Thursday, March 31, 2011

T4America Bridge Report Clips

Our friends at Transportation for America recently released a report about the state of bridges in America.  WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond was featured on the tele-briefing roll out of the report yesterday.

The report found that 5% of Washington's bridges are structurally deficient but we are the 6th best state in the nation when it comes to bridge maintenance and repair.

Here are some local clips covering the report that are worth a read:

Good News about Bridges; We are #46
Seattle Times
Mike Lindblom

Report: 5 percent of Washington bridges ‘structurally deficient’Scott Gutierrez
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 30, 2011

State ranks high for bridge maintenanceKNDO (Kennewick, WA)
March 31, 2011

Report: Washington bridges more structurally sound than other statesJordan Schrader
Tacoma News Tribune
March 30, 2011

I-405 Closure April 1st (no foolin')

WSDOT is closing I-405 between NE Eighth Street and SR 520 in order to remove the old NE 12th Street Bridge (part of the Bellevue Braids project).

The closure will last between 11pm on Friday April 1st and 4am on Monday April 4th.

The City of Bellevue has a well updated page for traffic advisories in the area (not just this weekend's closure).

In general, is a great website for finding travel alternatives in Bellevue.


If you plan to ride your bicycle in the vicinity of I-405 this weekend, you will most likely already avoid the closure area due to lack of bicycle-friendly conditions.

112th Ave NE may be affected due to heavier vehicle traffic. The other routes indicated as the best biking lanes in Bellevue should be relatively unaffected by detoured vehicles.

Check out Google Map's best bicycle routes in the City of Bellevue, compared to vehicle detours suggested by WSDOT due to I-405 closure.


No Metro, Sound Transit, or Community Transit rider alerts have been issued to indicate any rerouting effects from this construction:

- Metro Reroutes
- Sound Transit Rider Alerts
- Community Transit Rider Alerts

Most likely, the largest effect will be slight delays due to detoured vehicle traffic onto roads such as Bellevue Way, 112th Ave NE, NE 8th St, and 148th Ave NE.

Be sure to keep an eye out for potentially delayed route timing on One Bus Away.


Lastly, be sure to heed WSDOT's vehicular advice:

"During the I-405 closure, drivers should avoid the area or take alternate routes. Use the recommended regional routes unless you plan to visit Bellevue. Downtown Bellevue will be open for business. Drivers should expect heavy traffic on the detour routes and throughout the region."

Also, be sure to watch for real time traffic congestion over the weekend.

More Events Than you Could Ever Ask For

Transportation continues to be a hot topic in the Puget Sound and across Washington State.

We've been busy at TCC tabling and speaking at various events around the region and there are ton coming up in the next few days and weeks.  For all of those transportation nerds and political junkies there are plenty of events to chose from. So pick one or five, and we'll see you there.

  1. TCC's April Friday Forum on federal transit funding in a divided Congress is tomorrow at noon at the  Seattle-King County Public Health - Chinook Building, Room 121, 401 Fifth Ave.,Seattle  
  2. Great City is putting on an equitable growth dialogue summit this weekend, Friday and Saturday.  This is shaping up what looks to be a great event.  Friday's event is unfortunately the same time as our Friday Forum at City Hall.  Saturday is a full day of panels with yours truly speaking on the transportation panel with Mayor McGinn and Councilmember Rassumsen.  It should be a lively discussion to say the least. Update: STB had a full agenda posted for Saturday.
  3. In a non work related event the Seattle MS walk is on Sunday.  I'll be with the throngs of thousands walking.  If you like seafair clowns come by gasworks park to say hi.  In a work related alert, if you are a Burke-Gilman trail cyclists, stay away Sunday morning between UW and gasworks.  You will not be happy with your travel times.
  4. April 8th is the Ms home opener!  Take the bus or train there!
  5. As we mentioned in a previous post Pierce Transit's hearings on proposed 35% bus cuts this fall are starting on April 11th in Lakewood and going on through the month of April. If you take the bus in Pierce County please try to attend of of these hearings.  If you can not attend a hearing please send Pierce Transit an e-mail about the proposed cuts HERE!
  6. The Second of two series called Getting from Here to There, put on by the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Councilmember Mike O'Brien,'s office, and Streets for All Seattle will be on April 12th at 6:00pm at the Seattle Vocational Institute.  We'll be there tabling before the main event.
  7. Also on April 12th the C-Tran public transit board in Clark County will be voting on a measure to put a sales tax vote to the voters this November to save bus service across Clark County.  Clark County folks, please go and testify in support of saving bus service!
  8. Publicola reports that King County Metro's report on trolley buses says Metro should replace the aging trolley buses with... trolley buses! There will be a meeting on the findings on April 19th at Plymouth Congressional Church, 1217 6th Ave., Seattle.
Do you have enough to do now? See you out there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TNT Reports "Pierce Transit cuts to stay""

The Tacoma News Tribune is reporting that the temporary cuts that Pierce Transit enacted due to the fueling station fire are here to stay.  The cuts, which have amounted to a 20% reduction, will stay in place until October when there will be an additional 15% reduction in service.  As it stands right now the high frequency trunk routes 1,2, and 3 will be cut by 30-40% in October from their original levels, which will directly hurt the areas that supported proposition one the most.

Safe to say, it is a tough time for transit riders & advocates in Pierce County right now.  The good news is the cuts plan is not finalized and advocates and citizens can make comments to the Pierce Transit Board about the proposed cuts at a series of upcoming public meetings.

I heard from Pierce Transit that they have not had to lay off any drivers yet at the agency because they have to have all drivers working to keep buses on the street and fueled.  That said, it is a tough time for bus drivers in Pierce County right now with massive layoffs equaling 20% of the workforce on the imminent horizon.

Pierce Transit Riders and Drivers are Running out of Options

More from the Pierce Transit Press Release:
Pierce Transit Chief Executive Officer Lynne Griffith stated, “In response to comments we heard from our riders, the focus of this service change will be to get people to jobs and school and reduce low ridership routes and trips.”  The June 2011 service change will begin to incorporate elements of the reduction plan.  These service levels will be similar to the current emergency reduced service levels.  Details of the June service change will be published in The Bus Stops Here booklet available at the usual locations in early June.

Beginning April 2, the Reduction Plan Rider Alert pamphlet will be available on-board buses, at Bus Shop locations, at Pierce Transit Headquarters, and at This pamphlet provides route-by-route information about the proposed service reductions. 

SHUTTLE paratransit service for people with disabilities will also be reduced on October 2, 2011.  This service operates on the same days and during the same time within ¾ of a mile of bus routes.  As bus service is reduced, SHUTTLE service will be reduced.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Complete Streets bill passes Senate Committee!

One of TCC's top legislative priorities, the Complete Streets bill, ESHB 1071 passed out of Senate Transportation today. Sen Haugen, the Chair of the Senate committee, asked for support of the bill saying it is a good bill that gets Washington, "looking at things in a more holistic manner". The bill had bipartisan support with all members of the committee voting for the bill except Sen. Erickson (42nd). Now the bill will wait in the Rules committee until it is ready for full Senate action.

TCC at FROM HERE TO THERE: Discussions on Transportation in Your Neighborhood

Seattle City Council is co-hosting two community discussions with Pacific Science Center and Streets For All Seattle. These discussions are part of a series of events that gather community input on different aspects of the City Council’s priority issue of carbon neutrality.

Transportation Choices Coalition and Cascade Bicycle Club, among other organizations, will be on hand to give information and answer questions on your way in to hear the panelists before 6:30pm on both nights. Please stop by to say hello!

While these events are free, remember to RSVP by calling (206) 443-2896 or visiting

Tuesday, March 29, 6-8:30 p.m. – Lake City

Meadowbrook Community Center
10517 35th Avenue NE, Seattle

Featured Speakers:
• Ref Lindmark, King County Metro Transit
• Kari Watkins, OneBusAway & UW Civil Engineering
• Notable community representative

Tuesday, April 12, 6–8:30 p.m. – Central District

Seattle Vocational Institute
2120 S. Jackson St., Seattle

Featured Speakers:
• Mark Hallenbeck, Director of the Washington State
Transportation Center at UW (TRAC)
• Jennifer Wieland, Seattle Dept. of Transportation
• Transit blogger Carla Saulter, a.k.a. “Bus Chick”

More information can also be found on the event flier.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seattle Transit Communities: Seattle Planning Commission March 10th Meeting Report

On March 10 at City Hall, the Seattle Planning Commission presented and discussed its Seattle Transit Communities report, released last November. The commission outlined their vision for walkable, livable, transit-accessible communities and the steps they suggest to achieve this. They emphasized that their report details how to create transit communities rather than the best way to implement transit across the region. The report identifies 41 different transit destinations, categorizes them by four different typologies, and prioritizes 14 communities that have the highest need and readiness for transformation.

A discussion followed the presentation, offering a chance for the audience, which was fairly large, to ask questions. The commission mentioned the decline of the hub-and-spoke model of transit, with households needing access to more destinations, especially dual-income households. They noted that Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities outside the sunbelt and that this growth would be best managed with increased density. They also emphasized that residential density in mixed-use neighborhoods is crucial for businesses to flourish. The commission expressed the need to plan ahead for upcoming transit development. They pointed out that Roosevelt is already trying to sell some land to potential retailers in preparation for the opening of their light rail stop in the 2020.

However, a few Roosevelt residents attended the meeting and expressed dissatisfaction with not being consulted during the planning process thus far. Residents were concerned that they had spent lots of money on their high school, intending it to be a historic anchor to their community, and they feel they have been ignored. Specifically, Roosevelt High School was intended to be the tallest building in the neighborhood, but the Roosevelt Design Group has proposed building a 12-story unit near the future station, which would conflict with Roosevelt’s neighborhood plan. One resident insisted, “We are a community, not a quarter-mile circle.”

The commission responded first by emphasizing that they do not have authority over development, but they have been encouraging the city to change its approach to development. They also said they have strived to build their plan around existing plans and buildings and are eager to listen to Roosevelt residents and to work with them on this plan. They encouraged everyone to read the entire report and reminded residents that they have years to discuss their concerns before development actually begins. Finally, the commission emphasized that community development is very complicated, but they are confident they can reach an acceptable solution for everyone.

Personal experience with RapidRide, light rail and local transit

In days when transit service hours are cut in many areas, the RapidRide A Line has replaced Metro’s Route 174 along Pacific Highway S / International Blvd. between Federal Way and Tukwila, and offers twice as many bus trips as the previous service. This sounds like a great sound bite from the transit provider, right? Well, it is. The wording has been lifted almost verbatim from the RapidRide website.

I'm writing now to tell you about my recent personal experience using the service.

Last week, I traveled from my home in Seattle to SeaTac City Hall. Metro's online trip planner had outlined a three-pronged trip that for me included local transit (#8), light rail, and then a final transfer to another local Metro (#180) or Sound Transit (#574) route. I was actually kind of excited to ride light rail since I rarely have reason to do so. What I did not plan on was being able to also try out the RapidRide A Line. I'm the kind of person who will sometimes do unnecessary things just for the experience. This was one of those chosen moments.

I already knew that the first leg of my trip would be late because the route is notoriously unreliable (route #8). I purposely headed out to my stop 30 minutes early, just in case. However, the bus went by me (either 10 minutes early or 10 minutes late, I couldn't tell). Right off the bat, I was a bit annoyed. I started walking toward the light rail station because I like to stay active and it was a bit cold outside. One more #8 passed me before I reached the light rail station, but I only took about 10 minutes longer than if I had waited for the bus. The first leg of my adventure was complete. No expense was yet incurred on my ORCA card.

The light rail showed up within 2 minutes of my arrival on the platform. Already, I felt assured that I would arrive at my final destination in time. The trip was clean, quiet, quick and dare I say picturesque. Whether or not it was quicker than a local route was irrelevant to me: my impression was that I didn't have to hear the driver quibble with passengers about directions, fares and the like. People moved easily on and off the train. There were a few confused people, but staff members were on the platforms to help them and there seemed to be no problems. First charge to my ORCA card: $2.25. I also remembered to tap my card on the way out as well as the way in.

Signs easily pointed me to the transit station outside of the SeaTac International Airport light rail station. It was a bit far to walk, but nonetheless very clean and clear. I quickly realized that I had a number of options: either take the Metro #180, the Sound Transit #574, or Metro's RapidRide A Line. While I'd never experienced either of the first two options, I already did not trust the time listings on the sign at the bus stop because of my experiences with local transit near my home. RapidRide, however, provided an extremely easy to understand map and the informational signs were up and running (albeit in testing mode). The next red-painted RapidRide bus arrived within 5 minutes. I was a little nervous, but hopped on anyway. Additional fare charge to my ORCA card: $0.25. I was, after all, riding during the peak hours of 6 and 9 am. Had I paid for the #8 ride to light rail then I would have enjoyed free transfer fares on both light rail and the Rapid Ride.

I got off at S. 188th St. and walked to the next stop east of International Blvd. to wait for either the #180 or the #574. It was the latter that finally showed up (the time listings at this particular stop had been vandalized, so I couldn't actually estimate whether or not the bus had shown up on time). Additional charge to my ORCA card for using ST: $0.50. Had I waited for the #180 I suspect that I would have incurred no extra charge. Unfortunately, I am relatively unfamiliar with transfers between transit agency routes such as this. I've since learned that I may have actually paid the extra $0.50 because I didn't know to ask for 1 zone instead of 2 zones on Sound Transit.

Total one-way commute time: 7:20am-8:50am. Metro's Trip Planner had me traveling between 8:09am-8:57am. The difference can wholly be attributed to the local service follies, since the light rail and RapidRide routes run like clockwork every 7.5-10 minutes during the morning peak hours. Next time, I'll use One Bus Away to better gauge the local bus arrival time. Maybe that will help.

Metro's Trip Planner quoted my trip price as $2.50. The Sound Transit leg (#574) caused my actual trip price to total $3.00. As noted above, I'll know next time to ask for 1 zone instead of automatically paying for 2 zones.

Lastly, I'd like to call attention to the local route bus stops on the last leg of my trip: the eastbound stop for routes #180 and #574 closest to SeaTac City Hall was two blocks away and left something to be desired. Because there was no sidewalk or crosswalk east of the stop, I had to back track a block to the nearest traffic signal which took forever to allow me to cross. A westbound stop was conveniently located directly in front of City Hall, so that I did not need to walk the two blocks back to the corresponding westbound stop at 46th Ave S for my return trip.

I noticed a push button at the westbound stop that indicated riders should push it when as the bus approaches in order to let the driver know of our presence. I had never seen this feature before, and already didn't trust that it would work as instructed, but I pushed the button anyway. I'll never know if the bus would have been blind to us had I not pushed the button. In the grand scheme of my travels that day, I really didn't care.

Bottom line: while I cannot give up using local routes for my transit travel because of where I live and my various and far flung destinations, I do greatly prefer light rail and RapidRide.

What are your personal experiences?

APRIL FRIDAY FORUM:Transit Funding in a Divided Congress & What it Means to You

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.
Next week 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.  Will the House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the President be able to agree on a compromise transportation funding bill? Will the House majoirty follow through on their plan to slash New Starts funding and defund Rapid Ride and other important regional projects? With gas prices and demand for transit climbing, how will Congress respond?

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 Update & Its Impact on YOU
WHEN: Friday APRIL 1st, 12:00 -1:30 pm
WHERE: Seattle-King County Public Health - Chinook Building, Room 121,
401 Fifth Ave.,Seattle

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pierce Transit Announces Cuts Hearings

Mark you Calendars.  Pierce Transit has announced that they will be holding a series of community meetings to discuss upcoming drastic cuts to bus service.

We will be there in full force. Will you? More to come.

Lakewood / University Place
Monday,  April 11
4– 6:00pm
Pierce Transit Training Center
Rainier Room

3720 96th St SW, Lakewood

Gig Harbor / Key Peninsula
Monday,  April 18
4 – 6:00pm
Gig Harbor Civic Center
Council Chambers
3510 Grandview St, Gig Harbor
Thursday, April 21
5– 7:00pm
Municipal Building
Council Chambers – 1st Floor
747 Market St, Tacoma

Puyallup / South Hill
Monday,  April 25
4– 6:00pm
Puyallup City Hall
Council Chambers
333 S Meridian, Puyallup

East Pierce County
Thursday,  April 28
5:30 – 7:30pm
Interim Justice Center
Council / Court Chambers
9002 Main St E, Bonney Lake

LegislativeTransportation Budget Analysis and Rundown

There are a lot of moving pieces right now with the transportation budgets in the Legislature.  Here is a comprehensive rundown of what is going on with the three transportation budgets (House, Senate, and Gov.), differences between then, and where we stand.

Here is a chart depicting the major differences between the three proposed budget (numbers are in millions unless otherwise noted) is below.

The following comments will in included in TCC's testimony on the Senate Budget, which will be heard at 3:30 this afternoon.


We are very pleased to see that the Senate proposed budgets include $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, your proposed budget includes $17 million for rural mobility grants and $25 million for special needs transportation provided by transit agencies and non profits.

This money will allow critical capital programs and service needs to be met, until we find a long term solution for sustainable transit funding, but will not stop drastic service cuts facing the entire State.

Still the need for transit money is much greater that these grant programs can cover. There are 13 projects on the Regional Mobility Grant contingency list that will not be funded, projects that will help mobility once the viaduct is torn down, improve service at the Hanford site, and restore Sunday service for Snohomish County will not receive funding at this current level (this project was included in the House budget). 

Also, the House budget included money for Department of Licensing to implement a congestion reduction fee for short term transit funding; we hope the Senate will agree to do the same.  

Non- Motorized

The Senate proposes $10.5 for safe routes to school and bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.  This level leaves off two projects that are included in the House proposed budget.  We ask this committee to consider including more projects on this list.    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. There is high demand for more resources for non-motorized modes of transportation.  Even though bicycling and walking make up 6% of all trips statewide, those modes get only 0.3% of state transportation funds. 

Thank you for funding these projects, and please consider dedicating more money to support safe, affordable and healthy neighborhoods through direct funding for complete streets, transit oriented communities and direct funds for non-motorized infrastructure when it becomes available.


Washington's waterways are central to our way of life here in the Pacific Northwest. From Puget Sound to the Spokane River, they play a big role in our economy, our food system, and our quality of life.  We are concerned that the level of funding in your proposed budget may lead to non-compliance on our State’s storm water permits.  Please ensure that funding is adequate to meet federal and state requirments.


The House proposed budget includes directive to WSDOT to collaborate with affected MPO’s, RTPOs, planning orgs, and transit agencies to develop a plan to reduce vehicle demand, increase public transportation options, reduce VMT on corridors affected by growth at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.  We hope the Senate will consider including this directive in your budget.

We hope the Senate will consider including levels of funding for vanpools that is included in the House budget.  The House includes $6 million for a vanpool grant program, including $520,000 for vanpools at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 

(The Senate offers, $386,000 less for vanpool grants and does not include the Joint base program.)

Also, the House budget includes $120,000 for a grant for flexible carpooling pilot administered by the department.  This is on top of $208,000 for flexible carpooling for 520.

We must acknowledge our gratitude that WA state realizes the wide benefits of rail for freight and passengers.  We are very pleased that the State will utilize the $782 million from the federal government on WA projects and matching operating dollars to run increased Amtrak Cascade trips between Seattle and Portland. 

Thanks to our rock star lobbyists Carrie for putting this together!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Next Week in Olympia- Week 11

The new revenue forecast is in. The budget problem for next biennium went from $4.6 billion to $5.2 billion. The Transportation budget is down another $25.1 million, since the November forecast. The forecast of Washington retail gasoline prices has gone up since November, and forecasts for wholesale diesel prices have skyrocketed. This will require higher fuel budgets for ferries, patrol and WSDOT, then previously considered.

The House Transportation budget will be released on Monday, with a hearing to quickly follow at 3:30 pm. Will the regional mobility grant program funding levels be restored? Will non-motorized funding be slashed? All your questions will be answered next week.

Also, next week on Monday, there is a Senate hearing on Rep. Fitzgibbon’s bill on transportation project planning. This is a TCC priority bill because it will allow cities to employ up to date planning and design manuals for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

The House and Senate Transportation committees have meetings scheduled Mon-Thurs. After Monday’s agenda, the agendas are left open for public hearings and executive sessions, but no bills have been specifically put on an agenda. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

3:30 pm House Transportation
House Hearing Rm B

Public Hearing: HB 1175 - Making 2011-13 transportation appropriations.

Executive Session: Bills previously heard in committee.

3:30 pm Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1

Public Hearing:
SHB 1700 - Modifying the requirements related to designing various transportation projects.
SHB 1897 - Establishing a rural mobility grant program.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Next Week In Olympia- Week 10

Sen. White and Rep. Liias introduced companion bills SB 5874 and HB 2016 and a part of Futurewise and Transportation Choices Coalition’s new Transportation for Washington campaign. Here are a few press clips about the bills’ introduction.

Seattle Transit Blog

Committee action is hot this week, and the new economic forecast comes out on which has everyone in Olympia bracing for bad news. On Tuesday there are three important hearings, on the following bills:

1. Rep. Fitzgibbon's vulnerable user bill in Senate Judiciary.
2. Sen. Rockefeller's mileage based insurance bill, which in its current form, provides proprietary protection for usage based insurance, and does not include any original language of the bill. In House Business and Financial Services.
3. Sen. White's bill to secure emergency transit funding, in House Transportation.

Check out the calendar below for other transportation policy hearings next week.

Monday, 3/14/11

3:30 pm Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Public Hearing:
SHB 1217 - Authorizing certain local authorities to establish maximum speed limits on certain nonarterial highways.

3:30 pm House Transportation
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Public Hearing:
SSB 5797 - Eliminating the urban arterial trust account.
SSB 5836 - Allowing certain private transportation providers to use certain public transportation facilities.
SSB 5796 - Modifying provisions related to public transportation system planning.
SSB 5791 - Allowing certain commercial activity at certain park and ride lots.

Tuesday, 3/15/11

10:00 am Senate Judiciary
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Public Hearing:
SHB 1339 - Concerning negligent driving resulting in substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death of a vulnerable user of a public way.

1:30 pm House Business & Financial Services
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building

Public Hearing:
ESB 5730 - Concerning usage-based automobile insurance.

3:30 pm House Transportation
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O’Brien Building

Public Hearing:
SSB 5298 - Authorizing the use of digital outdoor advertising signs to expand the state's emergency messaging capabilities.
ESSB 5457 - Providing a congestion reduction charge to fund the operational and capital needs of transit agencies.

Wednesday, 3/16/11

3:30 pm Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Public Hearing:
EHB 1382 - Concerning the use of express toll lanes in the eastside corridor.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Legislation for long term transit funding introduced in Legislature

A Transportation for Washington Press Release Sent out a Few Minutes Ago:
Legislation for long term transit funding introduced in Legislature
Local Transit Act would provide more funding choices and more transit for Washington residents

OLYMPIA – Legislation was introduced today in the Washington state Senate and House to provide long-term local funding for more transit.

Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Scott White (D-Seattle) and in the House by Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds), the Local Transit Act (SB5874, HB2016) would provide local transit agencies the ability to pursue voter-approved funding for transit. The bill would allow local transit agencies to select from a variety of local, equitable tax sources.

“Times are tough for everyone, but we can’t allow our local transit service to become the latest victim of this economic collapse,” said Liias, the prime sponsor of the bill in the House. “It is time to think creatively to ensure everyone in our community has transportation choices. With this bill we can let local voters decide how to provide good transit and strong communities.”

Currently transit agencies receive approximately 70 percent of their revenue from local sales tax revenue and, besides fare box charges, are prohibited from securing additional local sources. With sales taxes revenue being volatile and falling short due to the recession, it is not a viable long-term revenue source for transit. As sales tax revenue declines, transit agencies across the state are facing 15 to 35 percent service cuts.

“Transit agencies in our state are cutting services at the worst possible time,” said White, the prime sponsor of the Senate bill. “The Senate recently passed legislation that provides King County with a local option funding tool which will help fund Metro Transit. This measure will help in the short-term, but in the long-term, transit agencies in Washington face a funding crisis and will not be able to keep up with demand, especially as gas prices continue to rise. The Local Transit Act would provide local options for sustainable, voter approved funding solutions that would give our communities the transit they want and depend on every day.”

A state report issued earlier this year concluded that the sales tax was inadequate for transit agencies to remain solely dependent on and that the state needed to provide new funding options as a viable long-term solution. (Identifying the State Role in Public Transportation Final Report - January 2011)

The Local Transit Act would provide local transit agencies the ability to pursue voter-approved funding for transit, and would allow local transit agencies to select from a variety of local equitable, tax sources. Before any tax could be levied, it must be approved by the voters in the agency’s jurisdiction.

The potential tax sources available would be:

· Progressive Motor Vehicle Excise Tax based on vehicle value
· Vehicle License Fee based on annual mileage
· Fuel Efficiency-based Tax that rewards clean and efficient vehicles
· Allowing the local sales tax to be applied to gasoline

“It’s important for local businesses to be able to count on a well connected, integrated transportation system that includes convenient transit for their customers and employees,” said Jamie Cheney, Executive Director of Commute Seattle. “It’s getting harder and harder for people to afford to commute via car, with parking and gas prices going up. Workers and employers need more transit and giving local communities the power to decide for themselves is just common sense.”

The Local Transit Act is one component of the Transportation for Washington campaign, a statewide coalition which seeks investment and comprehensive transportation reform that will create jobs, give people more transportation options, effectively move freight and clean our air and water.

“Finding long term funding options for transit alone isn’t going to solve the transportation problem in our state. In addition to providing local transit funding, Transportation for Washington will be advocating for major investments in our entire transportation system, from crumbling roads to freight corridors and ferries,” said Viet Shelton, campaign director for Transportation for Washington. “It’s the only way we will be able to get all of Washington moving forward.”

# # #
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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TCC survey results!

Results from a 2010 survey of our membership are in. Here are some key findings:

Time is of the essence: 74% of survey respondents said that buses and trains “take too long to get where I need to go,” and 63% said that they would use public transportation more if it were faster.
More flexibility needed: 47% said they would use transit more if there were more routes, and 31% say that transit doesn't go where they need to go.
Work is the highest priority: Fully 55% of respondents stated that they use transit to get to work, while 31% list errands and 5% list school.
There is no “typical” transit user: On a scale between never to daily, respondents varied greatly in how often they use public transit. 1-2 days a week was the most common response at 32%, followed by 5-6 days a week at 26%, and the other responses all received at least 10% of the vote.
Transit can be unpredictable: Despite overall satisfaction with transit, 25% of respondents said “you never know when the next bus or train will arrive.”

An overarching look at our respondents:

How do they get around?
48% of survey respondents named buses as one of their primary modes of transportation, while 45% named the personal vehicle. Walking and bicycling were also popular at 25% and 21%, whereas light rail and carpools lagged far behind.
Why do they use transit?
Transit is convenient: Most transit users cite at least one convenience related factor such as less hassle (68%) cheapness (51%) and ability to “relax, read, or listen to music” (45%) as reasons why they use transit.
Transit is eco-friendly: A majority of 57% touts lower air and water pollution from buses and trains compared to personal vehicles as a reason to use transit.
How satisfied are they with the transit system?
In all, 75% of respondents rated the ease of using transit system in their area as somewhat or very easy, whereas 23% rated it as somewhat or very challenging. 76% said that the closest bus or train stop to them is 5 minutes walking, a convenient distance. While satisfaction levels are high, there is still room for improvement.

All comments on survey design have been read and taken to heart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our Magic Carpet

Image a world where gas is free and you don't have to to walk anywhere or interact with other human beings!  Is it utopia?

Act Now to Save Rapid Ride!

The future of King County Metro’s Rapid Ride is at risk due to proposed funding cuts in Congress.  You have a narrow window of opportunity to contact your U.S. Senators and Congressmen and tell them to save the proposed cuts to Rapid Ride!

What is Rapid Ride ?

Rapid Ride was approved by voters during the 2006 Transit Now campaign.  It is a comprehensive plan to bring faster, easier to use, and more efficient bus service across King County.  The Rapid Ride A Line, between Federal Way and Tukwila on Highway 99, began in October 2010.  Since then ridership in the corridor has increased by more than 25% and 84% of riders in a recent survey said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied by the new service.  I had a chance to ride the new service and it as noticeably more convenient and faster than traditional local bus service.

If the federal government maintains their commitment to Rapid Ride the B line (Bellevue to Redmond) will open this year, the C and D lines (West Seattle, Downtown, Ballard) will open in 2012, and the E and F lines (Aurora North and Renton/Tukwilla) will open in 2013.  For more information on King County Metro’s comprehensive Rapid Ride plan to bring you better bus service, stretching from Shoreline to Federal Way, visit Metro’s website.
Why Does the Federal Budget Matter? 
A large portion of the capitol improvements needed to implement Rapid Ride, such as bus only lanes and bus stops with off board payment, are dependent on federal new starts funding.  The House Republican budget slashes new starts funding to the point where Rapid Ride will not be able to be implemented on time.

What Can I Do?
Click here to take action today to save rapid ride service.  Give us a minute of your time and contact your federal Senate and House delegation and tell them to save new starts funding and Rapid Ride service.

Thanks for all you do!

Don’t forget to CLICK HERE to save Rapid Ride service.

Update on TCC's Agenda for Better Choices- Olympia 2011

Yesterday marked an important milestone in the legislative session. Bills had to pass out of the legislative body where they were introduced. Unless bills are necessary to implement the budget (NTIB), they are “dead” and will not move on through the process if they did pass off the floor of the House or Senate. Here is an update on all of TCC’s legislative agenda.

Emergency Short-Term Funding for Transit – ESSB 5457

Public transportation provides many benefits to the citizens and environment of Washington. Plummeting local sales tax revenues have left transit agencies with insufficient funding, resolution in service cuts amid record ridership.

The Senate passed ESSB 5457, which would allow King County to collect a $20 “congestion fee” on cars to help fill the massive deficit Metro is facing, if 2/3rds of the Council chooses to do so. This is a temporary measure which is only a band aid until long-term sustainable funding for transit is achieved. The Senate whittled the bill down considerably; the original bill provided a $30 fee for King, Snohomish County and Pierce Counties. The House has passed stronger versions of this bill in the past, and will now consider this version of the bill.

Complete Streets – SHB 1071 and SHB 1700

Urban and main streets should be designed to provide safe access to all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorist and public transportation users. When constructing, retrofitting or making major repairs to streets WSDOT should consider “complete streets” design.

The House passed to bills to advance Complete Streets. SHB 1071 sets up a grant program to help cities and counties fund complete streets. It provides an incentive for cities to adopt Complete Streets ordinances, and directs WSDOT to assist in complete street design and construction. SHB 1700 updates the design manuals that are used for street design and construction, to incorporate the latest and greatest in safe bike and pedestrian guidelines. These bills are now on to the Senate.

Protect Policies that Create More Transportation Options

The state cannot reach our greenhouse gas (GHG) limits without pursuing policies that reduce the need for people to drive. TCC opposes any efforts to undo or reduce the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) reduction benchmarks established in RCW 47.01.440.

The Association of Washington Business (AWB) stated this as their top climate goal. They introduced a bill that did not even get a hearing. We will continue to be vigilant, and we expect attempts to roll back VMT in the budget and transportation revenue discussions.

Fair and Equitable Tolling Policy

We support user fees as a means for funding needed infrastructure investments, congestion management, GHG reduction, and transit service that helps address equity concerns about tolling.

The House passed a bill to allow tolling on I-405 (EHB 1382). The funds will be used to complete the I-405 master plan. The House and Senate re-authorized tolling on 520 (SB 5700). This bill is now on its way to the Governor for final approval.

Mileage Based Insurance - SSB 5730

Mileage based insurance bases premiums on the amount of miles driven. This improves the accuracy of auto insurance ratings and is fairer and more economically efficient. TCC was working on a bill to require insurance companies to provide a policy that bases insurance on miles driven, or to give a discount to low mileage drivers.

The Senate passed a bill that strives to remove the barriers to insurance companies wanting to offer these programs. This bill is a work in progress and will need amendments in the House to ensure the bill addresses all the barriers to wide scale adoption of this type of auto insurance.

Transportation Funding to Keep Washington Moving

In order to protect the health and safety of Washington residents, new revenue is needed to replace failing bridges and roads, preserve existing infrastructure, stimulate job growth, uphold transit service, and create a new revenue infrastructure that meets the needs of Washington in the 21st Century. TCC and Futurewise kicked of the Transportation for Washington campaign to make sure that any new transportation package includes:

• Robust local options for transit agencies;
• Greater investments in transit operations from the State;
• Substantial increases in statewide funding for transit, intercity rail, bike & pedestrian programs, Commute Trip Reduction, and other needs that cannot be funded with gas tax;
• Funding for clean water infrastructure projects;
• Local share gas tax and local tax options for city and county transportation needs;
• Prioritization of maintenance and preservation over new capacity, and tolling;
• Support for sustainable community needs that prioritize health, climate, and water quality goals.

Currently, there is not push for a large transportation package this year. There is talk of a small revenue package made up of fees that will address the most critical transportation needs of our state. We are working to insure that transit, non-motorized and storm water money is considered in this package.

Also, there is great news on other bike and pedestrian bills that are moving forward, thanks to the hard work on the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Bike Alliance.

Vulnerable Users- SSB 5326/HB 1339

Bicyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable users of our roadway. This bill establishes an enhanced infraction for drivers whose behavior maims or kills vulnerable users. This reinforces the need to exercise care when driving around vulnerable populations.

Bicycle and pedestrian safety curriculum in traffic schools - HB 1129
This bill requires traffic schools to utilize curriculum for driving safely among bicyclists and pedestrians.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Transit Oriented Event: Seattle's Transit Communities

Great City has put together an exciting event this Thursday focusing on the Seattle's Transit Communities plan.  They have put together a great panel for this event and I'm sure it will be incredibly informative.  TCC is happy to be a co-host and we urge you all to GO! Here are the details:

Seattle Transit Communities: Charting Our Path Forward
WHEN: March 10, 2011, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
WHERE: Bertha Knight Landes Room, City Hall

Join us this Thursday for a very exciting lunchtime brownbag about the Seattle Planning Commission's Seattle Transit Communities report. Hear Commissioners Josh Brower, Kevin McDonald and David Cutler present the Commissions recommendations, including:
  • Where timely investment will provide the most benefit to Seattle transit communities
  • Appropriate land use and necessary investments to create successful transit communities while preserving unique neighborhood identities
  • Funding strategies for implementing "essential components for livability" - parks, open space, libraries, sidewalks, plazas, pedestrian improvements, lighting - needed to complete these vibrant, great neighborhoods.
After the commissioners present their findings, two expert respondents--Ed Hewson from Paragon Real Estate and Barbara Gray from SDOT--will offer their insights and explore some of the commission's recommendations more fully, framing a healthy Q+A session. 
Thank you to Councilmember Mike O'Brien for sponsoring this event for the Seattle Planning Commission. Thank you to our partners for this event Futurewise, Leadership for Great Neighborhoods, and Transportation Choices Coalition.

Introducing Move Bellevue Forward

Went this this out last week to our Bellevue members. If you care about light rail in the region and Bellevue then you should know about this great group.

Introducing Move Bellevue Forward
Live in Bellevue?   Want to speak up on light rail and other transportation issues but not sure how?  Introducing Move Bellevue Forward, a new non-partisan, grassroots city-wide coalition of neighbors and community leaders dedicated to a progressive, long-term vision for Bellevue – one that includes light rail, a thriving downtown and vibrant neighborhoods.
Bellevue is a great place to live, work and play.   Whether it is light rail or transit oriented development or parks or schools,   Bellevue’s future is at stake without good leadership and community stewardship.  Your neighbors and friends as well as elected leaders including six former Bellevue mayors are getting together to keep Bellevue moving forward.

What's At Stake?
issue right now is light rail to Bellevue.  This coalition wants to make sure that the Sound Transit East Link light rail project moves forward without delay.  The coalition supports an alignment that is affordable, has the fewest environmental impacts and the lowest construction risk and serves our neighborhoods, Downtown, the Hospital district and the Bel Red area to maximize access and ridership. That alignment is the Bellevue Way/112th route to Downtown, serving Downtown through a tunnel and station on 110th Ave and serving the areas east of Downtown by an elevated and at grade alignment.

Transportation Choices Coalition supports the principles of Move Bellevue Forward.  We’ve worked hard over the years to help Bellevue advance policies that create great communities.  And the city has more forward-thinking plans to help Bellevue grow sustainably in the future.   We want to see that vision realized.

Getting involved is easy!  Just visit to learn more about the coalition and sign up.   Join your neighbors and friends from all over Bellevue to make a difference.
You can connect with Move Bellevue Forward on Facebook and Twitter
Light Rail Open House on the B Alignment in South Bellevue
Come to an open house and learn more about Bellevue’s plan to build a new multi-level parking garage in the Enatai neighborhood.  This new parking garage is not a part of any of the light rail routes studied by Sound Transit in a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the regional agency's East Link project.  Preliminary work from the city's study will be presented at the meeting. "B7-Revised" is a variation of an alignment that would run along the BNSF rail corridor.

WHAT: B7-Revised Open House
WHEN: Tuesday, March 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Room 1E-108 at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Next Week in Olympia

I will give a run down of all this bills that made and did not make Monday’s cut off. Preview - The bills on TCC’s agenda are looking pretty good. Most of our proactive bills have all made cut off with a couple days to spare.

Meanwhile, TCC’s priority Complete Street’s bill has a hearing on Wednesday in Senate Transportation. It would be great to have your support. The bill:

• Requires the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to establish a Complete Streets Grant Program. Complete Streets are streets that provide safe access to all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, and public transportation. This program now includes city streets and state highways that go through cities (Main Streets).
• Incents cities to adopt Complete Street ordinances.
• Requires the WSDOT to consult with local jurisdictions prior to any design work when constructing or making major repairs to city streets to incorporate complete streets design and principles.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011
3:30 pm Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
Cherberg Building

ESHB 1071 - Creating a complete streets grant program.

Also, on Wednesday in Senate Transportation is the hearing for HB 1129 - The bill that includes bicycle and pedestrian traffic safety curriculum in traffic schools and safety courses.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Transportation Action: Save Bike Lanes in Vancouver!

I just sent this out to our Vancouver list.  If you live in Vancouver please take action!

Act Now to Save Bike Lanes on MacArthur Boulevard!
MacArthur Boulevard is a major route for bike riders in Vancouver.  With low traffic and the main access street to Vancouver’s eastern neighborhoods it is an important connection for bicycles. 

Last year the City of Vancouver developed a plan that they took out to the public to retrofit MacArthur Boulevard.  With low traffic levels and unsafe cycling conditions due to large stormwater drains, the plan was to focus car travel to one lane each way and install a new bicycle lane that will allow riders to travel safely around the stormwater drains.

Despite broad public outreach and local business support to install safe bike lanes on MacArthur Boulevard, the City Public Works department is now turning their backs on this project.

The citizens of Vancouver deserve streets that are safe for pedestrians, drivers, transit riders, and cyclists.  Please CLICK HERE to send a message to the mayor, city manager, and public works director to let them know you want safer streets for everyone and want to see the planned bike lanes on MacArthur Boulevard.
Thanks for your support of safer streets for everyone,

Andrew Austin
Field Director
Transportation Choices Coalition

P.S-Taking action is easy, all you have to do is CLICK HERE to and in less than a minute you can take action to keep our streets safer in Vancouver.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pierce Transit to Cut 35% This October

Yesterday Pierce Transit had all all day work session covering everything from the future of Pierce Transit, PT's service size, to their cuts plan.  I was at the very interesting meeting all day and was live tweeting the event which you can find on our twitter @Transpochocies .

I left an hour before the explosion, all I can say is thank God nobody got hurt.

There were a lot of contentious discussions about the future of PT and their service size yesterday, but one of the bold things the board did do is direct staff to implement the full 35% service cuts in October (as soon as possible) with the failure of proposition one.  From my perspective this is good news in that voters and the community will realize Pierce Transit wasn't lying when they said they would have to cut service by 35% if Prop. 1 didn't pass.

Here is the full release from Pierce Transit:

Nine of the ten Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners participated in a work session yesterday with the goal of ensuring that they had all the information they needed to make a decision about next steps after the failure of Proposition 1, which asked voters to approve using the final 0.3% sales tax authority available to Pierce Transit to preserve existing service levels.

The Board directed staff to go forward in reducing the system by approximately 35% by October, 2011.  All service and staff reductions will occur by that date.  These actions will stabilize the agency’s finances and allow for short and long-term sustainability.

Public hearings will be held in the following communities in April:
o   Tacoma
o   Gig Harbor
o   Puyallup
o   Lakewood
o   Bonney Lake
Dates and times for the public hearings will be announced in a later communication.  The Board will take formal action for the October service reduction at their May 9, 2011 meeting.

Claudia Thomas, Board of Commissioners Chair, stated, “The Board is deeply regretful about the impacts of this decision on Pierce Transit riders, the community and employees.”

The Board will not pursue exercising ballot authority at this time but did not rule out using it in the future.

Stop Consolidation Coming to Beacon Hill

This just in from Metro:

Metro to increase spacing between bus stops for routes 36, 60 
Metro is planning to reduce the number of closely spaced bus stops on the corridor served by routes 36 and 60. The changes will help buses move faster and operate on a more reliable schedule, cut fuel consumption and emissions, and reduce Metro’s operating and maintenance costs.

Currently, the corridors have a combined 137 bus stops south of S Jackson Street, with an average stop spacing of about 920 feet. The plan will remove 28 of these stops, plus two on East Marginal Way S, increasing the average spacing between stops to about 1,150 feet. Metro is planning to remove the stops on April 2, 2011.

As a result of the changes, approximately 11 percent of Route 36 and Route 60 riders who board south of S Jackson Street will have to catch their bus at a different stop. When the project is completed, all riders should have a faster, more reliable trip.

To learn more, view an interactive map of the stops, and submit comments, visit

Metro will consider all comments and will keep you informed of any changes to the plan by posting notices at each bus stop and and sending a Transit Alert bulletin.