Sound Transit updates Chamber Transportation Committee on East Link Starter Line

Advocacy, Transportation,

At the Bellevue Chamber’s June 1 Transportation Committee meeting, we were joined by Sound Transit officials and given an update on the proposed East Link Starter Line project. In addition to teasing details regarding the system’s intended operations, service expectations, and an updated timeline for construction, they also discussed the current challenges the agency is facing to complete the project up-to-standards. 

Specifically, Sound Transit’s Director of Government & Community Relations Ariel Taylor mentioned a scarcity of operators and maintenance staff to execute proper start-up and testing processes. 

“Until the I-90 section is complete and the operations maintenance East of Bellevue connects to the One Line in Seattle, service on the Lynnwood Transit Center [will be] reduced,” she said. 

Get the gist of Sound Transit’s update below.

What is the ELSL?

The East Link Starter Line — or ELSL — is a portion of the greater East Link project, which once completed, will run from Lynnwood to Downtown Redmond. The full Line will consist of 26 stations and 24 miles of track, whereas the ELSL will cover 7 miles and 8 stations between the South Bellevue and Redmond Technology rail hubs. 

What does the timeline look like for this project?

While the ELSL initially had an open date of June 2023, realistically we are now looking at a Spring 2024 open pending board approval. Taylor reported that station finishes and safety enhancements are currently underway, but the project may end up opening in phases, with the South Bellevue-Redmond Technology Center bit being unveiled in 2024, and the Lynnwood-Downtown Redmond section in 2025. 

What will service look like?

Sound Transit currently has three variations of service plans for the ELSL, all of which include a span of service between 14 to 20 hours with 2-4 cars and 8-10 minute headways.

  • Option 1: 20 hours of service per day, 4 cars (8 minute peak, 10 minute off-peak)
  • Option 2: 20 hours of service per day, 2 cars (10 minute peak and off-peak)
  • Option 3: 14 hours of service per day, 2 cars (10 minute peak and off-peak)
So … Tangible goals? 

By the end of 2024, staff said that the department hopes to have successfully connected the South Bellevue station and Redmond Technology Center, and to be running the ELSL as the first operable segment of the 2 Line. 

Learn more and follow along with the project's progress here.