Thanks to a State Regional Mobility Grant to Intercity Transit, six round trips of ST Route 592 will continue to the (Downtown) Olympia Transit Center with an additional stop at the Hawks Prairie P&R in Lacey. According to Meg Kester of Intercity Transit, this is a peak-direction-only service. The northbound trips will depart every half hour between 4:12 and 6:42am, arriving in Seattle between 6:10 and 8:46. The southbound trips will leave Seattle between 3:03 and 5:33pm and arrive between 5:23 and 7:53pm. (See the full timetable here.) Service starts September 30, assuming the ST board approves it in July.

IT will also establish the Route 609 “Olympia Express” between Lakewood and Tumwater via Olympia, providing bidirectional peak-hour service. The timetable for the 10 round trips is here.

Kester added that the $530,000 grant is covering 80% of the two-year cost of the service, with IT picking up the rest. She added that IT is “hopeful” that there will be a renewal in two years. You can comment on this service change here.

75 Replies to “Selected 592 Trips Headed to Olympia”

  1. I also think that the Olympia express routes (601, 603, 605, 612) should also stop at the DuPont P&R since they are driving that way anyway. It isn’t really right to alienate DuPont that much. If they did that, then DuPont could get all-day service to Tacoma and Olympia, and even weekend service!

    1. As someone with family in DuPont: yes please. 7:46 in the morning isn’t late enough for my travels, and I’d often have to wait for a ride to Lakewood or Tacoma :(

    2. Last times was there, I was able to speak to both IT and ST staffers. IT said “it’s Sound Transit’s facility” and ST said “IT is welcome to serve it”

      1. Those were the responses I received when I asked about IT buses serving DuPont. Kind of got the “Pass the Buck” impression

    3. Lastly, as someone who does take the bus on Weekends, I would want the 620 to serve DuPont as well

      1. Oh, yeah, I meant to have the 620 in my original post. I mean EVERY public transit vehicle going past there should go to DuPont. Otherwise, it’s wasteful and punishes the residents of DuPont.

      2. Fair enough. Yes, it’s bad enough that my father lives clear on the other side of town from DuPont Station… :(

      3. DuPont is right next to the existing rail line that serves S Tacoma and Lakewood stations and Sound Transit does have track rights all the way to the Pierce/Thurston line. Just in case Sounder is ever extended, DuPont will be ready.

      4. Its deisgned to be both a p&r and train station. If you look at it from google warth you can see where a train platform will go someday.

    4. How many riders do you really think would be picked up in Dupont with all-day service? In the case of IT’s existing service on I-5 past Dupont, many of those trips going by there are full. Would you deviate those trips and inconvenience a full load for at best a handful of riders?

      Focus on your primary market and serve it well = more ridership than trying to string together marginal O/D’s and kill any competitive travel time in a freeway corridor.

  2. One small step for regional mobility, one giant leap to possibly get people excited enough to extend the RTD to Olympia!

    And somewhat odd, the new 609 doesn’t connect very well to the Sounder. In some instances, the bus is scheduled to arrive 1 minute after the Sounder departs. No tax-free Sounder ride for south enders!

  3. Given the county based zone definitions, this actually creates a third zone. Do you think ST will add a 3-zone fare? It would be worth an extra 50 cents or so if it gets riders a one-seat ride from Thurston county to King county.

      1. The existing Multi County Fare, I would assume – “because a county line is crossed”

  4. More service and more regional mobility is better and all, but for the peak trips I don’t see why you wouldn’t just sync this up with the Sounder at Lakewood Station or the Tacoma Dome. Seems like one seat ride fetishism to me.

  5. My family in DuPont regularly heads to Lacey, not Lakewood, do do shopping. Now if that market could be captured… (I can dream, no?)

    I have absolutely no clue what that kind of ridership would look like, or if there would be enough riders (I doubt it)

    1. It’s the one-seat-ride on steroids. Is IT and the State paying for the bus the whole way to Seattle and back? If not, then Pierce and King are subsidizing Olympians to commute to work a hell of a long way. Anyone know?
      Also, it’s peak only, peak direction according to the post, so that’s got to be the ‘Mother of All Deadheads’ in our region, maybe the entire universe.

      1. Napkin Math: 5 hrs RT per bus incl deadhead x 12 trips a day is ~312,000 hrs for the two years x $125/hr is $3.9M. If IT and WSDOT are kicking in $662k, then ST is paying for the other 83% of the trip.
        Those are seats not available for ST taxpayers, so I hope the buses are nearly empty by the time they hit Pierce Co, otherwise….

      2. These are appended to regular 592 runs. So the DuPont-Seattle portion is Sound Transit funded, but that’s absolutely normal.

      3. OK, but if more than about 9 people board each bus in Thurston County (17% of the trip cost that IT+WA pay), then ST taxpayers are subsidizing (read: “giving away money”) to riders outside of the taxing district (which may even be illegal)
        So, using my napkin math, that’s 9 people up and back each day, on 6 RT’s costing the State taxpayers $530.000. That’s a $10,000 gift for about 50 lucky people.
        I see the lottery in Olympia is alive and well.
        How the hell can the state claim to be broke with a straight face and be handing out bags of money for someone commuting two hours one way to a job.
        Have we gone mad?

  6. I’m a bit disappointed that this only goes north in the morning and south in the evening. This is treating Olympia (or Tacoma for that matter) like a suburb. The thing is called “Intercity Transit”, but it treats the state’s capital and third largest city like bedroom communities.

    Given the timing on the service itself, I’m not sure if it matters. Two hours on a bus from Olympia to Seattle is ridiculous. As djw mentioned, this should be synced up with Sounder. An “intercity” ride of 60 miles shouldn’t take two hours. Maybe the service should be renamed “intersuburb”. In other words, I just don’t see why anyone would ride this if they really want to get from Olympia to Seattle.

    1. An “intercity” ride of 60 miles shouldn’t take two hours.

      During peak commuting time, with a few stops, it obviously will. Unless sound transit can magically fix 1-5 traffic, I’m not sure what you expect them to do about it. (I’m guessing you can’t skip Tacoma or the P&R stops and have enough ridership to justify the service, but I don’t know how much time that would save anyway). It’s not like this is just wide open freeways here.

      1. If a lot of the congestion happens at exit ramps to serve P&R stop, skipping stops might save more time than you might think.

      2. How about a fast train? Seriously. There are two cities (other than Seattle here):

        1) Tacoma — The state’s third largest city. A city with a long history. It was a big city when Bellevue was a farming community.

        2) Olympia — The state’s capitol. People do legislative business here. Not that many people live here, but everyone in the state is effected by what they do.

        If we can’t move people quickly between these cities, than we shouldn’t try. Big cities (like Seattle) could use the money. This bus system is built like a classic suburban feeder system — move the people from the bedroom community to the big city where they work. There is an argument for this sort of system, just don’t call it “Intercity” and don’t expect the state to pay for it.

        Why should someone from Spokane pay money so that someone from Lacey can commute to Seattle? Is that the best way to use state transit money? Should we do the same for the folks in Spokane and make sure that folks commuting from Mead can ride the bus? On the other hand, I would be fully in favor of all day transit both directions from Spokane to Cheney. The reason is obvious — there is a state university in Cheney and Spokane is a big city.

      3. 2) Olympia — The state’s capitol. People do legislative business here. Not that many people live here, but everyone in the state is effected by what they do

        Thurston County’s population as of 2012 was 258,332. While certainly not as large as King, Pierce or Snohomish, it is hardly insignificant. There are a fair number of people who live in Thurston County and commute to either Pierce or King county for employment (as well as a number of people who live in Pierce or King Counties and commute to Thurston County)

        At peak commute times the time spent on the bus is pretty much a wash with driving alone, however the bus commuters can read the paper or sleep during their commute unlike those driving.

    2. I just don’t see why anyone would ride this if they really want to get from Olympia to Seattle.

      Because driving in traffic is really stressful and annoying, and $3.50 is a screaming deal of a bargain compared to gas + wear and tear on a car for such a distance?

      1. A lot of the time might be padding for traffic. Perhaps if traffic is light, the bus might arrive half an hour early.

      2. I looked at quarter past four today and Google reported that with current traffic the trip was 1:30. Add in a half dozen stops of which most require a 5 minute detour off the freeway and yeah, you’re at 2 hours.

      3. There are alternatives, such as:

        1) Carpooling
        2) Flex schedule (if you leave Olympia at 10:00 and Seattle at 2:00 or 8:00 you could probably cut your commute time in half)
        3) Working from home
        4) Moving, or just getting a commuter apartment that is closer
        5) Changing jobs

        My point is that I’ve changed jobs because the commute was bad; this commute sounds much worse. I just don’t think there are that many people who will endure a commute like this for long periods of time. My guess is that most of the people who ride this aren’t going on an intercity journey (although some might be coming in from Tacoma) but are going from a suburb to a city or city to a suburb.

    3. OTOH, 2 hours to go 60 miles is BRT compared to the 1 hour it takes me by bus to make a 7 mile commute. So I guess I wouldn’t feel too bad telling folks in Olytown it’s going to take them 2-1/2 hours each way and they can pay the $5.25 Sounder fare; still half the cost of gas driving alone, plus free parking, plus the chance to work, sleep, read, etc. instead of playing road warrior.

      1. Good point:
        Federal Way………….91,085
        Spokane Valley……..90,279
        Olympia (finally!)……47,266

        It’s number 22 based on 2011 predicted population from Wikipedia. It doesn’t rank anywhere close to 3 on any metrics.

        Clearly, being the state capitol is the only thing that makes this city very significant.

      2. The state capitol is a destination people go to in the morning and from in the evening. The bus gets this completely backwards. From the schedule, you’d think the state capitol was somewhere where people slept at night to commute to Seattle during the day.

      3. I wonder if that is exactly true for the spouse or kids of someone making this funding decision.

      4. 6. Kent…………………….120,916

        OMG, Bailo is right!

        Kent needs a mobility grant for a fleet of buses to get stuck in traffic on I-5 rather than force people to ride a fast train into Seattle.

      5. … and if Kent adds another 3,883, they’ll pass Bellevue;
        … and be eligible for Light Rail and a tunnel that doesn’t do anything but;
        … you know, wander around town.

      6. I never said it was. I said Tacoma was the third largest city (and Olympia is the capitol). I’m sorry if you misunderstood the sentence.

      7. Thurston County’s population is 256,591, most of it concentrated around Olympia (including Lacey, Tumwater, and unincorporated Thurston County).

        OK so it isn’t Seattle, or even Tacoma, but the Olympia area is hardly what I’d call insignificant.

    4. In 2006, the travel patterns on i-5 in Thurston County showed that the IT service area does act like a bedroom community, or “suburb”. Clearly there are other trip patterns, but a LOT of Thurston County residents head north in the morning

  7. How do they staff a unidirectional peak only route like this? It seems like the driver has to get back to the point of origin and the return drivers have to somehow get to the bus. From the start and arrival times it looks like this is a 2 hour trip. FWIW Google pegs this as a one hour drive time with no traffic. Anyway, it would be a hellish split shift to only pick up a half days pay. A transfer to Sounder at Lakewood just makes too much sense. You could even throw in a few reverse commute trips and come out way ahead.

    1. They’ll probably do what 592s have always done, just extended from DuPont to Olympia. Deadhead from PT HQ to Olympia in the morning, make their run to Seattle, deadhead back to PT HQ (or layover in the Link yard), deadhead back up to Eastlake, make their run to Olympia, and then deadhead back to PT HQ. 257 miles of driving for 125 miles of revenue service. Staff wise, it’d probably be a 4-hour tripper in the morning, 4 hours off, and another 4-hour tripper.

      No wonder the 592 is so expensive per rider.

      1. Yikes, if they are running the buses up and down I-5 anyway why not be in revenue service? Looking at the first run of the morning, Sounder from Lakewood Station would get to Seattle at 6:34 AM. The bus schedule is 6:04 so with the layover (12 minutes which is about as close as you’d want to cut it) the bus saves you half an hour. In the afternoon there’s no Lakewood service until the 4:20 train so you’d probably want make the connection in Tacoma but it still looks like the one seat ride saves people an hour a day. For people commuting from Lakewood the time savings are somewhat diminish because you wouldn’t have the transfer penalty but still over 30 minutes a day. With bus fare only $3.50 I think this will pull a lot of people away from Sounder which is about $3.50 a day more expensive. A buy two get one free discount for using the bus.

      2. Holy crap, is that really how they do it? Why on earth not include some reverse trips in there? Even if they’re lightly used, that’s so much waste.

      3. Wow, Sound Transit could be a ton more resourceful here then. What they probably should do is make express buses to Seattle from Tacoma and Lakewood that don’t make any stops until Seattle operate off-peak only, and extend ALL sounder trips to Lakewood. The 592, then, should provide two-directional service in the peak, and have the northbound trip meet up with the northbound sounder departure in Lakewood, and have the southbound trip wait for the train from Seattle at Lakewood. The route should consist of stops at (southwest to northeast) Olympia TC, Lacey (near St. Martin’s U), DuPont Station, Lakewood Sounder Station, Downtown Tacoma, making stops north along Pacific Ave until ending at 10th and Commerce. They really need to be pushing this sounder thing.

        One-directional trips make sense if the off-service runs can be made a LOT faster than the on-service runs, and there is no one along the route that would want to go in the reverse direction. Clearly, this new 592 has neither of these properties.

      4. I agree (and I’ve said as much above). Making this a traditional bedroom style commute bus is a mistake. It ignores the fact that lots of people are doing a “reverse commute”. Look at the numbers on Central Link and you will see that more people depart at Tukwila in the morning (having come from the north) than board (heading north). Tukwila! Not Sea-Tac, but Tukwila, a station with a nice, free park and ride. Basically, lots of people are riding the train from Seattle to Tukwila in the morning, where they (presumably) transfer to a bus and start their work day. Meanwhile, fewer are getting on that stop (the only stop for a long ways, too) and riding the train into Seattle. It is quite reasonable to assume that the third largest city and one of the oldest (Tacoma) as well as the state capitol (Olympia) could do a fair amount of business as well.

        As you mentioned, it is also crazy to ignore the train. Unless they add car pool lanes along this entire route, a bus will be slow. The train could be faster, but even with the slow route (the result of history), slow speeds, and too many stops, it is still faster than sitting in traffic.

      5. more people depart at Tukwila in the morning (having come from the north) than board (heading north)

        I find that almost impossible to believe. Where did you find boarding numbers broken down by time of day?

  8. These kinds of services have been needed for years. The 592 idea is not new, at one time when pt took over operations of the seattle express in 1994 there was a proposal of a 596 route doing the same thing. The 1994 800 series coaches even had this on the roll signs when delivered.

    1. I forgot to mention this is yet another reason why thurston county needs to join the CPSRTA and get out of the dark ages. Not only will they have orca and with ST taking over the Olympia express they will have more funds for local service.

  9. The continued existence of the 592 at all during Sounder hours, except for the connection to DuPont, is a huge waste o’ money. But since ST is being paid to do this, it may as well make the trips somewhat productive.

    How about adding a stop at Star Lake P&R, and letting Metro cancel the 152, 190, and 192 immediately?

    This would benefit Olympians, DuPonters, and Lakewooders going to the airport, who could transfer to the 574 at Star Lake.

    Then, cancel one of the other 592 runs and use it to pay IT to install ORCA readers on the 600s. That would improve mobility for a lot more riders than this poorly-spent grant money will.

  10. No…no…and no. Until Thurston County decides to jump onto the RTID bandwagon, this is exurban entitlement.

    Shoreline gets only ST service via a flyer freeway stop at NE 145th. …and Shoreline folks pay RTID and transportation benefit district fees. If anything, let IC transit provide better connections to the 592…but not extend to Oly on others’ dime. That’s waste.

    1. At a minimum, there should be some reverse service (which, given the apparent volume of deadheading in the current arrangement, shouldn’t be that costly to add) so that this provides something of value for people who live in the ST area, but might have occasion to go to Olympia for the day occasionally.

      1. There should be ample demand for service TO Olympia e.g. for King, Pierce and Snohomish County residents that pay the aforementioned taxes to support Sound Transit.

  11. I’m glad to see Thurston county is joining Sound Transit’s service area. When will Thurston county residents start paying a 0.3% MVET and 0.9% sales tax? Start of service on September 30th?

    1. Thurston isn’t joining ST’s service area, ST is receiving funding from other services, including Intercity Transit (just like how Pierce Transit funds the portion of route 595 across the narrows).

      1. “Thurston isn’t joining ST’s service area.” Ok, now I’m confused. Sound Transit isn’t going to be running express buses from Seattle to Olympia? I thought this post was announcing that ST will soon be expanded to Thurston county.

      2. No, ST is running 6 buses per day from 1 route to Thurston, but their service area isn’t including Thurston. These trips are special trips that exit the service area completely. See 595 as an example. This is only on a single route basis, and there are no plans to go beyond this. This means that ST’s area of taxation will NOT include any Thurston at all. The only reason that they can run these buses beyond their service area is because 100% of the travel costs south of DuPont is covered by someone else, exactly like the 595. If I offered to pay ST $10,000 per day to run an all-day express from Seattle to Spokane, they would probably agree. That doesn’t mean that their service area gets bigger. (Service area always means the area that they have the authority to tax, and is not necessarily bounded by routes.)

      3. Sam, I can’t tell if you’re intentionally trolling or honestly confused. Sound Transit received a grant to run “demonstration service” between Olympia and Seattle. It can contract to provide whatever service another agency will fund. Presumably, this demonstration service is to show the benefits of being in the RTID to the new area (Thurston County) and, as such, have them join permanently.

        So, yes, Sound Transit will soon provide one route to Thurston County, on a time-limited basis, as advertising to get that area to join Sound Transit as a full member. “Try before you buy,” or “shareware,” if you’re an old-time computer person.

      4. As if taxpayers in Thurston are stupid enough to drink the Kool-Aid, for a few bus runs along I-5 and some pretty maps showing rail to Olympia. Good Luck with that!

      5. Lake City Rider,
        The article states that Intercity Transit got the grant, not Sound Transit. Intercity Transit would be contracting with Sound Transit to extend the route.

  12. How can Sound Transit possibly have a 60-mile deadhead to Olympia each day with no reverse-direction service? Olympia is not Stanwood here. It’s the state capitol, and there are lots of people who would gladly ride a bus from Seattle to Olympia for the day if it were possible to do it without running the risk of being stuck in Tacoma for half an hour due to a missed connection.

    Reverse-direction service would at least benefit people who are ST taxpayers. Extending peak-direction service to Olympia benefits only people who don’t pay into ST with their tax dollars. It will also make DuPont service less reliable because their bus will now be at the mercy of traffic on I-5 south of them. Expect to see lots more DuPont residents driving to Sounder after this.

    1. +1

      I would go to Olympia more, and lobby for more support for transit, if the schedules weren’t designed to dissuade such trips. I’m not convinced Olympia-to-Seattle in the morning is really the “peak direction”.

      Bringing IT into the ORCA system would also help.

  13. In the post, why isn’t there an opinion on whether running ST buses from Seattle to Olympia is a good idea or not? Rule #1 of of running a blog: Feed it or it dies. Rule #2: Have an opinion. This isn’t a newspaper.

  14. Here’s my armchair planning…

    Resurrect the idea of a 597, Seattle to Olympia nonstop except maybe a stop at Tacoma Dome. Half-hourly peak, hourly off-peak, with a $7 fare. It’d still be a hell of a deal for passengers, it would work for the handful of commuters who intend to endure that long of a commute, would work as good intercity service in a market currently only served by Greyhound, and could be served with less deadheading. Have Metro and PT split operations to make it more efficient depending on each specific run (PT operates live loops Oly-Seattle-Oly, Metro operates live loops Seattle-Oly-Seattle) and charge both the King and Pierce subareas while exacting a special assessment to Thurston County. Accounting for JBLM traffic variations, the ride could take 75-100 minutes, and be infinitely more useful to a lot more people.

      1. The demand can’t develop until the service exists. We constantly underestimate latent and potential transit demand. Many people are driving because they have no other choice. If you give them the choice, some will switch to it immediately, while others will take more time to change their ingrained habits and sense of possibilities. but the service has to be there in order for the mindset-changing process to start. And it has to be frequent enough and go close enough to people’s destinations or a good transfer to be viable for them. One minimal trip will attract a few people, and may be all we can do to start. Two trips will attract more people (whose schedules don’t work with the single trip), while hourly service would raise transit’s modeshare significantly.

      2. So, as a way to ramp-up gradually and not invest too much money if it turns out to be a failure, suppose that instead of going from one trip a day to 2 trips a day to 3, etc., we instead ramp up like this. Start with Tuesday and Thursday only, then if demand is good, add Wednesday, then Friday and Monday. (With the state capitol being largely a weekday-only operation, I doubt the demand will be there in the foreseeable future to justify a route like this on Saturday). This way, right from the get go, you at least have 2 days a week of reasonably frequent service, without the transit agencies having to come up with the money to pay for such level of service 5 days a week.

Comments are closed.