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!

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


  • State ferry fares set to rise for drivers and...
    by Jerry Cornfield on June 15, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A state panel proposed a 2.5% hike in each of the next two years to cover the system’s operating costs. State ferry fares set to rise for drivers and walk-ons Jerry Cornfield

  • Why I Ride: Saving time and money with a Vanpool
    by Island Transit on June 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Julie and Staci, Island Transit’s program coordinators, are big fans of Mark Horton. He’s been a consistent vanpool participant for 30 years. That’s almost as long as the Island […]

  • Why I Ride
    by Island Transit on June 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Julie and Staci, Island Transit’s program coordinators, are big fans of Mark Horton. He’s been a consistent vanpool participant for 30 years. That’s almost as long as the Island […]

  • Months-long work on Highway 9 coming for Lake...
    by Ben Watanabe on June 14, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Crews will soon begin building a second northbound Highway 9 lane near Market Place. Months-long work on Highway 9 coming for Lake Stevens Ben Watanabe

  • Work on I-5 Stilly River bridge will mean summer...
    by Herald Staff on June 6, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The speed limit for both directions over the river is down to 55 mph due to repainting and metal work. Work on I-5 Stilly River bridge will mean summer slowdowns Herald Staff

  • U.S. 2 bridge work and lane closure set for this...
    by Herald Staff on June 3, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Drivers should expect backups as they approach the Pilchuck River bridge near Snohomish. U.S. 2 bridge work and lane closure set for this weekend Herald Staff

  • Lynnwood light rail work to close Interurban...
    by Herald Staff on June 3, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The bike and pedestrian path will have a detour in place while construction closes it for 10 months. Lynnwood light rail work to close Interurban Trail section Herald Staff

  • Federal aid sought to give aging U.S. 2 trestle a...
    by Jerry Cornfield on June 3, 2021 at 1:06 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Standing near the westbound span, members of Congress said they’ll seek funding in a transportation bill. Federal aid sought to give aging U.S. 2 trestle a facelift Jerry Cornfield

  • Light rail work could disrupt I-5 drivers near...
    by Herald Staff on May 30, 2021 at 8:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Building the light rail extension requires the closure of an off-ramp to Highway 104 in coming weeks. Light rail work could disrupt I-5 drivers near Lynnwood Herald Staff

  • Amtrak resumes routes, including Everett Empire...
    by Wire Service on May 24, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Increased routes will include trips between Seattle and Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland and Eugene. Amtrak resumes routes, including Everett Empire Builder stop Wire Service

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Bugs found in WA’s new automated toll system....
    on June 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    The state Department of Transportation has pushed back the date of its planned Good To Go system shutdown to July 2, giving commuters another two weeks to get their accounts … Click to Continue »

  • New Puyallup River bridge to open first lane of...
    on June 14, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    More lane changes are coming for traffic traveling south on Interstate 5 in Tacoma starting this weekend, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Weather permitting, construction crews will … Click to Continue »

  • 2 Pierce County men hurt in I-5 wreck Sunday...
    on June 13, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    Two Pierce County men were injured early Sunday after a wreck on Interstate 5 near DuPont, according to Washington State Patrol. A Lakewood man, 26, was injured and taken to … Click to Continue »

  • Key part of Pierce County’s Canyon Road...
    on June 6, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    The junk-removal phase for part of Pierce County’s most lengthy and expensive construction project to date is almost complete along Canyon Road East and Pioneer Way East. Canyon Road East … Click to Continue »

  • Heads up, WA drivers: You might want to fill up...
    on May 31, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    For two weeks in June, the Good To Go system will be anything but. Beginning June 18, users of the popular automated toll-paying system will find they won’t be able … Click to Continue »

  • Tacoma motorcyclist hurt in Saturday afternoon...
    on May 30, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    A Tacoma motorcyclist was injured Saturday afternoon in a wreck in Lewis County, according to Washington State Patrol. About 1 p.m., the 43-year-old man was headed west on state Route … Click to Continue »

  • Traveling this Memorial Day weekend? Here are the...
    on May 29, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    With nice weather in the forecast, expect to see increased traffic as Washingtonians get out for the Memorial Day weekend. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), there … Click to Continue »

  • Tolls at Narrows Bridge, SR 520 bridge and SR 99...
    on May 13, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    Seattle and Tacoma drivers may have to pay more in tolls at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the State Route 520 bridge and the State Route 99 tunnel as soon as … Click to Continue »

  • Pierce County man is killed after crashing into...
    on May 9, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    A Pierce County man was killed Saturday night after he crashed his vehicle into a tree, according to Washington State Patrol. The 39-year-old Eatonville man, who died at the scene, … Click to Continue »

  • Serious crashes, including fatality, shut down...
    on May 7, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    At least two major collisions occurred on northbound Interstate 5 in Fife Friday morning, May 7, one of which was fatal, and caused huge traffic backups. Three semi trucks were involved in one of the wrecks, which spilled milk across all lanes. … Click to Continue »