News roundup: Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday Afternoon Bike Ride: Spirit of Kingston

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New Lime/Jump trip data

Friend-of-STB Jonathan Hopkins of Lime tweeted six weeks of Lime Scooter and E-Bike Data:

Note that there are four times as many Jump bikes as scooters at this time. Hopkins remarks that they have about the same number of rides over this period, implying scooters have considerably more rides per vehicle.

It’s interesting that Jump is more prevalent on the outskirts. It’s not clear if this is more about where the scooters are available, or where the long-haul trips (where the bikes are more attractive) are. Indeed, Hopkins says the average bike trip is 47.8% longer.

To solve the housing crisis, build more housing

Microsoft Köln, RheinauArtOffice, Rheinauhafen Köln-3603

Before (lightly) criticizing Microsoft’s specific choices, it is important to say that their investment in local affordable housing is generous, one that their investors would probably not prefer, and that we are fortunate that that a global company is directing a disproportionate amount of its surplus to its home county.

With a total $750m commitment to the cause, the latest $65m allocation includes

$40 million into a fund operated by Urban Housing Ventures, a privately funded company focused on creating affordable apartments. UHV will use the funds to reduce the rent for 40% of units in three apartment buildings to middle-income levels.

UHV says the novel model allows investors such as itself to purchase apartment buildings and then lower the rents on some of the units without losing financial viability. The reduced rent allows buildings to operate at lower vacancy and turnover rates, offsetting some of the costs of converting the units, according to UHV.

Monica Nickelsburg, Geekwire
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News roundup: reopening

Jefferson Car Barn-1941

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News roundup: getting going

Incoming Colourful SWIFT BRT Blue Line

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KC Council quarrels over Metro service guidelines

As Metro applies its new, equity-focused framework, some North King representatives have questions

Northgate Station

Beginning last year, Metro developed a “mobility framework” that expressed the values that would guide service allocation. Alongside technocratic measures like ridership potential, the new framework considers notions of economic and racial equity to correct longtime disparities in investment. An “equity cabinet” of representatives of various disadvantaged groups would shepherd the production of derived documents like the service guidelines.

Those derived documents don’t exist yet, but the framework clearly points to substantially more investment in places like South King County. And here the framework collides with the ongoing North Link bus restructures. Specifically, the 47,000 hours that used to operate Route 41 between Northgate and Downtown, now entirely obviated by North Link.

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ST considering more changes to fares, fare enforcement

Proof of Payment Required beyond this point

At its October 22 meeting, the Sound Transit Board heard proposals to reduce concession fares for Sounder and reduce the law enforcement footprint in fare enforcement.

In community discussions about fare enforcement, ST has heard four main things:

  • fares are confusing;
  • the law enforcement character of enforcement causes “discomfort;”
  • fares are a hardship for some; and
  • riders appreciate a security presence.

In response to this feedback, and broad board settlement to meet the moment in decriminalization, ST is launching a “fare engagement ambassador” pilot program. These ambassadors will be agency employees rather than private security contractors. They will have new, less threatening uniforms, more emphasis on education and warnings, and less on infractions. Ambassadors will only call law enforcement for “other aggravating factors.”

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News roundup: slipping


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Prop 1 cruises, Washington Democrats in control, Feds TBD

Seattle’s Proposition 1, which partially preserves existing transit taxes, has 82% of counted votes. There aren’t enough uncounted registered voters to mathematically change the result.

As expected, Gov. Inslee is winning easily. Joseph O’Sullivan says ($) that if current results hold, Democrats may gain a Senate Seat at the expense of Sound Transit nemesis Steve O’Ban, extending their new majority.

Everything is still in play at the Federal level, except the House is clearly still Democratic.

Last chance to vote in the general election!

Unless you’re really into the arcana of American politics, you may not have realized that today is Election Day.

We didn’t do formal endorsements this year, but I explained why Seattle voters should approve Prop. 1. Furthermore, Seattle Subway did their homework and released endorsements informed by very similar principles to what I would have used as a member of the Editorial Board.

Beyond Prop 1, virtually the entire state government is up for grabs. Olympia has vast power over land use and transit outcomes in Seattle and everywhere else in Washington. I hear there are some federal races too.

It is not a good idea to use the US Postal Service this late in the process. Instead, find your nearest drop box and insert your ballot no later than 8pm tonight.

Or, if you need more assistance, managed not to register to vote, or are just old-fashioned, don a mask and register and/or vote in person.

Finally, if like most eligible people you’ve already voted, please track your ballot today so that you have time to rectify any problem that arose.

News roundup: this is why

A Final Look Back at Ze MV Tokitae

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News roundup: returning

Inside Seattle's King Street Station

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Challenges, more closures for East Link construction

Bellevue Downtown Station (Sound Transit)

On October 8th System Expansion Committee received briefings on various capital projects. The centerpiece was a detailed review of East Link. The system is 85% complete, within the budget set in 2015, and on schedule for opening in July 2023. But there’s also some bad news.

Major civil engineering should be done in early 2021, and systems work by early 2022. Most of 2022 will be “pre-revenue” testing, and from September 2022 is 9 months of “float”. But some things are not going well.

Continue reading “Challenges, more closures for East Link construction”