Link at Stadium Station, flanked by one of Metro's employee parking garages (SounderBruce - Flickr)
Link at Stadium Station, flanked by one of Metro’s employee parking garages (SounderBruce – Flickr)

When commuters get frustrated with transit in greater Seattle – be it cars hogging bus lanes with impunity, lack of transit priority altogether, or bafflement at specific planning decisions – a common refrain is “None of this would happen if only our agencies rode their own services!” Our politicians and executives like to tout their transit-riding cred, like Joe McDermott or Dow on the C-Line, or Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff apologizing for being late to a recent interview on account of his bus being late. But there remains a perception that elites plan our systems for the rest of us, while driving to work themselves. How true is this perception in the Seattle area?

To find out, I made a public records request for Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) data for the last 5 years for all Seattle worksites for King County (including Metro), Sound Transit, WSDOT, the City of Seattle, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and the EPA Region X offices. Our unique state Commute Trip Reduction law requires any employer with 100 or more full time, benefits-eligible employees who begin work between 6-9am to implement a demand management program with progressive annual goals for reducing their Drive-Alone Rate (DAR). It also makes such data a matter of public record.

So what did I find? With few exceptions, agencies walk the walk, with very low drive-alone rates for their urban worksites. Only 11% of employees at Metro’s King Street Center headquarters drive to work, and only 14% at the County’s Chinook Building. Sound Transit’s drive-alone rate has held steady between 14-17% for the past 5 years, while city employees who work Downtown have held steady between 15-20% driving alone. WSDOT’s Pioneer Square offices perform well at around 15% driving alone, though the data is incomplete for the last two survey cycles, while ferry workers at Colman Dock or Fauntleroy drive alone nearly 40% of the time.

Outside the central city where transit services are more sparse and transfers more frequent, drive-alone rates rise rapidly. At WSDOT’s Northwest Region offices in Shoreline – where snarky tweets and traffic-related memes are generated by the fistful – the drive-alone rate is 74%. Same goes for Seattle worksites outside the central city, such as Haller Lake or Charles Street, where nearly 75% drive alone.

The highest drive-alone rates of all? Metro’s Seattle bus bases (Atlantic/Center and Ryerson), where between 70-80% drive alone.  Though we must admit that these are a special case, with many workers driving to work before the transit they themselves drive is available, there does seem to be a strong drive-alone culture among transit operators. And indeed, though owning a car isn’t an explicit requirement for driving for Metro, current and former drivers have told STB that it is very difficult to be hired without one. New drivers are all part-time, and most work during peak only, which requires getting to places like South or North base where transit is mostly nonexistent. But if the central base operators are still driving most of the time, it’s a cultural thing too.

And what of Seattle Police or Fire? As corroborated by a recent exchange between Lorena Gonzalez, Mike O’Brien, and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole when discussing the controversial North Precinct rebuild, both agencies are exempt from Commute Trip Reduction. Though there is no statutory exemption, SPD and SFD are exempt because the CTR law treats individual worksites separately, and because no precincts or fire stations meet the requirements of >100 or more employees with predictable shift start times between 6-9am. Asked to comment, SDOT’s Cristina VanValkenburgh and Eric Mamroth said:

SFD and SPD won’t show up because none of their sites are CTR-affected.  SPD precincts outside of center city are also not CTR affected, and most officers wherever they report are subject to 3-month shift changes…It is the usual and customary CTR law language (as stated in your original query) regarding site count and shift times that dictate who, and which sites are included in the statewide survey.

So there you have it, a rather predictable result really. Agency employees are much like the rest of us. They take transit where it is plentiful, and drive where it isn’t. Though politicians and executive-level staff may drive more often, the rank-and-file walk the walk.

Charts below the jump.


74 Replies to “How Do Public Agency Employees Commute?”

  1. Not sure about Metro, but at Community Transit if the driver is more than 2min 59sec late for sign on our work is taken away for the day, and you only get 4 or 5 late shows a year before they can fire you. So yeah, we drive our cars.

    1. Drivers are different. Unless you do a completely mid-day set of bus shifts, you likely start very early in the morning or end very late at night, and probably too early or late for the bus (since you drive the bus). Plus, you start work at a bus base and not huge population centers like downtown Seattle, so (ironically?) there likely isn’t much bus service there. And like you mentioned, time is an issue. If you’re late, you delay dozens of people along with you. Plus, bus drivers constitute a very small portion of road traffic, while doing a very large part in alleviating traffic. I would have no problem with every single bus driver driving alone to get to work as long as they show up on time, well rested, and ready to handle a full day of work.

      1. Because the bus drivers have to get there before the bus and leave after the bus — and the same applies to train drivers — the *only* cities where it’s feasible for them to take public transportation are cities with 24-hour frequent service.

        Once you have 24-hour frequent service, it becomes possible.

    2. The flip side about grumbling about politicians driving is whining about self-dealing when they use transit.

      When Rod Dembowski (incorrectly, in my view) fiddled with changing the 71 while his wife rode it to work, he was accused of corruptly influencing the process. So politicians that drive can’t use the insights of riding transit to improve service, but when politicians who do ride (or have close relatives that ride) try to use those insights, they’re accused of misbehavior.

      So while I’m glad that SOV commuting is unpopular at the agencies, for politicians and agency heads it really is a no-win scenario.

      1. Our focus should be on whether the management and decision-makers use transit, not on the rank and file workers who in many cases doing it just because it’s a job. High-level workers and politicians should take transit, not necessarily every day but at least once a month, and should also take some exploratory trips to see what people in other areas are experiencing.

        Politicians who do take transit should rise above questions of personal benefit to the benefit of the most people. The Dembrowski issue was characterized as he restored the 71 because his wife uses it, and people assumed they live in the desolate part of eastern 65th or 50th Ave NE where nobody rides. Those may or may not be accurate. But Dembrowski may have also recognized a more important issue: 15th Ave NE. Metro was going to delete all-day service on 15th in favor of 10-minute service on Roosevelt. I had misgivings about up to 65th because that’s a pretty popular corridor and I use it. The community argued to restore the 73, and Dembrowski got the 71 restored, and they’re both well-used on 15th. The 71 and 73 has now reached 7-day service, with evenings 6 days a week. That’s similar to the 8 and 31/32 that were expanded repeatedly because they were so popular. So Dembrowski may have been right about more service in northeast Seattle, but he didn’t look ahead far enough (or was blinded by his wife’s convenience) to restore only part of the route or create a different route. For instance, maybe all the hours should have been put into the 73, especially in hindsight now that the 73 is 7-day again. The 71 causes ridiculous overservice on eastern 65th which also has the frequent 62.

        Joe, you keep assuming the outcome of elected transit boards. At best they might have urbanist transit experts. At worst they might be stacked with anti-transit-and-tax foes. Most likely they’ll have the same kind of people they do now.

      2. I agree that it can be a minefield, but my hackles get raised when I see politicians using their insights solely to improve the routes that directly affect them (often negatively affecting other routes) without applying that same insight to routes they don’t use.

      3. +1 David Seater

        There should be an obvious distinction between using insights to solve general problems and cronyism. Dembowski’s route 71 changes smelled of the later (regardless of whether he thought it was better for society), especially given that he was overruling Metro planners.

      4. Sometimes Alex Bailey, you have to overrule the technocrats who live in a bubble, question their thinking and get what the hoi polloi want. That’s why I prefer elected transit boards – to democratize transit. After all, we are NOT 1% of the trips ;-).

      5. Joe, when “transit boards are directly elected, exactly 0.00% of the members will ride transit, except to televised ribbon cuttings. That’s because the Highwaymen will pay special attention to electing “their own” to the boards. Have you noticed how much your hated teachers’ unions and the people who run Charter Schools give to school board races? Therein lies the flaw in “independent”elected oversight boards of all kinds.

      6. Anandakos;

        I am of the firm view that you are already predetermined to surrender the high ground to “the Highwaymen”. I, on the other hand, will fight on even with a bruised ankle like Russell Wilson or against vigorous “the Highwaymen” Eastside opposition like Claudia Badassuchi and win the game.

        We who believe in transit are gamers, we want to win, we want more transit, we want to get out of those campaigns with a win.

        Oh and regarding K-12 school board elections: The problem is that the opposition doesn’t get it together, doesn’t play with a fire, a passion, some intensity to get stuff done. There’s a certain Liv Finne who deserves way better… one of the most fundamental flaws in the right wing is that we don’t love & support our pundits anywhere near enough. Or be superstars in our community and take that punditry to a community level anywhere near enough.

        That’s why I want to be an elected transit board member. Let’s go out there and pund some wins. Let’s go out there and take that Seattle Transit Blog intensity out of cyberspace and into real transit agencies to improve our communities!

      7. Joe, are you naive or daft? It’s a piffling investment for one of the K[r]o[t]ch brothers to buy an entire transit board. That might cost as little as 500K in “campaign contributions”. Can you imagine for just a few minutes how much damage to transit such a board might wreak?

      8. No sir, I’m an idealist not a surrender monkey. Right now “the highwaymen” and other anti-transit expansion folks control quite a few of the rural transit boards up here.

        I am also of the view that ideological diversity would be nice on these transit boards… and I’m sure many in these comment threads – including I – who had gripes during the ST3 drafting process would agree. It’s worth taking the risk. We can and we have and we will continue to beat “the highwaymen” like we will in November.

      9. It’s a piffling investment for one of the K[r]o[t]ch brothers to buy an entire transit board.

        But why would they want to? Sounds like a Who Framed Roger Rabbit conspiricy theory.

      10. Their invests are so vast, that there’s apt to be some way they could make money off of essentially running a transit company. Firing all the unions and hiring private contracting companies owned by them seems like the no brainer.

      11. Buying out a small potatoes election to “fire” all the unions… Sounds like tin foil hat concerns to me. Unless you believe the Koch brothers already own all elected members of congress it’s just silly to believe they’ve got cash burning a hole in their pocket to co-opt an election for ST board members.

        The alternative is do nothing and expect a different result. It’s just plain crazy to be so afraid of giving the electorate more accountability over the way more than 1/2 the transit money in the ST district is being spent.

      12. Well said Bernie, well said. This rallying cry doesn’t just start from a certain SoDo think tank a 10 minute walk from a Sound Transit light rail station; this rallying cry is so the groupthink we’ve seen on these transit boards comes to a skidding halt.

        There are many people – me included – who don’t want to run for City Council. But who would drop everything and set up a positive campaign to serve on a transit board. Look at the resumes and campaigns of those on the BART board – not moneyed interests at all!

    3. Jim S;

      Considering the poor transit service to Community Transit bus operating areas, I’m not surprised. Plus drivers probably need a ride to/from work with only a 16-hour or so service day.

      Skagit Transit is even worse off until 2018, 2019 – it’s unfeasible and frankly unsafe for most of the employees to make the significant walk (I’ve had to make to pick up public records requests) to the current MOA at the end of a dead-end road. Hopefully the new MOA at Skagit Airport will resolve this for the administrative staff.

      1. I could actually take the bus (ET #8) to work with my work hours, but don’t have the luxury of forgiveness from CT if I am late. Although, when I am driving the bus they don’t care if we are late!

    4. I drive for Metro, 2 min and 59 seconds is generous… we have to be there by the assigned time or we’re late. No grace period. And late means no work, no pay for the day; who can afford that? When I’ve worked afternoons I’ve taken the bus and link in but mornings I’m going to drive (I ride a motorcycle) as I don’t want to get up an extra hour early for a 5am sign in.

    5. I live with a Metro driver of 18 years. When he got hired, he was told he needed to use ‘a reliable form of transportation’ to get to work. Driving or riding his bike was the best way to make sure he didn’t get a ‘miss’.

    6. Metro drivers can be no more than 59 seconds late, otherwise our work is handed off to a report operator. Full Time operators may potentially be given a “late report” assignment which is another trip/run that needs to be filled. Part Time operators are given a “miss”, taken off any other work they have for the day and sent home. In all cases, if the operator is able to call in and inform the dispatcher that they will be late, the “miss” is downgraded to an “absence” which is still noted but less punitive – PT drivers will still be able to drive their afternoon work, for example.

      Additionally, a signification portion of Metro operators work split shifts so the time penalty of taking transit is compounded. (In my case, 2 commutes at ~45 minutes each way by bus vs ~15-20 minutes for driving). As much as I prefer to take transit, on long work days with split shifts/other errands I need to accomplish, I’ll begrudgingly drive. (And most part time operators have other jobs they need to get to which may or may not be convenient to transit available at a particular base – Central/Ryerson/Atlantic are obviously the best. East has poor transit access as do North and South bases) Because of all this, Transit operators are – rightfully, I believe – given free parking which, of course, amplifies drive alone rates.

      Despite all of this, there is room for incentives that could decrease drive alone rates. The prime location of Central/Atlantic/Ryerson parking next to Link, for example, would allow for selling *surplus* parking to the general public and using the funds for “free” parking buybacks, Car2Go/ReachNow/ZipCar memberships, or some other incentives. (One program that would dramatically decrease my drive alone rate would be allowing ReachNow/Car2Go/ZipCars to park in employee garage. This would expand the options of drivers who arrive before transit is operating / frequent and potentially be viewed as an added benefit rather than a takeback.)

  2. Do ST Board members drive to their regular jobs? The Board is made up of local mayors, etc. Do they drive to their respective city halls, or take public transit? And do members of King County Council drive into work? Especially members of the Regional Transit Committee. Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Does the Worldn’s Greatest Transit Planner take the bus to work? Inquiring minds are certain that the answer is an emphatic “No!!!!!”

  3. I feel like making the TERMINAL bus runs (dead heads) revenue runs will not only be an effective use of resources, but also be a great resource for bus drivers getting to work.
    The number of deadheading buses on I-90 and I-5 saddens me every day. If all of them made stops along the way (without going out of their way) serving only freeway flyer stops, I think a surprising number of people would use that service. I often see people waiting for the next 554 while empty Metro 60′ buses headed for seattle go right past them in Eastgate.

    1. better example, after major events at the stadium, when bus after bus leaves IDS/Chinatown empty for Bellevue Base or East Base, while hundreds are waiting for a 550.

      1. When does that happen?

        My usual experience when I try to use buses in that case, is after an evening event when only the 550 and 554 running at hourly or half-hourly frequency. AFAIK, there would only be deadheading buses during or just after the morning peak.

    2. I could be wrong, but I remember a Metro driver friend telling me that the To Terminal runs ARE in service as far as Metro is concerned, because it boosts some number that gets reported to the FTA.

      Now, if thats the truth or not, and getting a driver to let you ride, is a different story.

      1. FTA doesn’t allow that. MBTA in Boston got into trouble for reporting deadhead runs as in service runs.

        On the other hand, if you put it in the timetable and give it a number, then it counts. Come up with a bunch of nonsensical reverse peak express routes to Ryerson Base and it would work so long as it had a number and a schedule.

      2. I remember hearing more than a decade ago that Metro allows you to flag down a “To *Whatever* Base” bus and get dropped off at any stop along the route to that particular base. I’ve never attempted to try it and you’d have to have pretty intricate knowledge of how that bus is going back to the base.

        It’s similar to the ‘rule’ that any bus route after dark can let you off at ANY intersection, as long as it’s safe for the driver to do so. Again, have never verified that it’s an official rule. Just have heard people mention the ‘rule’ and have seen it requested and allowed on a couple occasions.

      3. They are in service in the sense that they’re supposed to pick up people who are going their way. That happens regularly with the 44 deadheads (which are now on the 43 schedule). In other cases sometimes you can find out that a bus will go past e.g. UW Station and drop you off there. The problem is that in most cases the people at the bus stops don’t know where the bus is going, and it takes a couple minutes to stop, tell them where you’re passing and see if that works for them. Usually it doesn’t, or the bus is going a way that’s unlikely to be of anybody’s benefit, so they don’t stop.

  4. How about requiring construction workers who are building the Northgate Link section to use transit too? The workers at the Maple Leaf portal are taking up many parking spaces in the Northgate Transit Center with their SOVs. How hard can it be to commute to the Northgate Transit Center to get to work?

    1. It depends on where they live. Since construction jobs are intrinsically temporary, it doesn’t make sense to move to them and then move again in a year or two, especially if you have kids in school or your spouse works in the opposite direction. Maybe some of them come from Redmond or Bothell. How would you take transit from Redmond to Northgate, and how long would it take?

    2. Charging for parking would be helpful here, rather than first come, first serve.

      But I’m with Mike – given that their commutes can change wildly from project to project, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect most construction workers to take transit.

  5. Are there any data for King County Elections offices in Renton? There isn’t even a bus stop within a block of the building.

    1. It’s only 1/3 of a mile from the F line stop at Grady and Lind.. Pretty good commute from Link and Sounder.

  6. I like the contrasting imagery of the “anti-transit” Kemper Freeman walking one block to work, whereas the average “pro-transit and pro-environment,” suburban ST Board member probably drives alone in their SUV about 5 to 10 miles from their home into their local city hall every day.

    1. Sam;

      Considering that:

      a) Kemper Freeman can afford to live in the city
      b) You said “probably” about suburban ST Board members. Prove it or stand down.

      I’m getting real suspicious about you Sam, real suspicious.

      1. You are very late to the suspicion game, Joe. Most of have written off Scam long ago. However, he does continue to surprise with a substantive post once every Harvest Moonotr so.

      2. The thing about the Sambot you have to ask is, does he really believe what he says? Or does he just say whatever the audience will most disagree with?

  7. Why isn’t the King County Administrative Building included in the stats? Are they lumped in with the Chinook Building? Same question for Seattle City Hall and the Seattle Justice Center.

  8. When I used to live in Federal Way, I’d see the director of Metro on my bus on occasion. Apparently he carpools most days with his wife. It it was cool to see him riding on metro.

    I work at king street center and almost everyone I know commutes on public transit. I saw my manager on Sounder. The only person I know who drives every day is a non-management employee who has heath issues and can’t ride the bus.

  9. Pity (but makes sense) that the SPD are excluded. Their new site on Aurora would have provided an extra reason to quickly develop a strong E-W corridor on 130/125th to Lake City and more quickly build 130th.

    1. Wanting to see SPD’s data was the original reason for the PDR. But it yielded useful info anyway.

    2. State Patrol drives their cruiser to/from home. One reason is that in the event of a disaster they need to mobilize immediately. The other reason is that even if they’re “off shift” the presence of the policy car has a “traffic calming” effect. I’ll propose the SPD implement a policy that a uniformed officer be paid from the time he is on the sidewalk; either walking or waiting at a bus stop.

  10. For County Council and ST Board-members, I think their work most requires several hours per week doing informal “Observation Time.” Cab-rides aboard LINK, bus trips, preferably standing, conversation with drivers on layover. Talks with supervisors. Much time at LCC (LINK Control Center, which controls (or should) all vehicles in the DSTT.

    Remembering labor history, though, I think that many workers are at a similar stage to when ability to buy a car freed coal miners from the company towns and their captive residential and shopping arrangements. While their employers should provide ORCA cards to workers’ families, it’s not presently wrong for transitworkers to drive to work.

    One alternative is for Metro to provide bus or van service for work travel. Personally, wouldn’t really trust a carpools, because if one (unpaid) driver is late, so is every passenger. Since the younger people in our increasing population seem to be getting culturally fonder of transit, I think time is on transit’s work-trip side.

    Mark Dublin

  11. Agree with the comment that the focus should be on mid- and higher-level transit management, do they ride transit regularly, and more importantly, do they ever use transit as a *system*? It’s one thing to know your home-to-work-and-back ride, but is’s something else entirely to know how to get to and from an unfamiliar place.

    1. From my own driving and transit politics days, I really think it’s equally, or more, important that politicians overseeing transit have direct and regular personal oversight of how it works. Anybody at the top of any chain of command needs a complete understanding of the conditions, and connections, of the whole chain and its every link.


    2. As I understand it, both city and county staff receive free ORCA passes as an incentive to reduce parking.

  12. I’d love to see this sort of accountability data for WSDOT in Olympia and a few other government agencies, like the Dept. of Ecology whose office is paradoxically as suburban as it gets.

    1. Second the motion.

      I’d like to see how Snohomish County Government & City of Everett Government & City of Tacoma Government is doing as well. Being that Community Transit Route 113 goes by Mukilteo City Hall, do them too ;-).

      We’ll start there.

    2. It’s available via public disclosure. Keep in mind that it’s 100+ employees at an individual worksite commuting between 6a and 9a. Some state worksites may not fit that. WSDOT’s Pioneer Square office has shrunk significantly over the last 5 years and may not be a CTR affected worksite any longer thus no survey results.

      1. OTOH, it’s not hard to count the “employee parking” spaces and if you know about how many people work there…

  13. Great idea! It would be interesting to make a similar request for the other transit agencies in the region Re: WSDOT’s Northwest Region offices in Shoreline, it’s a relatively short walk from RapidRide E, while local routes pass right by its west side.

    The statement “They take transit where it is plentiful, and drive where it isn’t” would be proven if the request was expanded, yet these folks determine where routes go or not for those who do ride, which strikes me as odd. It also raises one of the key issues I have with ST-3, where policy makers opted to “go long” with light rail alone for north of Lynnwood, forcing a wait of an extra 5-7 years vs. taking the direct line to/from Everett with $1 billion left for today’s commuters. Since the light rail line north of Lynnwood isn’t duplicating much, other than part of the BRT line that will open in a few years, there won’t be much in the way of service hours to be freed up in Everett, unlike E-Link (ST #550), Central Link (#194), U-Link (plenty of truncated lines), N-Link (#41 by itself). Those residents will be in a similar boat as today, driving where (and because) it isn’t plentiful.

    1. I absolutely agree as far as, “It would be interesting to make a similar request for the other transit agencies in the region”. Just remember Skagit Transit right now doesn’t have a bus route anywhere near it’s ops center.

      As to your whine against a Paine Field diversion, I’m going to be brutal: I got on the phone & e-mail with some of the most powerful people in Snohomish County. It was either light rail to Paine Field or no support for ST3, even with the BRT option I supported. Furthermore, Paine Field is a massive work site for a ton of people and light rail + new bus services planned for more of Paine Field is only fair and equitable. The passion is now there for transit in Snohomish County – and with some Skagitonians like me also cheering on Sound Transit; let us as transit advocates strike while the iron is hot for light rail expansion for all in the Sound Transit taxing district! Thanks.

      Also, I do think the relieving Community Transit of its massive investment made for decades in bringing commuters via bus to Seattle from throughout its district such as Stanwood, Marysville, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Edmods and more will free up service hours & capital funds. Trust me or if not, look at the Community Transit schedule with 4## and 8## routes plus 5## routes branded as Sound Transit (but run by Community Transit):

    2. This assumes that people live somewhere they can easily get to transit that serves WSDOT’s Northwest Region Office which is going to be heavily influenced by where you live. At WSDOT it’s not uncommon to move between various locations during the course of your career. For those who work downtown it’s likely you have at least a direct peak-only route from your home or a nearby park and ride.

      The cost of parking also plays a lot into drive alone rates. If the travel times are the same and my choices are to pay for a monthly (subsidized) ORCA card or free parking, it’s likely I will choose free parking. However if there’s a charge for parking and it’s equivalent or higher than the ORCA cost I am more likely to choose transit.

  14. Only the readers of this blog make their modal decisions based on a sense of moral commitment to a mode. Everyone else makes these decisions based on what’s practical. Bus drivers cannot be one minute late to work and the bases are hard to get to by bus, People in remote locations find buses less practical than people working downtown. Yet the authors write about this as if they’re proving whether people are hypocrites or not. Transit will not get better when its advocates promote modal commitment rather than a demand that transit meet their needs for access and reliability.

    The real test should be of the governing body. I would like to know how the Sound Transit board gets to work, or how many transit users are among their close associates. The regional transit system would be far different if the board actually relied on it instead of seeing it as a distribution game.

  15. You shouldn’t expect good modal participation from SPD or SFD. They’re both probably hideous and really should be ignored because they have legitimate working constraints. If you take the bus to work, or bike, and your captain says “we need you to go to another station and relieve a guy who’s been running calls for 28 hours now”, everyone is screwed. Cultural issues abound as well, plus free parking, plus the fact that the alternative work schedules mean fewer days that you have to commute and this is an incentive for employees to live in very suburban areas. Probably quite a few SFD guys commuting from eastern WA. That said a lot of these guys with long commutes drive fewer miles than your typical Joe Blow because they’re only commuting 2-3 days a week.

    1. Actually, if you bike, you’ll get to the other station way faster than if you sluggishly crawl through traffic in a patrol car (remembering that it’s illegal to use the flashers and sirens if it is not an emergency).

      Cops on bikes is a really, really, *really* good idea. It’s incredibly effective in cities. We have a number of bike cops where I live.

  16. The Bay Area has two elected transit boards–BART and AC Transit. The BART board tends to attract some serious money in elections, because they do big construction contracts. BART districts are also big–approaching something like 400,000 people each. So, apart occasional flukes, you get the kind of politicians that are typical of the districts they represent. They don’t look unusually good or bad to me. Some of the suburban directors are pro-park and ride and fought parking charges. They also fight for extensions that shouldn’t have happened (and which drained BART’s core system), but I don’t think it’s fair to call them highwaymen.

    AC Transit boardmembers are much lower profile, always the way with the bus (a few people have moved from the AC board to BART). Their wards are pretty big too, about 300,000 people each. AC has two at large seats (in a 1.5 million person district!) which BART doesn’t. Some are community politicians, like an ex- (or would be) councilmember, others are activists. Two of the seven are car-free (I don’t know if any BART Boardmembers are). What makes it tough here is that there are 7 major transit systems, and a couple dozen more little ones.

  17. I work for the state of Washington Department of Social and Health Services Development Disabilities Administration on a Capitol Hill we don’t get Orca cards. Employees who work for the Commmunity Services Division of DSHS do get Orca cards. The collective bargaining agreement that is being voted on this week for ratification would give all King County state employees an Orca card effective 7/1/17.

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