On September 18, 2000, at precisely 6:20 a.m., the first Sound Transit "Sounder" commuter train departs Tacoma for Seattle's King Street Station via the Kent Valley. The modern diesel train and its 335 passengers arrive on time 50 minutes later.
The standard-gauge Sounder trains operate on BNSF (Burlington Northern-Santa Fe) tracks. The line is part of the regional Sound Transit plan approved in 1996 to serve King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Other elements of the $3.9 billion system include "Link" light rail service between Seattle and Tacoma, "Sound Express" buses, and expanded HOV lanes.
Back to the Future
The previous Seattle-Tacoma interurban rail system was launched on September 25, 1902, and ended on December 30, 1928. The Puget Sound Electric Railway was privately owned, and perished in competition with growing highway traffic.
Sounder trains are designed to carry more than 1,000 passengers on each run. By 2009 Sound Transit was completing four round trips per day to Everett with stops in Edmonds and Mukilteo.
Lisa Rivera, "Sounder Train is Fast, Smooth — and Less Than Half Full," The Seattle Times,, September 19, 2000, p.1; Walt Crowley, Routes: An Interpretive History of Public Transportation in Greater Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993); (www.soundtransit.org).
Note: This essay was updated on January 25, 2009.
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