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


  • Everett set to add bridges, 75th Street bike...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 28, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A six-year transportation improvement program’s annual update included bridges for Broadway and Lowell Snohomish River Road. Everett set to add bridges, 75th Street bike project to $5 […]

  • Everett light rail study adds I-5, Evergreen Way...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 27, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Both options negate the spur along Airport Road to the Boeing and Paine Field area long supported by county leaders. Everett light rail study adds I-5, Evergreen Way options Ben Watanabe

  • Work begins to remove Highway 99 center turn lane...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 24, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Tree-lined curb medians and turn pockets will replace the shared left turn lane by next year. Work begins to remove Highway 99 center turn lane in Edmonds Ben Watanabe

  • Julie Timm gets 3-year deal as Sound Transit’s...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 23, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Timm is set to start a three-year term in September. She is currently CEO of a regional transit system in Virginia. Julie Timm gets 3-year deal as Sound Transit’s new CEO Ben Watanabe

  • No fares for Skagit Transit passengers 18 and...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 23, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The Skagit County-based agency changed its policy in light of the latest state transportation package. No fares for Skagit Transit passengers 18 and under Ben Watanabe

  • Lots of Lake Stevens road work ahead on highways...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The state is building four roundabouts near Frontier Village to help manage traffic and improve pedestrian access. Lots of Lake Stevens road work ahead on highways 9, 204 Ben Watanabe

  • Parking spaces closed, others open at Lynnwood...
    by Herald Staff on June 13, 2022 at 11:47 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Work on Sound Transit’s light rail station and parking garage requires the closures through spring 2023. Parking spaces closed, others open at Lynnwood Transit Center Herald Staff

  • Group envisions robust links for Centennial Trail
    by Ben Watanabe on June 13, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Leafline Trail Coalition’s map has over 900 miles through King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Group envisions robust links for Centennial Trail Ben Watanabe

  • Your chance to quiz those who are running the...
    by Andrea Brown on June 12, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Washington State Ferries is holding another round of virtual meetings for updates and questions. Your chance to quiz those who are running the ferry system Andrea Brown

  • Date to reopen West Seattle Bridge set for...
    by Wire Service on June 10, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The bridge abruptly closed in 2020 and is planned to be reopened the week of Sept. 12. Date to reopen West Seattle Bridge set for mid-September Wire Service

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Stalled traffic on southbound I-5 in Fife due to...
    on June 27, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Drivers headed south Monday on Interstate 5 might have run into miles of backups near Fife due to a stalled vehicle blocking two lanes. Washington State Patrol troopers said the … Click to Continue »

  • How much will you pay to cross the Tacoma Narrows...
    on June 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Many Puget Sound drivers will see a reduction in their eastbound Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll bill in October, but policymakers are asking for public input as to which vehicles should … Click to Continue »

  • Vehicle struck Bethel School District building in...
    on June 14, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Pierce County deputies were investigating Tuesday morning after a vehicle rear-ended a pickup truck, then struck a Bethel School District building in Spanaway. Deputies said one person in the vehicle … Click to Continue »

  • Man arrested on suspicion of DUI vehicular...
    on June 14, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Washington State Patrol troopers arrested a 23-year-old man in Milton on Tuesday morning after he allegedly ran a red light turning onto state Route 161 and a motorcycle collided into … Click to Continue »

  • Road near Puyallup closed due to 2-vehicle...
    on June 8, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Pierce County deputies are investigating a two-vehicle rollover collision northwest of Puyallup on Wednesday morning that put a semi-truck on its side in the roadway. Deputies said the road would … Click to Continue »

  • Maps show noisy night construction locations on...
    on June 6, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    Two stretches of road along state Route 7 are about to get loud for the next couple of months. The Washington State Department of Transportation announced plans to replace old … Click to Continue »

  • 10 miles of ‘unavoidably loud’ night road...
    on June 5, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Beginning Monday night, work will get underway to replace 10 miles of road asphalt on state Route 7 in Tacoma and Spanaway, according to the state Department of Transportation. The … Click to Continue »

  • Starting June 7, you’ll have to drive slower on...
    on June 5, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    Starting June 7, east Pierce County commuters will have to slow down, according to the state Department of Transportation. That’s because new speed limits will take effect on state Route … Click to Continue »

  • Memorial Day weekend road trip in Washington...
    on May 27, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    The Washington State Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to check in ahead of road trips this Memorial Day weekend for road and mountain pass closure information. You can get … Click to Continue »

  • Octane booster? Fuel stabilizer? Here’s what...
    on May 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

    Gas prices in the northwest continue to sit above the national average, according to AAA, as prices nationwide continually increase to new record highs. The average price of regular unleaded … Click to Continue »