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.
Better bus service would improve millions of Americans’ lives. Opinion by NYT columnist, Farhad Manjoo. Photo: Florian Buettner/laif, via Redux
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!
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)
When Sound Transit unveiled a $54 billion tax measure in 2016, even its most tenacious critics said the rail and bus budgets were so larded with financial cushions the agency couldn’t possibly run short on cash. Only five years later,...
Washington State DOT’s Ultra High-Speed Ground Transportation Business Case Analysis (UHSGT) is a promotional brochure riddled with serious errors and misstatements
Read the complete paper here: Washington State DOT’s Ultra High-Speed Ground Transportation Business Case Analysis (UHSGT) is a promotional brochure riddled with serious errors and misstatementsKey Findings The term “Ultra High-Speed Ground Transportation...
Mariya Frost is the director of the Coles Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center. Four years ago, transportation experts predicted Sound Transit’s light rail expansion would be obsolete before it’s built. Now, Covid-19’s impact on how we...
SEATTLE — If you think the commute in and out of West Seattle is rough now – get ready for January. The Washington State Department of Transportation said they will be doing some critical work to the First Avenue South Bridge that will require...
Performance audit of Sound Transit reveals over $100 million spent to fix mistakes and missing information
From the Washington Policy Center: The Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) released a performance audit of Sound Transit, finding that the agency should spend more time upfront in carefully designing and planning projects to reduce high...
Los Angeles Times: A viaduct built in Madera for California’s high-speed rail project. (High-Speed Rail Authority) Lawmakers are withdrawing their support from the high-speed rail project as many become skeptical of the plans and...
From the Washington Policy Center: In a June 17 update, King County Metro provided information on the agency’s COVID-19 response and recovery, as well as the impact of the pandemic on budget and policy. Metro reported that ridership...
From the Washington Policy Center:The West Seattle Bridge was first opened to traffic in 1984, replacing a twin drawbridge (or bascule bridge) that had been struck in 1978 by the freighter Chavez. Its replacement – a segmental bridge supported...
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.”
Even the former FTA Administrator advocated for expanding Bus Rapid Transit type service over expensive rail …at one time.
– 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.”
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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.
Have Light Rail Systems Been Worth the Investment?
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
Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle
Billions Spent but fewer people using public transportation in Southern California
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?
Great website that works with cities around the world on transportation issues including Bus Rapid Transit.
CETA Archives, Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives
Contact your local elected officials:
Find Your Legislator:
About Face by Sound Transit CEO
2014 PSRC Regional Growth Centers – Where does growth really go in our Region?
June 1, 2015 Crosscut We Deserve Better Transportation Planning
March 26, 2015 Daily Journal of Commerce Transportation 2040 Plan: What’s the Return on our $174 Billion investment?
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 City Council favors using car-tab fee...by Mike Lindblom on May 5, 2021 at 11:44 pm
A majority of Seattle City Council members favor spending most of a new $20 car-tab fee to catch up on bridge maintenance. The Council could raise $100 million by issuing 20-year bonds paid off by the car tab revenue.
- North Cascades Highway reopens with a sweet...by Amanda Zhou on May 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm
The Washington State Department of Transportation is reopening the North Cascades Highway, or Highway 20, for the season. The road closed due to snow on Nov. 16.
- Families mourn victims of Mexico City subway...by FABIOLA SANCHEZ on May 5, 2021 at 4:05 am
A preliminary review suggested a failure in the horizontal support beams caused the subway accident, Mexico City authorities said. Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum urged the public to avoid speculation and promised a thorough and independent investigation.
- How your north Seattle bus route may change this...by Michelle Baruchman on May 4, 2021 at 11:28 pm
King County Metro will adjust numerous bus routes when three light-rail stations serving north Seattle open this fall. Some routes will be eliminated, others added and still others changed to take advantage of light rail.
- With vaccination on the rise, Metro Transit plans...by Michelle Baruchman on May 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm
King County Metro Transit is planning for a ridership rebound as vaccinations increase and companies talk of bringing workers back to the office. But some pre-pandemic transit users say they aren't in a hurry to get back on the bus.
- What Seattle can learn from Berkeley about...by Michelle Baruchman on May 3, 2021 at 1:00 pm
Berkeley, California, is embarking on a process that could transform how the city handles minor traffic infractions. One idea would use public works employees, rather than armed police, for traffic enforcement.
- Sen. Cantwell’s bill would spend $2.5 billion...by Mike Lindblom on April 30, 2021 at 1:00 pm
The Railroad Crossing Elimination Act would spend $2.5 billion to remove hazardous railroad crossings. It would let local agencies compete for federal grants of up to 80% for the work.
- Washington state lawmakers keep new highways on...by Mike Lindblom on April 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm
Despite the hype, state lawmakers in 2021 merely kept transportation megaprojects on cruise control, plus a larger budget to preserve crumbling road lanes.
- 3 agencies investigate Washington ferry after...by The Associated Press on April 27, 2021 at 12:45 pm
Three agencies are investigating a fire that damaged an engine room aboard the Washington state ferry Wenatchee last week. The engine had recently been rebuilt and was being tested. No passengers were on board, and no crew memberes were hurt.
- Advocates push Washington state lawmakers to...by Michelle Baruchman on April 23, 2021 at 1:00 pm
Advocates for people with disabilities, communities of color and environmentally focused groups want state lawmakers to devote more money to transit and pedestrian and bicycle projects. They say funding is especially needed outside of urban areas.
- ‘Healthy Streets’ not coming back, but...by Ben Watanabe on May 3, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Staff review road projects for low-cost way to improve bike infrastructure. Advocates want more. ‘Healthy Streets’ not coming back, but Everett plans bike work Ben Watanabe
- Two legs or four: All welcome to board...by Andrea Brown on April 30, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The new overhead gangplank opened Monday. Four months after the terminal opened, traffic safety has improved. Two legs or four: All welcome to board Mukilteo’s ferry ramp Andrea Brown
- Inslee wants one more thing: An extra nickel at...by Jerry Cornfield on April 27, 2021 at 12:16 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington He’s ready to call lawmakers back for a special session to get money for the new climate change bills. Inslee wants one more thing: An extra nickel at the gas pump Jerry Cornfield
- U.S. 2 segment’s median barriers in place,...by Ben Watanabe on April 26, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The dividers are intended to reduce crashes. Pilchuck River bridge joints, meanwhile, will be replaced. U.S. 2 segment’s median barriers in place, bridge work ahead Ben Watanabe
- House passes cap-and-trade with a link for a gas...by Jerry Cornfield on April 23, 2021 at 9:54 pm
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington As wrangling over climate change policy continues, a major transportation package is pronounced dead. House passes cap-and-trade with a link for a gas tax hike Jerry Cornfield
- First time ever: Mukilteo ferry walk-ons get...by Andrea Brown on April 23, 2021 at 7:24 pm
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The new terminal’s passenger loading walkway opens Monday. Expect delays as road paving continues. First time ever: Mukilteo ferry walk-ons get their own ramp Andrea Brown
- As Amazon moves in, Arlington’s roads are...by Ben Watanabe on April 19, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The city and state are spending millions to improve traffic flow with more lanes and roundabouts. As Amazon moves in, Arlington’s roads are already strained Ben Watanabe
- Package funding U.S. 2 trestle, Monroe bypass on...by Jerry Cornfield on April 14, 2021 at 10:37 pm
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A $17.8 billion plan dealing with highways, ferries and transit has cleared the state Senate transportation panel. Package funding U.S. 2 trestle, Monroe bypass on the move Jerry Cornfield
- U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate...by Jerry Cornfield on April 13, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Time is short to get the $17.8 billion plan passed. Its link to climate change bills adds intrigue. U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate transportation package Jerry Cornfield
- Who wants a wider Highway 524 between Bothell and...by Ben Watanabe on April 12, 2021 at 8:30 am
HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The project list includes expanding the three-mile, two-lane road between Bothell and Lynnwood. Who wants a wider Highway 524 between Bothell and Lynnwood? Ben Watanabe
Tacoma News Tribune
- Online jaws drop at video of driver cruising...on May 3, 2021 at 12:05 am
Gig Harbor resident Marc Hartman recorded this motorist driving a vehicle in reverse on state Route 16 in Tacoma. The April 19 moment has since gone viral as viewers share their disbelief. … Click to Continue »
- Motorist drives vehicle in reverse on state Route...on May 2, 2021 at 11:40 pm
Traffic on southbound I-5 approaching Tacoma typically slows because of congestion, but how about for a car being driven in reverse? That’s what Gig Harbor man Marc Hartman encountered the … Click to Continue »
- Woman faces criminal investigation after 3 people...on April 25, 2021 at 7:06 pm
Three people died at the scene of a wreck Saturday when a car crashed into two vehicles parked on the right shoulder of Interstate 5 near Castle Rock in Cowlitz … Click to Continue »
- Puyallup man hurt after rollover crash in Grays...on April 25, 2021 at 6:19 pm
A Puyallup man, 31, was injured and taken to an Elma hospital after a rollover crash Saturday evening in Grays Harbor County, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers says … Click to Continue »
- State Route 512 ramp in Puyallup to get new...on April 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm
The state is adding a new traffic signal on a state Route 512 off-ramp in Puyallup. The Washington state Department of Transportation will install the signal at the eastbound state … Click to Continue »
- Wrong way driver apprehension by the Washington...on April 19, 2021 at 11:01 pm
It's one of the scariest calls a communications officer takes, a wrong way driver on the interstate. This incident took place on Interstate 5 north of Seattle, WA. Keyframe courtesy Getty Images. … Click to Continue »
- Wrong-way driver killed in crash on Canyon Roadon April 8, 2021 at 11:34 pm
A driver traveling in the wrong lanes on Canyon Road East in South Hill collided head-on with a semi truck Thursday afternoon and died at the scene, according to the … Click to Continue »
- Major collision closes Meridian in both...on April 6, 2021 at 9:41 pm
A collision between a motorcycle and a pickup truck has shut down South Meridian through South Hill in both directions Tuesday afternoon. The wreck is between 39th Avenue SW and … Click to Continue »
- Full day closure of Five Mile Drive delayed,...on April 3, 2021 at 7:51 pm
A day-long closure of Five Mile Drive at Point Defiance Park, scheduled for April 5, has been delayed. The closure was originally scheduled for April 1, then rescheduled for April … Click to Continue »
- Overnight eastbound lane and ramp closures on...on March 18, 2021 at 6:37 pm
If you’re looking to make a trip to or from Gig Harbor next week, best be aware if you are going to go after 7 p.m on Tuesday. In a … Click to Continue »