North by Northwest View 17: A Rider’s Suboptimum Experience on Sounder North…

A Sounder North Train Pulls Into Mukilteo Station... In Kodachrome

My photo: A Sounder North Train Pulls Into Mukilteo Station… In Kodachrome


I’ve decided to divided this write-up into three sections: The trip home, the Sound Transit response, suggested rider experience improvements and concluding thoughts.  With that, here goes.

The Trip Home

Recently, I was in Mukilteo combining a fact-finding mission with business travel and got to as part of that fact-finding mission interview Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.  As part of that fact-finding mission, I took Sounder North to Mukilteo Station from Everett Station and then erred doing the same going back.  However, I did get this nice photo of almost 70 cars in the Mukilteo Station parking lot:

Mukilteo Station at 4:23 PM, 8 May 2015

Problem is, I was a bit early to the first 4:47 PM train but had to wait until (according to my camera) 5:18 PM for my train to Everett – a full 31 minutes late.  I also had to relieve me behind the bush as there was no public restroom – an act degrading to my dignity and possibly to Mukilteo residents’ dignity as well.  Between me with a simple LG 500G Tracfone and a lady crossing the train tracks with a smartphone we were unable to check the Sound Transit website because our phones would be unable to handle the Sound Transit website – too much data or something.

          [For those on e-mail subscription like I, I’ve decided to insert a jump point here so if you want to read the rest of the story – just click the header.  Or if you’re at the full size page read on.]

Continue reading “North by Northwest View 17: A Rider’s Suboptimum Experience on Sounder North…”

North by Northwest Big Interview 01: Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson

          A while ago on a Sunday Open Thread, I aired a trial balloon of doing a podcast on transit issues.  Most of you in the STB comment threads wanted text instead so I’m going to oblige.  I’m hoping based on the responses here to make time to do this monthly or twice a month with a major newsmaker who we would not hear from otherwise that has an impact on transit services north of Lynnwood.  So here we go with the North by Northwest Big Interview!

          For my first subject, I decided to choose a friendly face and also a voice who in some of the big debates affecting the North by Northwest region who has not been heard from.  From the Future of Flight Transit Desert to the proposed Paine Field Terminal – the media has (mostly) neglected Mayor Jennifer Gregerson’ s voice.  Today is about turning that around and I sincerely appreciate her interest and participating.

          In this interview we discussed Sounder North, a substantial subject of yesterday’s main post’s comment thread.  We also discussed potential transportation options to the potential Paine Field Terminal that Propeller Airports wants to build, Community Transit, Swift 2 and finally the Future of Flight transit desert.  I’ve helpfully included appropriate pictures and hyperlinks.

          For those on e-mail subscription like I, I’ve decided to insert a jump point here so if you want to read the whole interview – just click the header.  For the over 1,200 word interview itself, read on.

Continue reading “North by Northwest Big Interview 01: Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson”

North by Northwest 61: A Sounder North Quarterly Ridership Report

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Thursday night, I prepped the below table for a Friday interview that hopefully will go public Sunday at 12:01 AM.  But I figured it was time to put together a ridership table for the controversial Sounder North train run.  I got the Average Mean Daily Ridership by dividing the quarterly total boardings/ridership by 65 or 13 weeks X 5 days.  I then divided that number by two to get an – arguably inflated – estimate of the users using the run round trip under “AMDR/2 for Round-Trip Estimate“.  Finally due to Sounder North’s ridership depending on among other things slides and the economy to record growth by the same quarter in the previous year.  Hopefully this helps the conversation.

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So here you go.  It appears to me from the above we’re talking about a transit service that only serves 500-600 regular commuters or so.

If you want the Excel table, please e-mail me at growlernoise-at-gmail-dot-com and put in the subject line, “SOUNDER NORTH EXCEL SPREADSHEET PLEASE”.

Also would like to embed the spreadsheet, but having no luck.

Programming Note: I also yesterday had less than optimum ridership experience using Sounder North – again partially due to a need to see the Mukilteo Station’s behind schedule progress for North by Northwest – and will write about that next week after I verify some things that affirm my views on Sounder North.  Also will hopefully, finally get an Island Transit update out the door.

North by Northwest 48: As Sounder Northline (aka North Sounder, Sounder North) Is Stood Down…

Looking at the Sounder North Without My Polarity Filter
My Sounder Northline Photo From A Drier, Safer Time…

Imperative to review the new Sound Transit protocol on what Sound Transit is now calling “Sounder Northline”:

The most important slide is Slide #5, where in the slide notes of the original PowerPoint, it’s noted:

Our new protocol to determine if North Sounder service should be operated following heavy rainfall involves the following actions:

1.Sound Transit staff examines the data published by the USGS on a daily basis that charts the 3 and 15-day cumulative precipitation threshold, rainfall intensity/duration threshold, and a soil saturation index to determine the likelihood of a slide.

2.Staff also reviews weather forecasts to determine if additional rainfall is expected and discusses actual slope conditions reported through BNSF field observations.

3.If the slide probability appears high, Sound Transit managers and senior management staff after conferring with BNSF and other partner agencies, determine whether service should be operated and make a recommendation to Sound Transit executive staff members for a final  “go” or “no-go” decision. 

Since implementation of the ST protocol, staff has acted on the daily monitoring of slide probability data on 2 occasions.   

The first involved Sounder North trains scheduled to operate special event service to the Seahawk game on Sunday, December 28.  Due to a forecast of significant rain and the nature of the service, a decision was made on Friday, December 26 to cancel the service.  A Friday decision allowed customers ample time to find alternative transportation. It also allowed our partner bus agencies enough time to add additional weekend service, something that would have been much more difficult to do on short notice, especially on a weekend.  In this case, a blocking slide did occur on Sunday morning just prior to what would have been the train departure time. 

The second occasion occurred on Sunday, January 4.  Rain began early Saturday and significant rain was forecast for the area overnight and into Sunday.  As it turned out, actual rainfall levels were much lower than forecasted and the USGS slide indicators did not rise to the level anticipated.  A decision was made to operate on Monday morning and to reassess mid-day for Tuesday operation.  Rainfall levels in the Everett area continued to be lower than anticipated and Sounder North service continued as scheduled for the remainder of the week.  A slide fence was tripped during the Monday evening service but it was minor in nature and no other slide activity occurred.

Some Northline… it’s good however that safety is a growing priority – not statistics.  Ditto with Amtrak Cascades’ concurrent cancellations.  The question is should Sound Transit continue this service…

Special thanks to Sound Transit Paralegal Q’Deene Nagasawa for getting this PowerPoint to me.

Sounder North’s New Slide Prevention Protocol

Sounder North in the Rain in "Kodachrome"

The Sound Transit Board received a presentation from Martin Young, Sounder Commuter Rail Operations Manager of the new protocol to cancel Sounder North service.  Deputy CEO Mike Harbor explains that a small slide that blocked a Sounder North train inspired the briefing. Video is 78:35 into this link.  Below are the slides for you to browse through.

Sounder Cancellation Protocol 2015-01-22 Presentation

After going through the slides, Sound Transit’s spokeswoman Kimberly M. Reason explained the three USGS predictive tools are “rainfall, rainfall intensity and soil saturation” (see here), but also that “Sound Transit uses weather forecast data and information on field conditions to inform service decisions.”  Although Sound Transit attempts to make a decision “the afternoon before the day of service”, there is no firm deadline to make a decision before — or during — a Sounder North run.

Continue reading “Sounder North’s New Slide Prevention Protocol”

North by Northwest 43: Sounder North on the Thursday Sound Transit Board Agenda

The Upper Deck of one Sounder North Car Nearing Everett...
Author photo inside a Sounder North from last autumn

Just an acute head’s up January 22, 2015 [Thursday], 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Union Station, Ruth Fisher Boardroom, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle will have as a report to the board, “Sounder North Service Protocols” right before public comment.  Hoping there will be dialogue about preemptive cancellations of Sounder North when there’s high slide risk and also the history of how Sounder North hasn’t exactly panned out as promised (such as STB noted back in 2012 and I’ve said there’s a license to kill Sounder North).

Have a last-minute schedule conflict (SIGH) so I won’t be able to attend in person (as probably 99% of Seattle Transit Blog readership due to work issues).  Hopefully before the end of business Friday, Sound Transit will please have the video on their website.

As I’ve said before: If you want to make your views known to the Sound Transit B0ard – EmailTheBoard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-orgNow is the time…

North by Northwest View 007 – License to Kill Sounder North?


Sounder at Everett Station

My photo of Sounder North at Everett Station

These are not the views of Seattle Transit Blog, rather the Page Two Writer.

I used to ride Sounder North until very recently, when I just decided free WiFi, the thrill of riding the rails and the gratification of riding grade-separated mass transit of Sounder North was not worth my life after reading of a slide one week ago that, “came down in front of a Sounder train heading into Everett. Mud slid onto the tracks immediately in front of the train, which came to an emergency stop in the shallow mud and vegetation.” I also think Sounder North is not just unsafe but also illegal.

Sounder North illegal? Yes, as RCW 81.104.120 allows Sound Transit to provide commuter rail service only when “costs per mile, including costs of trackage, equipment, maintenance, operations, and administration are equal to or less than comparable bus…”

Rail is wonderful – it’s grade-separated, which means that there’s little to no congestion. But rail also costs more than a bus. In fact, the Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel found the cost of Sounder North six times more expensive than moving by bus in a 2012 report. However, the Third Quarter 2014 Sound Transit ridership report says ST Express Bus for that quarter is $6.22, versus $11.32 per Sounder North & Sounder South rider – perhaps because the easements bought from BNSF are not calculated. Still.

Furthermore, according to that same report, Sounder North was getting only 245,025 riders from three quarters of 2014 service. The original 1994 Commuter Rail Status report (page 13 of the PDF) projected 1,168,000 annual passengers in 2010 to make Sounder North pencil out and legal. Sound Transit is nowhere near that 2010 goal in late 2014.

Two years ago, the lovely Meg Coyle of KING 5 anchored a stern news report that the Citizens’ Oversight Panel recommended Sounder North be more cost-effective or stood down:

One would also add the sensitive matter of Sounder North’s proclivity to slide disruptions. Perhaps this explains why ridership is low. But also the slide disruptions race genuine moral questions. When seconds count, first responders are minutes away. Each Sounder North car can take over 130 passengers – so even at 33% use, that’s more lives at risk than lost from the 2014 Oso mudslide. Per car. In places along the tracks from Everett to Seattle, there are no roads for ambulances and the like to race to – which means that rescue swimmers by helicopter and boat would be necessary to help good Samaritans pulling Sounder North users out of Puget Sound. Granted, NAS Whidbey Island only has one SAR helicopter on strip alert (with another two for backup) that requires base commander permission to launch– and the Snohomish County Sheriff has a donation-supported Helicopter Rescue Team using an upgraded Huey. Both units performed beautifully during the Skagit River bridge collapse and the Oso landslide – but did not have to deal with hundreds in a life-threatening situation.

Vital minutes would pass for those heroes to get on scene while folks in business attire would be drowning and/or have the onset of hypothermia. As somebody who’s been in the backcountry and worked on a farm in the elements who has experienced the cold, hypothermia is a serious matter. Just reading the Wikipedia entry on hypothermia from water immersion should get your attention. The first two minutes truly matter and the first 15-30 minutes are when folks live or die after getting plunged into Puget Sound – so if lots of people can’t swim in business attire to shore and try to dry off until ample First Responders arrive… they could very likely die.

However, as you may have noticed from the agenda, Sound Transit’s monthly Board meeting will not address this issue. So I called King County Executive Dow Constantine’s Communications Office today and was politely told negotiations are underway to schedule a Sound Transit Board discussion about Sounder North as Executive Constantine’s been clear: “The board’s first concern is safety. In light of this incident, and service interruptions during past winters, I plan to ask the board to discuss rainy-season operational challenges.”

One would hope soon as every time a Sounder North races around slopes still waiting for stabilization efforts to complete… a dangerous roulette is underway. Not to mention the expensive matter of noncompliance with RCW 81.104.120 intended to protect scarce transit dollars.  For those reasons of safety and illegality, it’s time the Sound Transit Board seriously recalculated whether to proceed with Sounder North operations.

Ultimately, in the final analysis: How long does the Sound Transit Board want to wait until several hundred Sounder North passengers end up in Puget Sound from a mudslide and we have a mass casualty incident for no good reason with RCW 81.104.120 to cite to eliminate the risk? Who wants to be the transit advocate or likable politician to explain that to the next of kin and a class action litigator?  Especially when bus rapid transit/BRT would resolve the transit needs Sounder North has meagerly addressed with minimal risk to human life and be in compliance with state law.

If you want to make your views known to the Sound Transit B0ard – EmailTheBoard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-orgNow is the time…

Special thanks to John Niles of Public Interest Transportation Forum, Bob Pishue of the Washington Policy Center and Frank Abe of King County Executive Dow Constantine for your invaluable help in stitching this together.

North by Northwest View 06 – Comment Letter to Sound Transit Board, RE: Sounder North

Sounder North in the Rain in "Kodachrome"

My iPod Touch snap postprocessed to emulate Kodachrome, “Sounder North in the Rain in “Kodachrome”

Below is the body of my comments to the Sound Transit Board & King County Executive Dow Constantine, cc’ing the main Sound Transit e-mail addy & Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson regarding the ongoing Sounder North slide situation.  Figured I’d post here as an editorial.

Dear Sound Transit Board;

I am the statistical outlier who has been boarding Sounder North at Mukilteo Station to get to Everett Station in recent months.  I am relieved that King County Executive Dow Constantine promised in the Seattle Times that he would raise at the monthly Sound Transit Board meeting a better Sounder North safety policy.

I’m not so sure I’d get to comment on the matter orally so sending this e-mail of support for a Sounder North safety policy of… shutting Sounder North down if there has been serious rainfall in the previous 12 hours before a run.  I’m asking you do what your Interim CEO Mike Harbour wants which is, according to The Seattle Times, “if the weather and monitoring devices indicate a high risk” to send a blast e-mail as you do so helpfully :-) & put signs up at the stations of Sounder North cancellation.

I’m also going to ask that you please require ALL Sound Transit employees on Sounder North undergo lifeguard training as soon as possible – just Sounder North.  This is so in the event a Sounder North ends up in Puget Sound somebody can help pull folks back to shore until First Responders can arrive because when seconds count, First Responders are minutes away.

On a personal level, I don’t want to have to tell my Sedro-Woolley mother at 1900 Hours/7 PM from my cellular that somehow her son’s on a train and I knew the train was becoming unreliable if not unsafe until May but I took Sounder North anyway knowing I’d either be stuck behind a slide or taking some of Puget Sound home with me.  As such, I will be going back to Everett from the Future of Flight – where I do professional aviation photography and help the organization out via Everett Transit Route 70 at 84TH ST SW & 44TH AVE W, then Everett Transit Route 18 from the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal to make my Everett Station connection to Skagit Transit 90X and home.  My point is this: I really like the reliability, comfort and WiFi of Sounder North.  However I’m not exactly too gung ho about riding the rails against unstable slopes for WiFi.

Perhaps, if I may submit some business advice, it would be best to stand Sounder North down until slopes are reinforced or until May.  Or perhaps as one internet commenter on the Seattle Times story thought up:

There is another route for the Sounder, abit more expensive, and that is up the old North Interurban. It is a much better route in that it accommodates a much higher population density. But, because past politicians allowed it to be fragmented, reacquiring the land by Lake Ballenger and north of Alderwood Mall will be expensive. But it also gives a direct passenger rail access to Shoreline and Lynnwood…

Just something to consider, although I’m pretty confident my contact Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson would have an acutely different opinion.

Ultimately, I’m asking the Sound Transit Board to please prioritize rider safety over ridership statistics.  If that means a new express bus service to these four communities – I’m okay with that grudgingly.  If that means making Sounder North seasonal away from the wet season until safety measures are installed, okay.  But please put safety first and fiscal responsibility a close second – normally the two don’t contradict.

I got a thoughtful response from EmailTheBoard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-org pledging:

Thank you for your message to the Sound Transit Board. Your email is being distributed to all boardmembers for review, and will be responded to within three business days.

Thank you,

Sound Transit Board Administration

If true, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, I much appreciate.

If you’ve got thoughts about Sounder North, you just might want to send EmailTheBoard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-org your thoughts.  Here’s why:

King County Executive Dow Constantine, who is Sound Transit’s board chairman, said Friday he’ll bring up landslide matters at a transit-board meeting.

“The board’s first concern is safety. In light of this incident, and service interruptions during past winters, I plan to ask the board to discuss rainy-season operational challenges,” Constantine said in a statement.

Folks if you oppose Sounder North, if you support Sounder North, or if you just support reforming Sounder North chime in at EmailTheBoard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-org .

North by Northwest 37 – Sound Transit Deputy CEO Puts the Sounder North Situation in Stark Relief

Sounder North in the Rain in "Kodachrome" - Horizontal Perspective

Very recent iPod Touch snap of mine of a Sounder North approaching Mukilteo Station

Quoting verbatim the Sound Transit Deputy CEO Mike Harbour in his weekly Sound Transit CEO Report which anybody can subscribe HERE:

Mudslides and Seahawks

Unfortunately, mudslides continue to be an issue on our Sounder north line. On Wednesday evening, a slide came down in front of a Sounder train heading into Everett. Mud slid onto the tracks immediately in front of the train, which came to an emergency stop in the shallow mud and vegetation. There were no injuries or damage to the train equipment. The train waited about an hour while inspectors evaluated the conditions. Then the train proceeded slowly to Everett Station, pushing the debris off the tracks.

The slide knocked out north line service the rest of the week and we decided to cancel the Seahawks train that was scheduled to run this Sunday between Everett and Seattle. The forecast for new storms was making more slides likely and we didn’t want riders to be stranded trying to get back home. And then another slide hit this morning near Edmonds. The Sounder Seahawks trains on the south line between Lakewood and Seattle will run Sunday as planned.

We appreciate the patience of our riders when slides occur. Fortunately, during the shutdowns we are able to provide direct bus service from the train stations into Seattle and back.

The slide Wednesday was about a mile south of Everett and was the third in the Everett area this season. This part of the corridor is one of six project areas identified for the federally funded slope mitigation efforts underway by the state Department of Transportation and the BNSF Railway Company. Two slope mitigation projects near Edmonds and Mukilteo were completed in March and design on the remaining four is complete. The state DOT, BNSF and the City of Everett are discussing when to begin construction on the third project. Meanwhile, the state DOT is awaiting additional funding to begin construction on the remaining three projects.

The Seattle Times just posted a news story on the latest ongoing incident.  In it, they note Sound Transit is discussing the acute possibility of preemptively cancelling Sounder North services.  For a controversial, underperforming Sound Transit run it’s a lose-lose situation.  However, the greater loss would always be a Sounder train in Puget Sound for as King County Executive Dow Constantine aptly put it:

King County Executive Dow Constantine, who is Sound Transit’s board chairman, said Friday he’ll bring up landslide matters at a transit-board meeting.

“The board’s first concern is safety. In light of this incident, and service interruptions during past winters, I plan to ask the board to discuss rainy-season operational challenges,” Constantine said in a statement.

For those STB Readers like Mayor Jennifer Gregerson of Mukilteo that would like to have input – the next Sound Transit Board Meeting is December 18, 2014, 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Union Station, Ruth Fisher Boardroom, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA.  You can also e-mail the Sound Transit Board at emailtheboard-AT-soundtransit-DOT-org and EmailAllBoardMembers-AT-soundtransit-DOT-org regarding King County Exec Dow Constantine’s efforts on Sounder North safety, which is probably best since “Public comment is permitted only on items that are on the Board/Committee meeting agenda for final action, unless the Chair announces that comments will be taken on other items” according to the Sound Transit website.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Expect a full editorial on this to drop late Saturday evening.  Let’s just say since Wednesday’s slide was at a slope to get maintenance next year, I’ll be making some firm comments as they’ll also be my comment letter to Sound Transit.  I was going to do one on airports & land use, but that isn’t so timely now…

North by Northwest View 05 – Last Call for Questions to Community Transit…

Everett Station in the Sunset...
My snap of Everett Station

10 hours to go… then I print out a final list to pack, which I will put into the comment section.  But here’s the current list:

  1. Are you guys at Community Transit willing to commit to make genuine changes based on public input given during your public comment process?
  2. Why is Community Transit so resistant (not just to me but others…) to providing the Future of Flight & Boeing Tour Center – Snohomish County’s #1 tourist facility with 270,000 annual visitors – with a bus stop?
  3. What can be done about Flying Heritage Collection/FHC – a major tourist attraction at Paine Field – being in something approximating a transit desert?
  4. What will Community Transit do to improve service around Paine Field beyond this service package?
  5. How do Swift supporters help Swift II come about?
  6. Are there plans for a Swift III?
  7. Any update on a permanent Bernie Webber Park & Ride next to Historic Flight Foundation & the Paine Field Windsock?
  8. How are the service improvements you mention going to play out as I didn’t see sample schedules on your Service Proposal webpage?  Also could some of route 113 be repurposed to serve the Future of Flight & Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field?
  9. Given the severe crisis of Island Transit with no end in sight and genuine concern for Camano Island, any future plans to create an Express Route from Everett Station to/from Stanwood and possibly Camano Island itself?
  10. Given the significant number of Microsoft contractors/vendors who can’t ride the Microsoft Connector, are there any plans to reintroduce commuter service to Microsoft?
  11. Since the 201/202’s section between Everett Station and Lynnwood TC is largely duplicating the 512 off-peak would it be possible to trim that back and send the service hours to underserved areas (e.g. Paine Field, Stanwood/Camano)?
  12. Can we keep the good Community Transit connections with the ferries out of Mukilteo?  Excited for the new terminal!
  13. Okay, serious question: From the word GO until a new Double-Tall is on the road – how long does that take?

Don’t know if we’ll get all of these answered but will do my best.  Expect a report by Friday evening.

One question I would ask is about extending Sounder North service, however when I do my feature on Sounder North (tentatively last week of December) I will repeat this information from a Sound Transit Community Outreach Corridor Lead Roger Iwata:

…Saw your inquiry and question about how hard would it be to extend Sounder to Mount Vernon.  At this time I would say near, if not impossible due to the fact that the Sound Transit taxing district does not extend north beyond Everett so there is no mechanism to approve or raise funding through Sound Transit in Skagit County.   So that unfortunately puts the brakes on this before we get to questions about approval/authorization/payments to the railway for the use of the existing tracks, cost for stations and upgrades to the tracks, then ridership and political support for an extension of Sounder North that currently has challenges building ridership in contrast to robust ridership on Sounder South.

 That being said, I can appreciate the need for more transit options given the worsening commute in the north corridor including the segment between Seattle and Marysville.  Also, there is growing support for an ST3 ballot measure (2016?) and a plan that will likely include a light rail extension to Everett as we currently plan for the light rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood.

Thought you’d like to know…

Sounder North Update for 24-26 November…

iPod Touch Photo of Sounder North Pulling Away From Mukilteo Station

That time of year again… if STB senior staff don’t mind, I’ll be posting these updates verbatim from Sound Transit as I get them this mudslide season.

Your Humble North by Northwest Correspondent

Northline Sounder service between Seattle and Everett is canceled beginning this evening Monday, November 24th through Wednesday November 26th due to a mudslide. Sound Transit will provide special buses with direct service to/from Northline Sounder stations in addition to local bus service.

If there are no additional blocking events, service will resume Friday, November 28th. Please refer to the Sounder Alerts page for service hours on the day after Thanksgiving. There is no service on Thanksgiving Day.

Evening bus service on 11/24/14:

Seattle – Edmonds: Special buses to Edmonds Station will pre-board at 5th and King Street and will depart from 4th Ave. S. and S. Jackson at 4:05 pm, 5:05 pm and 5:35 pm. Riders may also board regularly scheduled Community Transit Route 416 at 5th and James at 3:57 pm, 4:27 pm, 4:58 pm, 5:31 pm and 5:57 pm

Seattle – Mukilteo: Special buses to Mukilteo Station will pre-board at 5th and King Street and will depart from 4th Ave. S. and S. Jackson St at 4:05 pm, 5:05 pm and 5:35 pm. Riders may also board regularly scheduled Community Transit Route 417 at 4th Ave S and S Jackson St. at 3:09 pm, 3:59 pm, 4:22 pm, 4:50 pm, 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm

Seattle – Everett: Special buses to Everett Station will pre-board at 5th and King Street and will depart from 4th Ave. S. and S. Jackson St at 4:05 pm, 4:33 pm, 5:05 pm and 5:35 pm. Riders may also board regularly scheduled ST Express Route 510 at 4th Ave. S and S. Jackson St. departing approximately every 10 minutes.

Edmonds – Mukilteo:

  • Take Community Transit 116 to Lynwood Transit Center
  • Transfer to Community Transit 113

Edmonds – Everett:

  • Take Community Transit 116 to Ash Way P&R
  • Transfer to ST Express 532

Mukilteo – Everett

  • Take Everett Transit 18 at Hwy 525 & Front St

Please monitor for updates to Sounder Northline prior to your commute.

*Southline Sounder service between Seattle and Lakewood is not impacted and will operate as scheduled.

North by Northwest 30: Mukilteo’s New Transit Terminal by 2020?

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Washington State Ferries Simulation of New Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal

Mukilteo by 2020, assuming the state funds the second and last phase of the actual $129 million construction, will have a new multimodal transit terminal that’ll be a net gain.  For one, Mukilteo’s waterfront will no longer have unsightly abandoned US Air Force fuel tanks and the pier they were on that served Paine Field (aka KPAE) when Paine Field was a US Army Air Corps & US Air Force base defending the Pacific Northwest & training WWII P-38 Lightning & P-39 Aircobra pilots.  Mukilteo will also happily lose “four percent of the remaining creosote-treated timber piles in Puget Sound” (SOURCE) on its shoreline.  The Mukilteo waterfront will also no longer have a significant walk between the Sounder North platform and either the State Ferry Terminal or the bus stop.  With Mukilteo-Clinton being the busiest Washington State Ferries (WSF) ferry run in sheer demand with over 2 million vehicles per year & almost 4 million total riders per year, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) decided the time was right to start replacing a seismically deficient & disruptive WSF terminal with something out of the 21st Century that is environmentally friendly.

I decided to write about this project because as my Flickr followers or browsers of the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr Pool may have noticed, I use when able Sounder North to make connections between Everett Station & Mukilteo – mostly in the late afternoons.  Not too happy about the bad connections that a 1,850 foot walk entails as per page 6 of this PDF discussing Multimodal Connections.  In fact, here’s the existing terminal status quo versus the changes that will happen if Phase II, the actual building of the new Mukilteo terminal occur:

ST to WSF passenger building Bus to WSF passenger building Bus to ST
Existing terminal* 1,730 190 1,850
Project (New terminal)* 745 225 970

*Distance in Feet

So I decided to reach out to Laura LaBissoniere Miller, a WSDOT communications consultant who according to her bio, “supports a range of public involvement programs, specializing in implementing community engagement for NEPA/SEPA environmental review processes. … A skilled communicator, Laura also handles citizen correspondence for some of the most controversial projects.”  Having worked with her on this report, tend to concur.

For instance when asked about putting TransitScreen into the new terminal after this great Frank Chiachiere post Laura promised, “it’s certainly something the design team, Sound Transit and Community Transit can look into. Thank you for the suggestion! ”  Considering Sounder North, multiple Community Transit & Everett Transit routes and a very-high-demand Washington State Ferries run all will be serving this terminal… hope TransitScreen happens.  Especially if perhaps somebody waiting on a bus can walk off the ferry or Sounder North could dive into the terminal, pick up something from concessions and/or use the restroom and make their connection…

As part of my Paine Field commutes these days involves the bus stop along the Mukilteo waterfront, also was happy to hear buses would have their own lanes through to the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal.  Currently buses have to make a turnaround right in the thick of the WSF terminal traffic flow.

Noting heated waiting for bus passengers

One thing also noticeable in reviewing the voluminous documentation of the project library is that the new terminal will provide a covered, heated place with restrooms for transit users to make our connections in health & frankly basic human dignity.  The below is the current status quo as I pictured around 5:30 PM 10 November 2014:

2014-11-10 Mukilteo Transit Experience

If you browse through the pictures, you’ll notice some construction in the background.  It’s the expansion of the Mukilteo terminal for Sounder North which according to the Sound Transit website, “includes a second platform on the south side of the tracks, a pedestrian bridge over the tracks connecting the two platforms, permanent passenger shelters and public art”.  Sharon Salyer, an Everett Herald Writer noted in her write-up the project is costing $11 million dollars and, “Currently 280 people board the train at Mukilteo Station each day, part of the 1,100 passengers traveling between Seattle’s King Street Station and Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett.”  A review of the WSDOT project library notes the plan is to design multiple walking paths for Sounder North users to/from the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal.

Ultimately, if the state legislature can please fund the construction of the actual Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal – it’ll greatly improve the transit connections from here to/from Whidbey (assuming Island Transit financial condition doesn’t further worsen) but also Everett to the north and Mukilteo, Lynnwood plus Seattle & points further south.  The Puget Sound environment will also be greatly improved by the removal of harmful abandoned docks & petroleum infrastructure along the Mukilteo waterfront, and ST3 can help provide even more high quality transit connections to this new transit hub. Plus with much improved transit service to Paine Field, this terminal could be a great hub for transit connections to the many tenants