TRAFFIC CONGESTION

Will the Rise of the Eastside Eclipse the Seattle Boom?

The Eastside has long been eclipsed by Seattle. Now, however, it is challenging the big city on several fronts. The reasons are many: Microsoft’s revival; global tech companies opening engineering offices on the Eastside; the openness of Eastside local governments to new technologies; Seattle’s problems of homelessness, crime, traffic and subpar public schools; and the Seattle City Council’s hostile actions and rhetoric directed at tech companies.

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Eat Your Way Across Town On Light Rail

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 ›

More Telework Means Major Savings, Increased Productivity

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.

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U.S. Traffic Congestion Tab Of $87.2 Billion In ’07: Record Costs To Seattle Region

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 ›

Bay Area Looks To Future With Regional HOT Lane System

Slight decreases in traffic congestion due to the economic downturn are no reason to curtail aggressive transportation planning for looming population and employment growth in major metro regions. Despite the most fervent wishes of some planners, metro region growth in coming years will continue to be more away from, than to, high-density urban neighborhoods. This is due to due to several factors. For one, first- and second-ring suburbs have become regional employment centers, and cities in their own right. They are where people increasingly work, shop, play – and if finances permit, live. Examples in Central Puget Sound include Bellevue and Redmond to the east of Seattle, and (more affordable) Kent and Federal Way to the city’s south. Second, there Read More ›

Steve Heminger, Robert Poole: Context Trumps Ideology On Transportation Public-Private Partnerships

The National Journal’s transportation blog asks what’s the proper role, if any, for public-private partnerships? Among the replies from their expert panel, two stand out. Steve Heminger, executive director of the nine-county (Bay Area) Metropolitan Transportation Commission, writes: The debate about the wisdom of greater private investment in our surface transportation system is almost always contested on theoretical or ideological grounds, and that may be enjoyable for the debaters but it is completely unenlightening for the rest of us. I suggest instead that we try to answer the following practical question: what part of our investment shortfall are PPPs most likely to address? It is probably not deferred maintenance (about 50% of our total shortfall), because there’s not much money Read More ›

En Route To A Bay Area HOT Lane Network

Construction began last week on a High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lane to serve carpoolers, transit and – for a price varying by miles travelled and time of day – solo drivers, on a 14-mile stretch of southbound I-680 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The highway connects the jobs-rich Silicon Valley region with populous East Bay communities to the north. Electronic tolling will be employed, using transponders and overhead gantries. Carpoolers will cover their onboard transponders to avoid being charged. Some commuters are expected to save 30 minutes in the express lane, while congestion will be eased in the general use lanes as well. It’s all part of a much broader, 25-year, $6.1 billion toll-financed plan to build, operate Read More ›

Microsoft’s Rob Bernard On “Zero, Shared, And Efficient Miles”

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 ›

State Gas Tax Revenues Take Another Hit

Time To Bite The P3 Bullet In The Olympian, Adam Wilson reports Washington state officials are bracing for a widening gap of $95 million between expected and actual gas tax revenues through June 2009, as sharply higher gas prices constrict the volume of fuel purchased at the pump. The renewed transportation revenue concerns are indicative of a larger, long-term challenge that’s also felt due to the nearly bankrupt federal gas tax trust fund and the shifting landscape in infrastructure. …construction costs increased by 60 percent in five years, as demand in India and China drove up prices for steel and concrete, and the cost of diesel fuel for construction equipment soared. In Washington, as elsewhere, some planned road and bridge Read More ›

Who’ll Be The Deciders…..On Puget Sound Transportation?

Look for a vigorous public debate soon – involving state lawmakers, Gov. Chris Gregoire and a multitude of opinionators – about regional transportation governance for the central Puget Sound region of Snohomish, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties. The aim behind the concept is to consolidate prioritizing, planning and funding of needed roads and transit improvements to combat gridlock; though some skeptics see darker anti-transit motives, and others are concerned their counties will give more in future taxes than they get back in project funding. Tacoma News-Tribune editorial page editor David Seago reports today at the paper’s “Inside The Editorial Page” blog there’s one more sign the dialog is gaining momentum as the legislature heads toward beginning its 2008, 60-day “short Read More ›