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.

Light-rail train hits pedestrian in Rainier Valley

A Sound Transit train struck a pedestrian on the 1 Line tracks in Rainier Valley early Sunday, causing serious injuries. In the 1 Line’s history, 30 pedestrians have been struck while crossing or walking in the rails between 2009 and mid-2022, among 168 total crashes...

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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!

Sounder trains’ future in limbo as riders are slow to return

Sounder trains’ future in limbo as riders are slow to return

By David Kroman Seattle Times staff reporter In April 2020, two months after the first reported case of the coronavirus in the U.S., the future of the Sounder commuter rail line looked bright. Ridership between Seattle and the South Sound would continue to grow in the...

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Amtrak Cascades will have a new Northwest look in 2026

Amtrak Cascades will have a new Northwest look in 2026

Dec. 15, 2022 at 3:40 pm Updated Dec. 15, 2022 at 7:12 pm In 2026, a new fleet of Northwest-themed trains will hit the tracks and transport passengers between Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland along the Amtrak Cascades line.       Read the article...

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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


  • Sound Transit asserts Bellevue-Redmond line...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 27, 2023 at 12:00 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Its board approved $6 million to study an East Link “starter line.” Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said: “Snohomish County wants to ride, too.” Sound Transit asserts […]

  • PUD pole replacements to close U.S. 2 overnight...
    by Herald Staff on January 23, 2023 at 8:20 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The highway will close 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday between 178th Street SE and Reiter Road. PUD pole replacements to close U.S. 2 overnight near Gold Bar Herald Staff

  • Wonky I-5 lane striping in Everett to get...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 22, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington During weekend work, contractor crews are slated to try to repaint northbound temporary lane striping past 41st Street. Wonky I-5 lane striping in Everett to get temporary refresh Ben […]

  • After I-5 backups last week, WSDOT plans weekend...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 18, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Concrete panel replacement is scheduled to resume this weekend, which means lane reductions and closures. After I-5 backups last week, WSDOT plans weekend work in Everett Ben Watanabe

  • 1 killed in 6-vehicle crash on I-405
    by Herald Staff on January 17, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A driver was in a collision and got out of his vehicle when another driver struck and killed him, state troopers said. 1 killed in 6-vehicle crash on I-405 Herald Staff

  • South Lake Stevens Road spur still closed, could...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 15, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A reader asked when the segment would open because it will cut almost 1.5 miles from his daily bike commute. South Lake Stevens Road spur still closed, could open in February Ben Watanabe

  • Early Community Transit data shows youth...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 9, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington After adopting free fare for riders 18 and under in September, youth ridership accounted for 11% to 28% on 13 routes. Early Community Transit data shows youth ridership bump Ben Watanabe

  • Decisions on light rail, buses and more loom in...
    by Ben Watanabe on January 2, 2023 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington Snohomish County’s top transportation stories include Sound Transit Link, bus agency changes and highway shifts. Decisions on light rail, buses and more loom in 2023 Ben Watanabe

  • Even with new terminal, old Highway 525 ferry...
    by Ben Watanabe on December 26, 2022 at 9:30 am

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington A reader asked if there were plans to turn the lane on the hill south of 5th Street into a bike and pedestrian space. Even with new terminal, old Highway 525 ferry lane staying put Ben […]

  • Icy Sea-Tac tops ‘Misery Map,’ in prelude to...
    by Andrea Brown on December 20, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    HeraldNet.com HeraldNet.com - Everett and Snohomish County news from The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington The predicted third-busiest holiday travel season since 2000 faces a wintry mix of traffic jams and flight issues. Icy Sea-Tac tops ‘Misery Map,’ in prelude to worst of holiday […]

Tacoma News Tribune


  • Cars collide at Tacoma intersection, killing 2...
    on January 18, 2023 at 4:29 pm

    Two cars collided early Wednesday morning in Tacoma at an intersection on Pacific Avenue, sending one car into a utility pole where it caught fire, killing two people and badly … Click to Continue »

  • Collision on SR-16 in Tacoma blocks lanes, backs...
    on January 17, 2023 at 3:59 pm

    Drivers commuting into Tacoma across the Narrows Bridge on Tuesday morning ran into miles of traffic backups after a two-vehicle collision in the eastbound lanes of state Route 16. The … Click to Continue »

  • Road closure: Head-on wreck shuts down both...
    on January 4, 2023 at 9:07 pm

    Update as of 5 p.m.: Sheriff’s spokesperson Darren Moss Jr. said he expects traffic to be affected for at least another hour or so due to a broken water main … Click to Continue »

  • Head-on wreck, paint spill closes East Pierce...
    on December 12, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    A head-on collision Monday closed part of East Valley Highway in Sumner. The wreck happened shortly before 11 a.m. in 1400 block of East Valley Highway. East Pierce Fire & … Click to Continue »

  • 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 »