News Roundup: Happy New Year

Michael Brunk - Flickr CC

Michael Brunk – Flickr CC

This is an open thread.

Top 10 Read/Commented Posts of 2014

Pamela at Northgate (Sound Transit Photo)

Pamela at Northgate (Sound Transit Photo)

It’s been another great year for us here at STB, and we’d like to thank you all both for reading our work and continuing to make our comment threads some of the most substantive and informative that you’ll read anywhere. As would be expected with something as specialized and nerdy as transit blogging, interest can sometimes be an inch wide and a mile deep, with posts occasionally striking a nerve and generating huge pageviews and comment threads. Our top 10 posts alone generated nearly 10% of our pageviews for 2014, almost exclusively on content related to improving or expanding transit capacity and performance. Seattle Subway, for instance, took 4 of the top 10 most read and 2 of the most commented. Without further ado, here they are:

Most Read:

10. 9 Ways to Make Seattle Public Transit Better (September 27): Frank’s post entering STB into the brave new world of listicles strikes a nerve with riders frustrated by all the little things that degrade the everyday experience of riding transit.

9. Let’s Build Rail to West Seattle (Option A6)! (July 22): Seattle Subway’s guest post arguing for quality over quantity when it comes to West Seattle Link.

8. U-Link Walking Tour Photos (June 9): I had a blast walking from Montlake to Westlake underground back in June. ULink is now <500 days from opening!

7. Sound Transit Listens to Public, Will Study Sand Point Crossing (September 29): Seattle Subway’s victory lap guest post announcing the inclusion of a Sand Point rail crossing in the Sound Transit Long Range Plan.

6. Let’s Build the Ballard Spur! (June 23): Guest author and Seattle Subway veteran Keith Kyle taps into an endless well of desire for rail between Ballard and UW.

5. Metro Cuts: When and Where (April 25): After the failure of Prop 1, my post lays out in detail the then-proposed-but-since-mostly-canceled cuts and their timing.

3. (tie) Visualizing Cuts to Metro’s Frequent Transit Network (March 31): By far the shortest post in the Top 10, but also one of the most effective. Oran creates a slider that uses his wildly popular Frequent Transit Map to visualize Metro’s proposed cuts.

3 .(tie) What Could $800 Million Do? (February 13): Ben kicks off what would be a year full of Bertha-related speculation, hand-wringing, schadenfraude, official confidence, and general turbulence, arguing that even with all the sunk costs already committed, the remaining $800m available (were the project to be cancelled) could buy the Center City Connector, a reconnected SLU/LQA street grid, make RapidRide truly rapid, and make up the difference between an elevated Ballard line and a Queen Anne tunnel.

2. Explainer: Why We Need to Save Metro (April 7): Frank’s post does an overdue and obvious thing, eschewing acronym-speak and insider language to distill and simplify the stakes of April’s Prop 1 for the general reader.

1. Let’s Build a Sand Point Crossing (Option SP1)! (July 8): Want to get people talking and reading? Propose visionary, highly controversial new projects. Seattle Subway’s guest post argues for the inclusion of a 3rd Lake Washington crossing in Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan, earning nearly double the pageviews of the other posts in the top 10, with just this one post getting 1.5% of our annual pageviews.

Most Commented:

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OneBusAway Fixes Coming

[UPDATE: Bruce Gray now says “We’re still receiving and testing new data sets. If all goes well, we’ll deploy the new set into OBA on Monday, the 5th.”]

You may have noticed recent persistent problems with OneBusAway reporting only scheduled arrivals on certain routes. I’ve certainly noticed them on the 24, 33, and certain other Lower Queen Anne routes over the last few weeks, as that’s what I ride the most. It turns out that this is related to an upgrade, according to ST’s Bruce Gray:

Yes, our folks have been working on a fix. We recently enhanced OneBusAway data to allow it to provide accurate information to users on reduced-service days (like the Friday after Thanksgiving). This enhancement created other problems with the data that we have been troubleshooting over the last month. We expect to have a fix in place early next year.

If it’s any consolation, the result of this disruption should be a better product.

185th Street Station FEIS and Subarea Plan Public Comment

This is a guest post.

by TIM MCCALL

201311_MAP_Lynnwood-Link

The updated Final Environmental Impact Statement for the N 185th Street Station was released on 26 December 2014, in addition to the 185th Street Station Subarea Plan.

One of the goals of the Subarea Plan is to rezone the area surrounding the station. This includes a significant amount of MUR-85’ (Mixed Use Residential – 85’ Tall) in the vicinity of the new station. Those familiar with area recognize the area is currently occupied by Shoreline Center and single family homes under R-6 (6 residences per acre).

The N 185th Street Station FEIS and Subarea Plan will be subject of a public hearing before the City of Shoreline Planning Commission on January 15, 2015. Comments can be submitted email to Miranda Redinger (mredinger@shorelinewa.gov).

Additional Shoreline City Council discussion will take place on 9 and 23 February with public comment available. Council adoption of the Subarea Plan is tentatively scheduled for 23 February. Be advised, residents in the North City, Meridian Park and Echo Lake Communities are none too pleased with the FEIS and Subarea Plan. As Zach posted on Christmas, neighborhoods are setting up Facebook groups and websites to take on City Council and the Planning Commission.

Tim McCall is a resident of Shoreline.

This is a guest post.

New Year’s Eve Extended Service

"New Years Fireworks at the Space Needle"

New Years Fireworks at the Space Needle

As is becoming a tradition, there will be extended hours for New Year’s Eve on Central Link Light Rail, the Seattle Center Monorail, and Tacoma Link.

From the monorail’s holiday service page:

On December 31. 2014, the Monorail will be open until 1:00 AM for the New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Space Needle. Due to regulations, the Monorail will carry its last passengers from Westlake Center to Seattle Center at approximately 11:15 PM. We will resume service from Seattle Center to Westlake Center once we receive the ‘ALL CLEAR’ from the Fire Marshall (estimated to be 12:20 AM) – from this point we will carry passengers until 1:00 AM.

The last southbound Link train will depart Westlake Station at 1:13 am.

The last Tacoma Link streetcars depart Tacoma Dome Station at 12:36 northbound and Theater District Station at 12:48 southbound.

A full list of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day service reductions can be found here.

Sound Transit Updates the Long Range Plan

This is a guest post.

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On December 18, the Sound Transit Board approved updates to the Long Range Plan, last revised in 2005. The corridor map saw 13 additions. There were also several text amendments. Most were uncontroversial, particularly those that were bringing the LRP up to date with other policies adopted since the last LRP update in 2005. Some, particularly those that seemed to have implications for ST3, were more challenging for the board.

I’ll describe the text amendments first, and then the map changes.

TEXT AMENDMENTS

Interesting amendments included the adding of a goal to “support vibrant, walkable communities and place-making around HCT stations” (T4); to “consider adding infill stations that were deferred in Sound Move or ST2 as part of a future system plan” (T9); support for “efforts that will maintain speed and reliability for buses using freeway HOV or managed lanes” (T20); a commitment to “favor cities and counties with supportive land use plans” (T13); “integrating the planning and operations of local and regional transit agencies” (T14); affirming that streetcars could be a service included in the LRP if they operated in exclusive or managed rights-of-way (T27).

Two amendments provoked lively discusssion. Text amendment T1 described criteria used to select projects.  Representatives from Pierce County sought clarification that the criteria were not in ranked order (perhaps concerned that ridership was the first item listed?). Staff confirmed the criteria were in no particular order.

Of more consequence, text amendment T18, offered by Murray and O’Brien, would have opened a discussion about funding alternatives for a second tunnel through Downtown Seattle (and other similarly significant regional facilities). This drew opposition from other areas. Some saw it as a distraction from the completion of the spine (to Tacoma, Everett and Redmond). Others were concerned about the implications for subarea equity. Although a tunnel is one option for service to West Seattle, it would also be useful to other regional services, including rail on SR 520, as capacity was reached on the existing tunnel. Therefore, it would make sense for all of the areas to contribute. Despite the implications for West Seattle, it was assumed that a second tunnel would not be built before ST4. That amendment was rejected on an 8-6 vote.

A number of corridors were identified for future study (T23-T26), but not included in the map at this time. Most familiar to readers of this blog is the Northern Lake Washington HCT crossing. Earlier in the process, a Kirkland-Sandpoint crossing was proposed as a map amendment. That amendment was withdrawn. The text amendment defers inclusion of such a crossing on the map, instead suggesting future study of cross-lake options when ridership demand exceeds capacity for existing cross-lake transit options or East Link. Along with the Sandpoint to Kirkland crossing, such a study would include alternatives on SR 520 and SR 522. Other corridors identified for future study run from Issaquah Highlands to Overlake (via Sammamish and Redmond), and along NE 145th from State Route 522 to Link.

MAP AMENDMENTS

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This is a guest post.

Community Transit Looks Forward to Brighter 2015

This is a guest post.

The last few years have not been kind to Community Transit or riders in Snohomish County. The Great Recession forced the largest cuts in the agency’s 39-year history, every winter has cancelled Sounder North runs, and the Oso mudslide interrupted bus service to Darrington for several months. Despite these setbacks, Community Transit will be able to welcome 2015 with open arms, with several major events planned.

Sunday and Holiday service restored

Proposed Sunday service (Photo by Community Transit)

Proposed Sunday service (Photo by Community Transit)

This month, the Community Transit Board approved the addition of 27,000 hours of new service, of which 18,000 are to be used on Sundays and holidays. The June 2015 service change, five years to the month after the cuts to Sunday service, will bring hourly Sunday service on major routes and 20-minute headways on Swift.

To fund the new service, Community Transit will be raising their adult and DART fares by 25 cents effective July 1. The increased fare will bring the cost of a round-trip on commuter routes from Marysville, Stanwood and Snohomish to a staggering $11 for adults.

[Read more…]

This is a guest post.

The Tunnel is Still Terrible, but Nothing Has Changed

What Bertha leaves behind

The stream of news from the deep-bore tunnel project has been uniformly bad: stuck for months for an unclear reason, the completion date has slipped to August 2017 at best ($). The rescue effort itself is causing the already brittle viaduct to sink, along with a chunk of Pioneer Square. It’s unclear, at least to me, who will end up paying the ballooning costs, but there certainly will be lots of litigation ahead.  Nothing catastrophic has happened – yet.

Back in 2009, I joined many others in thinking that the deep-bore tunnel project was a bad project at any price, and now that it is sure to take longer and more likely to cost taxpayers more than budgeted, that judgment looks better than ever. We believed Seattle could do just fine without another highway through downtown, particularly with alternative transit investments, and thought closing the viaduct would illustrate that for everyone. I continue to believe that.

In my circles, the new developments spawn some justified gloating, and renewed calls to both close the viaduct now and halt the project. Indeed, halting the project would be a fabulous decision for all the reasons linked to above. However, were I convinced that the project was critical to the city’s future, I wouldn’t let a few overruns or delays change my mind, just as I didn’t when Sound Transit ran into somewhat similar problems early in its first critical project. And much to my dismay, as it turns out we haven’t seen any of the defections that would indicate this project is really in political trouble.

As for closing the viaduct, everyone agrees that it isn’t safe in the event of an earthquake. For many people, that’s enough to shut the thing down, as even Gov. Gregoire threatened to do by 2012, and that’s an entirely reasonable viewpoint. But for many others, earthquake risk is worth avoiding whatever economic damage closing the viaduct would cause. Now that the viaduct is settling, WSDOT insists it is still as safe as it was.  WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson writes ($) that if it weren’t, they would simply apply stopgap techniques to shore it up. To claim that the measured settling demands closure of the viaduct implies at least one of two things: WSDOT’s engineers are incompetent, or managers are willfully ignoring technical advice for political or reputational reasons.

I have no special insight into what goes on at WSDOT, and for all I know a huge scandal revealing one or both of the above could surface tomorrow*. But functioning in a technical society requires placing at least a little trust in the judgment of trained professionals, and I think we have to give them the benefit of the doubt on this narrow matter.

* or – God forbid – a catastrophe proving their incompetence.

News Roundup: Merry Christmas!

Photo by Michael Andersson

Photo by Michael Andersson

This is an open thread.

LREOTW: The Interview

wikimedia

The limited release of the Seth Rogen / James Franco vehicle The Interview means that Columbia City’s Ark Lodge Cinema is the only venue in King County ($)  (at the moment) one will be able to see it. That makes it a fine choice for our light rail excuse of the week (LREOTW).

The premiere is Christmas night at 9:30pm, with showings at both 2:30pm and 9:30pm through January 1.

If you don’t have many occasions to ride Central Link, this is a good excuse to get into the Rainier Valley for something you can’t get many other places.

2014 Bright Spots

Untitled

It was an up and down year for Seattle-area transit. Ultimately this may be remembered as the year the City of Seattle got back in the transit game in a big way. As the year winds down, I thought it might be good to recap the good stuff that happened in the last 12 months.  Thanks to STB staff for helping me remember all this.

  • As employment improved, so did transit ridership. Metro hit a record 121M rides, and Link came achingly close to (the largely symbolic) 40,000 daily riders in August.
  • Actually, if you count the Seahawks victory parade in February, Link and every other form of public transit in the city shattered one-day ridership records, while showing it is possible to run 4-car trains to Stadium Station and negotiate with BN&SF to run Sounder extra times for special occasions.
  • Prop 1 failed… then passed. Seattle got more money for buses and SDOT is now in the transit planning game. The 6-year odyssey of Metro’s volatile revenue seems to be at an end… for now.
  • Center City Connector will likely have exclusive lanes on 1st Avenue.
  • RapidRide E & F launched, completing the (current) RapidRide network.
  • In the spirit of Transit acting as One, Metro waives limit on number of 550s in DSTT during peak-of-peak, now running up to 12 550s an hour in the peak direction, and all are packed to the brim.  This bodes well for East Link ridership.
  • The Monorail may start accepting ORCA.
  • Our friends at Seattle Subway pushed for – and won – inclusion of Sand Point-Kirkland for study in the Sound Transit long-range plan.
  • Life got a bit better for Downtown-Queen Anne buses and will get even better next year.
  • The South Park Bridge re-opened, un-sucking Route 60.
  • The city went on a queue jump and bus lane spree, installing some time-saving bus priority at 9th & Roy and 15th & Dravus.
  • The worst of the recession cuts appear to be behind us, as Community Transit proposed restoring Sunday service, Snohomish & Puyallup added service, and Metro announced its cuts would be less severe than anticipated.
  • Pierce county ended paper transfers.
  • Snazzy new cycle tracks went in on 2nd Avenue and Broadway.
  • King County Exec Dow Constantine began much needed work on bus-rail integration between Sound Transit and Metro.
  • Metro proposed a low-income fare and installed a ticket machine at 3rd and Pine. ST will follow suit with a low-income fare for Link.
  • The Bellevue City Council adopted a new Transit Master Plan, of which our own David Lawson said, ” If fully implemented, it could give Bellevue the most effective bus transit of any city in the Pacific Northwest.”
  • Even though it was announced at the end of 2013 I’ll cheat and say that U-Link got pushed up to a January Q1 2016 opening date.
  • Speaking of 2016, this was the year that all our local leaders coalesced around the idea of bringing ST3 to the ballot in 2016.  Authority from the legislature is still forthcoming.

Many of these improvements listed above happened because the readers of this blog made their voices known. Thanks for reading, and keep it up in 2015!

Decongestion Tolling for Downtown Seattle

This is a guest post.

“027 ERP gantry” by Original uploader was VK35 at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; Transfer was stated to be made by User:Kelly.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

An afternoon peak toll on certain streets leading to Interstate 5 entrances (Mercer, Yale, Olive and James) would reduce chronic congestion at key chokepoints and allow the street grid to work better for all users. Luckily, this approach is both legally and technically feasible for the City of Seattle.

Seattle was the fastest growing large city in the US in 2013, and South Lake Union has rapidly transformed from a low-rise warehouse district to a serious job center rivaling downtown.  Transportation capacity has not kept up.  Mercer Street has been a mess for decades, but now the Dexter disaster, the Westlake wrangle and the Amazon crush also snarl peak hour traffic and delay bus trips for dozens of minutes.  And construction in SLU isn’t finished yet: more buildings, workers and parking spots (!) are on the way.

Transportation planning usually focuses on the capacity of a single road, but the auto transport system is actually a complex network of linked components:

  • Parking capacity
  • Local street and intersection capacity
  • Freeway onramp capacity
  • Freeway capacity

Seattle Toll Points2The conventional American traffic engineering solution is to increase the capacity of the limiting component.  In downtown Seattle and SLU, freeway capacity and particularly freeway onramp capacity are the bottlenecks in the network.  Downtown streets become gridlocked, not due to massive traffic volumes, but due to cars queuing to enter I-5.  The gridlock delays all road users in the area, including transit riders on routes unrelated to I-5, such as Metro Transit routes 26, 28, 40, 70, 8, 3 and 4 and the SLU streetcar.  But there will be no new I-5 onramps or traffic lanes on downtown streets: there is physically no room.  So is this congestion solvable?  Yes, but only through a different mindset.

A constrained traffic planning approach is to reduce the number of cars accessing I-5 from downtown, to match the capacity of the onramps and feeder streets.  Marginally reducing the number of cars queuing for I-5 access via a toll, at the right price, would allow the street network to work for everyone.

Technically Feasible

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Sound Transit Responds to Seattle Subway, Transit Advocates

This is a guest post.

Seattle Subway LogoStill wondering if transit advocacy can have an actual impact on public policy? Last Thursday, when the Sound Transit board voted to adopt the new Long Range Plan the answer was made crystal clear: transit advocacy works.

Proof that our voices were heard came in the form of Sound Transit Long Range Plan Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Final (SEIS) which individually responded to the hundreds of stakeholder, organization, and reader comments to the SEIS, and included a section with summary responses, the majority of which are directed at issues that were brought up by both Seattle Subway and, via our guest posts, readers of Seattle Transit Blog.

The biggest news for us in these responses to our comments is an about-face on policies related to driverless trains, a pillar of what Seattle Subway advocates for since our inception three years ago. We support driverless trains because they can lead to a self-sustaining operating system (as in Vancouver), which frees up money for even more transit. Until this response, Sound Transit solidly refused to study the technology, publicly declaring they would not consider driverless trains. However, their latest response says that driverless trains can be considered as long as it does not interline with the spine section or have at-grade sections. We continue to remain confident in the value of driverless trains (we’re getting close to the era of driverless cars, after all!) and believe that by the time an interlining opportunity comes up, Sound Transit’s perception will likely change.

Many of you echoed our championing of building out West Seattle and the Ballard Spur. The Sound Transit responses to West Seattle and Ballard were similar: they will not make routing decisions until the next phase (system planning) which is resource-constrained. Our contention is that the data given to the Sound Transit Board during system planning must contain ideal options in order to be considered, which is exactly why we began to give detailed feedback at this stage. We will continue to monitor the situation and will give feedback as opportunities arise during the system planning phase.

The response to our Better Eastside Rail article was similar to West Seattle and the Ballard Spur: specific routing decisions will be made as part of the system planning process. However, we break the Eastside out separate from West Seattle and Ballard because we think Eastside options need further development. Due to the scale of the rework needed to bring good study options to the table, we have concerns about timing. Any options presented to the Board should be worth voting for in the ST3 package. Remember, the Eastside voted for ST2, but heavily against King County Proposition 1.

A surprising number of you (60) echoed our thoughts about the PSRC population numbers. Initially our stance didn’t seen to be well received, but people in a position to fix the problem read it and the point was well taken. Sound Transit’s response consisted of a mostly technical explanation of the model that objectively doesn’t work and concludes with discussion of making changes to the model used for ST3. However, since we wrote this article, we have met with PSRC staff and had some very productive discussions. Matthew Johnson will publish a more in-depth PSRC article soon, but the bottom-line issue appears to be related to the way population models treat designated regional growth centers (Ballard isn’t one). Despite the appearance of doubletalk, we do think ST and the PSRC are aware of the issue and are dedicated to making sure they get the best numbers possible in the version of these estimates that really matter—the ones that determine funding priorities and the service plan for ST3.

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This is a guest post.

Transit: Up All Night

This is a guest post.

Photo by Oran

Photo by Oran

Most people think of Seattle as a world class, major city. Major cities have 24-hour transit service, as should Seattle. There is limited overnight service, with the Owl routes (82, 83, 84) being understandably derided because they are the most confusing. With the new hours from Proposition 1—approximately 230,000 annual service hours are left after the June improvements are implemented—we have a chance to accomplish this for the people who keep odd hours. My bias for evening and night trips is showing because I’m one of those people; this post is actually being submitted at around 4am.

Why do this?

As Mike Orr points out, transit use increases when it can cover more trips and more types of trips. Right now, our transit system is pretty good at covering regular commuting hours and trips taken while the sun is usually up. Service drops dramatically in most corridors after 7pm and especially late night. This is also the first type of service to take a hit when cuts are proposed since the “bang for the buck” in the reclaimed service hours is quite high when shifted to daytime service.

However, if we are to have “the best bus service we’ve ever had in Seattle,” ($) night service should be one of the first things to come back and be enhanced. Lots of workers are employed during these odd hours and we can accomplish a lot of trip diversions by giving them the tools to get to and from work. Other trips for activities in the evening and night periods can be made attractive to do via transit and without having to rely on an overpriced taxi or a potentially-surcharged rideshare company.

What to do?

In considering which routes to extend to 24-hour service, I looked at routes that meet these criteria:

  • Their span of service ends, at a minimum, around midnight. This is to avoid having to extend service beyond a few trips and because the routes with later service already tend to serve denser areas.
  • The route can simply have more trips added without having to divert in the middle of the night. By doing this, the confusing mess that are the existing Owls is avoided. (There are two exceptions below.)
  • Cover as much of the city as possible, with special emphasis on getting more service north of 85th Street, which is where the current Owls (except D line) end, and cross-town routes to avoid everybody having to go downtown.
  • Look solely at routes that can be paid for by Prop 1. This means no overnight service on routes like 255, 545, or 550 is discussed here.

Half-hourly service would be much better, but given that service hours are difficult to calculate, this proposal is cautious. If we have the hours, half-hourly trips would be much more convenient.

What routes?

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This is a guest post.

Low-Income Fares Coming to Streetcars and Foot Ferries

March 1, 2015In addition to the low-income fare program that has been in place in Kitsap Transit since 1985, the new low-income fare program for King County Metro Transit that will take effect March 1, 2015, and the low-income fare that will take effect on Central Link Light Rail on March 1, Seattle Streetcar and King County Ferries are jumping on the low-income fare bandwagon. Per Rochelle Ogershok, King County Department of Transportation spokeswoman:

As of March 1, a low income fare of $1.50 will take effect on both the South Lake Union Street Car and Link Light Rail. These low-income fares will be the same as Metro’s, as will be the reduced fares for Youth and Senior/Disabled riders. The King County Water Taxi will also implement a low income fare as of 3/1/15. The low-income fare will be $3.00 for W. Seattle and $3.75 for Vashon.

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News Roundup: Earth, Wind, and Fire

 

The Sounder

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Gov. Inslee Unveils His Transportation Plan

wikimedia

Yesterday Governor Inslee released the transportation plan that he will ask the legislature to pass next session.

The twelve-year program would spend a total of $12.1 billion on the following:

  • $2.6 billion for “Maintenance, Operations, and Preservation,” most notably bringing all bridges and highways to “95% fair or better” condition. Almost half goes to the ferry system or the State Patrol.
  • $2.2 billion for “Clean Transportation and Multimodal,” including about $802m in various transit grants, $150m in bike and pedestrian grants, and lots of money for electric vehicle incentives and various water quality initiatives like culverts.
  • $5.9 billion in “New Construction,” over 99% of which will go to new highway capacity in places like SR520, I-405, SR509, SR167, and US 395 in Spokane.
  • $1.4 billion is miscellaneous “local distributions” and, mostly, debt service.

But that isn’t the interesting part. There is no gas tax in this proposal, replacing it instead with a “carbon pollution fee” among myriad smaller revenue sources. Avoiding gas taxes also avoids the putative constitutional restrictions on gas taxes, opening the door for more direct state spending on transit.

Unfortunately, the budget passes up that opportunity by proposing transit funding levels not out of line with historical levels. Despite the lack of funding, there is significant new revenue authorization for transit. Most importantly, the Inslee plan fulfills the Sound Transit Board’s request for more authority, clearing the path for Sound Transit 3 via some combination of property tax, sales tax, and MVET. There is also a renewal of Metro’s expired “Congestion Reduction Charge” ($20 license fee) authority, but only through 2018. Community Transit would get much-needed additional permanent sales tax authority, and the license fee that Transportation Benefit Districts can implement without a public vote would increase from $20 to $40.

How an environmental and transit advocate feels about this program probably depends on their relative assessment of the damage of new highway capacity vs. the merits of the transit authority and the directly pollution-attacking revenue source. Personally, I think this is miles ahead of the totally unacceptable House Democratic package from last year, which didn’t have ST3 and spent much more on new highways without fully funding maintenance.

My immediate reaction is that this would be a decent compromise to come out of the sausage machine next session. Unfortunately, it may be the opening bid, positioned as the “left wing” proposal with negligible state funding of transit, a persistent emphasis on more highways, and no permanent solution for Metro. The document seems to recognize this, labeling itself as a “good-faith compromise to spark action.” We can only hope that a majority of legislators view it in the same light.

“Seat Hog” Ad Campaign Coming

One of the advantages of actual rail transit over actual bus transit* (in this region) is that minor anti-social rider behaviors tend to be merely annoying, rather than actually impairing operations. So on the list of behaviors to fix, David Lawson’s opus on how to ride a bus remains the must-read, and some more emphasis on avoiding the front door at busy stops would help a lot.

On the other hand, I’m spending a lot more time on Link than on buses these days, so I’m all for this new ad campaign. The space under the seat is criminally underutilized on crowded Link trains.

* as opposed to theoretical bus transit, which is always awesome and never has to make compromises.