Puyallup Station – Photo by Sound Transit

Want to get a glimpse of what all-day, weekend Sounder service looks like?  On Saturday, September 14, and again on September 21, Sound Transit will provide special Sounder service to/from the Puyallup Fair. Free shuttles will connect Puyallup Station to the fair.

Two trainsets will provide 7 total round trips:

  • 1 round trip from Everett to Seattle
  • 3 round trips from Seattle to Lakewood
  • 3 round trips from Puyallup to Lakewood

Several aspects of this special service are new and exciting. Service from Everett through to Lakewood will be offered (albeit with a cross-platform transfer at King Street), the span of service will be an impressive 9am-10pm, and trips will be distributed relatively evenly throughout the day, offering many opportunities for bi-directional travel all along the route. This will be the first time, for instance, that Seattle or Snohomish County riders will be able to make a roundtrip to South Tacoma or Lakewood in the same day.

Regular commuter fares will apply from King and Pierce county stations. For Snohomish County riders, special discounts will be offered that roughly equate to a free transfer at King Street ($4.50 from Everett to Puyallup, and $4.25 from Mukilteo/Edmonds to Puyallup). It’s unclear what the fare would be for someone traveling from Snohomish County to points south of Seattle other than Puyallup.

Here is the full schedule:

Sounder to the Puyallup Fair

37 Replies to “Special Sounder Service to Puyallup Fair”

  1. It’s a 3 minute walk from the station to the fairgrounds.

    Having regular Sounder service all the time would (among many things) be a casual bike rider’s dream. Imagine riding to a Station in Seattle and then exit in the Washington countryside to ride around for a day.

    On weekdays, I can also take the regular Tacoma-bound Sounder out to the Fair from Kent in the morning, and then return on one of the two reverse commute Sounders headed north in the evening!

    1. Google maps says it’s 0.7 miles and 14 minutes to walk from the southbound platform to the Red Gate. Still, probably faster than taking the shuttle bus.

      1. They will probably have a shuttle bus, a few years ago when they offered a similar service (although only from Seattle to the fair) they had vintage British Double Deck buses belonging to the Lemay museum shuttling people back and forth.

    2. I once took my bike on Sounder to Puyallup to ride the foothills trail, but it required a very unusual weekday when I was off work (crappy weather days like Christmas Eve or the Friday after Thanksgiving don’t count). I might consider taking advantage of this new service to try it again. (Relying on the 578 is dangerous because if the 2 bike rack slots are full, you’re in for a very long delay.)

      As an added bonus, which I have not yet done, it’s only about 40 miles or so from the Puyallup Sounder station to the Carbon River entrance to Mt. Rainier. You could ride to and up carbon river road, set up camp for the night, and ride back the next day.

  2. So, it is possible to run late evening service. What is standing in the way of providing post-event Sounder service on Saturday and Sunday evenings?

    1. If the issue is money, I think $ounders ownership can easily cough up the money to allow valley and Tacoma residents to ride to Clint Demsey’s CLink debut in style.

      I can just imagine an armada of Timbers Army buses queing up at Tacoma Dome Station and Timbers Army all jumping on the train. Keep those dirty buses out of Seattle!

      1. I’m not terribly well-versed in this issue, but I’ve heard several times over the years that it has to do with the crappy operating agreement ST has with BNSF, the owner and operator of the tracks. (I’m pretty sure ST owns the trains themselves, but contracts BNSF for the operating staff.) BNSF isn’t really in the passenger business, and has very little incentive to work with ST when it might interfere with their much more lucrative freight business. And the last time that agreement came up for renegotiation, ST was taken out behind the woodshed.

      2. Trainset alignment might also have something for to do with it, especially on Sundays – all the trains need to be in the right place at the appointed hour in the evening to be ready to roll for the Monday morning services.

      3. Seems to me that if we had politicians standing up for transit, we’re in a position to do some bargaining vis–à–vis the coal trains.

        How about a quid pro quo? Warren Buffet and BNSF get to run their coal trains — and Washington State gets free and unlimited use of the tracks for Sounder?

        Fair trade? I think!

  3. Well, this is a good thing, and I was all excited about trying it out, but last train back to Seattle at 6:26? Really? That’s not late enough at all. Ideally it should run late enough that people could catch a train back after an evening show.

    It’s still a positive step, but that is just way too early for the last northbound train. I don’t expect I’d be off site before 8 pm, based on my usual Fair trips.

    1. That was my exact thought when I saw the times for the return trips to Seattle. I like to be at the Fair at night, in the dark, with all the lights, etc. But I’d have to miss that if I used the train to get home. Still a nice step in the right direction, though.

      1. It’s like when I went to the 2010 Olympics and I wanted to take the train, but could not since the last train to Seattle left before the evening event I was there to see concluded. So I had to drive anyway. Special event service needs to actually be able to get you home *after* the event or it’s not terribly useful.

    2. I’m thinking I’ll take the Sounder down from Seattle then take the 9:25 PM train to Lakewood and a 594 home from there.

  4. You could get another hour and a half at the fair by taking Sounder there and using the bus for the return trip. However, there’s a risk of being stranded in Puyallup if you miss the bus, or it’s full.

    1. Imagine how much more useful ST Express would be if they added extra service to routes already serving areas near large events and publicized it? I can’t be the only person who specifically avoids taking ST Express buses when I know there is a large event.

  5. I’m glad this service has been restarted. The first couple of years the Sounder operated there WERE special Puyallup Fair trains, but then they were discontinued. Am I going to the Washington State Fair? No, but I AM taking advantage of this rare opportunity to travel from Tacoma Dome to Lakewood during the day. After service to Lakewood started, there was–and I can’t remember the exact reason–a trip to Lakewood that reversed and came back to Seattle, but by the time we even got to Lakewood it was dark. Of course, normally the reverse trains turn at Tacoma Dome, so even on my fun trips once or twice a month on the Sounder South Line, I have to turn as well at Tacoma. It will a treat to see the route south of TD during daylight hours.

  6. Hmmm… Didn’t Pierce Transit also say no special Puyallup Fair service if Prop 1 fails? Even though this is all run by ST, I still think it’s interesting that none of the bad things associated with the prop 1 failure ever completely happened:

    -53% service cuts down to 18% or less.
    -Weekend service is pretty much back in full capacity, rather than first no service, then “limited” service.
    -Puyallup Fair service, this time via Sound Transit.

    Hopefully people will understand that this is mostly because of the improving economy. It’s not entirely (emphasize “entirely”) because of PT’s dishonesty at the ballot.

    Also, if ST has a problem running trains after 6:30, maybe they should add extra northbound 578 trips that continue as 510 or another north route that leave at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:45 (so the 7:00 bus can get back to Puyallup) or something like that.

    1. People with a grudge against PT will believe it was dishonesty. People who recognize you can’t predict the economy will be glad the cuts are minimized. It does no good to help the anti-transit activists by throwing the word dishonesty around unless you have proof they created an artificial scare. 18% just happens to be around Metro’s cut percentage, so it’s not like it will be insignificant. Also, PT has no control over what ST does.

  7. There is no Puyallup Fair in 2013, it’s now the Washington State Fair. Evidently nobody could pronounce phew-ally-oup. Hopefully ST’s brochures will correctly identify where the train is going ;-) Haven’t done the Puyallup Fair in years but this could be a big incentive to go back; especially if I can go all the way to Lakewood then back track to “Da Fair” and the fare is fair. You can do it at a trot, you can do it at a gallop and now you can do it on Sounder.

    1. The State Legislature couldn’t come to agreement to give ST permission to infringe on the state’s copyright of the phrase “Washington State Fair”, so ST went and got permission from the tribe instead.

    2. ST knows that everyone’s going to be calling it the Puyallup fair so they went wit that name. Rebranding something like that does not happen overnight. Only an idiot would not think the service was for the Washington State Fair. In my experience idiots like that are not good in public places they tend to slow everything down.

  8. It is very interesting that the bulk of the service is between Lakewood and Puyallup. Departure times are rather meager from Seattle. Perhaps ST is trying to get Lakewood/South Tacoma residents to try out their new train.

    1. If that were the case, they wouldn’t make the fare so much higher than ST Express, or run the 592 so frequently and mostly empty. I think it is more a case that the Fair appeals more to the Pierce County demographic, and ST knows it.

      1. So, last year’s numbers before Sound Transit cut service on the 592 and Sounder was extended to Lakewood.

    2. Not only is the Seattle to Puyallup service meager, but the schedule is essentially useless for getting to the fair from Seattle. The first NB train leaves Puyallup before any SB trains have arrived, and the second NB train leaves 75 minutes after the first SB arrives, which really doesn’t give you enough time at the fair. The final NB train would work pretty well if you took the second SB train. The third SB train is essentially useless because there is no train to take you back to Seattle.

      On the other hand, if you live in the valley and want to get into Seattle for the day, the schedule would work pretty well.

      1. That’s all due to the logistics of geting the trains to the right place. The first NB train to Seattle is also the first SB train to Lakewood. The last SB train to Lakewood gets the trainset from the last NB trip to Seattle back to its layover in Lakewood, and it happens to be useful for getting fairgoers heading south from Puyallup.

      2. How long do you need to spend at the fair? Sure if you take the last train from Seattle you won’t get much time before you have to get the last one back to Seattle but that is how transit works they have to get the buses and trains back to their base for the next days runs. The earlier trips would hardly be considered “useless” unless you like to see everything at the fair and like to stroll through at a VERY leisurely pace.

    3. I was surprised that most of the trips are between the last three stations too. But it makes some sense if (1) local Piercians are the ones most likely to attend the fair, (2) the Pierce subarea is paying for it, (3) Seattle has an alternative via the 578 while Lakewood has no direct bus to Puyallup (just the 594+578, and the latter is hourly so not a good transfer, and not a transfer that car-owning suburbanites would put up with).

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