Two Key Climate & Transit Bills Face Wednesday Deadline

Update: Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1110 passed 53-43-0-2 this evening after 9 amendments and hours of debate. It now goes to the Senate, where it faces an even tougher audience.

5:00 Wednesday is the deadline for bills to get voted out of their original chamber.

Second Substitute House Bill 1110, which would bring Washington up to speed with California and Oregon on fuel pollution standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is still sitting on the floor calendar. Even though the bill won’t get Washington’s climate emissions headed downward by the 2020 deadline set by many scientists, every bit helps.

SHB 1793, the surviving bill to allow Seattle to use automated camera enforcement for its bus lanes, is also still on the floor calendar. The bill would allow Seattle to use the cameras for other neat purposes too, like fining box blockers, crosswalk blockers, and emergency vehicle blockers.

These bills might not come to a vote at all if representatives don’t hear from their constituents that the bills are important.

You can look up your legislators’ contact information here.

ORCA Pod Welcomes Monorail

The monorail in the 1962 World’s Fair Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

At its March meeting Monday, the Regional Fare Coordination Committee, a.k.a. ORCA Joint Board, unanimously approved an agreement that would allow the Seattle Center Monorail to start accepting ORCA payments.

The estimated start date for ORCA on the monorail is Metro’s September service change. In the meantime, the monorail has started accepting debit/credit card payment.

Continue reading “ORCA Pod Welcomes Monorail”

27 Multi-Modal/Climate Bills Survive Transportation Committees

Northgate Link Construction
Northgate Link, which will relieve I-5 of tens of thousands of peak commuters, but is nevertheless not considered a “highway purpose”. A little negotiation on a bipartisan Constitutional Amendment could fix that.
Credit: Atomic Taco

Friday was the deadline for bills in Olympia to get out of the fiscal committees. Now, all the survivors have to get through their chamber’s Rules Committee, and get passed on 2nd/3rd reading on their chamber’s floor, by 5 pm on Wednesday, March 13.

The extremely user-friendly state legislative website lists bills that have made it out of each committee.

Among the 50 bills that got voted out of the House Transportation Committee, 13 substantially impact transit, bikes, and pedestrians:

Continue reading “27 Multi-Modal/Climate Bills Survive Transportation Committees”

Pellicciotti / Transit Advocates Working to Close the Gap on HB 2123

Will a Federal Way state representative’s bill delay Federal Way Link’s opening date?

House Bill 2123 is on the agenda for action by the House Transportation Committee this afternoon (starting at 1:00), but is not expected to pass out of committee yet. Nor have any committee members offered an amendment to the bill by the deadline to do so in order to be part of this afternoon’s consideration. Friday is the deadline for most bills in that committee that aren’t necessary to the state budget. However, this afternoon is the committee’s last scheduled meeting this week.

Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D – Federal Way), prime sponsor of HB 2123, indicated by email that work continues on the bill, and he hopes to moved it forward next week, with the bill being considered “necessary to the budget”, meaning it has no deadline except sine die.

Continue reading “Pellicciotti / Transit Advocates Working to Close the Gap on HB 2123”

New ST Funding Reduction Bill About to Be Fast-Tracked

A new bill that will reduce Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) funding stream will be introduced Monday, heard in the House Transportation Committee at 1:30 pm Tuesday afternoon, and is expected to be voted out of committee by Friday’s cut-off.

Rep. Mike Pellicciotti

House Bill 2123, by Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D – Federal Way) would implement a market-value adjustment program on Sound Transit’s portion of MVET payments, starting in 2020.

The bill is sponsored by 30 House Democrats, including 9 of the 17 Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee.

Eight who represent portions of Seattle are on the sponsor list, including:

  • Committee 2nd Vice Chair Javier Valdez
  • Steve Bergquist
  • Lauren Davis
  • Zach Hudgins
  • Eric Pettigrew
  • Jerry Pollett
  • Cindy Ryu
  • Sharon Tomiko Santos

The other 8 sponsors on the committee are:

  • 2nd Vice Chair Vandana Slatter (Bellevue)
  • Pellicciotti
  • Debra Entenman (Kent)
  • Shelley Kloba (Kirkland)
  • John Lovick (Mill Creek)
  • Jared Mead (Mill Creek)
  • Lillian Ortiz-Self (Mukilteo)
  • Bill Ramos (Issaquah)

Since the bill is just being introduced, sponsors have the option of submitting a card to pull their name from the sponsor list by the end of business Monday. You can look up your two representatives and contact them through the district-finder tool. Olympia office phone numbers are all listed at the members’ list page.

Continue reading “New ST Funding Reduction Bill About to Be Fast-Tracked”

More Bus Cancellations, Fewer Bus Lanes, Because Presidents’ Day

Credit: George H. W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum

Just when you thought it was safe to depend on apps that use the regular schedule to tell you when your bus is scheduled to come, a holiday that many don’t pay attention to is upon us. Yes, it is … (checks calendar) … Presidents’ Day!

Most King County Metro routes will be running on their regular weekday schedule. A bunch will have specified runs cancelled: 102, 111, 114, 121, 122, 123, 125, 143, 157, 167, 168, 169, 177, 179, 186, 187, 192, 197, 212, 214, 218, 219, 232, 243, 244, 249, 252, 255, 257, 269, 271, 277, 303, 311, 312, 342, 907, and 931. Cancelled trips show with an “H” or “D” in the timetables.

A few Metro routes will not be running at all today: 201, 237, 304, 308, 316, 330, 355, 661, and 930.

Sounder and all ST Express routes will operate on their normal weekday schedules, while Link Light Rail will operate every 10 minutes all day until late in the evening, but with 3-car trains, and Tacoma Link operates on its Sunday schedule, running every 24 minutes from 9:48 am to 5:48 pm (which you have to go to the printed schedule to figure out).

More agencies after the jump…

Continue reading “More Bus Cancellations, Fewer Bus Lanes, Because Presidents’ Day”

Community Transit Proposes Low-Income Fare

CT 18700 in Downtown Everett
Credit: Bruce Englehardt / flickr

Last Thursday, Community Transit announced a proposal for a low-income fare on CT buses.

The proposal would establish a low-income fare of $1.25 on local buses and $2.00 on inter-county commuter buses.

Public comments are being accepted through March 8. A public hearing will be held on March 7. The link above provides several media through which to ask questions and submit comments. The CT Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal April 4.

Update: A previous version of this chart showed the wrong local youth fare. Sorry.

If approved, the fares would take effect on July 1.

Continue reading “Community Transit Proposes Low-Income Fare”

Many Bus Routes Cancelled Through Sunday, Possibly Several Days Longer

Have you ever seen Metro’s Snow, Ice, and Flood Alerts page turn blue? It did today.

Update 2: STB now has a Snow Info Page, linked on the top bar, providing links to snow service pages for all transit agencies around Puget Sound and most around the state.

Update 1: King County Metro has pushed out an announcement that it will continue on the Emergency Snow Network Sunday, and updated its website with the same information. However a 90% chance of snow is predicted for Sunday evening and Monday.

In case you haven’t looked outside since early yesterday, it snowed yesterday, all afternoon, all evening, and all morning so far.

The authorities heeded the meteological scientists’ warnings, and took drastic action.

On Thursday, Governor Inslee delared a State of Emergency, limiting what vehicles are allowed to drive on state roads and highways, and begging people to stay home, lest they get frostbitten in the sub-freezing temperatures that will reach as low as 13 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday, and listed safety tips so nobody dies of carbon monoxide poisoning while staying home.

King County Metro has taken a step into the blue-pill abyss, cancelling many snow routes and moving to its Emergency Snow Network. Only 48 Metro routes are running today, including two different versions of route 62, special route 90 connecting a circular swath of First Hill to 3rd Ave via Jackson St, a 252 shuttle, two versions of route 255, two versions of route 348, and two versions of the C Line. The County smartly waited until 4 am to go live with the network, in order to get people home safely last night.

Even if your route is running today, and the map looks like your normal stops are being served, your normal stops might not be served, so check the Alerts for your route.

Sound Transit‘s difficult-to-navigate new website and alerts page is somewhat less useful for figuring out where your route has been re-routed. I suggest checking out their most recent tweets. The latest tweet says their static snow re-routes page accurately describes the current ST Express bus routing.

All that said, Link Light Rail has been running just fine. Indeed, it came to the rescue yesterday, running more frequently mid-day due to a ridership spike from people smartly going home early. Today, it is merely the only transit running on schedule.

Most paratransit operations are only providing medically-necessary trips today.

other transit agencies are covered below the fold

Four Bills Aim to Clear Unauthorized Cars Out of HOV and Bus-Only Lanes

Video courtesy Rooted in Rights

Update: The two automated camera enforcement bills are scheduled for hearings next week. Senate Bill 5789 will be heard Monday at 3:30 pm. House Bill 1793 will be heard Thursday, February 14 at 3:30 pm.

Four bills were introduced last week — two pairs of identical “companion” bills – to give WSDOT and local governments more tools to get cars out of lanes they aren’t supposed to be in. Senate Bill 5695 had its hearing (TVW recording) in the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1710, by Rep. Jake Fey (D – Tacoma) and SB 5695, by Sen. Marko Liias (D – Lynnwood), would raise the fine for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane violations. The current fine is $136. Under the bill, the fine for a first infraction would be $242. The second violation would cost $499. Additional infractions would cost $755 per occurrence. The two bills were requested by WSDOT.

At the hearing for SB 5695, Sen. Liias gave anecdotal testimony, from the experience of a friend who has a baby in the back seat, that lane violators are probably being caught roughly once per hundred times they wrongfully enter HOV lanes.

Travis Snell, Government Relations Liaison for WSDOT testified:

The current penalty of $136 for an HOV [lane] violation provides little deterrent to violators. In some places as many as 50% of HOV [lane] users do not meet minimum occupancy requirements. HOV lanes carry more people than adjacent general-purpose lanes due to higher occupancy of each vehicle.

However, only 1 of the 10 monitored HOV peak-direction corridors met the state performance standard in 2017, down from 2 corridors previously. The degree of compliance with the performance standard worsened for all 10 monitored locations in 2017 compared to 2016.

Continue reading “Four Bills Aim to Clear Unauthorized Cars Out of HOV and Bus-Only Lanes”

Hello, Tunnel & Snow

Several bus routes start using this red bus-only lane on Columbia St today.

Photo courtesy SDOT.

The car tunnel under downtown opens today, and will be free until at least summer.

Routes 21x, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 121, 122, 123, 125, and the C Line shift to the blue path southbound today. Northbound paths continue to follow the yellow line this week. Click here to enlarge.

West Seattle and Burien express buses will now use Columbia St (with its recently-painted bus lane from west of 3rd Ave to 1st Ave), 1st Ave S, Dearborn, and then S Highway 99 to exit downtown. Northbound paths into downtown for these buses will continue as they have been the past three weeks.

The northbound exit from Highway 99 onto Dearborn St will take another 1-2 weeks to finish, so don’t drive north on Highway 99 to downtown if you don’t want to go through the tunnel.

All that said, your new bus routes could be pre-empted by snow re-routes. Check out Metro’s winter weather page for a map of where snow re-routes are in effect, links to winter traffic alerts and apps that will help you navigate your commute in the snow. Ride2 service is cancelled. Community Transit is warning of 60 minute delays across the board. Sounder is delayed. Link is operating normally.

Or, consider hanging out safely at home today.

This is an open thread.

99 Tunnel Party Saturday; Opens Monday; Downtown Off-Ramp Needs at Least Another Week

Correction 1: The original claim on this post of free water taxi service was incorrect. The author apologizes for the error.

Correction 2: Only one ramp will still be closed Monday — the northbound ramp from Highway 99 to Dearborn St — while the seven other ramps will be open. Northbound bus re-routes will continue as they are now, while southbound bus re-routes will shift to 1st Ave S, Dearborn and then S Hwy 99. See the map below.

The Highway 99 tollway under downtown opens Monday, and will be free for a few months, at least until summer. However, the downtown off-ramp to Dearborn St will not be open yet. That is expected to take another 1-2 weeks to be ready.

New ramps will include:

  • NorthBound off-ramp to Alaskan Way S./Downtown (before tunnel, still closed for 1-2 more weeks)
  • NB on-ramp from South Royal Brougham Way (into tunnel)
  • NB on-ramp from Harrison Street
  • NB off-ramp to Mercer Street/I-5 (after leaving tunnel)
  • SouthBound off-ramp to Denny Way/Downtown (before tunnel)
  • SB on-ramp from Sixth Avenue North (into tunnel)
  • SB on-ramp from South Dearborn Street
  • SB off-ramp to Stadiums, Interstates and Ferries (after leaving tunnel)
Continue reading “99 Tunnel Party Saturday; Opens Monday; Downtown Off-Ramp Needs at Least Another Week”

News Roundup: Black Women Do Bike

Bike lanes will be replaced 1-for-1 in the new tunnel. (Bruce Englehardt)
  • Gothamist schooled New Jersey car commuter Whoopie Goldberg on bike lanes, safety, and entitlement. She later walked back her series of rants against NYC bike lanes, sort of.
  • Phyllis Porter, advocate for safe streets and building more family-sized affordable housing, and founder of the local chapter of Black Girls Do Bike, is jumping into the race for Bruce Harrell’s open seat.
  • Cutting 3 minutes from First Hill Streetcar trips costs no more than $75,000, but — guess what — “local business owners and property owners pushed back.” It would be great to know which businesses on Capitol Hill don’t like fast transit. But CHS reports the plan is not yet dead.
  • Mountlake Terrace Station open house report.
  • ECB is not impressed that Alex Pedersen, a candidate for Rob Johnson’s open seat, has deleted his social media posts opposing ST3, bike lanes, and HALA.
  • West Seattle Blog covers the daily Highway 99 closure multi-agency media conferences consistently. The tunnel opening is still on track for February 4, but the northbound exit into downtown on Dearborn will open at least a week later. Laura Newborn of WSDOT warns drivers not to return to their pre-shutdown routine:

If 90,000 drivers decide to get back in their cars, there’s no question that things will get worse quickly – don’t do it!

This is an open thread.

Post-Viaduct Open Thread Day 6: Accessibility for People With Disabilities

Well-used sign at the lone elevator between SeaTac Airport Station’s kiss&ride and bridge Credit: Earl Gipson The SeaTac Blog

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

If you have a disability that, combined with poorly-planned public infrastructure (such as sidewalk furniture), or a lack of public infrastructure, makes commuting difficult — and this doesn’t just have to be about getting around downtown — let’s talk about that infrastructure.

Let’s also go meta on how accessible Seattle Transit Blog is to people with various disabilities. How can we serve you better?

This is an open thread.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions on the Fast Track in Olympia

Walla Walla wind farm

photo by Umptanum / wikipedia

The Washington State Legislature opened the 2019 regular session Monday. Seven bills directed at dealing with greenhouse gas emissions had already been pre-filed, with most of them scheduled for hearings this week.

At the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D – Seattle) introduced Senate Bill 5116, which would:

Continue reading “Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions on the Fast Track in Olympia”

Post-Viaduct Day 4 Open Thread: Cycletopia Rising

We’ve heard stories of how smooth commuting has been for transit riders since the Alaskan Way Viaduct shut down.

We’ve also seen a spike in bicycle commuting, in the middle of a literal Seattle Freeze.

So, tell us what is missing in your cycling commutes that makes you feel less safe.

This is an open thread.

Post-Viaduct Day 3 Open Thread: Please Make Space for Your Fellow Riders

The already-unburied ramps at the south end of the former viaduct (photo by Bruce Englehardt)

Some buses were reported to be skipping stops yesterday when they were “full”. Not all “full” buses are really full, because riders don’t always fill the standing space in the back. So, please be kind to your fellow riders down-route who also need to get on the bus. If you are standing, move all the way back. Fill up that back section where people don’t like to stand. Tell the jerk blocking the aisle to either move back, or let you by. Operators: Please don’t just assume your bus is full. Ask the passengers to please move back so more passengers can board, and tell them you aren’t moving until they move back. If nobody moves, get out, walk to the back, knock on the window, and wave at the aisle-blocking passengers to move back.

And if you are sitting, don’t put your bag on the seat next to you.

Graphic courtesy Sound Transit

This is an open thread.