Sound Transit

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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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

 

 

 

 

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.