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!

Sound Transit must make public safety a top priority

Sound Transit must make public safety a top priority

Sound Transit has an enormous task: how to deliver on yearslong promises to expand services to North Seattle and the Eastside, bring back pre-pandemic riders and make improvements to some of the Link stations.  But a serious challenge to the success of billions in...

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How an imperfect storm of events disrupted Sound Transit

How an imperfect storm of events disrupted Sound Transit

Riders on Sound Transit’s light rail endured more hassles than usual, as four different kinds of incidents disrupted service between Friday night and Monday morning. Wind-related power outages, a minor train crash with a motor vehicle, other track blockages and a...

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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


  • I-405 express lanes soon to become more expensive...
    by Jenelle Baumbach on January 30, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The price increase, approved Monday, will increase tolls to a high of $15 during peak hours. I-405 express lanes soon to become more expensive for commuters Jenelle Baumbach

  • Alaska’s daily flight from Everett to Honolulu...
    by Janice Podsada on January 24, 2024 at 7:45 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The airline is “shifting to a seasonal market to enable some other flights in Everett.” The Honolulu flights will go from October to May. Alaska’s daily flight from Everett to […]

  • Highway 529 to close for months between Everett,...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 21, 2024 at 2:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington North of Everett, repairs of the old bridges along Highway 529 will be in full swing by February. Highway 529 to close for months between Everett, Marysville Jordan Hansen

  • Edmonds-Kingston ferry route had largest rider...
    by Ashley Nash on January 19, 2024 at 11:40 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Routes to and from Snohomish County had some of the highest, fastest-growing demand in the nation’s largest ferry system. Edmonds-Kingston ferry route had largest rider increase in 2023 […]

  • Sound Transit seeks comment on bus changes ahead...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 17, 2024 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A new route, and changes to three others, could be coming this year for transit riders in Snohomish County. Sound Transit seeks comment on bus changes ahead of Lynnwood Link Jordan Hansen

  • Zero emissions by 2044 part of Community...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 14, 2024 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The transit agency’s “Journey 2050” report gazes 25 years into the future, touching on ambitious goals with light rail arriving. Zero emissions by 2044 part of Community Transit’s […]

  • U.S. 2 closes near Stevens Pass as blizzard hits...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 10, 2024 at 12:40 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington There was “no ETA” for the highway to open around Stevens Pass. Meanwhile, snow was falling in Darrington, too. U.S. 2 closes near Stevens Pass as blizzard hits Cascades Jordan Hansen

  • When driving in snow and ice, sometimes it’s...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 7, 2024 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington As temperatures dip, sometimes staying safe means not driving at all — a lesson this columnist learned one night on a Montana highway. When driving in snow and ice, sometimes it’s worth […]

  • As calendar turns, Lynnwood light rail is no...
    by Jordan Hansen on January 1, 2024 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington If all goes to plan, commuters will be on the Lynnwood Link by the end of the year, ushering in a new era for the city. As calendar turns, Lynnwood light rail is no longer ‘next year’ […]

  • From Mukilteo to Deception Pass on $6, bagel not...
    by Jordan Hansen on December 23, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Newsflash: In Island County, bus rides are free. Traveling the length of Whidbey Island can be an ideal winter day-trip. From Mukilteo to Deception Pass on $6, bagel not included Jordan […]

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Pickup driver killed in head-on collision on...
    on February 22, 2024 at 4:31 pm

    A pickup driver has died after he attempted to pass traffic on state Route 7 and hit a sedan near Spanaway early Thursday morning. The truck driver was headed north … Click to Continue »

  • Wreck causes heavy traffic on state Route 16 ....
    on February 21, 2024 at 2:31 am

    A wreck on state Route 16 caused backups Tuesday afternoon. The Washington State Department of Transportation posted at 4:15 p.m. on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Expect heavy traffic on … Click to Continue »

  • Can you drive 10 mph over the speed limit to keep...
    on February 20, 2024 at 7:58 pm

    Like many states, Washington has steadfast rules regarding speed limits on certain roadways. For example, the speed limit is 25 mph for any residential, city or town streets, and 60 … Click to Continue »

  • Driver fatally strikes pedestrian in Puyallup,...
    on February 20, 2024 at 6:36 pm

    A 41-year-old driver has been arrested for fatally striking a pedestrian and then crashing into the side of a Walgreens in Puyallup on Tuesday morning. Puyallup police and Central Pierce … Click to Continue »

  • Car crash in East Pierce County blocks...
    on February 16, 2024 at 6:49 pm

    A two-car collision in north Sumner is blocking an intersection Friday morning. The intersection of Stewart Road East and 142nd Avenue East at the bottom of Lakeland Hills is blocked … Click to Continue »

  • Man killed in head-on collision after he drove...
    on February 12, 2024 at 7:20 pm

    One of the drivers involved in a head-on crash on state Route 7 near Eatonville died Monday morning. The man was driving south in the northbound lane when his car … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic alert: Drivers hit 7-mile backup on state...
    on February 1, 2024 at 1:23 am

    Update: WSDOT posted about 7:45 p.m. on X: “All lanes are open on the WB SR 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Thank you for your patience folks. Backups should clear shortly.” … Click to Continue »

  • Want to avoid ‘miles-long backups’ on I-5 in...
    on January 24, 2024 at 6:28 pm

    Freeway drivers may get caught in “miles-long backups” on Interstate 5 in the Olympia area this weekend and next when the Washington State Department of Transportation is making roadway repairs. … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic lane blocked after vehicle hits...
    on January 24, 2024 at 3:58 pm

    A vehicle hit a pedestrian Wednesday morning, and an investigation has begun in Parkland. The left lanes of northbound and southbound state Route 7 near 112th Street South are blocked. … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic alert: Streets partially blocked in Fife...
    on January 23, 2024 at 10:07 pm

    Fife police officers are investigating a car crash that is partially blocking traffic. Units are on the scene at 54th Avenue East and 20th Street East. Both northbound and southbound … Click to Continue »