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 train derails, causing disruption in Tacoma

Sound Transit train derails, causing disruption in Tacoma

  A Sound Transit train derailed early Wednesday in Tacoma, the agency confirmed. No injuries were reported. The T Line train derailed at the intersection of South Seventh and Commerce streets in Tacoma. Its speed has yet to be determined, Sound Transit...

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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


  • Overnight lane closures, I-5 detour set between...
    by Herald Staff on December 8, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Crews need to replace a girder on the 12th Street NE bridge that was damaged by an overheight load in September 2021. Overnight lane closures, I-5 detour set between Everett, Marysville […]

  • Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett
    by Ben Watanabe on December 5, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Construction crews need warmer temps for the work to remove what a reader described as “mini raised speed bumps.” Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett Ben Watanabe

  • Driver shortage prompts Community Transit’s...
    by Ben Watanabe on November 28, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Reducing service, by 78 trips total on 9 routes, could make for more reliable arrivals and departures in March. Driver shortage prompts Community Transit’s trip cut proposal Ben Watanabe

  • Bird scooters removed from Everett bridge overhang
    by Ben Watanabe on November 26, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A prankster, or pranksters, lugged the electrified rides to an area not meant for the public on the Grand Avenue Park Bridge. Bird scooters removed from Everett bridge overhang Ben Watanabe

  • Stanwood voters embrace sales tax to pay for...
    by Jerry Cornfield on November 25, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Nearly two-thirds of voters backed a measure to keep the two-tenths of a percent sales tax for maintaining streets, sidewalks and more. Stanwood voters embrace sales tax to pay for street […]

  • Turkey travel is for the birds
    by Andrea Brown on November 23, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Leave extra early or late if you can, pack the winter essentials and prepare for traffic whether driving, flying or sailing. Turkey travel is for the birds Andrea Brown

  • State won’t keep federal money from Lake...
    by Ben Watanabe on November 22, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington In September the state told the city it wasn’t complying with federal law. Upon review, the state is easing its stance. State won’t keep federal money from Lake Stevens for ADA issues […]

  • Advocates call for safer roads, sidewalks across...
    by Ben Watanabe on November 22, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Several people marked World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims at one of the most dangerous roads in the county. Advocates call for safer roads, sidewalks across Snohomish County Ben […]

  • Edmonds eyes speed cameras near three schools
    by Ben Watanabe on November 21, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Roads near Edmonds-Woodway High, Chase Lake Elementary and Westgate Elementary could get automated enforcement. Edmonds eyes speed cameras near three schools Ben Watanabe

  • Madison Street project in Everett will include...
    by Ben Watanabe on November 18, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Project is scheduled for next summer, and includes removal of center turn lane. Madison Street project in Everett will include bike lanes Ben Watanabe

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Update: Stretch of state highway through south...
    on December 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    Update 3, 12:24 p.m.: WSDOT reports the collision has been cleared. Update 2, 10:48 a.m.: WSDOT now reporting a collision on state Route 161 near Graham Road East with lanes … Click to Continue »

  • Hit-and-run crash on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma...
    on November 25, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    A pedestrian was killed early Friday morning in a hit-and-run crash on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, according to police. A portion of the roadway will be shut down for several … Click to Continue »

  • There’s a Puyallup intersection drivers,...
    on November 19, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    A Puyallup intersection will be closed for two days between 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. next week. Crews will work at the West Stewart Avenue and Seventh Street Northwest intersection … Click to Continue »

  • UPDATE: State troopers involved in shooting on...
    on November 19, 2022 at 1:03 am

    A semi tractor-trailer was carjacked then crashed on I-5 near Martin Way on Friday, but the incident ended with a shooting involving Washington State Patrol troopers. Northbound and southbound lanes … Click to Continue »

  • Pierce County deputy responding to assault call...
    on November 17, 2022 at 11:51 pm

    A Pierce County deputy responding to a report of a domestic-violence assault Thursday afternoon collided with a vehicle at an intersection near Parkland, causing the patrol car to roll over. … Click to Continue »

  • Four suspects wanted after shooting shuts down...
    on November 16, 2022 at 12:47 am

    Four suspects are wanted by police after a shooting and a collision at a busy Lakewood intersection have halted traffic late Tuesday afternoon. Lakewood police responded to a collision at … Click to Continue »

  • Head-on vehicle collision in Parkland injures 5...
    on November 14, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    A head-on collision involving two vehicles Monday morning in Parkland left five people injured and led to part of Steele Street South being closed to traffic for several hours. A … Click to Continue »

  • Lane and ramp closures coming to I-5 and SR 167...
    on October 28, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Drivers using southbound Interstate 5 near the Puyallup River Bridge on Saturday might see lane closures. Crews working for the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will be paving in that … Click to Continue »

  • Rolled over trailer on SR-16 in Gig Harbor causes...
    on October 26, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    A trailer rolled over Wednesday morning on eastbound state Route 16 in Gig Harbor, forcing traffic to the shoulder and causing miles of backups, according to the Washington State Department … Click to Continue »

  • Early-morning vehicle collisions on I-5 in Tacoma...
    on October 25, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    Tuesday-morning commuters going through Tacoma from either direction on Interstate 5 might have run into some light traffic delays due to collisions on both sides of the interstate. Both collisions … Click to Continue »