With every hockey game comes the occasional beer or two, or three, or seven. Seattle’s new (yet to be named) NHL franchise fully understands this and will be offering free public transit for all fans attending home games when the team begins playing games in 2021.
The announcement of subsidized transit came at the same time as a reveal that the franchise would be partnering with the Seattle Monorail.
Those using the Monorail as a means of getting to and from games will be able to scan their game tickets at the new electronic fare gates. NHL Seattle will become just the third professional sports organization in the United States to offer a free public transit benefit for its fans.
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While most Seattleites think of the Monorail as a tourist attraction, it’s also an efficient way to get from downtown to Seattle Center, where the new arena will be located.
“We plan to re-introduce people to the idea that the Monorail is still what it was designed to be — high-speed transit. It’s an existing last-mile high-speed connection from downtown to the arena that any number of sports teams would love to have in their cities,” says Lance Lopes, NHL Seattle executive vice president and general counsel.
Fans who ride the Monorail will be able to get from the Westlake station to the new arena’s front door in an average of five to six minutes, including a 90-second Monorail ride. The monorail also has the capacity to transport 25% of the New Arena crowd to Westlake Station in less than 40 minutes.
“We expect around 25% of fans to use public transit in our first year,” said Rob Johnson, vice president of transportation for NHL Seattle. “The use of public transit can become a unique part of the fan experience [including 90-second bursts of fun information] and will likely be the quickest and most reliable way to get to and from our games. It’s about a system which will both be efficient and build culture.”
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As part of their partnership with Seattle Monorail, NHL Seattle will make a private capital investment of up to $6 million at the Westlake station to allow for improved platforms, modernized electronic fare gates, and additional elevator access.
“[With this investment], we are going to renew the potential of the Monorail. Back then, all eight doors would open to boarding passengers. Now we load by four doors after [in large part because the Westgate shopping mall was built around the former free-standing Monorail station]. We want to get back to eight access doors on [to-be-constructed] open platforms,” said Megan Ching, general manager of the Monorail.