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)

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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


  • 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

  • Stilly River bridge work to jam I-5 traffic near...
    by Herald Staff on April 11, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The southbound bridge is expected to be closed for five months during preservation work. Stilly River bridge work to jam I-5 traffic near Arlington Herald Staff

  • My pledge to drive a car less often is on shaky...
    by Ben Watanabe on April 5, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington But I finally have a transit fare card, and I worry less about the COVID-19 risk on buses. My pledge to drive a car less often is on shaky footing Ben Watanabe

  • Leaders want pledge that Everett light rail will...
    by Jerry Cornfield on April 1, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Sound Transit faces rising costs. Talk of “hard decisions” has Snohomish County officials concerned. Leaders want pledge that Everett light rail will be on time Jerry Cornfield

  • Everett Transit: Stay the same, grow, or merge...
    by Ben Watanabe on March 29, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington An online open house and survey explore how bus service should evolve — and how much it will cost. Everett Transit: Stay the same, grow, or merge and grow? Ben Watanabe

  • Swap out studded tires or risk a $136 fine
    by Ben Watanabe on March 28, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington March 31 is the last day you can legally use them. The state claims they cause up to $33M in damage. Swap out studded tires or risk a $136 fine Ben Watanabe

  • PUD offers hundreds of dollars to some electric...
    by Ben Watanabe on March 22, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington People who buy qualifying electric cars and charging stations can get hundreds of dollars back. PUD offers hundreds of dollars to some electric car buyers Ben Watanabe

  • Highway 526 and northbound I-5 ramps to close...
    by Ben Watanabe on March 21, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Starting Monday night, drivers should prepare for detours during closures for sign work in Everett. Highway 526 and northbound I-5 ramps to close overnight Ben Watanabe

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Wrong-way driver killed in crash on Canyon Road
    on 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 »

  • Pedestrian hit by log truck on northbound I-5...
    on March 16, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    A female pedestrian suffered severe injuries Tuesday afternoon when she was struck by a log truck on northbound I-5 near Lacey, according to the Washington State Patrol. Trooper Robert Reyer … Click to Continue »

  • Mason County driver among 3 injured when he...
    on March 14, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    A Tahuya, Mason County man, not a man from Olympia, was injured when he swerved his vehicle to avoid a chair in the road, according to corrected information released by … Click to Continue »

  • Traffic alert: Port of Tacoma bridge to close to...
    on March 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    The Hylebos Bridge in Tacoma will close for maintenance from March 15-19. Port of Tacoma drivers who need to access the peninsula should use Taylor Way instead, according to the … Click to Continue »

  • Two people shot on Interstate 5 in Lakewood on...
    on March 11, 2021 at 12:43 am

    tnt breaking refer UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: The 35-year-old male shooter allegedly shot himself in the hand and that bullet then traveled into the female’s leg, according to the State Patrol. … Click to Continue »

  • Fatal motorcycle crash closes Pacific Avenue near...
    on March 8, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    A fatal motorcycle crash near Lacey closed a section of Pacific Avenue between Marvin Road and Union Mills Road Monday according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. The crash was … Click to Continue »

  • Arrest follows possible vehicular homicide after...
    on March 7, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    A 31-year-old woman is dead and a 32-year-old man is in custody after a fatal crash near South Hill Sunday morning, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The woman … Click to Continue »