On Oregon Public Broadcasting this morning Tom Banse reported about the long-awaited second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., which begins service today. Tom Banse: …(It) makes its inaugural run Wednesday evening, starting from Portland. The president of the Clipper Vacations company, Darrell Bryan, books many customers on the route. He plans to board the run in Seattle. Bryan says the additional train to British Columbia will give travelers more flexibility. Darrell Bryan: “It’s a much needed service. As you know, the congestion on I-5 is terrible; the issues at the border with long waits. With this, (comes) the ease and convenience of crossing the border and clearing once you arrive in Vancouver.” Tom Banse: Amtrak was ready to Read More ›
The Seattle Times reports that the Canadian government has dropped its insistence Amtrak pay $1,500 per day for immigration and customs inspections for passengers on a planned second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver. As a result, service will expand next month, and continue on at least through the 2010 Winter Olympics and paralympics in Vancouver. Over-time, cross-border trade and tourism supporters have previously said, up to four daily Seattle-Vancouver trains would be feasible. The second daily train will allow same day round-trips on Amtrak between Seattle and Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station (pictured above) and will speed travel times on the Portland to Vancouver route, as well. Vancouver Sun columnist Miro Cernetig reported earlier on studies showing an additional $1.87 Read More ›
State Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36th) makes some key points about the future of state and regional transportation funding in a Ballard News-Tribune op-ed.
After stressing funding shortfalls facing King County Metro’s bus service and declining gas tax revenues for road projects, Carlyle explores several important macro-level policy options for funding improved mobility.
…the long-term, big picture is important and we can’t let the battles over the tunnel, 520 bridge and other mega projects be a conversation killer about our broader structural challenges. Several ideas are on the front burner. Tolling is making a comeback, as evidenced by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and soon on the 520 bridge. It makes sense for the people who use facilities the most to pay a greater share of the construction and maintenance costs for a specific facility or geographic area….comprehensive regional tolling – with e-tags and other solutions to help make it easy logistically – makes good economic sense so long as we have a real action plan….
Another, if controversial, idea is charging according to vehicle miles traveled (VMT), tracked by a transponder. This would take into account actual road usage, whether or not a vehicle uses gasoline, electricity or something else. It also opens up some interesting new policy ideas such as integrating car insurance, parking (no more parking meters!), tolls, etc., into one system that is able to charge drivers accordingly and accurately. Obviously, a concern about privacy is one major obstacle to this idea, so we’ll have to continue looking at innovative ways to address this very legitimate concern…..
A third option is the car-tab fee model and using the funds for direct transportation services so the money doesn’t disappear into the institutional bureaucracy of government but rather goes for real services on the ground.
Kudos to Rep. Carlyle for highlighting in a community forum the need to develop long-term surface transportation funding strategies. Regional (electronic, time-variable) tolling and further consideration of a vehicle mileage tax – along with a local-option motor vehicle excise tax applied at annual license renewal time – are all important options that our Cascadia Center and others have advocated.
More than that, Carlyle’s commentary is especially timely.
The first thing you need to know about KIRO-FM 97.3 News Talk host Dori Monson is that when he says he’s “filled full of Diet Coke, caffeine and righteous rage,” he’s not kidding. Okay, maybe he’s exaggerating a bit, showman that he is. Let’s just say he’s a high-energy guy and a strenuous advocate of fiscal accountability and limited taxes, as I was reminded yesterday in an hour-long session with Dori and some of his many listeners. We were discussing a proposal for a seamless system of tolled express lanes on the Puget Sound region’s highways and major state routes, that I outlined in a piece recently published at Crosscut, titled, “Flexible Tolling: The Key To Solving Our Congestion.” It Read More ›
The newly-signed federal stimulus legislation includes $8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects – preferably high-speed rail in major corridors connecting metro regions. In addition, as reported by The Politico, the Obama administration will seek an additional $5 billion in high-speed rail funding over the next five years. The U.S. Department of Transportation has designated six main high-speed rail corridors, all of which would link major metro areas. Here’s a map. The corridors are: Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver, B.C.; San Diego-Los Angeles-Bay Area-Sacramento; South Central; Midwest; Southeast; and Northeast (a.k.a. “Keystone-Empire”). The California High Speed Rail Authority, which last fall won voter approval for $10 billion in bonds to help develop its system, has already prepared preliminary plans for how it would spend Read More ›
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire yesterday announced she’d push back by two weeks a recommendation on how to best replace the aging, earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 along Seattle’s downtown waterfront. But there’s more. A top Gregoire advisor tells the Seattle Times that the deep bored tunnel proposal – energetically advanced by Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee members plus our Cascadia Center and the general public – is “probably the most viable option.” Deep bore tunneling technology has advanced greatly in recent years and the method is considered highly suitable for an inland downtown tunnel away from Seattle’s waterfront. (A tunnel boring machine used for Madrid’s M30 roadway project is pictured below, right.) The Times: OLYMPIA – A proposed Read More ›
President-elect Barack Obama Friday is to name retiring Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood the next U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary. Though he has served on the House Transportation Committee, moderate Republican LaHood’s upside is his well established role as a bipartisan diplomat with close ties to Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as the Chicago Tribune reports. He’ll need to use well the relationships he’s built in seven congressional terms. The surface transportation landscape poses big challenges and real opportunities for establishing a new way of doing business. This article about LaHood’s appointment, from the New York Times, highlights several important menu items. Mr. LaHood…has overseen major spending projects as a member of the House Appropriations Committee….The next transportation secretary will Read More ›
Transportation public-private partnerships should not be used to plug holes in a government budget. The proceeds should be directed to transportation capital investments. But the Chicago Tribune reports that under a new agreement starting January 1, the City of Chicago will lease for 75 years its 36,161 metered parking spaces to a Morgan Stanley partnership for $1.1 billion, with the proceeds going, variously: to patch the city budget through 2012; to a special fund to offset city revenue shortfalls tied to the economic downturn; to a special reserve fund; and to city programs for low-income individuals. I won’t say this sort of, ah, creative attempt to breach city fiscal gaps smells exactly like the thousands of dead alewives that used Read More ›
Legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers sat down for an interview at the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco and shared some thoughts in this video from ZDNet (click here or on embed below): The money quote: The most important thing (President-elect Barack Obama) has got to do is kick start a huge amount of innovation and research in energy. We invest less than a billion dollars a year in renewable energy research and that’s contrasted with health care which is $32 billion, and I think we’ve just scratched the surface in terms of clean ways to use energy, to create energy. It’s the challenge of our generation. It’s the scourge of Read More ›
We’ve now got a full transcript (at bottom, here) of the address given by Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard last month at Cascadia Center’s “Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation” conference. Stressing the growing potential of information technology to shape decisions about commuting and travel, Bernard outlined what might be called a hierarchy of mobility preferences. Or, as he put it, the best miles are zero miles, followed by shared miles and then efficient miles. So, zero miles….how do I leverage the information in my calendar to keep me from coming to the office? Because if I can stay home I can get a lot of work done. So by literally looking at the blocks of time, and there’s color-coding options Read More ›