Spokane Moving Forward: Division, Sprague and Core Urban Service

3_STB_Spo_HPTnetwork

[This is the third in a series covering Spokane Moving Forward, the Spokane Transit Authority’s proposed ten-year plan to improve transit in the Spokane region, which will go to an areawide ballot on Tuesday. Previously I discussed the proposed Central City Line, and improvements for Cheney and the West Plains.]

Spokane’s two biggest transit corridors, Sprague and Division, will feel familiar to residents of Seattle or Tacoma: they are the old highways, just like Aurora or Pacific. Essays in the nascent craft of highway building circa 1930, these streets are wide, noisy and fast; but for much of their length they retain a street grid and a street wall (if not good sidewalks or safe crossing points), before transitioning to strip malls and box stores at the periphery. When 1970s freeways rendered* them obsolete as thoroughfares, people and businesses with money abandoned these streets to lower-income people, and the businesses, and the buses, which cater to them.

Connect Spokane, the Spokane Transit Authority’s long-term plan, identifies Sprague and Division, along with several other Spokane streets, as High Performance Transit corridors. STA’s HPT taxonomy lays out three types of HPT service (I described them in my last Moving Forward post, and you can see a complete map of the desired HPT network here), but essentially, in the medium term, the agency would like to get all urban HPT corridors up to a “lite BRT” service quality that’s something like King County’s RapidRide lines; in the long term, light rail or “heavy” BRT is contemplated for Sprague and Division.

The money required to achieve the full HPT network set forth in Connect Spokane is almost certainty not obtainable with the funding authority that remains available to STA under state law. Instead, for this ballot measure, STA has chosen three corridors to implement “HPT lite“: Division, Sprague, and Monroe-Regal, shown on the map above. A HPT lite treatment is a package of rider amenities, branding and reliability improvements, on a corridor that already meets, or is close to meeting, the frequency standards of the HPT network. Seattle riders, again, can think along the lines of RapidRide, although STA’s idea of rider amenity extends quite a bit beyond the bus stop, and includes building significant amounts of sidewalk in areas while have little or none — expensive and unsexy, but essential for the safety of riders.

Speaking only of service which can realistically compete with owning a (second) car — there are other, meritorious parts of Moving Forward that I won’t get to discuss — what the voters of Spokane will buy, if they pass this measure, is HPT lite radiating out of downtown on the major points of the compass; a flagship HPT line connecting the ridership centers of Spokane Community College, Gonzaga University, and downtown; an interurban HPT line connecting Cheney, West Plains, and downtown; and (non-HPT) frequent service to provide a couple of crucial crosstown connections, and radial service on the remaining points of the compass. A person who lives and works in Spokane (or Cheney) could get around for their daily needs on that network.

Finally, on Monday, I’ll discuss the most tentative, but most attention-grabbing idea in STA Moving Forward: a possible interurban connection between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

* I’m cheating a bit with Division: this is the current north-south highway. In the not-too-distant future, it will likely be replaced by the North Spokane Freeway.

Sound Transit’s Conceptual Study: Should You be Worried?

At yesterday’s ST board meeting the most interesting presentation was a staff discussion of an imminent conceptual study that will help inform board decisions in an ST3 package. It’s the first document that scopes projects based on overall package sizes.

The stated purpose is not to create a project list, but instead to evaluate certain package sizes as required by statute. There are four levels of spending, from an almost negligible amount of rail, to using the whole $15 billion revenue request (which amounts to about $25 billion of projects in year of expenditure dollars). The higher spending plans allow variable amounts of emphasis on completing the light rail “spine” (Everett/Redmond/Tacoma) vs. additional corridors in Seattle and on the Eastside.

Staff will evaluate the representative packages for each funding level and spine emphasis according to the following criteria:

  • Completing the Link Light Rail Spine
  • Ridership
  • Connecting the Region’s Designated Centers with HCT
  • Socio-Economic Equity
  • Integration with other transit operators/transportation systems
  • Multi-modal access
  • Promoting transit-supportive land use and TOD
  • Advancing “logical next steps” projects beyond the spine; within financial capacity

Both the slides themselves and the ST press release are emphatic that this is focused on high-level tradeoffs, and “the scenarios are not draft system plans and do not encompass all of the projects that will be considered for a ballot measure.” And that’s a good thing, because there are possibly fatal problems with all of them:

Concept 4: Maximum Revenue

Concept 4: Maximum Revenue

 

[Read more…]

Pike Place is for everyone, including those in cars

How did those cars get there? And look at those shadows!! How could anyone live in such an anti-urbanist hellhole?!?!

What are those cars doing there?! And look at those shadows!! How could anyone live in such an anti-urbanist hellhole?! Image from en.wikigogo.org

Maybe I just hang out with the wrong kind of riffraff, but it seems every couple of months I find myself in a conversation about whether or not automobiles should be allowed on Pike Place. Once and (likely not) for all I’ll respond.

Cars belong on Pike Place.

Yes, I said it. I don’t think we should ban automobiles from Pike Place.

Saturday my family and I joined some friends downtown for an aquarium visit. Walking through the market with my stroller, I of course used the street, the sidewalks being too crowded. Hundreds of people were doing the same. Cars, bikes, strollers, people, all jumbled together but surprisingly no mass casualty situation emerged.

Judging by the ‘WTF?!? How the hell do I get out of here!?!’ expression of most drivers I made eye contact with, many did not mean to be there and wished they were anywhere else. However, there are legitimate reasons for driving on Pike Place. Maybe you are dropping off someone with mobility issues, or you’ve got a dinner party and don’t want to haul 2 cases of wine from Pike and Western Wine Shop up the hill and back home on Link, or maybe you even work for a business in the market (yes it’s not just a tourist photo op, but an actual market) that needs a delivery.

As long as automobile drivers recognize the priority of non-motorized users (which they obviously do in Pike Place), what is gained by banning automobiles? The only change I would make to Pike Place would be to either lower the sidewalks or raise the street. In Seattle’s only real woonerf* it would be nice if the street engineering matched the usage. Aside from that, leave it alone, why fix what isn’t broken?

*when people ask me what a woonerf is, I say ‘Pike Place’ and they instantly get it. Seriously. Not an exaggeration. How else would you describe the concept to a Seattleite?

News Roundup: 9.5 Blocks

3rd/Pine from the Macy’s Skybridge (Photo by the Author)

This is an open thread. 

Jobs Belong in the City

This is a guest post.

Modal Split Snip

Last week Matthew Johnson posted an excellent piece regarding Regional Growth Centers and why Ballard isn’t one.  The short answer is that Ballard doesn’t have enough employment, and losing this classification amounts to losing 100s of millions of dollars in federal transit funds.  In other words, there’s a large financial incentive to would-be Regional Growth Centers to add jobs.

I argue that this is a backward incentive.  Job growth outside of the core is fundamentally poorly served by transit in our hub-and-spoke system (just try to get to Ballard from the East side, or the islands, or even from some places north on transit).  But what’s worse is that job growth outside the core helps build sprawl.  People choose housing based on a combination of lifestyle, cost, and transportation ease.  Make it easier and cheaper to live further from the city, and builders will build further from the city.  Every job added to a suburb, even a Regional Growth Center style suburb, potentially adds a home further out into sprawl.

King County should remove this job-based requirement, and let growth centers be centers of residential growth.

Action Alert: N. 130th Station Tomorrow

Average Weekday Boardings, 2035, for Preferred Alternative with Options (p. 3-24)

Average Weekday Boardings, 2035, for Preferred Alternative with Options (p. 3-24)

[Update 11:15am: The Seattle Light Rail Review Panel agrees that 130th is important too.]

At tomorrow’s Sound Transit Board meeting, the agenda includes final approval of Resolution No. R2015-05, “Selecting the route, profiles and station locations for the Lynnwood Link Extension.” As it stands, the preferred alternative has a station at N. 145th St., but none at N. 130th St. You can let whichever board member(s) represent you know what you think of this.

Sound Transit’s own Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) showed, somewhat confusingly, that although 145th alone would attract 600 more riders than 130th alone, if both stations were present most people would select the latter. Moreover, the study did not seem to consider the relative ease of bus access via 130th, unclogged by cars trying to access the freeway, which will dramatically affect the plausibility of cheaply delivering riders. STB has hosted two extended arguments for this station.

Having both stations would be fine, but really if there is to be only one it should be at 130th. one of the two stations has to be deferred, it should be 145th.

The Shoreline Rule

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Last Wednesday, I gave up.

I paid a $124 fine for a ticket I did not believe I deserved, a ticket from a Sound Transit fare enforcement officer who at first told me I would only receive a warning, after fully intending to challenge the ticket in court.

What changed my mind? In the end, I just couldn’t stomach the Shoreline Rule, which says that, in order to challenge a ticket from Sound Transit or King County Metro, no matter where that ticket was issued, you have to travel all the way to King County District Court in Shoreline. If you live in Shoreline or far north Seattle, bully for you. If you have a car, more power. But if you’re transit-dependent like I am, and live in any other part of the county (I’m in Southeast Seattle, which is hardly the hinterlands), your only option is to get a ride from a friend (good luck doing that on a weekday at 10am), or take the bus.

Don’t blame the county or Sound Transit. Both agencies told me they have nothing to do with the Shoreline Rule. Blame, instead, King County District Court Presiding Judge Donna Tucker, who signs the General Administration Orders (most recently in March of this year) directing where various case types are adjudicated, and whether the court can hear challenges in more than one location.

“State law says the county district court handles our fare enforcement,” says ST spokesman Geoff Patrick. “We don’t have the ability to tell them what to do. It’s their decision.” King County’s Rochelle Ogershok confirms the same is true at King County.

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Right-Sizing Parking

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10PM on a Tuesday Night. Typical Residential Garage in Downtown Kirkland.

In 2012, Metro sponsored a study of parking ratios for multi-family developments in urban King County. By counting vehicles parked overnight, the Right-Size Parking study created a model of current parking needs and demonstrated that parking is 40% oversupplied.

Several pilot demonstration projects were developed in partnership with various cities. However, only one, in Kirkland, made recommendations for changes in policy. It hasn’t gone well. The challenges encountered point to the difficulties in reducing suburban parking requirements.

Fundamentally, right-size parking is a conservative approach. It does not defer to developers to build what the market requires. (Suburban cities are too concerned with spillover parking to be comfortable with that). Neither does it look forward to a less car-dependent future. It only brings parking minimums into line with current use.

Kirkland’s base parking requirements are high, far above even comparable suburban communities. They’re so dated that nobody remembers how they were derived. In downtown, 1 stall per bedroom is required, with a 1.3 minimum per unit. Most other neighborhoods have a 1.7 requirement per unit. Up to another 0.5 stalls per unit are required for guest parking. But overnight parking counts found just 1.27 parked vehicles per apartment. Indeed, the average multi-family unit only has 1.57 residents, so the code requires more parking than there are residents.

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10 Things APA Conference Attendees Need to Know About Seattle

Washington State Ferry:  the state highway with a large pedestrian toll Photo by Jamies

Washington State Ferry: the state highway with a large pedestrian toll
Photo by Jamies

On behalf of the Seattle Transit Blog (STB), I would like to welcome the American Planning Association to Seattle for its four day national planning conference. STB has covered transportation and land use policy in the Puget Sound region since 2007, becoming a recognized source of transportation reporting and advocacy. Written by a group of passionate advocates, we dive deep beyond the headlines.

To help APA attendees from across the country get oriented in our fine city I’ve pulled together a topical compilation of posts and links which will help you get up to speed on the what’s happening in Seattle. If you want information about getting around the city check out Seattle for visitors or consider using our bike share system called Pronto! If you have questions leave a comment and our awesome readers will help answer your questions.

  1. Seattle recently implemented a regional low-income transit pass. Here’s why we support it, how it was studied and how it was rolled out. Don’t forget about Seattle’s $15 dollar minimum wage.
  2. Housing affordability in the nation’s fastest growing city has becoming an omnipresent issue, especially in Center City neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. The Mayor has set up a committee and has called for 50,000 new housing units (20,000 affordable) in the next 10 years. Recently the City Council “went a little to far” on micro housing regulations which some have opposed.
  3. Link Light Rail is expanding north to Lynnwood, south to Federal Way and east to Bellevue and Redmond (despite years of lawsuits). The region could vote to expand regional high capacity transit as soon at 2016 but first the State Legislature has to expand Sound Transit’s funding authority.
  4. Seattle is a national leader on performance based on-street parking management. However, off-street parking regulations which were eased years ago have recently been thrown into a state of limbo. In Downtown thousands of off-street spaces go unused every day and the Mayor has proposed some innovative ideas for moving forward.
  5. Seattle has a complicated relationship with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). For example there are insincere BRT “supporters”. Metro’s RapidRide BRT wouldn’t likely get federal funding now because it’s too watered down. Madison Street is poised to get the City’s first true BRT.
  6. Seattle would like to connect the First Hill Streetcar to the South Lake Union (SLU) Streetcar with an alignment operating in exclusive lanes along 1st Avenue in Downtown. Seattle would also like add a transit only lane on Westlake Avenue to get the SLU Streetcar and buses out of traffic.
  7. Seattle is tearing down the waterfront viaduct, but the largest tunneling machine in the world is having issues. We would have loved the Surface + Transit solution but the questions now is what should the waterfront look like? Parks or commerce? Grand or understated?
  8. Seattle has the largest Car2Go fleet in North America and it’s expanding. How does Car2Go compare to Zipcar? Why does it work so well with paid parking? We sit down and talk with Car2Go’s CEO.
  9. How do you integrate bus and rail service? Mt. Baker Station is bad example, which might get better. Metro and Sound Transit are looking at how to restructure bus service when University Link opens in 2016 but transfers at UW Station will be far from ideal.
  10. South Lake Union, home of Amazon, is booming, but transit service is having a hard time keeping up despite planning.

Is It Time to Ban Amenities?

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A Sunday Times cover story ($) late last year told the story of some longtime renters driven out by a new building owner’s intent to renovate and move upmarket:

The record pace of apartment construction… is skewing the average rent higher, said local apartment expert Mike Scott. In part that’s because the new apartments tend to be steel high-rises with luxury-condominium finishes and amenities like gyms, theaters and game rooms that aren’t typically found in older apartments.

 “The rent has gone up, but the product is so much superior to what they were doing 10 years ago,” said Jon Hallgrimson, executive vice president at commercial brokerage CBRE.

Many people are skeptical of regulation micromanaging the housing market, and with good reason. Arbitrary rules can retard one thing that capitalism does very well: matching supply with demand.* Detailed rules can also create perverse incentives and unintended consequences.

But if Seattle is considering these kinds of regulations, as it is in the aPodment debate, it could do worse that trying to limit free amenities like pools and gyms in new or renovated buildings: not banning them outright, but forcing them to unbundle from the rent and instead operate as separate businesses, open to the public.

Consider the following advantages:

  • To the extent it deters construction of these amenities, it leaves more space for units. More units are critical to most of the social challenges density can address.
  • Developers evidently believe they can command higher rents by devoting valuable space to these areas. It follows that separating out these features would lower prevailing rents.
  • Opening a gym to the general public enriches the neighborhood, allows multiple buildings to diversify their amenities, and uses space more efficiently.

Urbanists are familiar with the identical argument when the subject is parking. Residents shouldn’t pay for expensive services they don’t use; bundled parking encourages car ownership (with serious negative externalities) and raises housing costs for everyone. While the externalities of a pool, gym, or private club are not in the same league, unbundling these services strikes me as a much better idea than taxing the housing construction we desperately need to encourage.

* And by “demand” I mean “demand with money behind it.”

How Should Link Get to Federal Way?

Last week Sound Transit released its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Link’s extension south from Angle Lake (S. 200th) to Federal Way Transit Center (FWTC). As the DEIS is the document that guides the ST Board to select a Preferred Alternative in early 2016, the DEIS is perhaps the last chance for advocacy and public comment to sway a project’s future before political inertia begins to harden opinions and preclude positive change. You can comment now through May 26 here.

As a refresher, Link to the tip of Federal Way (S. 272nd) was included as the marquee project of ST2 in the South King subarea, only to be deferred south of Highline College when South King fell harder, and recovered more slowly, than its peer subareas during the recession. In  early 2012, County Councilmember Von Reichbauer and Senator Tracey Eide successfully funded $24m for design and engineering for the project so that it could be ‘shovel ready’ as soon as funding were to be identified, and the DEIS is the result of that effort. Most recently, a relatively unexpected TIFIA loan saved Sound Transit so much in financing costs that it freed up an estimated $200-300m in capacity, money which could potentially pay for Link to get from Highline to 272nd St, leaving just the segment to Federal Way unfunded and to be covered by ST3 and/or federal grants.

The DEIS presents 4 general alignments: SR99, I-5, I-5 to SR99, and SR99 to I-5. Within these 4 options are over a dozen station alternatives that further complexify the choices, something with which anyone who has been following the alphabet soup of alternatives in East Link can identify. Notably – and perhaps suspiciously – all alternatives present nearly identical ridership projections  (24,000-27,500 daily riders) and with travel times that only vary by 2 minutes (12-14 minutes). Cost estimates vary by nearly 70%, however, from roughly $1.25B to just over $2B.

While this may seem like a dizzying array of options, Sound Transit has done a good job of presenting the material, both in the video above and in an interactive exercise at federalwaylink.org; and the corridor itself is linear and relatively uncomplicated.

But all the options essentially boil down to a handful of fundamental questions:

  • Should we use an I-5 alignment, and SR 99 alignment, or some combination of both?
  • How well should we serve Highline Community College?
  • Where should the 272nd station be?
  • How important is it to serve FWTC directly, or would it be better served obliquely?
  • Should there be additional stations at S 216th and S 260th?
  • How important is TOD?

A summary of each alignment, and brief commentary, are after the jump.

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News Roundup: Fish Out of Water

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Community Transit Joins the Real Time Party

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Community Transit has joined the real time rider information party, although the data is as yet only available through their own website, not OneBusAway:

Customers can access BusFinder at www.mybusfinder.org on their computer or mobile device, or by calling Community Transit’s customer service phone line at (425) 353-7433 (RIDE) and selecting Option 1.

Mobile device users will be redirected to a mobile version of BusFinder. The mobile version is a web-based application, not an app that needs to be downloaded.

BusFinder works best by entering the bus stop number found at all Community Transit bus stops. Users can also enter a stop name, which is the primary street of the bus stop followed by the nearest cross street. The program is intuitive, so entering a primary street will create a list of options from which you can choose your stop.

[…]

Riders catching buses in King County should use the Map or Nearby Stops features to find their stop, as Community Transit stop numbers are not displayed on Metro bus stops. Once a stop is found, it can be saved in Favorites for future use.

CT Spokesman Martin Munguia tells me that publishing a real time feed for consumption by OneBusAway and other apps is on their radar, but as yet has no firm ETA; their team is focused on working out the kinks with their own site first. He also clarified that CT stops in King County transit centers all have CT stop numbers, and alluded unspecifically to “a couple of alternative solutions for King County stops that I hope will be implemented by this summer.”

UPDATE: Apparently, King County transit center signage does not include CT stop numbers, but  “We are working on a solution, vague as that may sound. There are options and we are in negotiation on the best and quickest to implement.”

I’m thrilled to see CT make this leap in usability. Real-time arrival data, on all but the highest-frequency routes (few of which really exist in Washington), is something which I can no longer function without, and I know I’m not the only one. Up-to-date confirmation that the bus is on its way is priceless to riders. I will say, though, that the real champagne moment for most riders will be when CT is plumbed into OneBusAway, the de facto virtual transit interface for Puget Sound.

I have questions out to the current OneBusAway maintainers at Sound Transit to see if any other agencies are in the pipeline, but I can separately confirm one: Spokane Transit will launch a public beta of their own real time service late this spring, with a public feed to follow shortly thereafter.

Once CT and STA are on OneBusAway, the five biggest bus agencies in the state will be on a single real time app — a huge measure of convenience for travelers. Next up: Sound Transit needs to get its rail services up to speed with its buses, C-TRAN needs to gets its own real time service (Next Ride) on OneBusAway, and Whatcom Transit needs to get itself a real-time service. I know the latter two can do it, because they’ve been beaten to the punch by smaller-but-scrappy Intercity Transit.

The Spring Fair, Via Transit

Puyallup Station A few blocks north of the State Fairgrounds

Puyallup Station
A few blocks north of the State Fairgrounds

The State Spring Fair is upon is this Wednesday Thursday through Saturday Sunday, April 16-19, at the Puyallup State Fairgrounds.

Sounder may by a good way to get there or head home in the late afternoon today through Friday. At other hours, not so much. For Pierce County residents, Sounder will be available on an even better schedule Saturday Sunday, thanks to the special service to the Mariners’ game.

ST Express route 578 fills in the gaps with half-hourly service all day, and hourly service on Saturday, at least to get to Puyallup Station. From there, the Fairgrounds is a walk of a few blocks south on S Meridian St or a ride on the eclectic Puyallup Connector (Pierce Transit route 425)

The Saturday Sunday Sounder baseball run is the only special service for the Spring Fair.

The importance of a name; Regional Growth Centers and why Ballard isn’t one

Urban Growth Center Silverdale

Regional Growth Center Silverdale

Last summer Seattle Subway pointed out how the PSRC’s population estimates for Ballard were EXTREMELY low. In summary, just built/under-construction/permitted units will result in Ballard meeting it’s 2035 Puget Sound Regional Council projections in 2017 if not sooner.

In response PSRC reached out to us and wanted to go over their methodology. When we sat down they agreed that their numbers for Ballard were low. When we dug into the why, it turned out that the designation of Regional Growth Center is pretty significant. It signifies that the local jurisdiction is going to put in the infrastructure and land use policies necessary for growth. The converse of that is the assumption that areas that are not designated as Regional Growth Centers will not be slated for that kind of intensive infrastructure investments and land use policies. Thus in PSRC’s modeling those areas are not projected to grow very quickly.

PSRC’s numbers are important because as our regions Metropolitan Planning Organization they allocate 100s of millions of dollars of federal transportation money (that isn’t an exaggeration, click the link, the last grant was for $440 million). Currently, suburban and exurban locals are more than willing to label themselves growth centers (Silverdale, Bothell Canyon Park and Totem Lake are all Regional Growth Centers) while due to NIMBYS urban areas are afraid to. Combined with outdated models of urban v suburban growth patterns that means this huge pot of money is being incorrectly allocated. The numbers are also important as they are the basis for  Sound Transit’s ridership projections.

Sleepy-town Ballard

Sleepy-town Ballard

Right now Seattle only has 6 of the region’s 28 Regional Growth Centers. Four of those six are in the Central Business District (CBD). Only Northgate and the University District are outside of that core. However, rapid growth is happening all over the city. It’s just not recognized by the modeling and thus is missing out in the infrastructure improvements that should come with said growth.

I contacted Councilmember O’Brien (chair of Seattle’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee) to find out if the city had started the Designation Process for adding any more of our De Facto growth centers (for instance Ballard, Lake City, etc.) and he looking into it. He was kind enough to pass along his response from staff. Tom Hauger, who works on growth management and comp plan issues at DPD (below the fold): [Read more…]

Seattlites: Phonebank for Spokane Transit

STA Bus in Browne's Addition

Phonebank for more of these.

Next Tuesday evening, Transportation Choices Coalition is running a phone bank in support of STA Moving Forward, the Spokane Transit Authority’s ballot measure to maintain and improve service throughout the Spokane region. As I wrote in March, Spokane is a real city, our state’s second largest, with lots of transit riders, and a well-run transit agency that’s full of smart, cost-effective ideas to grow ridership and improve mobility. STA, Spokane transit riders, and the Yes! for Spokane Buses campaign deserve your support.

TCC needs about seven more people on their phone banks that night. There will be pizza and beer. I plan to be there: That’s how much I want this to pass!

Where: Transportation Choices Coalition Office, 219 1st Ave S, Suite 420.
When: Tuesday, April 21st, 4-7:30 PM. (You don’t have to stay the whole time.)

You can optionally RSVP at this Facebook event.

Regional Day Pass Approved

... soon featuring One Regional Day Pass for All

… soon featuring One Regional Day Pass for All

The ORCA Joint Board met Monday, held a brief public hearing at which nobody spoke, and unanimously approved the regional day pass program.

The regional day pass program, scheduled to roll out in June, creates an $8 ORCA day pass, good for the first $3.50 of fare on any transit service that honors the Puget Pass. It also creates a $4.50 Regional Reduced Fare Permit (for seniors 65+ and riders with disabilities) day pass, covering the first $1.75 of fare on any transit service that honors Puget Pass, but only available on the RRFP version of ORCA.

22 comments were received during the comment period, all supportive of the program.
6 expressed concern about the cost of getting an ORCA card.
5 asked for a youth and/or LIFT version of the pass.

The regional day pass has long been on the wish list of many STB commenters. The program took two years of development.

Previous blog coverage of the regional day pass program can be found here.

Action Alert: Full funding for Sound Transit

This is a guest post.

Seattle Subway LogoSEATTLE SUBWAY
Seattle Subway has learned that ESSB 5988 which authorizes transportation projects and a funding source for Sound Transit’s next big regional transit package (ST3) may make it out of committee this week and come to a vote on the House floor.

It is also our understanding that the Seattle delegation is not fully committed to pushing for $15B in funding authority for ST3. In order for Seattle to get the number and quality of projects we so desperately need, Sound Transit must have the full $15B they asked for.

You can find out who represents you here.   http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Please email (or better yet, call) your Representatives TODAY to tell them you want the full $15B funding for ST3 so we can continue to build the Seattle Subway.

Metro Talks Long-Range Planning

RapidRide F coach

A “red bus” on the F Line. Photo by Blue Bus Fan.

On March 31st, King County Metro held a Visioning Workshop to kick off its new long-range planning process.  The process will supplement Metro’s current 2011-2021 Strategic Plan with a new long-range plan, to be presented in draft form in spring 2016 and adopted by the King County Council in late 2016.  The launch party was a transit geek’s extravaganza: it featured breakout sessions for riders and citizens to talk with Metro personnel about what they want from the transit system, as well a “visioning” panel with transit eminence Jarrett Walker, Seattle civic leader Rebecca Saldaña, and UW transportation planning professor Mark Hallenbeck.

Because of scheduling conflicts, I was unable to attend the event itself, which was very well attended and garnered consistently positive reports from attendees (at least those who talked to us).  However, Metro invited STB staff to a media Q&A session immediately before the event, which I was able to make.  At the session, Metro deputy general manager Victor Obeso and Walker offered an interesting, frank, and informative discussion of the long-range planning process. A few highlights of that discussion follow below the jump.

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