Seattle

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
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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.

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.