Monday, August 23, 2010

Second Tacoma Streetcar Stakeholder Meeting is Tonight

The group tasked with developing alignment principals for the Tacoma Link Extension will be having its second meeting tonight.

Information on the meeting is posted on the City of Tacoma's website here

The first meeting we toured various neighborhoods and potential alignments for Tacoma Link extension.  This meeting we will likely dig into more of the discussion around alignment principals for extension.  This stakeholder group is not tasked with recommending an alignment to the board; we are tasked with developing principals for the extension which we will then report to the Tacoma City Council and ST Board.

The meeting is tonight from 5-7pm at UWT in the Matress Factory Building in room 352 and is open to the public.  If you have any ideas around Tacoma Link extension principals please feel free to comment below or contact me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Comment on Pierce Transit Fare Changes August 30th

On August 30th the public is invited to comment on proposed fare increases for local fixed route bus, SHUTTLE, and Vanpool services that would be implemented in November 1, 2010. In light of Pierce Transit's budget the crisis the Board recently directed staff to find more efficiencies without impacting service. Part of this plan is to increase fare box recovery rates at Pierce Transit, which means increasing fares.

All agencies are being forced to raise fares as part of the solution to the statewide transit funding crisis. For this case at Pierce Transit local cash fares would increase 25 cents, making them $2.00 for most routes and $1.00 for youth and seniors. SHUTTLE cash fares would also increase a quarter. Local monthly passes would increase to $72.00, and a class pass would increase to $48.00. Fares would go from being free on Christmas and Thanksgiving to being the regular fare price.

If you ever ride Pierce Transit be sure to attend the August 30th at 4:30 p.m. at Pierce Transit’s Training Center, Rainier Room, located at 3720 96th Street SW, Lakewood, WA. For more information please visit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thurston County Voters Say Yes to Transit

Without a doubt last night's Primary Election in Washington State was not your run of the mill election.

In the midst of wild results for candidates across the state voters in Thurston County strongly said YES to saving transit service in their community.  Like most transit agencies in Washington, Intercity Transit in Olympia was facing a giant budget deficit due to plummeting sales tax receipts.  Last night voters overwhelmingly approved the measure to increase Intercity's sales tax from .6 to .8% allow them to stave off service cuts.  This will also allow Intercity Transit to grow modestly on high demand routes including their Olympia to Tacoma express.  As of this morning the measure is passing by 63.6%!

As staff at TCC I had the pleasure of working on the Yes on Transit campaign in Olympia.  Last night's victory is not only a great win for transit in Thurston County, but also an important victory for transit across the State.  As TCC moves forward with our work on transit funding in the Legislature and fights for transit ballot measures for other struggling agencies,  yesterday's victory reaffirms that even during these tough economic times voters highly value transit service in their community.

In terms of lessons learned, the top three reasons for Intercity's campaign victory last night are:
  1. Preexisting strong relationships and communications between the agency and the community in place prior to the campaign. Prioritizing community connections is embedded into the culture of Intercity Transit.  Tuned in voters understood and sympathized with Intercity Transit's financial problems prior to the campaign even starting.
  2. A well run campaign with professional staff, dedicated volunteers, and ample funding to get the message out and the job done.
  3. Messaging that focused on transit as community service that benefits everyone, transit riders and non-riders alike, with broad support from a variety of local organizations. 
I attended the celebration party for last night's election in Olympia; for a recap check out our Twitter feed

Congratulations again to the Yes on Transit Campaign for a job well done and to Thurston County citizens who will benefit from their foresight to preserve transit service.  It was a pleasure to work with all of you and get a sneak peek into the local politics in Thurston County.

UPDATE: After last night's count the transit measure got over the 64% mark!Amazing!

Friday, August 6, 2010

JTC Transit Funding Meeting Number #2 is Today at Union Station

The second meeting of the JTC legislative study on transit funding is underway today and scheduled to go from 10-3pm at Sound Transit's board room in Downtown Seattle.

I'll be doing some light live blogging on the meeting right here. Also TVW is here recording and they tell me they will be putting the video up on their website next week.

The Agenda is jam packed today and includes:
1-A presentation on what is going on at the federal level with APTA President Bill Millar, who spoke at our event last night.
2-WSDOT will be presenting on the state's current role in public transportation with Katy Taylor director of the public transportation division taking the lead.
3-The panel will be engaging in two breakout sessions, one on the state's current role is and the other in the what the state's future role in public transportation should be.
4-The breakouts will report back to the larger group on some conclusions they came to, there will also be a voting exercise to identify where panel members current stand on the state role (which should be interesting).
5-There will be a section dedicated to performance management of public transit, the section is entitled "linking state goals and performance".
6-Lastly there is public comment.

Live blog:
Bill Millar is launching into his talk to give the federal picture of public transportation.

-This is not a WA State problem, this is a national problem.
-WA is one on the lower side of what they contribute to public transit
-Senator Haugen pointed out that this panel is about public transportation not public transit and asked Millar to focus on not just transit.
-Transit nationally was experiencing huge growth prior to being financially impacted by the major recession.
-84% of transit agencies nationally have cut service, raised fares, or laid off staff in this recession while the need for public transportation is still high.
-Gives update on the stall of a federal transportation re-authorization and highlights some of the major issues associated with re-authorization including multi-modal inter-connectivity, maintaining existing infrastructure, performance measures for federal spending, transit accessibility to rural and low-income residents, and the need for expanded transit infrastructure.
-Discusses the challenge with how to fund a future federal funding re-authorization (mix of tradtional sources like gas tax but new sources also needed).
-Summarizes how public transportation directly fits into many of the states economic, environmental.
-Re-emphasizes that WA state ranks low national in terms of State contribution towards public transportation, highlights that WA State does not put in any money to help match the federal dollars and attract federal spending to Washington.  Calls out that most large states do contribute to public transit to match federal spending and they usually come up with money because public transportation supports overarching goals of the state.

Barb from the consultant team is going over where the study is at right now based upon their work and the one on one interviews that they have conducted with stakeholder members.  Explains that the goals of today's meeting is to understand the current role of  public transportation in WA and to discuss the State's future role.

The specific questions that will asked today are:
-What should the state's role in public transportation?
-Are there roles that should be reduced or elimintated
-Are there roles taht should be enhanced or expanded
-Should the state take on new roles?

Areas they'll be investigating are: direct investments, policy/planing, funding, coordination and oversight.

The consultants are providing an overview on the white-paper the wrote on the current state role in public transportation.  The white paper can be found online here.

Next Up: Current State Role in Public Transportation in Washington (presentation by WSDOT)
Katy Taylor director of public transportation at WSDOT is staring her presentation with an introduction discussing how her division is integrated into the rest of the department and her vision is that public transportation should become one of the core functions of WSDOT.

The main existing programs of the division are:
-Fund CTR programs
-"Engage funders" in the GTEC program (a CTR program for large urban areas that funds great programs like Commute Seattle and Downtown on the Go, unfortunately the Legislature zeroed out GTEC funding in the last biennium.)
-"Provide and support vanpool investments"
-Administer regional mobility grants
-Providing funding and guidance of park and ride lots

After Katy Taylor's optimistic presentation, Rep. Moeller asked what some of the challenges with public transit in WA are, pointing to the fact that local transit agencies are cutting back across the state leaving communities disconnected not better connected.  Katy Taylor replied by explaining their creative partnership with private-public programs like the grape line that connect rural communities that are no longer served by Greyhound, but she did not specifically address what the agency can do or potentially do to address the  transit funding crisis and pending service cutbacks.

After a lunch break and breakout sessions are over.  The groups are now reporting out on the second breakout discussed that addressed what the state's role in public transportation should be in the future.

They are going through take aways that folks have from the breakout sessions.
Tom Jones had an interesting comment that for the first time he realized that transit service and GMA can be in conflict with each other.  If you are providing access service for rural areas so transit dependent people can get to services, you may also be providing commuter access to exurban and rural areas that under GMA goals we don't want people to move to.  Usually we think as transit being a crucial component of supporting the smart growth that GMA rightfully dictates, circumstances where transit can serve against GMA goals is an interesting twist to contemplate.

Katy Taylor is very optimistic the state of public transit in Washington and about the panel-the outcome that everyone is in it together in this process.

Jon Stanton from Microsoft is discussing the benefits of the Microsoft connector service and highlights that 70% of their connector costumers never rode a bus before Microsoft started their own service and wouldn't take public transportation if the Connector service got canceled.  He then highlighted the need for more public-private partnerships.  He also said that his kids think transit is cool in Europe but now here.

Rep. Marko Liias noted that he took the Sounder from Snohomish County this morning to attend the JTC meeting that he thought it was pretty cool, while he was relaxing and reading his book instead of sitting in traffic.  He suggested that ST and Metro provide potential transit routes that people could take to the next JTC meeting from their homes.  It might be hard for folks who live outside of the Central Puget Sound to get to ST headquarters from their homes, but surely they could utilize ST express buses of Sounder from the Eastside, Everett, or Tacoma depending on where they are coming from.  It would be interesting to hear what the committee members would say about their transit riding experience especially if they've never been on transit in Washington before.

Senator Haugen said we need to get electric cars to pay their fare share for the infrastructure they use as they replace gas cars (who's drivers pay gas taxes).

Meeting over. Thanks for tuning in.  Signing off for now, have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ride the Sounder to this Sunday's Game

Going to the M's day game this Sunday?? Well take Sound Transit's special Sounder train to the game! Avoid traffic and help the environment all in one easy step.
Mariners fans heading to the Safeco Field can take the Sounder train at
11:00 a.m. from Tacoma
Puyallup at 11:12 a.m.
Sumner at 11:17 a.m.
Auburn at 11:25 a.m.
Kent at 11:32 a.m.
Tukwila at 11:39 a.m. before reaching Seattle at noon.

Fans from the north end can take the train from
Everett at 11:15 a.m.
11:26 a.m. in Mukilteo
11:41 a.m. in Edmonds before arriving at King Street Station at 12:14 p.m.

Return service for Tacoma and Everett will depart King Street Station 35 minutes after the final out.

For a complete Sounder schedule to Mariner games, go to:

All Link service information can be found at