Sound Transit inaugurates Sounder commuter rail service between Tacoma and Seattle on September 18, 2000.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 9/20/2000
  • Essay 2672
See Additional Media

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); (
Note: This essay was updated on January 25, 2009.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You