Seattle Airport Trains (SEA)
Seattle Tacoma International Airport is located to the south of Seattle, and to the north of Tacoma, in the area of SeaTac. It is also in the state of Washington, and to the south of Vancouver in Canada. The airport is therefore known as the Sea-Tac Airport, and has been allocated the official code of SEA, in order to distinguish it from similar establishments. Ground transport options for arriving and departing passengers include the Seattle Tacoma International Airport trains, as well as buses and taxis. In terms of train transport, the airport is served by Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail system, which runs to downtown Seattle.
The large airport of Seattle and Tacoma handles around 32 million passengers per annum, and consists of a Central Terminal that has four concourses (A, B, C and D). There are also two satellite terminals that are connected to the main building by a people mover train, also known as the Satellite Transit System. This airport train is solely for the use of passengers within the airport complex, while the light rail trains take passengers away from the airport to the city of Seattle. The APM, or Airport People Mover of Seattle Tacoma Airport was originally opened in 1969, which makes it the second oldest of people mover systems in the United States of America. It cost $1.4 million to construct, and originally had nine vehicles, each with a maximum capacity of 102 passengers. In later years, more vehicles were added to the system.
Shortly before the new millennium, the Port of Seattle decided to completely overhaul the airport people mover train system, and set aside $142 million for the task. The upgrades were completed in 2003. The STS (Satellite Transit System) today consists of six stations and is found on the secure side of the airport. It is therefore used only by passengers who have cleared security. The system has two loops referred to as the North Train Loop and the South Train Loop, as well as a third line that connects the two loops in the main terminal. The North Train Loop runs a distance of 1,200 metres, and connects the stations in Concourses C and D and at the North Satellite Terminal. The South Train Loop is slightly shorter (1,100 metres) and connects the stations in Concourses A and B and the South Satellite Terminal. The third line is referred to as the Shuttle Train, and runs a length of 1,000 feet, or 300 metres. Its stations are in Concourses A and D, and it is primarily a connection between the two loops of the system. The STS is a total length of 1.7 miles (2.7km), and it is an underground train.
Link Light Rail
The train from Seattle Tacoma International Airport is one of the most convenient and cost efficient ways for passengers to reach downtown Seattle, or the airport from the city. The train leaves the Westlake Station in downtown Seattle and travels to the airport in about thirty to forty minutes. It also makes eleven stops along the way, therefore the Westlake Station is not the only place from where the train to the airport is available. The service runs daily from 05:00am to 01:00am (Monday to Saturday), and the trains are available every eight, ten or fifteen minutes, depending on the time of day. On Sundays and holidays the trains are available from 06:00am to midnight. Passengers can therefore use the train to reach any departure flight, and arriving passengers can travel to Seattle at any time that is convenient as well.
The cost of the journey from Westlake Station to Seattle Tacoma Airport is just $2.75. Adult one-way tickets have a base price of $2.00, and five cents is added for every mile of the journey. Day passes can also be purchased, and will be double the cost of a one-way ticket. They can be used for travel throughout the day between the stations that are printed on the ticket. Train tickets are purchased from the Ticket Vending Machines (TVM) on the Link train platforms, or passengers may use an ORCA card. The machines accept cash, VISA or Mastercard. Passengers must have a ticket before boarding the train, as no tickets are sold onboard. The stops between the airport and the Westlake Station include University Street, Pioneer Square, Int’l District, Stadium, SODO, Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach and Tukwila Int’l.
The airport train station is referred to as the SeaTac/Airport Station, and is connected to the fourth floor of the parking garage. There is a covered walkway from the terminal that is one level down on the mezzanine. Passengers should simply follow the signs that indicate the way to the main terminal skybridge. Once at the station, the trains depart on the platform level.
The Link Light Rail system of Seattle is owned by Sound Transit (http://www.soundtransit.org), and currently consists of two lines. They are the Tacoma Link and the Central Link. The airport’s line is an extension of the Central Link. The Central Link line is just over 15 miles in length, and the two-car trains in operation each have a capacity of 200 passengers. It is operated by King County Metro, the company that is also in charge of the majority of the city’s public buses. The second line is the Tacoma Link, owned and operated by Sound Transit. It is 1.6 miles in length, and runs from the Tacoma Dome Station to the South 9th/Theatre District. These trains also stop at South 25th Street, Union Station and the Convention Centre. In the future, the Tacoma Dome Station could also be connected to Seattle Tacoma Airport, and would allow for travel from the airport to downtown Tacoma. If the plan is implemented, the system should be completed by 2016.
Further train travel in Seattle is provided by Amtrak, the United States’ National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Amtrak provides intercity transport. In relation to the Seattle area, the Amtrak Cascades is a service that runs from Vancouver in Canada to Eugene in Oregon, with stops at Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Stanwood, Everett, Edmonds, Seattle, Tukwila, Tacoma, Olympia-Lacey, Centralia, Kelso, Vancouver (WA), Portland, Oregon City, Salem and Albany.
Further information regarding the Seattle Tacoma International Airport trains can be obtained from the Ground Transportation Booth in the airport terminal, or from Sound Transit’s website mentioned above.