The Bellevue Transportation Commission is stalling on downtown bicycle lanes

Main St in Bellevue, where a bike lane is being considered (Image: Dan Ryan)

By BRAD HAVERSTEIN

Bellevue may have decided to make the 108th Ave NE bike lane it built last year permanent, but when it comes to expanding the city’s downtown cycling network the Bellevue Transportation Commission seems to be at odds with City Council. On May 23rd the Commission split 3-3 over whether to add bicycle lanes along two blocks of Main ST between Bellevue Way and 108th Ave NE, despite the fact that City Council strongly supports the project. Following the split, the Commission voted to delay further discussion, but did not choose a specific date to revisit the plan, leaving it unclear how the process will move forward.

This is the second time that the Commission has punted consideration of extending Bellevue’s downtown bicycle network. City staff first proposed the Main ST project at the Commission’s March 28th meeting, but the issue was tabled after the Commission’s 4-2 vote to retain the existing protected bicycle lanes on 108th Ave NE.

The decision to delay comes after Commission Chair Lei Wu has received specific instructions from Bellevue City Council to evaluate options for Main ST and choose an alternative. At a May 13th study session the full Council discussed the proposal with Wu and expressed unanimous support for moving forward with an east-west bicycle facility. Since City Council strongly supports piloting more bicycle lanes, why is the Transportation Commission dithering on its responsibility?

Continue reading “The Bellevue Transportation Commission is stalling on downtown bicycle lanes”

Thinking outside the car

by JOSHUA NEWMAN, Candidate for Seattle City Council District 4

Once upon a time, it was easy to get around Seattle. Hop in the car and in 15 minutes, you were downtown; and outside of downtown, parking was easy. At least, that’s how many long-time residents remember Seattle. Congestion was infrequent and parking was plentiful.  

So today’s congestion feel like dramatic change; a rupture from the Seattle people fell in love with. But people all over the world want a safe, prosperous place to live, and Seattle has offered that. After 40 years of stable population size, Seattle has grown 30%, by 167,000 people, since 2000. We all need to move around the city, and because every level of government has subsidized car use, most people assume they will get around by car.

This assumption carries heavy costs. In 2000, the annual cost to own a car was $7,160 (2018 dollars). It’s now $8,175. A community designed around cars is a community that chains its residents to a large financial liability. This burden falls most heavily on working families, who are forced into long commutes. Meanwhile, our businesses struggle to move freight, transit riders wait for car-clogged intersections, and potential bike riders stay away in fear.

The more expensive burden – which bears repeating – is to our climate. The human species has never, in our entire existence, lived on Earth when the atmospheric carbon content was as high as it is now: 415 ppm. Seattle’s own carbon emissions continue growing, and we won’t stop that with our current incremental approach.

STB readers know it doesn’t have to be this way. We can simultaneously unlock congestion, improve equity, and address climate change locally by making it easy to get around Seattle without a car.

Continue reading “Thinking outside the car”

How Seattle can shape an equitable congestion pricing plan

Traffic on Stewart Street (Sounder Bruce – Flickr)

If done right, congestion pricing can reduce pollution and improve mobility.

by HESTER SEREBRIN, Policy Director, Transportation Choices Coalition

Seattle has a traffic problem. According to the 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, Seattle is the 6th most congested city in the country, robbing people who drive 138 hours and nearly $2,000 annually. 

Congestion also contributes to our climate crisis, with 66% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from road transportation. Commutes will only get longer and pollution worse as our city grows unless we take decisive action. Cities across the world, facing similar dilemmas, are considering congestion pricing, the only proven tool to reduce congestion. Pricing is also a tool that can be used to achieve other outcomes like mitigating local air and water pollution, and creating progressive revenue structures to support healthier and safer mobility options. While cordon pricing, charging people to drive to or within a downtown area, is the most well-known form of congestion pricing, pricing is flexible and we can find a structure that best meets our goals.

Last Thursday, the City of Seattle released a congestion pricing phase one report that provides case studies and potential pricing tools to inform Seattle’s policy development and engagement process as we explore congestion pricing. The report evaluates a variety of possible pricing scenarios based on criteria related to equity, climate and health, traffic congestion, and implementation, and outlines a process for engaging with stakeholders to ensure benefits accrue to communities who need them most. We all now have an opportunity to help shape a progressive plan that is still in the early stages of policy development.

Transportation Choices Coalition is working to bring more and better transportation choices to Washington State, improving access and mobility for all. As the report identifies, our current transportation system is inequitable, drawing from regressive revenue sources, struggling to provide affordable and reliable options to those pushed out by growth, and creating poor air quality disproportionately in communities of color. We believe that if done right, congestion pricing has the ability to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and generate progressive revenue to reinvest in a robust transportation system. There are understandable concerns that a poorly planned pricing system could hurt low-income communities and communities of color, and our priority is to develop a congestion pricing policy rooted in equity.  

Here’s what we want to see next from Seattle’s congestion pricing process:

Continue reading “How Seattle can shape an equitable congestion pricing plan”

Scooter share coming to Seattle: Lessons learned from Portland’s roll-out

Mayor Durkan recently announced that Seattle will be looking into how to safely welcome scooter share.

Scooters arrived in Portland, Oregon, for a pilot program last summer, and hoo-boy did they get talked about around that city. And ridden. And dumped in the Willamette River (there was a website tracking how many: 6 at one count) — oh, in portable toilets, too. But mostly ridden. They are super fun, fast enough to contribute as a transportation option, and they’re convenient to grab-and-go.

Swap out “the Willamette River” with one of our own local bodies of water, and pretty much everything written above could have been said (probably was said) during the roll-out of our Seattle bike share program a couple years ago. But when it comes to safety, scooters are different, and Seattle will need the right regulations for a scooter share program to work well. The scooters in Portland are surprisingly fast: a person standing three inches above the pavement scooting through a busy city at 15-mph is more eyebrow-raising to witness in person than to read about in print, I assure you. Additionally, there seem to be a lot of crashes — a couple per week involving cars in the first two weeks of the program. Just applying what we’ve learned here in Seattle from bike share — and copy-pasting those newly-crafted bike share regulations over to a scooter share program — won’t be adequate.

Working down in Portland for a couple months during their initial pilot, I was able to witness and experience the roll-out of their scooter-share program (the scooters then disappeared from Portland, and just recently returned for a second pilot), and I believe scooters can work well in Seattle. But a few changes to how they’re regulated in Portland would vastly improve safety (for scooter riders and pedestrians), as well as improve the likelihood that the public embraces scooters instead of rejects them. And the importance of the latter can’t be overstated: a Google News search of “e scooters” will provide you with headline after headline describing citizen outrage or cities struggling to effectively regulate, and in the case of Paris, deciding last week to ban them [ed note: Paris banned scooters on sidewalks, not entirely]. Most importantly, Seattle must start with regulations that are consistent with human behavior. In Portland, the rules around helmets and sidewalks don’t match people’s actual behavior, making almost every scooter rider a law-breaker. Since the 15 mph governed scooter speed is based on the assumption that no one will ride on the sidewalk and everyone will wear a helmet, there is a mis-match between intended and actual behavior that leads to serious safety problems. Here are some lessons and proposals for us in Seattle:

Continue reading “Scooter share coming to Seattle: Lessons learned from Portland’s roll-out”

Pros and Cons of Truncating Bus Routes at Link: Route 150

 

Route 150 shadowing Link at SODO. Photo by Oran.

Nine years ago Martin looked at the general problem of I-5 buses terminating at Rainier Beach. However, removing buses from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel provides an opportunity to review if there are cost savings or efficiency improvements by truncating routes formerly in the tunnel and forcing a transfer to Link.

Truncating is a balancing act: Riders can often save time by transferring to a congestion-free mode like light rail, and service hours saved can be used to provide more frequent service on the shortened bus line. However, the benefits can be diminished if the transfer is infrequent or inconvenient. Let’s look at King County Metro Route 150 as an example.

Route 150 map, highlighting congestion areas

The 150 runs from Kent Station to Seattle, providing service from roughly 5 a.m. to midnight with pickups every 15 minutes during the day Monday through Saturday. On weekdays in the fall of 2017, it carried about 6,200 passengers, comparable to RapidRide B. The 150 also serves as the direct connection to Seattle from Kent since there is no ST Express bus. How would truncating the 150 at Rainier Beach Link station affect quality of service for north- and southbound riders?

Continue reading “Pros and Cons of Truncating Bus Routes at Link: Route 150”

West Seattle and Burien Routes Add Stops in Pioneer Square

1st & King SB With the Spring 2019 service change, routes 21X, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, and C Line began serving two stops on 1st Ave. This will be the first time this century that [ed: some of these] southwest Seattle routes will connect directly to Pioneer Square. Both stops are centered on King Street, albeit at the furthest end of the intersection, with the northbound stop closer to Jackson and the southbound stop nearly at Dearborn.

The two stops add an important connection to routes that previously used the viaduct’s Columbia and Seneca ramps, making them an anomaly amongst the rest of the downtown routes as they did not serve any stops in or near Pioneer Square or the International District. With the viaduct out of commission, routes have been traveling along 1st Avenue South making a quick jog on Dearborn to access the new ramps to SR-99. Continue reading “West Seattle and Burien Routes Add Stops in Pioneer Square”

Transit Integration at Mercer Island

Sound Transit and King County Metro provided an update to the Mercer Island City Council on East Link’s construction progress on Tuesday, March 19.  The presentation also included information about the future Mercer Island Transit Interchange, which is the new name for the project formerly known colloquially as the bus intercept.

The general concept remains generally similar as previously reported, but at this time Sound Transit and Metro, in coordination with the City of Mercer Island, have made some refinements and identified options for Mercer Island to consider.

Continue reading “Transit Integration at Mercer Island”

A Better Elevated Option in West Seattle

In our last post we asked the Sound Transit Board to focus on elevated West Seattle options for ST3.  A tunnel would lessen impacts but $700 Million in Seattle transit funding is far better spent on transit expansion. The focus for the ST3 planning process should therefore be to craft the best possible elevated option.

There are two elevated options presented by Sound Transit:  

  1. The representative alignment on Fauntleroy with a station to the east if the Junction and tail tracks nearly reaching the junction.
  1. An elevated alignment that curves through the neighborhood north of Fauntleroy in order to orient the station north/south on 41st.
Elevated options shown in red and orange

Both options will score high on reliability and, with details done right, high on accessibility.  

Unfortunately, the first option has a fatal flaw on expandability. Expansion to the south would require crossing California for elevated tracks continuing south on a street to the west. Per Sound Transit, the line would then need to cut back across California at some point to continue south. The property impacts are big enough to make this extremely unlikely. The Junction stop would become the permanent end of the line.  

The second option orients the station north/south on 41st (good) but instead of being on an arterial, cuts through the neighborhood at an angle which requires the line to impact the most existing housing of all the proposed alignments. Though we prioritize transit and future transit riders above all other concerns – we can understand why people would not be excited about this option.

With those things in mind, we’d like to put forth a third, “mix and match,” alignment that addresses the weaknesses of both options.

The new elevated option would follow the Fauntleroy alignment to Alaska  but take a sharp turn onto 41st. Though sharp turns are generally not ideal, they are part systems worldwide (check out the NYC Subway south of Central Park) and one right next to a station where the train will already be moving slowly will have minimal impacts on operations.  

We need to think about the future when making an investment of this scale. Looking at the Sound Transit’s HCT study work, an elevated line to the south of The Junction is likely to be a better investment in terms of capital cost per weekday rider than the line to The Junction itself.  It would be an entirely separate process, but see C5 (pages 10-11) in the HCT study for a sense of what that extension could be and how it would perform.

It is our strong opinion that funding a West Seattle tunnel is both a poor use of transit funding and, to put it bluntly, not going to happen. It’s time to look past that distraction and find an elevated option that works for West Seattle transit riders – both now and in the future.

You have until April 2nd to comment on the ST3 level 3 options online. Join us in urging the Sound Transit board to advance an elevated West Seattle option designed for future expansion.  

Unveiling the Puget Sound Transit Operations Tracker

As a transit fan and lover of maps, I’ve always been captivated by the screens in control rooms that show the status of every vehicle in service.
Those maps inspired me to use the real-time data provided by transit agencies to create one of my own. Before long, a simple set of pins on a map spiraled into a comprehensive “bird’s-eye view” of the entire transit system.

Today I’m releasing it as the Puget Sound Transit Operations Tracker. Every in-service vehicle (that actively reports data) will appear on the map for eight area transit agencies, including King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Community Transit. Each vehicle has also been matched to its make and model information, and icons can be filtered by these parameters and more. Check out the full set of features and future plans after the jump.

Continue reading “Unveiling the Puget Sound Transit Operations Tracker”

ST3 Level 3 Planning: Lets Not Paint Ourselves into a Corner

We’re finally here:  ST3 Planning level 3 is where we cut everything but two options and send those on for an environmental impact study. Those options will include a high end options that relies on local funding an an affordable option that doesn’t.  At this point, our primary concern is with the low end options. There is a conversation to be had in the future about whether spending $1.9B on high end ST3 options makes sense and where the money will come from, but that’s a topic for another day.

Right now we need to make sure the affordable options that we send through are acceptable in case additional local funding never comes.  Building on our central concepts of Reliability, Expandability, and Accessibility along with our Level 2 feedback and plea to put riders first, here is what we’re focused on now by station:

Ballard

Though we’ve heard ST staff say many times that the options are mix and match, we don’t get the impression they mean it when it comes to the Ballard station location.  As we (and others) have said many times a 14th NW station and a drawbridge are both unacceptable.  A drawbridge is an unacceptable reliability compromise for the future or our system.  A station on 14th NW simply doesn’t serve riders west of 15th or transfers well.  A station on 15th NW with entrances on both sides of the street does.

A 14th high bridge crossing with a station on 15th is our minimal expectation for an affordable option.  While it’s not impossible to see local funding via the port come through for a tunnel to Ballard, as the current options stand, the 15th Ave NW tunnel station the only option we can support.  

Continue reading “ST3 Level 3 Planning: Lets Not Paint Ourselves into a Corner”

Can we replace cross-country air with rail travel? Yes, we can!

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced the Green New Deal, critics jumped on it immediately – it can’t be done, it’s too expensive, etc. I want to debunk one of these critiques, and that is that carbon-intensive air travel cannot be replaced with (eventually green) electricity-powered rail travel.

People often cite the size of the country and large distances between cities as the number one reason. The story goes, we used to have regional and cross-country rail, but now we have cars and planes and the former were rendered obsolete. A lot of people have covered why regional transport (think up to 200 miles), now covered by car as flying is not economical, can be effectively replaced by high-speed rail. The definition of high-speed rail requires a speed of at least 125 mph and if sustained, this provides much faster travel than by car (not to mention that it is congestion-free) and a comparable total travel time to air.

But, what about cross-country? Surely this is the domain of air travel given the vastness of the country? Let’s calculate some travel times from our corner here in Seattle (good for accounting for the longest flights possible).

Continue reading “Can we replace cross-country air with rail travel? Yes, we can!”

ST3 Plan Needs to Put Riders First

Alternatives A1 & A2 (Sound Transit)

As ST3 goes through a mountain of process to get to a preferred alternative, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend: The stakeholders who are getting their way are focused on how they will be impacted rather than what is best for riders. It should go without saying that the whole point of expanding Link is to serve future riders, their needs should be the first and last consideration before any route is chosen.  

As we’ve mentioned before, this is the point in the process where a balance has to be struck between costs and benefits.  There is limited budget and it’s highly unlikely that additional funding is coming from any level of government.  On the off chance more funding comes through, the preferred alternative should include higher priced options where they have an impact, but in general it’s time to be realistic.  

Sound Transit recently released the level three alternatives, which is a mashup of the options that made it through the SAG and ELG along with the Representative Alignment (RA).  It looks like most of the higher cost options are lumped into Alternative 1 (A1), and a mix of lower cost options into Alternative 2 (A2).

At this stage we’re hoping to bid farewell to the RA.  It was a good place to start, but doesn’t have any features that are worth preserving. We’ll focus on the good parts of A1 and A2 and what needs attention/improvement.
Continue reading “ST3 Plan Needs to Put Riders First”

ST3 Level 2 Planning: Time to Make Decisions

Sound Transit is currently gathering public input on the ST3 Level 2 Planning options they presented a few weeks ago. As we noted early this year, this is an opportunity to make light rail exceptional and the difference is all in the details. At this phase it’s time to apply the concepts of reliability, expandability, and accessibility and make some choices.

Our recommendations make a central assumption: There will not be additional funding available for the more expensive options. This might change sometime in the future, but considering what is happening with our federal, state, and local government it’s pretty safe to say that it won’t happen before the preferred alternative is selected in early 2019. Continue reading “ST3 Level 2 Planning: Time to Make Decisions”

Urban Mobility in Seattle: A recipe for success any city can make their own

Route 41 entering the express lane ramp

By Andrew Glass Hastings

Seattle has been successful in redefining urban mobility, but our recipe for success doesn’t have to be unique. Like any good cook who starts with the fundamentals of a solid recipe, then adjusts the ingredients to fit different tastes and dietary needs, each city can adapt elements of successful mobility strategies to best meet their own needs.

Over the past few years Seattle’s recipe to redefine urban mobility has include investment in transit service, adoption of TNCs (Lyft and Uber), growing the car share market, and experimenting with bike share – all of this while Seattle experienced the highest increase in transit ridership of any major city in the US. We are growing the mobility ‘pie’ with more choices to get around than ever before.

Here are a few of the ingredients to consider:

Continue reading “Urban Mobility in Seattle: A recipe for success any city can make their own”

What Seattle’s Transpo Advisory Boards Want From a New SDOT Director

wikimedia

Below is a joint letter from Seattle’s Transportation Advisory Boards, which was sent to Mayor Durkan last month.  As the search for a new SDOT director stretches on, we thought our readers would be interested in what the advisory boards want to see from the department going forward. – ed. 

As members of the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB), Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB), Seattle Transit Advisory Board (STAB), and the Seattle Freight Advisory Board (SFAB) we would like to congratulate you on your election as mayor and anticipate many positive and challenging transitions for Seattle in the years to come.

A new director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will have a significant impact on the modes of transportation that we each represent and as such we hope to weigh in on the nationwide search. We hope you will consider our positions and concerns in choosing the next SDOT director. These advisory boards decided it would be more beneficial for you to receive a collaborative letter, as we are not simply modal silos, but passionate Seattle residents who desire a safe and efficient city that accommodates and embraces all modes of transportation.

We have compiled a list of key values and experience that we would like see reflected in the new SDOT director. Many of the values listed below drive our own commitment as volunteer stewards of the city’s alternative transportation and freight transportation advisory groups. Webring a diversity of skills, backgrounds, and expertise, and reflect the diverse community of people trying to move safely and easily around Seattle.

All four boards have highlighted a desire for a new director with experience in:

  • Equitable and data-driven decision-making,
  • Coalition building, and
  • Thorough and efficient implementation of safe streets policies.

Thank you for your consideration and please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,

Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB)
Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB)
Seattle Transit Advisory Board (STAB)
Seattle Freight Advisory Board (SFAB)

Continue reading “What Seattle’s Transpo Advisory Boards Want From a New SDOT Director”

It’s Time to Make the ORCA Passport Program Work for All

By Joel Sisolak, Senior Director of Sustainability and Planning, Capitol Hill Housing

If you have an ORCA card, there’s a good chance you got it through your employer or your apartment building. The largest group of ORCA users get their pass that way, taking advantage of one of two “Passport” programs (ORCA Business Passport Program for employers and the Multifamily ORCA Passport for apartment-dwellers).

Either way, you are a beneficiary of the most effective transit pass program in the system. In 2017, King County brought in $76 million in revenue from the ORCA Passport programs for approximately 35 million boardings.

The ORCA Passport Program is both effective in getting people on transit and popular, but unfortunately, it doesn’t serve most low-income people. In 2016, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH), a city-wide affordable housing developer and community development organization, surveyed people living in apartments along Pike Street. We found that in market rate buildings, 68 percent had an ORCA pass subsidized by their employer. In contrast, only 22 percent of the residents in affordable housing buildings had Passports.

Far fewer affordable housing residents are offered an ORCA Passport by employers. These residents must resort to more expensive individual passes or walking long distances to work, school or appointments. Continue reading “It’s Time to Make the ORCA Passport Program Work for All”

Sound Transit Looking to Improve Passenger Information Systems

e to Bea

In a Request for Proposals released April 13th, Sound Transit outlined a set of system upgrades for its passenger information systems (PIMS). The most visible component of these systems are the realtime arrival information for ST trains and buses, but they also include backend systems that collect and process the data. This project has three major components: real-time prediction enhancements, better schedule integration, and cross mode messaging, integrating data from multiple transit modes into a single enterprise system. The contract will replace the Public Address system and the station Variable Message Signs currently in place for Link, Sounder and Tacoma Link. Bringing all of this data in to a single combined system may require new or augmented data collection equipment (e.g. tracking or passenger counters).

Passenger-facing improvements include provisions for communicating train size, passenger load, and out-of-service indicators, among a long list of other datapoints. Information would be displayed on station signage, the Sound Transit website, on One Bus Away, and in GTFS/R feeds that interface with third-party services such as Google Transit.

East Link’s budget already funds augmenting the current system to support multiple lines serving the same station. The current two-minute warning announcements would be modified to announce the train’s destination and line color. If the RFP failed for some reason, the existing project would still support multiple lines, while riders would not enjoy any benefits of a more modern information system.

Sound Transit notes that the current Link passenger information system is approaching the end of its life (though some readers may proclaim that has already passed). Replacing the entire PIMS is a disruptive task and Sound Transit has wisely identified that the best time to complete a major overhaul would be in conjunction with the opening of East Link, when major modifications would have been taking place anyways.

The project is backed by lifecycle replacement funds that periodically repair and replace aging equipment as well as a portion of ST3’s technological innovations budget. This RFP covers Link, Tacoma Link and Sounder. Future RFPs will bring ST Express and ST’s future BRT lines in to this system. The RFP boldly states that “multiple, unintegrated systems does not satisfy the [requirements],” but then admits that implementation may come in multiple phases, thus diluting–or at least postponing–the very goal this and the future RFP set out to achieve.

Work on the project is scheduled to begin in 2019; proposers have been asked to offer implementation schedules that deliver benefits as early as realistically achievable. However, some aspects have hard deadlines to coincide with the launch of East Link service.

The full list of features the contract is looking to provide looks like it was lifted out of STB comment threads, and is listed after the break:

Continue reading “Sound Transit Looking to Improve Passenger Information Systems”

Book Launch & Panel Discussion: Free Public Transit

by KATIE WILSON

There’s a new book out called Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay to Ride Elevators.

On Monday, May 21st, the Transit Riders Union is hosting a book launch and a panel discussion of past, present and future efforts to advance the vision of free public transit here in the Seattle area. The event will be held 6:00-8:00pm at University Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE. You can RSVP on Facebook here.

Panelists will include Rosalie Ray, author of one of the book’s chapters; Ifrah Abshir, a leader in the successful campaign to win transit passes for Seattle public school students; City Councilmembers Mike O’Brien and Teresa Mosqueda; and several more guests. I will emcee the event.

The book explores the winning strategies and pitfalls of case studies of free public transit ranging across thirteen countries: the United States, Montreal, Toronto, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, China, France, Belgium, and Germany. As much a manifesto as a guide, this explosive book, the first ever on the topic in English, is written for those who want to truly revolutionise their city and move it forward.

Katie Wilson is General Secretary of the Transit Riders Union.

Designing ST3 for the Future

Train stations, circa 1911

by Jon Scholes, President / CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association

Thanks to businesses, elected leaders and community groups that shaped and endorsed it, Sound Transit 3 is moving forward, with planned expansion to Ballard, West Seattle through downtown in the form of a new tunnel.

Community leaders from across Seattle have thoughtfully considered the future of our growing city as they reviewed numerous options for stations and alignments. Their recommendations for additional study are excellent and should be adopted by the Sound Transit board.

ST3 was a bold bet on the future of our city and region, and the vision and leadership that got us to this point must continue as we design and build the system.  Light rail helps make a place, meaning we have an obligation to build a system that thoughtfully integrates into the communities it connects. Light rail helps make a city, so we must consider how our city will be in 20-50 years and build the system for that need. Light rail helps people make connections, meaning the system we build should maximize connectivity for the most people with the greatest ease.

As Sound Transit stakeholders and leaders make decisions on next steps, the following considerations are important to realizing these principles:

Continue reading “Designing ST3 for the Future”

Metro Quietly Discontinues Touch-to-Exit

A video showing riders using the touch to exit feature on the first day

When Metro’s XT40 trolleys hit the streets on August 19, 2015 they also introduced the Touch to Exit feature to the fleet. The system, officialy the Vapor CLASS sensing system, uses a set of ultrasonic sensors mounted above the door. One the bus is fully stopped, an indicator light above the doors illuminates and if the sensors notice a break, the system sends a signal to open the doors. Shortly after not noting any breaks, the doors will shut automatically This means that all sets of doors can be operated independently, with the bus operator only having to take control of the front door.

In total, 279 of Metro’s buses have been outfitted with the feature, including all 174 electric trolleys, 20 RapidRide buses and 85 three-door articulated hybrids. King County DOT’s Public Affairs Coordinator Jeff Switzer explains that the goal was to improve the customer’s ability to exit by the back door and activate the back door themselves.

Continue reading “Metro Quietly Discontinues Touch-to-Exit”