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.
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...
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!
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...
Seattle Times: Bus cuts, delayed projects, rider fear – Coronavirus will bring years of pain for transit
“Before the coronavirus pandemic, King County Metro was defying a trend.As fewer people rode buses in cities all over America, riders were flocking to board here. Metro couldn’t hire and train drivers fast enough and didn’t have enough space at its maintenance bases...
“Despite years of prosperity and abundant revenue, Seattle entered 2020 with a deep backlog of maintenance and repair needs. “Read the article
“America will awake to a harsh reality that all transit advocates will still deny — public transit is broken in most of North American and even lots of Europe.”Read the article
“Not being tied to a physical commute every day could make it possible for households to move to places they would prefer more. This is not just the continuing movement of people away from the crowded urban cores to the suburbs and exurbs, but even beyond.Read the...
Seattle Times: NTSB ‘amazed at the amount of failure’ by agencies in fatal 2017 Amtrak derailment south of Tacoma
“…the safety board placed primary blame for the crash on Sound Transit, which owns the $181 million corridor, for failing to require safety improvements near the curve, where the 80 mph speed limit dropped to 30 mph.”Read the article
Bus rapid transit is like a MARTA line on tires instead of rails. Passengers board at stations, not bus stops. The vehicles make few stops, and they usually travel in dedicated bus lanes or on highway express lanes like the ones that have opened in recent years across...
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.
Sound Transit News
- Sound Transit growth reflected in $90M in...by Mike Lindblom on November 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm
So far this year, Sound Transit’s governing board has approved five office leases totaling $90 million, underscoring the agency’s growth as a result of ST3.
- Train and transit talk: Highlights from reporter...by z-inactive-Tyler on November 10, 2017 at 12:52 am
Can Sound Transit projects be completed early? Will ST3 car tab fees come down? What impact will the Trump administration have on funding Seattle-area infrastructure? Mike Lindblom answered your transit-related questions.
- What can Sound Transit do to keep projects in the...by Seattle Times staff on November 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Transportation reporter Mike Lindblom answers your questions about the future of Sound Transit's light-rail projects, which are facing growing budget pressure from rising land values and construction costs.
- Sound Transit’s Lynnwood extension running...by Mike Lindblom on August 24, 2017 at 9:35 pm
The half-billion-dollar increase for the Sound Transit 2 Lynnwood line comes as a surprise for taxpayers, and officials will negotiate simpler designs with cities along the tracks.
- Here’s why your ST3 car tab fee is so highby Gina Cole and Daniel Beekman on March 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm
On episode 28 of The Overcast, Traffic Lab reporters Mike Lindblom and David Gutman get nerdy with us about Sound Transit 3 and the car tab fees that fund it.
- Sticker shock as much higher car-tab bills land...by David Gutman on February 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm
The state Department of Licensing is getting hit with calls from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties about increased car-tab fees that are just starting to go into effect following the passage of Sound Transit 3.
- Sound Transit moves fast to get deals on loans,...by Mike Lindblom on November 28, 2016 at 12:45 am
Sound Transit is making deals for $2.9 billion in federal loans, bond sales and grants while money is cheap.
- State senator calls for direct elections of Sound...by Mike Lindblom on November 18, 2016 at 1:38 am
Pierce County voters’ opposition to Sound Transit 3 has prompted state Sen. Steve O’Ban to propose direct elections of transit-board members.
- Where Sound Transit 3 projects could speed up or...by Mike Lindblom on November 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm
Political energy, less red tape or simpler design can speed projects. So can money, say, from the federal government. Disputes about track alignments, inaccurate cost forecasts, elaborate stations or tunnels, or a recession can create delays.
- Passing Sound Transit 3 boost for commuters, jobsby Jon Talton on November 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm
The Puget Sound region made a big step forward in transportation and the state advanced the condition of low-wage workers.
General Transportation News
- Coronavirus cases spike among Puget Sound-area...by Heidi Groover on November 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm
The number of COVID-19 cases among Puget Sound transit workers is on the rise as the virus spread across the region. At least three local transit drivers have died since March.
- Seattle City Council approves new car-tab fee....by Heidi Groover on November 24, 2020 at 1:43 am
The Seattle City Council has approved a $20 car-tab fee, but has not decided yet how to spend the money. The fee would take effect July 1 if approved by Mayor Jenny Durkan.
- Mayor Durkan aims to repair and reopen the West...by Mike Lindblom on November 20, 2020 at 3:48 am
The city forecasts reopening a repaired West Seattle Bridge in mid-2022, but an outside expert says it's possible to shave some time off that schedule.
- West Seattle Bridge repair cheaper than...by Heidi Groover and Mike Lindblom on November 20, 2020 at 2:20 am
Repairing the West Seattle Bridge is cheaper in the short run than a partial replacement. But it will still leave the city looking for ways to cover an array of expenses for years to come.
- WATCH: Local leaders discuss repair, replacement...by Michelle Baruchman on November 20, 2020 at 12:08 am
In an hour-long conversation over Zoom, The Seattle Times asked local leaders about the options to repair or replace the cracked West Seattle Bridge as Mayor Jenny Durkan mulled a final decision.
- Mayor Durkan wants to repair, not replace, the...by Mike Lindblom on November 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Mayor Jenny Durkan says the city should repair the cracked West Seattle Bridge, and she hopes to reopen the span in 2022. West Seattle motorists have detoured since late March, when cracks in the concrete girders caused officials to call for an emergency shutdown.
- Light-rail construction to close southbound I-5...by Mike Lindblom on November 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Three overnight closures are planned this weekend for southbound I-5 through Mountlake Terrace, where contractors are building a future light-rail bridge.
- Seattle City Council backs new $20 car-tab fee...by Heidi Groover on November 19, 2020 at 2:04 am
Seattle City Council members agree the city should enact a new $20 car-tab fee to help pay for transportation projects, but they don't agree on how to spent it.
- Many Seattle intersections lack accessible...by Heidi Groover on November 17, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Fewer than a quarter of Seattle's pedestrian crossing signals are equipped with audible signals that alert those who are blind or low-vision when it is safe to cross a street. The Seattle Department of Transportation says it is installing accessible signals as the city has the funding and using […]
- New $2.5M pedestrian, bike trail connection would...by Michelle Baruchman on November 17, 2020 at 2:00 pm
The $2.5 million ramp will connect the Highway 520 Trail with Eastrail on the Eastside. The Metropolitan King County Council is expect to approve the final funding for the project as part of Tuesday's budget vote. The bulk of funding comes from Facebook and REI, which each contributed $1 million […]