Sound Transit begins Tacoma Link light rail systems test

“The line is hot!”

With those words from Felix Costello of Tacoma’s own Totem Electric – a Sound Transit contractor – the entire Tacoma Link Light Rail system was powered up Wednesday at 10:10 a.m.

Shortly thereafter, the first streetcar in 65 years slowly rolled out onto Pacific Avenue for the initial system-wide test of Sound Transit’s new Tacoma Link light rail system.

Tacoma Link is made up of three 56-passenger cars, at a total cost of $9 million.

“Since voters created Sound Transit by approving ‘Sound Move’ in 1996 we have been waiting for this historic day,” said Sound Transit Boardmember and Tacoma City Councilman Kevin Phelps. “Tacoma Link is an important part of the entire Sound Transit network because it connects our downtown with virtually every mode of public transportation at Tacoma Dome Station.”

“Tacoma Link is also a vital piece of downtown Tacoma’s renaissance,” added Phelps. “With our new convention center, art museum, the Museum of Glass and all the other development here, Tacoma Link will move up to 2,000 people per day from Freighthouse Square to the Theater District.”

Wednesday’s first run through the line took about four hours as the train stopped at each traffic signal for safety testing.

All signals operated perfectly. On a return run from the Theater District Station back to Freighthouse square, the train took 7 minutes and 22 seconds, well within the expected 10-minute headways when full service begins.

System testing of Tacoma Link will continue throughout the rest of June and through July, with full service beginning on Friday, Aug. 22.

“The first day of service will be a day-long celebration along the entire 1.6 mile route,” Phelps stated. “We will have entertainment and other festivities at all five stations between Freighthouse Square and the Theater District. It will be a day long-remembered in our city.”

Construction on Tacoma Link began in spring 2001. The first section of rail was placed on Dec. 11, 2001.

In 1996, voters approved funding for Sound Transit to provide regional system of transit improvements.

In addition to Link light rail, those improvements include Sounder commuter rail, ST Express regional bus service and numerous capital improvements – including park-and-ride lots, transit centers and direct access ramps.