NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Intercity Transit to Thurston County commuters: Let us help you get to Sounder

Twelve years and three weeks after launch­ing com­muter rail ser­vice between King and Pierce coun­ties, Sound Tran­sit’s Sounder is final­ly serv­ing Lake­wood via South Taco­ma instead of ter­mi­nat­ing at Freight­house Square near down­town Taco­ma. For the time being, five trains run north­bound from Lake­wood in the morn­ing, and five trains arrive south­bound from Seat­tle in the evening.

(The words for the time being are used because ser­vice may be expand­ed in the com­ing years; the orig­i­nal Sounder sched­ule had far few­er trains than the cur­rent sched­ule, which serves more sta­tions with more trains at more hours of the day).

Sounder’s expan­sion to Lake­wood is a big accom­plish­ment. It took a long time to get done, but the days of wait­ing are over. South Pierce Coun­ty res­i­dents who work up north and want to com­mute back and forth by train can now do so, bypass­ing an often-grid­locked stretch of Inter­state 5.

Thurston Coun­ty’s Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit is let­ting its rid­ers know that they, too, can make use of Sounder. In an announce­ment on Tues­day, Inter­ci­ty remind­ed res­i­dents of Thurston Coun­ty that it pro­vides a fast bus con­nec­tion to the Lake­wood sta­tion with its Olympia Express. Inter­ci­ty has timed the Express to pro­vide a smooth con­nec­tion to morn­ing and evening Sounder trains depart­ing and arriv­ing from Lake­wood. Inter­ci­ty also pro­vides ser­vice to the down­town Taco­ma sta­tion to meet trains that do not go all of the way to Lakewood.

Bus­es run­ning the Olympia Express routes are also equipped with ORCA (One Region­al Card for All) read­ers, which means that any­one in cen­tral Puget Sound need­ing to vis­it the state cap­i­tal can use ORCA to pay the fare for their entire trip, whether they go by bus, or rail and bus. (The rest of the Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit sys­tem does not yet use ORCA, but it hope­ful­ly will before too long).

Sound Tran­sit has infor­mal­ly looked at bring­ing Sounder fur­ther south from Lake­wood to DuPont, but no such expan­sion is planned or fund­ed at present. Olympia and Lacey, mean­while, are out­side of the bound­aries of Sound Tran­sit’s tax­ing dis­trict, so the agency has­n’t done any plan­ning work to explore the fea­si­bil­i­ty of com­muter rail ser­vice into Thurston County.

Amtrak’s Cas­cades does serve Olympia and Lacey sev­er­al times a day, but an Inter­ci­ty bus is still required to get from the sta­tion to Olympia prop­er (the sta­tion isn’t with­in walk­ing dis­tance of the Capi­tol Cam­pus, St. Mar­t­in’s Col­lege, or any major des­ti­na­tions with­in the area).

On a relat­ed note, this Sat­ur­day, Sound Tran­sit will oper­ate the first “game day” spe­cial Sounder ser­vice from Lake­wood to Seat­tle, for the big game between the Wash­ing­ton Huskies and USC Tro­jans at Cen­tu­ryLink Field. North­bound trains will leave Lake­wood at 1:05 PM and 1:30 PM. South­bound trains will return fans to their parked vehi­cles or to neigh­bor­hood bus routes fif­teen and twen­ty-five min­utes after the game ends. See Sound Tran­sit’s game day ser­vice page for more info.

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  1. “We Want The Bolt­Bus To Stop In Olympia” campaign

    Read­ers may also want to chime in on a grass­roots ini­tia­tive to get the new Bolt Bus that runs 5 times dai­ly between Seat­tle and Port­land to make a stop in Olympia. This could be very help­ful now and as an adjunct ser­vice in the future, as it would not be tied to just com­mut­ing to Seat­tle in morn­ing and back in end of day. 

    Mod­eled after a suc­cess­ful cam­paign to get the Seat­tle ‑Van­cou­ver BC route to include a stop in Belling­ham, there is a Face­book page on the effort at

    It is also rec­om­mend­ed to write direct­ly to Bolt Bus

    # by Joana Ramos :: October 14th, 2012 at 1:15 PM
  2. It has always struck me as odd that there is not more ser­vice to the Cen­ten­ni­al Sta­tion from Olympia offered by Inter­ci­ty Transit. 

    In addi­tion, why can’t the Grays Har­bor Tran­sit and Mason Coun­ty Tran­sit bus­es that run to Olympia also con­tin­ue to either Cen­ten­ni­al or the new Lake­wood Sta­tion so as to pro­vide con­nec­tions for their rid­ers as well as addi­tion­al ser­vice from Olympia.

    # by Erik Griswold :: October 22nd, 2012 at 9:22 AM
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