Adam B. Parast currently works for the Transpo Group in Kirkland doing non-motorized transportation planning. Former work experience includes ITS design and TMC operations at WSDOT. He currently lives on Capitol Hill, formerly living in Fremont, U District, Kirkland and Factoria. Commute: 255, most other trips are walking or biking
On behalf of the Seattle Transit Blog (STB), I would like to welcome the American Planning Association to Seattle for its four day national planning conference. STB has covered transportation and land use policy in the Puget Sound region since 2007, becoming a recognized source of transportation reporting and advocacy. Written by a group of passionate advocates, we dive deep beyond the headlines.
To help APA attendees from across the country get oriented in our fine city I’ve pulled together a topical compilation of posts and links which will help you get up to speed on the what’s happening in Seattle. If you want information about getting around the city check out Seattle for visitors or consider using our bike share system called Pronto! If you have questions leave a comment and our awesome readers will help answer your questions.
Seattle has a complicated relationship with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). For example there are insincere BRT “supporters”. Metro’s RapidRide BRT wouldn’t likely get federal funding now because it’s too watered down. Madison Street is poised to get the City’s first true BRT.
This Tuesday March 31st, Metro will launch its first long range planning effort in a very long time with an exciting two-part event at the Downtown Seattle Central Library. The event, which starts at 6:00 pm, will begin with six facilitated break-out sessions that will dive into key topics. Each break-out sessions will be lead by subject area experts from a variety of organizations and include:
Equity and Access (facilitated by Shefali Ranganathan of TCC)
Educators and Institutions (Ray White of Bellevue College)
Business and Economy (Jessica Szelag of Commute Seattle)
Innovation and Technology (Me of STB)
Service Integration (David Beal and Craig Davidson of ST)
Future Funding and Policies (Amy Gore of Futurewise)
The discussion from each break-out sessions will then be used to identify common themes and the overall vision of where participants want Metro to be in 25 years. If you care about the big picture vision of transit in King County this event is a must.
Once break-out sessions have wrapped up the event will transition directly into the panel discussion guided by the themes and vision generated in the break-out sessions. Panelist include Jarrett Walker (transit planner extraordinaire), Rebecca Saldaña (Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage) and Mark Hallenbeck (UW transportation researcher and BIG picture thinker). This discussion will be moderated by Rita Brogan of the Washington State Transportation Commission.
This promises to be a unique, blue-sky type of event that only happens a few times a year and I would strongly encourage those who are interested to attend. More details are available here.
Last week, Mayor Murray launched the City of Seattle Vision Zero Plan, adding Seattle to a fast-growing list of US cities that have committed to reducing preventable road fatalities to zero. The plan, which was covered here, here and here outlines a variety of near-term actions the City will take to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
The City’s plan, which builds upon Washington State’s Target Zero program, was modeled after Sweden’s Vision Zero programs which began in the 1990s. While Washington State’s road fatality rates are roughly twice those of Sweden, the state has made good progress, with fatality rates dropping by 40% since 2000.
Seattle’s Vision Zero Plan is an excellent starting point. It identifies high-value, near-term actions the City can take now to improve road safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, who are the most vulnerable road users. Unfortunately, the level of detail identified by the plan for road improvements didn’t carry over into strategies and actions for reducing impaired driving.
This is important because in 2012, the most recent year that city data was available, impaired driving was identified as a contributing factor in 4 fatal collisions, 16 serious injury collisions and 178 possible or evident injury collisions on Seattle streets. To put these numbers in perspective, speed (speeding and exceeding safe speed) was associated with 8 fatal collisions, 21 serious injury collisions and 219 possible or evident injury collisions during the same time period. Continue reading “Vision Zero: Transit is Part of the Solution”
Of the two stations scheduled to open in 2016 as part of the U-Link extension, the UW Station has both the most potential and the most challenges for improved bus-rail integration. This station, which is located on the east side of the Montlake Triangle, is isolated from the UW Campus and UW Medical Center by Montlake Boulevard NE, NE Pacific Street and NE Pacific Place.
Currently, the nearest pair of bus stops to the UW Station are located on NE Pacific Street in front of the UW Medical Center. These stops are roughly 900-1,000 feet away, approximately a 4-5 minute walk. While this might be acceptable for less important transfers, it is long for such an important one, particularly if Metro proposes restructures that significantly increase transfers to Link.
Metro staff have said in the past that they were looking at moving the northbound stop by the UW Medical Center several hundred feet east of its current location, but have not yet released any solid plans. Although this would help some, the walking distance for the northbound stop would still be 800 feet, with the southbound stop still over 1,000 feet away from the station.
The State Legislature recognized this challenge as far back as 2010 and asked WSDOT to study changes to improve transfers in the Montlake Triangle area as part of the SR-520 project. While the study was informative and made several good suggestions, it does not reflect Sound Transit and Metro’s new vision of an integrated, user-friendly transit system.
Yesterday the Sound Transit (ST) Board met to review the Long Range Plan (LRP) update, including discussion of the existing LRP text and corridors. As a reminder, the LRP represents the fiscally unconstrained vision of the Sound Transit system, selections from which will be used to develop a Sound Transit 3 (ST3) ballot measure. This workshop (materials available here) was a check-in on the LRP process that began nearly a year and a half ago when the board decided to accelerate ST3 planning for a potential 2016 ballot measure. Over the next two months, the ST Board will finalize the updated LRP, which will then be used to develop ST3 investment scenarios which would emphasize investment priorities such as completing the “spine” or maximizing system integration.
Staff began the meeting by presenting a “Chair’s Mark-ups” of the 2005 LRP text. Staff updated the text to begin the discussion and reflect some of the changes that have occurred since the plan was adopted in 2005. These changes included adding recent board policy decisions concerning station access and transit-oriented development. It also included updated definitions of bus rapid transit (BRT), including grade-separated busways and bus-only lanes. Staff also attempted to “tighten” the goal language to reduce repetition. Finally, staff presented a high-level overview of the light rail, high capacity transit, bus rapid transit, express bus and commuter rail projects identified by the public as part of the plan update.
Councilmember Roberts asked that text around system integration be added to reflect the integration work currently underway between Sound Transit and Metro. Secretary Peterson said that WSDOT should play a larger role, that there need to be better integration of long-term land use planning with LRP corridors and that Sound Transit’s projects need to support local land use decisions. Another member wanted to add citizens’ health to the goals, but was unsure how to measure it.
The workshop maps show the new rail and HCT corridors that came out of the public process. There aren’t many of them because the existing LRP is already extensive. The biggest addition is West Seattle-Downtown light rail, formerly a monorail corridor. The map below shows the existing long-range corridors in gray, and the new corridors in bright colors and numbers. In some cases rail and BRT corridors overlap; e.g., Renton-Kent-Puyallup has both an LRT corridor (#7) and a BRT corridor (#33). Only one would be built, but the plan has both options. The BRT corridor continues to downtown Seattle, basically a variation of the 578. But BRT implies more than ST Express: it means frequent service and transit lanes.
The Seattle Bike Blog has some great analysis of biking trends using data from the Fremont Bridge. Yesterday’s rainfall is almost as important as today’s rainfall when estimating daily bicycle volumes.
Bertha is beefing up to better deal with tunneling conditions.
Mayor Murray continues his impressive winning streak, removing caps on TNCs while evening the playing field. Let’s hope that he can keep up this kind of progress on the regional and state level.
The Washington Transportation Commission is looking more seriously at road-usage charges with three tiers. Implementation has always been the sticking point on this idea, and the three tier approach sound fairly implementable to me.
The state is restarting its search for the chief of Washington State Ferries
The Seattle City Council pass the highest minimum wage in the US. I think Sally Clark said it best, “No city or state has gone this far. We go into uncharted territory.”
Washington Sate is required to cut CO2 emission by 72% according to the recently released EPA plan, the largest of any state, primarily because we emit so little CO2 to start with compared to other states. Seattle City Light is already 100% carbon neutral.
Part of Broad Street closes permanently. I for one will not miss its horrible 4ft sidewalks.
Details of the waterfront stair-climb along Union Street released. This has long been my favorite connection because of the amazing views of Puget Sound, despite the 2nd rate pedestrian realm. More seating please!
Sounds like Bellevue will pass on trying to save its Metro bus service.
Joel Connelly argues for more diversity on the Seattle City Council in the name of pragmatism. We’ll see what district elections do on that front.
Portland food-cart pods on private parking lots are getting displaced($) due to new development on those parking lots. Meanwhile Seattle’s food-cart scene is in my opinion still struggling. I honestly wonder why?
The Downtown Seattle Association’s Jon Scholes argues against development fees and an employer head tax to save Metro service.
A new report, Older, Smaller, Better, put some numbers behind the ideas espoused by Jane Jacobs, which I believe are generally well accepted. My question is do the finding of this report provide transferable lessons to areas without the historic building stock, and if so how?
Eight finalist developers identified for the Capitol Hill light rail station TOD project.
King County Executive Dow Constantine steps into the ride-share debate; his simple approach is in stark contrast to the Seattle City Council.
The Seattle Council passes restrictions on small-lot single-family houses that will limit building height to 18 ft, or the average height of houses on the block, whichever is higher. As of late, it’s been interesting to watch Tim Burgess emerge as a pragmatic and nuanced policy maker.
Apartment-to-house construction ratio reaching record highs.
Land-use restrictions limit opportunity, but Reihan Salam points out one way to get current residents to buy in. I believe that this idea would, of course, be illegal in Washington, as most constructive and innovative policies are.
A painfully eloquent microcosm of transit reporting: TV reporter focus on government spending that (wink wink, nudge nudge) might not be worth it, public misunderstanding of the value of bus speed and reliability projects, and then the dry and rushed validation of why the project has merit.
Cognitive dissonance takes over at the Seattle Times editorial board. The editorial board is concerned that a PSE transmission lines on the Eastside Rail Corridor might preclude rail in the future.
Danny Westneat argues Prop 1’s negative focus didn’t inspire voters, included dead weight (roads), and should have stayed away from car tabs. Goldy argues Prop 1’s failure shows the hostage (Metro non-councilmanic MVET option) is dead, next ask has to be more.
Roughly half of Metro’s cuts do not meet Metro’s service planning criteria and performance measures.
“Nearly three decades since its inception, and with the advent of district elections for Seattle City Council, it is reasonable to ask: Do we need a city sponsored neighborhood district council system anymore?”
Repairs to Bertha will take at least a year to complete. Can we please confirm that Seattle isn’t responsible for cost overruns and ensure that Seattle Tunnel Partners has the financial means to finish?
Hedreen hedges bet on its alley vacation contingent, 1,600 room hotel. Backup plan is smaller, with no affordable housing, no public art, and in my opinion an inferior street-level design and circulation plan.
Group Health to sponsor 15 of the 50 Bike Share stations, mostly in Capitol Hill and SLU.
Tomorrow’s election is going to be close and every vote is going to count. As a daily reader of STB, I’m not worried about you voting Yes on Prop 1. But now is the time to get your friends, family and co-workers to vote as well as all of the other people that value Metro as much as you. Here are three things we can all do to get out the vote:
Take a few minutes out of your day to talk, call, text, or email your close friends, family and co-workers to vote Yes on Prop 1. Tell them why you’re voting yes, often people just need a little encouragement, especially for special elections. Here is why we’re voting yes.
This morning Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS) sent out a substantial and very exciting update confirming rumors that a new, financially solvent bike share vendor has been selected and that the private funding necessary for a full initial launch has been secured. Details on funding will come in May, and an online survey for station locations has been posted online. Earlier this week PSBS published a job posting for a general manager, hinting that a concrete implementation and financing plan had come together. News release below:
Puget Sound Bike Share Confirms Supply Chain Partners for Bike Share System Equipment
April 3, 2014 – In preparation for its 2014 launch, Puget Sound Bike Share announced today that it will be moving forward with world-class partners Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies to provide bike share station hardware, software and operational solutions.
Alta Bicycle Share and 8D Technologies’ software for Seattle will build upon solutions tested and successfully deployed by bike share networks in Washington D.C. / Arlington, Boston, Minneapolis, Melbourne (AUS), London (UK), Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal (CAN). Seattle’s will be the first program to launch with the new Alta/8D hardware solution. Consistent with Puget Sound Bike Share’s plans to launch Phase I of the program in South Lake Union, Downtown, Capitol Hill and the U-District, the agreement includes delivery of 50 stations.
For those of us who live or work on the Eastside, it can be hard to get to after work events in Seattle. Luckily, Fuse Washington will be hosting two Move King County Now fundraiser in Bellevue and Redmond on March 24th and April 7th. The April 22nd special election is fast approaching and your financial contribution and/or boots on the ground are key to passing Proposition 1. Maintaining existing bus service is critical and if Proposition 1 fails the Eastside will see significant and painful cuts in transit service. I encourage STB readers to go and bring a friend or coworker along. On a personal note, I’d like to add that the Bellevue Brewing Company’s beer and food makes up for its harder to reach location. Cheers!
Beers for buses – Bellevue (226 and 249)
Monday, March 24, from 5pm–7pm
Bellevue Brewing Company
1820 130th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA 98005
Beers for buses – Redmond (B-Line, 545, and all other Redmond TC routes)