Starting Monday, for the first time, you will be able to get on a Sound Transit bus in Olympia and stay in the same seat all the way to Seattle.
And vice versa.
The new service is thanks to $4.2 million in grants to Intercity Transit from the state Department of Transportation and funds from Intercity Transit.
Also starting Monday: the first express route from a new park-and-ride lot in Tumwater to Lakewood.
Intercity Transit spokeswoman Meg Kester said she expects a lot of riders on the Seattle bus. Other existing express buses Intercity Transit offers, which now only go as far north as Lakewood, have standing room only, she said.
“In fact there are people who prefer a bus or bus/rail commute to having to drive solo,” she said.
$3.50 TO SEATTLE
Kester said the service is in addition to the commuter buses that Intercity Transit already offers into Pierce County.
The concept of staying on one public bus from Olympia to downtown Seattle without needing to transfer is believed to be a first for a public bus system in Thurston County. It will be offered just on weekdays for peak commuter hours. The trips will last about two hours and will cost $3.50 per one-way trip.
Here’s how it works: Intercity Transit is partnering with Sound Transit to bring Sound Transit Route 592 from DuPont to Olympia.
Six northbound trips will leave from the Olympia Transit Center every 30 minutes between 4:12 a.m. and 6:42 a.m. Then, six southbound trips will leave downtown Seattle every 30 minutes between 3:20 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.
The 592 bus is an express bus, but it isn’t nonstop. Stops will be made between Olympia and downtown Seattle, including at 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.
Kester said passengers also will have the option of transferring to Sounder trains to complete their commute.
In another significant development, Intercity Transit will begin offering Route 609, express bus service from Tumwater to Lakewood. Kester said it’s a service that riders have requested for years.
Starting Monday, 10 northbound trips will depart from the Department of Labor and Industries in Tumwater between 5 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. Then, 11 southbound trips will depart Lakewood between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The bus will stop 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 cost is $3 per one-way trip.
WILL TRIPS LAST?
Kester said the 592 and 609 bus routes will continue at least until mid-2015 if more funding isn’t found to keep them going beyond that. And even if the 609 service were to go away, the grant is funding three new buses that will remain part of the fleet.
“So it’s just an example of trying to be very resourceful … meeting a need in the community,” she said.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@ theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor