Seattle Public Transportation says the first train set to roll into the city is a huge step forward.
The company said Tuesday it will begin transiting the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue rail corridor in 2021, a move that would make the region’s busiest bus line the first in the nation to get in and out.
The company also says the service will cut costs and increase efficiency for all passengers, including people on foot and on bikes.
The trains will be made of lighter steel and will be equipped with air conditioning, LED lights, and more efficient engine control systems.
Seattle Public Transportation is in the midst of its first major transit overhaul since the city’s 1990s boom, when the city built an $8.5 billion rail network.
Now, more than 300,000 people use the rail system every weekday, making it the nation’s busiest public transit system.
The new trains will allow Seattle Public Transit to use the new rail corridor as an expansion of its existing bus service, said Pete Rehm, the company’s director of transportation.
Transportation experts say the move could reduce ridership and fuel costs for the city.
But they caution that it will require a lot of work.
The city is investing billions of dollars to upgrade the rail line, but it hasn’t built much in the way of stations or stations close to each other, they said.
The move is also significant for the region, which already has some of the most ambitious plans for a mass transit system in the country.
For example, the region has been looking at a rail system of its own for decades.
The region has plans to extend the Interstate 5 corridor to Portland, Ore., and build an entire subway line connecting the suburbs of Portland and Lynnwood.
But the region also has to contend with growing population and a high cost of living.
For Seattle Public Transport, the move is a major step toward becoming a more attractive place to live, said Bill Smeeth, the executive director of the regional chamber of commerce.
The shift will make it easier to attract and retain good-paying jobs, he said.