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.

Sound Transit News


General Transportation News


  • Bus service cuts start Saturday as Metro Transit...
    by Heidi Groover on September 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Metro will cut bus service starting this weekend, as the pandemic hurts transit agency funding. The cuts will amount to 15% of the agency’s overall service before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Metro has already cut some bus routes this year due to the outbreak, so some of the reductions may not […]

  • First rental scooters hit Seattle streets
    by Heidi Groover on September 16, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Seattle’s first free-floating rental scooters will be available this week after the bike and scooter company Lime said it deployed 500 scooters here Wednesday.  The electric foot scooters will be available in downtown, South Lake Union, Sodo, the Central District, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Fremont […]

  • SDOT director supports more bridge maintenance...
    by Mike Lindblom on September 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    Though city transportation managers need $34 million to fully maintain aging bridges, SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe says he won't ask for anywhere near that much in the 2021 budget cycle this fall. It may take a couple years and "community conversations" to boost the program.

  • Seattle is shortchanging bridge maintenance,...
    by Mike Lindblom on September 14, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    At $6.6 million a year, Seattle's spending to maintain bridges remains far too low, a new audit report says. The audit cites a "conservative" SDOT estimate that $34 million a year should be invested to maintain older bridges.

  • SDOT promises 55 small projects to help cope with...
    by Mike Lindblom on September 14, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    The Seattle Department of Transportation says it's ready to start building 40 top-ranked small projects, plus 15 other changes based on additional talks with neighbors, aimed at helping travelers navigate detours required by closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

  • Highway 520 bridge over Lake Washington to close...
    by Mike Lindblom on September 11, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    The state will close Highway 520 across Lake Washington crossing so that contractors can make progress on a new Montlake interchange being constructed near the University of Washington.

  • Optimism grows in ability to fix West Seattle...
    by Mike Lindblom on September 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Seattle transportation managers are growing confident that repairs can squeeze at least 15 more years of use out of the cracked West Seattle Bridge. Such repairs would restore six lanes of traffic in 2022, compared to an immediate demolition and replacement that would disrupt travel until 2026 or […]

  • Electric scooters approved for Seattle, but can...
    by Heidi Groover on September 9, 2020 at 1:35 am

    The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to approve legislation allowing free-floating rentable scooters and changing the rules for where scooters will be allowed. Council members said part of the goal of green-lighting a scooter program now is to allow people to learn to ride the devices while the […]

  • 9 people arrested during protest where drivers...
    by Heidi Groover on September 4, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Washington State Patrol troopers arrested nine drivers participating in a protest that blocked traffic on Interstate 5 through Seattle on Friday morning, according to videos and accounts from the scene and the state patrol.

  • Ferry service increased for isolated Point Roberts
    by The Associated Press on September 3, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    The community was largely cut off from the U.S. mainland when Canada and the U.S. closed their land border this spring to nonessential crossings to control the spread of the coronavirus.