Community, Environment and Planning by Rachel McCaffrey

Sightline, a Seattle bases sustainability think tank, which does a lot of unique, data-backed research in the transportation field, and is looking for help this summer. I wanted to pass this along this internship announcement via UW’s Community, Environment and Planning (CEP)  tumblr account, since it’s probably perfect for someone in our readership. Also above is a shameless plug for CEP, which both Sherwin and I major in, and Sherwin has a cameo in. I would encourage our young readers to check out both.

Sightline seeks a motivated, organized, and self-starting data geek for a summer internship. You must be able to demonstrate strong academic credentials, meticulous attention to detail, excellent data analysis skills, experience with spreadsheet software, a passion for simplifying complex data into a clear and understandable story, and a commitment to a sustainable Northwest.The project:  Assist Sightline’s research team in compiling, analyzing, and interpreting data on traffic and transportation from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. After decades of steadily increasing car traffic, vehicle travel has stagnated – even as state and provincial governments are planning billions of dollars to rebuild and widen urban highways.  Our look at traffic figures suggests that the region simply doesn’t need—and can’t afford—these costly highway megaprojects.  We need a research intern to help compile and analyze traffic trends, demographic data, state budget reports, and other sources of information that help us tell the story about the changing demand for car travel, and our declining ability to pay for more and bigger roads.

This position is unpaid. Sightline’s interns commit to working at least 24 hours per week for at least 10 weeks during the summer. Interns are provided with office workspace, including a computer and email account, along with a bus pass.

To apply: Please email a cover letter, resume, and at least one example of analytical work to by May 21. Sightline Institute encourages candidates from all socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to apply.

8 Replies to “Internship: Sightline Seeking “Traffic Data Geek””

  1. Do they have to hate light rail like ED Alan Durning?

    Go to their site and search for articles on light rail or Sound Transit. They used to actively oppose ST, now they just pretend it doesn’t exist.

    They do a lot of great work, but this is a huge blind spot.

    1. I agree it’s a blind spot. From my understanding they have a more Doug McDonnald view of light rail than a Futurewise view. Ie they see light rail as a poor transit investment because it has limited reach, and the latter being that light rail is necessary to shape rather follow land use patterns.

      I lean towards the latter although I see merit in both. I think a long term strategy that focuses on densification of suburban centers to levels that result in a meaningful mode shift will only happen with investments in light rail. Most suburban cities just don’t have the market conditions that would support this otherwise.

      1. Agreed, although they were big boosters of the monorail. I fail to see the difference.

      2. Regional transit vs. urban transit. Make it easy to commute to the suburbs (Link + parking, Sounder, fat freeways, BRT), and you increase sprawl. Make it easier to get around in dense areas (Seattle Subway, monorail, streetcars, electric trolleys, bikes, sidewalks), and you make city life more productive, enjoyable, and attractive therefore decreasing sprawl.

        Sprawl is a big deal, environmentally, and I absolutely understand their position. The reason I support Link is the blind hope that we’ll find the political will to turn our park and rides into TOD someday. I also don’t support extending Link past what’s currently funded.

        As a think tank, Sightline really considers these issues in detail. I appreciate their work, and am a daily reader.

      3. That would be a fine rationale, Matt, if they stated that, but they simply don’t confront the issue at all. They ignore any discourse on ST.

      4. And are probably smart to do so. That’s quite a third rail to touch, when you have progressive funders. Might as well support mass produced nuclear power as well.

        (note: I don’t actually know their position on any of this, or why they’re silent)

      5. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that the most sustainable way to travel short distances in dense urban areas is not transit at all, but walking and bicycling. Besides being better for the environment, sidewalks, bike lanes, and neighborhood greenways cost a tiny fraction of the amount of money that building and operating a decent transit system costs.

        Where walking and biking does not perform very well, however, is long-distance trips where the increased speeds of a motorized vehicle become important to keeping travel times reasonable. And that’s where transit becomes more important.

        Transit between downtown and capitol hill is certainly important. But, door-to-door, including wait time, it will never be as fast as bicycling, especially in the downhill direction. It’s not even really that much faster than walking.

        Other the other hand, buses that traverse longer distance actually save large amounts of time over the non-motorized alternatives, and hence become the preferred everyday mode of choice.

        Some people like to pretend they are in an idealized world where if transit focuses solely on Seattle, the relevant world will focus on Seattle and the rest won’t matter. The problem is that since we’ve already built highways and people have already bought cars, the suburbs are always going to be relevant. Pretending that only Seattle matters transit-wise won’t turn back the clock and make everyone in Issaquah move back to Seattle – it will just serve to make transit less relevant and force everybody who ever needs to travel to the suburbs to drive. If reductions on car ownership are an important goal regarding sustainability, saying you have to live your entire life within a small 5-square-mile bubble in order to live car-free is not reasonable.

        Nevertheless, there are some aspects of our transit system whose sole purpose is to provide people living in the far-out exurbs a gold-plated ride into the city, while the limited schedule makes the service all but useless for anyone living in the city to make reverse trips. I am agreement that trips like these do nothing but to create sprawl by encouraging people who work downtown to live far, far away.

        So, while service to the suburbs is reasonable, I think it’s important to draw some line. As a general rule, I’d say that any service that has enough demand to justify running it all day is reasonable. While gold-plated bus service that operates excessive distances in a single-direction-peak-only manner, is not reasonable.

        For example, routes 510, 511, 554, and 594 all connect all-day sources of demand. While routes like 592 to DuPont, 595 to Gig Harbor, 422 to Stanwood, and 215 to North Bend, I would argue have costs that outweigh benefits. Put differently, I would support a bus between Seattle and DuPont that runs all day and extends to Olympia, making it actually useful for people who don’t live in DuPont and have 40+ mile commutes everyday. While a bus that effectively excludes people who either don’t live out in the sprawl or don’t have unreasonably long commutes, I don’t support.

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