Windermere Professional Partners

How Do You Commute From Tacoma to Seattle Using Public Transit?

July 1, 2022

How do you commute from Tacoma to Seattle using public transit? Luckily for Pierce County residents, there are a ton of excellent, efficient ways to make it into Seattle (and King County) for work that don’t involve a car. And with the increases we’ve seen in gas prices in recent months, commuting via public transit may become more and more appealing.

If you’re interested in switching up your commute routine, there are some great options for commuting from Tacoma to Seattle. Also keep in mind that many of these options are great for commuting within Pierce County as well!

How to Commute From Tacoma to Seattle on the Sounder Train

The Sounder is a commuter rail service offered by Sound Transit that runs during peak commuting times on weekdays. One of the big benefits of taking the Sounder Train is the fact that you can enjoy a traffic-free commute, and there is even (limited) wifi so you could start your work day aboard the train.

The train runs from Lakewood in Pierce County all the way north to Everett (and to do the entire route requires a train chance in Seattle) with several different stops in between. There are 2 stops in Tacoma—one at the South Tacoma Station, and one at the Tacoma Dome Station. At the South Tacoma Station, there are 220 parking spaces and leased bicycle lockers to aid in your commute. At the Tacoma Dome Station, there are 2,283 parking spaces and free bike racks on the street that’s just outside the station.

One-way fares range from $3.25 to $5.75, and there are many discount options available. Click here to view a handy PDF with the complete 2022 schedule, routes, and pricing.

How to Commute From Tacoma to Seattle on the Bus

To get from Tacoma to Seattle via bus, there are a couple of convenient options. The first option is to take the Sound Transit Express 590 from Tacoma to Seattle. The 590 begins at Commerce Street in Downtown Tacoma, makes a couple of stops before reaching the Tacoma Dome Station stop, and then goes straight to Seattle. In Seattle, the first stop is in SODO at South Spoke Street, but there are several stops throughout Downtown Seattle as well.

The 594 bus also runs between Tacoma and Seattle. The 594 begins at Lakewood Station, stops at SR 512 Park & Ride, runs through Downtown Tacoma, and stops at the Tacoma Dome Station stop. From here, it heads straight to Seattle with the first stop being in SODO at S Spokane Street (same as the 590). Bus fare is $3.25, and we highly recommend getting an ORCA card. (For more info on ORCA cards, keep scrolling!)

Click here to view a map and timetables for the 590 and 594 buses.

How to Commute From Tacoma to Seattle on the Amtrak Cascades Train

While the Sounder Train is the more popular option for commuting from Tacoma to Seattle, you could technically also take the Amtrak Cascades Train. This train runs from Eugene, Oregon all the way north to Vancouver, BC. Of course, there are stops in Tacoma and Seattle along the way. The benefit of the Amtrak Cascades Train is that the schedule is a bit more flexible—there are usually trains that run throughout the day, instead of just during peak commuting hours like the Sounder. Taking the Amtrak Train from Tacoma to Seattle (and vise versa) is more expensive; fares typically start around $12 for coach and may be as high as $40 for business.

What is the Difference Between Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and King County Metro?

Figuring out all of the different transportation companies and organizations can get confusing! If you are commuting from Tacoma to Seattle, you may find yourself using Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and/or King County Metro. Here is how each of these services are different:

Sound Transit: Covers regional transit in Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties. Includes Link light rail, Sounder trains, ST Express Bus, Tacoma Link light rail

Pierce Transit: Pierce County’s local public transportation service; covers bus transit in cities like Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Puyallup, Spanaway, Steilacoom, and everywhere in between! Also operates vanpool, ride-matching for carpools, and dial-a-ride transportation.

King County Metro (aka “Metro): Includes bus services, on-demand services, the water taxi, rideshare, and operates Sound Transit’s regional Express bus, Link light rail in King County, Sounder train, and Seattle Streetcar.

How to Commute From Tacoma Seattle Using a Vanpool

Vanpool is a service where 3-15 people share a ride in a van, which is provided by a transit agency. Local vanpool vehicles are provided by Pierce Transit, King County Metro, and more (but these two are what you’ll need for a Tacoma to Seattle commute). A volunteer is required to drive each vanpool, and there also must be a back-up driver and a bookkeeper. If you’d like to organize a vanpool, join an existing one, and learn more about this service, click here! Also, here are several vanpool options, many of which run from Tacoma to Seattle.

How to Get an ORCA Card

If you plan on using any of these transit options, we highly recommend you sign up for an ORCA card! The ORCA card can be used with several participating transit agencies, including Pierce Transit, Sound Transit, King County Metro, Washington State Ferries (there are some exclusions with this one), Kitsap Transit, Everett Transit, and Community Transit.There is a myORCA app, which you can use to manage your account. One of the big benefits of having an ORCA card is that it allows you to transfer buses/modes of transit so you don’t have to pay beyond the distance you travel, and there are also daily and monthly passes that may help you save money. Order a card online that will be mailed to you, or pick one up and a participating store. Find all of the details for getting started here!

What You Need to Know About the Link Light Rail Expansion

There are many exciting transit expansion projects in the works, which will make it for our region to be more interconnected and accessible without a car. Currently, you can take the Link light rail in Tacoma from the Tacoma Dome Station to the Theater District Station, but this is being expanded soon! The Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension expands the Link light rail from Downtown Tacoma up to Hilltop (coming in 2023!). There is a plan to also expand this all the way to Tacoma Community College via the TCC Tacoma Link Extension project. These additional Link stops throughout Tacoma will make it much easier to access transit to Seattle. And soon, passengers will be able to take the Link all the way to Seattle!

A crucial part of this includes running the Light rail from the Tacoma Dome Station to Portland Ave Station, Fife Station, South Federal Way Station and up to Federal Way Transit Center. The Federal Way Link Extension runs from the Federal Way Transit Center all the way to Angle Lake, where the current Link light rail begins (and runs to SeaTac International Airport, up through Downtown Seattle, and all the way to Northgate). There are many Link expansion projects happening in Seattle, the Eastside, and further north—click here to check out all of the upcoming projects!

Would you like to explore current homes for sale in Tacoma? Click here!