Sound Transit launches Sounder service between Everett and Seattle; first train filled to capacity

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Sounder came to Everett and Edmonds today as Sound Transit officially launched its popular commuter rail service in Snohomish County with a special Sunday train for Seattle Seahawks fans and holiday shoppers. More than 700 people - a capacity crowd - took the inaugural five-car train from Everett to Seattle with a stop at Edmonds.

"This is an absolutely indescribable day," said outgoing Snohomish County Executive and Sound Transit Boardmember Bob Drewel. "This service is the product of good hard and ethical work by Sound Transit and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. As a result, we will be providing a very bright transit future for this region's citizens."

Rosie Bauman of Everett brought her eight nieces and nephews along for the ride. "This is history in the making," said Bauman, "and we wanted to be a part of it."

"This is a heckuva lot better than watching cars standing on the freeway," said Brandy Freeman of Lake Stevens as she watched the panorama of Puget Sound from her window seat. Freeman, who currently drives one hour and twenty minutes each way between home and her job in downtown Seattle, will ride Sounder daily when commuter service begins at 6:55 A.M. tomorrow (Monday) - saving 20 minutes in each direction.

"This is a watershed for Sound Transit and the region," said King County Executive (and outgoing Board Chair) Ron Sims. "Commuters now have guaranteed rail service between Everett and Tacoma for generations to come."

"We've waited a long time for this day," said Edmonds City Councilman/Sound Transit Vice Chair Dave Earling. "Along with our acquisition of the right-of-way from Tacoma to the Nisqually River the promise we made to voters in 1996 has been fulfilled."

The start of Sounder service in Snohomish County was made possible after Sound Transit completed more than two years of negotiations with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway last week. Following the scenic Puget Sound shoreline, service will initially include one round trip each weekday from Everett to Seattle and back with stops in Edmonds. The service will be offered free of charge through Jan. 2, 2004 to promote ridership. Service from Tacoma to Lakewood is scheduled to begin in late 2007 following the completion of necessary track and signal improvements.

The agreements with BNSF permanently enable commuter rail trains to travel on existing tracks from Seattle to Everett and Tacoma to Lakewood. In the Seattle-Everett corridor, the agreements provide for access to the tracks during specific hours of the day in perpetuity - an improvement over the 97-year term of a preliminary agreement announced last spring. And Sound Transit's full ownership of 21 miles of track between Tacoma and the Thurston County line (at the Nisqually River) will give the public full control of the segment's future. Sound Transit currently operates three daily round-trips between Seattle and Tacoma.


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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.