Sunday Open Thread: Seattle District 6 MASS Forum

The Moving All Seattle Sustainably Coalition, the Housing Development Consortium, and Tech 4 Housing recently held a forum for candidates for Seattle City Council District 6. Rooted in Rights produced the video and has provided a transcript.

Participating candidates included, from left to right:

This is an open thread.

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Seattle District 5 candidate ratings

The STB Editorial Board had less information to work with in District 5 than in the five races where the Move All Seattle Sustainable Coalition held forums. But between Councilmember Deborah Juarez’ record, and what the other candidates had to say, we had more than enough to see the clear differences.

Excellent

Debora Juarez

City Councilmember Debora Juarez has been a dependable vote for much of what we like, while representing a not-particularly-urban district. In the face of the usual pitchforks, she has stood her ground on HALA and parking minimum reductions. She also stood firm on 130th St Station, negotiating deftly with a skeptical Sound Transit Board. Our most significant disagreement with her is her lack of enthusiasm for protected bike lanes.

Fair

Mark Mendez‘ contribution to climate action is that he wants to incentivize widespread installation of solar panels. He wants to connect more bus routes to the new light rail stations. He also wants safer streets, but says little about bike safety. Mendez’ prose on housing ignores current policy debates but talks up partnerships between for-profit and not-for-profit orgs, with emphasis on preserving existing housing stock.

John Lombard is awful on land-use. He hides his bitterness toward HALA behind process concerns. He wants to put onerous restrictions on ADUs. He is, however, a fan of protected bike lanes, and recently attended the Ride for Safe Streets.

Poor

Ann Davison-Sattler‘s first priority would be to “put neighborhoods first”. The only new housing she talks about is “FEMA-style relief shelters”. Her website says nothing about transportation.

The Seattle Transit Blog Editorial Board currently consists of Martin Duke, Frank Chiachiere, and Brent White.

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News roundup: attention-grabbing

Incoming New Flyer Industries XDE60 of King County Metro in the Rain
Avgeek Joe/Flickr
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Happy 10th birthday, Link!

Just before the ribbon-cutting

Ten years ago today, some 45,000 riders boarded Link light rail for the first time and celebrated a new era in Seattle’s transit history: the long-awaited start to a real rail transit system.

STB was there to cover every angle of the opening weekend (and the first days in revenue service), which are chronicled in loving detail with posts every few hours. There was number counting, a short postmortem, and plenty of photos and comments. There were also dozens of tweets on opening day, with thoughts ranging from porta-potty cleanliness to the fact that three-car trains were there to take passengers that day.

Continue reading “Happy 10th birthday, Link!” | 60 comments

Seattle District 4 candidate ratings

Voters in District 4 are spoiled for choice. Almost all of these candidates might win our sole endorsement if in certain other districts. In this race, it’s almost a given to support more transit, bike lanes, and upzoning single family neighborhoods. To be excellent in this race, candidates have to show both relevant political experience and a commitment to transit and land use in particular.

Excellent

Cathy Tuttle

Cathy Tuttle has decades of experience managing the planning and successful construction of public works projects. After her city career, she founded and directed Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, who we can thank for the 20 mph speed limit on most streets.

She proposes to institute “climate notes”, similar to fiscal notes, analyzing the climate impact of every proposed city project. She is a housing construction hawk, including her call to re-legalize micro-housing. She wants more dedicated bus lanes and 24-hour bus service, and is as unsympathetic to a “windshield perspective” as can be.

Shaun Scott

Shaun Scott is a socialist with a streak of transit geekdom — see his 4-part series on Forward Thrust last year. We think he could help bring the social justice coalition in this city to prioritize things like upzones and bus lanes.

Joshua Newman

Joshua Newman is a former president of Seattle Subway. As one might expect, his platform emphasizes the bus priority and upzones at the core of our agenda for the city. We trust him more than any other candidate to resist neighborhood interests that oppose these measures. His favored revenue source is a higher downtown parking tax, which is about as good as it gets. Furthermore, Seattle Subway (unlike STB) does real retail politics, a useful training ground for the act of building support in the real world.

Emily Myers

Emily Myers is a scientist who is emphasizing climate change in her campaign. She was one of the architects of the City’s “Green New Deal” and has built an impressive array of endorsements, so she’ll hit the ground running.

She wants progressively-structured congestion pricing to fund transit. She wants to expedite ST3 and ST4. She also wants to complete the Bicycle Master Plan, using data to prioritize which arterials need protected bike lanes most urgently.

Good

Continue reading “Seattle District 4 candidate ratings” | 23 comments

Clarification: Lime Prices

Last week we discussed Limebike raising its prices to 30 cents per minute. Numerous people have, using their apps, since reported a 25-cent rate. A spokesperson for Lime explains that As we enter the busy summer travel months, we’ve adjusted our pricing in some markets to ensure that our service is reliable and that we can continue to offer excellent operational support where riders demand it most.” Lime did not explain if our commenter’s experience may have been a poorly timed encounter with congestion pricing or some other sort of trial.

Although company statements and materials are cagey about rates, anecdotal evidence from the app suggests that the typical rate is now 25 cents per minute. Though now a 67% increase over earlier in the year instead of 100%, I believe the rest of the analysis in that post stands.

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State Transportation Commission proposes low-income pilot project for Washington State Ferries, surcharge to build electric ferry

Colman Ferry Dock renovation, March 2018, photo by SounderBruce

After a series of community meetings the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) and its “Ferry Advisory Committee – Tarriff” (FAC-T) hold every two years, the WSTC is proposing a schedule of fare changes. Various options were presented to the WSTC at its June meeting, before the Commission settled on its proposal to go to the final round of public input.

The main fare policy changes include:

  • 2.5% fare increases for vehicles on October 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020
  • 2% fare increases for passengers on those same dates
  • a separate 25-cent increase to the “capital surcharge” (which is already 25 cents) on May 1, 2020, dedicated to building a new hybrid diesel/electric ferry. That surcharge increase will be roughly 12 cents for senior, disability, and youth fares.
  • increased penalties for reservation no-shows starting October 1, 2019
  • a 3-year pilot project for accepting payment using WSDOT’s Good-to-Go Pass
  • a 3-year pilot project for a low-income fare category.
Continue reading “State Transportation Commission proposes low-income pilot project for Washington State Ferries, surcharge to build electric ferry” | 21 comments

The business case for high speed rail

High speed trains in Tokyo (Image credit: Flickr/tokyoform)

In 2017, WSDOT published a feasibility study of high-speed rail (HSR) in the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor. It estimated a $25-42 billion capital cost for a rail line that would carry about 5,000 riders a day in 2035 and would just cover operation costs by sometime in the 2040s. This hardly appeared promising, but was enough to prompt a trickle of funds from the Legislature and regional partners for a “business case” study.

We have obtained a copy of the business case study which WSDOT will send to the Legislature this month. How does it advance our knowledge beyond what we learned in 2017?

In broad terms, the financial outlook for high-speed rail in this study looks a lot like the numbers presented two years ago. The business case doesn’t attempt to revisit the capital cost estimates of the earlier study. Ridership is somewhat better, but break-even on operating costs remains somewhere in the 2040s.

Continue reading “The business case for high speed rail” | 113 comments

News Roundup: Minor Changes

KC Metro Buses Against the Grey
Avgeek Joe/Flickr

This is an open thread.

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Permits will make park and rides more reliable and accessible

Eastgate Park & Ride (ECTran71/wikimedia)

King County Council will vote on a Park and Ride permit program next week.

by HESTER SEREBRIN, VICKY CLARKE, ALEX BRENNAN, and TIM GOULD

In Seattle, many of us are privileged with easy access to great bus service at any time of day. But the regional reality is pretty different for most folks. Until we are able to fund and build out King County Metro’s long-range plan, which will connect many more neighborhoods to frequent, high-capacity transit via a short walk or bike ride, lots of residents have to rely on driving to a Park and Ride as part of their daily trip. 

With increased growth and demand in our region, many of these lots are filling up fast, creating crowding on earlier transit trips, and leaving little to no parking for workers without the flexibility in their schedules to race for one of the limited spaces early each morning. Rather than building more parking lots, parking permits can help manage available space at Park and Rides, encourage carpooling, and create reliability for those who need it.

Next Tuesday, July 16, the King County Council Mobility and Environment committee will vote on a parking permit resolution to offer reserved solo driver parking permits for King County Park and Ride facilities. Join TCC and partners on July 16 at 1:30 pm to testify and show your support for smarter parking management. 

This Park and Ride resolution is similar to the policy the Sound Transit Board of Directors approved last year; applications for solo driver permits, including discounted permits for ORCA LIFT riders, are now available for Sound Transit Park and Ride facilities in Northgate, Auburn, Puyallup, Edmonds, and Mukilteo. 

Why Park and Ride Permits?

Park and Ride lots are convenient transfer areas that make transit more accessible for people who do not live near a bus or light rail route. Until we have a more robust transit network, Park and Rides are one tool to relieve congestion and promote the use of public transportation. All riders and taxpayers pay hidden costs for expensive parking infrastructure, and building more parking will only occupy land that can be used to build housing near high-frequency transit. Parking permits can help manage parking demand and curb the need to build endless parking lots. Without parking fees, parking costs impact all users, including those arriving by foot, bike, or bus, while only benefiting those who drive.

King County’s Park and Ride Proposal

Continue reading “Permits will make park and rides more reliable and accessible” | 72 comments

Snohomish County narrows down light rail station options for Mariner and Ash Way

8th Avenue W concept for Mariner Station (Makers/Snohomish County)

Link service to Everett remains 17 years away from its estimated completion date, but the narrowing of station options is already progressing at the county level. Snohomish County is soliciting another round of public comments for its light rail station subarea plans, which cover the two stations in unincorporated area between Lynnwood and Everett: Ash Way (164th Street Southwest) and Mariner (128th Street Southwest). These two stations mark the end of the “easy” section of Everett Link, with an opportunity to open early if the stars align.

The second open house, which we reported on in November, drew 3,000 online visitors and narrowed down the set of options per station from three to two. Respondents to surveys about both stations also ranked their priorities in choosing station options, placing Swift and bus connections above the likes of sidewalk/trail access, TOD opportunities, and bike access. The responses from this third open house will be used to shape the subarea plan that will be presented by the county to Sound Transit for further consideration, which will likely involve a good deal being lost to the Seattle process.

Continue reading “Snohomish County narrows down light rail station options for Mariner and Ash Way” | 31 comments

The next regional growth plan will be transit-focused

Fast growing Bellevue (image by author)

Regional leaders are nearing agreement on Vision 2050, a growth plan for the Puget Sound area through 2050. On Thursday, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is likely to approve the release of a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS). The new plan significantly shifts the distribution of regional growth to concentrate around high-capacity transit centers.

Once adopted by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the plan’s requirements will cascade down through county and city plans to growth targets and zoning changes for every city in the region.

The Vision 2050 plan will ramp up expectations for future housing and employment needs, reflecting how the rapid growth of recent years has blown through the targets set in the Vision 2040 plan in 2008. The Vision 2040 FEIS foresaw a population just shy of 5 million by 2040. More current forecasts anticipate the region will hit 5.33 million by then, and 5.82 million by 2050. There’s a lot of growth to be accommodated just to catch up with the deficit in the last plan. The pessimistic regional view in 2008 perhaps contributed to today’s housing shortage by setting growth targets too low to accommodate the boom of the 2010s.

Earlier this summer, a draft SEIS laid out three options. All options raise the overall targets to keep up with the higher forecast, but each lays out a different path for reaching those targets.

The middle option, “Stay the Course”, would continue the policies in the current Vision 2040 plan. That generally has the highest growth rates in the largest ‘metropolitan’ cities, with progressively lower growth rates in larger suburbs, smaller suburbs, and rural areas. A less concentrated growth alternative “Reset Urban Growth” would alter targets to more closely fit actual growth patterns. As we’ll see, some parts of the region have experienced a growth profile very different from the plan, and the “Reset Urban Growth” would arguably recognize those trends.

The more concentrated growth alternative offered was “Transit Focused Growth”. This alternative recognizes the massive investments in regional transit since the last plan was adopted in 2008, and pushes more growth into the vicinity of light rail and BRT stations.

Continue reading “The next regional growth plan will be transit-focused” | 67 comments

Comment of the day: bikeshare

[CLARIFICATION 7/15/19: anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are quoted a rate of 25 cents a minute.]

Last week, frequent commenter asdf2 made an important observation:

sounderbruce/Flickr

On another note, the per-minute price to ride a Lime bike has now gone up again to $0.30/min., exactly double what it was just 6 weeks ago. Assuming 6-8 minutes per mile (which is about as good as you expect for a route with stoplights), this translates into a marginal cost of $1.50-$2.10 for each additional mile traveled – a figure that is now *higher* than the marginal cost per mile riding in a Lyft or Uber car with a paid driver.

(I don’t know if Jump has matched this price increase or not, as neither their website nor their app discloses their prices).

Continue reading “Comment of the day: bikeshare” | 61 comments

Community Transit begins study of Link-based restructure for 2024

Local buses on 164th Street SW in northern Lynnwood

Community Transit has long discussed its plans to radically restructure its commuter and local bus networks in anticipation of Lynnwood Link, and its first concepts were presented to the Snohomish County Council this week. First noticed last month by The Urbanist, the agency briefed the County Council on its preliminary plans for its 600,000 annual service hours, including a portion saved from avoiding the long slog on Interstate 5 south of the county line.

By and large, the commuter network would be truncated to Lynnwood City Center and Mountlake Terrace stations, which will both include large bus transfer areas. At Lynnwood City Center (today’s Lynnwood TC), Community Transit anticipates that commuter and local buses will arrive and depart from one of its bays every 35 seconds during peak periods, traveling out to Interstate 5 via its direct HOV ramp or onto nearby streets. The station will have 20 layover spaces for double-decker buses that will be held to meet Link trains as they arrive at the station.

Continue reading “Community Transit begins study of Link-based restructure for 2024” | 94 comments

News Roundup: Happy Fourth

MV HYAK AGAINST THE SUNSET
AvgeekJoe/Flickr

This is an open thread.

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