Major Nickels pushes for Light-Rail Vote in ’08

Mayor Nickels makes a strong point in this article. General Elections during an non-Presidential election turns out much fewer voters. Coming back in 2008 would not only bring more voters but also the younger generation of voters.

Nickels recalled that Sound Transit lost its first attempt to pass a regional package in 1995, revised its plan, then won in the 1996 presidential year.

At this stage of the game, I would say it would be best to bring a much smaller, rails only vote in 2008. Light-Rail to Northgate Mall to the North, Light-Rail South to Federal Way Commons Mall to the South and a Streetcar or Light-Rail in the Bellevue – Redmond corridor, along with funding for a permanent Tukwila Station and Parking Garage. I still believe a new station at Lakeland Hills is needed. A huge amount of people from Lakeland, South Auburn, and Lake Tapps that use Sounder can benefit greatly from this additional station.

When Sound Transit was formed, Lakeland at the time was very, very small and in it’s beginning stages. Between Lakeland and Lake Tapps, a lot of the traffic is divided between Auburn and Sumner stations.

Water Taxi ridership up 32 percent for 2007

The Elliott Bay Water Taxi blew the old record out the door this year. A total of 161,331 riders used the West Seattle-to-downtown service this summer, as compared with 122,650 riders in 2006. The additional ridership revenues generated allowed King County to operate the water taxi during October weekday commute hours.

The Water Taxi also ran one month less in 2007. Not too shabby.

King County RapidRide BRT Information

Thanks to SeattlePI forum member ‘TCMetro’ for finding this great pdf file regarding RapidRide service in King County. This goes over what routes may or may not become RapidRide BRT routes and changes to current routes that will become RapidRide.

Some Highlights –

The following changes to existing routes are assumed to support the
implementation of RapidRide service (see also Table 1: Transit Now RapidRide
Improvements, page 4):

Aurora Avenue North: Route 358 would be converted to RapidRide

Ballard: Service options would involve combinations of resources
converting some or all of routes 15, 15X, 18, and 18X.

Bellevue-Redmond: Service options would involve combinations of
resources converting some or all of routes 230 and 253.

Highway 99 South: Route 174 would be converted to RapidRide service
between Tukwila/International Boulevard Link station and Federal Way,
and a new local route between Tukwila/International Boulevard Link
Station and downtown Seattle would serve the northern segment of the
current route 174.

West Seattle: Service options would involve combinations of resources
converting some or all of routes 54 and 54X to RapidRide service, and
possible changes to service levels or route structure to routes 55, 56 and

Sound Transit Q3 2007 Ridership

Some highlights from the report on the rail side…Take a look at Tacoma Link vs Everett Sounder……….

Cost per boarding Q3 2006 – $13.98
Cost per boarding Q3 2007 – $11.18

On-time performance Q3 2006 95.60%
On-time performance Q3 2007 98.06%

Q3 2006 Regular Service Everett – Commuter 45,050
Q3 2007 Regular Service Everett – Commuter 52,351

Q3 2006 Regular Service Tacoma – Commuter 355,334
Q3 2007 Regular Service Tacoma – Commuter 480,952

And Tacoma Link….

Q3 2006 Regular Service Tacoma – Streetcar – 220,149
Q3 2007 Regular Service Tacoma – Streetcar – 234,257

Q3 2006 Average Weekday Boardings – 2,914
Q3 2007 Average Weekday Boardings – 3,030

Q3 2006 Cost per boarding – $3.22
Q3 2007 Cost per board – $3.44 (Additional trips for Tacoma Dome concerts were added)

I foresee Everett Sounder getting a major boost in ridership in 2008 when Mukilteo Station opens. I really believe ridership will increase heavily when Everett, Mukilteo, and Edmonds stations get parking garages. This seems to be the consistent complaint for North Sounder riders. I do find it amusing that Tacoma Link’s ridership is half of South Sounder…Impressive even.

Central Link Progress Update

Just one more update before calling it a night. Construction crews have begun the task of “stringing” the wire along Martin Luther King Way and from Tukwila International BLVD Station down to Interstate 5. Having clean, quiet light-rail in our region is getting closer, day by day. Keep an eye out for gray or Green poles along the light-rail line. Green poles are along MLK Way. Gray is going up for the rest of the corridor. These poles are what support the Overhead Contact System (OCS) or the more common term, Catanery.

South Lake Union Streetcar

This afternoon, the South Lake Union Streetcar was being unloaded from a trailer on Terry Ave and Republican Way. I was caught off guard by this for two reasons. 1) It was on a trailer and it was already previously delivered. 2) It was coming off the trailer on battery power.

I think the highlight of this slow process is when one of the Inekon Tram folks said jokingly “Where are the brakes?” I didn’t stop by the maintenance facility but this appears to be the first Streetcar with decals and it’s Sponsorships on the side of the tram. Several King County Metro bus drivers were along for the ride as well. They were on a mission and went up for Coffee to allow the ramp to be cleared near the Maintenance Facility and did some car testing between Westlake and South Lake Union before putting the Streetcar away.

The South Lake Union Streetcar is slated to start operations on December 14th, 2007 between Westlake Center and Fred Hutchison Research Center in South Lake Union. Let’s hope this starts a revolution and get the Streetcar out to the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital in Laurelhurst

Sound Transit receive second credit rating upgrade

November 02, 2007

For the second time in two weeks, Sound Transit was rewarded for its stellar financial performance with a credit rating upgrade from one of the nation’s three major independent municipal bond rating agencies.

Standard & Poor’s announced that they have upgraded Sound Transit’s subordinate lien bond rating to AAA, signaling strong investor confidence in Sound Transit’s financial health and outlook. Standard & Poor’s also affirmed the AAA rating for Sound Transit’s senior lien bonds, a rating that was upgraded to the S&P’s highest grade back in 2006.

“Two credit upgrades in less than a month is unassailable proof taxpayers can have total confidence in Sound Transit’s financial health,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “Now we can get even more bang for the buck as we move forward with regional transit projects.”