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Originally published August 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 13, 2007 at 5:47 PM

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Riders fill trains and water taxis

Sound Transit's early-bird commuter train carried twice its usual passenger load into Seattle this morning, as commuters heeded warnings...

Seattle Times transportation reporter

Sound Transit's early-bird commuter train carried twice its usual passenger load into Seattle this morning, as commuters heeded warnings to avoid the Interstate 5 construction zone.

The 5:45 a.m. Sounder train from Tacoma arrived at King Street Station on time at 6:45 a.m. with 2,183 people, compared to an average 1,035 last week. The total for five morning runs — including one train that was added to cope with expected crowds — was 5,877 riders, or 63 percent above last week's morning average of 3,604 trips.

One more railcar, for a total of five, will added to this afternoon's 4:50 p.m. departure to Puyallup, to allow more space and comfort for passengers. On Tuesday, the Puyallup train will continue to run with five cars each way. Four other trains, with six to seven cars each, run all the way to Tacoma.

"Thanks to the thoughtful planning of commuters, today went relatively smoothly for everyone," said Linda Robson, a Sound Transit spokeswoman.

She said the early train became standing-room-only as it picked up riders in the suburbs south of Seattle. Still, they had enough personal space to avoid leaning on each other, said Robson, who was on the train.

Bus commuters left home earlier than usual, so some buses into Seattle were more crowded than usual. King County Metro Transit spokeswoman Linda Thielke said the number of passengers appeared equal to fall ridership instead of the lighter summer use.

Metro's Elliott Bay Water Taxi, from West Seattle, carried 587 riders into downtown this morning, four times the normal use. There were delays of 10 to 15 minutes because it took extra time to get all the passengers aboard, Thielke said.

"We really want to thank people for taking so many cars off the road today," said Kevin Desmond, Metro general manager. Sound Transit's seven bus routes from Pierce and south King counties carried fewer people than usual. Possibly some switched to Sounder, thinking buses would be stuck on the freeway.

However, highway traffic was light, raising the possibility some transit users will revert to cars later in the week, if driving looks viable.

The state Department of Transportation said a mere 3,300 cars an hour passed the work site — or half the normal volume — where two northbound lanes are closed near South Spokane Street.

A large resurfacing project is scheduled to run until early Aug. 30.

Staff reporter Brad Haynes contributed to this article. Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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