A Final Note From Mr. North by Northwest

It’s been about a year that I’ve been writing up North by Northwest and time to hand in the keys.

Truth be known, we are at a logical point of conclusion and I’ve let it be known in some of my writing I’m a bit Grumpy.  Island Transit may have financially rebounded from the brink; but Island Transit’s cultural flaw of disregarding public input to do things to ridership not withridership continues unabated.  It is clear now the Future of Flight’s transit needs will be resolved long-term, best worked behind the scenes with my continued leadership.  I also understand Skagit Transit is looking into a portable bathroom for the Chuckanut Park & Ride.  Between those three causes, I turned to Seattle Transit Blog for help and what could have been a lonely year was not.

However, the last thing we need as transit advocates is instability and incivility in our ranks as we near the 2016 election cycle.  I was about to throttle back if not step away in a few weeks anyway.  That said, the transit photography will continue, I will comment occasionally and I will keep fighting for the Future of Flight out of loyalty to my friends who work there.

I do wish the transit community could please stop sniping at each other and work to improve transit service for all, full stop.  The last thing we need is to create opportunities to divide and conquer so nobody gets transit service.  We need Sound Transit 3 and Community Transit to pass to get the proper transit connectivity for the Puget Sound.

I also should thank Washington State Transit Association’s Geri Beardsley, Island Transit’s Robyn Goldring, Sound Transit’s Geoff Patrick & Kimberly Reason and Community Transit’s Jan McBride & Martin Munguia for your invaluable help with helping me educate the public.  Keep communicating!

I need to conclude with this thought: To the gladiators in the arena I’ve came in contact with like Martin H. Duke, Frank Chiachiere, Ben Schiendelman, Emmett Heath, Sabrina Popa, Sandy Ward, Carolyn C. Chase, Rep. Dave Hayes and yes Bob Pishue – I salute you.  It’s one thing to sit back and write whatever with a silly handle – it’s another matter of integrity entirely to be leading the public conversation on transit, face forward.  Keep leading from the front.

North by Northwest 66: Go Try Out Community Transit’s Trip Calculator…

Figure you might want to consider calculating the cost of your commute sometime.  Might be a good idea to use the Community Transit trip calculator to do so.

Also, listen I hate rude people okay, but unless you want to buy up a tiny but sporty Toyota Yaris like a relative did for a while, maybe you should save money and Dump the Punp.

View post on imgur.com

My Toyota Yaris photo from my amateur photography days – pardon the low quality

Or you can get a Ford Focus

Flickr photo by Ford Europe used under noncommercial license

Or you can really think long and hard about your transportation choices versus the money you’d be saving.  About 30 miles per gallon going from Mukilteo to Seattle in a small car like the above is the tipping point back in favor of the car over the bus…

Up to you.  I so prefer the view from King County Metro 124… and riding what I see below when I’m in Seattle:

Enjoying Light Rail Out the King County Metro 124
My photo

It’s your money.  Give the cost calculator a go.

North by Northwest View 18: What Should I Ask North by Northwest Transit Agencies about…

A Light Rail Driver and A Passenger Wave
My photo: A Light Rail Driver and A Passenger Wave

This should have happened long ago, but with Thursday evening’s Sound Transit 3 meeting knowing Community Transit & Everett Transit & more will be there, thought I’d let you plant some questions into my mind.

I already got several that went from ideas to words, thanks to Mike Orr, so let me start with his help:

  • What is the projected ridership for a Lynnwood – Paine Field – Everett CC corridor and where do those people live?
  • How would workers get from Paine Field Station to their scattered jobs in the Paine Field industrial complex – whether at museums or flight schools or industrial?
  • How will a Link route service Mukilteo and other points west towards the coast?
  • What barriers are there to hourly if not half-hourly transit service from Seaway Transit Station to Hwy 525 & 84th St SW if Community Transit gets its transit levy lift?
  • What if Paine Field does get its passenger terminal – what then in regards for transit?!?
  • What if Sound Transit 3 only has $12 Billion of taxation authority, what then?
  • How does the Mayor of Everett’s Office respond to the current issues around lack of transit ridership to Paine Field?

Plant a few more questions in the comments if you would please.  As I cannot edit this post, I think I’ll post my final question list in the comments as well.  So make sure to follow along here…


The Future of Flight W/ A Dreamlifter Nose Sticking Through...
My Aerial Photo: The Future of Flight W/ A Dreamlifter Nose Sticking Through…

Well folks, it is my displeasure and sadness to report that any short-term fix to the Future of Flight getting transit service is a nonstarter.  Last week, I learned Community Transit has vetoed changing Community Transit Route 113 to support the Future of Flight due to scheduling concerns and inconveniencing local Community Transit users for international Future of Flight visitors.  This defeat of getting public transit services to the Future of Flight however in the short term is ultimately because the better argument won inside Community Transit; and I accept full and total responsibility for the failure to succeed this time around.

I acknowledge the difficulty of asking a transit agency to change a transit schedule broadly advertised and should be reliable to the taxpayers to magically change a community’s main route to service a major tourist-powered economic engine.  A proposal that the Mayor of said community was apprehensive about in a North by Northwest Big Interview.

Some will ask, “Why not Everett Transit?”  Believe me, I have.  I went to the Everett Transit August 2015 Service Change Proposal public meeting at Thursday, April 16, 2015 where senior Everett Transit leaders and I discussed potential options for the Future of Flight.  One option thoughtfully proposed was an express shuttle linked to Everett Station.  One option frankly is insulting – and that’s the Everett Transit Planner’s demand of direct Future of Flight funding for Everett Transit service as if magically the nonprofit Future of Flight can write a check.  I also learned at this meeting from the Everett Transit Planner that hourly Everett Transit service to Boeing’s Paine Field factory and even with three Boeing employees helping get Boeing employees to choose transit first was not going so well so there’s understandable Everett Transit reluctance to further service Paine Field.  One would hope the Everett Mayor will listen rationally to Everett Transit staff before further championing light rail to Paine Field without firing Everett Transit professionals championing data-based contrarian viewpoints.

Speaking of comments, let me be clear, read carefully trolls: To lob from the dark corners of the room the hecklers’ veto and snipe at a major nonprofit doing good works is a classless disgrace and speaks volumes about how some transit advocates misperceive their role.  Make no mistake, I am confident other nonprofits who need transit service are going to keep their hands down and point to your sniping as a reason why not to ask for help. Running a mostly positive campaign clearly has less weight than that of anonymous coward internet trolls sniping because some people are unhappy with their transit service levels now means less transit for all.  Some heckler’s veto to celebrate.

That said this is all in the past. There is one good option left not just for the Future of Flight but also for giving Mukilteo a fair slice of transit service.

If we can get the City of Mukilteo City Council to please pass a resolution as a part of this Community Transit levy lift to request a bus route from 84th Street & Mukilteo Speedway to Seaway via Future of Flight so as to link Seaway Transit Center to the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal in 2020 & the City of Mukilteo… but this route request requires Mukilteo community support, a bold investment of the City Government of Mukilteo’s political capital, and Community Transit to get its levy lift at the ballot box.

Arguably best to get the Seaway to Mukilteo connection is via commenting on the 2016 Transit Development Plan (TDP) for Community Transit.  In a recent public records request, Community Transit’s Public Records Officer wrote, “The full text of each comment received was provided to board members, initially to the board committee reviewing the plan, and then to the full board.  Comments were discussed in the context of the plan.  The final adopted plan includes the full text of each comment.”  When asked to share route planning for the Seaway Transit Center, Community Transit also replied, “There is no specific route planning for the transit center at this time. It’s too early in the process.”  Therefore a letter from the Mukilteo Mayor coupled to a Mukilteo City Council Resolution would certainly influence Community Transit’s “route planning”.

I will conclude with the genuine concern I have a Community Transit levy lift is going to require transit advocate enthusiasm to win. I know many share my fear a Sound Transit 3/ST3 package that rewards Seattle/North King insufficiently will not be pushed over the top.  So I legitimately fear a Community Transit levy lift transit package that insufficiently excites Mukilteo and Everett will ultimately fail.

Over to hopefully thoughtful comments at 777 words…

Programming Notes: Tomorrow I will post a North by Northwest View 18: What Should I Ask North by Northwest Transit Agencies about…

Also since I am no longer able to edit what’s posted to Seattle Transit Blog and writing this post is rather emotional for me, I drafted in Microsoft Word.  I encourage other Page Two writers to do the same.

North by Northwest 64: Update on Paine Field…

Here in Nikon D5300 Minature Mode is Historic Flight Foundation at 10 AM On Paine Field Aviation Day at 10 AM
My aerial photo: Here in Nikon D5300 Miniature Mode is Historic Flight Foundation at 10 AM On Paine Field Aviation Day at 10 AM^

Figure since many of you in the Seattle Transit Blog comments have some concerns about future Paine Field transit service and in particular light rail… let me give you some updates:

  • Beacon Publishing is doing a survey on transportation with emphasis on the proposed Paine Field passenger terminal.  Some would say supporting a commercial terminal at Paine Field means supporting light rail to Paine Field…
  • Today, and I’m sure this will be covered more thoroughly on Page One, Sound Transit has a new website for ST3.  One part is a survey on what projects for ST3.  If you have an agenda you want to accomplish or help accomplish*… vote and ditto at the upcoming meetings where other local transit agencies will also participate such as the 18 June meeting at Everett Station which I will attend.
  • The Everett Herald kindly posted an update on conversations the Future of Flight and Community Transit are having about weekend transit service to Future of Flight as an initial hydration to the transit desert.  As I said to the Everett Herald, “The Future of Flight deserves a fair slice of service and this is a significant step in that direction.”  I don’t think light rail is that “fair slice of service” any longer but feel the Future of Flight, the #1 tourism destination for Snohomish County with 777.8 daily visitors – many of which international who rely on mass transit back home – needs a “fair slice of service”.  Another option I am now proposing is for that “fair slice of service” being an express bus route from Seaway Transit Center at the east end of the Boeing Paine Field campus to Future of Flight and then Community Transit Route 113…

There you go.


^Yes, I write long photo titles :-).  I also wanted an aerial photo that showed more than the Future of Flight.  Below Historic Flight Foundation/HFF will be a major park & ride in a few years.
*Help accomplish like light rail to Ballard, I just expect support for more, better bus service to all Paine Field tenants in return from you commentors.

North by Northwest View 19: Time for Camano Island to Pivot to Community Transit?

A Quick Snap of Island Transit Route 411C
My recent photo of an Island Transit 411C Camano Bus

Full disclosure: The below letter to the editor by me ran in the Stanwood-Camano News today.

Bus service

Camano should switch to Community Transit

Dear Editor:

Island Transit is removing its county connector services from Whidbey to Skagit.

This is after the unilateral withdrawal of the Camano to Everett Island Transit connector service last June. Without state support, Island Transit cannot continue to provide those services. Representative Dave Hayes has finally proposed a fare on Island Transit in return for some state support.

But perhaps I have a thought for my Camano Island friends: Maybe with the lassitude that Island Transit board meetings are run, where charging a fare to reenlist state support in many meetings since November when the county connector crisis came to light has not happened and with the Island Transit board being so inaccessible to Camano Island.

Perhaps the time is right for Camano Island to change to Community Transit as your transit provider.

At least Community Transit’s finances are in great shape. has good public communications and is about to seek a three-tenths of 1 percent tax increase to dramatically increase service. Can you say any of those things about Island Transit?

Just something to debate – namely changing transit taxing districts to get a better provider.

Figured some of you in the transit advocate community would want to discuss this.  Island County Commissioner Rick Hannold also told the Stanwood-Camano News in part:

The board is not sure how long the routes will be cut. Hannold said they are investigating the initiation of a fare system that would help to alleviate the burden of the 411 routes’ additional expense.
“I’ve been pushing for a fare system since the get-go,” Hannold said. “Riders need to have a stake in this; it doesn’t come for free.”
A fare system, he said, would be helpful in many ways.
For one, the House and the Senate have approved funding for the Everett connector, Hannold said, though it is awaiting the governor’s signature. To benefit, though, Island Transit is required to include fare boxes in each of their buses.
Additionally, if fare boxes are installed, Island Transit can apply for Medicaid reimbursement for paratransit expenses –a special service for disabled individuals not accommodated by the regular bus service.
Paratransit costs Island Transit approximately $1.5 million per year.
In April alone, Hannold said, the cost for paratransit services was $70,000, while Island Transit spent $180,000 on all other services combined.
“It’s costing us so much, and we’re required by law to provide it,” he said. If they could alleviate some of the cost associated with that service, Hannold thinks money could be redirected toward other things, which may include reintroducing the 411 routes down the road – a service that has cost them around $500,000 over the past six months.
“We just don’t have it,” Hannold said.

Figure this will help fuel the debate that should have happened, like oh, last November.  I even had inside information on 2 July of 2014 this was a distinct possibility.  Yet no action until too late… the blame falls on both Skagit Transit & Island Transit for not being proactive with contingency planning for this day.

North by Northwest 63: Barring Rep. Dave Hayes Amendment Passing, the Tri-County Connector Will Die 31 July

Black & White of an Island Transit 411W at Oak Harbor
My photo of an Island Transit Route 411W Tri-County Connector

On 22 May 2015, the Island Transit Board made the gut-wrenching decision that due to Island Transit’s fiscal troubles, the lack of state support and the refusal of Skagit Transit to serve to Deception Pass to unless Representative Dave Hayes’ amendment passes stand down the Tri-County Connector on 31 July.  That means no Island Transit service not just to March’s Point, but also no Island Transit service to Skagit Station in Mount Vernon.  Island Transit will however serve North Whidbey in a limited way up to Deception Pass and provide services for Camano Island residents to link to Stanwood & Community Transit services flowing from Stanwood to points south.  Overall, although Island Transit Boardmembers were audibly if not visibly distraught at making this decision – and there’s video below, without the Hayes Amendment to provide some state funding connected to charging a fare, the money is just not in Island Transit coffers to provide linkage services between Whidbey Island & Camano Island.

To spare our Seattle Transit Blog e-mails as I too am on e-mail subscription, I’ve put in a Read More jump below.  Also figure some of you may not be interested…

Continue reading “North by Northwest 63: Barring Rep. Dave Hayes Amendment Passing, the Tri-County Connector Will Die 31 July”

North by Northwest View 17: A Rider’s Suboptimum Experience on Sounder North…

A Sounder North Train Pulls Into Mukilteo Station... In Kodachrome

My photo: A Sounder North Train Pulls Into Mukilteo Station… In Kodachrome


I’ve decided to divided this write-up into three sections: The trip home, the Sound Transit response, suggested rider experience improvements and concluding thoughts.  With that, here goes.

The Trip Home

Recently, I was in Mukilteo combining a fact-finding mission with business travel and got to as part of that fact-finding mission interview Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.  As part of that fact-finding mission, I took Sounder North to Mukilteo Station from Everett Station and then erred doing the same going back.  However, I did get this nice photo of almost 70 cars in the Mukilteo Station parking lot:

Mukilteo Station at 4:23 PM, 8 May 2015

Problem is, I was a bit early to the first 4:47 PM train but had to wait until (according to my camera) 5:18 PM for my train to Everett – a full 31 minutes late.  I also had to relieve me behind the bush as there was no public restroom – an act degrading to my dignity and possibly to Mukilteo residents’ dignity as well.  Between me with a simple LG 500G Tracfone and a lady crossing the train tracks with a smartphone we were unable to check the Sound Transit website because our phones would be unable to handle the Sound Transit website – too much data or something.

          [For those on e-mail subscription like I, I’ve decided to insert a jump point here so if you want to read the rest of the story – just click the header.  Or if you’re at the full size page read on.]

Continue reading “North by Northwest View 17: A Rider’s Suboptimum Experience on Sounder North…”

North by Northwest 62: Take the 20th Off If You Can… and Come to Anacortes

Vigor Sea Trials M/V Samish

WSDOT Flickr Feed: Vigor Sea Trials M/V Samish

No seriously.  If you can get the 20th off, you should.  I’m only going to advertise this event once but wanted to give maximum notice so transit geeks can file to get the day off.  Granted I wish WSDOT had the M/V Samish open house and Washington Policy Center/WPC had their upcoming pundit fest on Saturday the 23rd*, but oh well.

On May 20th, it’s going to be a great day to be a transit geek in Anacortes.  One thing I should note from the get-go is that Skagit Transit Route 410 – which has connections in 413 to Burlington & 40X to Mount Vernon – will take you right up to the open house and is a short walk away from the WPC event.   Below are many details of the M/V Samish open house to check out the new ferry and get to see the wheelhouse and hopefully more normally off limits to passengers for logical reasons.

Vigor Sea Trials M/V Samish

M/V Samish Christening and Open House
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Anacortes Ferry Terminal

2100 Ferry Terminal Road Anacortes, WA 98221

Open House hours are from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Stop by any time throughout the day to explore your new ferry and take part in the festivities

Complimentary refreshments served

 Activities for kids

Christening celebration at 1:30 p.m.

Remarks from dignitaries

Tribal ceremony with the Samish Indian Nation

 Vessel christening by First Lady Trudi Inslee

This event is free of charge, open to the public and is ADA accessible.

Getting to the event

The event will be held aboard the M/V Samish at the Anacortes ferry terminal. Visitors coming from the mainland may drive and park in the upper lot of the Anacortes terminal. Visitors coming from the islands are encouraged to walk-on rather than bringing a vehicle. Passengers arriving via ferry will be issued tickets for free walk-on return passage, valid for same day travel.


Parking in the Anacortes terminal upper parking lot is free for this event. As you approach the ferry terminal, stay to the left to avoid the line for the tollbooths and follow the signs for event parking. Shuttle service will run continuously between the upper parking lot and the terminal building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Need more info?

If you have a question about the Samish Christening and Open House or would like more information, please contact Event Coordinator Rachel Waitt at rachel.waitt-AT-wsdot-DOT-wa-DOT-gov or (206) 515-3944.

Because I’m a nice person, I decided to convert Rachel’s e-mail to anti-spam.  But based on photos of the MV Tokitae open house including inside the wheelhouse, it’s well worth the trip to Anacortes.

Also later that day between 5 PM & 7 PM, Washington Policy Center/WPC is having a free reception with all their pundits at the San Juan Airlines terminal at the Anacortes Airport – a 15 minute hike from Hwy 20 & Anacopper Rd.  All obviously includes WPC’s Transportation Center Director Bob Pishue so if you want to ask Bob a few questions in person about transit because you – like me – will be a mile or so away checking out a new ferry, you may.  Just please be polite with Bob.

Finally, Anacortes is relatively transit-friendly.  For a mere $2 dollars for an all day pass, you can use as much Skagit Transit/SKAT as you need to within Skagit County for the same day you buy the pass.  On the hour during this open house is a quick ride between the Anacortes Ferry Terminal and the downtown area where there’s fast food and seafood restaurants plus some great parks.  Just something to keep in mind.  Please fire off comments if you want some tips where to photograph or eat in Anacortes or how to get to/from Anacortes.  I’m certainly going to avail me of some of the trails.

Maybe we’ll all have an impromptu meet up at the WPC event at 1630 before I bow out at 1730 to head home… or we could meet-up on the MV Samish before the event ends at 4 & I depart to the airport.   Thoughts?

Photo credits: WSDOT Flickr Feed


*The 16th would be problematic to say the least for avgeeks due to Heritage Flight Museum & Paine Field Aviation Day – both of which seemingly require either long walks or hiring a taxicab from the nearest bus stop.  But I digress..

North by Northwest Big Interview 01: Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson


Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson

          A while ago on a Sunday Open Thread, I aired a trial balloon of doing a podcast on transit issues.  Most of you in the STB comment threads wanted text instead so I’m going to oblige.  I’m hoping based on the responses here to make time to do this monthly or twice a month with a major newsmaker who we would not hear from otherwise that has an impact on transit services north of Lynnwood.  So here we go with the North by Northwest Big Interview!

          For my first subject, I decided to choose a friendly face and also a voice who in some of the big debates affecting the North by Northwest region who has not been heard from.  From the Future of Flight Transit Desert to the proposed Paine Field Terminal – the media has (mostly) neglected Mayor Jennifer Gregerson’ s voice.  Today is about turning that around and I sincerely appreciate her interest and participating.

          In this interview we discussed Sounder North, a substantial subject of yesterday’s main post’s comment thread.  We also discussed potential transportation options to the potential Paine Field Terminal that Propeller Airports wants to build, Community Transit, Swift 2 and finally the Future of Flight transit desert.  I’ve helpfully included appropriate pictures and hyperlinks.

          For those on e-mail subscription like I, I’ve decided to insert a jump point here so if you want to read the whole interview – just click the header.  For the over 1,200 word interview itself, read on.

Continue reading “North by Northwest Big Interview 01: Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson”

North by Northwest 61: A Sounder North Quarterly Ridership Report

View post on imgur.com

Thursday night, I prepped the below table for a Friday interview that hopefully will go public Sunday at 12:01 AM.  But I figured it was time to put together a ridership table for the controversial Sounder North train run.  I got the Average Mean Daily Ridership by dividing the quarterly total boardings/ridership by 65 or 13 weeks X 5 days.  I then divided that number by two to get an – arguably inflated – estimate of the users using the run round trip under “AMDR/2 for Round-Trip Estimate“.  Finally due to Sounder North’s ridership depending on among other things slides and the economy to record growth by the same quarter in the previous year.  Hopefully this helps the conversation.

View post on imgur.com

So here you go.  It appears to me from the above we’re talking about a transit service that only serves 500-600 regular commuters or so.

If you want the Excel table, please e-mail me at growlernoise-at-gmail-dot-com and put in the subject line, “SOUNDER NORTH EXCEL SPREADSHEET PLEASE”.

Also would like to embed the spreadsheet, but having no luck.

Programming Note: I also yesterday had less than optimum ridership experience using Sounder North – again partially due to a need to see the Mukilteo Station’s behind schedule progress for North by Northwest – and will write about that next week after I verify some things that affirm my views on Sounder North.  Also will hopefully, finally get an Island Transit update out the door.

WPC: “Sound Transit officials may not need any tax increase to build more light rail”

Folks, if there’s any truth in this Washington Policy Center op-ed, I think we need to discuss a potential option if we do not get ST3.  Most of us here are not too keen on extending the spine to Everett with an expensive Paine Field detour of questionable value when a better bus network & a vastly improved marketing campaign would work wonders.  Almost all of us here are of the view that Ballard needs a light rail spur.

So when I came across these Washington Policy Center allegations, I had to share so we could discuss this:

Sound Transit officials may not need any tax increase to build more light rail.  How?  Because of the revenue that is hidden in the way Sound Transit officials calculate their future borrowing costs.

Sound Transit officials’ most recently adopted financial plan through 2023 assumes they will borrow $7.3 billion at a 5.75% interest rate, paid off over 30 years.  Their interest rate cost assumption is high, especially since they are actually issuing debt now at far-lower interest rates.

In 2012 Sound Transit officials borrowed $216 million at a rate of only 2.62%, less than half of what they assume as their future interest rate cost.  Just a few months ago, they borrowed $1.3 billion as a federal TIFIA loan at a 2.38% interest rate.  The TIFIA loan can be paid off over 40 years, and the first payment isn’t due until 2028!  Today, Sound Transit could borrow money for 30 years at fixed interest rates between 2% to 3% (or at lower variable rates), about half of its current budget assumption.

So what does this mean?

If Sound Transit officials simply changed their financial plan to assume a more-realistic 3% interest rate, they could borrow an additional $2.2 billion without raising regressive taxes and keep their debt payments the same.   That is enough public money to build light rail to downtown Redmond (approximately $800 million) and build much of the line from Ballard to U.W. (approximately $1.7 billion) without raising regressive tax rates at all.

Sound Transit’s financial report shows the agency thinks it can only borrow $7.3 billion at current tax rates, when they may actually be able to borrow closer to $9.4 billion without raising taxes.  This is not fair to the taxpayers.

We agree with using conservative estimates and careful budgeting by public agencies, but in this case, the interest rate estimates Sound Transit officials are using are extreme, and come at the expense of the taxpayers.

I am of the view we do need these projects as a state.  I am also of the view we need to force Snohomish County to come to reality about their transit situation.  I am finally unqualified to speak of transit needs between Tacoma & Seattle – I will leave that to the comment threads.  But this is something we in the STB community need to discuss and have a no-new-taxes contingency plan ready to unite behind and present to Sound Transit’s Board if necessary either if the legislature nips ST3 in the bud or the voters reject ST3.

One last thing: If you have evidence the above WPC op-ed is untrue, present it.  Otherwise…

North by Northwest View 16: Quit With the “Road Diets”…

Yeah, those silly “road diets”.  According to WikiPedia, road diets are:

A road diet, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby the number of travel lanes and/or effective width of the road is reduced in order to achieve systemic improvements.

Actually road diets are Beyond Stupid.  Just as much as putting more lanes on I-5… Recently the Washington Policy Center’s Bob Pishue punded away:

As Sound Transit officials prepare to take over the center lanes of I-90, their newest online advertisement asks the question, “What’s to do when we’re running out of roads?”(Their edited clip was originally from a video promoting highway building.) Unsurprisingly, their answer is to build light rail.

Yet they completely ignore the fact that public officials have continually pushed to make the public “run out” of roads. State officials are reducing the six-lane viaduct to a four-lane tunnel, guaranteeing traffic snarls around Seattle. Sound Transit is taking away the center lanes of I-90 for light rail, which the State Department of Transportation estimates will increase traffic congestion despite restriping the outer lanes. Seattle’s leaders have added to gridlock by handing over roads around the city to streetcars, transit, and bike paths. Instead of providing more general purpose access on the new SR-520 Bridge for the traveling public, state lawmakers opted instead for a new bike path and HOV/transit lanes.

Getting around is already tough out there, but it gets even tougher when public officials take away road access then say we are “running out” of capacity.

According to the aforementioned WikiPedia article, road dieting also is a problem for buses:

Road diets can negatively affect the speed and reliability of transit service operating on the roadway, particularly if bus stops are located in pullouts and traffic queues delay buses attempting to re-enter traffic. Constructing bus bulbs can mitigate these effects though this feature results in delays for other vehicles.

So what do we do?  Well then:

  1. New road lanes have limited effectiveness
  2. Use better the roads we have – and if road dieting is about safety, then reduce the speed limit
  3. Never forget real congestion relief is mass transit
  4. Require new facilities like museums & airport terminals have baked in transit structural & scheduled capability.

North by Northwest 60: Update on the Tri-County Connector Crisis

Boarding an Island Transit Tri-County Connector 411W Bus at March's Point, Anacortes

AvgeekJoe Photo: Boarding an Island Transit Tri-County Connector 411W Bus at March’s Point, Anacortes

Folks, the future of the Tri-County Connectors is uncertain but I promised you an update.  As you may know, Representative Dave Hayes has put on the table a modest proposal to, “provide $1 million to restart an important bus transit route that, until last June, operated between Camano Island and Everett.”  The catch is that fares must be charged to access the money.

Recently, the Island Transit Board had a discussion about this and is tentatively supportive of Representative Hayes’ efforts:

One thing worth noting is that it’s now 21 April and no final decision has been made even to keep the County Connectors going.   Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson (Republican) is really attempting to force the beginning of public hearings on the service change with more passion and vigor than Island County Commissioner Rick Hannold’s (Republican) pontificating bordering on rambling about the need for a fare.

One should note that come Friday will be 67 days before the possible end of this service.  Sixty seven days.  Yet it seems Island Transit Board has been timid since knowing there was a crisis in November.  At least Island Transit staff have a contingency plan if there is no state support.  If I may quote from my recent feature on the Tri-County Connector crisis:

…These proposed connections are highly problematic.  That’s if Island Transit Board … decides to keep the Island County Connector.  One option, called “Proposal 2” and page four (4) of this Scribd link shows a proposal to only serve Deception Pass.  For Skagit Transit (Skagit County’s county level transit net), they’d have to make it to Cornet Bay to link up with Island Transit at all.

The other option best explained on page 8 shows a schedule that allows commuters to get off the main islands of Island County, but not necessarily get back.  Commuters seeking to leave Whidbey would have to be ready to accept a 3 PM departure from Harbor Station, Oak Harbor to arrive at Skagit Station at 4 PM.  The bus would then depart at 4:10, run to Camano and arrive at 4:40 PM – passing the bus going the other way.  To get from Camano to Whidbey you’d have to leave Camano at 3:30 PM, arrive Skagit Station at 4:05 PM, then leave Skagit Station, Mount Vernon at 4:15 to arrive at Harbor Station, Oak Harbor at 5:15 PM.  So if you work in Everett and need to get to Camano in the afternoon but miss that first northbound Skagit Transit 90X connection from Everett to Skagit Station, Mount Vernon which supposed to arrive at 4 PM but can easily be delayed… you are totally stranded.

So what is the solution?  One option may be delaying these runs until starting at 5 PM or 6 PM.  There already are plans for a northbound run starting at 6:35 AM and another southbound run at 6:45 AM.  Or chucking the 9:35 AM northbound & 9:55 AM southbound routes and making another late afternoon or early evening run.

With this Proposal 1 in play thanks to Representative Dave Hayes, the focus should be on commuters.  Doubly so with fares being required to get the $1 million state match for the biennium.  Gone are the days when a $6 million biennium start-up grant could be lobbied for this route.  Make sure to e-mail info-at-islandtransit.org your thoughts on this

But even with the recent fiasco around ORCA & Link Light Rail, I’m sure many of you would agree with Representative Hayes, “Riders need to have skin in the game.  All other transit systems are charging a fare. Many people who were using the Island Transit Everett Connector before it closed told me they would have gladly paid the fare, especially if it would have kept the route open. They’re willing to pay, so this amendment makes that a requirement in order to release those funds.”

Ultimately, let’s hope Friday the Island Transit Board will at least commit to the route and public outreach.  67 days to go… with a state legislature giving signals of going into indefinite deadlock over budgets.

In other Island Transit news, Oak Harbor Mayor Scott “Studley” Dudley who is widely credited with removing Martha Rose from the Island Transit Executive Director position last year is not seeking reelection due to his inability to work with the Oak Harbor City Council.  However, former Island Transit Boardmember Jim Campbell who graciously resigned from the Island Transit Board last year will give current Oak Harbor City Councilman Bob Severns a run for the money in the quest to be Mayor of Oak Harbor, Island County’s largest municipality.  If the Whidbey News-Times newsroom are worth their salaries, they’ll ask about Island Transit.

It’s safe to say North by Northwest would have endorsed “Studley” for Mayor based on cleaning Island Transit up and forcing the discussion of new revenue streams to Island Transit.  His looming presence and legacy in the Island Transit debate will be deeply missed.

North by Northwest 59: Polite Reminder on Everett Transit Service Change…

Your Mr. North by Northwest is slammed this week, so between the big comment thread from Sunday’s open thread on the main page and my workload, I’m just going to take five to post a polite reminder of the last two Everett Transit the August 2015 service change planning meetings:

Monday, April 20, 2015
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Everett Station, Dan Snow Room
3201 Smith Avenue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Everett Public Library, Evergreen Branch
9512 Evergreen Way

I come down on the side that since money is being spent on these public meetings by the transit agencies we cover, maybe we at Seattle Transit Blog should be advertising them… and encouraging attendance.  Whether it’s to discuss the service changes, give an atta-girl (or atta-boy), or concerns with the agency in question; methinks we’re cheerleaders for transit service.

Programming Update: Whidbey-Skagit-Snohomish Tri-County Connector update tomorrow, I promise now that I’ve got the video.  After-action report from this meeting sometime this week…

PTI, but Mr. North by Northwest has a Photo of the Week to share…

Your humble North by Northwester correspondent who asked you at one point to Please Photograph Transit wanted to rekindle our passion for photographing transit w/ Sound Transit’s choice of a Photo of the Week:

Sound Transit Photo of the Week

Sound Transit Photo
Photo for week of April 17, 2015

The fashionable ride

You already knew that Link was fashionable, but a photo shoot at SODO Station this week made it official. The photo shoot was for Seattle Fashion Week, June 11-13, to encourage people to take transit to the show.

Food for thought folks… hopefully helping you advocate for transit in a non-confrontational, collaborative and artistic way.

North by Northwest 58: Everett Transit Annual Service Change Outreach

Everett Transit New Hybrid Buses (one is mine!)
Frank Boston Photo: “Everett Transit New Hybrid Buses (one is mine!)”

Everett Transit has some serious changes in the works for August.  Such changes include increase frequency on Route 7 to reach out to North Everett & Everett Community College, thin some routes and eliminate the Everett Station to/from Everett Mall express (Route 701) that hasn’t worked out.  Below are the remaining meetings to give input:

Thursday, April 16, 2015
4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Everett Public Library, Evergreen Branch
9512 Evergreen Way

Monday, April 20, 2015
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Everett Station, Dan Snow Room
3201 Smith Avenue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Everett Public Library, Evergreen Branch
9512 Evergreen Way

Alternatively you may submit comments by email or call Everett Transit at 425-257-7777.  The Service Change Proposal Brochure is here.


First, these are my personal views after spending several hours doing other work to calm down after reading some hand-wringing over ST3.   After reading the hand-wringing and hearing the gawdawful sissy excuse-making below from The Stranger, one must wonder if Seattle legislators have the right guts & glory to get ST3’s flag on the hill so voters can decide without a Drill Sergeant giving them discipline & focus:

In an April 1 meeting, Ric Ilgenfritz, Sound Transit’s Executive Director of Planning, Environment and Project Development, issued a warning to a group of a transit advocates: “If one person gets pissed off, this whole thing can crash.”

Well, here’s one person who’s already pissed off: Representative Reuven Carlyle, the Democrat whose district covers downtown Seattle, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Ballard.

“I’m pretty sure that as much as we’re committed as a delegation and a region to being 110 percent supportive of Sound Transit, [ST3] didn’t come down from Mount Sinai written in stone,” Carlyle told me yesterday, his voice cracking at times with almost Biblical anger. “Just because they want it doesn’t, in and of itself, make it religiously pure.”

“They’re asking for taxing authority that comes out of our pocket,” Carlyle adds. “Of course they would like it. I would like ice cream as well.”

Carlyle’s beef with ST3 is that it relies, in part, on what he says is the state’s portion of property tax authority, which he believes the state needs in order to properly fund education. In other words, he fears we’re about to sacrifice education funding on the altar of improved mass transit.

Sound Transit has requested a property tax of up to 25 cents per $1,000 property value to fund ST3. “That $0.25 is ‘in the gap,'” Carlyle explains, “meaning it effectively uses the state’s portion of the property tax.”

. . .

“Reuven’s concerns are legitimate,” says Farrell (D-North Seattle), “and are something that are shared, as we’re trying to figure out the McCleary [education funding] issue.”

It’s up to the Seattle delegation to play hardball, she argues, against the Republicans, who are pitting transportation against education. “My constituents care about trains and they care about education,” she says. “In an ideal world, we’re not having these debates next to each other.”

Newsflash: Rep. Carlyle with much business experience (i.e. he can actually make a decision and I wish he’d have spoken up last year) might actually have a point and I would encourage you to read the whole article before passing judgement on his concerns.  I’m sure in the next 24 hours oh… the Washington Policy Center Transportation Pundit that I’ve helpfully passed the link to, the Seattle Transit Blog main page, and G*d knows who else is going to pounce on this as an excuse to kill ST3.

Now our supposedly reliable ally Rep. Farrell who according to her bio is, “an attorney with a focus on mediation, and her past professional experience includes working as the Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, an organization dedicated to expanding bus, rail, bicycle and pedestrian transportation options. Her biggest accomplishment – bringing together transit and road advocates in support of transportation initiatives that secured billions in transit funding – is also a top priority in Olympia” is seemingly about to drop out of the ST3 fight.  Oh and smearing Republicans is a) really ignorant and b) a really quick way to get ST3 killed – we North by Northwesters are fighting hard just to save a basic bus inter-county connector route with bipartisan opposition both behind us and in front of us.

Hey Representative Farrell: It’s not Republicans who are pitting transportation against education and it’s bipartisan Senate negotiating team who put on the table 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax increase for Sound Transit.  It’s Sound Transit knowing voters might get nervous at using other taxation authority decided to request 25 cents per $1,000 of property value.  Furthermore, I agree that;

Screwing around with ST3 risks scuttling its chances altogether, according to Transportation Choices Policy Director Andrew Austin. “The Sound Transit board asked for this suite of taxes for a reason,” he says, “and removing one of the three legs of this funding proposal could jeopardize ST3 both politically and financially.”

So Rep. Farrell, got anything to say for yourself?  Personally, I hope you tonight get yourself in a quiet room, pull yourself together via mediation as I have, apologize to Republicans – especially the Republicans who’ve compromised to get ST3 this far & who’ve carried the torch for transit like me, and bounce back realizing ST3 is imperfect but one of the big things we need for Seattle, Paine Field and a few other under served areas.  It’s beyond time to fall in, salute and get ready for one last gallant rush up Curtis Hill on the Yakima Firing Range in a somewhat cynical political version of “the King of the Hill” playground game to raise the ST3 flag like in another playground game called “Capture the Flag”.  HOO-RAH and fall in!

Oh and you guys wanna fiddle with the tax code – put it to voters in 2016 as an initiative and maybe many if not most of us writing & reading at STB will vote for it :-).  We just don’t have time for Tax Policy 101 at the 2 minute warning here.  Just get ST3 on the ballot and learn next time, the appropriate time to speak up to fix a major project proposal is when the proposals are being drafted and put through committee – as I very much spoke up last year.  Not when we’ve got to get a transportation package out of the State House, reconcile with the State Senate, then have the two chambers vote on reconciliation, then get the Governor’s signature and then off to the 2016 campaign – all within the next two weeks.  A lot is riding on ST3 and that transportation package, please keep this in mind.

Again, these are my personal views.  I’m rather strident in them not just because of the Paine Field angle – that I’m willing to compromise on, but because we need to replace Sounder North with something safer & better, we need a state transportation package, Snohomish County needs light rail at least to Lynnwood – preferably Everett, and I’m convinced we need Seattle to have east-west subways.  We North by Northwesters also desperately, oh so desperately need congestion relief – and that’s mass transit where 1% of the vehicles take 25% of the commuters off of I-5!!!

North by Northwest 57: Senator Bailey Is On the Case…

View post on imgur.com

State Senator Barbara Bailey, R, 10th LD

Just wanted to reassure all my readers that Senator Barbara Bailey is on the Island Transit county connector case.  One of Senator Bailey’s aides reached out yesterday to assure me, the County Connectors are Senator Bailey’s “number one transportation priority” and is very much working with Representative Dave Hayes on kick-starting Island Transit, Version 2.0.

Today the Everett Herald kindly quoted the State Senator as saying in support of Rep. Hayes’ rescue, “We as a state realize Island Transit is trying very hard to recover,” she said. “I think the time has come for them to charge fares. The cost of operating a transit system that is very much needed needs to be shared by everyone.”

I’m sure the Senator would agree with this archived Seattle Transit Blog post by Roger Valdez, one of Seattle’s intelligentsia, defending the virtue of fares:

The flawed logic comes home to roost when you consider that if we simply stopped charging for transit at the fare box—essentially creating a system wide “free ride zone”—then all those other taxes we pay would get more expensive to make up the difference. Sure, prices at the fare box have gone up, but abolishing them would mean all the other times we pay for transit would just get more expensive.

I would suggest to the We Won’t Pay folks that it is “free” that got us into this mess in the first place. The idea—as suggested on the We Won’t Pay website—that society and the economy should provide “Everything for Everyone” is what has driven government policy for the last 6 decades.

One would hope now Senator Curtis King (Republican) could please support this State House amendment to the transportation budget.  Please.

North by Northwest View 14: Public Comment for Island Transit’s 13 April 2015 Meeting

Author photo from recent Island Transit Board Meeting

Below is my written public comment for the 13 April 2015 Island Transit Special Meeting.  I have a $!%&@*^ last minute schedule conflict, so here goes.

As I cannot attend the Island Transit Board Special Meeting for 13 April due to a family situation, this is my public comment.  Please accept and share.

First, I strongly support a fare on Island Transit’s connector routes.  The message is transit users will pay up front for the transit services we use instead of just rely on sales tax subsides.  That only makes sense.  Furthermore, charging fares cause the Island Transit governance triad (board, director & director’s staff and upcoming driver’s union) to realize they have a financial stake in being responsive to riders and letting riders give input before decisions are made as riders’ fares replace grant dollars.

Second, I support with reservations Proposal 1 that was drawn up 23 March.  Proposal 1’s last transit runs should start Northbound at 6 PM and Southbound at 6:30 PM so as to help commuters.  It is very clear to me that as Republicans are on the rise in the state legislature and wish to focus on “congestion relief” we focus the County Connectors on serving commuters.  We need to realize we will likely be asking for further state financial aid and as such by being on-message with their goal of “congestion relief” we can work collaboratively to accomplish the same goal.  Furthermore by showing transit can result in effective congestion relief and helping keep disabled persons off of the dole, we align Island Transit with traditional small-c conservative causes making it more palatable to support Island Transit, Version 2.0.

Third, I did a bit of mathematics Sunday night in my consternation both at my absence and at Proposal 1’s too early final runs.  With Representative Hayes’ $1 million for the biennium and if Skagit Transit was willing to participate alongside us, we could buy back each year not three runs each way at a combined annual cost of $143,547.46 as per Proposal 1 per service day but theoretically a bit over ten (10) with $500,000 per year.

So I propose Northbound shuttles at 5:35, 6:35, 7:35, 9:35, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 & 7:00.  Southbound shuttles can start at 5:55, 6:45, 7:55, 9:55, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 & 6:30.  Notice each shuttle is only 8 not 10.  I did that so there was some money left over to install fareboxes and as a strategic reserve if there’s a drop-off in ridership, or if I’ve oversimplified the situation.

Special thanks to Representative Dave Hayes for stepping up.  Just as I hope the first P-8A Poseidon to NAS Whidbey Island is named the USS Jim Slowik after his work on the P-8A basing, I hope when these buses for these shuttles are named – they’re named the Scott Dudley Express and the Dave Hayes Express.