Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amtrak Cascades between Oregon and Eugene will be Buses for a lot of August

This just in from WSDOT. Buses will replace the trains that aren't running. Plan accordingly.

Canceled service for Amtrak Cascades trains in Oregon between August 2 -17

Due to scheduled track work, the following Amtrak Cascades trains are cancelled between Portland and Eugene, OR:

August 2 – 507 & 509
August 3 – 500 & 504
August 9 – 507 & 509
August 10 – 500 & 504
August 16 – 507 & 509
August 17 – 500 & 504

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sound Transit Delivers on ST2 Promise for Expanded South Sounder Service

The Sound Transit board recently approved a plan to increase heavy rail service on the Sounder South Corridor from 9 to 13 round trips per day.  The first new trip will be implemented in 2012 and then phased in after that.  This is exciting news for South Sound commuters, residents and visitors.  There will most likely be a mid-day round trip train which is an exciting development.  Here is the full release from Sound Transit:

Sound Transit expands Sounder south service

Regional transit agency positions commuter rail service for continued growth

The Sound Transit board of directors today took a major step towards delivering the Sounder commuter rail expansions that voters approved in 2008 by authorizing the purchase of rights to four additional south line Sounder round trips.

The $185 million purchase agreement with Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway enables the regional transit agency to incrementally expand its popular commuter rail service from nine to thirteen round trips a day, with the first new round trip starting as soon as 2012. The expanded service will add four peak direction, peak hour trains to the Seattle-to-Tacoma Sounder schedule, with flexibility to run reverse commute and midday service based on ridership demand.

The easement rights for the four additional trains grant use of the Seattle-Tacoma railway in perpetuity.

“The expansion of Sounder service is a smart investment in our region’s transportation system that will pay dividends for generations to come,” said Sound Transit board chair and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “Since it began service 10 years ago, Sounder has carried more than 14.5 million passengers, with more riders hopping on board as our region’s economy recovers and population centers continue to grow.”

“This is terrific news for south King and Pierce County commuters,” said Claudia Thomas, Sound Transit board member and Lakewood City Councilmember. “As we extend our Sounder railway from Tacoma to Lakewood, more riders will be able to take advantage of this needed transportation option.”

“These additional trains will go a long way toward building our capacity to deliver regional transit services to the growing cities south of Seattle,” said Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. “Adding Sounder runs to our schedule will help improve the quality of life for south sound residents by giving them more choices for efficiently traveling up and down the congested Seattle-Tacoma corridor.”

The four perpetual easements purchased from Burlington Northern will expand Sounder service on a staggered schedule, with the first additional train beginning operation in July of 2012, followed by a second in the fall of 2014, a third in the summer of 2015, and a fourth the following year.

Photo Courtesy of

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Link Light Rail Celebrates their 1 Year Anniversary

Link Light Rail just celebrated their one year anniversary! In their first year there was an estimated 6 million riders, travelling a total of 43 million passenger miles. The average rider trip length was 7.1 miles, and the light rail train travelled 1.2 million miles!! Approximate ridership each weekday was 23,400 riders.

High ridership is especially important during Link's first year as a dip in the economy caused transit ridership to drop about 4% last year. The Central Link line is only a portion of the 55 miles that will make up the finished light rail. A 3.1-mile underground extension from downtown Seattle north to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington is under construction and will open in 2016.

Voters have also approved extensions to Northgate, Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island and northern Federal Way scheduled to open by 2023. Keep riding the light rail and supporting transit!

July 23rd FRIDAY FORUM: What Lies Ahead for the Tacoma Streetcar

Join us for a comprehensive update on rail transit in Tacoma this Friday!

In 2008 voters approved $80 million for Tacoma Link extension. Just how much rail can that buy? What's the difference between streetcars and light rail? What are the benefits of building more rail transit in Tacoma? Panelists Greg Walker from Sound Transit, Alisa O'Hanlon from the City of Tacoma and Bill LaBorde from Transportation Choices will be on hand to provide a comprehensive update on rail transit and answer your questions. Join us for a discussion on everything you need to know about the future of streetcars in Tacoma!

WHEN: Friday, July 23, 12:00pm – 1:30pm
WHERE: University of Washington Tacoma, Garretson Woodruff Pratt Building, Tacoma Room (Room 320) (accessible by multiple bus routes and Tacoma Link)

Special thanks to the City of Tacoma and Downtown: On the Go! for sponsoring the Tacoma Streetcar Friday Forum. As always, feel free to bring your lunch. Coffee will be served.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pierce Transit Puts Measure on February Ballot

We attended the Pierce Transit board meeting yesterday when they voted to go to the ballot to save bus service in Pierce County. We testified in favor of their preservation plan and encourage them to ask voters for a modest sales tax increase, because if they don’t the proposed cuts will cripple transit access in Pierce County leaving thousands of commuters and transit dependent riders stranded on the side of the road. We live tweeted the meeting here. After robust discussion, the board decided to put a 0.3 percent tax increase on the February ballot. We will need your help in the months ahead to pass this important measure next February. This tax increase is estimated to raise $30 million to help Pierce Transit balance their budget and remain fiscally stable. They also "adopted the PT Tomorrow system redesign, which makes changes to some bus routes but generally preserves what’s there and moderately adds to it, if voters OK the sales tax hike." The News Tribune and Seattle Transit Blog have more details.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Futurewise TOC Brown Bag

Interested in how cities can build mixed-income housing near transit areas? Futurewise is hosting a Transit-Oriented Community Brown Bag on July 21st from 12:00pm to 1:15pm. They plan to address questions about how to encourage mixed-income housing in transit areas, what projects and incentives help move development forward in distressed areas, and how to include small,local businesses in redevelopment. Check out this discussion, location TBD.

For more information on Futurewise's TOC Program and the TOC Blueprint for Washington State, please visit

Important Pierce Transit Meeting Today

The financial and service future of Pierce Transit could be decided at tonight's board meeting.  Tacoma Tomorrow has all of the details.  I encourage everyone who would be affected by massive cuts to Pierce Transit's service to attend.

From Tacoma Tomorrow:
Since the Growth Alternative is recommended to be selected, the agenda then moves straight into an action item for submitting a ballot to increase Pierce Transit's sales tax to 0.9% in an election on February 8, 2011. The agenda also states that approving this resolution is recommended.

So, it should certainly make for an interesting board meeting. The meeting will be held at the following time and place:
Training Center, St. Helens Room
July 12 2010
4:00 P.M.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

FTA Awards Next Round of Bus Urban Circulator Grants

The FTA recently announced the next round of urban bus circulator/sustainability grants.

Here is the whole list,

One award I found most interesting was the bike sharing program in Boston administered by MBTA.  It looks as though the MBTA argued that funding this bike sharing  program would boost transit ridership and further sustainability goals.  $3 million federal dollars going towards bike sharing is pretty exciting.

Project: Boston Bike Share Program: (Bus and Bus Livability)Sponsor: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
Amount: $3,003,051

An innovative and truly transformational project, the Regional Bike Share System is a multiple-city bike sharing system making thousands of bicycles available throughout the Boston metropolitan area with the swipe of a card. The Bike Share system was conceived as an extension and enhancement of the existing public transit system. More than 500 Bike Share stations will be located at or near Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) bus and rail transit stations to encourage and facilitate use of public transit. The system will create two million new bike trips per year.

Here are the two projects that received money in Washington.  I don't know much about the Skagit Transit Park and Ride lot, although it is interesting to note it is one of only two park and ride lots nationally to be funded under this sustainability focused this program.  I also can't wait for day when I can access King Street Station from its original internal staircase and admire at the restored original ceiling.

Project: Seattle Intermodal Hub (Bus and Bus Livability)Sponsor: City of Seattle
Amount: $2,400,000

The City of Seattle will restore the historic King Street Station and improve the Westlake Hub,  creating two intermodal transportation hubs in downtown Seattle that connect rail, bus, streetcar, and pedestrian networks in Seattle’s Center City. Improvements to these two hubs are critical to implementation of Seattle’s Center City Access Strategy to revitalize 10 downtown neighborhoods, fight regional sprawl and build a sustainable economy and community.

Project: Chuckanut Park and Ride (Bus and Bus Livability)Sponsor: Skagit Transit
Amount: $2,800,000

The Chuckanut Park and Ride project will be a high capacity parking and transit transfer facility located just off the I-5 Chuckanut/ SR 11 exit in Burlington, Washington.  It will accommodate more than 300 parking spaces and include a bus pad for transit access; passenger shelters; bicycle racks and safety features such as improved lighting, fencing, and security cameras. The goal is to supply necessary transit infrastructure, relieve congestion and also offer convenience, safety and attractiveness to transit and vanpool users, as well as leisure travelers

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sound Transit Might be Able to Save Nearly $26 Million on Sounder Extension Project due to Competitive Bidding Climate

Tucked away in a recent Sound Transit CEO report I saw an interesting piece of information that caught my eye.

Sound Transit but out to bid the D to M Street Sounder expansion project. This is a critical component of extending the Sounder to Lakewood and in the past was the source  of much media attention in Tacoma.  Apparently the estimates for the project were $66.4 million and the construction bid came back last week drastically cheaper at $40.8 million.  This is another sign that in this economy it is not a bad time to be constructing transportation projects from the perspective of the agencies and tax payers.

Here is the whole report from Sound Transit:

D-M construction bids come in under estimate

We learned on Tuesday that the apparent low bidder for construction of our D-M street project in Tacoma, MidMountain Contractors of Kirkland, was $40.8 million or about $25.6 million below our engineer’s estimate of $66.4 million.
The MidMountain bid is being evaluated by Sound Transit to make sure it meets all our project requirements. Seven bids were submitted.
Construction is expected to begin this summer on the D-M project, which includes a 1.2-mile section of rail corridor connecting Tacoma Dome Station at Freighthouse Square to existing rail right-of-way. When it’s finished in 2012, Sounder trains will begin running to stations in South Tacoma and Lakewood.

City of Redmond Acquires BNSF Corridor Trail and Revitalization

The city of Redmond just acquired sections of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe corridor, giving them the ability to move forward with their revitalization plans. With the acquisition, Redmond can now reorganize streets into a more grid-like fashion, making navigation in the downtown area easier. There are also plans to create green spaces and a regional trail, linking Redmond to nearby areas. Read the whole story here, and thanks to Seattle Transit Blog for posting about this!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Upcoming Weekend Schedules from Sound Transit

Here are the upcoming weekend Sound Transit schedules, for more information go to


Central Link: Saturday schedule
ST Express buses: Saturday schedule
Sounder: no service
Tacoma Link: Saturday schedule


Central Link: Sunday schedule
ST Express buses: Sunday schedule
Sounder: no service
Tacoma Link: Sunday schedule


Central Link: Sunday schedule
ST Express buses: Sunday schedule
Sounder: no service
Tacoma Link: Sunday schedule

Joint Transportation Commission Transit Study Video is Now Online

A video of the JTC Transit funding study that I liveblogged online a couple of days ago is now online at the TVW website.

Here is the incredibly long link:

For all of you policy wonks out there, watch the video and feel free to post your thoughts on the blog as to how the discussions are going so far.

Losing Weight the Fast and Easy Way: the Transportation Choices Weight Loss Plan

Throw away the diet pills, cancel your membership to Jenny Craig and stop feeling guilty about that extra serving of July 4th Cherry Pie because we here at Transportation Choices have in hand the magic elixir for losing weight - Public Transportation. Not only will you lose weight, but you'll save money and enjoy a better quality of life with the Transportation Choices Weight Loss Plan.TM

According to an NPR report of an upcoming study to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a typical commuter on the LYNX Blue Line light rail system in Charlotte, NC (not exactly a smart growth paradise) could count on losing 6 1/2 - 7 lbs. or more in an 8 month period. That's the kind of weight loss that's real and lasting.

....Before and after the line was built, they surveyed people who lived for some time near the lines being constructed.

They asked them how often they exercised, whether they felt comfortable going for a walk in the neighborhood, lived near a park, and of course, their height and weight, income and employment status.

Then the researchers waited until 2008, six to eight months after the Lynx South Corridor Light Rail Line had been completed, figuring that would give people the opportunity to regularly using the system.

"We actually see," MacDonald says, "what happens to people who on their own (volition) decide to use the system and reap some reward in weight maintenance and weight reduction."

People who used the system more than once a week for 8 months after the rail line was in place had a 1.18kg reduction in body mass index (BMI). That’s a loss of between 6.4 and 7 pounds for a person who's around 5'5''.

"That's a significant drop in weight," says MacDonald. "People who used the system also were less likely to become obese over time." These were people who reported no significant changes in recommended physical activity rates in the initial surveys.

This, of course, is not the first study showing a link between a transit-oriented lifestyle and good health. Many public health experts, in fact, think that building communities around cars instead of people is a major factor in our nation's obesity problem. The CDC recommends better bicycle facilities, more walkable communities and better access to transit as part of its suite of recommended community strategies to reduce childhood obesity (see, pp 45-60). As Link Light Rail approaches one year of service, without really trying I've found myself about 10 pounds lighter. And, with a 7-year old son who'd rather play video games than play soccer, I'm finding that leaving the car at home at forcing everyone onto light rail or bus for that Saturday trip to the Science Center or Zoo is an effective way to make sure my son and the rest of the family gets a healthy amount of exercise.

So, if you're trying to lose some weight so you'll look good in your bathing suit on the beach vacation or you're just looking to get your heart pumping and increase your cardio-vascular capacity, join my and family me in adopting the Transportation Choices Weight Loss Plan. Taking the bus or train to work on a regular basis, making some more of those short trips to the store or school by bike or walking and you'll likely find yourself dropping a pound a month or more without even passing up on the summer barbecue. And, if you don't have good transit service in your neighborhood, or are worried about losing transit service through budget cuts, join Team Transit to make sure we can preserve and grow our transit network.