Photo by Joe Kunzler (Flickr)
Photo by AvgeekJoe (Flickr)

Tickets are now available on for the 3rd round-trip Cascades train to Bellingham. Beginning tomorrow May 31 and running until further notice, the extra train will depart Seattle at 8:15am and will return from Bellingham at 5:15pm. Because the extra train will use Sounder equipment, running time to Bellingham will be 2h 40m, 28 minutes longer than the 2h 12m that the Talgo sets achieve. The full schedule is as follows:


  • There will be no food service on the extra train.
  • The $5 bicycle fee is waived on the Sounder equipment due to the ease of loading.
  • It is unclear how many cars the trains will have.
  • Fares to Bellingham will range from $17-$23. A quick check of tomorrow’s prices yield $9.50 to Edmonds, $13 to Everett, $15 to Stanwood, $17 to Mount Vernon, and $23 to Bellingham.
  • An entirely accidental benefit of this: As long as the extra train is running, it will be possible to transfer from the Empire Builder to Cascades at Everett (westbound only). Spokane to Bellingham anyone?

85 Replies to “3rd Round Trip to Bellingham Begins May 31”

  1. Doesn’t the Everett transfer imply reliability that does not exist?

    1. It does, but don’t worry. If you miss your connecting train, it’s only a few hours until the next one.

  2. Did allow you to book that as a through trip?

    The #7/#512 combination is not a guaranteed connection.

    1. It wasn’t booked as a guaranteed connection, just input as a multi-city itinerary. I meant its inclusion as more of a ‘fun fact’. But I wouldn’t suggest risking it. :)

    2. It may not be a guaranteed connection, but both the 7 and the 512 are reasonably frequent much of the day…

      Oh, right, different 7 and 512 :)

    1. A few other NO items:

      No – Business Class
      No – Reserved Bicycle space (although there is room to walk it on, but that would be up to the conductor, I suppose)
      No – Food Service
      No – Checked Baggage
      No – ** ADA reservations **. Sounder equipment only works at the stations with ramps built in, Edmonds does, (Everett doesn’t have the ramp on the through track), but non of the other stations have ramps.

      1. No reserved bicycle space, but 5-car Sounder sets will hold 20 bicycles instead of a Talgo’s 6(?). So bike space won’t be a problem.

      2. Google says it’s only a 5 hour ride to Vancouver from Bellingham…

      3. It would have been really nice if this train were running during the tulip festival back in April. The extra delays caused by the extra traffic are at least as much as the delays caused by the broken bridge.

      4. A Tulip Train is a great idea! The Festival does create a huge jam-up on I-5 and since everyone would be going to the same place(s) shuttle service is easy to provide. Alki Tours operates the Leavenworth Christmas train. I wonder if they’ve considered this?

      5. Yes, I’ve been stuck in that traffic going to the Tulip Festival, then had to search for overpriced parking in the deep mud. A train trip would have been much more enjoyable. Run a shuttle to the tulip fields from there.

    2. Also, having 5-car trains means that these extra trains will have more than double the capacity of a Talgo, right? About 700 passengers?

  3. Is there enough ridership on from Seattle’s northern suburbs and Bellingham to justify a train that doesn’t go all the way to Vancouver?

    1. The fact that BC makes zero financial contribution to operating this train and that WSDOT is likely the sole funding source for its operation is the justification for operating it only to Bellingham.

    2. Even if the ridership was there, the lease between Amtrak and Sound Transit that lets them share equipment specifically limits Sound Transit’s equipment from leaving the US – it can only be used in Washington and Oregon.

  4. 5-car set, 536 +/- passenger capacity. Should have an Amtrak engine on it unless the engine they had was bad ordered (I can’t see the trainset from work..)

    I’ll take a look later this evening and report back.

    1. I’m assuming Amtrak is doing this via the cross lease they have with ST that allows for the sharing of equipment during ’emergency circumstances’ (See Motion 2013-13), which means that Amtrak is responsible for moving the equipment, doing all maintenance/inspections, and providing crew.

    2. Fridya’s train 515 had a full Amtrak crew and locomotive, Sounder equipment. NO frills.

  5. I wonder if I can use my ORCA Passport card for RailPlus like I usually do? If I want to go to Bellingham on Saturday, could I get a RailPlus ticket for SEA-EVR and an Amtrak ticket from EVR-BEL?

    1. Rail Plus does not work on weekends. The TVM’s only give you that option for the M-F commute.

      1. Well on Saturdays I’ll agree with you, it’d be better to take 510 and transfer. On Sundays when the 512 is running instead, I’d probably opt for the train.

  6. Why did Sound Transit have a spare trainset available to do this with? Do they always have an entire train sitting idle otherwise?

    1. They’re planning to start running a new Sounder South roundtrip later this year. That trip will need a new trainset.

    2. It was explained in the press release that this trainset was purchased for a future expansion of Sounder South service which is planned for this fall. So until this fall, it’s a “spare”, but when this fall comes, Sounder will ask to have it back.

      I’m not sure why the expanded Sounder South service can’t happen until this fall, but presumably there’s some reason (track work or signal work or something).

  7. Anyone from Europe who wants to know why Americans (by and large) don’t ride the train can just read the schedule. Two hours and forty minutes for a trip that takes an hour and a half by car (unless a bridge falls down). If you want to go to the next big city to the north (Vancouver) it will take a lot longer. We lead the world in so many things, and yet we trail it in so many other areas. Sigh.

    1. My brother lives in Europe, owns a car, and uses it for many trips broadly similar to this with his fiancee. He cites a significant advantage in speed and flexibility over taking trains, and though car ownership and operation is a substantial expense (considerably more so than in the states) he can afford it and it’s worth it to him (particularly since he won’t live there forever and wants to get lots of touring in while he can).

      In America, where cars are cheaper to operate and own, and where our (failures of) urban design make(s) them more necessary for daily tasks (and therefore owned in greater numbers, creating political pressure to keep ownership and operation costs low), the train has no chance. We could improve the speed and the schedule significantly; people that already own cars will mostly drive for trips where parking costs and congestion aren’t significant (and even many where they are).

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The utility and success of intercity transit depends on the walkability and transit quality of the cities being connected. If you need a car on one or both ends of your trip you aren’t going to take the train.

      1. Really, what are the car rental options in Fairhaven and is it economical if you’re doing this as a commute? WTA has a decent transit system but connectivity to the Amtrak station pretty much sucks even for regularly scheduled service. This has boondoggle written all over it and I think speaks volumes about how our new Transportation Secretary is long on symbolism and half a loaf short on practicality… oh, but if you just send more tax dollars to Oly it’ll all be nirvana.

      2. Bernie,

        I’m no expert on Bellingham but the one time I took Amtrak there I found the frequent GO line to downtown pretty fast and easy to figure. What’s your problem with it?

      3. @Jim: Sure you can, at considerable expense, on top of the extra expense of taking the train, which is almost always more expensive than the marginal cost of driving for someone that already owns a car. You’d only actually do this if your preference for inter-city rail overwhelmed your practicality and financial sense. If you were a “railfan”.

        The difference between car rental at the end of a train trip and at the end of an airplane trip are illustrative. The train can’t beat the car in time without large investments in infrastructure and operations. The airplane can, and is faster by such large margins that flying and renting a car is by far the fastest way to get to, say, the auto-oriented parts of the Bay Area from Seattle. But you wouldn’t do this to go to the suburbs of Portland or Vancouver, you’d drive and save a ton of money doing so.

        We don’t design our roads for auto enthusiasts, we design them for anyone that needs to drive somewhere. We’re finally breaking our habit of designing cycling networks for cycling enthusiasts, and building facilities for everyone. If someone wants to operate rail services for the benefit of rail fans they can knock themselves out, but it would be silly for a large amount of public money to be devoted to their infrastructure and operations if they aren’t useful to the masses.

        I’m not hating on inter-city rail here. I want inter-city rail to succeed. But for it to succeed we need to fix our cities and our urban transit.

      4. It is worth restating, for the record, that SEA-PDX is one of the very rare pairs of U.S. cities for which intercity transit options (Cascades and BoltBus) manage to be truly time-competitive and price-competitive with driving.

        The fare for any trip planned reasonably in advance — and for some itineraries, even the last-minute fare — is far less than the cost of gas alone, never mind wear and tear. With BoltBus’s lowest fares or Amtrak’s companion fares and other frequent promotions, it can be price-competitive even for a pair of travelers. I’ve done PDX in a car, and I’ve even figured out how to park downtown for next to nothing, but the bus or train still win out for reasons that are perfectly rational.

        That said, I’m rarely using parts of the Portland area that aren’t exceedingly easy to access on TriMet. And if I were, the calculus might lean the other way.

        By contrast, the SEA-VAC route fails on time (even with the Talgo sets), fails on hassle, and usually fails on price. About the only rational actor selling point is relieving yourself of the need to stash a car in central Vancouver (if that’s where you’re staying), combined with the availability of the northwest’s very best urban transit system for all of your needs while there. But even if Amtrak might be my preference, I’m almost never able to justify it.

        I’ve always associated the northerly route’s failure with the route it takes on the Canadian side, though. I’m actually surprised that it’s failing to the tune of being 33% slower than driving (with the Talgos) between Seattle and Bellingham. This part is fairly straight and straightforward; why so inferior to the PDX-bound route?

      5. GO line to downtown pretty fast and easy to figure.

        Yes, it’s easy to figure because it only goes one place. And that one place isn’t really a destination most people are headed. Calling B’ham Station downtown is like calling the ID Station downtown Seattle. Close but no cigar. It’s a very steep hill to get up to just the northern tip of the WWU campus. To the west of the route is the bay and a large derelict dock area. So virtually everyone taking the train is going to have to take at least two buses and now you’re looking at ~30 minutes just in transfer times. Like I said, WTA has a decent transit system but B’ham just isn’t a large enough city for public transit to effectively cover.

      6. @ Al Dimond

        “Sure you can, at considerable expense, on top of the extra expense of taking the train, which is almost always more expensive than the marginal cost of driving for someone that already owns a car. You’d only actually do this if your preference for inter-city rail overwhelmed your practicality and financial sense. If you were a “railfan”.”

        Hey, if your accountant figures things out that way, good luck to you.

        We loved that type of calculating when I was in the auto business.

      7. @ Al Dimond

        “… but it would be silly for a large amount of public money to be devoted to their infrastructure and operations… “

        And I would love the opportunity to vote for a Regional Road Plan, or even a Statewide Road Plan, that spells out exactly that information.

      8. @Jim: What the fuck is your point? I don’t have an accountant, but it isn’t hard to estimate gas and parking costs for a trip. Depreciation occurs as much by time as mileage. If you take off your railfan-colored glasses you might understand why the majority of people in this country travel the way they do, and the sorts of things that might actually cause them to make different choices.

        Of course we ought to be making different sorts of choices in transportation and urban planning policy more broadly, especially as regards intra-city mobility. Until we do, more money thrown at most inter-city transit projects won’t have much impact in how people choose to get around. If we get the intra-city part right, private operators can operate attractive inter-city lines without much public support at all (see BoltBus, various Chinatown buses out east, etc.), and we can pick and choose public investments as we see fit.

      9. “If you take off your railfan-colored glasses you might understand why the majority of people in this country travel the way they do, and the sorts of things that might actually cause them to make different choices.”

        Actually what happened was that I took off my auto-centric entitlement glasses, and looked at the data.

        If you feel better rationalizing your opinion by saying I have “railfan-colored glasses”, then that is a pretty weak argument.

        People travel the way they do because there is no direct cost involved in the infrastucture. Taxes support low-density areas such as Mount Vernon/Burlington with what is essentially a high-speed arterial for the 20,000 locals that use it (i.e. the I-5 Skagit River bridge). If it were to be a self supporting conveyance, it would be a privately run toll facility, and probably only cost $.50 a pop.

        All I ask is that the costs and benefits be laid out, and give me a chance to vote on the improvements.

        Don’t you agree with having the opportunity to evaluate the transportation plan, and decide which taxes have the better payback?

      10. And speaking of Bolt Bus we saw one headed south around Mt. Vernon on our last expeditionary trip up to B’ham. In our PZEV Subaru of course! Couldn’t see how many people were on board. Prior that there was a Snohomish County double tall headed NB with us. I couldn’t help but wonder what it’s bridge clearance was. I know that’s been covered on STB and is much lower than you’d think or, as it actually looks when you see it with nothing but cars around it for comparison. One other observation; WTA hybrids are badged “Practically zero emissions”. I find that to be totally disingenuous. It’s an improved stinkpot diesel bus. At best it’s 30% thermodynamically efficient. And yes there are sophisticated filtering systems in the exhaust but what you capture still has to go somewhere. And even the “greenest” of systems doesn’t attempt carbon capture. Western does a great job at trying to be environmentally conscious but nobody seems to be willing to sort out the bullshit from the waste stream.

      11. Pretty much everyone here agrees with your larger political point, Jim.

        That doesn’t change the fact that under present conditions, rational self-interest would instruct you to skip the train, therefore saving both time and money.

        You may not mind the additional money you spend, and you obviously enjoy the additional journey time — those are your railfan biases — but you’re neither making any political point nor effecting any societal change by doing so. Sorry.

      12. And here we go again with people (d.p.) thinking it only costs the price of gas and parking to drive. Ask ANY business how much it costs to drive. Or the IRS. Or those guys that focus entirely on driving – AAA.

        I get so tired of this infantile argument that you just pay for gas and parking to drive. This is true IF you stole your car.

        My argument isn’t even a pro-rail argument. For journeys over 200 miles it’s cheaper to rent a car from Enterprise on the weekend deal than to drive your own. But you have to be honest about the cost of driving.

        As far as the trip from Seattle to Vancouver on the train is concerned. Seattle to Vancouver doesn’t win over driving but Everett to Vancouver is pretty comparable (3hr 15 min to downtown Vancouver). The price is cheaper and you don’t have to find a place to park your car. I’ve done this trip several times on the train and many times in a car. Sometimes you go across the border in 10 minutes in the car but on occasion it’s an hour. On the train it’s always the same amount of time. This also has to be calculated.

        The biggest problem with Seattle to Vancouver is the Seattle to Everett section which is slow. Also frequency is an issue. The scheduled times are not ideal for same day trips.

      13. …and the Bellingham-Blaine section, which is slow. And the Canadian section, which is slow and roundabout. And the need to clear customs once and still get boarded with drug dogs later, which is slow and invasive and redundant.

        Vancouver, BC is actually 30 miles closer to Seattle than Portland is. Without the border crossing, the drive would be 2.5 hours, if that. On most days, 3 hours even is a fair estimate.

        So, no, that 3:15 from Everett to VAC is also not competitive. In a car, that could be as little as 2.

        As Al already point out, depreciation has as much to do with time as mileage. So if you already own a car for any reason, the sunk costs are getting consumed even if it sits in the driveway gathering dust.

        Your Enterprise rental, meanwhile, is absolutely priced to cover its own wear, depreciation, and 3-year replacement schedule. And that’s if unlimited mileage is even included. You are simply incorrect to suggest that this beats the marginal costs of driving the car you already own on the trip you already intended to take. Never mind the addition time you spend acquiring the rental.

        You can’t argue for the superiority of a costlier and much slower intercity trip, between a pair of cities where one (Seattle) or both (Seattle and Bellingham, in the original discussion) have public transit that is pretty lacking, without “railfan-colored glasses”, no matter how much offense that term may cause you.

      14. @dp.

        “You are simply incorrect to suggest that this beats the marginal costs of driving the car you already own on the trip you already intended to take.”

        And that’s the basis of your rationalization, that’s it’s only marginal costs that matter? Amazing.
        If that’s your financial reasoning, then I’ll take the ‘railfan colored glasses’, please.

      15. Q.E.D.

        Your “railfan-colored glasses” are blocking you from seeing Al’s basic point:

        If you own a car for any reason, your sunk costs are already sunk. If urban transit is generally awful, even urbanites will mostly own cars (see: Seattle). Their costs are sunk.

        Owning a car where transit is bad is a rational choice. That’s why most choose it. Taking advantage of your existing investment for trips where the result proves superior is also a rational choice. Again, that’s why most choose it.

        Your argument boils down to: “We shouldn’t objectively improve transit relative to auto-ownership. We should just tell everyone to do what I do because I think trains rock.”

        That’s not rational, and it’s not going to change any non-railfan’s behavior.

    2. Yep, we’ve done the B’vue to B’ham trip many times since our son enrolled at WWU. It’s 90 minutes using the HOV lanes. Even if the train did go and come back when we wanted (never going to happen) and you could get from Fairhaven up to the campus (also impossible) why would I spend way more money ($23 x 3 in the car x 2 for round trip = $138) to turn what with the detour is a 3.5 hour trip into a guaranteed 6 hour trip.? The bridge issue didn’t deter us from making our last trip. If Amtrak was the only option we just wouldn’t go; even if tickets were free. Seriously, you’d have to pay someone to use this “service”.

      1. I know. I’ve also done math and realized the depressing reality that even with just people traveling together, even if neither of them are car owners, even renting a Zipcar for the day is still cheaper than riding Amtrak round trip.

        By contrast, bus fare to make this same trip on the county connector is only a couple of dollars.

      2. Yes but it wouldn’t be cheaper to bus the entire Concert Choir and Western Singers down and our house really isn’t big enough to seat the entire crowd. Although, from what has always been a standing room only audience the attendance on Tuesday was less than half the capacity of the hall which I attribute to a huge segment of the proud parents staying home because of the WSDOT warnings of Bridgegeddon. The best traffic mitigation technique has proven to be make it sound REALLY REALLY bad and then nobody uses the road and it’s just fine.

      3. Would the whole group fit on one bus? Reminds me of the scene in Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety.

  8. One trick I’ve discovered that makes Amtrak to Bellingham considerably faster is to take the 510 up to Everett and get on the train there, rather than boarding the train in downtown Seattle. I live about a 20 minute walk from the I-5/45th St. freeway station, which means I can actually take a bus to either Everett Station or King St. Station in the same amount of time, in spite of King St. Station looking far closer on a map. Door to door, this option saves me almost an hour, compared to busing it to King St. Station and getting on the train there.

  9. Among the hidden big losers from the I-5 bridge collapse are county connector riders. You used to have a well timed and pretty reliable connection in Mt. Vernon to go from Everett to Bellingham. Now, in order for the bus to get to Skagit Station, it has to wait in line with all the I-5 through traffic forced to utilize the same exit. Now, the connection that used to be reliable is likely to get you stuck in Mt. Vernon for at least an hour.

    1. I would have thought that Skagit Transit would use local streets instead of getting back on the freeway between the South Mount Vernon P&R and Skagit Station.

  10. Are they still testing the new Talgos? I’m surprised they didn’t look at adding this equipment instead of ST trains.

  11. Another slow point on the line to Vancouver is the Snohomish River delta. I wonder what improvements would be needed to increase the speed there. I’m thinking it would take a new bridge or two.

    Of course, the 50 mile an hour limit along the shore doesn’t help either.

    1. Yeah, IIRC the train only gets up to its full speed of 79mph between Marysville-Mt Vernon and Ferndale-Blaine. It’s slow along Puget Sound, maddeningly slow between Everett and Marysville, slow through Chuckanut, and slow from White Rock all the way to Vancouver.

      1. 40-55mph along the coast, mostly due to curvature. After the Ebey Slough Bridges (10-15mph) it is 79mph until basically Chuckanut. Chuckanut to White Rock is pretty horrible. Not so much the fault of the railroad, speed restrictions in Bellingham and White Rock slow the train down, both for understandable reasons.

  12. I also wonder if the open-seating and huge capacity for this train will allow for open boarding instead of Amtrak’s insane sharpie-and-sticky-note queue procedures. Could I show up 2 minutes before and walk aboard?

    1. They tell me you can do that with the regular Amtrak train (well, probably more than 2 minutes). You only need to do the sticky note method if you want a good seat.

      From an email exchange: “If a customer shows up 15 minutes prior to departure, the line will be much shorter and it will not take much time to have their eTicket scanned (we do NOT reprint the ticket) and be given a hat check with a car and seat number on it. Although the later a passenger shows up the more limited the choice of seats will be.”

      The one issue would be if there’s ever two trains leaving near the same time, the line might not be short.

      1. Sorry, by “can do that” I mean “can practically do that”. You do need your ticket scanned first, but in theory there isn’t much of a line right before the train leaves.

    2. Since there were only nine of us on the train southbound Friday evening, the whole process was not used, needless to say. Do the Sounder cars even have seat numbers?
      I like seat selection so I can get a window seat on the “Narrows/Chuckanut” side on the Talgos; otherwise just get to the station early and be at the front of the line if you are picky about seat location.

  13. An update on this train –

    Non-reserved, open seating. Only a handful of passengers both ways.

    The morning schedule is pretty bad… no point to run the service 35 minutes after Amtrak #510 departs Seattle for Vancouver…

    1. And instead of the money spent on this train; how many Brian consulting hours could WSDOT have funded? Including your junkets to Centrailia :=

      1. I have a saying; “free is a very good price.” Seriously though, this train just seemed to me from the git go a boondoggle. It’s a strong signal that our new Sec. of Trans. is pretty much clueless. I’ve heard rumors that the State has a budget squeeze. Maybe she hasn’t had a chance yet to read the memo. If Rossi was Gubinator and they ran this train everyone would be saying he’s just using this crises to try and make passenger rail look bad.

  14. I think it might be fun to use the new train to arrange a group biking trip in the Skagit River Valley, perhaps a one-way, where we pedal our bikes all the way back to Seattle. Until this new train, bike capacity on transit to the area was limited enough to make any kind of group bike ride that uses it next to impossible.

  15. Has this new trip been approved by d.p. the F bomber? If not, I ain’t going.

  16. Bernie Said: “Calling B’ham Station downtown is like calling the ID Station downtown Seattle. WTA has a decent transit system but connectivity to the Amtrak station pretty much sucks even for regularly scheduled service”


    “Really, what are the car rental options in Fairhaven and is it economical if you’re doing this as a commute? ”

    Bernie, I have to respectfully disagree. I live in Bellingham and commute on WTA Daily. The connectivity to the Amtrak station is excellent, the 401 serves the facility every 15 minutes during peak hours. The downtown station, the 401’s other terminus IS right smack in the middle of downtown Bellingham. Railroad & Champion is right downtown, not at the edge like you suggest. Further, it sounds like part of your beef is that there’s no direct one bus connection to WWU. On that point you are technically correct, but still wrong overall. You can alight the 401 at N. State and Cedar and walk three blocks to the VIking Union, the core of Western’s campus. You can walk six blocks from the Amtrak Station to downtown Fairhaven and catch the 14 directly to WWU from 12th & MacKenzie (Haggen). Additionally, there are car rental counters in the Alaska Ferry Terminal, adjacent to the Amtrak facility.

    Bus service in Bellingham is not as good as it is in Seattle, Vancouver or Portland. News Flash: Bellingham is not Seattle, Vancouver or Portland. As a daily rider, I have to say that WTA is one of the best small city transit systems I have ever encountered. I don’t think you can really complain about every 15 minute service to the downtown core, and direct service to the University with a 3-6 block walk in a city of 81,000 residents. I would also point out that WTA has held fast and refused to increase fares for some time, the $1 per ride you pay is worth every penny IMHO.

    I understand Bellingham’s transit system can’t hold a candle to a large metro area. But I think you’re judging it in the wrong frame of reference. If you judge WTA against the systems of other cities in the 75,000 – 100,000 population range, I think you’ll see why I’m quite proud of my town’s transit system. They’re providing pretty darn good service with the tax-base resources available in a small city.

    1. Third times the charm so I’ll say it again, “WTA has a decent transit system.” But, as you point out, it’s not Paris, London or even Seattle where there’s a reasonable expectation that out of town passengers will be able to depend on it to reach their destination. That coupled with the screwball timing in the reverse direction are why this extra train is an expensive boondoggle. It’s not a reflection on WTA in which I’m in full agreement provides “pretty darn good service with the tax-base resources available in a small city.” But it’s not to where hundreds of people a day can depend on it to get from the Amtrak station to their destination; assuming there even are that many people traveling from Seattle to B’ham at that time of day who can carry everything they need in a backpack or briefcase. This is about the train service not B’ham’s bus service.

      1. Out of town passengers can use WTA to easily access their destination in Bellingham from the Amtrak station. Direct service is available to WWU with a 3-6 block walk. Downtown is available every 15 minutes with direct service. Connections are available from there to all major destinations in the city, most with 15-minute service: Whatcom Community College, Bellis Fair Mall, Barkley Village, etc..

        Your beef appears to be three-fold,

        1) The train exists. Sorry that it bothers you so much. I mean, hey, WSDOT is trying here.

        2) the train is going the wrong way, it should be NB in the PM and SB in the AM. You might have a point there. I’d be interested to see more data, but I had the same thought.

        2) You can’t get from Bellingham Amtrak to where you want to go in Bellingham. This is ridiculous. Have you ever ridden WTA? What do you want, a Bellingham concierge to hold your hand while you transfer at the downtown bus station? Any literate person who can read a bus schedule can quickly and easily get from the Bellingham Amtrak to any major destination in Bellingham.

      2. Yes, this is all about the train, not WTA. Say you work at the hospital. It’s 40 minute bus ride on top of a 3 hour train trip. How is this going to alleviate the pressure on I-5, the supposed reason for WSDOT “trying”. Normally it’s a 90 minute drive, With the detour and 15-30 minutes. Let’s see, I can spend 3.5 hour of my day driving or 7 hours using tranist. Tough call, heh?

      3. @Bernie

        “….why this extra train is an expensive boondoggle”

        How expensive is it?

        What I mean is, do you know the agreement that was made, and what they came up with as to what it costs?

        At the very least, it’s the wages of the train crew, plus whatever the total $-per-mile cost of the the train equipment. What is BNSF charging?

        Do you have any detail, so that it can be evaluated logically?

        What I’d love to see is data from WSDOT as to how the traffic counts in the I-5 corridor at the Skagit river have changed for this time.

        As you noticed, when confronted with calls of ‘the sky is falling’, many drivers have opten to not even take the trip north.

        I hope the data is available some time (soon preferably) from WSDOT, and the local municipalities as to the dollars lost in business.

  17. Sure, if you want to play this game, lets. Let’s say you work at the University, and live in Stanwood. You depart STW at 9:45 on the train, and arrive at BEL at 10:55, 1 hr and 10 mins later. You catch the 401 at 11:06 at the Amtrak station. You alight at N State and Cedar at 11:14 and walk the three blocks to campus, arriving by 11:20. Your total journey has taken 95 minutes.

    Let’s compare this to driving. If you drive your car, you’d ordinarily be looking at a 45 minute drive, but with a 15-30 minute detour, you’re looking at a possible 1 hr to 1hr 15 mins to get to WWU’s Lincoln Creek Park & Ride. That’s right. Most people who work at WWU don’t drive to campus, the parking passes are expensive and availability is limited. So you’re probably already driving to Lincoln Creek P&R on a daily basis. So you depart Stanwood at 9:45 and you’re looking at 1 hr 15 mins to Lincoln, putting you there at 11:00. You catch the 90B at 11:12, and arrive Viking Union at 11:23. Your total journey has taken 93 minutes.

    Clearly, there are people for whom the train/bus combo will not work. I am more than willing to concede that point. You should be able to concede the point that clearly, there are people for whom this WILL work. You’ve picked St. Joseph Hospital. I’ve picked WWU. They are the two largest employers in Bellingham. The Amtrak/WTA combo is very for people who work at WWU. Ditto for those who work downtown.

    1. Again the train is a total and complete waste of money. People working at WWU and using transit, of which there is a fair crowd, are already using the 80X. The added train does nothing for a viable 8 hour shift. For that you’d have to take the already existing Amtrak train at 9:03 arriving at 9:52AM. Bus and walk to campus gets you there at 10:22. At the end of the work day you want to leave at 7:00PM. Amtrak leaves at 7:49PM arriving back at Stanwood at 8:36PM. It so happens that the existing 401 bus also leaves at 9:03AM and gets you to Campus at 10:23. Or you could just drive to Mt. Vernon and take the 80X which is what I’d wager most people do. There is simply no reason for running commuter rail when the ridership is going to be between 0-10 people; most likely zero. Stanwood station it’s self is a monument to stupid spending.

      1. So what you’re saying Bernie, is

        There really is NO good reason to go to Bellingham, and back for even a day trip.

        We already kow that 20,000 people a day used the I-5 Skagit River bridge for local travel, so that’s not who the train was geared for.

        And that might be the satisfactory conclusion, Bellingham is not a destination city.

        I’m glad the state is spending as little as possible on the I-5 bridge fix, it certainly isn’t worth my tax dollars to build anything extravagant.

        And besides, this is a temporary service, it is scheduled to end July 31st, unless it trends upward dramatically.

      2. There are plenty of really good reasons to go to Bellingham for the day or evening. I do it regularly. There’s not a critical mass of people that all want to do it every day at the same time to warrant heavy rail. What ever was spent on this train, and I’ll bet we’ll never get the numbers for cost and ridership, it would have been far more expedient to help WTA and Skagit Transit supplement their existing service. North Sounder is a money pit. A reverse North Sounder all the way to Bellingham is just insanity and shows the rail bias blindness our new WSDOT director is afflicted with. If Inslee is smart he’ll quietly show her the door.

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