Lakewood Sounder Launches

Long awaited and originally a part of Sound Move, which was approved by voters in 1996, Sounder Commuter Rail stations at South Tecoma and Lakewood opened with festivities today. A total of five round trips will be made from Lakewood Station and South Tacoma Station to Tacoma Dome and Seattle on weekdays.  Travel time to Tacoma will roughly be 13 minutes, Puyallup in 25 minutes and Seattle in 72 minutes.

Lakewood to Seattle
Lakewood South
Tacoma
Tacoma
Dome
Puyallup Sumner Auburn Kent Tukwila Seattle
4:42 a.m. 4:47 a.m. 4:55 a.m. 5:07 a.m. 5:12 a.m. 5:20 a.m. 5:27 a.m. 5:34 a.m. 5:54 a.m.
5:22 a.m. 5:27 a.m. 5:35 a.m. 5:47 a.m. 5:52 a.m. 6:01 a.m. 6:08 a.m. 6:15 a.m. 6:34 a.m.
5:47 a.m. 5:52 a.m. 6:00 a.m. 6:12 a.m. 6:17 a.m. 6:26 a.m. 6:33 a.m. 6:40 a.m. 6:59 a.m.
6:12 a.m. 6:17 a.m. 6:25 a.m. 6:37 a.m. 6:42 a.m. 6:51 a.m. 6:58 a.m. 7:05 a.m. 7:24 a.m.
6:37 a.m. 6:42 a.m. 6:50 a.m. 7:02 a.m. 7:07 a.m. 7:16 a.m. 7:23 a.m. 7:30 a.m. 7:49 a.m.
: : 7:20 a.m. 7:32 a.m. 7:37 a.m. 7:45 a.m. 7:52 a.m. 7:59 a.m. 8:19 a.m.
: : 8:00 a.m. 8:12 a.m. 8:17 a.m. 8:25 a.m. 8:32 a.m. 8:39 a.m. 8:59 a.m.
: : 4:25 p.m. 4:37 p.m. 4:42 p.m. 4:50 p.m. 4:57 p.m. 5:04 p.m. 5:23 p.m.
: : 5:00 p.m. 5:12 p.m. 5:17 p.m. 5:25 p.m. 5:32 p.m. 5:39 p.m. 5:58 p.m.
Seattle to Lakewood
Seattle Tukwila Kent Auburn Sumner Puyallup Tacoma
Dome
South
Tacoma
Lakewood
6:10 a.m. 6:22 a.m. 6:29 a.m. 6:36 a.m. 6:45 a.m. 6:49 a.m. 7:08 a.m. : :
6:50 a.m. 7:02 a.m. 7:09 a.m. 7:16 a.m. 7:25 a.m. 7:29 a.m. 7:48 a.m. : :
3:15 p.m. 3:27 p.m. 3:34 p.m. 3:41 p.m. 3:50 p.m. 3:54 p.m. 4:14 p.m. : :
3:50 p.m. 4:02 p.m. 4:09 p.m. 4:16 p.m. 4:25 p.m. 4:29 p.m. 4:49 p.m. : :
4:20 p.m. 4:32 p.m. 4:39 p.m. 4:46 p.m. 4:56 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 5:12 p.m. 5:20 p.m. 5:32 p.m.
4:45 p.m. 4:57 p.m. 5:04 p.m. 5:11 p.m. 5:21 p.m. 5:25 p.m. 5:37 p.m. 5:45 p.m. 5:57 p.m.
5:12 p.m. 5:24 p.m. 5:31 p.m. 5:38 p.m. 5:48 p.m. 5:52 p.m. 6:04 p.m. 6:12 p.m. 6:24 p.m.
5:40 p.m. 5:52 p.m. 5:59 p.m. 6:06 p.m. 6:16 p.m. 6:20 p.m. 6:32 p.m. 6:40 p.m. 6:52 p.m.
6:15 PM 6:27 p.m. 6:34 p.m. 6:41 p.m. 6:50 p.m. 6:54 p.m. 7:06 p.m. 7:14 p.m. 7:26 p.m.

Ridership is projected in the area of 600 riders per day from Lakewood Station.  The News Tribune has indicated that service to Dupont and Olympia is in initial stages of discussion – this of course would require, in Olympia’s case, for Thurston County to join Sound Transit.  I would be ecstatic to see this happen, as it would serve to bring Intercity Transit into the ORCA fold and would serve to bolster express service between Pierce and Thurston Counties.
Another project which could help to catalyze discussion of further Sounder Extensions is the Point Defiance Bypass.  The bypass project would shift intercity rail service from its current route along the maritime edge of Tacoma’s city limits to an inland route.  The impact of realigning the route would save time on the trip to Portland and help to improve on-time performance by moving passenger trains off of the congested freight route.  The Seattle Transit Blog has more than amply covered this project.
The Point Defiance Bypass (Orange)
A brief note to ST 593 riders in South Tacoma, those trips of the Seattle Express have been converted to 590’s – so either board Sounder at South Tacoma Station or catch a 590 at Tacoma Dome.

The Point Defiance Bypass would hypothetically open up the possibility of transitioning freight rail to a more inland route and the coastal route to passenger trains — however, the big asterisk on that comment is that you’d probably have to have a HUGE environmental study to transition that much freight traffic to an urban rail corridor.

It’s difficult enough to get Lakewood to consider 12-14 trains a day in their back yard (besides Sounder, of course), let alone the 50 freight trains [just guessing] that currently use the coastal Tacoma Narrows-based BNSF route.

Personally I’d rather see freight moved off of the Point Definace route and passenger service preserved. That is arguably the most beautiful segment of the route between Tacoma and Portland and it would be a shame to take it away in favor of shaving a few minutes off the total transit time (not sure of the exact number, but if I remember correctly it was less than a 10 minute gain).

HSR might be a different story, but at least with today’s trains, I think most travelers take the train for the experience versus the expediency.