While things continue to improve as we navigate past the worst of the COVID labor landscape, many industries are continuing to experience staffing shortages. Amtrak, which services Sounder train cars under a maintenance agreement, is one of them.
To give our maintenance partners some breathing room, and to address other Sound Transit needs, we will soon be reducing the Sounder S-Line car sets from seven cars to five until March 2023.
The most noticeable impact to S-Line passengers is that they may have to move up the platform to board the train. Some other key points:
With this short-term change, Amtrak will be able to restore trips on its Amtrak Cascades service, providing more regional, interstate, and international connections to and from the Puget Sound.
Ridership is currently 25-30 percent of pre-COVID levels and could double without resulting in standees or overfull cars.
We will be able to maintain seven-car trains for Seahawks and Mariners game day service.
Out-of-service cars will be available for retrofitting for the new Passenger Information Management System (PIMS).
While reducing capacity is never ideal, workforce challenges require flexibility, and this change allows Sound Transit to continue to serve our passengers while accomplishing other agency goals.
We will also add back capacity via additional frequency when we restore the final two S-Line trips cut during COVID on Sept. 19.
The restored trips are the 7:55 a.m. southbound departure from Seattle and the 10:06 a.m. northbound departure from Lakewood, providing South Sound residents and workers with more travel options and bringing the total of daily round trips to 13.