I stopped by King Street Station last night to see how full the new trains were and I’m happy to report that a huge chunk of the new trains were full with the first 4 trains being standing room only. The new 6:30pm train was about 40% full.

The reverse commute trains maybe had 20-30 passengers at best – Some work needs to be done to get the word out about the reverse trains to pick the ridership up.

Everett trains were running at 3 cars except for one which had 2 engines and 2 cars and for the most part full.

The Seahawks train last weekend which had 6 cars did not go as smoothly as Sound Transit had hoped – the platforms for Everett – Seattle are only good for 5 cars except for Edmonds and Seattle which both can fit a 8 or 9 car train.

12 Replies to “September Sounder Train Update: Observation”

  1. I wonder if getting the word out would help much. I guess there are a fair number of people who work in downtown Tacoma and could use the reverse commutes, but with only two options, it’s not very effective yet. With ST2, I’d imagine there will be another reverse or two, and if so, people will have the flexibility necessary to choose the line – a lot like Everett’s ridership has gone up with the addition of the third train, and will continue increasing with the fourth.

  2. As some who occasionally thinks about taking the reverse commute train, and has done so once or twice, I don’t think it pencils out as a popular service.

    First, the job density within walking distance of most of the stations just isn’t there. People who live far from stations can always drive to a park & ride, but working far away is death. The one exception is downtown Tacoma.

    However, to get to Tacoma the fastest way under perfect conditions is to take the bus. The reverse commute is seldom congested, so both driving and taking the ST Express are more effective.

    That isn’t to say the reverse commute train is a bad idea. The marginal cost is close to zero, so why not help the people you can help?

    1. I was on the first reverse commute train last evening. Many seats were empty. When we arrived at Tukwila station I thought the crowd on the platform was going to board the train but they were actually waiting for the southbound train which was waiting up the line.

      The bus may be faster but I’ve had nothing but bad experiences. On every occasion I took a bus from Tacoma to get back to Seattle in the evening, it was always delayed. The high-capacity buses feel cramped even for a small person like me and are too dark. The trains are especially spacious with few people plus Wi-Fi and the view’s much better than I-5. So it’s worth the time for me.

  3. The way it was before the reverse commutes was inefficient. Start the trains up in the morning and run them to Seattle, upon completing the trip, shunted into the yard. The SOUNDER-SOUTH reverse trips allow two Peak-Flow trips to be operated by one set of equipment.

    Now Salt Lake City is interesting with FrontRunner, they run more service on day one than took us to get up to in 8 years, but they built their own right of way beside Union Pacific’s line, on an easement they bought from UP. Which thankfully they did. UP just rejected $40 million from California to improve Donner Pass. The reason? UP did not like the stipulation that would have made it easier for more than just the California Zephyr to use the route, as CalTrans wants to run a few Capitols to Reno.

  4. Heck, I’d sure love to use the one of the reverse commute trains, but they both leave Seattle too early. I’m off work in SLU at 7a, so a 7:30a train would work for me to get home…

  5. One issue I have with the Reverse commute trips is scheduling

    In the morning it is possiable to ride Sounder from Everett to Tacome transfering trains at King Street station.

    In the Evening, you can not take a reverse commute out of Tacoma and transfer to an Everett train at King street, the last Everett train left King Street well before the arival of the First Reverse commute from Tacoma.

    ST should change teh schedule of the last Northbound evening train to depart after the last Northbound South end train has arrived

    Lor Scara

    1. Lor Scara,

      North Sounder’s operating times are seriously constrained by BNSF. There are a lot of reasons it’d be better to run trains to Everett past 5:30.

      At any rate, reverse commute schedules are entirely a matter of operational convenience. The reverse ridership isn’t high enough to have any impact on the schedules of trains that carry lots of passengers.

    2. I think you’ll see modifications to the schedule to make this happen in the next year or two (that’s just my guess, but I know there are people at ST aware of this).

    1. What about the current Amtrak Cascades service? We should see a reconfigured schedule with a slightly earlier morning train at some point soon, too.

Comments are closed.