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Sounder South

Strategic Development &

Implementation Plan
System Expansion Committee
Why we are here
Sounder South Strategic Development and
Implementation Plan (SDIP) Briefing
• Provide an update on technical work, key findings
and public input informing the SDIP

• Summarize proposed future investments and service

• Highlight upcoming activities: Public outreach Jan. 17-

31, initiating projects in Q2/Q3 2020

What the ST3 Plan Says
Included ~$1B in investments
• Longer trains and platforms
(to carry up to 40% more people)

• Additional daily trips, thru track &

signal upgrades and easements;
contingent on negotiations with BNSF

• Station updates to accommodate

more riders on longer trains

Steady growth in annual ridership
Extension to South
Annual boardings (million)

Tacoma and Lakewood
4 Economic
3 recession

2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018

How could we expand service?

Longer trains Additional trips Span of service Frequency

Increasing the length ofAdding moreExpandingCompressing
our morning the andtrain schedule so
our trains from 7 to up
train trips to the trains runperiod
evening commute everyand15 minutes instead
to 10 cars to carry more exploring laterofevening
daily schedule every 20 minutes
service to during peak
passengers (approx. provide more periods (trains
options run less frequently
for riders
430 more seats) outside of the peak as a result)
Things to consider
about expansion
• BNSF owns tracks from Tacoma
to Seattle; new trips require
• Freight traffic is heaviest when
Sounder is not running
• King Street Station is

Summary of technical work for SDIP
• Analysis of existing conditions

• Ridership forecasting

• Public and agency input and engagement

• Model scenarios for potential new trips

• Rail traffic control modeling

• Identify representative station access improvements

Sounder demand is strongest in the peak
Average Sounder weekday boardings, January 2019

Northbound Southbound 1077

1080 1177 1174
903 930 969 892
816 862
745 686 722 785 803 800
192 150
78 85 87 102 118

*Train departs from Tacoma Dome Station *Train terminates at Tacoma Dome Station
ST Express is an indicator of potential Sounder riders
Average ST Express weekday boardings, Spring 2018

Key findings: Ridership forecasting
• Ridership trends consistent with previous estimates -
strongest in peak, expected to increase over time
• Potential to meet future demand by lengthening trains &
• Connection between Sounder and Link ridership
• Additional trips induce demand, driving ridership higher

Key findings: Simulation modeling
• BNSF tracks are congested by freight in off-peak times
• 15-minute headways impact reliability
• King Street Station is a train and pedestrian chokepoint
• Cost of capacity improvements for evening train may
exceed rider benefit

External engagement approach
Spring/Summer 2019
• Focus Groups
• Corridor Leadership Forum, Interagency Group & Railroad
Working Group Meetings

Fall 2019
• Corridor Leadership Forum & Interagency Group Meeting
• 11 drop-in sessions; 400+ conversations
• 4,100 visitors to online open house; 2,500 survey responses

Key findings: External engagement
• Strong desire for consistent, on-time service
• Interest in adding more trips: in peak, shoulder,
evening service
• Support for longer trains to serve more riders

• Desire for improved circulation and amenities at stations

Ridership forecast and capacity*

14 *Sketch for discussion purposes

Proposed investments approach

Proposed investment strategy
Longer trains + More trips
Service delivery year Activity

Mid-2020s • Possible 8-car trains*

Later-2020s • Possible additional trip(s)*

• Possible up to 10-car trains, longer platforms +
King Street Station improvements
• Lakewood & S. Tacoma Access Projects
• Station improvements for longer trains

After 2030 Possible additional trip(s)*

16 *Contingent on BNSF concurrence or negotiations

Next Steps
• Ongoing discussions with BNSF
• January: SEC & REO Committee briefings
• Mid-January: Public outreach on Draft SDIP
• March: Board briefing on Public Outreach
• Q2/ Q3 2020: Initiate first round of projects
• Platform Extensions
• Lakewood Access Improvements Project
• South Tacoma Access Improvements Project

Thank you.
Public Outreach Summary
September 2019
We mailed more that 22,000 We had conversations with
postcards mailed to homes and over 400 people at 11
businesses along the Sounder drop-in sessions

Over 4,100 users visited the

We sent 2 rider alerts and
online open house from
1 email update to more than Sept. 10-24; we received
29,000 recipients 2,500+ survey responses