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Mobility 2.0 For Puget Sound

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Mobility 2.0 For Puget Sound

With the recent meltdown of the New York City cordon pricing plan, Puget Sound is moving to the forefront of innovative transportation planning — if our region can get its act together. The success of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, adoption by the Legislature with support from the Governor of a tolling policy for the State Route 520 floating bridge, and the pending State Route 167 HOT lane pilot project combine to fuel possibilities for a strategic pairing of HOT lanes and bus rapid transit in the 405 corridor; in reconfigured I-5 express lanes; and in other critical corridors.
But to implement these and other roads and transit measures will take real money and a single point of accountability, namely a regional transportation decision-making board to plan, prioritize and fund projects. Elected and appointed representatives, covering King, Pierce and Snohomish counties would develop public funding tools for voter approval and – with keen attention to the public interest – would tailor roads and transit funding deals with pension fund investors representing building trades and public employee unions.
The region’s private sector business acumen can help solve our mobility challenges. An example is Microsoft, which continues to forge into the transportation field, emphasizing innovation and sustainability. Expansion of Microsoft’s popular Connector bus service (pictured above) for employees and the company’s emergent in-vehicle Clearflow traffic management system could be part of an important first-phase public-private partnership to deal with Puget Sound road congestion.
USDOT Secretary Mary Peters was clearly impressed with what she heard from Microsoft and other business leaders in her recent visit. By moving to Puget Sound some of the $300-plus million previously earmarked for the Big Apple’s failed cordon-pricing project, USDOT could double its $138 million federal Urban Partnership Agreement with our region. The congestion initiative could be expanded to include approaches like those being demonstrated by Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Sound Transit ponders whether it should go out for a public vote in November to fund expansion of regional light rail, following the rejection by voters last fall of a big-ticket light rail and roads measure. The business community, miffed that governance reform was not accomplished in the last Legislature, and worried about a deteriorating economy, is considering advancing a regional transportation governance initiative to consolidate decision-making.
So-called governance reform would foster fresh new approaches to our huge transportation challenges. Taking a page from the software industry and the Web development community, perhaps we should think of the next phase as Mobility 2.0. The idea is to empower the user with new and better tools. Is there really any good reason that new approaches to regional mobility should be set apart from the entrepreneurial spirit that defines the Puget Sound economy? Let’s tear down that firewall.
TECHNORATI TAGS: <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/PUGET SOUND, TRANSPORTATION PLANNING, TRANSPORTATION FUNDING, PENSION FUNDS, CONGESTION PRICING, HOT LANES, MICROSOFT, CONNECTOR, CLEARFLOW, CARPOOLING, USDOT, MARY PETERS, SR 520, SR 167"rel="tag"PUGET SOUND, TRANSPORTATION PLANNING, TRANSPORTATION FUNDING, PENSION FUNDS, CONGESTION PRICING, HOT LANES, MICROSOFT, CONNECTOR, CLEARFLOW, CARPOOLING, USDOT, MARY PETERS, SR 520, SR 167