Sound Transit proposes more Sounder trains, expanded express-bus service in 2017

Added Sounder trains and increased express-bus service are among the highlights of Sound Transit’s proposed service plan changes for 2017.

The regional transit agency intends to add two peak-hour Sounder trains between Lakewood and Seattle by September and increase service hours and add longer buses to its busiest express-bus routes in King and Pierce counties.

The plan was released last week, and Sound Transit is accepting public comment through Dec. 1.

Money for the new Sounder trains comes from a 2008 ballot measure voters approved and will bring to 13 the number of weekday round-trip trains running from Pierce County to Seattle.

“The exact departure times are still to be determined and will be set based on customer feedback and coordination with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Amtrak,” the agency said in a news release.

Sound Transit service planners will conduct an analysis during the early part of 2017 to determine where and when additional express-bus service is needed, according to the release.

That said, the agency estimates it will add about 3,400 “platform hours” to routes originating and terminating in Pierce County. A platform hour is any hour “a transit vehicle is operating, which includes in-service hours, deadhead hours and layover hours.”

The added service is needed, according to agency statistics.

Despite adding nearly 43,000 service hours in 2016, express-bus reliability suffered, records show.

Systemwide, 16 routes did not meet on-time performance standards of “at least 85 percent of trips arriving at time points within five minutes of schedule,” Sound Transit said.

Agency records show more 18,312,624 express-bus boardings in 2015, and Sound Transit expects even more riders to use the service in the future.

“ST express ridership is projected to grow by near 10 percent over 2015 to 20 million annual passengers by 2022,” records show.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

Give your thoughts

Sound Transit will hold an open house on its proposed 2017 service plan changes from noon to 1 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Union Station Great Hall, 401 S. Jackson in Seattle.

People can also comment by telephone at 1-866-940-4387 or via email at by Dec. 1.