Scott Kubly Named New SDOT Director

Mayor Murray names Kubly as SDOT Director
Mayor Murray names Kubly as SDOT Director

Office of the Mayor blog:

“Scott is a transportation visionary,” said Murray. “He has a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses. He’s also a transportation renaissance man who’s virtually done it all: he’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability. Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities.” 

Kubly worked as a lieutenant to Gabe Klein, who recently ran DOT in DC and Chicago, both cities that have done interesting things to improve the multi-modal experience lately. Streetsblog has a good retrospective of Klein’s tenure there, in which Kubly played a major role as Deputy Commissioner.  Kubly is currently serving as acting president of Alta Bike Share, which operates bicycle sharing programs in many cities, soon to be including Seattle.  See more coverage in PubliCola and Crosscut.

Bellevue Shows the Way on Capital Projects

On Tuesday, we talked a bit about Bellevue’s great new Transit Master Plan, which is expected to be adopted next Monday by the Bellevue City Council.  The plan’s final detailed product (which is very far from the only useful thing we got out of the process) is divided into two pieces: a “Transit Service Vision Report” laying out a detailed vision of a frequent, gridded Bellevue bus network, and a “Transit Capital Vision Report” which describes capital projects necessary to make Bellevue’s service vision workable and efficient.  In October, we covered the network report in some detail.  This post is about the capital projects report, which is equally worthy of attention.  Other local jurisdictions should pay close attention to Bellevue’s approach to capital projects, because it presents a logical, orderly path toward making a city in which transit trips are safe, easy, and practical from end to end.

The report is divided into four sections which, together, cover the entirety of a transit trip.  This is already a welcome departure from most municipal transit plans, which tend to focus exclusively on the on-vehicle aspects of transit planning.  Read about each section below the jump.

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4th of July Schedules

photo:  Wikimedia
photo: Wikimedia

This Friday, July 4th, will see every transit agency in the region running on a holiday schedule, which in most cases means their Sunday schedule.

Metro, ST Express, Pierce Transit, and Everett Transit buses will be running on their Sunday schedule. Both Central Link and Tacoma Link will also be running on their Sunday schedule. For bus routes, you are advised to check for re-routes.

Tacoma Link will only be running every 24 minutes, and shut down approximately 6 p.m. The last southbound Central Link train leaves Westlake Station at 11:50 p.m., as is customary on Sundays, but will continue all the way to Seatac Airport Station.

Community Transit and Kitsap Transit buses will not be running. Sounder trains and the Vashon Foot Ferry will also not be running.

Some added evening service is planned for the South Lake Union Streetcar before and after the fireworks show. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., service is scheduled every 15 minutes. From about 7:30 p.m. until about fireworks show time at 10:15 p.m., the streetcar will operate every 10-15 minutes, with service stopping temporarily during the fireworks show to better position streetcars at South Lake Union Park to carry passengers exiting the event. After the fireworks show, southbound streetcars will only travel non-stop to the Westlake hub, and return non-stop to South Lake Union to pick up additional customers exiting the event. Service will conclude by midnight.

The West Seattle Water Taxi will be operating on an extended Sunday schedule. The last departure from Pier 50 on the Seattle waterfront will be at 10:30 p.m. and the last departure from Seacrest Park in West Seattle will be at 11 p.m. The free West Seattle shuttles – Routes 773 and 775 – will operate on a normal Sunday schedule.

Washington State Ferries has a route-by-route breakdown of service changes and advice on when to travel.

There will be fireworks shows all over the region, but none larger than the aforementioned Lake Union show, with festivities going on all day at Gas Works Park and South Lake Union Park. Arrive very early if you want to find space at either park, but crowds tend to ring the lake from all public viewpoints well before 10 p.m., and the buses are always very slow getting through the crowds afterward. So, don’t depend on making a connection.

Commute Seattle Launches Creative Commute Contest

Web Snip for STB
Screenshot from Commute Seattle

There are many commuter campaigns that seek to reward commuters and boost their morale/enthusiasm. Most campaigns of this type require some sort of trip logging on a calendar, such as the statewide Wheel Options, Cascade’s Commute Challenge, or the McGinn-era WalkBikeRide.

Commute Seattle has launched a contest called Creative Commute, foregoing the somewhat stale trip-logging precedent for something a bit more qualitative and participatory. The Creative Commute contest asks Seattle commuters to share what they love about their commutes via their choice of digital media, whether videos, photos, poems/haikus, essays, storyboards, comics, etc. The entries will be judged for creativity and originality, and will be shared on Commute Seattle’s website and on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Video entries will be uploaded to YouTube.

The Grand Prize winner will take home their choice of an electric assist bicycle or an iPad Air. 2nd Place will win $250 to spend at REI, and 49 runners up with take home $50 to REI.

Eligibility: Entrants must work in the City of Seattle and entries must feature a commute mode other than driving alone
Deadline: Entries must be received by August 31
Accepted File Types: txt, doc/docx, pdf, jpg, gif, png, jpeg, mp4, mts, avi

Commute Seattle’s Media Release after the jump…
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Seattle Council Delays Streetcar Vote

fullcouncil20140630_2.8On Monday the Seattle Council first considered legislation that designates a “Preferred Alternative” for the Downtown Connector (also known as the First Avenue Streetcar) that would join the First Hill and South Lake Union Streetcar lines.

There was no drama on Monday. Councilmember Nick Licata requested a delay until the next Council meeting on July 21st, so that SDOT would have an opportunity to answer questions about some “issues” with the line. Mr. Licata expressed an interest in the comparison of alternate modes and what other projects might also be eligible for Federal Small Starts funding. Although in principle other modes could serve this corridor, given that two streetcar lines will already exist the transfer penalty is likely to be prohibitive.

The Council unanimously agreed to the delay, as SDOT would not apply for the Federal grant until early 2016. The grant may cover as much as $75m of the estimated $110m cost of the line. The legislation in no way funds construction of the line.

The preferred alternative (poorly xeroxed above) involves five new stops, and center-running, dedicated right of way with signal priority throughout the new segment. There will be two overlapping lines: Lake Union to King Street Station and Westlake to Capitol Hill. Each of these lines would have 10 minute headways every day through 7pm, and 15-20 minutes in the early morning and in the evening. Obviously, in the downtown core streetcars would come twice as often. The hours of operation would be Link-like, 5am-1am Monday-Saturday and 6am-11pm Sundays.

Frequent, all-day, high-capacity transit with priority, level boarding, drivers apart from passengers, and off-board payment is literally everything SDOT can do to make a transit line high-quality, short of grade-separating and boosting costs by an order of magnitude. Decisionmakers deserve our thanks for not finding excuses to shortchange transit, as they so often have in the past. With luck, the same principles can apply to the SLU, Jackson, and Broadway segments, where they are currently so lacking.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said SDOT expects the line to have 23,000-30,000 riders per day.

Fare Enforcement Incident Results in Shooting

During yesterday’s rush hour a sheriff’s deputy shot a Link passenger after a fare enforcement officer escorted him off the train at Sodo, and the passenger allegedly drew a handgun.

The incident and subsequent investigation diverted all buses off the Sodo busway. The scene split Link into two segments with a bus bridge operating between the two for about four hours.  According to ST spokesman Bruce Gray, the call to start the bus bridge was at 4:47, about 20 min after they got notice to hold trains. I’m guessing that’s when it was clear that police were not going to allow single tracking through the scene.”

Mr. Gray noted that getting the bus bridge started during the evening rush is “tricky” given that Metro has few spare operators or buses. Nevertheless, 8 buses ran between Stadium and Beacon Hill for 4 hours. He also said “there was quite a bit of discussion” about running trains nonstop through Sodo, which would obviously have been operationally simpler and more efficient for passengers. ST defers to the police in these cases, who decided against having passengers ride right by a crime scene with a body on the platform for about two hours.

Fare enforcement, though routine, is also somewhat dangerous. At the same time, it’s far better that the enforcement falls on a trained security professional than a driver with numerous other responsibilities and skills.

Discussion of guns, police use of force, and general criminal pathologies are off topic for this post.

Bellevue City Council Considers Transit Master Plan

RapidRide B
RapidRide B to Bellevue. Photo by Kris Leisten.

Transportation planners at the City of Bellevue have been working for several years on a comprehensive update to the city’s 2003 Transit Master Plan (TMP) and those efforts are likely to bear fruit on Monday when the Bellevue City Council votes on adopting the final product.  We’ve covered the city’s ongoing work on the TMP a couple of times in these pages.  In 2012, Sherwin described the process and gave readers a sneak peek into planners’ thinking.  Last October, I covered the Transit Service Vision report, which is the piece of the overall plan that is focused on network planning.  The new TMP goes well beyond network design, though, encompassing capital planning; political priorities for service improvement; a holistic approach to multimodal trip generation; and a realistic assessment of existing baseline conditions.

We are big fans of the thorough planning approach Bellevue is using in this process, and we hope other local jurisdictions will take some inspiration from it.  Bellevue isn’t a place that has always been known for transit friendliness, but this work will make it a–arguably the–regional leader in transit planning.  There is a remarkable amount of consensus in the City Council around the TMP, with even transit-skeptical members such as Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace applauding most of the work and sounding friendly to some transit investment.  Of course, it’s worth remembering that a master plan is not a budget, and that few of the improvements the TMP recommends are funded.  Still, a cohesive vision is likely to make funding much easier in the future.

As next week’s council vote nears, we’ll have another post highlighting the capital improvements in the new TMP.  Below the jump, we summarize the pieces of the new TMP, the priorities that have shaped it, and the reasons it’s a remarkable piece of work.

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