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!

NYT: The Subway Needs Riders to Save It. Will They?

NYT: The Subway Needs Riders to Save It. Will They?

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)

read more

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


  • Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi,...
    by Herald Staff on January 25, 2022 at 11:40 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington They got the two highest votes in an online public survey by Lynnwood Public Works. Lynnwood snow plow names: Snowbi Wan Kenobi, Plowy McPlowface Herald Staff

  • Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 24, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service. Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point Ben Watanabe

  • After snowstorms, cities make a roadmap for next...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 17, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Meanwhile, Lynnwood was inundated with entries in a contest to name a city plow. One idea? Plowy McPlowface. After snowstorms, cities make a roadmap for next time Ben Watanabe

  • Development led to frequent street cleaning near...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 10, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Work on a possible residential development tracked dirt onto the road. Marysville made the company clean it. Development led to frequent street cleaning near Smokey Point Ben Watanabe

  • Blewett, Snoqualmie passes to reopen; Stevens...
    by Herald Staff on January 10, 2022 at 12:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington I-90 and U.S. 97 across the mountains would reopen to freight first Sunday. Stevens Pass may not reopen until Wednesday. Blewett, Snoqualmie passes to reopen; Stevens Pass still closed […]

  • U.S. 2 update: Stevens Pass won’t open before...
    by Herald Staff on January 9, 2022 at 12:00 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington STEVENS PASS — The state Department of Transportation doesn’t expect U.S. 2 at Stevens Pass to open before Tuesday. U.S. 2 update: Stevens Pass won’t open before Tuesday Herald Staff

  • Speak up and listen up at virtual ferry community...
    by Andrea Brown on January 5, 2022 at 1:01 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Officials will give updates on ferry delays and the alternate service plan. Speak up and listen up at virtual ferry community meetings Andrea Brown

  • Landslide between Edmonds and Mukilteo cancels...
    by Herald Staff on January 3, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Riders can board special buses in Seattle to get to Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett. Landslide between Edmonds and Mukilteo cancels Sounder train Herald Staff

  • Light rail’s effects lead 2022’s...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 3, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Once the cars reach Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, bus service and traffic could shift dramatically. Light rail’s effects lead 2022’s transportation outlook Ben Watanabe

  • Community Transit vaccine holdouts face a ticking...
    by Ben Watanabe on December 28, 2021 at 12:03 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Dozens of workers at Snohomish County’s public transit agency declined a COVID vaccine, in spite of a Jan. 1 deadline. Community Transit vaccine holdouts face a ticking clock Ben Watanabe

Tacoma News Tribune


  • 2 injured after car drives off overpass near...
    on January 23, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    Two people were injured overnight Sunday near Tacoma after a car drove off an overpass and landed on the freeway below, according to Washington State Patrol. The driver, a 21-year-old … Click to Continue »

  • Narrows Bridge drivers: Here are upcoming lane,...
    on January 13, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Drivers might run into lane and ramp closures on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge next week. The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to do work on Good to Go! tolling … Click to Continue »

  • Nighttime drivers: These ramps, lanes will close...
    on January 9, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    Construction crews building the East L Street bridge and the southbound Interstate 5 Puyallup River Bridge in Tacoma have overnight lane and ramp closures planned for the week of Jan. … Click to Continue »

  • Another shutdown coming to I-5, this time for...
    on January 8, 2022 at 12:33 am

    Interstate 5 is open again after withering winter floods, but the traffic headaches aren’t over just yet. The Washington state Department of Transportation plans to restrict traffic on northbound I-5 … Click to Continue »

  • Looking for a way around the I-5 closure in...
    on January 7, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    People looking for a way around the closure of Interstate 5 in Western Washington don’t have any good options. In fact, the Washington State Department of Transportation advised drivers to … Click to Continue »

  • Snow, slides, mud close WA mountain passes —...
    on January 6, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    UPDATE 7 p.m.: Snoqualmie, Stevens, White and Blewett passes will likely remain closed until Sunday, WSDOT said. UPDATE 5 p.m. Thursday: U.S. 101 along Hood Canal has now reopened to … Click to Continue »

  • Big transportation projects affecting Pierce...
    on January 6, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    More trolleys, more HOV lanes and more commuter parking are coming to the South Sound as big transportation initiatives open to the public in 2022. Other projects will begin in … Click to Continue »

  • These three rural Pierce County intersections...
    on January 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Three intersections on state Routes 702 and 507 near McKenna and Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be replaced by roundabouts in 2024. The state Department of Transportation is holding an online … Click to Continue »

  • ‘Slow down’: 8-12 car crash in Tacoma likely...
    on January 4, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    A multi-vehicle crash Tuesday morning on the ramp from state Route 7 to northbound Interstate 5 in Tacoma was likely caused by ice on the road and drivers going too … Click to Continue »

  • This street, which runs under I-5 in Fife, will...
    on January 2, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    A Fife street that runs under I-5 will close for three weeks, starting Monday morning, according to the state Department of Transportation. About 7 a.m., 20th Street Drive East in … Click to Continue »