Commuters who travel between Olympia, Wash., Tacoma, Wash., and Seattle will soon have more public transportation options thanks to a coordinated effort between the legislature, the Washington State Department of Transportation, Intercity Transit and Sound Transit. Two new commuter routes will begin operation Sept. 30, providing 33 additional transit trips in the south Puget Sound region.
Intercity Transit will add Route 609 to its express commuter service and partner with Sound Transit to extend ST’s existing Route 592, which currently operates between DuPont and Seattle, to Olympia. The new service is made possible through grant awards to Intercity Transit from WSDOT’s Regional Mobility Grant program, which funds legislatively approved projects that improve connectivity between regional population centers.
“This is another example of the great partnerships between our Legislature and state, regional and local transportation agencies working together to keep Puget Sound moving,” said WSDOT Secretary and Sound Transit Board member Lynn Peterson.
The new express routes will run on weekdays – serving several south Puget Sound park and ride lots, Olympia’s Capitol Campus and other key commuter locations – and provide connections to regional commuter bus and rail service. A total of $4.2 million in WSDOT grants and a local match from Intercity Transit will support the operation of this service for the next two years. Transit officials anticipate strong ridership and, if the routes are successful, hope for additional grant funding that could sustain service beyond the current end date in 2015.
The state funding for this service provides for Intercity Transit to purchase three 40-foot, hybrid-electric coaches needed to operate one of the new routes. The other route will operate with Sound Transit coaches.
Route 592 (Olympia/Lacey – DuPont/Lakewood/Seattle) – Through an operating agreement between Intercity Transit and Sound Transit, Sound Transit will start six Route 592 trips in Olympia each weekday morning with return trips in the afternoon. The morning northbound trips will depart the Olympia Transit Center every 30 minutes between 4:12 and 6:42 a.m., timed for morning work shifts in Seattle. Six afternoon southbound trips will depart downtown Seattle every 30 minutes between 3:20 and 5:50 p.m., timed for the end of the work day. The trips will enable a one-seat ride with no transfers and take about two hours. Route 592 will serve the Olympia Transit Center, the Capitol Campus, the new Hawks Prairie park and ride lot in northeast Lacey, DuPont Station, Lakewood Station, and the State Route 512 park and ride lot on its way to and from downtown Seattle. The fare on ST Route 592 will be $3.50 per one-way trip.
Route 609 (Tumwater/Lakewood) – Intercity Transit will operate two-way express travel between Tumwater and Lakewood. Ten northbound trips will depart from the Department of Labor & Industries in Tumwater between 5 a.m. and 5:10 p.m., and 11 southbound trips will depart Lakewood between 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. In addition to serving worksites in south Tumwater, buses will serve stops at the Capitol Campus, the new Hawks Prairie park and ride lot in northeast Lacey, Lakewood Station, and the State Route 512 park and ride lot. The fare on Intercity Transit Route 609 will be $3 per one-way trip.
Intercity Transit frequently experiences standing-room conditions on its long-distance routes. Transit officials indicate they pursued grant funding for additional commuter service for several years and requests for additional commuter service have increased since Sound Transit extended Sounder train service to Lakewood last year. Once the new routes begin Sept. 30, there will be 70 weekday transit trips between Thurston and Pierce counties. The existing 18 weekend transit trips, operated on Intercity Transit Route 620, remain unchanged.