Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sounder, redux

OK, last week I'm buying my ticket for the Sounder at the Tukwila station for my second trip on the Sounder to Seattle. I've ridden to the station from my office on my bike and am looking forward to a speedy trip home. Not as fast as driving, but pretty good nonetheless. The ticket dispenser is under the platform. I put my first dollar in and start hearing bells from up above. Yes, that's the train arriving, on it's only afternoon trip in this direction for the entire day. I hurry up with inserting bills and coins, and my ticket comes out, dated 7:22 PM (I believe this is a transfer expiration time) The train is due to arrive at 5:24 PM. I start up the ramp to the platform, and as the train comes into my line of sight, it has already started moving. The engineer looks over at me and keeps going.

Well, there goes my $3.25 fare down the drain -- the back of the ticket states that it will be honored as "a one-zone fare on King County Metro bus services" but the one time I'd tried using it for that purpose in February, the bus driver would not honor it. 

I mount the bike and head to the nearest bus stop half a mile away -- the next bus to downtown Seattle leaves in 8 minutes. I could bike the whole way, but it's about a 16-mile ride and I want to get home to my family. On my birthday. The bus comes on time and I speed downtown, then ride home the 6 miles uphill from there.

My recommendation to Sound Transit: put the ticket vending machine on the platform itself rather than under it, so passengers don't have to go out of their way to buy tickets and risk missing the train, especially when it arrives and departs early, as it did last week.

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