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North by Northwest 06: Island Transit Update

Island Transit 411W @ Rest at Mt. Vernon Transfer Station
Island Transit bus photo by author

A little Island Transit update…

First tomorrow at 0900 hours at the Island Transit Operations & Administration Building, 19758 SR 20, Coupeville will be a monthly Island Transit Board Meeting.  According to the meeting agenda, there will be public comment specifically on the Transit Development Plan and then general public comment on other items.  I have placed a request for the meeting audio from Island Transit before the close of business tomorrow – and have friends who might get some video as I have a bum right ankle to heal.

First and a half, I have read Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose’s letter to Island Transit Board Members.  In Exec Director Martha Rose’s letter, she references the fact Paratransit will be stressed in South Whidbey and Island Transit “will be applying for a Consolidated Operating Grant so that we can get back to health financially. The applications are due into WSDOT by mid-November of this year. Awarded funds will be available effective July 1st of 2015.”    I’m sure the comments below on that application will be interesting… Mrs. Rose also said she expected a large crowd.  Island Transit Boardmember Jim Campbell also publicly wanted to have former Island Transit financial advisor Barbara Savory speak to the Island Transit Board.  Again, I’m truly sorry I cannot attend as I will be writing Saturday evening an editorial for Sunday morning on this Island Transit mess.

Second, in the past two weeks, several disturbing pieces of intelligence have came to my attention.  Been holding back not wanting to fixate on Island Transit.

  • On July 31st, State Senators Barbara Bailey and Curtis King wrote the State Auditor’s Office to give tasking to the upcoming audit.  They reference an anonymous whistleblower letter full of rumor and innuendo plus a South Whidbey Record news report.  State Senator Bailey then goes on to say in a press release, “This is indicative of larger issues in our transportation system, where there is a complete lack of transparency and accountability. That is why I have asked the state auditor to perform an audit as soon as possible. In recent years, the state has provided over $9 million to Island Transit and the public must be assured that those funds are being used responsibly.”  In other words: Island Transit’s problems could be used to smear public transit systems in general.
  • On August 12th, the Stanwood-Camano News reported, “Martha Rose, executive director of Island Transit, said she “absolutely will not resign,” despite allegations of mismanagement and calls that she step down.”  Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said to the reporter seeking a statement on Island Transit like her two colleagues gave back on 4 August, “We’re hearing about a culture that does not allow scrutiny. I’m disappointed and disillusioned by the apparent lack of transparency.  It matters to a lot of people, and no personality is more important than that system.”  To tip my hand a bit about the aforementioned editorial… I agree with Island County Commish Helen Price-Johnson: “This is the public’s transit system … The public deserves a sustainable and dependable level of service and to have the credibility of Island Transit restored.”
  • On August 19th, the Stanwood-Camano News reported on the ongoing State Auditor’s Office audit of Island Transit seeking to “find where $3 million of Island Transit’s reserves went and, more importantly, why no one allegedly knew the money was disappearing.”  State Auditor Troy Kelley is in receipt of multiple state legislator letters on this audit and wrote back he’d look into questions about, “whether funds were illegally or improperly used; whether there was adequate oversight from Rose and the board; whether aspects of the new facility are excessive in the context of and other comparable facilities; whether travel funds were used improperly; whether the agency is failing to maintain and update its fleet.”  Finally another tip of the editorialist hand in that I concur with Island County Commish Jill Johnson,  “If you’re cutting routes because you can’t cover the operating expenses, and now you’re in debt on top of that, how are you going to be able to afford it in a year?” (When Seattle Transit Blog gets a copy of all the letters, will post here.)

North by Northwest 05: The Price of Apathy, Skagit Edition

Sunset at the Chuckanut Park and Ride..
Chuckanut Park & Ride – Photo by AvgeekJoe

[Joe 2300 Hours note: Skagit Transit hyperlinks corrected.]

Recently Bruce Nourish wrote a fine piece on Spokane’s transit woes.  Woes perpetuated by the moneyed interests of that fine city based on prejudicial myths of transit users.

I see some similarities in my Skagit County – we too have a ruling elite to the point one family is about to marry massive economic power with sizable political power, we too have all the mainstream news owned by another family with declining resources for muckraking government, and we used to have a transit hub in the downtown of Burlington at the Cascade Mall which was good for commerce.  Now we have courtesy of the Washington Department of Transportation a Park & Ride at the north of Burlington for a transit hub linking Skagit Transit Routes 300 between Sedro-Woolley & east Burlington, 80X to Bellingham, 90X to Everett and 208 to Burlington & Mount Vernon shopping. See an aerial view below:

View post on imgur.com

Granted, the Park & Ride is convenient to drop folks off, to pick up buses and next to Interstate 5 with 369 parking slots.  But the previous hub was the Cascade Mall with vast amounts of parking plus lighting & security cameras that did not cost Washington State taxpayers $11,852,000.

Now… there is no restroom with all the sanitary issues that entails, there are few places to shop within a walking distance, and there is no commons area that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer – all of which the Cascade Mall provided the public.  There is only now apathy, a lit bus shelter, video cameras, and 369 parking slots.  There is only each Skagit Transit user’s silence to blame – don’t let this happen to you.

To invigorate any effort to be proactive perhaps consider the reply to my recent comments into the Skagit Transit 6-year Plan asking for a restroom and a temperature-controlled commons area: “There are no plans to add facilities to existing park and rides and no change will be made to the 6-year plan to address restroom facilities. … Bathroom facilities at un-staffed park and rides are commonly vandalized and can even become a safety and security risk. The high rate of vandalism and associated cost makes the provision of restroom facilities at the park and rides prohibitively expensive.”  I spoke up too late, not while this facility was in the public planning stages where proposing a public restroom and the recruiting a Starbucks franchise to the Chuckanut Park & Ride would have been so immensely helpful.  The nearest espresso stand is instead across a very busy boulevard with no public restroom or place to stay warm.

Put bluntly as so many transit users – including yours truly – were apathetic during the planning process for this $11.8 million facility; transit planning travesties like this occur.  For too long, moneyed interests and entrenched bureaucrats in cushy jobs have taken advantage of transit users’ apathetic unwillingness to speak up and be treated like customers.  Only when we transit users band together and reply as proud customers of transit will we make things right as in business: the customer is almost always right.

The Evolution of Route 60

In the mid-1970s, Metro had 2 routes that partially served the corridor that is today’s route 60 between Georgetown and Broadway. The 38 – 15th Ave S was a legacy route from the 1940s that connected Georgetown/Boeing Field with Beacon Hill via 15th Ave S. By 1975, the 38 schedule showed Monday – Saturday service with irregular headways and an infrequent tail to the King County Airport terminal. Metro had also created a new route, the 60 YESLER – BROADWAY that offered very infrequent and unbalanced service between Broadway and Jackson St. In 1975, a trip from Cleveland High School to Seattle Central Community College without transferring downtown would have required 3 buses (and a great deal of luck): the 38 – 15th Ave S, the 3 JEFFERSON PARK, the 60 YESLER – BROADWAY. Eventually, Metro realized the potential ridership on the Broadway-Beacon Hill-Georgetown corridor and by 1979, the 60 BROADWAY – GEORGETOWN bus was established. The trip that previously required 3 buses in 1976 could now be made with 1 bus. The span of service on the new 60 wasn’t good, headways were strangely irregular and the useless tail to the King County Airport remained, but more Beacon Hill residents had a one seat ride to Broadway or Georgetown.

The sad irony is that the 2015 service reorganization proposed by Metro will eliminate the one seat ride between Georgetown and Broadway and re-establish the 3 seat ride of the mid-1970s.

The cover of the 1976 YESLER – BROADWAY features a north-facing shot of Broadway taken from somewhere near Broadway and Madison. There is some distortion in the shot caused by a strong telephoto lens, but you can see a 9 BROADWAY trolley making the turn from Pine onto Broadway. That’s St. Mark’s looming in the background, but there are very few other notable landmarks that identify the dreary looking, traffic choked, early 1970s version of Broadway with the hip strip it is today.

The Creation of Route 8

In the early 1990s, I was working on Capitol Hill and became part of the Broadway Business Improvement Association. One of the pet projects of the Broadway BIA was to establish a direct bus link between the Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods. Prior to 1995, a bus trip from the Seattle Center to Capitol Hill required a transfer in downtown Seattle. The effort to establish the direct bus line between the two neighborhoods had been on-going since the late 1970s, with Metro steadfastly refusing to create the connection–usually citing a perceived lack of demand or lack of vehicles (a real problem in the 1980s). Finally, after nearly 2 decades of wrangling with Metro, a grand bargain was reached where service on other routes would be reduced and a new route–the 8–would run every 30 minutes, 6am to 6pm, weekdays only between Group Health Hospital and Lower Queen Anne. The 8 began service on Monday morning, February 13, 1995 and has been successfully serving riders every since.

The Rider Alert pamphlet for February 11, 1995 details the reductions and changes on routes 2, 10, 12, 13 and 43 needed to fund service hours for the 8. I don’t have a timetable from February 1995 that shows the original service schedule; but, this timetable shows that within 1 year evening service had been added. Weekend service, service until 11pm, the extension to Madison Valley and Rainier Valley and 15 minute peak headways all followed within a couple of years. Despite Metro’s initial misgivings, the 8 has been a huge success, and in 2014, it would be difficult to imagine what transit ridership would be like without the 8.

Repurpose This Building

Space at a transit center in the heart of a growing downtown should be at a premium. Strangely, The Bellevue Transit Center has a 2,100 square foot building taking up useless space. Here’s why I think it should be repurposed, and I’d love to see some ideas on what could happen instead.

First, a bit about what is there: the Bellevue Transit Center has 12 bays, 23 bus lines, and thousands of passengers every day. It also has the Bellevue Rider Services Building which SoundTransit described in 2008 as

…adjacent to the Bellevue Transit Center. Several rider amenities are available including transit schedules and other rider information, public phones, community information, bike racks and public restrooms. The building also houses a station for the Bellevue City Police.

The majority of the stations users are workers in the core of Bellevue. They are extremely likely to have access to transit schedules via computer or smartphone. They are also unlikely to need a public phone (wait, there are still public phones?), or access to paper community information. There are no bike racks in the building (though there are *many* in the nearby area), and the police station closed 3 years ago.  In addition, just a  few feet away is a small building attached to the transit center that housed a ticket office at one point. Now, it is a very expensive and big map holder so you can find your bus in the 12 bays of the transit center.

Before going forward, you have to wonder what SoundTransit and the city of Bellevue were thinking here. In 2006, payphones had all but gone the way of the dodo bird, and the city of Bellevue’s headquarters is two blocks away — why would they need a station so close by? The public restrooms are a nice item to have, but I’m frankly surprised they have lasted – Seattle’s experiment with public restrooms didn’t go as well. Overall, it seems like the building you would want in 1985, not in 2006 and certainly not in 2014.

Moving forward, that leaves a $3.5 million dollar 2,100 square foot  built in 2006 sitting mostly empty. What would you do with this building and the accompanying former ticket office?

North by Northwest 04: Transit at Paine Field

2014-07-09 Paine Field Panorama
2014-07-09 Paine Field Panorama by Joe “AvgeekJoe” Konzlar

[Note: Unlike most Page 2 posts, this is slightly edited for clarity.]

Fellow commenters on Seattle Transit Blog know my passion for more mass transit services to and from Paine Field.  I’ve even written a letter to the Everett Herald editor sharing my aspirations for a route serving – counterclockwise from the northwest corner – the Future of Flight, Historic Flight Foundation, Flying Heritage Collection and the Museum of Flight Restoration Center.

Now what and where are these marquee facilities?  See a Paine Field map also showing a few others not open to the public. The Future of Flight is part-museum, part-HQ for Boeing Tours, part-observatory and part-events center.   According to a PDF factsheet, it “draws approximately 200,000 visitors per year and generates an additional $3.5 million annually of tourism spending in Snohomish County.” Historic Flight Foundation is a flying museum at the end of Bernie Webber Drive that preserves aviation history from 1927 to 1957 with many historic aircraft. The Flying Heritage Collection is Paul G. Allen’s (mostly) flying collection of historic warbirds that range from WWI to a modern Mig-29.  There are also other artifacts like several ground vehicles, cutaway engines and disarmed rockets. Finally, the Museum of Flight Restoration Center restores aircraft for static display and is open to self-guided tours much of the year.

Everett Transit Route 12 serves the Future of Flight museum.*  It required a nice 0.8 mile hike – partially through a Boeing parking lot and partially on a nice trail.  The problem is that in inclement weather very few wish to hike almost a mile to visit the Future of Flight.  Please see pictures below from my trip on the 12:

Looking at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center...
Museum of Flight Restoration Center through the Everett Transit Route 12 window(1)

Everett Transit Route 12 Pulls Away...
Getting off Everett Transit Route 12 in a big Boeing parking lot.

A View of Paine Field from my hike to Future of Flight
A view from my 0.8 mile hike from the nearest Everett Transit Route 12 bus stop to the Future of Flight

I asked local transit agencies what they could do about this situation. Community Transit couldn’t respond by press time except to refer me to Everett Transit. An Everett Transit spokesperson told me Everett Transit will take comment in late winter or early spring on route planning.  I’m going to start a petition for extending Everett Transit Route 12 that last 0.8 mile to get a bus stop at the Future of Flight Monday through Saturday on a trial basis with performance benchmarks.

There is is a much appreciated Community Transit bus stop at the foot of Bernie Webber Drive, the road that goes up to Historic Flight Foundation that serves several routes that link up with Swift (Bus Rapid Transit) to the south and both Sounder North and Washington State Ferries to the north. The Everett Herald reported a Community Transit Park & Ride is in the works for that location, which is sensible considering Historic Flight Foundation uses the proposed grassy area for special event parking anyway.

Now if only Flying Heritage Collection would get some transit service…  Recently Flying Heritage Collection had a special event called Skyfair on July 26th and provided a bus shuttle to and from a nearby park & ride which is nice for those whom needed parking.  Problem is there was no adjoining service from either Everett Transit or Community Transit to supplement and amplify those services – requiring me to hail a cab from Everett to attend.  With Flying Heritage Collection having Fly Days on many June, July, August and September Saturdays with hundreds of attendees; it’s illogical to deny Flying Heritage Collection direct Saturday transit services.  Heck, I’d pay a few bucks for a shuttle to/from a Swift (Bus Rapid Transit) stop.

Ultimately, I argue that the international aviation geek community deserves some love and mutual cooperation from both Everett Transit & Community Transit.  In a perfect world where Paine Field did not fall between the Community Transit & Everett Transit service areas, having a Paine Field circular that would link to Swift (Bus Rapid Transit) would make economic sense because according to Paine Field’s official website, “Paine Field and its tenants have a $19.8 billion economic impact on the region and the state. Additionally, the Airport and the businesses utilizing the airfield provide $79 million in tax revenue to the local and state governments”.  I argue that from $79 million in tax revenue we could get some decent transit services to all of Paine Field’s tenants.

* You can also get out to the Museum of Flight Restoration Center by using Everett Transit Route 12 and disembarking at the 100TH ST SW & AIRPORT RD stop for a 0.23 mile walk.  To walk from the Museum of Flight Restoration Center to Flying Heritage Collection is a 1.5 mile, 30 minute hike through an industrial area.  Not exactly tourist friendly by almost any stretch of the imagination…

The correct way to restructure routes 177, 179, 181, and 197

I live in Federal Way, and I have been watching the King County Metro cuts page like a hawk. If you’re familiar with the coming transit cuts in the city, you’ll know that there are two restructures coming for routes in Federal Way: Combining routes 187 and 901, and restructuring peak service to Seattle. I will focus on the latter in this post. I am providing a sample restructure for the morning peak. The afternoon peak could be restructured similarly, but I won’t provide a specific example.

This is just an example of how the service could be restructured in the morning in a way such that it almost strictly follows the February 2015 service reduction recommendations:

– Give route 177 21 trips, and add a stop at Federal Way Transit Center (also two I-5 freeway stations)

– Discontinue route 179

– Add extra trips to route 181 (number of trips not specified in the recommendation) between Twin Lakes Park and Ride and Federal Way Transit Center only*, to give it (specifically) service every 15-30 minutes in Federal Way

*In this example, the extra 181 trips go to the Federal Way 320th St P&R before the transit center. This is the only deviation from the recommendation.

– Reroute route 197, and keep the same number of morning trips

Additionally, this example has the benefit of:

keeping most one-seat rides from Twin Lakes Park and Ride to Downtown Seattle (for route 179 riders)

– Guarantees a successful transfer from route 181 for every 197 trip (for old route 197 riders)

The way this works is that all extra inserted 181 trips turn into route 177 trips after they get to the 320th St P&R. That way, people on these buses can get off at Federal Way Transit Center or Seattle, just like the current route 179.

Here is an example schedule:

181 Mornings
Twin Lks P&R 320th St P&R (to route) Fed Way TC Supermall Auburn Stn. 4th & M GRCC
5:08 5:23 177 5:28
5:23 181 5:40 5:52 5:58 6:05 6:13
5:38 5:53 177 5:58
5:53 181 6:10 6:22 6:28 6:35 6:43
6:08 6:23 177 6:28
6:23 181 6:41 6:54 7:00 7:07 7:16
6:38 6:53 177 6:58
6:53 181 7:11 7:24 7:30 7:38 7:47
7:08 7:23 177 7:28
7:23 181 7:42 7:55 8:01 8:09 8:18
7:38 7:55 177 8:00
7:53 181 8:12 8:25 8:31 8:39 8:48
8:23 181 8:42 8:55 9:01 9:09 9:18
8:53 181 9:12 9:25 9:31 9:39 9:48
177 Mornings
(from route) 320th St P&R Fed Way TC To Seattle
181 5:23 5:28
deadhead 5:38 5:43 *
181 5:53 5:58
deadhead 6:08 6:13 *
181 6:23 6:28
deadhead 6:38 6:43 *
181 6:53 6:58
deadhead 7:08 7:13 *
181 7:23 7:28
deadhead 7:38 7:43 *
181 7:53 7:58
deadhead 10 more
197 Mornings
320th St P&R Fed Way TC To U-District
5:40 _ 5:45 *
6:25 * 6:30
6:40 _ 6:45 *
6:55 * 7:00
7:10 _ 7:15 *
7:25 * 7:30
7:40 _ 7:45 *

* Asterisk means that this trip will wait for route 181 to arrive at this location before leaving. This is how successful transfers from route 181 are guaranteed. This exactly how Pierce Transit route 62 works in the afternoon, and how Sounder connectors work (except with waiting for a bus instead of a train)

This is in contrast to a restructure that one would imagine by reading the recommendation, and follows the letter of the recommendations exactly: (I’ll refer to this as the “immediately obvious” restructure)

– Route 177 is a freestanding route

– Route 179 and all one-seat rides to Seattle from Twin Lakes are eliminated

– Route 197 doesn’t wait for any route 181 trips to arrive before leaving, and one-seat rides from Twin Lakes are eliminated

– The extra 181 trips are from 2 buses that keep shuttling between Twin Lakes P&R and FWTC

So what’s better about my plan?

– 6 one-seat rides from Twin Lakes to Seattle are saved

– at least 12 transfers from route 181 are guaranteed to Seattle and the U-District

– current route 179 and 197 riders from west of the transit center only need to adjust their schedule slightly

it costs less to operate than the alternative restructure

Yep, you read that last one right. Here’s why: in the immediately obvious restructure, there needs to be 2 extra drivers hired to run the extra 181 trips. The service hour cost is the extra trips themselves, plus two deadheads per bus to/from south base (this adds up to 8 extra runs to/from Tukwila each weekday). In my example restructure, the drivers that do the extra 181 trips are the same drivers that do some 177 trips, so no extra drivers need to be hired. The deadhead for the extra 181 trips are the same deadhead for some 177 trips, plus a drive from I-5 to Twin Lakes P&R (these could be reverse peak 181 trips if so desired).

If you want me to clarify anything, sound off in the comments. What do you think?

Page 2 Author Tips

I’m very pleased with the work that I’ve seen here in a short time! Some of you are, no doubt, interested in having your work promoted to the main page. When I see something promising I’ll figure out what needs to change to get promoted, and with your permission I’ll make the edits live right on Page 2, and promote after your final agreement that it’s still in your voice.

Two other things:

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North by Northwest 03: What It’s Like to Ride Amtrak Cascades…

Here Comes the Amtrak

As a vacationer who uses Amtrak Cascades whenever possible to get out of Skagit to and from aviation geek (avgeek) events as able, figured I’d write you about the Amtrak Cascades experience plus share some of my photos as appropriate.  Now getting a ticket is rather easy – just go online and order them or either printout at home or pick up at a train station kiosk.  Or use a kiosk at a train station to order and printout – and hope there’s a vacancy.  Just like getting on an airplane… without the TSA.  Yes, this maze:

Relatively painless Bellingham International Airport Security...

Once you board, you’ll be assigned a seat.  Rarely by choice unlike an airline, but you are not cramped looking out a tiny window like a Q400’s for instance:

Seat 16A of the Alaska Airlines Q400

You may be – and are – paying for speed & altitude when using Alaska Airlines which has its own benefits such as a sunrise view that cannot be beat.  But on Amtrak Cascades once seated, you get to relax, sit back and either read, work or read or play on an electronic device, or if the WiFi works cruise the Internets while on the rail.  No safety briefing to suffer through or cramped lavatory to try to use.  Just sit back and relax – and hope no noisy baby is stuffed into business class.  Especially since whomever sold Amtrak Cascades the leather seats pictured below ought to advertise where to pick one of them up for Christmas!

Get a free ticket to THIS seat :-)

Say you get thirsty or hungry, you can walk over to the Bistro Car and pick something up – no need to find a fast food joint along the road or wait for a flight attendant’s cart as there’s a Dining Car.  Business Class customers get a $3 coupon against their purchases.  You can get a burger and a soda pop like this:

A July 4th Dinner on the Amtrak Cascades...

Every passenger car also has rather nice views.  Mostly either of farms or small towns along the way.  Good way to enjoy the view through rather big windows.

Sunset on South Mount Vernon...

There’s also seating for groups of four to sit together and either play together or chat (preferably) quietly.  A great way for a family to leave the driving to others… and have quality family time.

Amtrak Cascades Business Class Interior

A Peek Into the Dining Car...

Not to mention save on the costs of operating an automobile… which with the cost of gas nearing $4 as the Seattle average plus the costs of maintaining & operating a car are no small matters to consider.  Perhaps try the Skagit Transit trip calculator to see how much you’d save annually – especially if you can chuck the car during the week and come vacation time too!

That said, when you get off you just wait for the conductor to help you disembark and if need be grab luggage and/or a bicycle from the luggage car.

My Female Conductor's Waiting for Us to Pull In...

Offloading a Bicycle from Amtrak Cascades at Mt. Vernon...

Off you go!  Hope to see you on Amtrak Cascades:

Amtrak's Cute Lady Conductor at the Mt. Vernon Station...

Want ST3 Funding Authority? Support Matt Isenhower!

View post on imgur.com

In the comments of last weeks post on a budget for Sound Transit 3, several commenters noted that getting the funding authority for Sound Transit would be impossible so long as the GOP controls the State Senate. I thought I would go through what the post-primary situation looks like and if the lack of hope displayed by many commenters is justified.

Right now the Republicans have a de-facto 26 to 23 edge in the State Senate, de-facto because they have gotten an assist from turncoat Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. Senate seats are a zero sum game, so that three person edge is actually just two seats, the GOP loses a seat for every one the Democrats gain. Rodney Tom’s seat in the 48th district was won overwhelmingly by Cyrus Habib in the primary, by just over 29 points. Assuming that the popular Habib can repeat his performance that would cut the GOPs edge down to 25-24.

View post on imgur.com

The question then is this: where is the other seat going to come from? One possibility is the 35th where Irene Bowling leads both Tim Sheldon and Republican Travis Couture (who unfortunately doesn’t seem to have used Hi Couture or Haute Couture as his campaign slogan). Since Mr. Couture came in 3rd and the Republicans will probably defect to Tim Sheldon, it seems likely that the current victory would turn into an almost 30 point defeat.

View post on imgur.com

The next best performance by a Democratic candidate was by Matt Isenhower in the 45th who lost by 7.5 points to Andy Hill. 7.5 points may seem like a great deal, but because two candidate race margins are a zero sum game just like the composition of the senate as a whole listed above, it would only take a 3.75 point swing (4 if we want to be safe) to flip the district.

View post on imgur.com

The 45th has several other advantages for Seattle transit advocates compared to other districts. The 45th has a pair of incumbent Democratic State Legislators which won by margins bigger than Andy Hill’s margin of victory, but could use shoring up. The 45th is very close to Seattle compared to the other competitive districts and is accessible directly from Seattle using many Sound Transit and Metro routes Such as the 268, 542 and 545.

View post on imgur.com

One of the reasons Matt is running is because the Senate didn’t pass a transportation package when the House did. Having divided government is impairing the normal functioning of the state and imperiling Sound Transit’s ability to put ST3 on the ballot in 2016, when it will be coming what appears will be the early and $150 million under budget opening of University Link and have our best chance at electoral success.

With the additional turn out in the general election this district will be very close, four years ago Andy Hill won by less than 1200 votes in a very Republican leaning year. With our support Matt Isenhower could flip the Senate and help Sound Transit get the funding authority it needs.

Since North by Northwest ZERO THREE Is Going to be a Day Late

See, North by Northwest (NbyN) Zero Five on Island Transit is currently being built and production resources for Zero Five are being taken from NbyN Zero Three on Amtrak Cascades being such a wonderful service.  But once you see & hear Zero Five with all the intel products, you’ll understand why.

What’s Zero Four you might ask – well that’ll be all about Paine Field.  Waiting on an e-mail sent to riders-AT-commtrans.org yesterday with the subject line, “Question Re: Route Planning Input”.  Hopefully by posting here I’ll get Community Transit to reply to my e-mail in a timely manner (i.e. less than 24 hours Monday thru Friday).

So I shall make this a request line.  What would you me to tell you about – like perhaps how useful the Seafair shuttle was or how Skagit Transit is getting along or a 1,000 word rant on Washington State Ferries?  You tell me.  This Island Transit fiasco cannot be my only focus – it’d be too depressing.

Requests Please.

North by Northwest 02: Is Island Transit Still Misleading Folks?

Good question.

The Stanwood-Camano News reported 5 days ago they were not told during the loss of the Camano-to-Everett Connector about the depth of Island Transit’s fiscal problems, “All this was developing even as Rose and the board were talking about cutting the Everett Connector, but no one mentioned it in interviews.”  The same allegation has been made by the Whidbey Newsgroup.  If I may quote their syndicated newsstory:

A reporter contacted Rose and a couple of IT’s board members about budget problems a month ago, but none of them mentioned the impending layoffs, widespread route cuts or that the finance director was terminated because of the cash flow problems.

Rose told the reporter that the “county connector” in Skagit County was being modified and Everett connector canceled due to cuts in state transportation funding. She now says she didn’t realize at that time that deep cuts would be necessary to right the ship.

These cuts were promised to only last a year in many public statements.  However, Oak Harbor City Councilman Jim Campbell who serves on the Island Transit board made a statement at the 6 August Oak Harbor City Council meeting that should trouble many of us.  About 1:52 into a YouTube clipping are the assertions the rescue plan has not been presented to the Island Transit Board as a board and will require longer to as Martha Rose would say, “come out of the clouds in about a year.”  Therefore exists the serious, genuine question does misinformation from Island Transit continue – which makes me individually take the editorial position we just might find more fiscal booby traps and possibly similarities to Enron’s downfall.  Below is my attempt to embed the video:

There also has been the admission that 1:27 into the YouTube clip of what the open government community calls ‘serial meetings’ about this plan.  Having each board member meet with the Executive Director to talk about a plan very much in the public interest behind closed doors is at the least impugnable.  At the most, against the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), RCW 42.30.  Hopefully the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) will investigate.  After I hit publish and address any grammatical errors here, will fire off a head’s up to my SAO contact.

Finally mark the date, time and location: Friday, August 22, 2014, at 9:00 AM at the Island Transit Operations & Administration Building, 19758 SR 20, Coupeville, WA is the next Island Transit Board Meeting coupled to – and please swallow before you read this – “A Public Hearing to receive input on Island Transit’s Six-Year Transit Development Plan. … The regularly scheduled Monthly Business Meeting will be held following the conclusion of the Public Hearing”.  Six-Year Transit Development Plan now?  Seriously, when we do not know if Island Transit faces the threat of extinction Island Transit’s going to plan 6 years ahead?

Being I’d promised 500 words or less, stopping here.  Sincerely welcome and appreciate your comments!  I will do my best to reply within 12 hours or less, thank you!

Transit Timetable History (8.8.14)

Three new additions on the Flickr page:

1 KINNEAR (1975)

4 MONTLAKE (1975)

13 – 19th AVE (1975)

The 1 KINNEAR and 13 – 19th AVE maps show part of the original trolley wiring plan in downtown Seattle.  Inbound from Kinnear Park, the 1 operated on First Avenue to Pike Street, then eastbound on Pike to 5th Avenue and then east on Spring Street to 9th Avenue where the 1 would then continue as either the 12 E. CHERRY/26th AVE. S. (today’s 3/4 routes) or the 13 – 19th AVE. (today’s 12).   From First Hill to Kinnear Park, the 1 ran westbound on Madison Street to 6th Avenue, then north to Union Street and west to First Avenue.

The 4 MONTLAKE  is the predecessor of today’s route 43.  By 1975, the 4 MONTLAKE had been dieselized, but it retained its trolley era routing in downtown Seattle.  The 4 usually arrived in downtown Seattle from Queen Anne Hill/Seattle Center East via 3rd Avenue.  After making a left turn off 3rd Avenue at Pike Street, the 4 MONTLAKE followed Pike all the way to Madison Street and then 23rd Avenue East to Montlake and the University District.  The 4’s University District terminal was right next to the future Link station at 45th & Brooklyn.

In 1975, the 4 MONTLAKE was the only one-seat ride between Capitol Hill/First Hill and the University of Washington.  With weekday headways  in the 20 to 30 minute range, it suggests that Capitol Hill wasn’t as popular an area for student living as it is today.  Also, the 48 – 23rd AVENUE EAST route had started service in the late 1960s to offer service between the University District/Montlake and the Central District.

North by Northwest Post 01: Intro & Island Transit Update

Hi there!

I’ve figured it’s time for Northwest Washington State to have a seat at the table.  You may know me as “AvgeekJoe from Skagit County ” from the comment threads and as a regular contributor to the Seattle Transit Blog Flickr feed as well.

You may also know I lean somewhat right in my beliefs.  You can rest assured I may be friends with Washington Policy Center staffers, but I’m not here to spew talking points or troll.  I do believe however that political biases are best served out in the open.

One of those biases is for a strong, sustainable transit system allowing people to live where they need to live.  We in Northwest Washington State currently enjoy a County Connector System between Snohomish, Skagit, Island and Whatcom Counties.  I say currently as that depends on start-up grants and on if Island Transit can survive the recent dire straights Island Transit HQ has put a legendary transit agency into.

The Whidbey Examiner has reported in part on the Island Transit fiscal crisis:

Martha Rose, director of Island Transit, said she fired Financial Manager Barbara Savary in May after she disclosed that the agency didn’t have the money to pay $135,000 in bills.

Rose said she was dumbfounded to discover that Savary hadn’t been running the monthly cash flow analysis for years. She said the simple, internal report is not only a vital part of the job, but would have alerted the agency to cash flow concerns years ago.

Island Transit is an independent agency overseen by a board of directors. It offers fare-free transit and is funded by a nine-tenths of 1 percent sales tax and grants. The operating budget for this year is $12.2 million.

Unbeknownst to her, Rose said, Savary was dipping into investments as expenses outpaced revenues for years on end. Rose said she found unpaid bills in Savary’s desk after she was gone.

YouTube video – clearly set to the soundtrack of the James Bond movie Skyfall – has been posted of the Island County Commissioners’ Monday meeting where further revelations came forward.  On that YouTube video are statements pledging new accountability, a look into the fiscal sustainability of Island Transit and finally in the last 60 seconds “financial statements” made to the board were clearly “incorrect”.

Now I’d rather write about the great transit network we have here, complete with dang “selfies” of me using transit to see the great aviation community we have in Northwest Washington State.  But I believe you should know what’s going down up here as it’s going to color debates & dialogue on transit in this state.  Already the Washington Policy Center has written up a note,  noting, “More tax money from the state is not the solution to fix the financial mess at Island Transit. Better budget management and financial practices could have reduced the pain felt by communities across Island County. … Island Transit officials should better manage public tax dollars to rebuild the public trust and restore reliable and efficient bus service.”

Ultimately I hope all of us in the transit community heed these thoughts from Whidbey Newsgroup publisher Keven R. Graves that, “citizens need to reclaim ownership of their taxpayer-funded agencies, attend meetings, ask hard questions and push for tougher open records laws that don’t allow agencies to drag their heels and play games.  Take back your voice and demand greater accountability of government employees before things start going wrong.”  I would add when there are opportunities for transit advocates to raise your voice… please use up that First Amendment to the US Constitution of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly and petition the government for a redress of grievances – key freedoms our troops and First Responders fight for every day.

Better Parking Garages

There’s a piece in The Atlantic on parking garages, covering the state of the art from compact, automated garages to garages outfitted with green roofs and wind turbines:

“The initial response is, ‘Green parking—isn’t that an oxymoron?’ ” says Paul Wessel, executive director of the New Haven-based Green Parking Council, which in June released its Green Garage Certification Standard, modeled on the LEED program for green buildings. But once we admit that parking isn’t going away, he says, we might as well figure out how to make it more efficient and less harmful.

We’d probably see more of this kind of innovation if we didn’t mandate that developers include parking in their buildings.

Transit Timetable History

I have 3 historical timetables uploaded to my flickr account:

  • 7 RAINIER (1970)
  • 42 EMPIRE WAY (1972)
  • 9 BROADWAY (1976)

The 7 RAINIER of 1970 looks very similar to Metro’s route 7 of today.  The most notable routing difference is that the Henderson loop wasn’t used in 1970–there were turnback loops at Graham Street and Rose Street.  The midday schedule offered basic 10 minute headways on most of Rainier Avenue with every other bus turning back at Rose Street  (the Prentice loop was covered every 20 minutes).  Peak hour service added express runs and more local buses that turned back at Graham Street.

The 42 EMPIRE WAY of 1972 shows what transit service along MLK looked like before light rail (and the name change).  Bus service on the old 42 corridor has been replaced by the 8, 36, 106 and 107.  The basic service pattern in 1972 was 30 minute headways along Empire Way/MLK with hourly deviations to Holly Park.  At Rainier Beach the route split and covered tails that are parts of today’s 106 and 107 routes with hourly service on each tail.  There were no extensions to Skyway and Renton (they were added a few years later).

The 9 BROADWAY of 1976 was still using its historical routing that terminated south of the University Bridge at Martin Street.  Riders from Capitol Hill would then transfer on Eastlake to get to the University District.  There were a few trips that turned back at Aloha Street during peak hours, but the basic midday service pattern was 15 minute headways along the whole route with a live-loop in downtown Seattle.  The schedule also shows a Yesler-Broadway shuttle that ran just a few times a day, but eventually grew into route 60 and the First Hill Streetcar.