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.
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)
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!
Seattle Times: Bus cuts, delayed projects, rider fear – Coronavirus will bring years of pain for transit
“Before the coronavirus pandemic, King County Metro was defying a trend.As fewer people rode buses in cities all over America, riders were flocking to board here. Metro couldn’t hire and train drivers fast enough and didn’t have enough space at its maintenance bases...
“Despite years of prosperity and abundant revenue, Seattle entered 2020 with a deep backlog of maintenance and repair needs. “Read the article
“America will awake to a harsh reality that all transit advocates will still deny — public transit is broken in most of North American and even lots of Europe.”Read the article
“Not being tied to a physical commute every day could make it possible for households to move to places they would prefer more. This is not just the continuing movement of people away from the crowded urban cores to the suburbs and exurbs, but even beyond.Read the...
Seattle Times: NTSB ‘amazed at the amount of failure’ by agencies in fatal 2017 Amtrak derailment south of Tacoma
“…the safety board placed primary blame for the crash on Sound Transit, which owns the $181 million corridor, for failing to require safety improvements near the curve, where the 80 mph speed limit dropped to 30 mph.”Read the article
Bus rapid transit is like a MARTA line on tires instead of rails. Passengers board at stations, not bus stops. The vehicles make few stops, and they usually travel in dedicated bus lanes or on highway express lanes like the ones that have opened in recent years across...
We already know that dedicated bus lanes work,” Bowser said Friday standing in front of I Street NW at Franklin Square, where crews were wrapping up the red painting of the road’s right lane. “Our hope is to make buses move more quickly and attract more riders.Read...
This week, WSDOT leadership testified before the House Committee on Transportation in support of House Bill 2688, which removes the goal of congestion relief from the state’s transportation policy goals and replaces the rest. The agency said...
The study, by personal finance website WalletHub, found that Washington ranks as the third-worst state for drivers, thanks mainly to steep gas prices, high rates of car theft, poor overall road quality, traffic congestion and other factors Read the article ...
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.”
Even the former FTA Administrator advocated for expanding Bus Rapid Transit type service over expensive rail …at one time.
– 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.”
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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.
Have Light Rail Systems Been Worth the Investment?
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
Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle
Billions Spent but fewer people using public transportation in Southern California
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?
Great website that works with cities around the world on transportation issues including Bus Rapid Transit.
CETA Archives, Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives
Contact your local elected officials:
Find Your Legislator:
About Face by Sound Transit CEO
2014 PSRC Regional Growth Centers – Where does growth really go in our Region?
June 1, 2015 Crosscut We Deserve Better Transportation Planning
March 26, 2015 Daily Journal of Commerce Transportation 2040 Plan: What’s the Return on our $174 Billion investment?
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.
- Bicyclist killed by driver in Seward Park...by Michelle Baruchman on April 14, 2021 at 10:01 pm
Michael Colmant, a 63-year-old employee at King County International Airport at Boeing Field, was an avid swimmer, cyclist and runner. He died Sunday evening when riding his bicycle and a driver hit him head-on and did not stop.
- Gas taxes, food delivery fees and more:...by Mike Lindblom on April 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm
What's it take to raise $18 billion for new projects and preservation? A large menu of taxes and fees, in hopes that no single cost provokes enough public fury to torpedo the plan.
- 2 Korean battery makers settle dispute that...by Ephrat Livni on April 11, 2021 at 9:54 pm
Two South Korean manufacturers of electric vehicle batteries that are building plants in the United States said Sunday that they had reached a $1.8 billion settlement in a trade secrets dispute that threatened the domestic battery supply and, with it, the Biden administration’s green agenda.
- Light rail closed between UW and Sodo stations...by Elise Takahama on April 10, 2021 at 2:39 am
It's the second of five consecutive weekend closures while work takes place.
- Three North Seattle light-rail stations to open...by Mike Lindblom on April 9, 2021 at 7:49 pm
The new U District, Roosevelt and Northgate train stations, approved by voters in a 2008 sales-tax measure, are on track to open by fall. The $1.9 billion extension is expected to add 45,000 daily passengers, who can travel from Northgate Station to downtown's Westlake Station in 14 minutes.
- More drivers will be able to use the West Seattle...by Mike Lindblom on April 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm
The city will loosen its restrictions on the lower Spokane Street swing bridge so general traffic can cross more often. With closure of the West Seattle Bridge, the city limited use of the lower swing bridge to avoid gridlock.
- Jury finds man guilty of murder in Everett...by The Associated Press on April 9, 2021 at 12:29 pm
A jury has rejected claims of self-defense and found the 75-year-old man guilty of second-degree murder in a road-rage incident in Everett. The slain man was a Safeway manager and father of three. He died in the driver’s seat, still wearing his seatbelt.
- Carry chains or drive all-wheel vehicles to get...by Seattle Times staff on April 8, 2021 at 3:13 pm
Don’t put away those tire chains just yet. The Washington State Department of Transportation says you must carry chains or have all-wheel drives to get over the mountain passes Thursday.
- Seattle’s $133M Madison Street bus line...by Michelle Baruchman on April 8, 2021 at 1:00 pm
The Federal Transit Administration has approved a nearly $60 million grant to Seattle to help fund construction of a RapidRide bus line on Madison Street. Construction could begin in the fall, with the line opening in 2024.
- Sea-Tac Airport traffic up 278% over a year ago,...by Nicole Brodeur on April 7, 2021 at 7:37 pm
Traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is up 276% over a year ago, but it's still 59% lower than at the same time in 2019, before the pandemic hit and people were traveling for Easter and spring break.
- 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 fineby 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 Roadon 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 »