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!

Broken pavement causes awkward 9-month lane closure on I-90

Broken pavement causes awkward 9-month lane closure on I-90

  Road surfaces in Washington state declined for years due to underinvestment and procrastination, even while WSDOT built new highway megaprojects that politicians, business associations and drivers supported since the early 2000s. Finally in 2022, the...

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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


  • Washington ferries to get $38 million to improve...
    by Wire Service on August 9, 2022 at 11:50 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The money from the Federal Highway Administration will be used to improve the ferry service. Washington ferries to get $38 million to improve services Wire Service

  • Lynnwood’s Poplar Way bridge over I-5 gets $25M...
    by Ben Watanabe on August 9, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Designs show a six-lane road with bike lanes and sidewalks between 196th Street SW and Alderwood Mall Boulevard. Lynnwood’s Poplar Way bridge over I-5 gets $25M federal boost Ben Watanabe

  • Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and...
    by Ben Watanabe on August 8, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A group representing people around Everett Station wants Sound Transit to study the idea. Could light rail station under Pacific Avenue and over railroad work? Ben Watanabe

  • Everett launches free evening bus rides to the...
    by Ben Watanabe on August 3, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The service, dubbed ‘Wheels to the Waterfront’, will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting this week Everett launches free evening bus rides to the waterfront Ben Watanabe

  • Survey: Support for Madison Street bike lanes,...
    by Ben Watanabe on August 1, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Everett staff are conducting a traffic study and developing alternatives as part of the road’s scheduled road work. Survey: Support for Madison Street bike lanes, worry over parking Ben […]

  • Ferry in Seattle damaged after crash into terminal
    by Wire Service on July 28, 2022 at 6:20 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Authorities say an automobile and passenger ferry crashed into a dock Thursday. Ferry in Seattle damaged after crash into terminal Wire Service

  • King County OKs free transit for youth
    by Wire Service on July 26, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington People age 18 and under will ride buses, water taxis and streetcars for free in King County starting Sept. 1. King County OKs free transit for youth Wire Service

  • State OKs lower Highway 99 speed limits in south...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 26, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Speed limits will drop 5 and 10 mph on two different stretches between Airport Road and Seventh Avenue SE. State OKs lower Highway 99 speed limits in south Everett Ben Watanabe

  • Community Transit plan: more frequent buses, new...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 25, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The Snohomish County agency’s six-year outlook is bullish on growth despite lingering effects of the pandemic. Community Transit plan: more frequent buses, new routes, ‘clean’ fuel […]

  • PUD fast-charging EV stations in Everett ready...
    by Herald Staff on July 22, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A state grant with money from the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement helped fund the the project. PUD fast-charging EV stations in Everett ready for drivers Herald Staff

Tacoma News Tribune


  • 36-year-old Kent resident killed in head-on...
    on August 11, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    Jacob Love, a 36-year old man who died after he drove across an Orting street divider and into an oncoming vehicle, was identified by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office … Click to Continue »

  • Do you drive the Sumner Tapps highway? Prepare...
    on August 7, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    Road crews will descend on Sumner Tapps Highway East the week of Aug. 8 to add a new layer of asphalt between West Tapps Drive East and the Auburn city … Click to Continue »

  • Update: Tacoma bridge reopened to traffic after...
    on August 3, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Update, 3:05 p.m. Aug. 3: The Hylebos Bridge was reopened to vehicle traffic by 2:40 p.m. City spokesperson Stacy Ellifritt said in an email that there appeared to be a … Click to Continue »

  • Bicycling in Tacoma can be dangerous. Here are...
    on August 1, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Between 2016 and 2020, an estimated 26,693 people were involved in traffic collisions on Tacoma’s streets, according to a crash-analysis report. Bicyclists make up only 1 percent of that number, … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic stalled in Sumner after police pursuit of...
    on July 28, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Drivers headed south on state Route 167 in Sumner on Thursday morning may have run into traffic delays. Pierce County deputies said traffic was backed up after a police pursuit … Click to Continue »

  • Vehicle fire on southbound I-5 in Tacoma snarls...
    on July 27, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    A vehicle that caught fire Wednesday on a shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 in Tacoma temporarily blocked four lanes, stalling traffic while crews worked to extinguish the flames. No injuries … Click to Continue »

  • Expect road work, possible delays on this state...
    on July 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Travelers can expect lane closures coming soon along state Route 302 on Key Peninsula. Starting July 25, crews use alternating one-way traffic between 118th Avenue Northwest and 123rd Avenue Northwest, … Click to Continue »

  • Anger and sadness from Tacoma-area bicycling...
    on July 22, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Days after a 13-year-old boy riding a bicycle in a crosswalk was struck and killed by a car in Parkland, local bicycling advocates expressed anger and grief over a crash … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic stalls after 3-vehicle crash in Tacoma. A...
    on July 21, 2022 at 10:27 pm

    A crash near the Port of Tacoma that flipped a pickup truck on top of a semitrailer Thursday afternoon blocked off traffic in the area. The Tacoma Police Department received … Click to Continue »

  • Man killed in Gig Harbor crash after driver fell...
    on July 20, 2022 at 10:03 pm

    A 34-year-old Port Orchard man died in Gig Harbor after the driver of the SUV he was riding in fell asleep and crashed into a ditch. Washington State Patrol trooper … Click to Continue »