It's always 1962 on the Monorail. But the view keeps changing | KUOW News and Information

It's always 1962 on the Monorail. But the view keeps changing

Sep 1, 2017

For 27 years, Jayme Gustilo has been a cashier and conductor on the Seattle Center Monorail.

He's made roughly 200,000 rides between Westlake and Seattle Center, according to his manager's back-of-napkin math. He's also had a prime viewing window onto Seattle's dramatic growth.

In 1990, when Gustilo started in this job, he could see two mountain ranges out the monorail windows. "I could look both directions, east or west, and I could either see the Olympic mountains or the Cascades."

The views have changed since then. Hotels and condominiums have sprung up on either side of the monorail, and in some spots the ride between Westlake and Seattle Center feels more like a ride through an urban canyon. Sometimes, Gustilo says, it can be hard to keep track of the all changes.

"I count the number of cranes on this side by Lake Union. I keep wondering 'What existed there before?' My memory keeps fading."

Gustilo has ridden the Monorail most of his life — and for the entirety of the Monorail's life. His first ride was in 1962, when the train first opened. Gustilo was 12; he remembers the ride vividly.

Jayme Gustilo, a Monorail conductor and cashier, has taken about 200,000 rides on Seattle's elevated train.
Credit KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

"I took the blue train," he says, "I remember that. I waited with a whole mess of friends, probably about two hours to get on the train back then. It was so fascinating; we were scrambling to get on the train next to the driver, just like kids do today."

Gustilo tries to keep that spirit of excitement and wonder alive these days. When he conducts the Monorail, Mondays through Fridays from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., he mentions fun facts about the train's history, and often says, "It's always 1962 on the Monorail."

Gustilo does miss some of the old landmarks. But he sees an upside to all the new offices and living spaces: more riders and a larger audience. "Definitely the landscape has changed greatly, but it's translated into ridership for us too. I appreciate that because I love the people who ride the trains."