Tag Archives: Sounder

Multimodal Monday: Sounder to the fair

Heading to the train

Let me begin this post by telling you how much I love the Sounder train. It is delightful. Truth be told, I enjoy the train a heck of a lot more than I enjoy the Puyallup Fair. Last year, Sounder was easily the best part of the entire fair adventure, and the fact that Sound Transit was running a fair shuttle again this year is a good part of the reason we decided to go.

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out quite as well for our 2014 Puyallup pilgrimage.

The schedule for the shuttle is very limited this year; it only runs on September13th and the 20th, with three trips to the fair–leaving from Seattle at 10 AM, 11:45 AM, and 12:40 PM–and only one trip back, at 6:30 PM.

Since our only return option was on the late-ish side, we decided to take the 11:45 AM trip down. By the time we boarded the train in Seattle, it was already packed. After several minutes of wandering, we were able to find two seats in separate areas of the same car. Each of us ended up with a kid on our lap, but we were more fortunate than the riders who boarded after us, who did not find seats at all.

During the trip down, ST employees (or maybe fair people?) walked through the cars selling tickets to the fair, which was a great way to streamline the experience for riders. (They’re also selling train/fair “express packs” online this year.) We took advantage and bought our tickets on the way down.

Pierce Transit provided a shuttle from Puyallup Station to the fairgrounds (definitely an upgrade from the school bus ST used last year), but per usual, we opted to walk the half mile. It’s actually a very pleasant walk through downtown Puyallup–past the library and Pioneer Park–and it got us there faster than waiting for the shuttle would have. And, thanks to our ticket purchase on the train, we were able to bypass the line and walk right in.

The fair itself was the same as always. We ate. We listened to music. We saw draft horses and piglets. We rode some rides. We ran into friends.

Because we anticipated extreme crowding on the ride back (three trains’ worth of folks trying to fit onto one train), we headed back to Puyallup Station at about 5:50 PM. By the time we arrived, at around 6:00 PM, the line looked like this.

Sounder line

Sounder line

Needless to say, we didn’t make it on board. When the train finally pulled away from the station at a little past 6:30, it was so full the driver could barely get the doors closed. The hundreds of folks left behind milled around, confused, until word got around that buses were coming. A few minutes later, they arranged us according to destination.

Bus destinations

By this time, Chicklet had to use the bathroom. Unlike the Sounder, buses don’t have restrooms, and there was no way she was going to make it through a 45-minute ride without one. An ST staffer directed us to a porta potty, and we managed to make it there and back just as the bus to Seattle was pulling up.

The ride back to Seattle was lovely. We had seats together, fair scones (ST staff handed them out while we waited for our buses), and gorgeous views of The Mountain. We leaned back, relaxed, joked, and relived our experiences while the sun set outside the bus windows and the driver apologized for the inconvenience over the PA.

By the time the bus dropped us off at 5th & Jackson, both kids had to use the restroom. (It wouldn’t be a bus fam adventure without a trillion trips to public restrooms.) We hustled to King Street Station, took care of business, then full-on sprinted for the 14. By 8:30, we were home, exhausted and grateful.

There is no doubt that Sound Transit botched the planning for its fair service this year. They didn’t even do a very good job of managing communication during the drama. The day probably wasn’t the best advertisement for public transportation–either for the folks crammed on the train or for those left stranded at the station after a long day.

On the other hand, thanks to some scrambling by ST staff–and off-duty drivers who were willing to help out on short notice–everyone made it back where they started. And, if I may inject a bit of perspective: Trips to the fair are one thing. Until we adequately fund transit, people with far more important destinations will continue to be passed up and left behind.

Here’s hoping for a smoother experience next year. Or, maybe we’ll just go back to riding the 578.

A ride to the race

PictureRacing for the cure this Sunday? Sound Transit’s got you covered.

Whether you run, walk, or just cheer at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual Race for the Cure, Sounder commuter rail can get you to and from the event at Qwest Field on Sunday, June 7.

The special Sounder service, dubbed Ride for the Cure, will serve Sounder stations in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila, Everett, Mukilteo and Edmonds, bringing event participants to King Street Station in Seattle, just a short walk to Qwest Field. Regular weekday Sounder fares apply for the special trains.

Inbound trains will depart Everett Station at 6:25 a.m. and Tacoma Dome Station at 6:30 a.m., with both the northline and southline trains arriving at King Street Station shortly before 7:30 a.m. Return trip trains will depart King Street Station at 11:55 a.m. at the conclusion of the event. Complete timetables and fare information for the Ride for the Cure trains are at http://www.soundtransit.org/x10792.xml. Timetables for Ride for the Cure trains are also listed below.

I’ll be at the race on Sunday (never, ever miss it), but I won’t be arriving on a fancy, branded train. As always, Trusty 27 will be my ride.

9/24: a big day for transit

I’ve already mentioned two of the transit-related happenings that are scheduled for the 24th: the reopening of the downtown bus tunnel and the first day of operations for Microsoft’s Connector bus service. Now, we have another cool development to look forward to: new trains!

Today Sound Transit announced expanded Sounder commuter rail service starting September 24th that includes two new weekday round trips on the south corridor and one on the north corridor. The new south corridor trains include the introduction of a new “reverse commute” train that will run from Seattle to Tacoma in the morning and return northbound in the evening.

The reverse commute train will for the first time enable commuters to ride Sounder to jobs in South King County and Pierce County. The additional runs expand Sounder service hours in both the north and south corridors, with the first train starting at 5 a.m. and the last train making its final stop at 6:55 p.m.

Fabulous. No disrespect to the 590, but I’ve always wanted to take the Sounder to Tacoma. (Hey, where were you guys when the Frida Kahlo exhibit was at the Tacoma Art Museum?) Even better, folks who actually have to commute south can ride.

Not to bring up wraps again, but:

To celebrate and promote the brand new reverse commute route Sound Transit unveiled a special locomotive wrapped in a vintage design dubbed the “City of Destiny train,” a moniker chosen to honor Tacoma’s motto of more than 100 years.

This is fitting, considering that the motto resulted from Tacoma’s selection (over Seattle) as the terminus of the Northern Pacific railroad.

I had to work today, so I couldn’t attend the unveiling, but Sound Transit Andrew was kind enough to send me pictures:

New Sounder train (from the side)
New Sounder train

What’s not to like about a train with a picture of the Mountain on the side?

Sounder on Saturday

This Saturday, I’ll be participating in the Komen Puget Sound Race for the Cure. Happily, so will Sound Transit. They’ll be running a (festive) Sounder train, so those of you coming from Pierce and South King counties can ride to the race in comfort–without fighting (and paying) for parking. The train heads out from Tacoma at 6:30 AM (arriving at the race at 7:30) and returns from King Street Station at 12:30 PM.

Ride for the Cure (photo courtesy of Sound Transit)


I won’t be on train, but I sure hope my race day transportation works out better than it did last year.