Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Years and Counting!

The Seattle PI today did a great profile on Anirudh Sahni and his longtime fight to get the ST545 bus to serve Capitol Hill.

TCC was happy to support Anirudh in his efforts to add better Eastside Express service to Capitol Hill in years past.  Ridership numbers have proven this move was not a mistake.

The PI captures Anirudh's energy as a transit advocate to fight for this stop, it is truly a great example to demonstrate the challenges and huge success that one dedicated transit advocate can make.

For more info:

Thank you Anirudh!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Today: JTC Public Transit Advisory Panel Meeting #3

All day today the third meeting of the JTC public transportation advisory panel is meeting. There has already been an interesting continued discussion around the State's role on public transportation.

The meeting is open to the public in the board room of the Puget Sounds Regional Council. The address is 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500, Seattle, WA, 98104.

Unfortunately TVW does not appear to be recording today's session, but I will posting sporadic updates and observations on our Twitter feed which is Transpochoices. Tune in there and I'll also try to post some of the public presentations on this blog post later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sound Transit Board Meeting Livetweeting Now: Major Delays Proposed

There is a lot of big news happening right now at the Sound Transit board meeting. Due to 25% sales tax reductions delays, suspensions, and deletions of ST2 projects due to the recession are being proposed.

The big news of the day is the South King subarea is being hit particularly hard due to low sales tax receipts.  As a result ST has recommended delaying Link South of 200th indefinitely.

I'll post a more at a later date, but in the meantime follow live news on our twitter feed which is @transpochoices.

The bottom line is recessions hurt everyone including transit agencies in expansion mode.

Seattle Transit blog has a comprehensive summary of what yesterday's announcement means.
Tacoma Tomorrow discuss impacts on Pierce County as well as the proposal to charge for Tacoma Link.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Internship Opportunities at PSRC

The Puget Sound Regional Council is looking for a growth management and GIS Bike/Ped data intern.  If you work or want to work in either of these fields this would be a great opportunity to get valuable work experience and make some professional connections.

More information at:

Growth Management Planning Intern

PSRC is seeking an Intern to provide technical support to professional staff related to the development of a pedestrian and bicycle toolkit…

GIS Bicycle/Pedestrian Data Intern

PSRC is seeking an Intern to provide technical support to professional staff related to the standardization of pedestrian and bicycle data. The position will assist with data collection, entry, and standardization…

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Editorial: Canadian Government Says No to Second Train and a Growing Economic Engine

A year ago as the Vancouver Winter Olympics were looming, the Washington Legislature and WSDOT secured funding to pay for a second Amtrak Cascades train to Canada and finally a deal was reached in increase rail service between Seattle and Vancouver.

Since the Olympics ridership has remained strong and it has proved a popular service for tourists and travelers in the region.  Despise WSDOT's strong financial commitment to the second BC train its future is in jeopardy.  Why you might ask? Because the Canadian Government does not want to spend a few thousands dollars per train to staff customs agents at the station.

This second round trip is a critical economic, cultural, and transportation link between Seattle and Vancouver.  It provides an important transportation option for BC, Washington, and international travelers.  To see this service lost due to lack of initiative from the Canadian Federal Government would be an absolute travesty.

The Canadian Government has suggested charging a surcharge to pay for customs services on the train.  Do drivers going into Canada have to pay a surcharge for customs? No.  Does the Canadian Government try to charge Washington State when automobile traffic increases at the border? Of course not.  This is a gross example of government policies from decades past that unfairly places financial burdens on travelers who choose not to drive.

I the end I see this as a issue of pure economics.  Every traveler that gets off a cruise ship in Seattle and takes the train to Vancouver or every Seattlite who decides to take a "stay-cation" with a weekend train trip to Vancouver stays in their hotels, buys their taxable goods, and directly contributes to their local economy (and generates tax revenue).  To cancel the popular second train makes that trip much less convenient and eliminates a growing economic engine for Cascadia.  With the help of WSDOT's strong leadership on this issue, I hope that  local, provincial, and federal governments in Canada can come to an agreement to fund the minuscule cost of two customs agents to meet the second train in Vancouver.  Anything otherwise would be a complete failure of vision and leadership by our good neighbors to the North.

Amtrak Cascades in Surrey, BC image courtesy Seattle Transit Blog

Monday, September 20, 2010

100 Useful Tips for Car-Less Living: Tip #2 Get Comfortable with the Internets

The internet can be used for hundreds of thousands of productive and unproductive uses. While some of our friends on Broadway would argue the internet is only good for certain purposes, the truth of the matter is the internet in various forms is crucial for living a car-free or car-less oriented lifestyle.

Here is a list of internet tips and websites that every person who is living or considering living car-free or car-less must know.  When it comes to all of these sites, if you have not used them before, experiment with them for a few days and you'll learn them quickly, they are all very user friendly.

  • Google Transit is an incredibly useful tool if you live in an area covered by the service.  I've found that when it comes to planning trips it is usually much more functional tool than agency trip planning websites.  It is especially useful when you are traveling by transit in areas you don't know well.  The downside to Google transit is not all transit agencies have opened up their scheduling data to allow Google transit to cover their agency.  If your transit agency does not have open transit data that allows you to use great programs like Google Transit go to and sign the petition to ask them to open up their transit data.  (Note that regionally Pierce Transit is not on Google Transit but Metro and Community Transit are).
  • If you live in the Central Puget Sound you are lucky enough to have access to a  program that is breaking the ground nationally in terms of opening up real time arrival information to bus riders.  Its called and it is absolutely fantastic in terms of saving time and cutting down your wait time for late buses.  Get comfortable with this great program and it will make transit oriented living much easier and quicker.  A few disadvantages to note, this technology is relatively new so it is not perfect in terms of the real time arrival information, give your self a few extra minutes.  Also it only covers Pierce Transit and King County Metro right now (because the other agencies don't have the GPS technology to support the real-time program).  Lastly, it doesn't give real-time information non bus systems at this point like Light Rail and Sounder.  That aside, it is an incredible tool.
  • For the third website tip you must learn I once again direct you to Google.  Recently Google added an incredible tool to their maps called Google Bike.  Its simple, go to Google maps, ask for direction just like you would when you are driving then say you want to get there by bike.  Google maps will direct you the safest and quickest way to get there using roads and trails that have cycling facilities.  Absolutely fantastic.  Its important to note that bike facility information is better the more populated and dense the area.
  • Last but not least I turn to my unconventional tip.  Often times when people talk about challenges to car free living their biggest complaint is how to conveniently going grocery shopping without a car.  My first response to that is when you have the time and option choose fresh local foods a few carry-able days at a time at local farmers markets and neighborhood store.  When that is not available, or when you need to stock up for large dinner parties I recommend looking into a variety of companies that delivery food and groceries to you, voila problem solved.  Farm shares also called community supported agriculture are great for this because they deliver fresh local food to you.  Sightline has a long list of places that do this in the Seattle area.  Other options for grocery delivery that all work well are Safeway and Amazon Fresh.  Check out these options, they are all very easy to use, save you time and the need to have access to a car to drive to the store.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sounder Commuter Rail Turns 10 on Tuesday

Washington's first (and only) commuter rail service turns 10 next Tuesday!  This is an exciting milestone for Sound Transit and Transportation Choices Coalition.  Sounder has proven to be a great alternative to our congested freeways and has experienced steady ridership growth over the past decade.  We are looking forward to many successful years in the future especially as trips continue to increase on Sounder South and hopefully an future expansion of commuter rail systems across Washington State.

Transportation Choices Coalition and ST staff will be out and about bright and early Tuesday morning giving out some awesome commemorative stickers to Sounder riders as a thank you.  TCC staff will be meeting commuters at King St. Station and ST staff will be scattered at stations throughout the system.

Thank you for riding Sounder Commuter Rail!

From Sound Transit's press shop:

Sounder commuter rail celebrates ten-year anniversary

14.7 million boardings add up to a decade of safe, efficient peak-time travel

Sound Transit on Tuesday will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its Sounder commuter rail service, which has grown in ridership from 102,552 in its first year of operation to an estimated 2.8 million by the end of this year.

“Our Sounder train provides safe, reliable service for nearly 9,400 commuters every weekday,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “Whether traveling from Pierce or Snohomish counties, Sounder riders enjoy a pleasant, eco-friendly commute that saves gas and parking costs while taking thousands of cars off the road every day.”

Sounder service began September 18, 2000 between Tacoma and Seattle, with stops in Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila. North corridor Sounder service between Everett and Seattle followed on December 21, 2003 with service to Edmonds, and later, added service to Mukilteo.

During the past decade, Sound Transit has incrementally increased service on both corridors, today offering nine daily round trips in the south corridor that include two “reverse trips” (southbound in the morning and northbound at night). Four round trips operate in the north corridor. Sound Transit also began providing special game day trains to Mariners games in 2000, Seahawks games in 2002, and Sounder FC games in 2009 to mitigate traffic congestion and open Sounder service to other residents in the region. 

The following trend chart shows Sounder ridership growth during the last decade.

Other key facts about Sounder:

-          Total boardings for the last ten years:  14,707,384
-          2010 average weekday boardings:  9,384 
-          Growth in average weekday boardings from July 2009 – July 2010:  1.7%
-          Average annual growth since service began:  21.2%
-          On-time performance year-to-date:  97.8%

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, Sound Transit is partnering with Transportation Choices Coalition and Costco Wholesale to thank riders and distribute commemorative stickers at each of its Sounder stations.

“The reliability and consistency of Sounder really takes the guesswork out of commuting,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “It is great service like Sounder that makes it easier for all of us to give our car the day off, put money back in our pockets, protect the environment, and give us more free time.”       

More information on Sounder, including weekday and game day schedules, fares, a service map, and station locations is available at

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sound Transit's Link Light Rail is Now Compliant with Federal Noise Standards

A few months ago there was widespread news coverage about the noise complaints of Link Light Rail around neighborhoods in Tukwilla.  The Seattle PI Reports that the train noise in those areas is now compliant with federal standards.  The resolution of this controversial issues has gotten much less coverage than the origional problem.  That aside, it is good to see that Sound Transit has achieved a resolution on this issue.

In other great Sound Transit News, their board yesterday unanimously voted to approve funds to design a the new station at 200th Street South of SeaTac.  Hopefully by allocating design dollars the construction of this station can be accelerated with the help federal matching grants.

Map of 200th Street Station Area, Courtesy Google Maps

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sound Transit Hires New Deputy Chief Director

Sound Transit announced that their new Deputy Cheif Director joined their staff this week. 

Celia Kupersmith, who most recently hails from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, will serve as #2 within Sound Transit.

As General Manager in San Francisco Celia oversaw a large passenger ferry service and bus fleets, she should be a great addition to Sound Transit as they move more and more into an operations agency.

Here is the full release from ST:

Celia Kupersmith joins Sound Transit as deputy chief executive officer

Former Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District general manager brings broad experience to key role

SEATTLE — Sound Transit welcomes Celia Kupersmith as the agency’s new deputy chief executive officer.

“Celia is a nationally respected transit leader who brings extensive engineering, capital project management and operations experience to Sound Transit,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “She will play a pivotal role in delivering high quality transit projects and services to the people of our region. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her aboard.”

“Few transit systems nationally are growing as fast as Sound Transit’s, and none offer the professional challenges and opportunities that exist here,” Kupersmith said. “Sound Transit’s success in the years ahead will come from working with a broad range of partners including local governments and local transit agencies to deliver projects and services with tremendous focus on efficiency. There is not another agency in the country that could have lured me from the Golden Gate Bridge.”

As general manager of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District from 1999 through last month, Kupersmith oversaw not only the operations of the iconic bridge but a bus transit system offering more than 58 local and inter-county routes, and the largest ferry system in California. She led a staff of 830 employees under the direction of a 19-member board of directors.

From 1993 through 1999, Kupersmith served as executive director of the Regional Transportation Commission in Reno, Nev., overseeing bus services, road construction, road maintenance, and long-range transportation planning for the northern Nevada region. From 1985 through 1993, Kupersmith rose through the ranks at Capital Metro in Austin, Texas, departing as deputy general manager.

At Sound Transit Kupersmith is taking over for outgoing deputy CEO Ron Tober, who is returning to Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We talked Ron into coming out of retirement to join Sound Transit for a year, and then talked him into staying an extra eight months,” Earl said. “During that time he made a major contribution to the residents of our region, particularly during last year’s launch of Central Link light rail service.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Blog Series: 100 Useful Tips for Car-Less Living: Tip #1 Buy a Bus Pass

I am starting a new series on the blog that will provide you with quick, functional, and easy to use tips on how to live car-less or car-free.  One of the biggest complaints I hear  about living a car-free lifestyle is that it is inconvenient and too time prohibitive.  In my social network of younger middle class white collared professionals I often hear that it is simply impossible to live without access to a car at all times with all of the demands of work, family, & social engagements.

I will post a tip or two a week that hopefully will give you practical advice on how leaving your car at home will actually simplify your life, not complicate it.  I'm approaching this from personal experience.  During college at PLU I never owned a car and by necessity became proficient at riding Pierce Transit and my bike as primary modes of transportation.  After school I re-appropriated my old beater Volvo from High School because I needed it to cruise around the peninsula for a campaign I was working on.  After the campaign I lived for over a year car free in Tacoma.  In 2008 I once again bought a car due to the need to cruise around the State for campaign work, and then last month I had the liberating pleasure of selling my car and moving into a car-less lifestyle yet again.  In all of this I've found that living car-less has decreased my stress and improved my quality of life.

Right about now you are probably calling me crazy... that is expected; here you'll be able to read #100 tips I have learned that are necessary for car-less living in the Puget Sound.  Hopefully, over time these tips will make leaving the car at home for the weekend, switching from two to cars to one, or simply eliminating the need to own a car all together, a possibility for you.

Car-Less Living tip #1: Buy a Bus Pass

Sometimes I wish I lived in a world where I could always walk or bike to get around, but with our West Coast geography the truth is; transit is a crucial for mobility when living car-free.  Transit works best when it is convenient and easy to use.  One of the least convenient aspects of transit is always making sure you have a bundle of change in your pocket to pay the exact fare, because let's be honest, nobody wants to give more money than is due or embarrassingly not have enough to pay the fare.  Thankfully there are ways around the, "my pants are falling down because my pocket is weighed down with change" problem.

Almost every single transit agency in Washington State has some sort of monthly pass that allows you to ride their system for free.

In the Puget Sound we have a nifty little tool called ORCA (One Regional Card for All).  ORCA is often times criticized for its shortcomings.  Its also at times praised for being visionary and comprehensive.  In my experience, like any large new system, ORCA is not perfect but is incredibly convenient and works well 97% of the time.

In short, ORCA allows you to buy a monthly pass or put money on a card that can be used on pretty much any transit system in the Central Puget Sound (including buses, trains, light rail, and ferries).  It is great for the occasional rider because you can put money on the card which means you can avoid carrying around a bag of change.  For the frequent rider you can put a monthly pass on your card as high as the value you normally take for your trips, plus add extra cash in case you take a more expensive trip than your normal commute.

In terms of not having to worry about having the right change or cash, the ORCA card and other agency bus passes are a must have when it comes to living a transit oriented lifestyle.

 Stay tuned for the next series or Car-less living tips!  If you have any questions feel free to email me at or comment below.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SEPT. 3 FRIDAY FORUM REMINDER: Visioning Transportation for the Next 20 Years

King & Pierce County residents, join us this Friday for your ONLY chance to hear about and weigh-in on Washington Transportation Plan 2030, the state's 20-year comprehensive transportation plan. What's your vision for transportation across the state over the next 20 years? Washington invests less than 1% of its transportation resources on public transportation, less than just about any other urbanized state. Adding highway capacity has been the state's focus over the last several decades while bicycle and pedestrian needs continue to be an afterthought on most state projects, undercutting our state's climate and land use goals. What's on your wish list for transit, bikes and sidewalks in our region?

Washington Transportation Plan 2030 (WTP 2030) sets a 20-year course for Washington State's transportation system. The plan's goal is to highlight long-term funding shortfalls, service needs, and system-wide mobility and safety needs, along with recommended solutions and approaches aimed at moving the state's transportation network into the future. Again, the Sept. 3 Friday Forum will be the only chance for King and Pierce County residents to hear about the state transportation plan and weigh-in with comments in person. Please plan on attending before you begin your Labor Day weekend.

WHAT: Washington Transportation Plan 2030 with Transportation Commissioner Dan O'Neal and Paul Parker, Commission staff lead for WTP 2030.
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 3, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
WHERE:  King County Public Health - Chinook Building, Room 115, 401 Fifth Ave., Seattle (at Jefferson St.)

As always, feel free to bring your lunch.

Co-sponsored by Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, Cascade Land Conservancy, Commute Seattle, Feet First, Futurewise, King County Conservation Voters, Sierra Club - Cascade Chapter, and Streets for All Seattle.