Looking out the front of the chartered on Interstate 5 near Tacoma, the driver noted that on a bus you can see where you're going, but on a train you can only see where you are. Photo by Brian Schmidt
The bus in question showed up at the Tukwila, Wash., station about 2:35 pm, only about 10 minutes after the train is (was) scheduled. The driver had to park on a street to the west, unable to clear a railroad underpass to access the station. So an Amtrak employee walked over to round up the people waiting variously on the train platform and under the transit bus shelters. The driver loaded my suitcase in the lower compartment and, dodging puddles, I climbed up and found a seat.
It was a reasonably modern tour bus, not unlike the kind I rode for the Trains 2015 tour of Colorado railroads. Once it boarded the Tukwila passengers, it was about two-thirds full, and with the Tacoma passengers was nearly full.
This bus, I was told, was one of three substituted for train No. 507 that day. Upon departing King Street Station in Seattle, it stopped at Tukwila, Tacoma, and Vancouver, skipping stops in Olympia, Centralia, and Longview. Even with heavy traffic on I-5 near Portland, we arrived at Union Station about 30 minutes after the train was scheduled. I headed out in to the rain – just as I would have disembarking a train – to catch a MAX light rail train to my hotel.