Sunday, July 31, 2011

Even More Bus Cuts on the Horizon?

The PI's Scott Gutierrez points out that Republicans in congress have proposed a 6-year transportation bill that would cut Washington state's federal transit funding by $128 million per year. Metro estimates it would lose approximately $21 million per year under this scenario. The Congestion Relief Charge (CRC) would only raise about $25 million per year, which means Metro may still have to cut buses by 6% even if the CRC passes. In other words, that loss of federal funding would cancel out most of the benefit of the CRC. If the CRC fails and Metro loses that federal funding, that would be a double-whammy and could mean even bigger cuts than previously expected.

Cuts in federal funding would also jeopardize Sound Transit's plans to extend Link light rail. If the Republican plan decreased funding to the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts grant program, Washington state could lose $38 million slated for Rapid Ride lines from Burien to Renton and Shoreline to downtown Seattle.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Big News and Smaller News from Sound Transit

It seems like transit has dominated the news cycles recently.  With the metro bus cuts hearings last week and the Sound Transit Bellevue activity this week its been all transit all the time. 

In not so monumental, but still newsworthy, Sound Transit announced in its CEO Report this afternoon that the new light rail station in Tacoma will be called Commerce Street Station.  They also announced that the North entrance for the Sounder Trains is going to reopen with temporary scaffolding  installed to protect riders.  As an infrequent Sounder rider this is welcome news.  I took the train once during the closure and the lineup to get out using just the south exists was massive and time consuming.

Here is more from the afternoon CEO report:

Commerce Street Station

It's official. The name of the new Tacoma Link station is the Commerce Street Station.
The City of Tacoma last year proposed adding a station north of the Convention
Center Station on Commerce Street, just south of South 11th Street. The City of Tacoma built the new station, which is expected to open in August.
The 1.6-mile Tacoma Link line was completed in 2003 and serves the downtown area. The new station will expand access to businesses, increase ridership, and improve mobility in downtown Tacoma.

King Street Station North Entrance to open

Starting Monday, the north entrance to the Sounder King Street Station is scheduled to reopen. At that time, temporary protective scaffolding will be in place to prevent debris from falling from the overhead bridge structure. 
The north entrance, which is off Jackson Street, was temporarily closed about a month ago as a safety precaution after debris from the bridge was found on the passenger platform.
As a long-term solution, the City of Seattle has designed (and we have reviewed and approved) netting for the underside of the bridge.
We appreciate the patience of our Sounder riders. I know the closure has been an inconvenience.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's the day The King County Council will vote on the Future of Metro

Today's the day. The King County Council will vote on whether to save King County Metro.
Nothing has changed -- yet. Unless we pass critical stop-gap support, we'll lose 600,000 hours of bus hours and 4 of 5 bus riders will be significantly affected -- resulting in more congestion, pollution, and inequity.

As of this morning, a majority of the 9-member county council supports passing the "congestion relief charge." But we still need one more councilmember to adopt it.
We must hold our councilmembers accountable. 

Today -- Monday, July 25, 3pm
Council Chambers, 10th floor
King County Courthouse
516 Third Ave
Seattle, WA
If you cannot attend at 3pm, please consider coming early and signing-in to register your support. Early sign-ups begin at 1pm.

Together let's save King County Metro!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Personal Teen Story on why $20 Congestion Reduction Charge Matters

By Jasmine Beverly (TCC Summer Intern)

I’m not a stereotypical high school girl. I don’t go to high school dances, I have to be dragged to shop for clothes, and I’d rather spend time with my family than go out with friends. I’m seventeen and I don’t even have my permit or license yet. That’s right, a high school girl without a driver’s permit or license. Reading this story anywhere else, you’d think “Ooh, she lives in the middle of nowhere and is a little farm girl,” or “What a deprived teenager she must be! Living without a car?” or “She must be the nerdy outcast who doesn’t have any friends.” And although I’m a choir nerd, neither of those statements is true; I simply live in Seattle where public transportation is amazing. Well, for now it is.

I use the bus for everything. I take it to and from school, to the store to buy groceries, to friend’s houses, and even to visit family members. What’s the point of spending money for driver’s ed classes and gas when I can just hop on a bus? Seattle Public Schools gives high school students (with some exceptions) Orca cards. Not only do the cards have King County Metro youth passes, but this past year, they came with Sound Transit Business Passports. That enables us to right light rail or the Sounder around the city and even outside of it free of charge. It was nice for me because I was able to ride around Seattle and also visit my dad and his family in Puyallup. No more 45 minute car rides with younger sisters stuck in traffic. Just a nice, air conditioned train with free wifi and peace and quiet.

Now wait a second, what happens if Metro cuts 17% of their bus service? Let’s see, getting anywhere would take twice as long as it does now. Maybe even three times as long. If there are less buses on the road, that means more cars. And more cars mean traffic will be horrendous. So... Less buses + more cars + the same amount of people = what? This isn’t that hard of a decision to make, people. The $20 Congestion Reduction Charge needs to be implemented. There’s no way that more cars on the road can be a good thing, ever. But let’s just make life harder for people in Washington the next couple of years. Let’s force teenagers to conform to the stereotypes and buy cars, work at fast food restaurants to pay for gas, and congest the roads that much more.

I honestly can’t imagine how anyone could disagree with this. That’s just me though. The nerdy choir high school kid.

Record Ridership and New Website at Amtrak Cascades

WSDOT launched a redesigned Amtrak Cascades redesigned today.

On first glance, it is a little busy but overall I really like it.  Too many times transit agencies and government transportation providers don't sell their services, they just provide the bare bones information.  This website breaks that mold.  It is combines Amtrak Cascades successful marketing campaign (tweet to Tacoma, or email to Olympia) with catchy visuals and useful rider information.  Huge props to WSDOT marketing folks and whomever their outside consultant was.

In related news, their marketing efforts (and increasing gas prices) seem to be paying off.  WSDOT reports that Amtrak Cascades broke another ridership record last quarter with an increase of 8% ridership compared to 2010 numbers. Between April-June this year 231,194 rode Amtrak Cascades; that means 16,550 new people chose to hop on the rails and leave their cars at home.

The bottom line is, ridership is up, Washingtonians want more intercity rail service, and thanks to Obama's rail program we are going to get increased service in the Seattle-Portland coordinator.  Big props to WSDOT's rail program and all of you Amtrak riders out there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Metro Cuts Hearing: Where in the World is Pete von Reichbauer?

The next public hearing on the future of King County Metro will be at Burien City Hall at 6pm Thursday.

At the last hearing over 700 people lined the streets of Seattle supporting bus service in King County.  We expect a good crowd at Thursday's hearing as well.

A lot of participants at the Seattle hearing were upset that their representatives were not there (only the four dems who supported the $20 fee to save metro were there, since then Patterson has also come out in favor of it).

So the big question for tomorrow's hearing is, will the vice-chair of the transportation committee, Pete von Reichbauer from Federal Way, be there? We hope so!

See you all tomorrow at 6pm to support buses in at Burien City Hall!.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breaking News: Julia Patterson to support CRC to save metro

 This just in. Councilmember Julia Patterson has come out supporting the congestion relief fee to save 17% cuts to King County Metro!

This means with one more vote we'll get to the required 2/3rd majority that is required to pass this legislation to save metro.

Please come to the hearing in Burien at city hall on Thursday at 6pm to testify in favor of this important measure to save metro bus service!

Patterson: “Transit services a critical lifeline for commuters”
Signals support for congestion relief charge

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Julia Patterson released this statement today on Ordinance 2011-0288, the proposal to implement a temporary $20 Congestion Reduction Charge on vehicle licenses for each of the next two years to help maintain Metro Transit service at its current level:
“After finding out today that the proposed Congestion Relief Charge would save the 26,000 service hours scheduled to be cut in Council District 5 as part of the 17 percent reduction of transit service, I am ready to support Executive Constantine’s proposal.
“This was not an easy decision for me because families are already struggling in this economic recession. Before I gave my support of a fee increase, I needed to make absolutely sure that this proposal did not disproportionately burden the working poor in my district.

“South County residents commute further than anywhere else in King County. They rely heavily on bus service every day to get them to work and back home to their families.

“Without this critical transportation lifeline we will be forcing more people to get in their cars and they will spend hundreds of dollars a year on gas and vehicle maintenance – a much greater financial impact than a $20 fee.”

10,000 Petitions to be Delivered in Support of Metro at 3pm Tomorrow in Kirkland

WHAT:       King County Metro bus service is in dire financial straits. Unless new revenue is found, they will be forced to cut 17 percent of King County bus service impacting over 80% of bus riders in our community.
Transportation for Washington, The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Futurewise, Transportation Choices Coalition, Fuse, and MoveOn have teamed up to build a coalition to save King County Metro.  On Wednesday at 3pm the pro-transit coalition will deliver over 10,000 petitions to Councilmember Larry Phillips supporting the $20 congestion relief fee to save King County Metro!

WHEN:       Wednesday July 20th 3-3:30pm
WHERE:     South Kirkland Park and Ride, 10610 NE 38th Pl, Kirkland, Washington
Please note this even is open to the public so feel free to join us!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Phone Banking Party Tuesday Night

UPDATE: Facebook event page.

Want to do your part to help save bus service in King County? Stop by TCC's headquarters Tuesday night (that's the 19th) at 6pm. We are located on 1st Ave between Marion and Columbia on the sixth floor of the Colman Building.

811 1st Ave #626, Seattle, WA

Here's our Facebook page.

And here is the event on facebook. Please let us know if you can attend my emailing
Volunteer one evening and make a difference!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Massive Number of Bus Riders Turn out to Talk to Democrats on the King County Council

Last night's County Council hearing on the future of King County Metro was an event of epic proportions.

This photo taken by our friend Jenn Olegario tells the story of how many people wanted to testify.  The line was over two hours to get into the ill-equipped County Council chambers and the testimony supporting the congestion reduction charge lasted until 10:30pm.

The main story lines from last night:
  1. This is one of the largest turnouts ever for a public hearing in King County with 500-1000 people showing up and trying to testify and many of them were not able to wait out the lines to get in, although many patient transit supporters did.
  2. People were appalled by the potential loss of bus service and 99% of them supported the fee. The biggest message other than supporting the fee was that Metro should eventually levy more sustainable and non regressive forms of taxation to remain solvent.
  3. Councilmembers Dunn, Patterson, Hague, and von Reichbauer were notably absent from the hearing.  A lot of their constituents who were there to testify to them were very disappointed that their councilmembers were not there. None of the absent members have stated their support of approve the congestion reduction charge councilmanically.  Hague, Dunn, and von Reichbauer have all stated their opposition to the short term fee without a public vote.
Here has been a lot of coverage on this event from king 5, Seattle PI, Seattle Times, and publicola.

I testified to the partial council and delivered the nearly 2,000 emails that all of you sent in to support the measure.  Thank you for your support and please visit to keep the pressure up!

A lot of people were livetweeting the event, to see a good rundown check out:
and @seattletransitblog
The main hastag of the day being used was #savekcmetro
Also check out Oran's flick of the evening

Monday, July 11, 2011

TCC Announces Hiring of Calra Saulter (Bus Chick) as Our New Membership Manager

Say hello to Carla Saulter, our new membership manager! A long time TCC member, Carla’s in charge of growing and cultivating our membership base. The author of the blog Bus Chick, Carla will bring her enthusiasm for all things transit to TCC. She readily admits to an obsession with the “transit culture” and believes that getting people out of their cars is not about convincing them why they should; it’s about showing them why they want to. “There’s plenty of propaganda promoting cars as the best way to get around. Those of us who ride buses and trains regularly know what everyone else is missing.” Welcome Carla and we are really excited to have her on board!

Come say hi to Carla if you are in the neighborhood at the next Transportation Choices Happy Hour in Seattle in August. Details coming soon! You can also drop her a note at

We put your dollars to work!

Important Metro Funding Hearing is Tomorrow in Seattle

Hearing Tomorrow to Save King County Buses

Thank you for support of saving King County Metro. We have sent in over 1,500 emails supporting the measure to save metro. If you haven't done so set you still can by clicking here!

Losing 600,000 service hours -- significantly affecting 80% of riders -- will devastate our economy, environment, and communities with more congestion, pollution, and inequity.

That's why it's so important for the King County Council to adopt the $20 congestion relief charge. This state legislature-approved measure will provide temporary relief until a long-term state solution is found.

This is the most critical week in our effort to save King County Metro. The county council must adopt the congestion relief charge on July 25th.

Tomorrow's public hearing in Seattle will be the pivotal juncture. We need to turnout en masse to show strong support for the measure.

Here's the details:
Public Hearing to Save King County Metro
Tuesday, July 12, 6 - 8 p.m.
King County Council Chambers
King County Courthouse, 10th Floor
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA

RSVP right now.
We need to pack the room and overflow attendance into the hallways and streets. So, please bring friends and family.

P.S. We'll have stickers to show that you're a supporter. So, when you get off the elevator on the 10th floor, get your sticker from me or another organizer. Also arrive early as you'll need to get through court security. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July Friday Forums: How to Stop the Metro Bus Cuts Start Tomorrow

July Friday Forums: King County Bus Cuts Coming Soon? How A $20 Congestion Reduction Charge Could Help

With 17% cuts to bus service looming at King County Metro next year without new revenue, transit funding is a hot topic in King County and across the state. Did you hear Executive Constantine on KUOW last week talking about this very issue?

Metro is facing a cut of 600,000 service hours because of declining tax revenues. So how bad could the cuts be? Consider this preliminary proposal – 84 existing routes may be eliminated, 93 existing routes may be reduced or revised - all over King County. These changes could impact 80 percent of bus riders. But there’s an opportunity to save service. A new proposal to levy a $20 Congestion Reduction fee could help stave off bus cuts if implemented this year. Learn more about this proposal and find out what routes could be on the chopping block.

Please join speakers in two lively discussions. The first will be in Seattle:

WHAT: King County Metro Cuts & the Proposed Congestion Reduction Fee: Seattle Forum
WHEN: Friday July 8th, 12:00 -1:30 pm
WHERE: Bertha Knight Landis Room Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Seattle
  • Welcome by King County Executive Dow Constantine
  • King Council Councilmember Larry Phillips
  • Seattle City Councilmember & Transportation Chair Tom Rasmussen
  • Kevin Desmond, General Manager of King County Metro
The second will be in Bellevue:

WHAT: King County Metro Cuts & the Proposed Congestion Reduction Fee: Bellevue Forum
WHEN: Friday July 15th, 12:00 -1:30 pm
WHERE: HDR Engineering,12th Floor, 500 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
  • Weclome by King County Executive Dow Constantine
  • Kevin Desmond, General Manager of King County Metro
  • And others TBA!
We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday Morning: Sound Transit celebrating Edmonds Station Upgrades


TO: Puget Sound Editors & Reporters
FROM: Kimberly Reason, (206) 689-3343, or
DATE: July 6, 2011
SUBJECT: Sound Transit to celebrate Edmonds Station upgrades

Sound Transit will celebrate the completion of construction upgrades at its Edmonds Sounder station at a dedication ceremony this Friday at 10:30 a.m. Speaking at the event will be Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, Sound Transit Boardmember and Mayor of Mukilteo Joe Marine, Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper, Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Rick Krochalis, and Washington State Senator Paull Shin.

Conceived to improve connections between train and bus service, the new $12.9 million transit hub replaces a temporary structure with a new east platform, new weather-protected passenger shelters, and a transit center consisting of three bus bays and two passenger shelters. Riders will also enjoy a repaved parking area, upgraded lighting, and secured storage for bicycles. An underground stormwater drainage system has also been installed to address frequent flooding at the site.

Public art by renowned Northwest artist Gerard Tsutakawa has been relocated to the north end of the station from its temporary placement at the SR 104 Mini-Park. Mr. Tsutakawa's 15-foot bronze sculpture, "Standing Wave," symbolizes the movement of the waters of Puget Sound and inspired the station's architectural elements. The artist's wave-like design, a common feature found in many structures in the City of Edmonds, is reflected in the new passenger shelters and four artist-created stainless steel and bronze panels that have been integrated into the platform railing near the station shelters.

Sound Transit, which dedicates a portion of construction costs to the incorporation of public art in its projects, collaborated with the City of Edmonds Arts Commission and the Edmonds Public Art Fund to initially commission Mr. Tsutakawa's iconic sculpture and relocate it to the upgraded station.

The upgraded facility will continue to offer four Sounder and three Amtrak Rail Plus roundtrips each day. Community Transit will start providing service to the new transit center later this summer.

More information on the Edmonds Sounder station can be found at

WHEN: Friday, July 8 at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Edmonds Sounder Station
210 Railroad Avenue

Federal Transportation Bill Update - Principles Released by House Chair Mica

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica’s unveiled his principles for a federal transportation reauthorization bill, this morning. Read his prop here.

James Corless, director of Transportation for America, had this to say in response to the Chairman’s proposal on state flexibility, transit funding and streamlining project delivery:

“We commend Chairman Mica and his fellow drafters on the push to get this long-stalled bill moving, and we appreciate the effort to consolidate programs, leverage non-federal resources and deliver projects more quickly. However, we are skeptical that investments at this level can meet the country’s infrastructure needs.

A bill this small would need to be constrained to three key goals:

Maintaining our national highway and bridge system, which is quickly approaching its mid-life crisis;
Providing more options such as public transportation, vanpools and safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians;
Promoting accountability through meaningful performance measures and a more strategic approach to transportation planning.

“Chairman Mica’s proposal to give states broader latitude needs strong provisions for accountability on national goals, such as economic prosperity, energy independence, equal access to opportunity and environmental stewardship. However, this emphasis on the state level cannot come at the expense of the places that are feeling the brunt of our inadequate investments to this point: local communities in both urban and rural locales. We are particularly concerned at the proposal to eliminate dedicated funding that helps provide more safe options for walking and biking.

“While Chairman Mica indicated an intent to preserve the historic share of 20 percent for transit, the overall effect is a devastating cut that leaves us well short of the amount required to meet rising demand for transit service, especially in this time of severe fiscal constraints.

“The focus on removing bureaucratic impediments to progress is encouraging, but the details on how this is accomplished are critical. We look forward to seeing more of those and other details of the bill, and we hope the Chairman will follow through on his pledge to consider other ideas in a bipartisan fashion as his committee crafts a bill that preserves our infrastructure, expands our options and hold agencies accountable for performance.”

Transportation for America was not alone in their skepticism and disappointment. Janet Kavinoky of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that the spending reductions would destroy existing jobs while preventing the creation of news jobs needed to lower the 16.3 percent of unemployed construction workers.

In a Natural Resources Defense Council blog post, they called Mica’s proposal “a mindless approach to cutting spending” that “represents myopia at its worst.” He said he wanted to see strong fix-it first language, an oil-savings objectives and performance measures with teeth.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Which Routes Would be Cut?

In case you were wondering, here is Metro's specific plan for the 17% cuts in bus service (600,000 hours per year) if the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge is not approved. The first table lists the routes that would be eliminated completely. The second table shows those slated to be reduced or revised, which could mean they would serve different stops to run more efficiently, run less frequently, or discontinue service on evenings or weekends). The third table shows the routes that would be preserved as is. The cuts could be implemented as soon as February.