Satellite Transit System

Satellite Transit System

Interior of a Bombardier Innovia APM 100 car used on the Satellite Transit System
Type People mover
Locale Seattle–Tacoma International Airport serving Seattle & Tacoma
Stations 6
Services 3
Opened 1969
Owner Port of Seattle
Operator(s) Port of Seattle
Character Serves sterile parts of the airport
Rolling stock 21 Bombardier Innovia APM 100 vehicles
Line length 1.7 miles (2.7 km)
Highest elevation Underground
Route map
North Satellite
N Gates
Concourse C
C Gates
Main Terminal North
D Gates
Main Terminal South
A Gates
Concourse B
B Gates
South Satellite
S Gates

The Satellite Transit System (STS) is an automated people mover (APM) system operating in the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. Originally opening in 1969, the STS system is the second oldest airport people mover system in the United States.[1] The APM was designed to quickly transport passengers between SeaTac Airport's Main Terminal and the North and South Satellites.


The system opened in 1969 at a total cost of $14 million. The original system consisted of nine vehicles; an additional three were added in the mid-1970s. The system was designed to have a capacity of 14,400 passengers per hour and travel at a maximum speed of 27 miles per hour (43 km/h).[2]

The original STS vehicles were built by Westinghouse and had a maximum capacity of 102 passengers.[3] The average travel time for the two loops was 3.3 minutes, and 1.8 minutes on the shuttle, and each vehicle was estimated to amass 47,000 miles (76,000 km) annually.[3]

In 1999, the Port of Seattle authorized $142 million to completely overhaul the entire STS system.[4] The overhaul included all aspects of the system including trains, controls, power supplies, stations, emergency ventilation systems and maintenance shops.[4] The upgrade and modernization was completed in 2003.[5] The 21, Bombardier Innovia APM 100 vehicles use CITYFLO 650 signaling technology and a radio Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system for its automated operation.[5]

Layout and operation

The STS is located within secure areas of the airport. The system consists of six stations serving each of the four gate concourses extending from the main terminal (Concourses A, B, C and D), and the North and South Satellite terminals. Each station is equipped with platform edge doors. The system consists of two loops serving the satellite terminals and a third line connecting the two loops in the main terminal.[3][6]

Public art

As part of its 2003 renovation, public art projects were included in the scope of the project. The Main terminal's south station features a series of 56-plus flowers cast of aluminum and aluminum/resin mix created by Nancy Blum.[7] In the Main Terminal's north station is a series of nine paintings created by Karen Ganz representing various travelers.[8]


  1. "Satellite Transit System Really Moving". McGraw-Hill Northwest Construction. November 2003. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  2. Office of Technology Assessment (June 1975). "The Status and Potential of Automated Guideway Transit in Urban Areas" (PDF). Automated Guideway Transit: An Assessment of PRT and Other New Systems. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Office of Technology Assessment (June 1975). "Who Ownes AGT Systems?". Automated Guideway Transit: An Assessment of PRT and Other New Systems. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  4. 1 2 "Trains at airport to be replaced". The Seattle Times. November 11, 1999.
  5. 1 2 "Sea-Tac Satellite Transit: Complex system delivered under schedule, budget" (PDF). Centerlines. Spring 2005. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Port of Seattle. "Sea-Tac Airport Transit System" (PDF). Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  7. Port of Seattle. "Satellite Transit System: Nancy Blum". Retrieved February 4, 2008.
  8. Port of Seattle. "Satellite Transit System: Karen Ganz". Retrieved February 4, 2008.
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