Metro wants feedback on simplifying fares

If you have an ORCA card supplied by your employer, sorting out what you’re going to pay to ride a Metro bus is pretty simple. But, for the rest of us, King County’s fare system is, as the Seattle Transit Blog says, unfair and complex.

Metro is rolling out a survey to help shape a proposal planned to get in front of the county council by June. You can add your thoughts in the first planned survey here by April 7th. You can read what the experts at STB have to say about the plan and what is behind the effort to change the system here:

The background materials presented to the Advisory Committee convened for this project show that Metro is primarily focused on two goals: in the short term, potential elimination of zone and peak surcharges, and in the longer term, moving gingerly toward cashlessness and/or universal off-board payment. Please take the survey, and we’ll keep you updated with additional feedback opportunities as the project progresses. You may also email comments to Metro’s DeAnna Martin.

Given the tight turnaround time to get the proposal in front of the King County Council, a second survey on options for how to best shape a new fare structure will follow in April.

Metro is also holding public meetings on the fare review. The next is April 4th at King Street Station from 3:30 to 5:30 PM.

You can learn more at kingcounty.gov.

Metro wants Night Owl feedback on plan to boost late-night service

304/365 - On a Rainy Night

King County Metro will field public comment through October on a proposal to expand its late night bus service:

The public is encouraged to review the proposal and offer comments via an online survey until Oct. 30. Public comments will help shape a final proposal, which could go before the County Council later this year. If approved, it will take effect in September 2017.

The agency says late night passengers represent “a small portion of Metro’s total ridership,” but that demand appears to be growing, with boarding increasing “by 20 percent in the last five years.”

Details of the proposal can be found at kingcounty.gov and the full announcement from Metro is below. Across the Hill, Route 11 would see boosted service along with possible tweaks to improve transfers on other routes. Continue reading

Sound Transit begins pilot allowing buskers at Capitol Hill Station

A busker at Capitol Hill Station's grand opening earlier this year

A busker at Capitol Hill Station’s grand opening earlier this year

Just like a real big city neighborhood, Capitol Hill now has a subway station. And like a big city of the future, you can use your phone in the subway tunnels. Starting today, our subway will get another important feature — station buskers.

Sound Transit began a six-month trial Thursday allowing busking on Capitol Hill Station and University of Washington Station property:

Sound Transit believes that allowing buskers to perform at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill light rail stations will help retain existing users, as well as attract new users, and is consistent with promoting transit-related activities. Accordingly, Sound Transit is adopting this pilot program for a 6 month period to assess the feasibility of adopting a permanent policy regarding performances by buskers.

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Capitol Hill Housing touts early success combining affordable housing with affordable transit

Capitol Hill Housing and its Capitol Hill Ecodistrict initiative have announced encouraging early results from an innovative pilot program that makes transit passes available at a significantly reduced cost to the nonprofit’s affordable housing residents.

Since rolling out earlier this year, the CHH transit pass program is helping some residents save as much as $100 per month in transportation costs, a post on the program reports. This kind of savings is particularly important, CHH says, because “after housing, transportation is the second highest cost for most people” — Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | The 10 on Pine and other forgotten buses of Capitol Hill

Blend of 1970 and 2016 at 15th and Pine

10 or 11 on 15th and Pine, 1970 and 2016

It’s been five months since Link’s Capitol Hill Station opened. Can you feel the difference? Everyone is walking towards the station. Bus stops around it seem emptier in the morning. Train cars keep getting more full.

We’re so caught up learning to dodge bicycle tires and stay upright on swaying trains, perhaps some of us already forgot that the 10 used to run to Pine Street on 15th. The 10’s reroute is linked to the return of rail service to Broadway for the rest of time.

This view below from 1970 strains to look back to the end of Capitol Hill’s original rail service. The coach pictured here was Seattle Transit #615. That bus was purchased in 1940, the year after Seattle Municipal Railway was rechristened Seattle Transit and embarked on the destruction of the streetcar system. Seattle Transit purchased 100 coaches from local company Pacific Car and Foundry (now PACCAR) and 135 from Twin Coach.

#615 Route 10 Capitol Hill outbound 15th & Pine Jul 19 1970

Coach #615 on Route 10 Capitol Hill headed to Volunteer Park, 15th & Pine. Jul 19, 1970

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Study highlights pedestrian mobility ‘d’ohs’ around Capitol Hill Station

Obstructed-Crosswalk-1-1024x768

Utility equipment blocks the crosswalk path to the Capitol Hill Station. (Image: David Seater, Central Seattle Greeways)

U-Link light rail service made it possible to effortlessly glide beneath Capitol Hill, but accessing the Broadway station above ground can still be a challenge for anybody. For someone in a wheelchair, some routes are impossible. Sidewalks obstructed by trash cans and utility equipment, drivers making dangerous turns into crosswalks, and awkwardly aligned sidewalk ramps are just a few of the access issues identified in a study of intersections surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

In February, Central Seattle Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways conducted an access audit of the subway station before it opened March. The analysis looked at five intersections around the station and how they ranked in three areas: street crossing safety, obstructions in crosswalks and along sidewalks, and sidewalk capacity. The intersections included: Broadway and E Olive Way, Broadway and E Denny Way, Broadway and Thomas, Harvard and E Olive Way, and 10th and E John.Map-1024x669

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Light rail riders, here is what you’ll be fighting for: ST3 plan approved for ballot

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

West Seattle by 2030. Ballard by 2035. The updated — and modestly sped up — proposal for Sound Transit 3 was approved by the agency’s board Thursday afternoon. Prepare for a fight as the $54 billion plan goes to the ballot in November.

CHS wrote about the initial ST3 proposal when it was released in March with a package to build 62 miles of light rail lines north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and Issaquah, plus the highly anticipated lines to West Seattle and Ballard, and a second downtown transit tunnel. Continue reading

Another serious crash on First Hill Streetcar tracks?

A warning sign on Yesler (Image: CHS)

A warning sign on Yesler (Image: CHS)

It’s not just bicycle riders that face dangers from the First Hill Streetcar tracks. KOMO has a report on a May 20th scooter crash on the tracks at 12th and Jackson:

The Tukwila nurse was on her way to work at Group Health in Seattle when she crashed her Vespa on May 20th. Investigators are still trying to determine what happened between the scooter and the tracks of the First Hill Streetcar at 12th Avenue S. and South Jackson Street, said Det. Mark Jamieson of the Seattle Police Department, “I know that there’s some streetcar tracks there,” Jamieson said. “She may have hit that and spilled.”

As investigators are examining the role of the streetcar tracks in the crash, victim Denise Chew is also facing the indignity of having the tow yard auction off her new Vespa during her hospitalization.

CHS reported on the May death of rider Desiree McCloud in a crash involving the streetcar tracks near 13th and Yesler. The investigation of that incident has also not been concluded. “At this juncture, we do not know if the streetcar tracks played any role in the crash,” a statement from SDOT after McCloud’s death read. “The bike lanes are separate and outside of the streetcar’s trackway at this location on Yesler. Careful consideration about bike facilities occurred during the design of the First Hill Streetcar’s alignment, with bike lanes placed away from the rails and rail crossing points designed as near to perpendicular as possible.” McCloud’s family has called for changes to be made to make the tracks safer. Elsewhere on the First Hill Streetcar route, planners included the separated Broadway bikeway to reduce bicyclist interactions with the tracks.

More safely separated bike routes from the streetcar tracks could be part of the answer but incidents like Chew’s crash on Jackson might be even more difficult to prevent if it turns out that standard scooter tires are also at danger of getting stuck in track beds or slipping on rails. If you are on two wheels, the City of Seattle may have inadvertently made its streets even more dangerous.

As ridership booms, economic impact of light rail on Capitol Hill a guessing game

South Wall, Broadway/Denny Entrance: Link Light Rail Capitol Hill Station

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 4.40.20 PMSome numbers around light rail on Capitol Hill are clear. According to Sound Transit’s latest service report, April light rail boardings are up nearly 80% compared to April 2015 thanks to the opening of UW Station and Capitol Hill Station. If you’re looking for signs of a likely Capitol Hill effect, while weekday ridership is up 78%, and Sunday has climbed around 64%, Saturday boardings have leapt 108%. Since the Capitol Hill light rail station opened in late March, ridership has exceeded expectations. Adding to the hype have been reported anecdotes from Capitol Hill businesses who said they had seen a spike in customer traffic due to the new station. Ridership is booming. Is it possible to empirically measure light rail-related economic activity on Capitol Hill?

Both the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Office of Economic Development — the two entities that would have the best sense of how to approach such a question — say that while it is possible, it is far too early to tell and the methods of measuring are limited. There are also other variables to consider, such as general population growth on the Hill.

“While we’re optimistic Link Light Rail will have a positive impact on Capitol Hill’s economy, at this point, it is too soon to draw a conclusion until we have data to evaluate,” OED’s Economic Intelligence Advisor, John Crawford-Gallagher, tells CHS.

“There’s not [any substantial evidence] yet mainly because the window time has been so short,” said the Chamber’s Sierra Hansen. “Right now the quickest way to get some hard numbers is to partner with some businesses on Broadway to tell us how they’re doing.” Continue reading

Seattle Central pursues rare opportunity to expand Broadway campus

The Site D development will tower over Capitol Hill Station's western Broadway entrance (Image: CHS)

The Site D development will tower over Capitol Hill Station’s western Broadway entrance (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s community college is currently negotiating a deal that could bring a new technology center or on-campus faculty housing to its Broadway campus. It’s a rare opportunity for Seattle Central College to expand with building height departures already in place, made possible by the arrival of light rail on Capitol Hill.

Five sites surrounding Capitol Hill Station were acquired by Sound Transit for construction of the light rail facility — what’s left is to be transformed into dense “transit oriented development.” Four of those sites will be developed into housing, retail, and community space by Portland-based firm Gerding Edlen. SCC was given a right of first refusal to develop the fifth property, known as Site D, which surrounds the west entrance of the Capitol Hill Station at Broadway just south of Denny Way.

Representatives for Sound Transit and SCC have confirmed the two sides are working on a deal for the college to acquire the property, but offered few details on the status of the negotiations. In a 2015 report on its “major institution master plan” SCC said it was also working with developers to explore options for the site.

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, who was confirmed as SCC president in May, recently told CHS that creating faculty housing on Capitol Hill was a major priority. “Most faculty and staff cannot afford to live on Capitol Hill,” she said, According to Edwards Lange, the average faculty member at SCC makes around $57,000 a year. Continue reading