Transit News Here’s a one way to market light rail: highlighting the ethnic eats along the route. The new Gold Line in L.A. has mad culinary appeal. In Seattle, Sound Transit’s new “Link” light rail line might also benefit from a promotional campaign highlighting adjacent dining and other neighborhood attractions. Just one of many points of interest: In between the Othello and Edmunds stops, and right across from the Link tracks at Graham Street, is Joy Palace, one of the region’s best restaurants for Hong Kong style Chinese entrees, and the bite-sized savories and sweets known as dim sum. Take it from me, or Yelp fans of the place. In the same urban mall is a wondrous Asian supermarket, Viet Read More ›
Using a robustly-researched, fine-tuned “telework savings calculator” developed by the Telework Research Network, Seattle Times workplace blogger Michelle Goodman highlighted what this region’s employers and workers could save in various costs and gain in improved productivity if the 40 percent of regular, salaried non-government office workers who could work from home, but don’t, did — just half the time.
The upshot: There are billions of dollars in potential benefits from telework being left on the table in the Seattle region alone.
Kate Lister (pictured at right), co-author of “Undress For Success – The Naked Truth About Making Money At Home” and principal researcher of Telework Research Network, shared with me today her latest data about the robust national impact of 40 percent of the regular, full-time, non-government, in-office workforce working at home half the time. Maybe your company would like a piece of this action.
And…..Was Moses Really The Devil?
In Crosscut this morning, Knute Berger channels the spirit of famed urban planner, writer and neighborhood preservationist Jane Jacobs – and sits down with Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess to talk tunnel.
They’re mulling Seattle mayoral candidate Mike McGinn’s call for ditching the planned deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in downtown Seattle. Berger’s hook is two-fold. First, Seattle is having its own Jane Jacobs moment in the candidacy of tunnel opponent McGinn, who favors a “surface street” option instead. Second, there’s a new book out by Anthony Flint titled, “Wresting With Moses,” on Jacobs’ battles against the epic, 20th Century infrastructure builder of New York, Robert Moses (pictured, right).
Cast as the genius-villain writ large in Robert Caro’s landmark, 1974 Pulitzer-winning biography “The Power Broker,” Moses is just the kind of guy who like Seattle leaders in 1950 would have supported a noisy, fume-spewing, shadow-casting elevated highway such as our viaduct, and who if transported to 2009, probably would have been all for building the world’s largest diameter single-deep-bored tunnel to replace it. Or a grand bridge across Elliott Bay, instead. The stage set thusly, Berger in his interview draws some astute observations from Council Member Burgess, himself a great fan of Jacobs’ neighborhoods-first activism and scholarship.
…Burgess…says that reading the (Flint) book made him more certain that the deep-bore tunnel was the better option for the waterfront. That seems counter-intuitive, because Jacobs fought against highways. Doesn’t a multi-billion-dollar road project seem more like a Moses boondoggle? Doesn’t the surface option, which would limit vehicle traffic, sound like more like a Jacobs kind of solution?
But Burgess worries that the surface option will be destructive at the street level, especially to the businesses that rely on Highway 99 and waterfront access.
At a meeting in Seattle last week, lawmakers heard that the funding gap for replacing the storm- and seismically-vulnerable, crowded four-lane SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington can be shaved from $2.6 billion to $2.38 billion through a sales tax deferral of $220 million. They also had a look at the current menu of gap-closers. It includes more borrowing against electronic tolling revenues, plus higher toll rates on the 520 bridge, and especially, tolling of the parallel I-90 bridge. As ever, tolling’s a flash point, but it needn’t be ugly. It can equitable, and farsighted. Metro Puget Sound needs a comprehensive regional highway corridor electronic tolling plan, typically with express “HOT” lanes aside free lanes, and higher rates at peak hours.
Yesterday in Crosscut, the Northwest online daily journal of politics and public policy, I published a piece titled “Time to Go ‘All In’ On Tolls.” It starts this way: The four-lane Evergreen Point Floating Bridge across Lake Washington on State Route 520 is a relic of a bygone era, congested and disaster prone. How urgent is the need for a planned six-lane replacement? The Washington State Department of Transportation has gone so far as to graphically model on YouTube how the bridge might buckle under duress, threatening lives and paralyzing the region’s highway network. And is the region stepping up to the challenge? Less than half the funding is secured. The Seattle-side configuration is still being debated. More broadly, the project begs a Read More ›
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 ›
Thanks to $7.6 million more in federal monies for car and passenger ferries that was secured yesterday by U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington, Kitsap Transit will be fully funded for a six month trial run of a high speed, low wake passenger-only ferry to serve the Bremerton-Seattle route. The 118-seat passenger ferry is being manufactured by All American Marine in Bellingham, following authorization in April by the Kitsap Transit board of a $5.3 million construction contract. It’s expected to be built by next March and in operation as soon as next June. Funds to pay for the boat’s manufacture included proceeds from a special bonding arrangement between Kitsap Transit and the county’s housing authority, plus earlier federal grants. Also on the horizon is a passenger-only ferry run between Seattle and Kingston – on the Kitsap Peninsula’s northern tip. The Port of Kingston has $3.5 million in federal money to help launch the service with a new boat but must find funding for a back-up vessel. Here’s a business plan the port presented to the Puget Sound Regional Council (pdf).
This latest federal infusion for ferries in Washington state includes $1.3 million for operations of the new Kitsap Transit foot ferry in the planned six-month trial run, to evaluate how well wake impacts are reduced; and another $1.3 million to prepare the dock to accommodate the vessel, the Kitsap Sun reports today. The $7.6 million also includes $2 million for King County’s passenger ferry district to buy a replacement for the old, slow tour boat used on its popular West Seattle Water Taxi, and $3 million for Washington State Ferries toward upgrading its car ferry terminal in Anacortes, the gateway to the San Juan Islands.
Cascadia Center has consistently championed expanded foot ferries as part of a forward-looking multi-modal transit system for metro Puget Sound. Key touchpoints in this effort include a May, 2008 conference on the Seattle waterfront where another low-wake high-speed foot ferry built by All American Marine was demo’d. Cascadia also organized a July, 2007 foot ferry symposium at Salty’s in West Seattle and in 2003 organized a special trip for policy-makers and opinion leaders to the San Francisco Bay Area to see their extensive foot ferry system in operation.
The completion of funding for the fast foot ferry trial in Bremerton is the latest and most upbeat chapter in a long and drawn-out saga.
Added roadway and transit capacity, plus more toll lanes, telecommuting and flexible work hours are among the traffic congestion solutions recommended by researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in their 26th annual Urban Mobility Report, just released. Other recommendations include getting more efficiency out of existing surface transportation systems, and influencing development patterns to make walking, bicycling and transit more convenient. TTI, founded in 1950, is an internationally-recognized transportation research center based at Texas A & M University. The 2009 report is based on newly-analyzed 2007 data for 439 U.S. urban regions. In a summary of their findings, researchers noted that although travelers on average spent one less hour stuck in traffic in 2007 versus 2006 and wasted one 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.