Tonight: 300 Free Cab Rides for Halloween


If you’re out celebrating this evening, and you need a cab ride home, the company offering Seattle’s first taxi-hailing app is running a promotion that may be of interest:

Flywheel wants to make sure Seattleites are safe tomorrow evening while enjoying all the Halloween festivities. Flywheel is offering free rides up to $20 for the first 300 Flywheel requests starting at 8pm tomorrow evening. […] This offer applies to all Flywheel users in the Seattle area – not just first timers!

Flywheel joins a competitive and sometimes controversial market of ride-sharing apps in US cities, which includes licensed town-car hires (Uber), unlicensed drivers working for donations (Sidecar, Lyft, UberX) and taxi-hailing services (Taxi Magic, Hailo). Flywheel cars will initially be provided by East Side for Hire:

Flywheel has initially partnered with Seattle’s leading transportation company, East Side for Hire, to launch their service in the area. They have equipped over 260 East Side for Hire cars and drivers with the Flywheel technology needed to respond to ride requests in Seattle and the surrounding areas including Bellevue, Burien, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Northgate, Redmond, SeaTac and Shoreline.

East Side for Hire maintains fleets similar to taxis, but instead of a meter, they offer customers flat rates calculated by pickup and drop-off zip code. The company has received superior ratings and is the most affordable option in the area, with a typical for-hire ride from downtown Seattle to the airport costing $29.

Affordable, safe, easy-to-use taxis are a part of car-free living, and Hailo worked well for me when I was recently in London. I’m glad to see more players move into the Seattle market.

News Roundup: A Little Moldy

This is an open thread.

Link Ridership v The Short Term Projections

Central Link failing to meet, meeting, or beating projections is a common topic when it comes to discussing the success (or failure) of the initial segment.  This discussion will only intensify as we move towards a possible 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.  In order to help the discussions be as fact based as possible I’ve put together a couple posts discussing the different projections for Central Link over time compared to reality, and thrown in some unscientific projections of my own just for visualization.  This first post will focus on short term projections gathered from Service Implementation Plans.

The original projections come from the 2009 and 2010 SIPs, both produced before the full Initial Segment was open.  As discussed multiple times due to the Great Recession (80,000 less jobs downtown than projected) and other factors Central Link did not meet its initial ridership projections.  After having a full years worth of data to analyze, in 2011 Sound Transit lowered their projections.  In response to the downward revision and Sound Transit’s initial numbers being off in the first place Martin had a great piece with Sound Transit planner Bob Harvey on the process for creating projections and why the projections were off.  It’s well worth a refresher read.  A more detailed explanation of individual factors was given in the Central Link – Initial Segment Before and After Study discussed last week.

The continued strong growth in the years since opening caused Sound Transit to revise their numbers back upwards in 2012.  And this year Link has beaten even those higher projections.  In August Link reached a yearly moving average of 27,925 weekday riders compared to Sound Transit’s projection of 27,900 at years end.  If Link can maintain its 10.7% year over year growth rate in the four months from September through December it should finish the year with an average of around 28,832 weekday boardings.  In the 2013 Service Implementation Plan Sound Transit projected 29,600 weekday boardings for 2014, meaning that on January 1st 2014 Link will already be over a third of the way to their year end goal of 1,700 additional riders.

Because I like data and graphs I put this all down into my ridership excel spreadsheet and created the below. Projections come from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Service Implementation Plans.  The 2009 SIP had the same projections as 2010 so it was removed.  The ridership data comes from Sound Transit’s monthly ridership reports covered here.


It’s not shown on the page but if Central Link can maintain the 10% growth its experienced since opening then in 2018 actual ridership will cross the 2009 and 2010 SIP projections.  That is of course completely hypothetical as basing 5 years of growth on 3 years of data is extremely shaky, not to mention the fact that in 2016 with the opening of the University Link Extension it all becomes academic anyway.

Another Project In Columbia City

Columbia City Station Area
Columbia City Station Area

There’s another development project in the pipeline for Columbia City, and the growth is creeping ever closer to the station. This one is about a block east of Link, at the Zion Prep site, and consists of 244 units in six buildings. That’s the good news.

The mixed news is that the project also includes 222 parking spaces, 93 in the buildings and 129 on the surface.  Overall, that’s a decent ratio for new construction. There are two ways to look at the surface spaces: they’re terrible for pedestrians, but they’re also potentially more temporary. The optimistic view is that as they prove the market for these units and the extent the parking is overbuilt, they can convert some of that space into more housing.

The bad news is that the City’s zoning for this parcel is pathetic: Lowrise-3, which is what limits these buildings to 3 or 4 stories. That parcels zoned like this exist over four years after Link opened is, frankly, astonishing. According to Council Spokesperson Dana Robinson Slote, there are no plans to review the site’s zoning, and on a “quasi-judicial matter” Councilmembers aren’t able to comment. The Mayor’s office didn’t answer an email on the subject.

The project would join the recently completed Greenhouse Apartments and 193 apartments over a PCC currently under construction. People can comment on this project through November 6th at the link above. As always, if you live nearby (or would like to) your comments are especially valuable.

Transit: The Next Generation


The future of our region depends on our creating a comprehensive transit system that:

  • Builds out a light rail spine that moves as many people as rapidly and efficiently as possible;
  • Ensures critical transit, bicycle, and pedestrian connections to light rail stations and among our urban centers and villages; and
  • Promotes transit oriented communities that build affordable housing and density so that we can get people away from automobile dependence.
Richard Conlin
Richard Conlin

We cannot do just one of these three things. We have to do them all in order to realize the vision of a truly sustainable region. We’ve succeeded in some of the basics and we’re ready to create the framework for a truly integrated vision. I have the experience and commitment to make sure that the City Council and Sound Transit give priority to all three of these as we make crucial policy decisions.

The spine: With light rail funded from Lynnwood to Federal Way and across Lake Washington to Overlake/Redmond, we are building the core system. But we must not forget how tough it is to actually do this. I remember how close the first Sound Transit vote was in 1995 (when we lost) and in 1996 (finally winning), how difficult it was to face the reality that it was harder and more expensive to build out the first line than we had thought, and ultimately having to take the incredibly tough decision to shorten it but still persist with the vision of a line that makes light rail an engine of community development. I remember being in the front of meetings in Rainier Valley with hundreds of Seattle residents attacking me and the other Councilmembers for moving the light rail program forward.

Tense negotiations seem to come with the territory. The UW demanded extraordinary measures to protect research from vibrations when the route cut under the campus. We faced lawsuits over the use of I-90 and an attempt in Bellevue to derail construction, which was only overcome through a careful and patient negotiation between three Sound Transit Board members (I was one of them) and Bellevue City Councilmembers.

Continue reading “Transit: The Next Generation”

Watch Link Make its Way to Lynnwood

Sound Transit has posted several video animations of Lynnwood Link making its way north from Northgate.  This is a great way to visualize the NE 130th Station option and Segment C options  previously covered on the blog.  Looks like Northbound riders should have an excellent view of the 15th hole at Jackson Park Golf Course.  It’s no nude men’s beach, but then what do you expect for a measly $5.83 cost per boarding?

Lynnwood Segment A

Segment B & C after the jump. If you’re having trouble seeing the embedded video, you can view it on ST’s site.

Continue reading “Watch Link Make its Way to Lynnwood”

Sound Transit Starts Long-Range Planning


Sound Transit’s long range planning is starting with a little public comment. This process will update the 2005 edition and will be a primary input to Sound Transit 3.

“In the next decade Sound Transit will deliver more than 30 miles of light rail extensions, increase south line commuter rail service and continue operating popular express bus routes. Updating the Long-Range Plan will define the options for where regional transit can go beyond the projects and services voters have approved,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy…

Preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to update the plan provides an opportunity to consider questions including:

  • Which corridors should be identified or reconfirmed as priorities for potential future light rail extensions?
  • Which corridors should be designated for potential high-capacity transit/bus rapid transit?
  • Should the region make more investments in commuter rail?
  • Where should the system provide improved parking facilities and access for pedestrians and bicyclists?

I think there might be some opinions about these subjects among our readership. There is a longish survey available through November 25th that asks a lot of the right questions. There are also six public meetings:

  • Seattle: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 5:30-8 p.m. Seattle University Campion Ballroom, 914 E. Jefferson St.
  • Federal Way: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 5:30-8 p.m. Federal Way Community Center, 876 S. 333rd St.
  • Redmond: Thursday, Nov. 14, 5:30-8 p.m. Redmond Marriott, 7401 164th Ave. N.E.
  • Tacoma: Monday, Nov. 18, 5:30-8 p.m. Tacoma Convention Center, 1500 Broadway
  • Everett: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 5:30-8 p.m. Eisenhower Middle School, 10200 25th Ave. S.E.
  • Seattle daytime event: Thursday, Nov. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St.

STB will be all over this subject as it develops.

Bellevue’s 2030 Transit Service Vision

As part of the process of updating its Transit Master Plan, the City of Bellevue has published a “Transit Service Vision Report.”  The report is the culmination of a year-long public process intended to help the City of Bellevue identify its future transit priorities.  The report includes proposed networks for 2030, 2022, and 2015, modified for each of three funding scenarios.

Bellevue Vision Map
Part of the map for the “Growing” funding scenario

The unifying theme of the proposed networks is “Abundant Access,” which incorporates goals of frequency, convenience, efficiency, simplicity, directness, and effective regional connections.  The networks include only  service that serves Bellevue destinations, although the maps cover almost the entire Eastside, so some mental “filling-in” will be necessary as you look at the maps.

At a high level, the proposed networks are outstanding examples of frequent, gridded network design.  High-ridership lines connecting major destinations are improved, with more frequent routes than exist today even in the Reduced funding scenario. Coverage to extremely low-ridership neighborhoods is mostly eliminated in the Reduced and Stable funding scenarios, with priority given to services that accommodate high numbers of riders.  Construction impacts from Link are taken into account in the 2015 and 2022 scenarios.

Some specific changes in the 2030 proposals, below the jump, are likely to get riders’ attention.

Continue reading “Bellevue’s 2030 Transit Service Vision”

McGinn and Conlin on Seattle’s Rail Future


Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office
Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

Last Monday evening, Mayor McGinn and Councilmember Conlin held a ‘Seattle Transit Reception’ (slides) showcasing the city’s recently adopted Transit Master Plan (TMP), the Ballard rail study, ST3 planning, and recent progress on the Center City Connector project. The reception was open to the public but also clearly aligned to be of use for Rail~Volution attendees.

For visitors in town for Rail-Volution, McGinn’s words about the TMP were a good primer on Seattle’s geography and the various corridors the city is prioritizing for transit investment. In the five TMP corridors that the plan designates for high capacity transit (in most cases rail), the mayor reminded the audience that those select corridors are only part of a larger strategy to improve the performance of the city’s highest ridership bus routes.

The most interesting news of the evening was about the evolving design of the Center City Connector project. STB readers will already know that 1st Avenue was selected as the alignment to connect the South Lake Union and First Hill lines through downtown, but the remarks at the reception (and a subsequent Great Cities presentation Tuesday) clarified much about the current state of the project:

  • While a single-line operational model will be studied, SDOT prefers that the SLU and First Hill lines be operationally distinct, interlining for 5-minute combined headways on the shared segment between the King Street Hub and Westlake
  • Only one alternative for connecting to SLU was selected for further development: a Stewart/Olive connection to McGraw Square, running two-way (including contraflow) on Stewart west of 3rd, and on the Stewart/Olive couplet between 3rd and 5th.
  • Projected year of opening is 2018
  • No bicycle facilities are integrated into 1st Avenue in the conceptual renderings

The last detail that Conlin and McGinn touched on, and no doubt the most crucial to the reliability of the project, was the configuration of 1st Avenue’s right-of-way. The city presented two designs illustrating center platforms with center-running rail, one with the streetcar operating in mixed-traffic and one with the streetcar operating in an exclusive lane. As one might guess, there is a significant travel time difference between the two options, the mixed-traffic configuration taking an average of 6 minutes longer to traverse the short 1st Avenue alignment than the option with exclusive lanes. While an additional 6 minutes may not seem like much, on a 1.3 mile alignment a 12 minute travel time is just 6.5 mph average speed (no better than current downtown trolleybuses), while a 6 min travel time would be 13 mph average speed (possibly faster than any other surface transit downtown). Note too that the 6 minute difference for a mixed-traffic line is an optimal scenario under baseline traffic conditions. Actual reliability could only be equal to or worse than this baseline.

Exclusive ROW will add 3,000 daily riders over the mixed-traffic scenario (31k vs. 28k), exclusive ROW will cost $2m less annually to operate ($16m vs. $18m), capital costs are cheaper for exclusive lanes (one less vehicle needed), and an overwhelming majority of public feedback preferred both 1st Avenue and exclusive lanes. Despite this, however, the Great Cities report stated: “Most believe mixed-traffic operations will be necessary given limited north-south rights of way.”


I encourage anyone interested in seeing this project succeed to attend SDOT’s upcoming open house for the project on October 29th, see the plans up close, and provide feedback on SDOT’s City Center Corridor design.

Monday: Westlake Cycle Track Open House

Westlake Cycle Track Project Area
Westlake Cycle Track Project Area

Are you a bicyclist in Seattle who appreciates not being killed, or nearly killed, when you ride? I certainly am, and if you are too, you should turn up for the Westlake Cycletrack Open House, on Monday, from 5-7 PM, in the gym at B.F. Day elementary school. There will be a presentation at 5:30, followed by an open-house format for feedback. If you can’t attend the open house in person, you can email instead.

Just as the principal way a useful transit network delivers mobility is by high-frequency, reliable, comprehensible service, a bike network needs to provide safety, comfort, and easy wayfinding if its appeal is to extend beyond dedicated, risk-tolerant bikers. Fully-separated cycletracks are how those features are provided on multi-lane arterials, and this cycletrack will be a big step towards making Seattle a city that is genuinely accessible to anyone on a bike. I can’t wait for it to open.

Mayoral Questionnaire

Mt Baker Parking
Diamond Parking Lot at Mt. Baker Station

If you’re still thinking about what to do this election, Feet First’s questionnaire gets into some deep transportation policy specifics in a variety of races. Notable details:

  • Sen. Murray would not commit to funding the Northgate pedestrian bridge over I-5, while Mayor Mcginn would.
  • Murray rightfully ripped the 100′ wide roadway planned for the waterfront.
  • Murray also committed the 75th St bike lane gaffe, before retracting it, as reported by Seattle Bike Blog.

Then there’s Sen. Murray’s answer about Mount Baker station:

The Mount Baker light rail station, as with other stops in South Seattle, suffers from design and infrastructure flaws that hinder pedestrian and Transit Oriented Design more generally.  For instance, the Mount Baker rail station is placed across busy, one-way arterials from retail destinations, and is some distance from connecting Metro transit stops.  Many large, stand-alone commercial and industrial building occupy large parcels near the station, and the station itself is poorly connected to nearby residential areas.  Further, like many neighborhoods in South Seattle, Mount Baker’s sidewalk and street maintenance has been perpetually underfunded.  All of this renders the area much more hospitable to cars than pedestrians, but park-and-ride spaces are not provided at light rail stops.  So, we find ourselves with under-utilized light rail stations and people continuing to drive.

There are some near-term strategies to improve walkability around the Mount Baker station.  We should look at reconfiguring traffic flows along and around the area where Rainier Ave S. and MLK Jr. Way S, and explore whether converting one-way to two-way arterials would make it easier to walk to the station.  But these strategies offer only moderate benefits.  We have to do more.

I honestly don’t think it’s a hugely important for a mayoral candidate to have the details of the Mt. Baker intersection at his fingertips, even if it is the transportation nexus for all of Southeast Seattle. However, it is a bit disconcerting that no one on his team could avoid getting this one exactly backwards: those arterials are currently two-way, and indeed it’s changing them to one-way that provides the best opportunity for making things work better. One way arterials require only one light to be red for them to be safe to cross.

One can certainly forgive the other inaccuracy, because the media has done a terrible job of explaining that there are, in fact, parking spaces available near Mt. Baker and many other Rainier Valley stations; it’s just that drivers have to pay for them, just as they do on the DC Metro and many other systems around the world.

Sawant on Rent Control

I'll take the apartment with plywood boards instead of windows, please.
Sure, I’ll sublet your apartment with plywood boards instead of windows, please.

As I mentioned, Kshama Sawant has come out for rent control, which is a bad idea (I am, however, very appreciative of Sawant for bringing low-income and poverty issues to the front of the debate). I would now like to turn my attention to Sawant’s arguments for rent control, talk about why they are weak, and show why her method of defending her position is a cause for concern. STB asked the Sawant campaign to clarify her position on rent control after the debate last week, and I’ve quoted a few parts of that response.

According to Federal standards, housing qualifies as affordable if its total cost does not exceed 30% of the household’s gross income. By this standard, a single parent working full-time, year-round at Washington’s minimum wage of $9.19/hr can afford no more than $477.88/month in rent. At $15/hour, the minimum wage we are demanding in our campaign, this threshold of affordability jumps to $780/month. Even this is a far cry from $2100/month, the figure that represents the median rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Capitol Hill.

A single-parent who works full time at minimum wage qualifies as “extremely low-income” and would move to the top of the waiting list for low-income housing in the city. They would also receive a housing voucher worth a non-trivial amount, some cases as much as rent. So hopefully this person would not try to find an apartment on Capitol Hill on their own without subsidy. Hopefully this person can also improve their finances by getting EBT. I don’t believe this system is perfect or that we have enough low-income housing or resources for all involved, but I believe this is the way to attack the problem of low-incomes using existing programmes and has nothing to do with rent control. A great way to get more money for these programmes is to increase the property tax base by allowing more construction, as the local funds for these programmes largely come from property-tax levies.

It’s worth noting that the data suggest that rent control benefits the well-connected much better than it benefits the very poor.

Continue reading “Sawant on Rent Control”

Rent Control is Bad for Affordability

Update: this post originally linked to the wrong state law that showed rent control as illegal. Thanks to Stephen F for the pointer.

Kshama Sawant has come out for rent control, as you can see in the debate against Richard Conlin above. The pro-rent-control debate is rather confused in my mind: in the video Sawant mentions San Francisco as a place where rent control as worked, which I think the facts don’t bear out, and I’m not sure it matters anyway because rent control is illegal at the state level and Sawant is running for city council. Still, rent control has been proven as such a terrible idea that I feel like it’s worth calling out that idea specifically, and rather than write one 2,000 word behemoth, I’ll spread it over a few posts. In this post, I’ll go over the basic theory with some data to show why it’s a bad idea.

It’s true rents have gone up quite a bit in Seattle over the last decade or two, from a little more than $700 in 1997 to about $1438 today[1]. In response to that, a tremendous number of units have been built, and more units are going to be built. So far, these units have not been enough to bring supply in-line with demand, which is one reason rents have increased so much[2]. One idea to combat rising prices is to put price controls on rent of some or all of the housing, limiting either the total price, or the rate prices increase. Both of these policies are usually referred to as “rent control”, though limiting the rate of increases is sometimes specifically referred to as “rent stabilisation”. At first glance these seem like an okay way to stop price increases, however, over time, they actually worsen the situation by reducing new housing construction and the create a perverse system of preferential treatment and descrimination.

Rent control reduces the incentives to build new apartments by reducing the amount of money that can be collected from current and apartments. This is rather obvious, for someone who wants to build an apartment, if that unit will be rent controlled, that means less money in the future. Furthermore, rent control on some units creates a possibility that at some future date the non-rent controlled units will switch to be come rent-controlled. This happened several times in New York, where housing units that were exempt from earlier rent controls were brought under the previsions later. Both of these aggravate the affordability situation long-term by decreasing the incentive to create new units. Investors will find other places to put their money (maybe apartments in Portland or Vancouver where there’s no rent control), maybe cheap weekly hotels for those who can’t find apartments.

Continue reading “Rent Control is Bad for Affordability”

Sawant on Light Rail

At last week’s SCCC debate, Erica Barnett suggested Kshama Sawant criticized Conlin for, in Barnett’s words, “supporting an elitist light rail system that only serves three percent of Seattle commuters.” Goldy was also there and didn’t pick that up at all, but now there’s video and you can judge for yourself. (I’m having trouble with the automatic fast forward, but the good stuff starts around 15:23). For the record, the Sawant campaign told me this:

Again: our campaign fully supports the light rail. In fact, it would benefit the city to have the network of stations ready very soon. But if we are to have a serious conversation about transit, then we have to discuss the inequality of access. And as it stands now, transit options are limited or non-existent for the vast majority of people living outside the city center and in the metropolitan area. Many of the people who live there do so because they cannot afford to live in Seattle (due to the out of control cost of housing). But many of them need to commute into Seattle for work. Many neighborhoods in the north and in the south are severely underserviced by transit, and they live away from any light rail station.

For someone who is passionate about light rail in this city, there are things to like and things not to like about what Sawant actually said.

On the good side, she begins with a clear statement of support for Link. Although things are awkwardly phrased, watching the video after the fact it seems clear she’s pivoting to the point is that Link is not sufficient to deal with all the transit needs and displacement issues in the city. This is certainly true and probably something with which Conlin would agree. It’s certainly hard to construe from the statement that she would obstruct light rail construction or expansion.

I might quibble with the 3-5% of residents figure, but I’m also disinclined to sharpshoot vague statistics framed on the fly in a debate. However, much to the chagrin of many people here, Link is headed out to the suburbs before service in Seattle is comprehensive. It will serve people displaced to the suburbs by our timid approach to population growth.

I can’t say if Ms. Sawant would ever use the word “elitist” or not in this context. To me, elitist is the idea of building a light rail line and then severely restricting access by limiting housing supply through zoning. It’s unfair to exclude people, whether it’s by creating artificial scarcity and auctioning to the highest bidder, or artificial scarcity rationed between market rate and heavily subsidized units. If Ms. Sawant believes it’s unjust for people to be driven to the suburbs and far from transit, then justice demands that as many units as possible be built near quality transit, for rich, poor, and those in between.

The Sawant campaign’s full statement below the jump:

Continue reading “Sawant on Light Rail”

News Roundup: Counterfactual Nonsense

RapidRide 4 Line Sign. Flikr user andrewjn_minn.
RapidRide 4 Line Sign. Flikr user andrewjn_minn.

This is an open thread.

2013 General Election Endorsements – Part II

Here are STB’s endorsements in some less prominent races. For an introduction to our endorsement approach and our picks in statewide, King County, and Seattle races, see yesterday’s post.

Bellevue Council Position 2: Lyndon Heywood is a political outsider and novice, but has demonstrated a thorough understanding of walking, biking, and transit’s importance over car dependence. Incumbent Conrad Lee, on the other hand, presided over some of the most unproductive years in Bellevue city council history, largely thanks to the majority’s unwillingness to move on light rail.

Bellevue Council Position 4: Steve Kasner’s experience as a community leader will provide a useful balance on the council. He’s been supportive of light rail and rightly critical of opponent Kevin Wallace, who actively pushed for multiple bad light rail alignments during East Link planning.

Lynne Robinson

Bellevue Council Position 6: Lynne Robinson’s statements on the campaign trail reveal a thoughtful critique of the Bellevue Council’s wildly misplaced priorities. Although it’s too late to truly fix Downtown Bellevue’s station placement, it will be useful to have someone on the council that knows what mistakes to mitigate and will avoid similar errors at stations further East.

Fred Butler

Issaquah Mayor: Fred Butler has been a productive and enthusiastic member of the Sound Transit Board. We are always impressed by local politicians that deeply want rail to serve their jurisdictions but have the maturity to realize that they are not first in line.

Federal Way Mayor: Jim Ferrell has rightfully criticized incumbent Mayor Skip Priest’s tantrum about low Sound Transit tax revenues, where he backed a Republican-led legislative attack on Sound Transit. We can think of no less constructive response to a setback in a project of great significance to South King County’s future.

Federal Way Council 4: Jeanne Burbidge has a long record of participating in key regional transit organizations and is well-versed in the issues that transit faces. Her views on parking, development, and Link alignments are not particularly STB-friendly, but in a Federal Way race her expertise is enough to earn our endorsement.

Jay Arnold

Kirkland Council 1: Jay Arnold’s pro-density positions are courageous in a suburban race, and his history with groups like Futurewise is remarkable. His fearless support of accessory dwelling units, cottage housing, and microhousing deserves your support.

Kirkland Council 7: Incumbent Doreen Marchione has some good work on bike trails and supports a new TOD hub in Totem Lake.

Lake Forest Park Council 1: Hilda Thompson‘s issues page is impressive for a race in a small suburban community. It comes out strongly for transit, pedestrian infrastructure, and — most notably — a variety of housing types to accommodate a wide variety of potential residents. She has worked for STB all-stars Patty Murray and Jessyn Farrell.

John Resha

Lake Forest Park Council 7: John Resha is well versed in transit issues having recently served as council staff liaison for Regional Transit Committee.

Mukilteo Mayor:  Jennifer Gregorson retains our endorsement from the Primary. Her urban planning background and Cascade Bicycle Club endorsements are very promising signs.

State Senate 26th District Special Election: Nathan Schlicher We generally don’t endorse generic Democrats against generic Republicans: you don’t need us to tell you that the former will create a friendlier picture for transit, although both state parties are equally bad about highways. However, this race is important for control in the finely balanced Senate, and the coming few years demand a flurry of legislative action for both the bus agencies and Sound Transit.

There is cause for concern that an undivided legislature will simply result in a terrible highway package coupled to a band-aid for transit. However, we don’t believe this battle is already lost. With Mary Margaret Haugen no longer in charge of Senate Transportation there is an opportunity for real progress on transit issues. Finally, in the coming years we need revenue authority for Sound Transit 3, and it is inconceivable that a Republican Senate would approve it.

Free Rail~Volution Sessions Wednesday

For those of you interested in Rail~Volution but unable to pay the $475 registration fee or unable to attend the entirety of the RailVolutionconference, Rail~Volution has a “Free Local Session” tomorrow from 2-5pm. The sessions will have  a TOD focus, and one in particular may be of interest to STB readers: “There is no TOD without the T: Making Funding Sustainable”. This session gives attendees the chance to hear state and county legislators speak on transit funding strategies in front of a decidedly pro-transit audience, including Pierce County Exec Pat McCarthy, Sen. Curtis King, Rep. Judy Clibborn, and County Councilmember Larry Phillips.

Details below the jump…

Continue reading “Free Rail~Volution Sessions Wednesday”

2013 General Election Endorsements – Part I

Here are Seattle Transit Blog’s 2013 General Election Endorsements. As always, these endorsements are meant to entirely depend on a candidate’s positions and record on transit and land use, and generally looks for a clear difference on these issues beyond the generic Democrat-over-Republican default preference on transit. We also only endorse in contested races. The current Editorial Board consists of Martin H. Duke and Matthew Johnson.

Today, we cover the statewide, King County, and Seattle races. Part II, with races in smaller cities, will come later this week.

Dow Constantine

King County Executive: Dow Constantine has been an excellent and uncontroversial Executive, the single most important office for transit. He has made a good start on steering the Metro battleship in a better direction.

Rod Dembowski

King County Council District 1: Rod Dembowski has had a great start on the Council’s Regional Transit Committee and deserves another term.

King County Council District 5: Dave Upthegrove has been one of the more transit and environmentally minded members of the House. For a suburban politician, he is remarkably disinclined to pour more asphalt as a solution to transportation problems.

Mike McGinn

Seattle Mayor: Not much has changed since we endorsed Mike McGinn in the Primary Election. He still has a strong record of backing aggressive transit improvements and allowing more people to live here, even if he has a recent tendency to attach new conditions to development. Meanwhile, Senator Ed Murray’s record in Olympia doesn’t shed much light on Seattle issues, nor has the campaign produced detailed policy proposals. When he has done a deep dive, as with subarea equity and cycle tracks, the results have been mildly disconcerting. Under the circumstances, we see no reason to abandon an incumbent with whom we agree almost totally.

Richard Conlin

Seattle Council Position 2: We reiterate our support for incumbent Richard Conlin, who has been the strongest advocate for environmentally sustainable growth on the Council and the source of insightful critiques on the Sound Transit Board. Kshama Sawant is not particularly focused on these issues, and when she does address them slips all too easily into anti-developer rhetoric. She evidently views housing affordability as a problem of insufficient subsidy and regulation rather than insufficient supply. We recognize that some of you are going to vote for Sawant based on her social justice agenda — which is obviously your prerogative, and not something we’re considering here. Just be aware that you’ll be retiring the most unabashedly pro-density member of the Council.

Seattle Council Position 4: Sally Bagshaw is one of the better members of the Council on transit issues and is facing an unserious candidate.

Mike O’Brien

Seattle Council Position 8: Mike O’Brien is solid on transit and not operating under the illusion that Seattle has to cater to cars at every opportunity.

Seattle Proposed Charter Amendment #19: NO. In principle, we believe that voters must evaluate too many elected officials, and moving to districts would help alleviate that. However, in a district-based scheme the power largely lies with whomever draws the districts. When the number of districts is also a variable, the potential for gerrymandering is immense. In this case, prominent figures on the YES campaign include anti-transit, anti-bike businesswoman Faye Garneau; and John Fox, a housing activist who opposes everything Seattle Transit Blog stands for. We can only assume that these figures are competent enough to back a measure whose district lines will advance their political interests, which is reason enough to vote no.

Initiative 517: NO. The latest Tim Eyman-related offering will continue to abuse the initiative process to thwart responsible budgeting. The initiative system is a tool to gut the transit system, not to build it, and we’d like to make it harder for that to happen in the future.

Advisory Vote No. 6: MAINTAIN. The Legislature repealed a special retail sales tax exemption for telecommunications services. Expanding the sales tax base is good economics and brings more revenue for transit. Another $2m per year, by our estimate, for Metro won’t solve everything but it helps. Vote to maintain, confusingly, in order to eliminate the tax break. This vote is advisory but a clear signal that the voters are behind the legislature will encourage more actions like this.

Link: Before & After

2011 Was a Long Time Ago.  Photo from Wings777/Flickr - ST Link 122A
2011 Was a Long Time Ago. Photo from Wings777/Flickr – ST Link 122A

Along with local revenue, Central Link was built using money from the Federal Government.  As part of the $500 million Full Funding Agreement with Sound Transit the Federal Transit Administration required a Before & After Study.  The study compared transit ridership in the the corridor from the fall of 2011 (two years after the opening of the line) to the fall of 2008 (one year before the opening of the line) and to agency projections.  The initial report was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration in July of 2012.  The Federal Transit Administration responded with some desired changes.  A Before & After study was a recent addition to Federal Transit Administration grant requirements, so this was uncharted territory for Sound Transit.  According to Sound Transit Spokesperson Bruce Gray:

The changes came from FTA feedback asking for a more “apples to apples” comparison of predicted ridership vs. actual.  The earlier draft used ridership estimates for the project as planned from NE 45th Street to S. 200th for the earliest project planning milestones, and from Westlake to Tukwila International Blvd. for the FFGA [Full Funding Grant Agreement] milestone.  The latest draft reflects the ridership ST would have predicted using the same information that was available at the time of those milestones for the project from downtown to SeaTac/Airport.

Last spring Sound Transit sent the final report to the Federal Transit Administration.  The earlier draft of the Before & After Study is here, the final draft here.  The latest report is well worth a read.  More below the fold. Continue reading “Link: Before & After”