Around noon today, as we urged previously (along with pro-transit representatives, transit agencies, and USDOT), Governor Gregoire vetoed the provisions in the supplemental transportation budget (SB 6381) tying state transit funding to allowing private transportation providers to use transit-only facilities. There’s been no news item posted on her website yet, but we’ll post more as we get updates.

40 Replies to “Governor Vetoes Private Provider Provision”

  1. Good.

    So is there any way a private operator can get permits to use bus lanes? Anyone working on a more reasonable piece of legislation to allow this?

    1. Actually private providers can use “bus lanes” now – but they can’t use any lane designated “Transit” (vs. just “bus”). When I drove for Grayline, we often used “bus” lanes (such as the right hand lane going east bound on the West Seattle bridge to the exit at 1st Ave S.), but any lane designated “transit only” was off-limits.

      1. Can a Grayline driver deadhead the bus in these lanes when he or she is alone?

        Also, I don’t see a major issue with Grayline using the E-3 roadway – especially if they coordinate their scheduling with Metro and/or Sound Transit. With the exception of something like a Microsoft or Boeing company meeting, I can’t see that they would have enough coaches running through there to cause major issues.

      2. Velo,

        As far as I know, yes. We certainly were trained that “buses” meant “buses” and Transit meant Metro, ST, etc.

        I also know of no case of any private provider ever being ticketed for using an HOV lane.

  2. I wouldn’t even be opposed to private operators having access to park and rides. Just not DSTT and no exclusives on events.

    1. If private operators want access to Park and Rides then they need to pay an equitable share for their construction, security, and maintenance.

      1. I don’t think so but I didn’t read the provision. I was under the interpretation that they could use it for free.

      2. Text of bill as passed by the legislature. Look down around page 47.

        25 transit agency may require that a private transportation provider enter
        26 into an agreement for use of the park and ride lot, and may include
        27 provisions to recover actual costs for the use of the lot and its
        28 related facilities.

        I don’t know what the lawyers would make of the word “actual”. Certainly security and maintenance and I would think a share of any rent and/or bond interest. It’s a pilot program so it’s not surprising that there’s places it should be improved. But it is very clear in saying the only way an agency can lose funding is if it doesn’t provide an application process or can be shown to not seriously consider a proposal.

      3. Define ‘seriously consider’ and who has to pay the legal costs when a private provider challenges that their offer was not ‘seriously considered?’

      4. I’m not a lawyer and I agree some of the language might be better. Obviously a private company would foot their side of the costs and bringing suit tends to be more expensive than defending. I don’t know who’s budget the defense would come from. If say Metro is sued over a bus pedestrian collision does the County Attorney’s office defend them? Of course in the end the answer is you and I the tax payer. But really, any letter of explanation citing public safety or capacity issues that wasn’t a total fabrication should cover it. And any company bringing suit runs the risk of being ordered to pay court costs should they lose. And how much profit is at stake for private carriers in any reasonable scenario for use of P&R lots and/or transit ROW?

        In the case of the DSTT there has already been extensive study done to run the maximum number of buses which can safely operate with the trains. We know that public buses are getting kicked out as train activity increases. Plus there’s special training for drivers and ventilation requires special hybrid buses which none of the private carriers operate.

  3. Most “bus lanes” are really HOV lanes and private buses already have access, at least when they are carrying riders.

    Most Bus Only faciliies, such as the DSTT and the E-3 Busway, are clearly places where prviate operators are totally inappropriate.

    This was a non-issue from the beginning, just a handful of legislators who thought they could get mileage out of kissing the posteriors of private coach operators.

    1. Though Metro & ST buses have access to the HOV lanes when they’re only carrying the driver as well, a common case for peak-direction-only buses returning to make another trip. It is worth considering allowing private bus systems like Connector to do the same, as they would be able to make more trips and more companies might consider starting similar services.

      Is the lane on the West Seattle Bridge an HOV lane or a bus lane? Beyond that there isn’t much in the way of bus lanes we’d want to open.

      1. The WS bridge has several signs designating the second lane from the right going eastward as “Bus Only”

      2. Don’t private buses like Connector already have access to HOV lanes even when empty? “Buses with a carrying capacity of sixteen or more persons, including the operator.” (WAC 468-510-010)

        This provision is clearly meant to apply to private buses, as there is a separate provision for municipal transit vehicles. In fact, it looks like they may have picked “sixteen or more” just to rule out Suburbans and the like.

    2. Metro’s North Base is a transit facility. The sign says “Bus Base Traffic Only”, so does that mean that private operators could have used those ramps, or even North Base itself?

  4. I think most everyone here agrees that this particular bill was bad.

    I think a majority, if not as many, agree that the idea is not necessarily a bad idea, just bad implementation.

    So what WOULD be good implementation? How could this bill be rewritten so that everyone benefits, public transit, private providers, and the average citizen?

    1. It doesn’t need to be. Agencies already have a process through which private operators can make agreements with them. A lot of the issue is that our park and rides just don’t have excess capacity, and few want to use a park and ride for a weekend trip because there’s not nearly the congestion!

  5. Damn! And I had just installed the eighth seat in the STB Taco Truck, next to the wash-up sink. Oh well, we’ll get this beauty into the DSTT legally someday.

  6. had the real intentions of these companys been more legitmate, which by reading prior posts to the same family of threads dident seem to be i would have been in full support. Of course, With that said and done mabye its time to start implementing some demand management at our popular P&R lots. For Example, a modest two to five dollar a day fee could be assessed (Payable with ORCA, CC, Cash) to park in our busier P&R lots. The proceeds from this, could than be used to pay off bonds to expand the P&R lot (Preferrably with structured parking) and expand the capasity. The lesser used surface lots would still remain free, in attempt to drive some traffic towards them (so long as they have useable transit service)

    An example of this would be to pay for parking at Puyallup Station, Yet leave the S. Hill P&R and the “Red Lot” Fair parking free of charge. Again, in Sumner the main lot would be a paid facility, and Bonney Lk. P&R would be free. In Tacoma, Tacoma Dome Station would be a paid lot, and atleast for the interim, South Tacoma and Lakewood 512 P&R and Station would be free (atleast until they got sounder service and reached capasity).

    The Proceeds generated coudl than be used for expanding the paid facility (or connected free one).

    1. Are there any US examples of a pay to use or pay to reserve P&R? I see a few in Canada but for something so head-slappingly obvious I don’t see any examples here.

      1. BART did a pilot program. It was pretty successful but I don’t know what became of it. As I recall it increased efficiency because people had some certainty via confirmed prepaid spots that they would be able to use transit. The only impediment to charging for P&R use seems to be the transit agency “organizational inertia” that Haugen and Clibborn warned against in their letter to the Governor.

      2. I’ve spoken with a couple of Sound Transit people who have said the plan is to eventually charge for P&R usage – I was suggesting parking fees so maybe they were just placating me?

        Assuming this is actually the plan, my guess would be that the current round of P&R expansions will be the last. Issaquah, Eastgate, Redmond, and an expanded South Bellevue would be it, a least for a while. Once those fill up, hopefully demand management charges would start. (Not sure on Mercer Island – Apparently the city is asking for more parking to serve the East Link station?)

        Off the top of my head, I don’t imagine the parking fees would be enough to pay for new facilities – especially a garage. But they could make parking more reliable and create a revenue stream for improved feeder bus service.

      3. I know that BART, DC Metro, and CTA charge for parking at all or almost all of their parking garages. And that’s only fair; not only are these people currently not paying for their expensive parking spaces, but they’re also not paying much more for trips that are usually far longer than in-city ones.

      4. Not only fair but smart. On the flip side, building multi-story structures at 30-40k per stall and giving it away for free just to put another butt on a bus/train is stupid. Seattle doesn’t have that many P&R spaces. What they do are well used and likely would continue to be if parking were even a quarter to a half of downtown rates. The eastside and south king sub-areas have vast unused P&R capacity. Charging at the lots that are over capacity would balance the load and eliminate the need to build these multi-story structures which are for the most part in places we want to divert cars away from; not encourage more.

      5. “The eastside and south king sub-areas have vast unused P&R capacity”

        Huh? Got some examples? Virtually every P&R I serve is at capacity, except for the newer ones like Eastgate, Issaquah, and Issaquah Highlands. For those there is parking available but I’d hardly call it “vast”. I’d guess they will all be completely full within 5-10 years, at which point we will need demand management charges.

      6. There’s still plenty of room in both the Federal Way Transit Center and the Federal Way Park & Ride. Both of these are surrounded by acres of underutilized parking lots used for private businesses, as well as parking lots once used for businesses long since defunct. If the transit lots start charging, commuters will fill these lots instead. I don’t think these businesses will want to hire additional security to watch non-customers’ cars.

        Therefore charging for P&R should be decided on a case by case basis, rather than a blanket policy. And if there’s no need to develop a policy, then why not start charging right now at the locations where it does make sense, instead of waiting a few more years to study the issue?

      7. Don’t worry, Seattle has a policy against Park n Rides, besides the few existing ones.

        Which P&Rs in east and south King County have vast unused capacity? What I hear is you have to be there by 7am or you won’t find a space.

      8. Mike, we’ve gone through this many times. Search back in the comments or go to the Metro website and look it up. There’s Over 18,000 parking spaces between the east and south sub-areas and they are only 3/4 full. On the eastside look at the numbers for Woodinville, Houghton and Overlake (aka Overlake Village, not Overlake TC). Then look long and hard at Issaquah. Report back on what you find.

      9. Both, Highlands is better (still less than 80%), combined they’re below the east district average. Federal Way btw is at 48% .

      10. The 3/4 full stat doesnt tell the true story – not all park and rides are equal, and empty spots at useless park and ride doesnt mean there’s excess usable capacity in the system. For example, Overlake village is an anomoly. From what I’ve hear, it was put there because the property was available, not becuase it was a good place to put a P&R.

        Overlake TC is a nightmare – people parking in between lanes, circling around. The lots are full at the park and ride lots that people want to use, and people are being turned away.

  7. Looking forward to some confirmation on this veto. So far, no press release, no link, no update on the bill status etc. on the state web sites.

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