The long-awaited mid-day Sounder round-trip will begin a week from Monday, on September 12. Perhaps more accurately described as “shoulder peak” than mid-day, the new trip will leave Lakewood at 10:18am for a 11:31 Seattle arrival, with a 3-hour layover before departing Seattle at 2:32pm for a 3:45 arrival in Lakewood. The service will utilize North Sounder-sized trainsets at first, beginning with just 2 traincars for a few months before new cars arrive in early 2017, after which it will run the full 7-car South Sounder consist.
The new service will open up a host of new opportunities. Non-traditional or part-time shifts will work better with a mid-day option, the trip will facilitate Sounder-Amtrak connections (imagine catching the train in Kent at 11:04 to catch a Portland-bound train from Tukwila at 11:29), etc etc. But the biggest thing it will do is make Lakewood and South Tacoma stations far more useful.
Currently, the Lakewood trips leave too early and return too late for most riders with an 8-hour workday. Those taking the earliest trains from Lakewood (4 trains arrive before 7:30am) today either have to wait until the first Lakewood train at 4:12pm, take an earlier train to Puyallup and transfer to Route 580, or fight traffic on Route 592. The 2:32pm trip will do much to accommodate those who work early morning shifts.
The new trip also facilitates use for mid-day meetings. Seattleites could take reverse Sounder to Tacoma, arriving at 8am, with 2.5 hours to conduct business before returning. Similarly, I expect to see Sound Transit Boardmembers MacArthy, Strickland, Moss, and Enslow using the new option to get to their 1:30 board meetings. ;)
Two more trips will be added a year from now in September 2017 to provide 15-minute peak service, and that will be the last of new Sounder service without a successful ST3 vote. ST3 proposes an unspecified amount of additional trains (to be negotiated with BNSF), as well as expansion to 10-car platforms.