Program overview

System Access Fund overview

People get to Link light rail, Sounder commuter trains, Regional Express buses, and bus rapid transit (BRT) in many ways. Some walk, roll, or bike, while others transfer from local buses, are picked up or dropped off, or park near stations. Safe and easy connections help increase ridership by making transit an attractive alternative to driving.

To improve these connections, the 2016 voter-approved Sound Transit 3 System Plan included a System Access Fund for projects such as safe sidewalks, protected bike lanes, shared-use paths, bus transfer facilities, and new pickup and drop-off areas. Vehicle parking is not eligible for funding from the System Access Fund.

The System Access Fund is allocated equally among Sound Transit’s five subareas for projects that improve access to transit. In this first round of funding, the Sound Transit Board of Directors will allocate between $0 and $10 million per subarea for a total of up to $50 million.

Earlier in 2019, Sound Transit solicited project proposals from local governments and transit agencies. Sound Transit received 53 applications from 33 jurisdictions totaling more than $86 million in requests.

Click on the Subarea tabs above to learn more about projects in each subarea.

Sound Transit District

Map of the Sound Transit service area, showing subareas.

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Box with blue outline and yellow highlighting showing Sound Transit service area.

Sound Transit District

Box with blue outline showing Sound Transit subareas.

Subareas for planning and budgeting purposes

Who was eligible to apply for the System Access Fund?

Cities, counties, and transit agencies within a Sound Transit subarea were eligible to apply for System Access Funds.

What types of projects were eligible?

Projects eligible to apply for funding:

  • Demonstrate a clear connection to a facility owned or served by Sound Transit, and
  • Design or build physical improvements such as safe sidewalks, protected bike lanes, shared-use paths, better transit transfer connections, and new pickup and drop-off areas, or
  • Improve technological features that help riders use transit.

How did Sound Transit evaluate projects requesting System Access Funds?

Sound Transit staff evaluated applications based on the content provided and based on subsequent follow-up discussions with every applicant. These follow-up discussions helped clarify information provided and occasionally resulted in updated information not necessarily reflected in the application materials provided on subsequent pages.

For each factor, applications were rated High, Medium, or Low. Then, Sound Transit assigned an overall rating of Highly Recommended, Recommended, or Not Recommended for every application. You can review the application as well as the guidance document that was created to support applicants.

Policy Factors

Policy Factors

  • Customer experience—Does the project make it easier and more convenient for riders to connect to stations?
  • Equity—Does the project improve connections for people who rely on transit?
  • Safety and human health—Does the project improve safety for riders and provide opportunities for active travel?
  • Connectivity—Does the project support increased ridership by improving connections between the station and neighborhoods and activity centers?
Technical Factors

Technical Factors

  • Funding plan—Does the applicant have all funding necessary (including the System Access Fund contribution) to deliver the project, or a realistic plan to do so?
  • Delivery plan—Does the applicant have a realistic plan to deliver the project by their proposed completion date?