Apr 26, 2024 - News

Bellevue-to-Redmond light rail opens to fanfare

A Sound Transit train pulls into the station in Bellevue.

The Sound Transit 2 Line will connect Bellevue and Redmond on the Eastside when it opens on Saturday. Photo: Courtesy of Sound Transit

The Sound Transit 2 Line that connects Redmond with Bellevue is ready to roll, nearly eight years after breaking ground.

Why it matters: The 6.5-mile line connects several Eastside communities with each other and will eventually link up with Seattle.

Driving the news: The eight-stop line from South Bellevue to the Redmond Technology Station opens midday Saturday.

  • Earlier this week, a new highway-straddling bridge that connects the Redmond Technology station to local streets opened to bikes and foot traffic.
  • Riders should be able to get from South Bellevue to BelRed or from the Redmond Technology Station to downtown Bellevue in 13 minutes, per Sound Transit.

What they're saying: "Ever since the Eastside community voted for Sound Transit, I've dreamed of a day when I can hop on a train in Redmond and quickly get to Bellevue. Now, that day is here," Redmond Mayor Angela Birney told Axios.

  • "This is a historic moment that's been years in the making, and I am excited for people across the Eastside and beyond to ride the rails."

How it works: Trains will run every 10 minutes from 5:30am to 9:30pm every day, per Sound Transit.

  • An ORCA card is the easiest way to pay and the only way to transfer between buses and trains.
  • Fares range from $2.25 to $2.50 depending on how far you travel. But youth travel for free and reduced fares are available.
  • Subscribe for rider alerts.

Fun facts: Opening day festivities are planned at each of the eight stations, with a chance of prizes for people who check out all of them.

  • Mario and Luigi, iconic characters from Nintendo, which has a corporate office in Redmond, will make a special appearance at the Redmond Tech Station.
  • Birney, who rode the line on Thursday, said another highlight was "gliding by all the cars below that were stuck in traffic on 405."

Between the lines: With Sound Transit expecting about 6,000 daily riders to start off, businesses along and near the line are anticipating a boost to their trade, Birney said.

  • Dote Coffee Bar under the bridge at the Redmond Technology Station saw a 30%-plus increase in business since Monday, she said.

The latest: The Bellevue Police Department announced this week it is rolling out a new police unit to "foster a safe and positive riding experience" for those using the new line through Bellevue.

What's next: Light rail service over I-90 to Mercer Island and Bellevue is expected to open sometime in 2025.

  • Approved by a ballot measure in 2008, the full $3.7 billion, 14-mile East Link route will eventually serve Seattle's Judkins Park, Mercer Island, Redmond and multiple stations in Bellevue, per Sound Transit.
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