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January 11th kicks off the ‘Seattle Squeeze’ where the Alaska Way Viaduct closes in preparation for the new tunnel. I haven’t thought all that much about my plan but with it now 9 days away I decided to outline a few strategies so I’m ready when my usual plan breaks down.

My major advantage (I think) is that my destination is actually Bellevue and not Seattle. However, many of my public transportation options (Ferries, Sounder Train) put Seattle on my way so hoping that it isn’t too miserable.

Here are my likely strategies:

  • Telecommute – Keep to my usual schedule but may add a day per week as needed.
  • Timeshift/Carpool – Days where my wife is working in Seattle. The combination of lighter traffic in the late morning + HOV usually makes this a nice way to go but we’ll see what happens when traffic patterns shift.
  • Bremerton WSF / Fast Ferry Return – For weeks where I have the coveted 5:10 reservation to return back from Seattle.
  • Sounder to Tukwila  – crossing my fingers that the train isn’t crushed and I-405 between Tukwila and Bellevue isn’t worse than usual. May combine this with a timeshift earlier to hedge for better I-405 traffic. This isn’t a bad choice with my company shuttle using the HOV lane.
  • Southworth to Vashon WSF / Vashon Water Taxi217 or 554 Bus – if the Sounder Train is miserably crushed I’ll take to the water even w/o a fast ferry reservation. This is my likely every day strategy once the new triangle route goes into effect in April 2019

Tacoma released their feasibility study today for a Fast Ferry from Tacoma to Seattle. In short, they indicated there IS feasibility and evaluated four sites in Tacoma.

Ferry Pic

I’m surprised they didn’t focus more evaluation on Seattle dock options since we know this is already becoming an issue with the Kitsap Fast Ferries. One of the more interesting parts to me was the time from each site. Point Defiance came in at 43 mins while 11th street was 53 mins. This barely saves off time from the Sounder but for those looking to land closer to downtown Tacoma and more northwest in Seattle (assuming Colman dock like the other Fast Ferries), I guess this could be convenient.

I would have liked to see a a route connecting to light rail evaluated as well. Seems like a quick trip to Des Moines with a shuttle to the Angle Lake station would be pretty handy both for those accessing the airport and Seattle (and the entire expanding light rail).

Will be interesting to see what Tacoma does next.

The full feasibility study.

Celebrated the earliest sunset of the year today (more light coming to evenings!) by run commuting to downtown Bellevue to pickup a Christmas gift and try out the Sound Transit 567 Bellevue to Kent Station express bus. I forgot how much fun it was to commute through park trails, hopping over twigs and crossing streams over pedestrian bridges. 567 was great. Bus but kept a good pace down 405 and 167 in the HOV lane, getting me to Kent in time to catch the Sounder no problemo.

Bellevue Run Commute.PNG

Bellevue Run Bridge





I’ve had this contingency plan ready for awhile but excited to try it out tonight. Late meeting + traffic on 90 and 405 means I bought a mini Amtrak ride between Seattle and Tacoma for the 6:10 train. Only one stop that isn’t mine in Tukwila.

I waited until the last minute to buy my ticket on mobile when I realized I would miss the 5:45p Sounder. Cool thing about this train is it only stops once in Tukwila before my stop. I can pull off this same move from Tukwila in the future but I was worried about the mobile ticket purchase + it’s COLD today so sitting on a warm train drinking beer > waiting on the Tukwila platform.

Crossing my fingers that Amtrak and Sound Transit partner for the rail plus program like they do on the North Sounder so I can do this all the time with my company ORCA. If that happens it will be after the Point Defiance Bypass opens in Spring 2019 when Sounder and Amtrak share Tacoma Dome Station as planned.

I haven’t let myself get too excited for this one since service won’t start until 2010 but since it was in the news last week that Kitsap Transit has ordered Southworth Fast Ferries, I think its a good time to summarize how optimistic I am about this:

  1. Sailings will take 23 mins from Southworth to Seattle! This is a quicker ride than it used to take me to get from Queen Anne to Downtown.
  2. No reservations needed! – These ships won’t be low wake Catamarans like the one running between Bremerton and Seattle. These vessels will be larger variety like the West Seattle and Vashon Water taxis and the recently added Kingston fast ferry. No reservations is a big deal because this means no requirement to arrive 10 mins early (with a reservation) or 30+ (without reservation).
  3. Multiple vessels expected – similar to the WSF system, 2 vessels will operate simultaneously.  With a 23 mins sailing and 10 min loading/unloading time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw ferries coming every 35-45 mins.
  4. Parking – Southworth parking is a breeze compared to Bremerton with affordable parking at the dock as well as ample park and ride lots like Harper Church and Mullenix P&Rs.
  5. Backed up nicely by the WSF from Fauntleroy and Vashon – This becomes particularly useful when the new triangle route goes into effect in April 2019.

It’s been about 6 months now of trying out different commute options so I thought I’d reflect on all of the different things I’ve tried. I probably missed a few.

King County Metro

  • 212, 217
  • 271
  • F Rapidride
  • 952 (Boeing Special)
  • Ride2
  • Vashon Water Taxi
  • 26x

Sound Transit

  • Sounder South (Using stations Seattle, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Puyallup, Tacoma Dome and South Tacoma)
  • 595 (Seattle to Gig Harbor)
  • 590/594
  • 566 Bellevue to SeaTac
  • 550
  • 574
  • 554
  • LINK Light Rail
  • Tacoma LINK

Pierce Transit

  • 102
  • 1
  • 11
  • 100 (for fun not commute)
  • 101 Trolley (for fun not commute)

Kitsap Transit

  • Bremerton Fast Ferry
  • Port Orchard Foot Ferry
  • Annapolis Foot Ferry
  • 81/Annapolis Commuter
  • 1
  • 86
  • Purdy Connector

Washington State Ferry

  • Bremerton
  • Fauntleroy/Southworth
  • Southworth/Vashon
  • Kingston/Edmonds (for a training in Bothell)


  • Seattle to Bellevue (and reverse)
  • Tukwila to Bellevue (and reverse)
  • Connector (HQ to 3305 Satellite office)


  • Run
  • Bike
  • Private driver to P&R
  • Drop off at P&R
  • Carpool
  • LimeBike
  • Lyft
  • Enterprise Carshare
  • Rental Car
  • Uhaul (where I got a warning in the Tacoma Dome P&R for not being a commuter?)
  • Telework
  • SOV (twice round trip)
  • Amtrak back from Oregon

I also attempted a map…

Map of Options

Most interesting event:

  • Being stuck on the Sounder in Georgetown for over an hour due to a suicidal man in the tracks and waiting for the hostage negotiator.


  • Orca watching
  • The fast ferry community,
  • Running across the Tacoma Narrow Bridge after dropping off a Uhaul in Tacoma because buses don’t run late enough back to Gig Harbor.
  • Winning a backpack for being an early Ride2 user.
  • Breaking in LimeBikes in Bellevue and the Eastside Corridor all at once.
  • Making the Ferry in Edmonds by 30 seconds and celebrating with a beer on board after my sprint.
  • Random people I meet – both the ones I see every day and have a running dialog and ones I stumble across like a blind man that I helped get on the right bus.
  • Summer bike riding


  • Missing the 952 bus at the Newport Hills park and ride and deciding to bus it all the way home sitting in traffic on I-5 the whole way.
  • Missing the foot ferry and fast ferry when I attempted parking at Annapolis.
  • Having to drive all the way when I attempted and couldn’t find parking at Angle Lake.
  • 405
  • Federal Way

All in all I’ve been having fun with it all. I have so many more things to try out but I’ll save that for a future post.

When my office moved I increased my 2:00 hour commute goal up to 2:20 to account for being further east. Yesterday, with a meeting going right up until 5, I decided a train strategy would probably get me home slightly faster than ferry. According to my little cheat sheet of different office leave times and strategies to access Seattle, Tukwila or Kent Station I might even have to utilize the 6:10 Amtrak strategy. I’m still intrigued by this option. If I ever miss the 5:45 Sounder, I can fall back to this for $15 and it gets me in to basically the same spot only 10 mins later because it makes only one stop in Tukwila.

Train Matrix

My PM Cheat Sheet for times I might leave and the corresponding best strategies for Seattle, Tukwila and Kent.

Usually when it get close to leave time I will start checking WSDOT Travel Times between cities to pick which highway is better. I find this page works better than just looking at traffic maps because it gives me the HOV breakout. In this case both looked great, probably because people are starting to cut out early for the holidays. However, my coworker going to Seattle offered to split a Lyft. With us both getting a $10 company subsidy, this was a no brainer. We called the Lyft and got the ideal driver for the moment.

As a general rule of thumb for Lyft/Uber drivers, I’ve heard you only get 2 out of the 3 attributes:

  1. Car/Driver doesn’t smell bad
  2. Good Driver / Navigator
  3. Friendly

Well I submit the ride request, the driver gets there fast and finds us quickly, even despite my office having two pickup spots. This is a good sign. We get in, smells good. I attempt brief pleasantries. He mumbles back something unintelligible. YES! Looks like I might have a shot at the 5:20 Sounder! We zoom up to 4th and Lander where he drops me at the perfect location. I casually walk down the Sounder stairs as I see the 3 mins until departure sign. Made it!

Sounder does its thing and gets me to Tacoma on time. I do 27 mins train door to front door.

Total Commute time: 1:54!

Beat both my new goal and prior office one!

Lessons learned:

  • Figure out how to share rides with coworkers to Seattle.