Museum of Flight says light rail expansion would bring more visitors

By: Graham Johnson

Updated:

Some 560,000 people visit The Museum of Flight each year.

But not by light rail.

Sound Transit's Link has tracks less than a mile away, but the trains just zip on by.

Museum President Doug King said for tourists, the problem begins when they ask a hotel concierge how to get to the museum.

"When you first say, get on the bus, people hesitate. And they say, 'How long will it take me and how often does the bus run?' You have to really want to come here," King said.

King said other big attractions, like Pacific Science Center and the Space Needle, get 50 percent more visitors because they're easier to reach.

King said if a new light rail stop is built along the Boeing Access Road, three-quarters of a mile away, the museum and nearby businesses will pay for a free shuttle bus that runs every 10 minutes.

"This is a pretty busy area these days and we think an awful lot of people could be served," King said.

A new station to open in 2031 is included in the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package now before voters, listed on the ballot as Regional Proposition 1.

A Boeing Access Road station was part of the original light rail measure in 1996, but was canceled when Sound Transit's first phase went way over budget.

The agency says it has since reformed and now delivers projects on time or early, and sometimes under budget.

The station is so important to the Museum of Flight, Doug King said for the first time ever, his board voted to contribute to a political action committee, sending $15,000 to the "yes" campaign.

Sound Transit documents show a new infill station along the existing line at the Boeing Access Road would cost between $124 million and $133 million in 2014 dollars, would serve 1,500 to 2,000 daily riders in 2040, and would add a minute in travel time along the line, which currently runs between Seattle and SeaTac.

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