Greetings from Amtrak Cascades Train #517 as I speed back to Seattle returning from an afternoon trip where I road transit buses all the way up to Bellingham stopping to photograph the remaining needed Amtrak stations along the way.
This morning was lazy and mostly just a walk with two hostel mates I spent socializing with last night over to the giant hole in the ground that is becoming the Capital Hill University Link Light Rail Station.
I left them, not going on the hostel’s food tour and took the 12:25 Sound Transit’s 410 bus up to Everett where I was early for my connection. There I got some more photos for it’s essay and then got on Community Transit’s 201 bus up to Smokey Point. As soon as I arrived I looked at the timetable of my connecting bus 240 and realized I had made a mistake, planning around Saturday’s not a weekdays time. Unfortunately this gave me 45 minutes in suburbia which I made the most of getting a terrible snack from a Mexican chain restaurant. It also ate up my hour layover in Mount Vernon. It all worked out though.
I went up to Stanwood got my photo essay of the simple 2009 opened concrete platform, took Island Transit’s (all their routes are free) to Mount Vernon where we arrived a few minutes early and I quickly got enough of a photo essay of the station, including the waiting room before my Skagit Transit Bus #80X pulled in. It had a walker passenger so we left late for Bellingham and the driver was very apologetic that he could tell me nothing about Whatcob Transit Authority’s service that I needed to transfer too. It was an amusing ride with just three park and ride stops: one nicely modern with a genuine bus loop, the next was just a gravel pitt and we had to bump our way from the highway’s exit ramp to get too it. The third we just stopped from the street for.
I got to the downtown Bellingham Bus Station just in time for my red line (their attempt at BRT branding) only 30-foot bus down to the Port of Bellingham (with signs for the ferry to Alaska) where the Amtrak Station is. I got some photos in the remaining daylight and walked to a neat nearby town center for dinner of soup and salad with the waitress even throwing in a free muffin for my train ride. I asked when I sat down for speedy service since I had less then an hour.
The train came in about 10 minutes late due to customs, the conductor took our tickets and I walked down towards the rear facing seats in the back of the train so my car could be empty and that’s where I am 15 minutes from being back in Everett according to the TV screens.
Yesterday, the day had two parts in the morning and early afternoon I did my station to station of the Central Link Light Rail and for that system the designers seem to have used every tool in the possible designs for a light rail system toolbox except for maybe actual traffic running. It goes on elevated structures, through tunnels, both it’s own and the downtown transit tunnel shared with buses. It also has a section of grade running in the center of an urban boulevard and alongside a transit way.
During the PM peak hour I did most of Sounder South first with a conventional stop at the temporary shack of Tukwila, went down to Sumner double backed to Kent where I wish I had more time and will revisit, went south one stop to Auburn where I chatted with a Sound Transit Employee handing out surveys before a security guard on a bike joked about me being a terrorist taking pictures before I hopped on the second and final reverse peak direction empty, I had the entire upper level to myself, train (all the others were quite full) back up to Seattle.
In the evening I enjoyed the simple included taco hostel dinner and stayed up until the wee hours chatting with other travelers.