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.
Los Angeles Times: A viaduct built in Madera for California’s high-speed rail project. (High-Speed Rail Authority) Lawmakers are withdrawing their support from the high-speed rail project as many become skeptical of the plans and...
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!
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 ...
When Seattle hired a consultant to design a downtown streetcar line, the initial contract totaled $1.85 million. Four years and 11 amendments later, the cost had grown to $14.3 million. Today, the line has yet to be built and the contract is among several now...
Washington lawmakers must scrutinize a bevy of Seattle-spawned land-use, head-tax and transportation proposals. They are heavy on emotional arguments and platitudes and light on details about who really benefits. Read the...
Aaron M. Renn's looks at the transit improvement plans in Indianapolis for the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit line. Indy’s system is a model for how lower density cities with auto-centric cultures can start making major improvements in their transit offerings in a...
Uber took down the taxi industry and now it wants a piece of public transit. That has transportation and urban planning experts deeply worried. For years, as it aggressively entered new markets, Uber has maintained that it is a complement and ally of public transit....
Seattle Times: How did Sound Transit’s $15 billion tax request reach $54 billion? Republicans say they were misled
"GOP legislators say they thought they were authorizing $15 billion in taxes when they voted in 2015 to let Sound Transit ask voters to expand transit. How did that become $54 billion? Legislators put no expiration date on the taxes. Now they say they were misled."...
A new approach to trackless transit - trains not constrained to actual tracks, but it instead following virtual ones using tires and an electric powertrain – much like a bus. Read the whole story at electrek.co
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.
Sound Transit News
- Sound Transit growth reflected in $90M in...by Mike Lindblom on November 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm
So far this year, Sound Transit’s governing board has approved five office leases totaling $90 million, underscoring the agency’s growth as a result of ST3.
- Train and transit talk: Highlights from reporter...by z-inactive-Tyler on November 10, 2017 at 12:52 am
Can Sound Transit projects be completed early? Will ST3 car tab fees come down? What impact will the Trump administration have on funding Seattle-area infrastructure? Mike Lindblom answered your transit-related questions.
- What can Sound Transit do to keep projects in the...by Seattle Times staff on November 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm
Transportation reporter Mike Lindblom answers your questions about the future of Sound Transit's light-rail projects, which are facing growing budget pressure from rising land values and construction costs.
- Sound Transit’s Lynnwood extension running...by Mike Lindblom on August 24, 2017 at 9:35 pm
The half-billion-dollar increase for the Sound Transit 2 Lynnwood line comes as a surprise for taxpayers, and officials will negotiate simpler designs with cities along the tracks.
- Here’s why your ST3 car tab fee is so highby Gina Cole and Daniel Beekman on March 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm
On episode 28 of The Overcast, Traffic Lab reporters Mike Lindblom and David Gutman get nerdy with us about Sound Transit 3 and the car tab fees that fund it.
- Sticker shock as much higher car-tab bills land...by David Gutman on February 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm
The state Department of Licensing is getting hit with calls from King, Pierce and Snohomish counties about increased car-tab fees that are just starting to go into effect following the passage of Sound Transit 3.
- Sound Transit moves fast to get deals on loans,...by Mike Lindblom on November 28, 2016 at 12:45 am
Sound Transit is making deals for $2.9 billion in federal loans, bond sales and grants while money is cheap.
- State senator calls for direct elections of Sound...by Mike Lindblom on November 18, 2016 at 1:38 am
Pierce County voters’ opposition to Sound Transit 3 has prompted state Sen. Steve O’Ban to propose direct elections of transit-board members.
- Where Sound Transit 3 projects could speed up or...by Mike Lindblom on November 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm
Political energy, less red tape or simpler design can speed projects. So can money, say, from the federal government. Disputes about track alignments, inaccurate cost forecasts, elaborate stations or tunnels, or a recession can create delays.
- Passing Sound Transit 3 boost for commuters, jobsby Jon Talton on November 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm
The Puget Sound region made a big step forward in transportation and the state advanced the condition of low-wage workers.
General Transportation News
- Overnight I-5 closures planned this weekend at...by Mike Lindblom on January 22, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Northbound I-5 at Mountlake Terrace will close at night this weekend as crews continue work to build a Sound Transit light-rail bridge over the freeway.
- Gas taxes and fees could reach $1 per gallon...by Mike Lindblom on January 20, 2021 at 2:42 am
State Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, is proposing a an new transportation plan that leans more toward transit, carpooling and walk-bike routes than past versions that emphasized highways.
- From Tacoma to Ballard, light-rail changes,...by Mike Lindblom on January 15, 2021 at 3:30 am
Sound Transit's officials dig deeper into the newly disclosed $5 billion cost increase for ST3 rail projects. The cost of real estate might even encourage tunnels, if elevated tracks become too expensive.
- Washington state greenhouse gas emissions rose in...by Hal Bernton on January 15, 2021 at 1:14 am
Washington state greenhouse gas emissions edged higher in 2018, according to a new analysis. Emissions are expected to fall in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Washington state ferry ridership dropped to...by Michelle Baruchman on January 13, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Washington state ferry ridership fell to its lowest level since 1975 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The agency predicts ridership will increase this year.
- Landslide risk cancels Sounder trains between...by Mike Lindblom on January 12, 2021 at 11:30 pm
Sounder North trains won't operate this week, because of expected rain and the threat of landslides. Replacement buses will be provided at the train stations.
- Cost of building light rail to West Seattle,...by Michelle Baruchman on January 8, 2021 at 12:45 am
Estimated costs for extending Sound Transit light rail to both Ballard and West Seattle have risen by about $4 billion — more than 50% — the agency's deputy CEO told board members on Thursday.
- Washington Legislature 2021: a chance of fuel...by Mike Lindblom on January 3, 2021 at 2:00 pm
State lawmakers will make another try at gas or carbon taxes in 2021 as debt rises, highways crumble and the atmosphere warms. They've been somewhere around 15 cents per gallon in the past, and new talks have started. Here are the transportation proposals.
- New Mukilteo ferry terminal opens, inspired by...by Michelle Baruchman on December 31, 2020 at 1:18 am
The new Mukilteo ferry terminal opened Tuesday evening, a $187 million building inspired by a Coast Salish longhouse. It is the first new terminal to open for the Washington State Ferries in 40 years.
- Uber will charge significantly more per trip as...by Michelle Baruchman on December 30, 2020 at 2:00 pm
The increase comes as Seattle's new minimum wage law for ride-hailing drivers takes effect. The new wage requirements, approved by the City Council, are meant to keep pay for Uber and Lyft drivers on par with other workers in the city who will now earn at least the $16.69 an hour.