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!

Sound Transit goes all-in on a gentler kind of fare enforcement

Sound Transit goes all-in on a gentler kind of fare enforcement

Sep. 2, 2022 at 6:00 am Updated Sep. 2, 2022 at 6:55 pm After two years of not enforcing payment, Sound Transit will bring back spot checks of passengers by deploying “fare ambassadors” who educate nonpaying riders and issue lighter penalties — a new strategy leaders...

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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


  • Drivers school has taught thousands rules of the...
    by Janice Podsada on October 5, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Owner of Everett’s 911 Driving School says self-driving cars won’t make a dent for at least 20 years. Drivers school has taught thousands rules of the road Janice Podsada

  • Community Transit hires King County staffer as CFO
    by Herald Staff on October 3, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Eunjoo Greenhouse is set to join the agency Oct. 24 after years in King County government. Community Transit hires King County staffer as CFO Herald Staff

  • Traffic backups on 164th Street near I-5 could...
    by Ben Watanabe on October 3, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The county and state are implementing a new traffic signal system that synchronizes the corridor and adjusts to demand. Traffic backups on 164th Street near I-5 could see relief soon Ben […]

  • U.S. 2 open again near Skykomish after Bolt Creek...
    by Herald Staff on October 2, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington SKYKOMISH — A 1-mile stretch of U.S. 2 was closed for hours in both directions Sunday because of the Bolt Creek fire near Skykomish. U.S. 2 open again near Skykomish after Bolt Creek fire […]

  • Welcome aboard, kids! Ferry rides are free for...
    by Andrea Brown on September 30, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The move to let children ride ferries for free is the latest result of Move Ahead Washington legislation. Welcome aboard, kids! Ferry rides are free for those 18 and under Andrea Brown

  • Plan seeks to transform Smokey Point Blvd. into...
    by Jacqueline Allison on September 30, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington City officials hope roundabouts, sidewalks and more will turn 2 miles of busy road into a neighborhood street. Plan seeks to transform Smokey Point Blvd. into ‘neighborhood corridor’ […]

  • Should light rail skip Paine Field and Boeing? We...
    by Herald Staff on September 30, 2022 at 12:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington More than 300 Herald readers responded to an online poll. Here are the results. Should light rail skip Paine Field and Boeing? We asked, you answered Herald Staff

  • Snohomish County leaders reject light rail routes...
    by Ben Watanabe on September 29, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Those options weren’t what voters approved — and would be like “butchering” the plan, the Snohomish County executive said. Snohomish County leaders reject light rail routes […]

  • Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake...
    by Herald Staff on September 28, 2022 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road. Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens Herald Staff

  • U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire...
    by Herald Staff on September 27, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50. U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads Herald Staff

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Did you get a ticket last week on Pacific Avenue...
    on October 2, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    Law enforcement emphasis patrols along Pacific Avenue in Pierce County last week netted 391 traffic stops, according to data released by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The patrols, which also … Click to Continue »

  • Drive too fast on Pacific Avenue in Pierce...
    on September 25, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, plus other local law enforcement, will be monitoring the Pacific Avenue/Mountain Highway corridor this week in an effort to reduce high-risk driving behaviors. The emphasis … Click to Continue »

  • That new tolled expressway to the Port of Tacoma?...
    on September 25, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    If you’ve recently noticed equipment and crews working alongside Interstate 5 just north of the Fife curve, you’ve seen the beginning of a 2-mile-long tolled expressway that will connect the … Click to Continue »

  • See what construction is happening on Interstate...
    on September 25, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Work has begun on the 167 Completion Project that will connect Interstate 5 with the Port of Tacoma at state Route 509. The 2-mile-long road will be tolled. … Click to Continue »

  • Collision on northbound I-5 in Fife cleared after...
    on September 20, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    Commuters traveling north Tuesday morning on Interstate 5 out of Tacoma may have run into miles of backups on the freeway. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, a … Click to Continue »

  • Expect closures at one of Tacoma’s busiest I-5...
    on September 8, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Some of Tacoma’s busiest Interstate 5 on-ramps and exits are getting makeovers this weekend and the state Department of Transportation is urging drivers to plan ahead. Most of the work … Click to Continue »

  • I-5 ramps construction may impact your commute....
    on September 7, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Tacoma drivers might run into closures this month on the northbound and southbound Interstate 5 on- and off-ramps to South 56th Street due to construction. The southbound I-5 off-ramp to … Click to Continue »

  • Brush fire streaks along I-5 North, backs up...
    on September 3, 2022 at 1:50 am

    A brush fire adjacent to Interstate 5 has caused northbound traffic delays throughout Friday evening. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation website, the fire started just before 5 … Click to Continue »

  • Highway semi-truck stall leads to road diversions...
    on September 2, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    A no-longer stalled semi-truck has continued to cause traffic delays along westbound sections of state Route 512 Friday afternoon. Washington State Trooper Robert Reyer first tweeted about the truck at … Click to Continue »

  • Lakewood brush fire backs up traffic near South...
    on September 1, 2022 at 12:22 am

    A brush fire that required the services of three different departments burned between 5 to 10 acres near Interstate 5 in Lakewood on Wednesday afternoon. West Pierce Fire & Rescue … Click to Continue »