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!

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


  • Lynnwood to keep collecting a car tab fee and...
    by Jerry Cornfield on May 24, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington City Council members will consider repealing them in October when they write a new city budget. Lynnwood to keep collecting a car tab fee and utility tax, for now Jerry Cornfield

  • Oops, Mountain Loop Highway only partly open
    by Herald Staff on May 23, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A miscommunication led Snohomish County to misstate how much of the road is open. Oops, Mountain Loop Highway only partly open Herald Staff

  • Roundabout coming to dangerous Bickford-Highway 9...
    by Ben Watanabe on May 23, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington WSDOT is building a roundabout at Bickford Avenue and Highway 9, where drivers are expected to enter at 15 mph. Roundabout coming to dangerous Bickford-Highway 9 intersection Ben Watanabe

  • Lynnwood’s car tab fee and utility tax on...
    by Jerry Cornfield on May 23, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington City Council members will talk about repealing them. If they do, the mayor is prepared to veto their actions. Lynnwood’s car tab fee and utility tax on chopping block again Jerry […]

  • Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly...
    by Herald Staff on May 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Crews need to close northbound lanes between 220th Street SW and Highway 104. Drivers have two detour options. Light rail work closing I-5 North lanes nightly this weekend Herald Staff

  • Free coffee will be back soon at Smokey Point...
    by Ben Watanabe on May 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Everett’s Silver Lake rest area for southbound I-5 drivers remains closed while WSDOT works on the facility. Free coffee will be back soon at Smokey Point rest areas Ben Watanabe

  • Highway 9 to close this weekend in south Lake...
    by Herald Staff on May 19, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Detours take drivers around the closure between 20th Street SE and 32nd Street SE from Friday night to Monday morning. Highway 9 to close this weekend in south Lake Stevens Herald Staff

  • Afghanistan, Ukraine refugees get bikes, bus...
    by Ben Watanabe on May 16, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington One nonprofit needs volunteers to repair 40 kids bikes for refugees. Another agency could use cash gift cards. Afghanistan, Ukraine refugees get bikes, bus passes and rides Ben Watanabe

  • Lower speed limits move forward on dangerous...
    by Ben Watanabe on May 12, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The Everett City Council approved a resolution to slow speeds on Evergreen and Everett Mall ways. Lower speed limits move forward on dangerous stretch of Highway 99 Ben Watanabe

  • I-5 south to close for light rail work near...
    by Herald Staff on May 11, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington This weekend and next weekend overnight travelers will need to find a new route. I-5 south to close for light rail work near Mountlake Terrace Herald Staff

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Eastside Tacoma road will be reduced to one lane...
    on May 13, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    A two-lane road in Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood will be reduced to one lane Saturday while crews perform road maintenance, the city said. Crews will be working on Pioneer Way East … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic collision on northbound I-5 in Pierce...
    on May 3, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Commuters driving north from the Tacoma area on Tuesday morning likely ran into significant traffic delays due to a collision on Interstate 5 that blocked various lanes, according to the … Click to Continue »

  • Here’s why you should expect delays on a major...
    on April 16, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Trashy drivers have been tossing their fast-food wrappers, COVID masks and drink cans along state Route 512 between Parkland and Puyallup for years, and now law abiding drivers are going … Click to Continue »

  • Downed power lines on northbound I-5 in Tacoma...
    on April 7, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Live power lines in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Tacoma on Thursday forced the closure of two lanes, causing significant backups and traffic delays. The incident was reported … Click to Continue »

  • Pierce County man hit and killed on I-5 near Kent...
    on March 27, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    A Lakewood man who was hit and killed by a pick-up truck on I-5 near Kent Friday afternoon has been identified, according to Washington State Patrol. Dominic G. Njuguna, 35, … Click to Continue »

  • Update: Northbound I-5 in Tacoma reopened after...
    on March 18, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Drivers commuting north Friday morning on Interstate 5 in Tacoma ran into significant traffic delays. All northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for nearly eight hours due to a … Click to Continue »

  • Here’s why you should avoid driving on...
    on March 16, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    If you need to drive south on I-5 through Nisqually this weekend, it would be best not to do it either Saturday or Sunday morning. From 6 a.m. to noon … Click to Continue »

  • WSDOT wants input on strategies to improve I-5...
    on March 14, 2022 at 8:01 pm

    I-5 motorists and other South Sound residents have an opportunity to provide feedback on strategies aimed at improving commutes and conditions along the Interstate 5 corridor in Thurston and Pierce … Click to Continue »

  • Serious-injury collision in Puyallup causing...
    on March 10, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    A 60-year-old man was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured Thursday morning in Puyallup. Police said the incident was causing some traffic delays. The incident occurred about 6 a.m. … Click to Continue »

  • Collision on SB I-5 in Lakewood brings sign...
    on March 8, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    A large road sign holder known as a gantry crashed onto Interstate 5 in Pierce County shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, blocking all southbound lanes for about six hours and … Click to Continue »