Smarter Transit is an all-volunteer, pro-transit, non-partisan, non-profit citizens’ organization. Our mission is to support and advocate for accountable public transportation governance and investments that grow transit, vanpool, carpool ridership, and safe bike and walking routes throughout the Puget Sound region in the most cost-effective way.

We occasionally post articles and news of interest regarding transit and transportation issues that affect the Puget Sound Region. If there are stories that you think deserve attention, or if you have news or information that you’d like to share, please contact us!

NYT: The Subway Needs Riders to Save It. Will They?

NYT: The Subway Needs Riders to Save It. Will They?

Billions of dollars in federal aid have pulled New York’s transit agency from the depths of its fiscal crisis. But a growing consensus that its ridership may never return entirely threatens its future. (Photograph by Ali Kate Cherkis, NYT)

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There are better solutions and greater needs

Bus Rapid Transit and Bus Rapid Transit “lite” offer more flexibility than light rail. It carries more people more places.

Ride share programs are very cost effective and use existing infrastructure.

Safe bikeways and walkways are needed in every community.

Maintaining our existing infrastructure should be a priority.

Let’s put our money where it actually moves us forward.

What we want in the region

  • Invest in a high capacity, affordable, rapid bus system that covers the whole region within a few years instead of inflexible, expensive and limited capacity light rail lines that reach a fraction of the region after decades.
  • Finish the HOV system and commit to policies that keep it functioning at 45 mph 90 percent of the time.
  • Realize the extraordinary potential of carpool and vanpool programs.
  • Recognize that new technologies will change the way we get around making it even more critical to have the flexibility to upgrade and change as we need.
  • Maintain our existing roads and bridges and fix the choke points that lead to congestion.
  • Spend money on the simple sidewalk, safe crosswalk and bike path.  These make communities truly livable and walkable.
  • Start with the question, What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? Identify real goals and performance measures and allow objective analysis of the alternatives.
  • Put directly elected people in charge instead of unelected boards who have no accountability and often a conflict of interest.

What is Bus Rapid Transit?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is not buses as you know them. BRT treats buses like subways but with more flexibility. BRT buses always have right of way: they don’t stop at red lights or get stuck in congestion. Loading is also much faster because riders pay before they board, stations are raised to be level with the bus floor, and buses have more and wider doors. One lane can facilitate 300 buses per hour. Light Rail can only handle 10 trains per hour and can never have more than 4 cars per train.

King County Metro’s Rapid Ride is not BRT – think of bus service on a continuum from classic slow city bus to “rail on rubber tires.” This description of BRT (bus rapid transit) contains all the elements of an ideal system. But, many things can be done to improve the speed of the buses through a corridor. KIng County Metro’s Rapid Ride is really just higher frequency – more should be done to actually make it “rapid.”

Read the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy’s “What is BRT?” for a fuller picture.

Even the former FTA Administrator advocated for expanding Bus Rapid Transit type service over expensive rail …at one time.

“Riders often want rail – but you can entice diehard rail riders onto a “special” bus, sometimes by just painting the bus a different color than the rest of the fleet. Busways are cheap. You can get a designated lane just by painting it. And with signal preemption, you can move a lot of people at very little cost compared to rail.”

– Peter Rogoff in 2010 as head of Federal Transit Administration

In November, 2015, Peter Rogoff took over as CEO of Sound Transit and is now “excited by big light rail expansion plans.”

The Source: Federal Transit Administration chief: ‘Paint is cheap, rails systems are extremely expensive’.

Read the Seattle Times article on Peter Rogoff.

Get involved

Contact your appointed and elected officials: Puget Sound Regional Council, Sound Transit Board and Washington State Legislature.

Volunteer: Smarter Transit is a non-profit organization run by all volunteers. We need help with research, writing, speaking, networking.

Share what you’ve learned with friends and on social media.

Contact Maggie Fimia or John Niles: Here

Learn more

Sound Transit Revealed Get into the numbers of light rail, BRT and SoundTransit.

Transportation Matters A blog about rails, cities and politics in the Pacific Northwest.

Key Performance Measures Our report on what the data shows for transit 2040.

Here is a summary of the Sound Transit Contracts See who contracts with Sound Transit and also how many staff they hire 

All Sound Transit contracts over $100,000 since 2007 by category

Original list of contracts from Sound Transit

Modeling has shown for decades that fixed light rail lines do not dictate where the great majority of people decide to live. It’s confirmed again in this recent study
http://www.citylab.com/search/?q=does+light+rail+work

Does Light Rail Really Encourage People to Stop Driving? No, but it does pull them off buses, if a new study of British systems is any indicator.
http://www.citylab.com/commute/2013/02/does-light-rail-encourage-people-stop-driving/4800/

Have Light Rail Systems Been Worth the Investment?
http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/04/have-us-light-rail-systems-been-worth-investment/8838/

Expedia moves to Seattle – An example of how businesses go where they want to go, not where the “Plans” tell them to go.
Expedia Moves to Seattle

84% of Portland’s regional trips still by car
Despite bike and transit gains, 84 percent of Portland region’s trips still by car: Metro study

Transit Riders Union concerned about a two class transit system
https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/03/22/23823256/transit-riders-union-concerned-that-two-class-based-public-transportations-systems-taking-shape-in-seattle

Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/21/us/hawaii-struggles-to-keep-rail-project-from-becoming-a-boondoggle.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

Billions Spent but fewer people using public transportation in Southern California
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ridership-slump-20160127-story.html

Sound Transit Revealed: More detail about light rail and bus rapid transit
http://www.soundtransitrevealed.com

Transportation Matters – Troy Serad has a passion for transit, especially trains that make sense, does not own a car, but the most important thing is that, like Mark Ahlers, his information is based on facts and careful research.  His background is in urban planning, rail planning, accounting and cartography. https://transportationmatters.wordpress.com

What is Bus Rapid Transit – BRT?
https://www.itdp.org/library/standards-and-guides/the-bus-rapid-transit-standard/what-is-brt/

Great website that works with cities around the world on transportation issues including Bus Rapid Transit.
https://www.itdp.org

Bus Rapid Transit Institute – National data and info

National BRT Institute

CETA Archives, Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives
</a>http://www.effectivetransportation.org<a href=”http://smartertransit.org/resources-and-organizations/”></a>

Here is the link to Sound Transit 2016 Budget. Pages 15 & 22 summarizes the amount of department budgets and staff.
http://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/Adopted%202016%20Budget.pdf

Contact your local elected officials:
http://www.psrc.org/about/members/

Find Your Legislator:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

About Face by Sound Transit CEO
https://transit.dot.gov/about/speeches/administrator-peter-remarks-boston-reserve-bank-next-stop-national-summit-future

2014 PSRC Regional Growth Centers – Where does growth really go in our Region?
http://www.psrc.org/assets/10190/Centers_Monitoring.pdf?processed=true

Latest transportation stories from local papers

In the interest of providing the whole range of news regarding transportation and transit we are providing links to current articles and opinion pages. Smarter Transit does not necessarily agree with the views or info provided in all articles or op-eds.

Seattle Times


Everett Herald


  • Cyclists highlight Interurban Trail needs before...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 18, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Leafline Trails Coalition, Snohomish County Transportation Coalition and others toured some trail gaps. Cyclists highlight Interurban Trail needs before light rail arrival Ben Watanabe

  • Union: Community Transit vaccine mandate puts...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 17, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Meanwhile, at King County Metro, a similar mandate has significantly boosted vaccination rates. Union: Community Transit vaccine mandate puts jobs in ‘jeopardy’ Ben Watanabe

  • Ferry-geddon: Sailings from Mukilteo, Edmonds cut...
    by Andrea Brown on October 15, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The state blames route cuts on COVID factors and not enough staff. The vaccine mandate is a factor. Ferry-geddon: Sailings from Mukilteo, Edmonds cut in half Andrea Brown

  • Everett, Smokey Point rest areas closed for 2021
    by Herald Staff on October 15, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington WSDOT announced the closures were due to ongoing maintenance, staffing and vandalism problems. Everett, Smokey Point rest areas closed for 2021 Herald Staff

  • Northgate light rail frees buses for Snohomish...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 11, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Community Transit is using the change to imagine service when light rail reaches Snohomish County. Northgate light rail frees buses for Snohomish County routes Ben Watanabe

  • A third of ferry sailings cancelled due to crew...
    by Jake Goldstein-Street on October 8, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Slashed service could persist in Mukilteo, Edmonds and elsewhere. It’s unprecedented, officials said. A third of ferry sailings cancelled due to crew shortages Jake Goldstein-Street

  • Community Transit issues vaccine requirement for...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 8, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington It starts with new hires this week, a vaccine or weekly negative test by Oct. 18, and full compliance by Jan. 1. Community Transit issues vaccine requirement for employees Ben Watanabe

  • Southbound I-5 bridge over Stilly River to reopen...
    by Herald Staff on October 4, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Closed since June for paint and preservation work, two of the three lanes were to be reopened this week. Southbound I-5 bridge over Stilly River to reopen Tuesday Herald Staff

  • Bike lanes proposal could cut two vehicle lanes...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 4, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Two options before the City Council would reduce at least one vehicle lane along 100th Avenue W. Bike lanes proposal could cut two vehicle lanes in Edmonds Ben Watanabe

  • That jerk who cuts in the ferry line can be fined...
    by Andrea Brown on October 1, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Meanwhile, the state has ended the 877-764-HERO program, whereby the public could report violators. That jerk who cuts in the ferry line can be fined $139 Andrea Brown

Tacoma News Tribune


  • 3-car collision in Tacoma sends 3 to hospital
    on October 19, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    A traffic collision in Tacoma on Monday evening ended with three people injured and transported to the hospital. Police said the incident involved three cars. Tacoma Fire Department crews responded … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic collision on northbound I-5 in Federal...
    on October 18, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    Drivers going north on Interstate 5 should expect some delays Monday morning. A traffic collision in Federal Way blocked two lanes of traffic, causing a six-mile backup. The collision was … Click to Continue »

  • Pussyfoot Creek and SR 164 get new bridge. Fish...
    on October 15, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    State Route 164 between Auburn and Enumclaw reopened Thursday after a three-month closure just east of the White River Amphitheater to allow for construction of a new bridge over Pussyfoot … Click to Continue »

  • Driver hospitalized after traffic collision near...
    on October 11, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    A two-car collision Monday on state Route 7 near Parkland left one driver in serious condition, Washington state troopers said. The crash was reported about 5:40 a.m. on Route 7 … Click to Continue »

  • Delays on southbound I-5 near DuPont on Friday...
    on October 8, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    Drivers traveling south on Interstate 5 out of Tacoma Friday morning experienced significant delays in DuPont while crews cleaned up a semi-truck fire blocking two lanes of traffic. Two southbound … Click to Continue »

  • Tacoma man killed after he is hit by car in Grays...
    on October 3, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    A Tacoma man was killed overnight Saturday after he was struck by a car while standing outside his SUV in Grays Harbor County, according to Washington State Patrol. The man … Click to Continue »

  • Officials identify driver who died after crashing...
    on September 30, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    A 57-year-old woman who died after crashing her vehicle into a pole in Tacoma was identified Thursday by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. Korinn M. Siwicke, of Roy, died … Click to Continue »

  • Puyallup police vehicle involved in traffic...
    on September 29, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    A Puyallup Police Department truck was struck by another vehicle Sept. 28 while the officer drove through an intersection on his way to a separate incident. The crash was reported … Click to Continue »

  • Multiple people hospitalized after traffic...
    on September 29, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    Fire crews responded to the scene of a two-car collision early Wednesday in Tacoma that led to multiple people being hospitalized. Tacoma Fire Department reported that crews responded to a … Click to Continue »

  • 2 dead after overnight traffic collisions in...
    on September 28, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Officials identify driver who died after crashing into pole in Tacoma Two separate traffic collisions were reported Monday evening in Tacoma, leading to the deaths of two people, according to … Click to Continue »