Sounder Commuter Rail
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Sounder Commuter Rail
Sound Transit Sounder logo.svg
Sounder Commuter Rail 01.jpg
Two Sounder trainsets at King Street Station in Seattle
OwnerSound Transit
LocaleSeattle metropolitan area
Transit typeCommuter rail
Number of lines2
Number of stations12
Daily ridership18,314 (October 2017)[1]
Annual ridership4,438,374 (2017)[2]
WebsiteSounder Rider Guide
Began operationSeptember 18, 2000 (2000-09-18) (South Line)
December 26, 2003 (2003-12-26) (North Line)
Operator(s)BNSF Railway
Reporting marksSDRX
Number of vehicles14 locomotives
67 passenger cars[3]
Train lengthNorth Line: 1 locomotive, 2 or 3 passenger cars
South Line: 1 locomotive, 7 passenger cars
System length83 mi (134 km)
Track gauge (standard gauge)
Top speed79 mph (127 km/h)
System map

Sounder commuter rail (reporting mark SDRX) is a regional rail service operated by BNSF on behalf of Sound Transit.[4] Service operates Monday through Friday during peak hours from Seattle, Washington, north to Everett and south to Lakewood.

As of 2017, schedules serve the traditional peak commutes, with most trains running inbound to Seattle in the morning and outbound in the afternoon. Three daily round-trips run the reverse commute to and from Tacoma.[5] Additional Sounder trains operate on some Saturdays and Sundays for travel to and from Seahawks and Sounders games at CenturyLink Field and Mariners games at Safeco Field. Both stadiums are a short walk from King Street Station.

Service history

South Line

The South Line began service with two round trip trains on September 18, 2000 with stops in Tacoma, Sumner and Auburn that terminated in Seattle. Puyallup and Kent stations were added February 5, 2001, with Tukwila being added March 12, 2001. There are currently thirteen round trips on the South Line, with three operating in the reverse commute direction.[5]

In July 2010, Sound Transit reached a new agreement with BNSF, valued at $185 million, which grants Sound Transit permanent access to the South Line corridor, as well as allowing four more daily round trips to begin, starting in 2012 and continuing through 2017.[6]

On October 8, 2012, the extension to South Tacoma and Lakewood stations were inaugurated, with five daily round trips, all of which are in the peak direction, serving the new stations.[7] In September 2016, a mid-day round trip was added between Lakewood and Seattle.[8] In September 2017, two additional round trips were added, bringing the total to eight daily round trips servicing the Lakewood extension.[9][5]

The average weekday ridership in 2010 on the South Line was 8,300, down 7% from 2009 due to continued low employment in Downtown Seattle. Since then the average ridership has increased and as of October 2015 stood at 14,500 per day.[10] In 2016, ridership was 14,731 per day.[11]

North Line

The 35-mile (56 km) Everett-to-Seattle line started with a Seahawks Game train on December 21, 2003. Regular service started on the 22nd with one morning train to Seattle and one evening train back. A second round trip train was added on June 6, 2005 to help increase ridership, a third was added in September 2007. In September 2008, an additional train was added to the line, bringing the total number to four round trips in the peak direction. There are currently three stops along the North Line: Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Everett. On May 31, 2008, service to Mukilteo station began.[12][13]

Additionally, Sound Transit partners with Amtrak Cascades to allow Sounder riders to use the two trains per day that Amtrak Cascades operates to Bellingham, WA and Vancouver, BC through the RailPlus program. This allows commuters to use the Sounder fare structure between Everett and Seattle. The program is available only to riders who use monthly passes. The Amtrak Cascades trains do not stop at Mukilteo nor does Amtrak's Empire Builder from Chicago, Illinois.

Weekday ridership on the North Line was roughly 1,100 in 2010.[14] and was about 1,561 in the first quarter of 2016[15]. Trains on the North Line have been prone to frequent cancellation due to mudslides throughout its history,[16] though WSDOT has begun construction to remedy the problem.[17]

Future expansion

Sound Transit plans to add additional Sounder South Line stations at Tillicum and DuPont. The track has already been constructed by Sound Transit with funding from WSDOT as part of the Amtrak Cascades Point Defiance Bypass project. The construction of the stations will be funded by the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure passed in 2016. The two stations are expected to open in 2036 and cost $300 million.[18] In addition, Sound Transit plans to extend station platform lengths on the south line to accommodate trains up to ten cars in length, up from the current seven.[19]


As with Link light rail, Sounder operates using a proof-of-payment fare system. Passengers are required to purchase a paper ticket or tap their ORCA card (and receive a valid permit to travel) before boarding trains. Sound Transit fare inspectors or police officers randomly board trains and check for valid proof-of-payment. Passengers who are caught traveling without valid proof-of-payment are subject to a fine.

The fares for Sounder are distance-based. Passengers who pay using ORCA must tap their cards before boarding and after alighting trains. Passengers using ORCA are charged the maximum fare from the station they are traveling from and are issued a permit to travel when they tap before boarding and, if necessary, receive a refund when they tap after boarding.

Discounted fares are offered for youth, seniors and the disabled, and low-income riders qualifying for the ORCA Lift program. As of April 2017, adult fares for Sounder are as follows:[20]

North Line

$3.25 Mukilteo
$4.00 $3.75 Edmonds
$5.00 $4.50 $4.00 Seattle

South Line

$3.25 South Tacoma
$3.50 $3.25 Tacoma
$4.00 $3.75 $3.50 Puyallup
$4.00 $4.00 $3.50 $3.25 Sumner
$4.50 $4.25 $4.00 $3.50 $3.50 Auburn
$4.75 $4.50 $4.25 $4.00 $3.75 $3.25 Kent
$5.00 $5.00 $4.50 $4.25 $4.00 $3.75 $3.25 Tukwila
$5.75 $5.50 $5.25 $4.75 $4.75 $4.25 $4.00 $3.75 Seattle

Ridership statistics

Data from Sound Transit[21]

Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017[22]
Ridership 955,298 1,268,291 1,692,971 2,156,652 2,668,623 2,492,362 2,364,290 2,543,955 2,811,891 3,035,735 3,361,317 3,812,040 4,162,641 4,438,374
YoY Diff. % -- 33% 34% 27% 24% -7% -5% 8% 11% 8% 11% 13% 8% 6%


Model Manufactured Road Numbers Number In Fleet Notes Image
EMD F59PHI 1999 901-904 4 All locomotives rebuilt with engines that meet the Tier 3 EPA standard to reduce emissions and provide fuel savings.[23] SDRX 905 at Everett Station (18939778876).jpg
2000 905-906 2
2001 907-911 5
MotivePower MP40PH-3C 2012 921-923 3 Upgraded to comply with the Tier 3 emissions standard Sounder -923 at Everett Station.jpg
Cab Cars
Bombardier BiLevel cab car 1999 101-104 4 SRDX 111 at Everett Station (18778358478).jpg
2000 105-111 7 112-118 sold to Caltrain.[24]
2003 301-307 7
2017 321-329 9 Sounder CEM Cab Car.jpg
Bombardier BiLevel Coach 2000 201-213 13 SDRX228.jpg
2001 214-215 2
2002 216-218, 227-228, 231-240 15 219-226 & 229-230 sold to Caltrain.[24]
2003 401-410 10
Sources (unless noted otherwise):[25][26]


  1. ^ "October 2017 Service Performance Report" (PDF). Sound Transit. December 7, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Service Delivery: Quarterly Performance Report - Fourth Quarter, 2017" (PDF). Sound Transit. February 22, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ "2016 Service Implementation Plan - Appendix B: Fleet Plans" (PDF). Sound Transit. pp. 138-139. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ "Sounder Commuter Rail Train Specifications". Sound Transit. 2009-07-18. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved .
  5. ^ a b c "Sound Transit: Sounder Commuter Rail Schedules". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Sound Transit approves four new Seattle-Tacoma round trips". Trains Magazine. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ Hall, C.B. (November 21, 2012). "Sounder train gets a lackluster start in Lakewood". Crosscut. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ "South Sounder line to start mid-day service in September". Seattle Times. August 30, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "Sounder south gets better than ever with new trips starting 9/25". Sound Transit. August 24, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "October 2015 Ridership Summary" (PDF).
  11. ^ "2016 Q1 Report" (PDF).
  12. ^ Pesznecker, Scott (May 31, 2008). "Sounder begins service to Mukilteo today". Everett Herald. Everett Herald. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Mukilteo Station". Sound Transit. 2008-02-10. Retrieved .
  14. ^ 2011 SIP, page 26 Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "2016 Q1 Report" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Mudslides continue to plague rail traffic north of Seattle".
  17. ^ "Work starts on landslide solutions for Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor".
  18. ^ Lynn, Adam (March 24, 2016). "Several Pierce County projects in $50 billion Sound Transit plan". The News Tribune. Retrieved 2016.
  19. ^ "South Sounder Capital Improvements Program" (PDF). Sound Transit. July 1, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ "Sounder train fares". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ "Quarterly Ridership Report archive". Sound Transit. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ "2017 Ridership".
  23. ^ "MOTION NO. M2016-123 Sounder Locomotive Overhaul Contract Amendment" (PDF). Sound Transit. December 15, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ a b "Sound Transit Motion No. M2001-72". Sound Transit. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-20.
  25. ^ "Draft 2015 Service Implementation Plan - Appendix B: Fleet Plans" (PDF). Sound Transit. p. 112. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  26. ^ "Sound Transit". Canadian Public Transportation Discussion Board Wiki. Retrieved 2014.

External links

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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