Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:14 am

CarterB wrote:With all the Seattle commuters to Olympia, why not extend it to downtown Olympia??

Seattle is building three different types of rail transit, commuter rail, light rail, and streetcars. Each being used for what it does best. The State of Washington also subsidizes ferries and inter-city Cascade trains. The Cascades trains are servicing Olympia to Seattle, which by the way happens to be a distance of 75 miles by rail, which takes the limited stop (express) Cascade train 91 minutes to travel. A Sounder commuter train would take twice as long (3 hours) to travel that distances because it will have twice as many stations to stop at, and a Link light rail train would take at least three times as long (4.5 hours) for the same reason. It would take all day for a streetcar stopping every quarter mile to travel 75 miles.

That's why Seattle is building three types of train transit in the first place. No one would commute on the Link light rail train that far and for that long a time when there is a faster train service available.

To put Washington State distances into a New Jersey perspective, the 75 miles between Olympia and Seattle is longer than the 60 miles distance between Trenton and Newark. I don't think you'll ever see light rail trains between Trenton and Newark either.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby CarterB » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:37 am

I fully understand the difference and viable uses of the various types of transit. Thus my ? about extending HEAVY rail service to Olympia.
Cascades no good for commute since earliest SB is the Starlight which doesn't get into Lacey until 11:21 am, and you'd still have to have a way to get to Olympia.
Returns from Lacey, timewise, are at least OK.
My son lives in Seattle, works for the State in Olympia, as do MANY of his colleagues, and decries commuting on I-5.
As far as "too many stops" many, many, other metro areas run rush hour expresses during morning and evening commutes.
I still opine, that extending the Sounder to Olympia might be viable, or at least a 'shuttle' from Tacoma to Olympia, or Lacey to downtown with an earlier SB Cascade.
And for your NJ perspective, there are daily commuters to NYC from as far away as Paoli and Stroudsburg, PA, and Port Jervis NY.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:40 am

CarterB wrote:I fully understand the difference and viable uses of the various types of transit. Thus my ? about extending HEAVY rail service to Olympia.
And for your NJ perspective, there are daily commuters to NYC from as far away as Paoli and Stroudsburg, PA, and Port Jervis NY.

How many NJT trains run in the reverse direction, to Port Jervis in the morning? That's what you're asking Sounder trains to do, for a distance of 75 miles. By the way, Port Jervis to NY Penn Station is around 68 miles and no other train goes to Port Jervis.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby CarterB » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:38 am

electricon, All well and good, however, unlike Port Jervis, Olympia is the Capitol city of WA and reverse commutes are most common from Seattle right now by bus and auto. I don't know your expertise on the Seattle area and those who live/work there, but mine is extensive.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:19 am

CarterB wrote:electricon, All well and good, however, unlike Port Jervis, Olympia is the Capitol city of WA and reverse commutes are most common from Seattle right now by bus and auto. I don't know your expertise on the Seattle area and those who live/work there, but mine is extensive.

Hmm, Sound Transit (which provides Sounder train services) collects taxes (revenues) from three counties; Snohomish, King, and Pierce. The City of Olympia lies within Thurston County. Shouldn't Thurston County provide revenues or collect taxes for Sound Transit before getting any service?

FYI, here's the latest census (2010) population numbers for the four counties....
Thurston = 252,264
Pierce = 795,225.
King = 1,931,249
Snohomish = 713,335
Does Thurston County even have sufficient population to support commuter train service? I don't think so, considering Amtrak Cascades trains are providing inter-city train services.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby neroden » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:14 pm

CarterB wrote:I fully understand the difference and viable uses of the various types of transit. Thus my ? about extending HEAVY rail service to Olympia.
Cascades no good for commute since earliest SB is the Starlight which doesn't get into Lacey until 11:21 am, and you'd still have to have a way to get to Olympia.
Returns from Lacey, timewise, are at least OK.

Increased frequencies on Cascades are planned (by WSDOT). They depend on the Point Defiance Bypass being completed, among other things. They should eventually solve the scheduling problem.

However, I do not know of any plans to actually reconnect to Olympia proper, rather than Lacey. I don't know why there are no such plans. It would seem like it would be valuable.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby MCHammer » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:35 am

neroden wrote:
CarterB wrote:I fully understand the difference and viable uses of the various types of transit. Thus my ? about extending HEAVY rail service to Olympia.
Cascades no good for commute since earliest SB is the Starlight which doesn't get into Lacey until 11:21 am, and you'd still have to have a way to get to Olympia.
Returns from Lacey, timewise, are at least OK.

Increased frequencies on Cascades are planned (by WSDOT). They depend on the Point Defiance Bypass being completed, among other things. They should eventually solve the scheduling problem.

However, I do not know of any plans to actually reconnect to Olympia proper, rather than Lacey. I don't know why there are no such plans. It would seem like it would be valuable.

That would require a curvy diversion and then the train would have to back-out. For the price, it would not be worth it given the time losses and money spent.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby Vincent » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:43 am

For a rider from Seattle heading to downtown Olympia, the Capitol or TESC it's easier to take Sounder or ST Express to Tacoma and transfer to an Intercity Transit bus. The train station in Lacey is really inconveniently located for serving Olympia. Long-term, the best option for Olympia to Seattle connections will likely be express buses between the Olympia TC and the Sounder stations in Tacoma or Lakewood.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby M&Eman » Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:46 pm

75 miles is a reasonable distance for Sounder trains. Cascades can keep stopping at Lacey on its way to Portland and Sounder could go right into Downtown Olympia, so both markets are adequately served. Grand Central to New Haven is 74 miles, with frequent trains in both directions. The aforementioned New York-Trenton run is 60 miles and again there is a booming reverse commute. Philadelphia-Harrisburg (104 miles) has dedicated Keystone trains; there is no reason there could be the same thing, either Sounder or Cascades, for Seattle-Olympia. Cascades are more akin to the Pennsylvanian than the Keystones in terms of length and market-type.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:44 am

M&Eman wrote:75 miles is a reasonable distance for Sounder trains. Cascades can keep stopping at Lacey on its way to Portland and Sounder could go right into Downtown Olympia, so both markets are adequately served. Grand Central to New Haven is 74 miles, with frequent trains in both directions. The aforementioned New York-Trenton run is 60 miles and again there is a booming reverse commute. Philadelphia-Harrisburg (104 miles) has dedicated Keystone trains; there is no reason there could be the same thing, either Sounder or Cascades, for Seattle-Olympia. Cascades are more akin to the Pennsylvanian than the Keystones in terms of length and market-type.

I will agree 75 miles is reasonable for Sounder "commuter" trains, but certainly too far for Link "light rail" trains. Not every rider heading towards Olympia (reverse commuting) will board the train in downtown Seattle, so many will be riding the train for a shorter length of time. Never-the-less, shouldn't Thurston County and Olympia support Sound Transit financially with local transit taxes first? Without local financial support, that train will never ever run.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby Vincent » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:23 pm

Sounder commuter train service is now serving Lakewood, southwest of Tacoma and closer to Olympia. Intercity Transit (Thurston County) has aligned their bus schedules to provide better connections for Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia riders. ST' doesn't have any money at this time to extend service closer to Olympia and any money to study a connection to Olympia would have to come from Thurston County, so it looks like Lakewood will be the end-of-the-line for the foreseeable future.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby CarterB » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:01 am

Good news for reverse commuters to the state capitol!!
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:34 am

CarterB wrote:Good news for reverse commuters to the state capitol!!

Really?
Southbound http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Sounder-Lakewood-Seattle.xml?dir=inbound
Northbound http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Sounder-Lakewood-Seattle.xml?dir=outbound
Of the nine am and nine pm trains each weekday, only two am and two pm trains run in the reverse direction, and neither extend further south than downtown Tacoma.
So those willing to take the bus with the train to and from Olympia are commuting away from Olympia, not towards it for work.
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby CarterB » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:57 am

I guess state workers don't count that work in Olympia.....
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Re: Seattle, Washington: Sound Transit

Postby electricron » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:55 am

CarterB wrote:I guess state workers don't count that work in Olympia.....

Of course they don't. You have to remember who's paying the 75% subsidy for every rider of these Seattle and Tacoma Sounder commuter trains, citizens of Pierce and King counties. These commuter trains are designed to feed commuters into downtown Tacoma and Seattle for work, not Olympia.
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