When Shane and I started house-hunting two and a half years ago, we kept our search radius within a 30-minute bus ride to the center of downtown Seattle.  The place we ended up buying in Columbia City met our criteria, but still, the fact that it took 25 minutes (on a good day) to commute to 4.5 miles to downtown was a little tough to stomach, considering I had been able to walk to work from our old apartment in almost half that time.  What made the bus ride a lot easier to bear was the promise that the first leg of the Seattle lightrail system would eventually run just two blocks away from our house, thereby cutting our commute time almost in half.  And finally, after enduring two and a half years of roadwork and construction and train testing, the lightrail officially opened for business on Monday and made our trek to work so much more pleasant.  A few of the pros:

-  The trains come almost three times more frequently than our bus used to come, so if we happen to just miss our train in the morning, we’ve only got a seven-minute wait to catch the next one.

-  The downtown stops for the lightrail are in the underground bus tunnel.  This is a big plus, considering Seattle sidewalk bus stops are cool and wet for eight (or more) months out of the year.  The underground tunnel is dry and well-lit – a much more pleasant place to wait on a cold winter evening.

-  The trains are so clean and modern and shiny and new!  Yes, this will last for only so long, but it’s such a step up from the bus – I hate to rip on Seattle’s bus system, since it did serve us relatively well for the last couple of years, but some of Metro’s buses are looking a little ragged.

-  It’s just so much more cool to say, “I’ve got to catch my train home” than to say you’re taking the bus.  So much more urban!

20090726 lightrail small

Major kudos to Seattle for taking such a huge step in improving our city’s mass transit system.  We’re finally getting on the right track (pun intended).