Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May 5 League of Women Voters Forum: "Smart Transportation Choices"

The League of Women Voters of Greater Seattle invites the public to examine our current local transportation choices and how best to fund them, Thursday, May 5 at Seattle First Baptist Church (Harvard and Seneca) 7:30 - 9:00 PM. The Forum is free; audience questions are welcome.

Speakers from three local government agencies, Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation Peter Hahn, and Deputy CEO of Sound Transit Celia Kupersmith will address the "perfect storm" of shrinking revenues, increasing congestion and pollution affecting how we will plan for moving people, goods and services. Journalist Erica Barnett will offer a perspective from covering local transportation processes.

150 years have passed since Northwest settlers arrived using waterways as our first highways. Then the popularization of the automobile held sway for the next hundred years culminating with the interstate highway system and the gradual diminishing of public transportation services. Only recently have voters begun to question the demands for more roads and their related impact on the environment and the community.

For more information please contact the League office or call 206-329-4848.

Friday, April 22, 2011

$9 Billion Transportation Budget Approved by Both Chambers

The Transportation budget is on its way to the Governor’s desk. In March we posted a comparison of all of the proposed budgets from the Gov, House, and Senate. So how did we fare in the final budget?

The total transportation budget is $9 billion, which includes operating and capital expenses. This is slightly higher than the 2009-2011 biennial transportation budget, and represents the largest transportation budget ever. The primary sources of revenue in this bill are bonds, motor vehicle fuel tax (gas tax), federal funds, and license, permits and fees, and ferry fares. The budget includes over $4 billion for highway construction, a record amount for Washington that reflects the peak of spending for the Nickel and TPA projects. State Patrol receives $364 million of the total package. Transit, vanpools, bike and pedestrian spending make up about 1% of the total budget.

Public Transportation

We are very pleased to see the final budget includes $40 million for the Regional Mobility Grant program which is a crucial grant program funding transit agency capital and operating needs. This is restoring $20 million in cuts that the Governor proposed, and gets the program back to previous funding levels. Also, the budget includes $17 million for rural mobility grants and $25 million for special needs transportation provided by transit agencies and non profits.

The final budget includes $6 million for a vanpool grant program, including $520,000 for vanpools at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It also includes $2.3 million for the tri-county connection service for Island, Skagit, and Whatcom transit agencies.

Unfortunately, the public transportation division at WSDOT took a hit, reducing the department by 7.8 FTEs. Drastic cuts are happening throughout the agency, this budget directs a cut of 800 engineering staff by 2015.

Non- Motorized

The final budget includes $11.8 million for safe routes to school and $9.8 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects. To put this in funding in perspective, WSDOT received 124 Safe Route to School applications with total requests of $43 million. Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program applications are by invitation only- but there are at least $5million in contingency projects that have applied.


The final budget included $10 million is provided for WSDOT to meet its obligations under federal permit requirements. Funding will support the completion of planning activities and basic infrastructure investments. Governor Gregoire originally proposed $15 million to meet federal obligations, but the final budget did not reflect this amount. There is no money in the budget to address the need for stormwater retrofit projects at the local level.

Rep. Upthegrove (D-33) did not approve the budget because of the political maneuvering that altered the regional mobility grant project list. He joined two other Democrats with his "no" vote. Rep. Hasegawa and Rep. Carlyle.

Temporary Transit Bill Is On Its Way to the Governor

Many thanks to Sen. White and Rep. Liias for their leadership that led to the final legislative approval of the "Congestion Reduction fee". It just received final approval by the Senate and will go to the Governor for her approval.

The bill, ESHB 5457, will generate about $25 million per year for two years to help preserve transit service while lawmakers explore how to fund transit with a more stable source than the sales tax, which is vulnerable in tough economic times.

Here is the Transportation For Washington press release:

Emergency congestion fee bill for transit passes Legislature

Bill to provide short-term local option funding for King County Metro sent to Governor’s desk

OLYMPIA – The legislature today passed SB5457 to help King County Metro stave off double digit service cuts to bus service. After passing both the state Senate and House today, the legislation will be sent to Governor Gregoire for her signature.

Introduced by Sen. Scott White (D-Seattle), with a companion bill sponsored in the House by Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds), the legislation would allow the King County Council to implement a local option fee, called a congestion reduction charge, of $20 per vehicle in King County.

“Transit is critical for thousands of riders in King County, from Seattle to the south county and, of course, the eastside. Commuters, seniors and students depend on buses to get them to work, school and around their community,” White said. “When people are struggling to make ends meet in this economy, we must do what we can to keep transit services available and affordable. This bill helps bring critical funding to King County Metro at a time when budget cuts have significantly reduced transit services in our communities.”

The congestion reduction fee, if enacted by the King County Council, would be temporary and expire in 2013.

“Strong communities have good transit, and this short-term fix will help Metro continue delivering a key service for the Puget Sound region,” said Liias. “While transit agencies are making every efficiency possible, the recession has resulted in Metro Transit and other agencies cutting hundreds of thousands in bus hours just when they need it most.”

If signed by the Governor into law, to implement the congestion reduction fee, 2/3 of the King County Council must vote to approve the fee before it can be collected.

“The last thing our local economy needs is to make our traffic worse and leave riders stranded at bus stops. By funding transit, we are relieving congestion on our roads and providing an affordable alternative for people to get to their jobs,” said Kathy Huckabay, Board Chair of Transportation Choices Coalition and former Sammamish City Councilmember. “The thousands of riders who depend on Metro everyday cannot afford any more cuts. I urge the King County Council to act swiftly to use this tool to fund vital transit service.”

# # #

Transportation for Washington is a multi-year, statewide campaign that lays a new vision for Washington around protecting our air and water, fixing what’s broken, expanding transit choices, and building great, healthy communities. The campaign is led by Futurewise and Transportation Choices Coalition and is supported by a coalition of more than 55 public officials, businesses, labor unions, and environmental, faith, health, and neighborhood organizations.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Breaking News: Supreme Court dismisses anti-transit lawsuit

Here is our Statement on this exciting development:

For Immediate Release:  April 21, 2011
Contact:  Viet Shelton, 206-719-8598

Transportation for Washington praises State Supreme Court decision to dismiss anti-transit lawsuit

SEATTLE - Transportation For Washington released the following statement from Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, praising the decision by Washington State Supreme Court to dismiss Kemper Freeman’s anti-light rail lawsuit:

“In 2008, the voters of Puget Sound overwhelmingly said they wanted more light rail, and they wanted it to cross I-90 to the eastside. This frivolous lawsuit brought on by Kemper Freeman and his anti-transit colleagues was just a cynical attempt to thwart the voter’s will and derail transit.

“The Supreme Court recognized this and wisely decided to throw out the suit and let the project move forward.

“With this lawsuit dismissed, we hope that everyone involved; WSDOT, Sound Transit, the communities and elected officials of east King County will continue to work together to connect both sides of the lake with light rail across I-90.”
 If you want to get really wonky, go here to read the whole decision.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TCC is Hiring a Membership Manager

Things are buzzing at the TCC office today because we are officially putting a job announcement out into world for a new position, a membership manager.  Our new staff member will have a lot of work on their hands but huge opportunity to make an impact and work with one of the best staff teams around.  Could it be you?

Here is the full listing on idealist.

Position Announcement
Transportation Choices Coalition
TCC is hiring a Membership Manager

Accepting applications until May 15, 2011

TCC is hiring for a new position with the responsibility to increase TCC’s individual donations. To increase our individual membership retention rate and recruit new members we would like a candidate to develop a suite of membership benefits and incentives that would be attractive to current and prospective members.  This position would be responsible for identifying and securing the support of businesses, non-profits, and other partners to participate in a TCC member benefit package to be rolled out at the end of 2011. 

The Membership Manager’s other primary function will be to plan, coordinate, and execute TCC’s fundraising events. The position will support other TCC staff on fund development projects including major donor cultivation and corporate partner funding.  The selected candidate will report to TCC’s Executive Director and work closely with other staff.  This is a position with growth opportunities!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

King 5 Picks up on Pierce Transit Bus Cuts

King 5 has a fairly long piece on the bus cuts in Pierce County that we have been tracking diligently.  The last rider in the video is waiting for the bus on his way to a job interview to get himself back to work.  Sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

Here is the Link:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pierce Transit Set for Heart-wrenching Stories

This blog post was originally posted on the Transportation Washington Blog Here.  Follow it!

People across the state are struggling to pay their bills and provide for their families. On Monday we heard 50+ people testify in Pierce County on how they depend on bus service to get to work, the grocery store, and critical medical appointments. Most of these people either moved to live near a bus line for its efficiency or -- more frequently -- couldn't afford to own a car and were transit-dependent.

Pierce Transit has a huge 35% budget hole. This isn't the agency's fault. Over the last few years, time and time again they've cut overhead and administrative costs and made the bus lines more efficient. But behind-the-times state law restricts local transit agencies to only get local revenue through the sales tax, which has been decreasing with the economic recession.

It's a fact: no matter what we do, many Pierce Transit bus riders will no longer be able to use the bus.  The personal stories will be bad.  Our obligation -- and that of Pierce Transit -- is to minimize the number of those stories.  The best way to do that is to use the existing resources to maximize ridership -- making sure the most people possible can ride the bus
Well, how to make that picture a reality is getting clearer.  We recently got ridership information on all of Pierce Transit’s routes.  Unsurprisingly, the exurban bus plus routes are the lowest ridership routes in the system.

Click here to get the chart (PDF).

The highlighted blue are routes the 10 lowest ridership routes in the system.  You’ll notice on the bottom of the page many of the low ridership routes will not be cut.  These bus routes carry 10-40 people per day and cost on average $27 dollars per passenger in places where transit doesn’t work. By comparison, the average cost per rider on Route #1 is $2.76 and that route carries 7,600 people per day.  The entire fixed-route system (with all of its efficient and inefficient fixed routes) costs on average $6.83 per rider

During financially constrained times, we cannot afford high cost, low ridership bus routes.  We must focus our efforts on where we get the most bang for our buck and hurt the fewest number of riders. 

So, why is Pierce Transit  cutting the highest ridership routes by 30-40% but not cutting our heaviest subsidized bus routes at all?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Intercity Transit Authority Seeks Comment on Impacts to Express Service

The Intercity Transit Authority invites comment on the impact of the proposed cuts to Olympia-Tacoma Express service. Intercity Transit is not cutting its service. However, Pierce Transit is proposing 50 percent cuts from its Olympia-Tacoma Express trips (8 of 16 trips). The Pierce service cuts, which would impact Intercity Transit customers as well as Pierce rider, come as a result of the failed Pierce Transit sales tax measure and are proposed to happen sooner (June instead of October) due to the recent loss of Pierce Transit's compressed natural gas fueling plant.

Intercity Transit's opportunity to comment is occurring now through a public hearing on Wednesday, April 20 at 5:30pm at its business office, 526 Pattison Street SE in Olympia. If you use transit to get to the hearing, you can ride routes 62A, 62B, and 66.

Call the Comment Line: If you cannot attend the public hearing, submit your comments over our telephone comment line at 360-705-5852. Please leave your comment for consideration by 4 p.m. on April 20, 2011.

Send an E-mail: You can also e-mail your comment to Please send your comment for consideration by 4 p.m. on April 20, 2011.

Pierce Transit also has a comment period under way:

While encouraging public comment and considering the impacts of Pierce Transit cuts to commuters - especially those who regularly use the Olympia-Tacoma Express service - Intercity Transit staff is also exploring the feasibility of vanpool service to help mitigate the loss in bus trips and help ensure people can continue to get to their jobs.

In addition to the public hearing, the Intercity Transit Authority has scheduled a discussion on the above topic. Intercity Transit action on the Olympia-Tacoma Express, if any, is anticipated to occur at the May 4 Authority meeting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Complete Streets Passes the Washington Legislature

We have some great news to report out of Olympia today. Rep. Moeller's Complete Streets bill, which we first proposed last year, House Bill 1071 passed the House concurrence vote today by 53-43.

This is incredibly exciting news for one of our 2011 Legislative priorities. The bill is now officially passed the Legislature and moves onto the Governor's desk. If she signs it, it becomes state law!

Thank you for everything you did as advocates & at transportation advocacy day to help us pass this bill. We'll post an action alert soon so you can encourage the Governor to sign the bill into law!

Positions Open: Intercity Transit Authority Citizen Advisory Committee

The Intercity Transit Authority has four open positions on their Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). Chosen applicants (including a new youth position (1-year term) for ages 15-19 and current vacancies for 3-year terms) will have an impact on public transportation in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and Yelm.

Check out the Intercity Transit Authority blog link above for more information.

Application information is also available at

Otherwise, contact Rhodetta Seward at 360.705.5856 or for more information about the CAC or the selection process.

Applications are due Friday, May 20.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reminder C-Tran Board Meeting is Today at 5:30pm to Save Bus Service

Speak up to Save Bus Service: C-Tran Board Meeting Today at 5:30pm

This is just a quick reminder that the C-Tran Board is poised to vote to put a .2% sales tax measure on the ballot next Tuesday in order to give voters the option to prevent devastating 40% cuts to bus service! There are two important reasons people should attend & testify at the C-TRAN Board Meeting on Tomorrow, April 12th at 5:30pm at the Public Service Center. If you can't attend CLICK HERE to send an e-mail to the board.

#1 -- We need to support our core bus service. There will be many who attend this meeting that do not support buses. Without a measure on the ballot this year, C-TRAN will face cuts of about 40% next year. This will leave many in our community simply stranded.

#2 -- We need to delay a light rail and bus rapid transit vote until next year for several reasons. The NoTolls group and the other anti-bus, anti-light rail, spokespeople will be there to try to force a vote this year. They want this in front of voters before the technical requirements have been met and before voters have had the chance to see what they will be getting for their small investment. They also know that asking voters for two things at once will make it tougher for both measures to pass.

We can't let them win.

Please SHOW UP AND SPEAK UP at this meeting to ensure our success and to make sure your voice is heard.  If you can not attend the meeting CLICK HERE to send the C-Tran Board an email and tell them to save bus service

WHAT: C-Tran Board Meeting to Put a Bus Measure on the Ballot

WHEN: TOMORROW, Tuesday April 12th, 5:30pm

WHERE: Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin, Vancouver, 6th Floor Hearing Room 


Update: I am not liveblogging this meeting but you can follow updates on our twitter @transpochoices . Public testimony on ballot measure is almost over. Testimony has been all over the map on the ballot measure issues.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pierce Transit livevblog at T4WA

Brock from Transportation for Washington will be livebloggin the Pierce Transit hearing on the proposed bus cuts.

The room is packed with impacted riders and the meeting is just starting, so make sure to tune into the T4WA blog to track the conversation.
Front of the room also full!

4pm Meeting is full all the way to the back of the room

Reminder: Pierce Transit Cuts Hearing Tonight at 4pm

Just a quick reminder that this afternoon is the most important public hearing on the proposed cuts at Pierce Transit. 

It is at 4pm at the Pierce Transit headquarters 3701 96th Street Southwest, Tacoma, WA 
CLICK HERE to RSVP for the meeting and tell the Pierce Transit board not to cut bus service where transit works!

If you are taking the bus there catch the route 48 or the route 300.  If you are a shuttle user call Pierce Transit to arrange a ride.

If you can not attend the hearing CLICK HERE to send Pierce Transit a letter.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stop the Bus Cuts in Pierce County

Transit in Pierce County is in crisis.  Due to the out-dated way the state funds bus service, Pierce Transit has a 35% deficit it must balance.

Unfortunately, Pierce Transit plans on balancing its budget by cutting the heaviest used routes the most.

In other words, Pierce Transit is becoming less efficient and, as a result, workers, students, senior citizens, and people with disabilities will needlessly be left without bus service. This is wrong.

The top three bus routes---the #1, 2, and 3---carry 60% of the Pierce Transit's riders. But the agency plans to cut the routes 30 to 39 percent, eliminating service for more riders on these routes than any other route.

In February, the voters nearest to the heavily-used routes strongly supported Prop 1 to save our buses. The voters farthest away that use the buses the least voted against Prop 1.  Why should those who supported Prop 1 now suffer the most?

  • Monday, April 11, 4-6pm, Lakewood
  • Monday, April 19, 4-6pm, Gig Harbor
  • Thursday, April 21, 5-7pm, Tacoma
  • Monday, April 25, 4-6pm, Puyallup
  • Thursday, April 28, 5:30-7:30pm, Bonney Lake
This Monday's public hearing in Lakewood is the most important. The Pierce Transit Board of Directors will be on hand and may direct agency staff to make changes to their proposal.

RSVP today. We'll follow-up with directions and key talking points.

Community Transit to Cut Another 20%: Hearing Announced

In another piece of sad transit news yesterday, Community Transit announced that they will be cutting service by another 20% next February.  This will bring the totality of their cuts to 35%, which is the same amount that Piece Transit will be cutting this fall.  Unlike Pierce Transit, Community Transit is maxed out on their state allowed sales tax at .9% so they do not have an option to ask voters to save their bus service.

The Seattle Times and Seattle Transit Blog broke the story yesterday.  Lindblom's story did a good job telling the story that bus cuts are a regional and statewide problem.  No transit agency is safe from this recession with volatile sales tax as their only option for funding transit.

We are working hard right now to encourage people to turnout to the Pierce Transit hearings on the proposed cuts that disproportionally high ridership routes.  The first hearing on that is at 4pm at PT's headquarters in Lakewood.  We'll do similar engagement and turnout efforts for the community transit hearings.

It is not an easy time for bus service in Washington State right now.  I think this news highlights the need for the Legislature to come up with short term and long term funding solution to prevent draconian cuts to transit service.  One more positive thing to remember is in the last 4 years 15/18 transit ballot measures in Washington have passed, which tells us that even in tough times citizens will often support their transit service.  Unfortunately for Community Transit they do not even have the option to ask voters for temporary help.  More on this soon, I am sure. 

Here is the list of public meetings from CT:
Open House meetings: 
Mountlake Terrace Library, Large Meeting Room
Address: 23300 58th Ave W, Mountlake Terrace
Date: Monday, June 6
6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Edmonds Community College, Snohomish Hall, Room 0304
20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood
Tuesday, June 7
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Monroe High School Performing Arts Center
17001 Tester Road, Monroe
Wednesday, June 15
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Everett Station, Weyerhaeuser Room
3201 Smith Avenue, Everett
Wednesday, June 22
10 a.m. – noon
City of Arlington Community Room, Hadley Hall
18513 59th Avenue NE, Arlington
Thursday, June 23
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Rider Forums
Dates and Times TBD
Community Transit staff will hold rider forums at park & rides and transit centers throughout Snohomish County.

Public Hearing:
Rose Hill Community Center
304 Lincoln Avenue, Mukilteo
Thursday, July 7
5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

C-Tran Board to Vote on Bus Funding Measure Next Tuesday

C-Tran Board Meeting to Decide on Fate of Bus System Next Tuesday the 12th at 5:30pm 

The C-Tran Board in Clark County is poised to vote to put a .2% sales tax measure on the ballot on Tuesday in order to give voters the option to prevent devastating 40% cuts to bus service! There are two important reasons we are encouraging people to attend & testify at the C-TRAN Board Meeting on Tuesday, April 12th at 5:30pm at the Public Service Center. 
#1 -- We need to support our core bus service. There will be many who attend this meeting that do not support the buses. Without this measure on the ballot this year, C-TRAN is facing cuts of around 40% next year. This will leave many in our community simply stranded.

#2 -- We need to delay a light rail and bus rapid transit vote until next year for several reasons. The NoTolls group and the other anti-bus, anti-light rail, spokespeople will be there to try to force a vote this year. They want this in front of voters before the technical requirements have been met and before voters have had the chance to see what they will be getting for their small investment. They also know that asking voters for two things at once will make it tougher for both measures to pass.

We can't let them win.

Please SHOW UP AND SPEAK UP at this meeting to ensure our success and to make sure your voice is heard.
WHAT: C-Tran Board Meeting to Put Bus Measure on the Ballot
WHEN: Tuesday April 12th 5:30pm
WHERE: Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin, Vancouver, 6th Floor Hearing Room

Sound Transit Seeks Volunteers to Serve on an Agency Oversight Panel

Sound Transit is seeking volunteers in South King County and Pierce County to help the agency plan, build and operate the regional mass transit system. The agency has two immediate openings on the Citizen Oversight Panel (COP). Sound Transit relies on the oversight and expertise from this dedicated and independent group of volunteers.

The COP was created in 1997 to independently monitor Sound Transit and make sure it meets its commitments to build and operate a regional bus, light rail and commuter rail transit system. Voters approved local funding for the system in November 1996 and then again for major expansions in 2008. The 15 COP members represent a variety of interests, professional expertise and experience. The COP meets twice monthly during normal business hours and acts as an independent oversight entity by digging into agency details, asking hard questions and reporting its findings to the Sound Transit Board of Directors.

To Apply

Submit both a one-page letter and a resume to Aaron Reardon, Sound Transit Board Chair, 401 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104-2826.

The letter should include:

• Brief statement of interest in serving on the panel
• Specific qualifications for serving on the panel
• Highlights of related experience and expertise

To Qualify You Must:

• Be a registered voter within the Sound Transit District
• Reside and/or work in King County, Pierce County or Snohomish County within the Sound Transit district boundary
• Have experience/skills in one or more areas of expertise related to the panel's responsibilities-business and finance management, engineering, large projects construction management, public facilities and service, government processes, and public policy development or review
• Be able to attend meetings twice each month during normal business hours.

Appointment Process

Copies of all letters and resumes will be provided to the Sound Transit Board for its review. The Board's Executive Committee will review the nominations and recommend candidates. The Board of Directors will confirm the appointments.

Sound Transit actively seeks to include persons from diverse backgrounds and professional areas of expertise to support agency oversight, planning and operations. Persons of color and women are encouraged to apply.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pierce Transit Announces Cuts Hearings: Act Now to Demand Fair Bus Cuts

Pierce Transit Announces Cuts Hearings: Act Now to Demand Fair Bus Cuts

During the campaign you helped us raise awareness about the importance of saving our bus service.  Unfortunately we didn't get to a yes vote, but that doesn't mean our advocacy work is over or our voices are not important.

Pierce Transit announced last week that they will be holding a series of public hearings on the proposed 35% bus service cuts coming to our community in October.  It is crucial to attend one of these hearings and to tell the Pierce Transit board what the proposed cuts mean to you.

The first hearing will be in Lakewood at the Pierce Transit's Headquarters at 4-6pm on Monday April 11th. (note time correction)

The Tacoma meeting will be on Thursday April 21st from 5-7pm at Tacoma City Hall.  For a full list of hearings you can attend in your community, CLICK HERE!

The voters have demanded that Pierce Transit be as cost efficient as possible, yet the board is proposing cutting high ridership cost efficient routes disproportionally more than the overall cuts.  The current proposal will cut high ridership routes like the 1, 2, and 3 by 30-40%. These levels of cuts will lead to overcrowded buses that leave riders stranded at the bus stop in high ridership areas.

Go to the cuts hearings and tell Pierce Transit to make cuts to service based on ridership and efficiency!

If you can not attend a hearing then CLICK HERE to send an e-mail to Pierce Transit to make your voice heard.

Remember to send an e-mail today to Pierce Transit if you can't attend the upcoming hearings.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Breaking News: Complete-Main Streets Bill Passes State Senate!

House Bill 1071 the Complete Streets and Main-streets Bill just passed the Washington State Senate by a 29-19 (with one excused) vote!  Passing this bill, which we first proposed last session, is a great news!

There were some small changes to the House Bill in the Senate, so now its final step before going to the Governor's desk is a quick concurrence vote in the House.

Sen Haugen spoke in favor of the bill and said "This bill will encourage our cities to take a more holistic look at our streets".

Here is the breakdown of what ended up to be a mostly party line with Republicans Hill, Fain, Litzow voting in favor.

Thank you Senators for your vote and activists for your help!

Yeas: 29   Nays: 19   Absent: 0   Excused: 1
Voting Yea:  Senators Brown, Chase, Conway, Eide, Fain, Fraser, Hargrove, Harper, Hatfield, Haugen, Hill, Hobbs, Kastama, Keiser, Kilmer, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Litzow, McAuliffe, Murray, Nelson, Pridemore, Ranker, Regala, Rockefeller, Sheldon, Shin, Tom, and White
Voting Nay:  Senators Baumgartner, Baxter, Becker, Benton, Carrell, Delvin, Ericksen, Hewitt, Holmquist Newbry, Honeyford, King, Morton, Parlette, Pflug, Roach, Schoesler, Stevens, Swecker, and Zarelli
Excused:  Senator Prentice

Is North Link Alignment Decided from the Get-Go?

SeaShore Transportation Forum: April 1, 2011

Last Friday, the SeaShore Transportation Forum met at Shoreline City Hall to discuss Sound Transit’s North Corridor Transit Project and a few other issues. First, Kenmore Mayor David Baker expressed concern that transportation earmarks like TIGER are being cancelled or delayed by congress, noting that Washington State is not slated to receive any federal transit funding this year. Baker also pointed out that many small cities depend on earmarks to fund road work and other transportation projects.

Then Sound Transit Government Relations Director Patrice Hardy and Capitol Hill Station/TOD lead Michelle Ginder presented their North Corridor Transit Project update. The project will connect Lynnwood to Northgate, at its eventual Link station. Sound Transit has already proposed a North Link light rail extension. However, to obtain a full federal grant, they must submit a thorough analysis comparing their plan to other alternatives. Sound Transit surveyed local residents, who expressed a preference for light rail over Bus Rapid Transit as well as an alignment along I5 or SR99 rather than along 15th Ave.

Sound Transit will analyze a light rail alignment along I5 and one along SR99 and decide in the Fall which is best. The I-5 option, their preferred alignment, goes straight to Lynnwood. It's the fastest, most cost effective route by their account. The SR99 route involves laying extra track west to 99 and then back to I5 in Lynnwood, which means it would be slower and more expensive. The upside is that it there is more opportunity for development along that corridor. Light rail could not run at-grade along 99 because there are too many traffic lights, while an elevated or underground line would be expensive. The main purpose is to connect Lynnwood to Northgate, so they prefer I5 because it does so more efficiently. North Link is intended to be a "backbone," and feeder lines can be considered later.

Councilmember Rasmussen warned that many of his constituents feel Central Link is too slow due to its at-grade segment in Rainier Valley. He encouraged Sound Transit to pick the fastest alignment, arguing that the main benefit of light rail is that it's faster, so slowing it down diminishes its value. He said that many of his constituents resent the light rail's detour through Rainier Valley, where it runs more slowly and has to deal with traffic lights (it couldn't have been elevated because Rainier Valley values its views of Rainier immensely and tunneling would have been very expensive).

King County Executive Alternate Chris Arkills defended the alignment, pointing out that the slower speed through Rainier Valley (for only 4 miles) only slows the trip to the airport by 4 minutes. He believes that ridership is more dependent on reliability than speed. "People don't care if it takes 33 minutes to get the airport instead of 29 minutes as long as the trains run often enough." He also said that ridership would have been low had Central Link bypassed Rainier Valley since few people would board along the Duwamish and there was less potential for development there, in contrast to the great potential for development in Rainier Valley. Thus, Arkills argued, efficiency must be balanced with reliability and potential for development. However, he supports the I5 alignment for the north corridor. Rasmussen acknowledged Arkills's points, clarifying that he was only referring to voter perceptions while implying that those perceptions should still be addressed.

Finally, they discussed Seattle’s upcoming commercial parking tax increases and UW’s bid to be exempted in order to fund their U-Pass program. While some agree with this, it has prompted other schools and hospitals to apply for exemptions as well, greatly complicating the situation.

Patrice from Sound Transit called me to let me know that they don't have a preferred alignment yet because they are still in the middle of the alternatives analysis process. The I-5 alignment is the "presumed alignment" in original the ST2 plan.

I initially attributed comments by Chris Arkills to Chris Eggen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

100 Useful Tips for Car-Less Living: Find the Perfect Everyday Bag

Some at TCC's headquarters call me bag man.  I am happy to say I've earned this title with pride.  It is true, I have a lot of different bags that I often switch around over zealously, but there is a reason for that, good bags are crucial to living car-less or car-free happily.

As a car-free transit dude I know the importance of good bags, and their importance cannot be overstated.  I  grew up in car-oriented America and like many people across the county I practically lived out of my car.  In high school I could pile overnight clothes, hiking gear, soccer cleats, a guitar, and a even a blow up mattress into my car at all times.  Having all of that crap on hand at a moments notice is a huge advantage of personal automobiles. Being able to carry what you need even for a day can be a challenge for us transit dudes and dudets, but good bags can help mitigate the problem, and maybe down the road even help free us from being attached to so much stuff!

Here is review of everyday bags, enjoy and let me know if you have any feedback, trips, or ideas.

Everyday bags:

Option 1-The Hand Held or Shoulder Briefcase.

Advantages: Stylish, urban, sleek, people won't look at your weird when you get to meetings, great option for holding a small amount of things.

Disadvantages: Want to carry an extra pair of shoes or clothes for the gym after work? Sorry, you are out of luck.  You better not pack much at all if this is your bag of choice.  Also some models might not hold up well in Pacific Northwest weather for non-car commuters.

Option 2- The Omnipresent Bike Messenger Bag

Advantages: Stylish, hip, holds more than a briefcase, easy to access quickly (why they were designed in the first place for bike messengers).

Disadvantages: Potential to look like a hipster, people might think you are from Portland and support the worst team in the MLS (they are the worst, not kidding), and you are still limited in capacity.  Worst of all, I've found if you over stuff messenger bags they can lead to painful shoulders and backs especially if you are carrying books/computers etc.

Option 3- The Good Old Fashioned Backpack

Advantages: Most good backpacks can hold a ton of stuff (extra pair of shoes, gym clothes, overnight change of clothes, toiletries, computer, and work stuff all no problem) and simultaneously not hurt you back at all (unlike messenger bags).  Also they are great for sprinting to buses because you can tighten them to your back and they don't bounce around, also are good for biking for this reason.

Disadvantages: Take 5 seconds longer to access than a messenger bag, they are not stylish, not cool, and you show up to meetings and everyone things you are a college or graduate student intern.

Option 4- The One-Day Roller

Advantages: Umm.... ummm... Ok, I will admit, you can fit a lot of stuff into these bags and it will never hurt your back.

Disadvantages: This list could be long but I'll just name a few: people will assume you are an older woman regardless of your age and gender, if you are forced to walk in place with anything but perfect sidewalks you will not have a good day, climbing hills is difficult (little problem in Washington), biking and running to the bus are both impossible, and lets be honest your friends are going to make fun of you a lot.

The winner for my everyday bag Review? The basic backpack!  My backpack is from an awesome local company based out of Bellingham called Brenthaven, but I know that Jansport, REI, and others also have some good daily use urban styled backpacks.

Need to pack shoes, change of clothes, computer, and books or a kindle for your commute? No Problem!

I'll post at a later date about grocery bag and travel bag options, stay tuned! Happy Friday, enjoy the rain.

More Maintenance Coming to Central Link Next Week

Sound Transit sent this out last night.  So, if you plan on taking Central Link anytime at night next week, good luck.  I've said it once and I'll say it again, it would be incredibly helpful to have real time arrival information (or at least a posted schedule) on One Bus Away for link all of the time, but especially when trains are running every 30 minutes.

Track maintenance April 4-7, 2011

Link light rail will run every 20-30 minutes instead of every 10-15 minutes starting at 9 p.m. Monday, April 4 and lasting until 1am daily until Thursday, April 7 due to track maintenance.
Track maintenance will also temporarily close platforms at the following stations:
  • Beacon Hill Station
  • Mt. Baker Station
If your normal boarding location is closed, please board trains at the other platform to travel in both directions.

Reminder APRIL FRIDAY FORUM: Transit Funding in a Divided Congress is Today

Reminder APRIL FRIDAY FORUM: Transit Funding in a Divided Congress & What it Means to You is TODAY at NOON!

A few weeks ago we sent out an action alert to asking you to help us save King County Metro's Rapid Ride from drastic funding cuts proposed by the House Republicans in Congress.
Tomorrow we will be bringing you an all star panel to give you all of the information you need on what is going on with transit and transportation funding in Congress.
Looking into the crystal ball isn't easy, but with these rock star panelists, we'll give it our best shot.  As always feel free to bring your lunch and there will be plenty of time for Q and A!

Sheila Babb, Deputy State Director for U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Larry Ehl, Federal Relation Manager, WSDOT
Ron Posthuma, Deputy Director, King County DOT

WHAT: Federal Transportation Funding in a Divided Congress and What it Means to You!
WHEN: Friday APRIL 1st, 12:00 -1:30 pm
WHERE: Seattle-King County Public Health - Chinook Building, Room 121,
401 Fifth Ave.,Seattle