We all know the state legislature is far too busy trying to patch the budget hole to do anything like avoid catastrophic transit cuts or deter the murder of cyclists on the streets. But there’s always time to mess around with transit priority! Publicola:
The bill, ostensibly aimed at encouraging private transit services like Microsoft’s Connector buses to Redmond, would also open up bus lanes to charter vans, airport shuttles, and unspecified “private nonprofit transportation provider vehicles.”
It would also allow those vehicles to park in park-and-rides at all hours…
Unbelievably, the Senate passed SB 6570 46-1. The 43rd District’s Ed Murray was the only one to vote against this bill. Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham) and Bob McCaslin (R-Spokane Valley) didn’t vote.
I don’t think a measure along these lines is necessarily bad policy, but this bill doesn’t contain anywhere near the protections necessary to prevent private operators from fouling up public transit. It allows exclusion of private operators only when agencies can claim a threat to safety in transit lanes, or the off-peak utilization in park-and-rides is at least 90%.
It doesn’t appear that there’s been any assessment of the bill’s impact on transit operations. It doesn’t offer a process for agencies to determine the impact before a private operator could, say, share an already full bus bay at peak – when transit planners today carefully manage bus loads to prevent long queues and ensure layover space.
The bill author also doesn’t appear to have a clear grasp of park and ride load (in peak or off-peak). We’ve heard from Sound Transit in the past that park and ride users tend to consider a lot ‘full’ and seek alternatives (like driving alone) somewhere between 70% and 85% of capacity. This makes sense, as users of these lots are planning their commute in advance.
Erica’s piece has more about the bill’s impacts – it doesn’t appear to have been thought through.