ORCA LIFT and Fare Increases Being Considered for ST Express and Sounder

Update: Geoff at ST pointed out that the Tacoma Link streetcar fare is set to go up automatically in September 2016, unless a funder (such as the Tacoma Business Improvement Area has been doing) covers the revenue ST would gain from installing fare collection equipment and collecting fares.

ORCA LIFT on ST ExpressA menu of proposals will be considered by the Sound Transit Board to honor the ORCA LIFT low-income reduced fare program on ST Express and Sounder. The proposals involve fare increases on these services, partially to offset the administrative costs and lost fare revenue from the LIFT program, and partially to keep up with increased operational costs, including inflation. Any fare changes would take effect March 1, 2016.

For ST Express, the options under consideration are:
1. No fare change at this time.
2. Increase fares across all categories by 25 cents, and create a new LIFT fare category for ST Express routes that serve only King County, matching the freshly-increased youth fare, $1.50. The ORCA LIFT fare would only be honored on routes 522, 540-567, and 577.
3. Increase fares across all categories by 25 cents, and create a new LIFT fare category for ST Express, matching the freshly-increased youth fare of $1.50 1-county, and $2.75 multi-county.

For Sounder, the options under consideration are:
1. No fare change at this time.
2. Increase fares for full-paying adults and youth by 50 cents, and seniors and riders with disabilities by 25 cents, without honoring ORCA LIFT.
3. Increase fares for full-paying adults and youth by 50 cents, and seniors and riders with disabilities by 25 cents, create a new LIFT fare category for Sounder, and match the LIFT fare to the freshly-raised youth fare.

Decisions on each service could be made independently of the other service, but won’t be made until the ST Board meeting on Thursday, November 19. The announcement lists several options for providing feedback, including an online survey, with a comment period opening Saturday, September 19 (today) and closing Thursday, November 12. There will be a hearing on the proposals at noon on Thursday, November 5, at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St. Continue reading “ORCA LIFT and Fare Increases Being Considered for ST Express and Sounder”

News Roundup: Town Hall


This is an open thread.

SPONSOR: Move Seattle levy subject of live, televised forum, Sept. 29

This is a sponsored post.

In a growing city with an aging transportation system, will Seattle voters support a $930 million property tax measure this November to Move Seattle?

Seattle Speaks, a live, televised community forum, will consider the biggest levy in Seattle history — $930 million over nine years. The Move Seattle transportation levy, paid for through a property tax, replaces the existing Bridging the Gap transportation levy that expires at the end of this year.

Seattle Channel host Brian Callanan will lead the discussion, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave. Seattle Speaks is presented by Seattle CityClub, Seattle Channel and Town Hall Seattle.

Joining the panel discussion in support of the levy proposal are Andrew Glass Hastings, transportation advisor to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Speaking against the measure are Eugene Wasserman of the Keep Seattle Affordable opposition campaign and Fremont business owner Suzie Burke.

Continue reading “SPONSOR: Move Seattle levy subject of live, televised forum, Sept. 29”

More Trains, More Buses: September 26th is a Historic Day for Seattle’s Transit

Route 70: 15 Minute Service, 7 Days Per Week, 6am-Midnight (Atomic Taco – Flickr)

[Correction: In the original post I incorrectly stated that Routes 522 and 577 were only gaining 2 trips and 1 trip, respectively. They are actually gaining 3 trips each during peak periods. The table below has been updated.]

While June’s Prop-1 funded transit service additions were welcome and badly needed, many of them were the unsexiest of fixes: more layover time, schedule stretching for reliability, added trips here or there. But beginning next Saturday, Prop 1 will fully be in effect, and if you care about spontaneous mobility through frequent transit it’s truly a red-letter day. Beginning September 26, Seattle will be the closest it’s ever been to being a place where you can count on frequent transit service, 7 days per week.

In another ‘growth dividend’, the booming regional economy is also enabling Metro to add service on its own, doing things such as boosting Rapid Ride E from 12 minute service to 10 minutes. Read the whole package here, but below are some highlights of what you have to look forward to:

More Link Service: Sound Transit will run 25% more peak-hour trains, arriving every 6 minutes instead of every 7.5 minutes. To make room in the tunnel, routes 76, 77, 216, 218, 219, and 316 will move to surface streets. All Issaquah service will now share a common pathway on 2nd/4th avenues.

No More ‘Reduced Weekday’ Service: Buses will now run regular weekday service on minor holidays such as Veteran’s Day, the Day After Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, MLK Day, and Presidents Day. That means more service on routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 36, 40, 41, 43, 44, 50, 56, 60, 64, 70, 76, 77, 124, 131, 132, 522, 540, 542, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556, 560, 566, 577, and 578.

Massive Systemwide Frequency Upgrades: Most core routes will now feature frequent service on Saturdays, and many (such as 5, 21, 40, 41) will have frequent Sunday service too. The 70-series gets a huge boost and is simplified, with the 70 running frequently 7 days per week, and the 71/72/73 becoming full-time express routes. There’s even brand new service that doesn’t exist today, such as Saturday service on Route 67 and Sunday service on Route 68.

Many other small changes are in store too. Community Transit will not add any service, but will stretch its peak commuter schedules at a cost of $2M, strictly due to congestion on I-5. Sounder schedules will stretch a bit to account for Positive Train Control, providing later departures for the 4 daily trains that originate/terminate in Tacoma rather than Lakewood. Downtown Seattle layovers and peak alignments will shift significantly, with many routes no longer using Stewart St, different routes using 9th/Pine for layover, and more. Please check your route to be aware of your specific changes.

But the overall picture is more transit for more people, and we’re just getting started. Consider this your pre-ULink appetizer, and thank you to Seattle voters for approving Prop 1.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 7.31.32 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 7.31.56 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.50.23 PM

County Council Begins ULink Restructure Deliberations

4-Car Train at Capitol Hill Station (Photo by the Author)
4-Car Train at Capitol Hill Station (Photo by the Author)

Yesterday, the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment (TrEE) Committee had their first briefing over two March 2016 service change ordinances. The first ordinance (Ordinance 2015-0349, Pages 287-358) dealt with suburban changes such as extending Route 200 to Swedish-Issaquah, looking at Alternative Services in Enumclaw, and the Prop 1-funded split of Rapid Ride C and D and their respective extensions into South Lake Union and Pioneer Square. The second (much larger) ordinance (2015-0350, Pages 359-599) is the big ULink Restructure that we have covered extensively. Let’s take each one in turn.

More after the jump. Continue reading “County Council Begins ULink Restructure Deliberations”

Backyard Cottages: Charming but Insufficient

lanefabulous - 42

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) seem to be the one form of infill that just about everyone can get behind.  Even after pulling back on his earlier support for allowing more flexible construction in single family zones, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, for example, is still a big proponent of the ADU, as you can see on his website.  A “backyard cottage” sounds so non-threatening, who could possible oppose it?

However, despite their attractiveness to many stakeholders, very few actual ADUs have actually been built in the city (159 as of last December).  Despite efforts by O’Brien and others to streamline the process by providing pre-fab designs and other supports (which I’ve praised), ADUs haven’t taken off.   There are good reasons for this.  Many single family home owners simply don’t have the estimated $55,000 sitting in a bank account.  Furthermore, many lots are irregularly shaped, limiting the utility of pre-fab designs.

One option would be to allow an investor – someone with access to capital – to buy a property, build an ADU, and rent out both units, but unfortunately that’s currently illegal (though that could change as part of the HALA process).  In the current context, then, saying “we need more ADUs” is a bit like saying “we need to bring more jobs back home.” Unless you’ve got a plan to change the fundamental economics, it’s just cheap talk.

Now comes a timely Globe & Mail article from our neighbors to the North in Vancouver, BC, who seem to have reached a limit on ADUs (or “laneway houses”, as they’re called) in certain neighborhoods (via @MarketUrbanism):

…on the west side, laneway houses just aren’t serving their intended purpose. They aren’t marketable to the new offshore buyer, who generally wants a garage instead of a rental stream, she says. Most people who build a laneway on the west side have a very specific purpose, such as providing housing for a disabled or elderly relative.

“If someone has gone to the expense of spending $300,000 on a laneway house, I hope they don’t feel it’s adding value to their 80-year-old house,” she says. “Because unless he can convert that to a garage, the new owner will take that house down. It won’t be what the new owner wants.

($300k? Unless the exchange rate’s gone to hell again, Laneway houses are clearly bigger in Vancouver.)

As single-family homes become more valuable, one might expect similar results here in Seattle.  If you don’t need the money, and don’t have an elderly relative, why go through the trouble of being a landlord when you can have a  bigger backyard or a garage instead?  Or, better yet, tear down that aging, 1,500 square foot bungalow and build a modern, 3,500 square foot home instead.  That’s what current zoning laws seem to be driving toward, anyway.

Which is why, in the long term, we can’t preserve affordable housing by retaining single-family zoning.  Eventually the land in centrally-located, transit-adjacent neighborhoods will become so desirable that the house itself will be a rounding error.  Over the next few decades, many of Seattle’s single-family houses will be torn down whether we re-zone or not. The ones that are left will be gutted, renovated, and completely unaffordable. Back to Vancouver:

“Knock down a house and replace it with a bigger building for a single family … is hardly in line with our city’s goals to become more sustainable,” Mr. Yan says. “But knock it down and replace it with two family homes that are sensitive to the neighbourhood context, I’m okay with that one. And the family amenities are already there.”

Sounds about right.  All of which is not to say ADUs are a bad idea. They’re great! But they’re just one part of an overall affordability toolkit. Relaxing owner-occupancy requirements on the primary unit, so that both could be rented out, would be a sensible next step in getting more of them built.

Podcast: Developer Taxes and the Minimum Wage

Martin regrets that circumstances forced him to use a microphone that makes listening to him even more unpleasant than usual.

Subscribe via RSS

UPDATE: podcast link fixed

Smart Cards, Fare Caps, and Expanded Open Payment Coming to Portland/Vancouver

Hop_Fastpass_logoTriMet, the Portland Streetcar, and C-Tran (Vancouver, WA) have announced the name of the new smart fare payment system coming in 2017: Hop Fastpass. The name derives from a community engagement process in which Portlanders wanted to promote their craft brewery industry.

The Hop Fastpass will be groundbreaking, at least as far as transit systems in the US go, in several ways:

  • A daily fare cap: Once riders reach the value of a day pass (currently $5, or $2.50 for reduced-fare payers), that is all they have to pay that day.
  • A monthly fare cap: Once riders reach the value of a monthly pass (currently $100, or $28 for reduced-fare payers), they won’t have to pay any more that month.
  • The card readers will also accept Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and contactless bank cards.
  • The daily and monthly caps will only be available on the Hop card.

    TriMet unveiled their mobile ticket app a year ago, and have sold over 5 million mobile tickets. Dallas Area Rapid Transit was the first transit agency in the US to implement mobile payment, but originally on its trains only. TriMet is the first to do so on trains and buses. DART is now offering mobile payment on buses as well.

    Less Driving, Better Human Health

    Gauchetière Street, pedestrian section (take 2), Montreal 2005-10-21.JPG
    “Gauchetière Street, pedestrian section (take 2), Montreal 2005-10-21” by No machine readable author provided. Gene.arboit assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Discussions about density, transit, biking, and pedestrians generally center on two issues: the implications for low-income people and environmental impact. Lest we forget the enormous public health implications of these policies, The Economist has some encouraging figures ($):

    London’s authorities calculate that if every Londoner switched to walking for trips under 2km, and to cycling for trips of 2-8km, the share who got enough exercise to remain healthy simply by getting around would rise from 25% to 60%. That would amount to 61,500 years of healthy life gained each year.

    Obviously, most Londoners are going to have more short trips than most Seattle residents since stuff is simply closer together. And since walking and bicycling are often unsafe in Seattle, collisions with cars while using these modes would probably claw back some of the health gains. But a directed policy of densification and ped/bike safety would have large, positive economic and quality-of-life implications.

    In a companion article, the magazine shares a less London-specific finding ($):

    Even a little exercise has a huge health effect, whether or not people shed their extra pounds. Research presented on August 30th at a cardiology conference in London suggests that walking fast for 25 minutes a day can buy three to seven years of extra life. A bigger study by a team at Cambridge University tracked 300,000 Europeans over 12 years, and found that a brisk daily 20-minute walk, or the equivalent, cut the annual death rate for people of normal weight by a quarter, and for the obese by 16%. Getting everyone sedentary to do this would save twice as many lives as ending obesity, says Ulf Ekelund, the lead researcher.

    Many readers here probably recognize about 20 minutes of brisk walking inherent in their use of transit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that transit agencies should deliberately increase the amount of walking their customers do — encouraging ridership through practical usability trumps enforced exercise — but sometimes the time penalty of using transit can be a feature, not a bug.

    Improved Transit/Walkability/Bikability Coming for Husky Football


    Sound Transit photo of the opening of the pedestrian/bike bridge over Montlake, first featured in the Seattle Bike Blog

    Link Light Rail service remains something to look forward to in 2016. However, the new pedestrian/bike bridge from UW Station to the rest of campus is now open.

    Also coming in 2016:

    • Mid-day Saturday frequency on Metro route 48 may increase to every 10 minutes (but with the northern portion split off as route 45, and still running every 15 minutes on Saturdays);
    • Routes 67 and 372 may start running on Saturdays, every 15 minutes mid-day;
    • Route 75 may increase Saturday mid-day frequency to every 15 minutes;

    This is IF the county council votes to accept the proposed Metro route restructures. Take a moment to submit online testimony and encourage your county council member to say Yes to the bus restructures that will substantially increase access to Husky Stadium, and to Link Light Rail.

    And now, back to our regular programming…

    The University of Washington home football season starts this Saturday. There will be cash shuttles from 320th St Park & Ride in Federal Way, Eastgate P&R, Houghton P&R, Kingsgate P&R, NE 100th St near Northgate Transit Center, Shoreline P&R, South Kirkland P&R, and South Renton P&R. The shuttles are free if you hold a UW Athletics season pass, but $5 cash otherwise.

    Regular bus routes serving Husky Stadium or Stevens Way on Saturdays include King County Metro routes 31, 32, 43, 44, 48, 65, 68, 75, and 271. You can also get to the SR 520 / Montlake flyer stop on Metro route 255 and ST Express 545.

    Check out the map below for post-game pick-up staging areas:

    Husky Stadium staging areas

    Thank you for your patience. Next year will be a game-changer for getting to and from Husky Stadium quickly, assuming the county council gives the green light.

    News Roundup: Scattered

    First Hill streetcars lie in wait

    This is an open thread.

    Freeway Project Eliminates CT Service at Marysville II Park & Ride

    The Marysville II P&R just before the arrival of the last northbound 422 of the day (photo by author)

    The Tulalip Tribes, in cooperation with WSDOT, the FHWA, Snohomish County and the City of Marysville, is currently rebuilding the 116th Street NE interchange on I-5, one of the two primary access points for the reservation’s outlet mall and casino complex. The current interchange, built in 1971 and handling traffic far beyond its capacity, also includes a pair of Community Transit bus stops adjacent to a small park-and-ride lot. Though the 57-space lot and interchange only see 4 trips per day from Stanwood to Seattle (Route 422) and Paine Field (Route 247), The Everett Herald reported in June that its spots are regularly full by 8 a.m.

    The completed interchange will be the third single-point urban interchange (abbreviated as SPUI), in the Puget Sound region, with the other two at I-705/SR509 in Tacoma and at I-5/41st Street in Everett. SPUIs require a single signalized intersection with three light cycles, but due to the lack of thru lanes they do not facilitate quick reentry to the interstate and are thus incompatible with transit flyer stops.

    A Double Tall on route 422 and the two cranes tasked with the erection of a new NE 116th Street overpass (photo by author)

    In an email, a representative from Community Transit explained that the park and ride would instead be used by carpool and vanpool users after the stops are permanently closed. An email to the project team at the Tulalip Tribes was not returned.

    Continue reading “Freeway Project Eliminates CT Service at Marysville II Park & Ride”

    Move Seattle Kicks Off: Get Involved for Better Transit

    Photo by the Author
    Photo by the Author

    At a Tuesday morning press conference from the last timber-supported bridge in Seattle – a 500′ long structure that carries Fairview Ave E into South Lake Union – Mayor Murray formally kicked off the Move Seattle campaign effort. Flanked by a diverse coalition of interests including Transportation Choices Coalition, Puget Sound Sage, the Downtown Seattle Association, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, Mayor Murray repeatedly hit themes of access, equity, Vision Zero, and investment to sell the $930m levy that would supplant the expiring Bridging the Gap Levy.

    Later that evening at Spitfire Grill for the campaign kickoff, Mayor Murray, SDOT Director Scott Kubly, DSA President Jon Scholes, and TCC’s Shefali Ranganathan energized a surprisingly raucous crowd while appealing for donations of time and funds. Proving that Seattle’s penchant for lovable nerdiness knows no bounds, Peddler Brewing Company’s Haley Woods took the mic and said that reading the project list filled her with literal tears of joy, prompting Mayor Murray to quip (paraphrased), “If only I’d known when I was back in the legislature that transportation project lists could bring people to tears. That makes me want to hang out with you.”

    Opposition to the levy is scattered but also relatively well funded, with names such as Eugene Wasserman and Faye Garneau leading the Keep Seattle Affordable opposition campaign, for which Garneau alone has contributed $50,000 (90% of total contributions). Prior to last night’s kickoff, the Move Seattle campaign had raised $32,750, with the Downtown Seattle Association, Urban Visions, and Urban Renaissance Group kicking in 75% of that. It’s clear that the general public has not engaged much with the proposal yet, on either side.  As with any campaign, they are seeking donations and volunteers for phonebanking and doorbelling.

    So what’s in the levy and what does it mean for you? The levy is substantially the same as when we last reported on the proposal, with some tinkering around the margins. The project list is visionary and expansive, strongly investing across all modes and in all council districts. City leaders have spoken of a ‘growth dividend’ made possible by higher home values and a growing population, permitting a funding level that is nearly triple Bridging the Gap while still keeping the median additional tax burden to $12 per month. The $930m levy will be leveraged by $285m in current appropriations and an estimated $564m in external funding such as grants, leading to a $1.8B project list.

    Project highlights after the jump. Continue reading “Move Seattle Kicks Off: Get Involved for Better Transit”

    TONIGHT: Show Your Support for HALA

    If you live in Seattle, I strongly encourage11225268_10205677861000609_2067042418042894472_n you to show up and listen or comment at tonight’s city council hearing on the Housing Affordability and Livability Committee’s recommendations, which have come under attack from single-family protectionists. Tonight’s public hearing will help the council decide which of the 65 recommendations to set in motion. It will take turnout, support, and continued pressure from urbanists like you and me to ensure they make the right decision and keep the most critical elements of HALA intact.

    Iterations of the term “urbanist” have been hotly debated recently (I prefer “reality-based urbanist” myself), but the bottom line is that we all want to ensure that everyone in Seattle–not just wealthy single-family homeowners, not just Amazonian imports, not just those who got here first, but everyone–can live in safe, affordable housing in the city.

    This fight is critical, because the council is under tremendous pressure to abandon the very recommendations that will have the most positive impact on affordability. Mayor Ed Murray and several key council members have already abandoned a major, symbolically important HALA recommendation, which would have allowed a greater diversity of housing types (such as duplexes and townhomes) in the 65 percent of Seattle’s land mass that’s currently reserved exclusively for detached single-family homes. Murray, along with council president Tim Burgess and council land-use committee chair Mike O’Brien, walked back their support for that recommendation after angry property owners and neighborhood activists flooded city inboxes with letters of protest and crowded council meetings to voice their complaints about the changes.

    I believe that most of the city supports the principles behind the HALA proposals, even if they aren’t familiar with the details, for one simple reason: they provide more affordable housing. Mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would require developers to build affordable housing on site in exchange for the right to build more densely, combined with a new linkage fee on commercial development, would provide 6,000 units of set-aside affordable housing. Other key measures in HALA would expand the boundaries of urban villages to reflect current and future walkability and transit access, increasing supply and limiting the growth of housing costs (which is true no matter how much some progressives insist that supply and demand does not exist).

    The opposition to HALA, which has described population growth as a cancer and have suggested single-family homeowners and neighborhood activists should “take back Seattle,” is organized, motivated, and can turn out plenty of people with the means and time to attend midday hearings when most of us are working. Nighttime meetings like this are an ideal opportunity for HALA supporters to show that we, too, deserve a voice at City Hall and in the future of our city.

    King County Explores New Water Taxi Routes

    Water Taxis in West Seattle, photo by Zack Heistand

    King County is considering adding more water taxi routes. Last week, the County Council’s TrEE Committee (Transportation, Economy and Environment) reviewed an interim report looking into expansion of the service.

    The interim report screened 36 potential routes serving 17 terminal locations on Lake Washington and the King County shore of Puget Sound. Just three of these met criteria for travel time and operational cost recovery. The routes were:

    * Kenmore (Log Boom Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
    * Kirkland (Marina Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
    * Ballard (Shilshole Marina) to Downtown Seattle (Pier 50).

    The screening criteria are forgiving. Water taxis were considered time-competitive where the round trip differential compared to available transit was less than forty minutes. Seven routes meeting that threshold were evaluated for ridership and operating costs. Those projected to achieve less than 10% farebox recovery at startup, or 25% recovery at maturity (ten years after startup) were then eliminated, leaving three routes for further consideration.

    Potential routes identified for further study.

    Will riders favor water taxis over other transit modes with better travel times? The round-trip time penalties for water taxi are 21 minutes for Kirkland-UW, 26 minutes for Kenmore-UW, and 29 minutes for Ballard-Downtown Seattle. The report argues that riders might prefer “the enhanced experience of riding a water taxi, a guaranteed seat, on-board restrooms, and great scenic views”.  A water taxi might also have less variable travel times. In contrast, the current West Seattle-Downtown service has travel times similar to surface transit. Vashon is only accessible by ferry, and the water taxi (22 minutes) is nearly three times faster than Metro Route 118 via the Washington State Ferries (63 minutes).

    Continue reading “King County Explores New Water Taxi Routes”

    Top 6 Ways to Improve King Street Station

    King Street Station Interior – Photo by Gordon Werner
    King Street Station Interior – Photo by Gordon Werner

    King Street Station’s much needed $55m restoration did much to heal the decades of architectural and functional neglect that had turned the 1906 landmark into a 60s-era eyesore. The expansive waiting room is now beautiful and grandiose in an austere sort of way, the white and beige palette imposing a coldness nicely balanced by the warmth of yellow light.

    But aesthetics alone don’t make a good train station. Its primary function is as a transportation facility, to efficiently facilitate human travel while comfortably providing basic human needs such as restrooms, food, drink, and safety. On these counts, there remains much work to be done.

    Here are my Top 6 ways to improve King Street.

    Continue reading “Top 6 Ways to Improve King Street Station”

    Transit to State Fair, With More Sounder Capacity

    State Fair plummet

    It is almost time for the State Fair. The Fair runs Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 25.

    Sounder service will once again be limited to the second and third Saturdays of the Fair (September 19 and 26), and will feature two round-trips from Everett each of those days, with longer trains due to high demand. On those two days, the Fair and Sound Transit are reprising the package deal of Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds, and Seattle round-trip / gate admission tickets for $17 / $12 for youth ages 6-18, and Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, and Sumner / admission tickets for $15.50 / $11.25 for youth 6-18.

    North Sounder trains will leave Everett Station at 8:40 am and 9:40 am. Passengers will transfer to South Sounder at King Street Station, where trains will depart 9:50 am, 10:50 am, and 11:50 am. All stations from Everett to Puyallup will be served. The stations west of Puyallup (Tacoma Dome, South Tacoma, and Lakewood) will not be.

    Return trains will depart Puyallup Station 5:50 pm, 6:50 pm, and 7:50 pm, with the first two trains having North Sounder trains awaiting transferring passengers.

    Pierce Transit will be running shuttles between Puyallup Station and the fairgrounds, as well as express shuttles between South Hill Mall, Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center, and the fairgrounds.

    Regular bus routes serving Puyallup Station include ST Express 578, and Pierce Transit routes 400, 402, 409, 425, and 495. Regular Pierce Transit bus routes serving the fairgrounds include 400, 402, 425, and 495.

    Uber and the Future of Carpooling

    Carpool parking sign

    Many years ago, when I had more free time than money, a friend and I mused about a scheme to charge people commuting across the 520 bridge $20 to sit in their car from Redmond to Montlake in the afternoon.  This way they’d get access to the HOV 3+ lane, and we’d make some cash on the side.  This turned out to be wildly impractical, and we never made it work.

    I was reminded of this old scheme recently while reading about a new service from Uber.  For a while now, Uber has had a feature called “UberPool,” where they let you carpool with someone else to save money.  Recently, the company began testing “smart routes” which let you save even more money if you get on and get off on a major arterial street.  Many people snarked that this was essentially describing… a bus.

    Snark aside for the moment, UberPool seems to work best when there are lots of people headed roughly in the same direction at the same time, like a traditional carpool.  One reason I suspect carpooling is on the decline in America is that it reduces flexibility.  If you have a job that’s a guaranteed 9-5, carpooling can work, but if you need the flexibility to stay late or come in early once in a while, carpooling starts to break down.  UberPool could offer the best of both worlds: an on-demand carpool that leaves when you need it to.

    Taking it one step farther, the writer Ben Thompson has argued that the driver of the UberPool might one day be another commuter headed to work, and not a “professional” Uber driver. This person is going to work anyway, so they probably don’t need to be paid that much to pick up a couple of other close-by riders.  That could make the service far cheaper than any current Uber offering – perhaps even cheaper than a bus pass.

    I actually wonder if they would need to be paid at all.  If it gave them access to the HOV lane, they might offer to pay the rider instead.  This would also create a much larger and more vocal constituency for free-flowing HOV lanes.

    Who knows, maybe someday my dream of getting paid to sit in a car while crossing 520 will come true.