In a departure from the normal routine of providing weekend Sounder service only to mid-day Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners games, Sound Transit has announced a special free Sounder run from Lakewood to downtown Tacoma Saturday evening for military members and their families attending the inaugural parade of the Daffodil Festival, and special Sounder service Sunday evening to the Sounders-Timbers match. This is in addition to the regularly-scheduled Sunday mid-day service for the Mariners game against the Angels.

The free train Saturday departs Lakewood Station at 3 p.m., arriving at Tacoma Dome Station at 3:14 p.m. The return train departs TDS at 8:30 p.m.

The Sounder runs for the Mariners game Sunday depart at the usual 10:45 a.m. from Lakewood and 11:15 a.m. from Everett. Return trips depart 35 minutes after the game ends. The evening runs for the Sounders match depart Lakewood at 4:45 p.m. and Everett at 5:15 p.m. Both return trains depart 35 minutes after the match. This will likely be the first time two North Sounder trains in revenue service pass each other. A round trip involving a quick bite near Edmonds Station might even be doable for the first time ever, depending on how long the baseball game goes.

These announcements come on the heels of the announcement of all-day Sounder service to the Washington State Fair on September 14 and 21.

19 Replies to “Special Sounder Service this Weekend”

  1. I saw the announcement in my e-mail.

    I’ve got to assume this service is being paid for by some organization. Free rides are rather uncharacteristic of ST.

    1. “Free rides are rather uncharacteristic of ST.”

      … except for the first 10 years of Tacoma Link, and all the intra-Ride-Free-Area trips until last October, minus Central Link.

  2. If this works well for the JBLM community then it might make a difference in future votes for Pierce Transit.

  3. I also think ST should consider regular scheduled trains on weekends. e.g. 3 times a day each direction.

    1. Charles: “I also think ST should consider regular scheduled trains on weekends. e.g. 3 times a day each direction.”

      The last time ST negotiated easement agreements with BNSF to expand Sounder service (in 2010), they got four weekday round trips for a total of $185 million:
      Weekend service had better be forecast to have very impressive ridership before ST shells out another $150 million or so to fund the service you propose.

      1. How are they paying for weekend service now? I would imagine not a lot of freight is being moved through the area on weekends.

      2. First, the cost for the ROW has nothing to do with the opportunity cost of moving freight. It has everything to do with how much ST is willing to pay. BNSF maximizes its profits by figuring out the threshold at which ST would say “screw it” and charging just barely under that threshold.

        That being said, if 4 weekday round trips per day costed $185 million, 3 weekend trips per day should cost much less than this, considering that there are 5 weekdays in each week and only 2 weekend days. If you do the math, the cost works out to $9.25 million per round trip per day, which would make 3 weekend round trips on each weekend day cost $55.5 million, not $150 million. IMHO, this is still way too much to pay for non-event days. Off-peak ridership on the 578 past Federal Way is already on the order of single-digits per trip. And any weekend service on north Sounder outside of huge events downtown would be a complete farce.

      3. Sound Transit has repeatedly gotten the shaft from BNSF (the track owner and operator), simply because BNSF has no incentive to offer competitive pricing. As a result, ST bleeds even for its best-performing weekday services. It’s a simple economics problem: BNSF owns the tracks, and because capacity is limited, it’s going to operate its own more-profitable frieght trains than run ST’s passenger services.

      4. Still, this shows BNSF has plenty of track capacity for weekend Sounder runs, if we do get serious about it someday.

      5. This is why our politicians should be negotiating hard to cut a deal between BNSF, Amtrak, SoundTransit and the coal companies that want to ship via Washington. It would include lower fees for passenger rail and track improvements all around, as well as a long term plan to move to renewable energy for transit.

  4. Since ST owns exclusive use of the track between the Dome and Lakewood it seems the hardest part is getting a crew together.

    1. Good point. Its ironic that the only portion of the South Sounder route with less service than the rest on a normal weekday is the portion ST owns outright. I know the schedule is constrained by single tracking, but it seems like the marginal cost of increasing service between Lakewood and Tacoma is low enough that it could actually be cheaper to have more service on that portion of the segment, rather than less, even though the ridership per train might be lower. I guess it comes down to math in the end, but I hope someday they increase service on that segment. As mentioned above, its also a good way to build support for transit in the area.

      1. I had typed up a long, detailed response, but when I attempted to post it the website confusingly returned a “you’re posting too quickly, slow down” error (this was the first comment I had written today) and I lost all the text. Suffice to say that ST doesn’t have the equipment to run all seven peak-direction trains independently and must return the first two trains of each peak to the other end of the line to continue peak service at appropriate intervals (such as 1505 -> 1514 -> 1515).

      2. I got one of those confusing errors yesterday. As far as I remember, I only hit the “Post Comment” button once.

      3. I seem to recall that the portion that ST owns is the new bypass which is potentially a bargaining chip with BNSF.

      4. Does enough people even ride the Lakewood->Tacoma segment of the 574 and 594 to justify two half-hourly routes doing it? If I had to guess, I would say that off-peak, both routes are virtually empty here. If so, maybe they should simply be truncated to downtown Tacoma. I-5 between Lakewood and Tacoma is notoriously unpredictable, even outside of rush hour, so a truncation would greatly improve reliability for the segment of the route that actually gets ridership.

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