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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)

Shuttles

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

Other

  • 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.

Highlights:

  • 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

Lowlights:

  • 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.

A new upside to my office moving further east is I have all kinds of new run and bus options. Today I snuck in a lunch run through Lake Sammamish State Park to PCC Market to stock up on some Thanksgiving essentials. The 271 bus was perfectly timed to return me back.

Paine Field opens up to commercial flights in February and you can now book flights on Alaska.

Seattle has been in need of a 2nd airport for some time. The Port of Seattle now recommends arriving 2 hour early for domestic flights due to long security wait times.

Those in other large cities (SF, LA, NY, etc.) know the luxury of choosing your departure airport for purposes of geography, price, convenience and more. I’m also a fan of the tiny airports that make flying out of so much easier (Santa Rosa, Burbank…)

It remains to be seen if flying in/out of here is actually convenient but some quick mapping for flight around rush hour makes it appears like it might work out.

Paine Field – Door to Gate: 3 hours

  • Drive to Kingston (59 mins)
  • Parking/Buffer Time (20 mins)
  • Ferry (30 mins)
  • Uber or Lyft to Airport (30 mins)
  • Time to clear security (45 mins?)

SeaTac – Door to Gate: 3:50

  • Drive to Airport: 1.5 hrs

SEA Map.PNG

  • Parking: 20 mins
  • Security: 2 hours

As for parking at the Kingston Ferry:

There are 238 parking spaces available for public use and 13 spaces for individuals with disabilities. Currently the regular daily parking fee is $6.00 per 12 hour increments or $12.00 for 24 hours. The machines are capable of accepting multiple days in one transaction­-up to 14 consecutive days. – Port of Kingston

In comparison, parking at Seatac will set you back $30/day for parking at the gate. Offsite parking is ~$15 + taxes/fees.

For the right destination/flight time, this may just make sense one day for me. I suspect those more north in the Kitsap Peninsula it will make even more sense.

Also, if I’m ever coming from my office, this will sit me square in the middle for travel times. From my office the commute times are 30 mins (16.5mi) to SEA and 37 mins (27.3)  to PAE?? My company also runs shuttles to nearby locations up north so I figure a Shuttle + Uber/Lyft from there might be both reasonable in cost and time.

PAE map.PNG

Could be crazy. Could make sense who knows. I wonder if I can make a lockjaw make sense.

So let’s get this post out of the way so I can get to the fun stuff. Hi, I’m Ryan. I moved to Gig Harbor from Seattle about 6 months ago. I work at T-Mobile in Bellevue 3-4x days a week and this is going to be my story about my mega-commute journey.

Today’s AM commute

6:25 – Left home

6:50 – Arrived at Port Orchard Foot Ferry Dock

7-7:12 – Foot Ferry to Bremerton

Walking on to the Foot Ferry today I got my first glimpse at the new vessel to be used for the Kingston Fast Ferry, which begins service after Thanksgiving. I can only imagine the Kingston to Seattle commuters are going to be thrilled.

Melissa Anne in Port Orchard

7:20-8:20 Bremerton Washington State Ferry

(This is always my favorite part of the journey. Great time for pretty much anything… working, walking, coffee, beers, etc. I’m always amazed on how many people I see sleeping down on one side of the booth seating. Maybe I’ll get it after awhile. So far I’ve been unable to sleep on any commute.

8:29-8:55 554E to Eastgate FWY Station

8:55-9 Walk to Eastgate P&R

9:05-9:10 271 Bus to 158th/Eastgate

(Attempted the new Ride2 service, which looked like it would be great timing but as I sat there waiting, my plan b (271 bus) showed up so I took the “bird in hand”. Sidenote: I used Ride2 a week ago scoring a backup as one of the first riders and it worked great getting me from work to Eastgate P&R. I’ll give it a few more tries.

9:10-9:15 Walk from bus stop to office. Arrived!

Total Time:  2:50 mins.

In my old office I was satisfied if I cracked the 2 hour mark. Now being further east I’ll be shooting for 2:20.

Learnings/Fun Facts:

  1. Try the 8am Fast Ferry to shave off :30 With my new office, bus connections aren’t so much of an issue since the 212, 217 and 554 all hit the Eastgate P&R or FWY Station.
  2. Ride2 is great when it works. I submitted the ride from the app in between Mercer Island and Eastgate today. Perhaps try calling it while ON Mercer Island or sooner. This could shave 5 mins waiting and 5 mins walking. Whiteboard strategy session with coworker below with a similar problem coming from Seattle. Also in play are the company shuttles that run between HQ/Sunset/3305 buildings all around Eastgate. Other options include Lyft (subsidized by TMO), Limebike and walking when all else fails from Eastgate.IMG_4877.jpg
  3. Today I went through 3 counties (Pierce, Kitsap and King).

All in all a good commute and fitting first post since I used the 4 different public transportation agencies:

  • Kitsap Transit
  • WSF
  • Sound Transit (554)
  • KC Metro (271)

That’s it for now.  Car is in Port Orchard so plan is to return back via WSF this PM unless I somehow score a 5:10 Fast Ferry reservation, which is the hardest Ferry ticket in town. :/