Before its seventh anniversary Sound Transit’s Sounder has carried more than 7 million people to Seattle from Tacoma and Everett hassle free and best of all congestion free! My guess is that the ridership is about to skyrocket, especially in August when the I-5 nightmare begins. Sound Transit and King County Metro will be re-routing all routes that travel through the construction zones. This will be an excellent time to use Sounder. In fact, Sound Transit is allowing standing room to be used during this project. Again this is one of many reasons that show the importance of having rail separated from traffic. Sounder thrived in the snowstorms of 06-07, cruises right along when there are multiple accidents backing up I-5, and hey heavy rain…no problem for Sounder! I know one thing with backups from Seattle to Tacoma expected, I would hate to be that single occupant driver inching along I-5 in August. I think it is really unfortunate that they can’t add additional trains for the construction, but those that ride the Sounder and convert to using this awesome form of transportation they will be in luck because Sound Transit will be adding additional routes including a reverse route in the September shake up. I do wish I could ride the Sounder daily, perhaps someday it will be running all day and night? Anything you would change about Sounder? Anyone planning on starting to use it during construction woes?

5 Replies to “Sounder carries 7 Million!”

  1. They need some reverse direction trains. I see they’re going to add one to Tacoma–that’s good. But plenty of people live in the city and work in the suburbs–e.g. at Boeing in Kent. Good point on rail being out of traffic–too bad that’s not the case with the SLU streetcar.

  2. I’m all for commuter rail, and despite what I consider an inefficient use of transit dollars to build the north line, I support ST’s commuter rail projects.

    However, I have two major comments/questions.

    1) When will travel times decrease? Sounder North could do much better–30 miles in an hour? We’ll have to cut that time down to make it an attractive commute. I’d like to see some numbers on whether double-tracking through Ballard, Edmonds, and Mukilteo will increase speeds. I grant that this often beats trafic speeds, but we want rail to supercede even HOV lane bus rides in terms of speed as well as comfort and we’re not there yet. The same goes for the south line.

    2) The “rail plus pass” on the north line that allows use of Amtrak trains with Sounder tickets is a great idea–let’s use more existing infrastructure. Why not begin a similar program on the south line? In fact, why not incorporate Amtrak Cascades schedules into the regional Trip planner software? That would increase options and make people more aware of such travel options.

  3. Good to see they have topped the 7 million rider mark. I would like to see them carry 1 million in a year, and that might happen.

    Now for all-day service, DMUs should be used in off-peak hours. Now I wonder how much would it cost for a third main on the SOuth Corridor, and will BNSF pay for part of it, if it happens? Now for expanding RailPlus, it might mean adding Amtrak Cascades service to Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup. Now maybe Auburn will eventually get it if Amtrak Cascades ever goes to Yakima, Pasco, and Spokane.

    Now there is an example of Commuter Rail being used to help out with freeway emergencies. Phoenix 1980, flash flooding took out most of the bridges over the Salt River, except for the Southern Pacific railroad Bridge. Governor Babbit called Southern Pacific, and asked for help, and would not take no for an answer. For 25 days the Hattie B ran. Now Phoenix is getting Light Rail, and they are exploring Phoenix-Tuscon Commuter Rail.

  4. Anonymous:

    1) Travel times will decrease only if train speeds could increase through curves in that corridor. That would only be possible with significant earthwork in environmentally protected areas.

    2) You can’t integrate Amtrak Cascades into regional trip planning because you can’t guarantee space availability, you can’t buy tickets onboard if you’re boarding at Tacoma or Seattle, and Cascades doesn’t stop anywhere between Tukwila and Tacoma. Perhaps you could lobby for Amtrak to receive funds to work on their ticketing systems?

  5. Reverse direction trains will come online over the next couple of years – either there will end up being 6 peak and 3 off-peak, or 7 peak and 2 off-peak, given current funding.

    With Sound Transit 2, additional service would be implemented as demand continues to grow.

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