Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Penninsula Daily News-Kessler to run for 10th Term

The Penninsula Daily News reports today the Rep. Lynn Kessler will run for a 10th term. There was some internal speculation if she might retire this year. That speculation has officially been put to rest.


Transit Cuts...Are Officially here

Many skeptics have failed to believe that doom and gloom transit service cuts would ever actually happen. With plummeting sales tax revenues transit agencies across the state are facing daunting cuts in the next 1-3 years. In the 2009 legislature TCC worked hard to pass a modest $20 car-tab local option to give agencies a financial band-aid. As you will recall that was vetoed by the Governor.

I am sad to report that the according to the Tacoma News Tribune, transit cuts are officially coming.

The story does a good job painting what Pierce Transit's 5% cuts will mean for an every day commuter who relies on the route 53 , a route that is getting eliminated, to get to work.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said this week. “I will have to walk up the hill, and at my age, I’ll probably have a heart attack.”

Pierce Transit planner Kelly Hayden sums up the problem that agencies across the state are facing:

“It’s the perfect storm,” said Kelly Hayden, Pierce Transit’s director of planning. “What can I do? It’s something that a transportation planner never wants to do.”

“The demand is up, but the resources to pay for it are going down,” he added.

Come July 12th we will see significant transit cuts at Pierce Transit, one of the state's largest agencies. Cuts at the state's largest agency, Metro, are not far behind. New local revenue sources and an increase in the state's financial commitment to transit are needed now more than ever.

Ports calling for investment in Freight

The TNT reports that the big West Coast Ports are calling for more investment in freight rail in the next transportation package.

Investments in Freight rail often help passenger rail reliability. Also as more freight is put onto trains emissions from the trucking industry are reduced.

Watching the Stimulus

The President of Smart Growth America, Geoff Anderson, was on Fox news earlier this week!

This is worth a watch.


Here is the original heads up from the SGA blog

TCC worked with Smart Growth America to release a Washington specific report. It can be found on our website here and was picked up last night in the PI's traffic blog.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Transit Oriented Job Announcement at Community Transit

I am starting to make it semi-habitual to post transit/transportation job announcements here on the blog. I am not sure if that is helpful for people reading it, but I figure with the types of transit geeks reading a TCC blog, some of you might be interested in job announcements especially during these economically tight times.

Here is the most recent one. Swift Service Ambassador for Community Transit's new BRT Swift service. This job looks like involves a lot of direct costumer service for SWIFT riders, which could be challenging but also fun. Plus it pays (40-50k/year).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transit Oriented Development Alert: Station at Othello Park Breaking Ground This Summer

I got word yesterday that The Station at Othello Park will be breaking ground this summer for occupancy in 2011. This is a $70 million dollar transit oriented development project that will bring 352 new units into the Othello neighborhood. The residents of The Station at Othello will be a quick light rail ride from downtown Seattle and the airport. Best of all this will bring a large amount of mixed-use retail space onto the street around Othello station. It is exciting to see a big TOD project move forward during these uncertain economic times.

The website of the project is here, it looks like a very attractive mixed use development.

Othello Partners who are the developers of this project have done an excellent job working with the community to earn their support for this opportunity in the neighborhood. TCC has also been working with Othello Partners, the Othello Neighborhood Association, and many other local organizations to put together a fun street fair at Othello station on opening day so swing by and say hi on July 18th! We will be in the Citadel parking lot right across the street from both station and this exciting TOD project.

Update: Here is the PI article on the news.

Here is the full press release on the ground breaking:
The Station at Othello Park, Seattle’s First New Mixed-use Project on Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail,
Receives Green Light to Break Ground

Seattle developer, Othello Partners, together with USAA Real Estate Company brings transit-oriented living to the Othello neighborhood

$70 Million project is set to break ground in early July and be ready for occupancy in early 2011

SEATTLE­­­ ­– June 24, 2009 – Despite the economic downturn stalling numerous development projects around Puget Sound and throughout the country, one developer—Seattle-based Othello Partners—will move forward in breaking ground on The Station at Othello Park, 420,000-square-foot mixed-use project in south Seattle’s Othello neighborhood. The project is adjacent to the Othello Station on Sound Transit’s new Link Light Rail line, which will be fully operational this July. The Station at Othello Park will offer 352 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment homes, generous tenant amenities and approximately 20,000 square feet of retail space, bringing increased vibrancy and greater access to amenities to one of Seattle’s most eclectic neighborhoods.

“The Station at Othello Park represents the first new mixed-use development to break ground along light rail and is an important step forward in Seattle’s future as a transit-oriented city,” said Steve Rauf, president and CEO of Othello Partners.“It also signifies an exciting renaissance of the Othello neighborhood, one of south Seattle’s most unique in-city communities, with its rich culture and history. Many have seen the value in this project but none as much as our financial partner USAA Real Estate Company, who recognize that this is the time to move forward. We are grateful for their partnership and share a commitment to the community and to The Station at Othello Park.”

Living on Light Rail Offers Sustainability, Access and Even a Park

Giving new meaning to convenience, The Station at Othello Park will feature contemporary northwest design adjacent from the Link Light Rail’s new Othello Station. With trains leaving every seven minutes in either direction, residents are minutes away from downtown Seattle, Sea-Tac International Airport, sporting stadiums or the downtown shopping district, making living in Othello a truly urban experience.

“For a long time, we've known that light rail will transform our city. It's about more than how we get around. It's about how we live," said Mayor Greg Nickels, chair of the Sound Transit board. "The Station at Othello Park ground-breaking is a significant step forward and an example of light rail's potential to create great communities."

The project’s 352 apartments will offer residents several unique floor plans, many with balconies and views of Lake Washington, the Cascades, Othello Park, Mount Rainier and the Seattle skyline. Homes will offer a range of amenities including condominium-quality materials such as granite countertops and high-end, renewable finishes. The community spaces have been artfully designed to represent an urban retreat, including a courtyard garden, an entertainment suite and a 7,500-square-foot rooftop deck—with breath-taking 360-degree views—where residents can entertain guests.

The Station at Othello Park borders the 7.6-acre Othello Park and Playground, which will serve as an extension of the grounds for residents. Located just across the street, this green oasis will be ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, dog owners as well as those who enjoy basketball, outdoor picnics or casual sports.

The Station at Othello Park’s proximity to light rail offers the option of a car-free or reduced car lifestyle, allowing residents to drastically reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, The Station at Othello Park will be developed as an environmentally-sustainable building targeting the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED-Silver certification as well as “Built Green” and “Built Smart” standards. This requires the project to meet and beat specific environmental standards such as using recyclable and/or energy efficient materials and building practices during construction.

Othello Partners is in the permitting process for the two-acre lot just north of The Station at Othello Park and plans to build 370 apartment homes with 18,000 square feet of retail space on this site. Combined, the two residential properties will form a pedestrian district and retail destination along Othello Street, creating a hub of activity in the neighborhood. With the culmination of other development plans, this intersection is poised to become one of the densest residential cores in Seattle.

When pre-leasing begins in 2011, rents will be market rate with some homes available at 80 percent area median income affordability. Sign up to receive more information at www.TheStationAtOthelloPark.com.

Uncovering One of Seattle’s Hidden Gem Neighborhoods

With Link light rail slated to open on July 18, the increased access will allow more urbanites to discover this south Seattle neighborhood. Othello is nestled between I-5 and Lake Washington, less than two miles from Seward Park. It is one of Seattle’s original transit-oriented communities, developing more than 100 years ago as a result of the electronic streetcar line located on Rainier Avenue. Since that time, the neighborhood has been defined by distinct multi-culturalism and an international influence that is celebrated to this day. As Othello welcomes light rail back to the community 70 years after the first streetcar tracks were removed from Rainier Avenue, this neighborhood is primed for new opportunities to grow and change.

“This neighborhood reflects a level of diversity unparalleled in Seattle and we are excited that light rail will connect us with more people who will explore our shops, restaurants and parks,” said Jenna Walden, president of the Othello Neighborhood Association. “We look forward to working with Othello Partners and the business community to ensure The Station at Othello Park creates a lively transit hub.”

The Othello Neighborhood Celebrates Light Rail Opening

To celebrate the opening of Link light rail on July 18, the Othello Neighborhood will be hosting a street party—“Othello on The Move, a Celebration at The Station”—across from the station. Stop by between 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to learn more about the neighborhood, listen to live local music, register for giveaways and much more.

About Othello Partners

Othello Partners is committed to developing environmentally conscious and financially viable residential and commercial projects with a focus on urban in-fill redevelopment. The company, located in the Rainier Valley neighborhood of Seattle, has more than 780 units of residential and 40,000 square feet of retail space under development along light rail. These mixed-use communities will bring high-quality, affordably-priced apartment housing and engaging retail to the Othello neighborhood and greater Rainier Valley.

News from the King County Ferry District

I just got an electronic newsletter from the King County Ferry District with some interesting tidbits of information.

1-The West Seattle passenger ferries May 2009 ridership numbers blew the May 2008 ridership numbers out of the water. Ridership in 2009 was up to 31,557 in May 2009 up from 26,137 in May 2008 (an impressive 20% increase). Also cash revenue was up 46% over last year. This is another example that even in this recession, demand for alternative transportation continues to be strong.
2-September 28th 2009 King County Ferry District will take over the passenger ferry between Seattle and Vashon. There will also be an increase from 2 to 3 roundtrip trips when this change happens.
3-They are moving forward on implementing two more ferry demonstration routes in 2010. For more information see their page here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Your Input Needed: Opportunity to Shape the Future of Tacoma and Our Region

TCC has been working closely with the Cascade Land Conservancy on the Tacoma Mixed Use Centers update. This is a very rare opportunity where a major city in our region is updating their land use plans to accommodate more growth and create healthy, more transit connected, compact communities. Please see the CLC alert below and weigh in on this important topic.

Please email the Tacoma City Council by 4 PM on Tuesday, June 30th; and attend the Public Hearing on June 30th, 5:00 pm at City Hall, and let them know that you want growth in Tacoma to improve our environment, our economy and our quality of life.

Over the past year Tacoma has been updating its regulations for sixteen Mixed-Use Centers around the City. The Cascade Land Conservancy has been following these regulatory updates and working to ensure that the updates help the Mixed-Use Centers (MUC) attract well-planned growth and development that meets the City’s goals and vision to improve the quality of life in Tacoma.

We need your help to ensure that as the Tacoma City Council considers the recommendations of the Planning Commission they adopt a MUC package that positively affects Tacoma and the region.

Thanks to the 114 of you who have already learned about the MUC and wrote letters to the Planning Commission; your work had a tremendously positive impact on the shape of the package being reviewed by Council!

How You Can Make A Difference:
Email the Tacoma City Council by 4 PM on Tuesday, June 30th, and tell them that you want our neighborhoods and our region grow in a way that is responsible, puts feet on the street and provides more choices for future generations.
Attend the Public Hearing on June 30th, 5:00 PM at City Hall, to show your support for a MUC package that will result in livable, walkable Centers with well designed buildings that enhance neighborhood character, supply homes that we can all afford, and provide space for local retail shops, restaurants, and family-wage jobs.

Why Do Tacoma’s Mixed-Use Centers Matter?
From Tacoma to Everett and Seattle to Ellensburg, our region is growing. In the next 20 years, the population of the Puget Sound region will increase by more than one million people, many our own children and grandchildren. That’s like having the entire population of Portland move into the area, twice.

As residents of a fast-growing region, we can’t take our high quality of life for granted. The splendor of our natural landscapes distinguishes this region, drawing businesses and talented employees who want to live and work here. We must create vibrant cities and towns to attract and retain jobs and families, and conserve the surrounding natural lands, working forests and farms we love. If we don’t work to shape this growth in a way that enhances our quality of life, we can expect more poorly planned growth consuming the landscapes that define our region. But if we seize this moment, we can shape the future for generations to come.

Tacoma’s Mixed-Use Centers can help achieve these goals and help accommodate the 100,000 additional residents expected to live in our City by 2040. Well planned Mixed-Use Centers will promote business and residential growth in existing community centers and help Tacoma use infrastructure wisely, promote economic development and preserve the character of Tacoma’s unique neighborhoods.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tacoma Chamber is hiring a Transportation Coordinator for their Downtown On the Go Mobility Program

The UPS government blog reports that the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber is hiring for a Transportation Coordinator position. If you are a mobility/transit nut this is a great job opportunity. I am assuming that with today's economy there will many good applicants.

Here is the original link for the job announcement from the Chamber's web page.

This is an important role that requires a lot of direct business outreach and gives you a seat at table for discussions around non SOV mobility and transit in Tacoma.

On a personal note: Jessica, you and all of your amazing work will be sorely missed!

Community Transit To Commuters: No Fireworks on buses please

Community Transit is reminding Snohomish County residents not to bring fireworks on buses during the 4th of July weekend:
Community Transit also reminds all passengers that fireworks of any kind are not allowed on the agency’s buses or property, including park & ride lots. Even “safe and sane” fireworks sold in some communities can be a safety hazard, said Snohomish County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Sorenson of the Transit Police Unit.

“Community Transit is committed to providing a safe ride for all of its passengers, and the public needs to help with that,” he said. “Following the rules and not bringing fireworks – or other hazardous products – on buses helps keep everyone safe.”

In addition to fireworks, Community Transit also does not allow items including:

· Fuels like gasoline, diesel and propane, or containers that once carried these fuels;

· Hazardous chemicals

· Explosives

· Illegal weapons

Hopefully this isn't too much of an issue. Also CT will be operating all of their routes on a Sunday schedule for July 3rd, so keep that in mind if you commute between Seattle and Snohomish County.

6-23 News Round-up: Ferries, Transportation 2040, and Healthy Communities

It is rare that I do simple news roundups on the blog, but today there was a lot of news published that had to do with issues that TCC covers.

1- The Kitsap Sun has a story about PSRC's Transportation 2040 plan and what it means for ferries. The story summarizes the five alternatives and notes that all 5 PSRC 2040 alternatives call for an increase in foot ferries between Kitsap and King County. Kitsap Transit and PSRC are holding a public hearing on the alternatives on Thursday from 6-8 at the Eagles Nest, 1200 Fairgrounds Road in Bremerton. If you live in Kitsap I encourage you to go and let us know how it went!

2-The Tacoma News Tribune published an Op-Ed today from Dr. Jane Moore. Jane is a friend of mine and TCC, a former family doctor and now executive director of the Washington Coalition to Promote Physical Activity. It is great to see the health care community getting more involved with Transit Oriented Communities and compact growth issues. Also the editorial covers a lot of what is going on with the mixed use centers update, which is a great opportunity to plan for transit oriented growth in Tacoma. For more info on the mixed-use centers update see the City of Tacoma's website here.

3-The PI reports that construction on I-90, which will close a bunch of lanes, will be a week shorter than expected and temporary pedestrian and bike mitigation construction will be begin shortly. I suggest if you are commute across the lake to get those bike legs back in shape over the next few weeks!

4-From the AP, gas prices are not as high as they were last summer but they keep going up, up, up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sound Transit Poised to Receive $6 Million in Grant funds from WSDOT for Sounder Extension

A motion popped up on the agenda for Sound Transit's next board meeting that will create a mechanism that allows Sound Transit to receive nearly $6 million dollars from WSDOT for the Sounder D to M Street overpass project, which is a costly and crucial component for getting commuter rail to Lakewood. It looks like this money was provided by a federal grant that ST and WSDOT applied forjointly. Regardless of the funding source, it is always encouraging to see WSDOT supporting multi-modal and rail projects. WSDOT's $6 million dollar contribution is on top of Sound Transit's $15.5 million dollar contribution to the project.

When the Pt Defiance bypass rail project is completed the Sounder will be able to extend to Lakewood and South Tacoma. Also the Tacoma Amtrak will be relocated to Freighthouse Square, which is a much more central location connected to Sounder, Tacoma Link and buses. Lastly, the trip between Seattle/Tacoma to Portland on the Amtrak will be shortened by 6 minutes.

The next Sound Transit Board Meeting where this will be discussed is:
June 25, 2009
1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Union Station, Ruth Fisher Boardroom
401 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA

Friday, June 19, 2009

Congratulations to our Friends at Intercity Transit!!!

I just got word that Intercity Transit was named the best transit agency in the country for its size by the APTA.

This is awesome news for our friends at Intercity Transit and a huge congratulations is in order.

I have always been impressed by the work IT does with the community in the Olympia area to help create a positive conversation around transit and its connection to sustainability. I also didn't know they were the only transit board in the state with a full citizen voting member. Here is a few clips from the press release that IT sent out today. Click HERE for the full release.

Olympia WA -- In 2006, Intercity Transit officially set its vision to be a leading transit system in the country, committed to enhancing the quality of life for all citizens of Thurston County.

Three years later, that vision is realized. The American Public Transportation Association has named Intercity Transit the best transit system in the nation for its size. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) presented the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award to just three transit systems in the country this year, based on size categories. Intercity Transit won the title in the medium-size category of transit systems providing between 4 and 30 million rides annually. There are a total of 108 medium-sized transit systems in operation across the U.S.

“As a strong supporter of Intercity Transit, I am excited that they have been selected as the best public transportation system in the country,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Their vision and resourcefulness serves as a national model for multi-modal transportation services, and we all have good reason to feel proud today.”


The Intercity Transit Authority, the only governing transit board in Washington State to have citizen representation with full voting power serving with elected officials, redefined the agency’s credo in 2006 adopting a new mission and vision that reflected its focus as not only a high-performing bus system but as the community’s mobility manager.

“This award represents years of work by the Intercity Transit team to make this transit system exceptional in every way,” stated Tom Green Intercity Transit Authority Chair. “The honor belongs not just to our employees and the leaders who have provided great customer service and vision for the agency, but to the community that supports us, and to Senator Murray and other federal and state legislators and officials who have enabled our vision to become reality.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma to Host Streetcar Meeting Tonight

The idea of creating a streetcar network in Tacoma is something that has been discussed for quite sometime. Tacoma Streetcar, which I've been involved in, kick started the idea a few years back. Since then the city has done a feasibility study and more recently the voters approved an 80 million dollar matching grant for LINK/streetcar extension in ST2.

Tonight the City of Tacoma and Sound Transit will be holding a public meeting and discussion about link and streetcar extenstions in Tacoma. The most recent discussions on the topic include extending the Tacoma Link at grade up to stadium, to Tacoma General, and then running down MLK to St. Joe's hospital. There are also talks of running it down Portland Ave. towards the EQC and Salishan.

If you love streetcars or are a transit junkie in the South Sound, see you tonight at the Tacoma streetcar meeting!

Tacoma Light Rail/Streetcar Public Information Meeting
June 18, 2009
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Tacoma Municipal Building

747 Market Street, Room 708
Tacoma, WA

The City of Tacoma, in partnership with Sound Transit and Pierce Transit, is hosting a Light Rail / Streetcar public information meeting. Anyone interested in learning more about the history and planning for these modes of transportation is encouraged to attend.

The meeting will begin with a brief introduction and will be followed by an informal open house where participants can speak with agency staff about:

· Development of light rail/streetcar concepts for Tacoma
· Comparisons between light rail and streetcar modes
· Funding
· Potential benefits and impacts
· Next steps

For more information, contact City of Tacoma staff, Karrie Spitzer at (253) 591-5790 or Christian Clegg at (253) 591-5125

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's not just about Washington anymore

We spent a lot of time during the last legislative session talking about the nexus between transportation, land use and climate pollution. And, we've talked a lot about how renewed investments in transit and bike/ped infrastructure, along with more Transit-Oriented Development, can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also lead to more cohesive communities and better quality of life. Well TCC and allies like Futurewise are no longer just whistling in the wind.

In testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced an interagency Partnership for Livable Communities. DOT Secretary LaHood said, “Creating livable communities will result in improved quality of life for all Americans and create a more efficient and more accessible transportation network that serves the needs of individual communities. Fostering the concept of livability in transportation projects and programs will help America’s neighborhoods become safer, healthier and more vibrant.”

"As a result of our agencies’ work, I am pleased to join with my DOT and EPA colleagues to announce this statement of livability principles" said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "These principles mean that we will all be working off the same playbook to formulate and implement policies and programs. For the first time, the Federal government will speak with one voice on housing, environmental and transportation policy."

“It’s important that the separate agencies working to improve livability in our neighborhoods are all pointed in the same direction. We’re leading the way towards communities that are cleaner, healthier, more affordable, and great destinations for businesses and jobs,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This partnership provides a framework to guide decisions that affect all communities. This way, investments of financial and human resources by any one of our agencies will meet shared goals and confront significant challenges we all face together.”

The Partnership embraces the following "livability" principles:

1. Provide more transportation choices.

Develop safe, reliable and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public health.

2. Promote equitable, affordable housing.

Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.

3. Enhance economic competitiveness.

Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers as well as expanded business access to markets.

4. Support existing communities.

Target federal funding toward existing communities – through such strategies as transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling – to increase community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works investments, and safeguard rural landscapes.

5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment.

Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.

6. Value communities and neighborhoods.

Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods – rural, urban or suburban.

For more, check out Secretary LaHood's blog.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

PSRC Trends: Transit Ridership growth 23%, Vehicle Miles Traveled growth 1%

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) recently released their "Trends" Document for June.

It contains transit ridership numbers. In the PSRC area consider these growth number for the last 4 years:

Transit Ridership-24%
Population Growth-5%
Employment Growth-9%
Increase of Transit Service Hours-4%

And my favorite:
Transit Growth in '06 and 07- 5% and 8% respectfully
VMT growth in those two years-1%

These numbers are not a shock to me, but it still staggering to see them all on the same page. The data drives home the disturbing reality that public demand for transit is at record highs while agencies are looking to cut bus service. A larger state contribution to transit and local funding options are needed in order to meet demand and maintain/grow service levels. Without new funding sources regional transit and system-wide mobility will literally break down.

Light Rail Opens on July 18. We need YOU to make it a Day to Remember!

36 Days to Light Rail Opening in Seattle and we are psyched! To make it a memorable day for thousands of riders, Transportation Choices Coalition will be at LINK light rail stations with fun giveaways, goodie bags and special one-of-a-kind T-shirts. We'll be helping LINK riders, talking about transportation alternatives and our work! We're partnering with local businesses, neighborhoods and groups to make July 18 a special day for Seattle.


If you've got 4 hours on July 18 to help Link riders, share information about transportation alternatives and our work, we'll be forever grateful. In addition to our eternal gratitude, we'd like to say thank you with a great commemorative t-shirt, a complimentary Transportation Choices Coalition membership and plenty of food and drink!

If you're in, give us a ring at 206-329-2336 or email me at shefali@transportationchoices.org. We'll be scheduling volunteer trainings at the end of June.

VOLUNTEER WITH TCC and help make Light Rail Opening a Day to Remember!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bikewise featured on Q13 Fox

Our Friends at the Cascade Bike Club got a great story on Q13 fox discussing their new website bikewise.org. Good work Cascade! This is a great resource for bike commuters in the region, check it out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Columbian Weighs in on Light Rail

The Columbian has an editorial today about the possibility of light rail connecting Clark County to Portland. While they don't outright endorse the idea, the encourage citizens to look at the facts and evaluate the benefits and cost of light rail in Portland and Seattle (opening soon of course).

From the article:

Rather than building their arguments on emotions, both sides in the light-rail debate would be better served by focusing on statistics.

Light-rail proponents likely will point to ridership numbers, convenient service and commute times.

For example, Seattle's Link light rail line will run 20 hours a day with trains arriving every 7½ minutes during peak periods and every 10-15 minutes at other times. In Portland, TriMet boasts on its Web site that the Green Line "will carry riders from Clackamas Town Center to Portland City Center in 39 minutes."

On the other hand, light-rail critics can be expected to build their case on light rail's huge construction, operation and maintenance costs. That $2.3 billion in Seattle and that $575 million in Portland could buy a lot of city buses. It could build a lot of freeway miles.

Another point of contention is the future of light rail. Its supporters believe we are on the cutting edge, and Portland and Seattle are getting a head start as American cities prepare for fewer solo motorists and the broad growth of mass transit. But light-rail critics argue that the vast majority of motorists want to keep their cars and should not be forced out of them by costly decisions of local governments.

A couple of quick thoughts:
By building light rail people aren't forced out of their cars, they are simply getting more choices besides driving alone.

Its been a long time since I've heard someone say Seattle say a head start compared to other major cities when it comes to cutting edge transportation.

The Columbian also has a story about tolling scenarios for the new bridge. They are debating whether they should just toll I-5 or toll the I-5 and I-205 bridges...sound familiar?

Zipcar's LowCARdiet Starts July 15th

Our friends at zipcar are offering great deals for their low car diet month, which starts on July 15th. If you have been on the fence about joining zipcar or trading in your wheels for carsharing, there has never been a better time!

From Zipcar's marketing department:
Hello Friends of Zipcar Seattle!

Last year, folks across Zipcar nation turned in their car keys for 30 days as part of our Low-Car Diet. Starting July 15, a new crop of participants will begin their journey.

The Low-Car Diet Challenge is an annual Zipcar event that encourages people across the country to test drive a car-free routine and see how it works for their daily lifestyle. It is the first step toward getting consumers to consider permanently giving up a first or second vehicle. To date, Zipcar estimates that it has taken more than 90,000 personally-owned vehicles off urban streets.

Participants will be encouraged to blog about their experiences and share how going car "light" is affecting various aspects of their lifestyle, including cost savings, fuel savings, reduced VMT (vehicle miles traveled), and even personal weight loss. You will be able to follow the participants during their month-long journey on the Zipcar Low-Car Diet micro-site.

Participants (assuming approval as a safe driver) get their first year’s annual and application fees waived, driving credit, and a car-free survival kit filled with goodies from our sponsors.

Know someone who might be up to the challenge? Get started here. Selected entrants will be notified by email.

In 2008, we issued the challenge to all 12 of our North American cities. In the end, after putting down their keys for 30 days, the 300 participants found out what the Zipcar way of life is all about and collectively had:

85% increase in miles walked
136% increase in miles biked
71% decrease in miles driven