Transportation Choices Coalition’s blog has noticed a motion (PDF) for the next Sound Transit board meeting about Point Defiance Bypass. Apparently, WSDOT and Sound Transit jointly applied for a $6 million federal grant to help fund work to extend Sounder to Lakewood. The project is still short quite a bit, but this gets them closer.

Update: I wonder if we’ve written about this before. I don’t see anything about it, but it looks like this has been expected for a while.

In less pleasant news, we’ve learned that the FlexPerks program no longer offers a 15% discount on Amtrak Cascades travel for U-Pass and FlexPass holders. The program offically ended at the end of the year, but the coupon code continued working through the end of March. According to Metro, their reduced staffing no longer allows them to administer the program, and they let it quietly die.

33 Replies to “Good and Bad: Point Defiance Bypass Gets $6 Million, but FlexPerks Amtrak Discount Cancelled”

  1. That is too bad about the Amtrak news. I wonder if you can still use your flexpass to take the Amtrak to Everett though the agreement ST has. Ironically one of the few reasons I continue to maintain a AAA membership is because it gets me 10% off on Amtrak, which more than pays for the yearly membership fee. Although every time the lobbyists from AAA testify in Olympia I wonder if I should rethink how much those 10% saving are really worth…

    1. Yes, RailPlus will continue, as that’s an agreement between Sound Transit and the state, or something like that.

      It’s Metro who cancelled their program.

  2. that is too bad. I noticed this for the first time last week when I bought my ticket at the Amtrak counter (the agent did not understand why the code was not working either) for the P{ortland train with my bike. Usually the discount covered the added cost (which should be free and count as 1 piece of baggage really) of transporting my fully-assembled bike on the train. Between the discount and my bike usage in PDX I would usually save around $75 off–compared to my car driving–the cost of my Portland trip allowing more money to be spent on people and activities like eating, alcohol, and general hanging out. Probably be looking at a car ride in the future with a rack…

    1. Join guest rewards! It’s a 10:1 ratio, works out to a 10% discount, or more if you save your points for the most expensive trips.

    2. Or better yet, get an AGR credit card. Great way to rack up points for a trip. Paid for one-way trip on the Coast Starlight w/ a sleeper by paying for tuition and food.

      1. FYI, there are reward blackout dates around major holidays. Those are the only Amtrak trips I’ve had to pay for in years!

  3. Well that means I’m returning my U-PASS for this summer. Not only they doubled the price to $99, they took away the Amtrak discount I was hoping to use. I can get a subsidized pass from my employer for less money per month and I already paid $90 for a July $2.50 pass on my ORCA so I can play with it on Link.

    1. The worst is that the increased U-PASS cost is largely to cover the construction of the new West Campus Parking Garage and parking taxes.

      1. That makes absolutely no sense. Why charge the good people for the things bad people will use?

      2. Because cars aren’t necessarily bad. While public transit is very good at the UW, it’s not perfect.

      3. I’d say cars at the U are pretty much universally bad. If you’re going to the U, you shouldn’t live in Snohomish.

      4. Does UW still have that thing where the public can park on the campus after 12 PM?

      5. @Ben–Tied for the most expensive school in the state, it can be difficult living on your own or with a roomate. But living with your parents can be from free to cheap. That’s why they live in Snohomish.

        @joshuadf–it’s actually the opposite. See The Daily.

      6. As a parent with a kid headed to college… living with your parents is not free :-) Dormatory at WWU, ~$5k, getting your home back… priceless!

        Parking on the UW campus is one of the few things more complicated than the Metro Fare structure. I’m sure glad they provided me with a college education so that maybe I can understand it!

        Most expensive school in the State… um, try UPS, PLU, SPU, SU, Whitman….. or if your kid is into arts (like mine) — Cornish. State Universities are like transit. A way to get there for the folks who can’t afford it otherwise.

      7. I live with my parents and it’s pretty much free for me. To them having family around is a good thing. That’s the difference between Asian and European-American culture. The only cost to me is the time spent commuting an hour each way and doing some chores.

      8. This year WSU was the most expensive school in the state. Not UPS, PLU, SPU, SU, or Whitman. I’m not really sure what’s so complicated about student parking on campus. It’s expensive as hell, but not complicated.

      9. Yeah, the U-Pass is getting expensive because it works. Initially, enough people drove and parked that you could subsidize the transit users easily. But that balance has shifted. Fewer people are parking, parking fees are pretty static and U-pass boardings are increasing. According to the Daily, boardings are up 30% from fiscal year ’08 to fiscal year ’10. When you look at the number of daily vehicle trips to campus (last graph on the page Chaz linked to) it’s pretty clear. The U-pass keeps people off the road, but in doing so, it’s eliminating a huge part of it’s own financial support.

        This is also the reason why funding transit with a MVET or gas tax isn’t going to be sustainable in the way, way long term.

      10. I mean parking revenue is static. The fees go up, but usage goes down. I think they’re converting one parking lot into the new business building. Or at least planning on that.

  4. With this new funding for the Point Defiance Bypass, is there any sense of when Sounder will be running to Lakewood? The original schedule was to extend service in 2012, but I’ve heard something about WSDOT postponing their part of the work indefinitely. Maybe the Bypass can qualify for some HSR funding and get back on schedule?

    1. That was $6 million of the $50 million they’re short. I’m not expecting anything at this point.

    1. Thanks, I figured out it was old news, but I don’t think we had posted about it before.

      It’s good to see that we’ll be looking for HSR grants! That’s definitely a worthy project, the track to Nisqually would probably be our first 110mph corridor.

    2. I hope Washington gets everything it is asking for in the HSR grant proposal. Of course the big one would be filling the remaining funding gap for the D to M project.

  5. I am a guest rewards member..I take the train 4-5 times a year but it still does not give me enough points and the blackout dates are kinda when I want to go down there. As far as credit cards go..well I am in the process of repairing my credit so getting another one may be tricky. The Ecometro Green Coupon book from the Madison Market is excellent though! I’ve been buying two books a year as one usage of the buy one get one amtrak coupon contained within pays for the book toot sweet.

    I must mention that I love this blog. Thanks for everything guys. I am new to Seattle (well 6 years is still new I suppose) and this is an invaluable resource especially since I’ve been parking the car and riding 60% of the time and bussing it another 25%–still need to drive during the winter at times as the waiting gets miserable outside with no shelter.

  6. Laaaaame about the U-Pass bit working anymore. It used to be so cheap to visit parents in Mount Vernon, buy a ticket from Everett + a 15% discount. I’ll be complaining regularly to metro for ruining this for me.

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to use two discounts at the same time? Like, ISID and ARA?

    If taking the train up gets much more expensive, I’ll just start taking the bus. The train is nice, but I don’t know if it’s worth paying THAT much more than the bus, especially when it’s not any faster.

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