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


  • Heat wave melted county roads, buckled sidewalks
    by Ben Watanabe on July 26, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Extreme temperatures in late June, likely a result of climate change, damaged asphalt and concrete. Heat wave melted county roads, buckled sidewalks Ben Watanabe

  • Lessons in biking and busing to a Snohomish...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 19, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Don’t pick a route almost entirely uphill and along a single-lane highway without shoulders. Lessons in biking and busing to a Snohomish County campground Ben Watanabe

  • County drops Pilchuck Creek bridge to one lane...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 13, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Deterioration of the bridge, built in 1933, prompted capacity and weight restrictions. County drops Pilchuck Creek bridge to one lane near Stanwood Ben Watanabe

  • No quick solutions to Highway 9 commute through...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 12, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Some drivers try shortcuts that frustrate neighbors and add to the gridlock in the area. No quick solutions to Highway 9 commute through Snohomish Ben Watanabe

  • Rail boosters to Sound Transit: Don’t delay...
    by Wire Service on July 10, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington “For too long Everett has paid into the system with minimum benefit,” said transit supporter Brock Howell. Rail boosters to Sound Transit: Don’t delay Link expansion Wire Service

  • Speedy Smokey Point Boulevard is temporarily...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 5, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The change is part of a “complete streets” demonstration for shared roads — and it could be the future. Speedy Smokey Point Boulevard is temporarily slowed down Ben Watanabe

  • Going somewhere? So are a million others over...
    by Ben Watanabe on July 1, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington COVID restriction-easing and a three-day weekend this year could make travel hectic. Going somewhere? So are a million others over July 4 weekend Ben Watanabe

  • Everett council asks for transit merger steering...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 28, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Survey results show strong support for growth options, which prompted the City Council to act. Everett council asks for transit merger steering committee Ben Watanabe

  • Filter and flow: Learn more about air circulation...
    by Community Transit on June 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Here’s some refreshing info that will help you breathe easy while riding Community Transit: there is excellent air circulation and ventilation on their buses to help reduce the spread of […]

  • Filter and flow: Learn more about air circulation...
    by Community Transit on June 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Here’s some refreshing info that will help you breathe easy while riding Community Transit: there is excellent air circulation and ventilation on their buses to help reduce the spread of […]

Tacoma News Tribune


  • California woman dies after crashing motorcycle...
    on July 25, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    A California woman has died at an area hospital after crashing her motorcycle on the Washington state coast Friday afternoon, according to updated information released Sunday by Washington State Patrol. … Click to Continue »

  • Two killed in collision between motorcycle and...
    on July 19, 2021 at 2:03 am

    There has been a deadly wreck on I-705 near the on-ramp to northbound I-5, the Tacoma Fire Department reported Sunday. The crash, which involved multiple vehicles, occurred about 6:30 p.m., … Click to Continue »

  • There may be delays at Stadium Way and Division...
    on July 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Drivers should avoid the Stadium Way and Division Avenue intersection in Tacoma starting Monday, July 19 until the end of August as Sound Transit will be installing the remaining tracks … Click to Continue »

  • Maintenance crews work on northbound I-5 in Fife...
    on July 14, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    UPDATE: WSDOT shared shortly after 10 a.m. on Wednesday that maintenance crews determined they can get the work down without traffic slowdowns. Drivers going northbound on Interstate 5 on Wednesday … Click to Continue »

  • Puyallup looks again to lessen traffic backups on...
    on July 12, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Puyallup City Council members agree more work needs to be done on Shaw Road, but they’re concerned about the funding. Council member at-large Dean Johnson said in knocking on doors … Click to Continue »

  • Pedestrian hurt after being hit by motorcycle in...
    on July 11, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    A Puyallup motorcyclist, who was allegedly driving under the influence, faces a charge of vehicular assault after he crashed into a pedestrian early Sunday, according to Washington State Patrol. The … Click to Continue »

  • One dead in crash on Pacific Highway South in...
    on July 9, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    One person died in a crash along Pacific Highway South at South 356th Street in Milton on Friday. Milton police are investigating the wreck, which involved two vehicles. Police say … Click to Continue »

  • Heading in, out of Tacoma this Fourth of July...
    on July 2, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    With warm weather still abundant after Western Washington’s recent heat wave, some typical holiday traffic is to be expected this Fourth of July weekend. According to the Washington State Department … Click to Continue »

  • Semi-truck overturned on I-5 ramp in Tacoma;...
    on July 2, 2021 at 12:35 am

    A semi-truck overturned Thursday afternoon on northbound I-5 at the interchange to I-705 in Tacoma, blocking several lanes. The Tacoma Fire Department initially responded to the incident at 3:45 p.m., … Click to Continue »

  • Video shows serious collision on northbound I-5...
    on June 29, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Two Olympia motorists collided Friday evening on northbound I-5 near Tumwater. Although no one was hurt, the driver who caused the crash was cited for driving in an aggressive manner, Trooper Robert Reyer said Monday. … Click to Continue »