seattle 2009

Seattle-Area Transit Vs. Twin Cities Transit

I’ve always been intrigued by the Seattle transit system, mostly because when I lived out there in the 90’s it was more minimal than it is today. It’s really interesting to see how it has grown.

As far as bus service, both of the Twin Cites and Seattle areas do very well. They’re both very convenient and timely.

As well, the Twin Cities and Seattle are both competitive with each other regarding train transportation, maybe not quite as nice as Portland’s TriMet program which pretty much takes you everywhere in that area.

Portland TriMet Routes

Portland TriMet Routes

Seattle’s public transportation system is bigger and very convenient to get to places from as far away as Tacoma and Everett, including downtown destinations such as right by Safeco Field and outside of CenturyLink Field, home of the world champion Seahawks (side note, I’m a Seahawks fan but I digress).

Upon first learning, it seems a bit complicated. You can take the Link Light Rail from Seattle to the SeaTac airport. You can also take the Tacoma Link Light Rail, mostly around downtown Tacoma. These are both fairly similar to the LRT system in the Twin Cities. However, the two systems out there don’t link up directly with each other.

Regarding buses, while Minneapolis still does have the free and green rides up and down Nicollet, downtown Seattle discontinued a similar program in 2012. Between that and a cheap monorail pass, it was a certainly a very easy and close-to-free way to travel around downtown Seattle and all the way to the Space Needle and Seattle Center.

For the Twin Cities light rail system, they have definitely done great things with both the Blue and Green lines. Living in Minneapolis, it’s sure nice to be able to go to and from St. Paul or somewhere around the airport for a little more or less than 2 bucks. I’m sure many of you share other positive experiences.

They also have the Sounder Commuter Rail, similar to our Northstar. This actually takes you from Lakewood and Tacoma, through Seattle and all the way up to Everett. From living there previously, I can tell you this is a fantastic program. The vehicle traffic there is a big hassle during rush hours.

Sounder Hard Rail

Sounder Hard Rail

Imagine jumping on the Northstar in Big Lake, going to Minneapolis, then eventually to St. Paul and Woodbury. This would be very similar in length.

Similarities of the two include stops right by picturesque, urban baseball stadiums. While Seattle’s Sounder stops right by Safeco Field, the Northstar stops right by Target Field. As well, there are plenty of Sounder trains that include free wi-fi and advertise them right on the train’s exterior, just as they do with all of the Northstar rides. These are both a huge plus for busy commuters.

I had a very nice conversation with one of my best friends, Heather in Puyallup, Washington regarding the Seattle area trains and other public transportation options. She also reminded me that Seattle does also has a system called the South Lake Union Trolley.

South Lake Union Trolley

South Lake Union Trolley

I imagine that their marketing department soon realized the naming faux pas with both the name and URL, then decided to market it as the acronym S.L.U.T. by selling merchandise on places like Amazon.

Clever, I imagine, it’s your opinion. Take the trolley to and from many stops between Westlake and South Lake Union. Minneapolis is studying streetcars too, but there is an intriguing article by Nick Magrino to say this may not the best idea.

So, between Seattle and MSP, is one transit system clearly better than the other? I don’t have a huge opinion other than they are both convenient. Let us know your thoughts!

Paul Jahn

About Paul Jahn

Ward 3 Mpls resident, virtual tours and 360 photographer, and you can find him at LocalMN, also on Twitter and Facebook. Volunteer for Streets for People and love urban walks. Music grad at Central Washington University.