 miles from Northgate to the Lynnwood Transit Center along Interstate 5. There will be four stations in between: Lynnwood City Center Station, Mountlake Terrace Station, Shoreline North 185th Station, and Shoreline South 148th Station. 

Meanwhile, the Swift Orange Line will launch March 30, joining the Blue and Green Lines in the Swift Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network that serves Snohomish County. It will run through Lynnwood on an east-west route between McCollum Park and Edmonds College with stops at Lynnwood Transit Center, Mill Creek Town Center and Alderwood Mall.

Sound Transit North Corridor Government and Community Relations Director Erik Ashlie-Vinke said that Sound Transit has increased its security force from 192 people in 2022 to 485 in 2023. 

“Part of the reason is because as we expand our light rail, there are more needs [of security],” he said. “We work with the City of Lynnwood and the local police department. Yes, there are stories where you see something happen on a light rail, it’s concerning for people who have never ridden it before. What we want to do is to get out there and make sure that people feel safe.”

One safety feature Ashlie-Vinke described was the ability of passengers to text a number that will inform security personnel at the next stop, who will assess the situation. 

“If we have somebody who does something on the train that (they) shouldn’t be doing, we don’t just kick them out on the streets of Lynnwood and that’s it,” Ashlie-Vinke said. “We have to have a plan in place that assesses the protocol for Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace. What does that look like? I think there’s a lot of work to do, but we’re going to hire more [security].” 

As for parking, there will also be about 500 spaces in both Shoreline stations, 900 at the Mountlake Terrace station and 1,670 in Lynnwood. “Lynnwood is going to be the terminus of this station, and it will feel the impact the most,” Ashlie-Vinke said. “Mountlake will be the first stop at Snohomish County, and we’re really excited about that.”

Next year, Sound Transit will introduce a new 2 Line service connecting Lynnwood to Redmond, with “a train there every four to seven minutes,” Ashlie-Vinke said. The 2 Line service between South Bellevue Station and Redmond Technology Station will open April 27.

Ashlie-Vinke added that there will not be any long-term parking permitted at the new light rail stations.

Community Transit Public Affairs Manager Jamyang Dorjee discusses new bus lines.

Community Transit Public Affairs Manager Jamyang Dorjee then presented some changes to the bus service in Snohomish and King counties to accommodate the new light rail extension.

“For as long as Community Transit existed, a big part of our model has been taking commuters from Snohomish County to King County,” Dorjee said. “What the investment of Sound Transit does is that we get to redeploy all the buses that are going to King County – and downtown Seattle and the University District – back to Snohomish County. That means more service, more routes, more frequency and feeding the light rail system. The train is here, but not everybody’s going to drive to get to the train.”

By the end of March, Community Transit will have 35 routes in Snohomish County with an expected increase of 32% in ridership after the new bus lines are implemented. According to the Community Transit website, those 35 routes represent a reduction from the current 46  but in exchange, buses will run more frequently.

March 2024 service changes

Additional changes include:

– A Swift Blue Line extension from Everett to Shoreline at North 185th Street (the route currently ends at Aurora Village).

– Additional express routes that will have three times the number of routes within 20 minutes or less.

– Express routes that run every 30 minutes or less will have twice the number of routes.

– Route 115 (McCollum Park to Aurora Village), Route 116 (Silver Firs to Edmonds) and Route 196 (Ash Way to Edmonds) will be replaced by:

Route 102 (Edmonds to Lynnwood)

Route 114 (Aurora Village to Lynnwood)

Route 166 (Edmonds to Silver Firs)

Check the service changes for more details.

A map of the Swift Orange Line.

The new Swift Orange Line will start at 4:15 a.m. on weekdays, 6 a.m. on Saturdays and 7 a.m. on Sundays. Buses will run every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 15 to 20 minutes on early mornings, evenings and weekends. The Swift Orange Line will also connect to the Blue and Green Lines and will have close access to food banks, libraries, recreation areas, restaurants, shopping and other community destinations, Dorjee said.

“Frequency is what riders want most,” Dorjee said. “As a bus rider myself, if the bus doesn’t come frequently enough, I lose interest in it. I don’t want to be out in the elements.”

In addition, Dorjee pointed out that taking the light rail will get riders to downtown Seattle in 45 minutes – “every time you get on.” 

“There is confidence in that predictability and reliability,” he said. “We don’t have to plan to drive to downtown Seattle where it might take 45 minutes to more than an hour, considering parking and traffic congestion. There’s a lot of uncertainties [in driving].”

There will be a Swift Orange Line block party on March 30 to celebrate the historical opening of the new bus line at Edmonds College.

The exact opening date of the Lynnwood Link light rail extension has not not yet determined, but it will be in late summer or in the fall.

— Story and photos by Nick Ng

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