Civic duty: Last chance to weigh in on Madison BRT — bikes, 12th/Union, enforcement

The Madison Bus Rapid Transit online open house closes Wednesday night and, because you’re human and may have put off getting to it and because we’re human and did a poor job of making it clear when the deadline for online comment was, here is your reminder/push to weigh in on what just might be the last big infrastructure investment around the Hill before you move to Tacoma.

You can see a presentation on the details of the planned changes to Madison and provide feedback at MadisonStreetBRT.participate.online.

Here are a few ideas for aspects of the $120 million project to weigh in on. Continue reading

ReachNow car service has solved parking in Pike/Pine on a Friday night (for now)

(Image: ReachNow)

(Image: ReachNow)

While it and others like Car2Go bridge the gap to a future of self-driving cars shuttling us between millionaire-tax supported government farming communes and our favorite Capitol Hill craft cocktail bars, ReachNow has also figured out a stopgap solution for its  customers wanting to park its BMWs and Minis in Pike/Pine on a Friday night. The true test? St. Patrick’s Day on a Friday. Here is marketing director Laura Gonia:

We’re live tonight from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. We’ll have music, water and Rancho Bravo tacos for all members who swing through (if you sign up tonight, we’ll give you a taco, too). We’re expecting tonight to be a little busier since more people will be out for St. Paddy’s Day but our team will be moving cars so there’s always a spot.

For now, the ReachNow “dropzone” will only take over Rancho Bravo’s lot on Friday nights through March but Gonia said a longer term solution is “definitely something we’re exploring.” “If it continues to pick up and our members love it, we’ll definitely continue it,” Gonia said.

The BMW-operated service charges $0.41/minute (“reduced from $0.49 for a limited time only”) for driving, and it will cost your $0.30/minute if you just want to sit in your car and “park.” The service also offers flat-rate pricing. ReachNow launched in Seattle with a party on Capitol Hill and has continued to focus its marketing on the neighborhood. Car2Go’s fleet from Daimler AG rolled out in 2012. Both have become a ubiquitous part of the neighborhood’s transit solution — though, for some, the services are not ubiquitous enough with a clear ring of emptiness emerging around the Capitol Hill core around during key commute times. Drivers can park in any legal street parking space, including metered spaces and residential zones. The so-called “car share” companies pay the city permit fees to utilize resources including street parking.

CHS Pics | A day at Capitol Hill Station

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Around 7,000 riders utilize Capitol Hill Station on any given weekday. As expected, it has become a new center of the neighborhood — and a high speed portal connecting us to a new spine through Seattle. You may have found yourself at the University of Washington or in Pioneer Square more often since the service started in March 2016. Friday, Sound Transit, perhaps shy after some of the negative reaction to its launch celebration of the U-Link line, perhaps busy with larger concerns, will hold a small, few-hour party across the Broadway light rail station and its sister UW Station.

Capitol Hill Station 1st Birthday Celebration

We visited the other CHS and joined its riders this week to capture the line as it looks and feels today and as a kind of thank you. It’s a good train. With worries about what comes next for big projects like it, we should celebrate it.

CHS ARCHIVES: Capitol Hill Station Opening Coverage — March 2016

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Weigh in now on Madison Bus Rapid Transit — 23rd Ave RapidRide coming next

You will have another opportunity Wednesday night to kick the tires in person on the plan to create Bus Rapid Transit on Madison. In the meantime, King County and the City of Seattle have released a RapidRide expansion plan that includes the 2019 startup of Madison’s RapidRide G as part of a growing, cross-city network of optimized bus corridors including a plan for what we presume would be RapidRide M or N or O or P on 23rd Ave by 2024. Continue reading

Sound Transit planning Friday celebration to mark Capitol Hill Station’s first birthday

IMG_5891-600x400On Saturday, March 19th, 2016, public transit on Capitol Hill changed in a big way. The Sound Transit light rail U-Link extension connecting the downtown transit tunnel to Husky Stadium and the University of Washington via Broadway opened. Capitol Hill Station has been the Seattle Subway-level success most predicted. To celebrate, Sound Transit is planing a little fun this Friday:

Friday from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. we’ll have ST staff greeting riders for U-Link’s Happy 1st birthday at the UW and Capitol Hill Stations. Folks will see/hear staff passing out Happy 1st birthday stickers and birthday cards, live music by street performers, and, at Capitol Hill, a Sounders FC pop-up tent with giveaways.

It is a pretty modest celebration. We suggest you hold a light rail party or two of your own this week. Send us pictures.

The scale of success has been much larger. Continue reading

With no plan for return of service, First Hill Streetcar slide latest problem in $27M batch

Engineers may have pinpointed what failed on car 405 but the near-term fix — and the paperwork — to get the First Hill Streetcar line back in action could take “weeks,” the Seattle Department of Transportation’s head of rail told a city council committee earlier this week. In the meantime, Seattle officials are beginning to look into whether the streetcar’s manufacturer should be on the hook for the cost of lost service on the line which serves around 3,000 riders a day between Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Broadway.

“If we find out it’s a manufactured error, what sort of recourse do we have about asking for them to compensate the city for this loss of service?” Seattle City Council transportation committee member Rob Johnson asked. Continue reading

What the latest designs for RapidRide G look like, Madison Bus Rapid Transit block by block

The RapidRide future of E Madison means a redo of one of the Hill's most chaotic intersections where Madison meets 12th and Union

The RapidRide future of E Madison means a redo of one of the Hill’s most chaotic intersections where Madison meets 12th and Union

The City of Seattle has released its latest designs and is collecting public feedback on what is being billed as a powerful overhaul of E Madison that will change east-west travel in Central Seattle from downtown, through First Hill, Capitol Hill, the Central District, and into Madison Valley. Judging by a few of the designs for blocks along the route, Seattle City Hall will need your help to get it right.

This month, public feedback will shape the final designs for the Seattle Department of Transportation’s updated Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project — now known as RapidRide G. You can provide feedback in person beginning Thursday on First Hill or again next week on Capitol Hill. You can also weigh in online:

Thursday, March 9
11 AM – 1 PM
Town Hall, Downstairs
1119 8th Ave

Wednesday, March 15
5:30 – 7:30 PM
First African Methodist Episcopal Church
1522 14th Ave

ONLINE
MARCH 8-22
Give feedback online!
MadisonStreetBRT.participate.online

If you can, make time for an in-person visit and add your thoughts online. Last year, SDOT collected public comments on the proposed project that would create a BRT line from 1st Ave downtown to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The project team has furthered the project’s design since then, reshaping the $120 million plan. Continue reading

Mechanical issue knocks First Hill Streetcar out of service — UPDATE

IMG_0511Officials shut down the First Hill Streetcar system Wednesday after a mechanical issue was identified prompting officials to inspect the fleet of six seven Czech-designed cars that serve the line.

The service stopped serving riders mid-Wednesday afternoon. The first announcement of the disruption came from King County Metro, the agency that operates the City of Seattle service, just before 3 PM Wednesday. An announcement early Thursday morning confirmed the line was still not operating.

A King County spokesperson told CHS Wednesday night that a mechanical issue was identified in one of the streetcars prompting officials to pull all of the cars back to the service facility on 8th Ave S in the International District. The spokesperson said he did not yet have additional information about the nature of the issue.

The First Hill Streetcar began service in January in 2016 after months of delay. The start of service on the line was bogged down, in part, by longer-than-expected testing on the propulsion system designed specifically for the First Hill line. The system uses regenerative braking during downhill sections in order to power special batteries allowing streetcars to periodically detach from their overhead wires so they can travel alongside city busses. The system was developed for the First Hill Streetcar to reduce overhead wire conflicts with the Metro trolley buses.

In 2015, CHS reported more details of some of the issues that caused the rollout of the service to be delayed including “water-damaged inverters.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation says that around 3,000 riders utilize the First Hill Streetcar daily. UPDATE 3:25 PM: Metro is operating a shuttle (PDF) to partially cover some of the streetcar’s route.

Wednesday, SDOT also said its announcement of changes to Broadway to help speed up service on the notoriously slow-paced streetcar route was premature and that planned changes to the street won’t happen until after more “analysis and outreach.” A department spokesperson told CHS that SDOT plans to begin that outreach this summer.

UPDATE 5:50 PM: A spokesperson said he still could not provide information on the nature of the mechanical issue but it must be serious. The First Hill Streetcar will not be in service again on Friday.

With officials touting ‘record transit’ numbers, Capitol Hill riders trading bus for light rail

Opposite Day On the Escalator, Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station

More Capitol Hill commuters are traveling by public transportation — and they’re ditching buses in favor of light rail and the First Hill Streetcar in droves. The new numbers come from the Seattle Transit Blog’s analysis of the first release of systemwide ridership data following the opening of Capitol Hill Station, UW Station, and the U-Link restructure that optimized Metro’s lines around the opening of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway.

While Capitol Hill-area riders are less likely to be hopping on a bus, the data comparing Fall 2015 with Fall 2016 activity show Metro’s restructure apparently paid off by putting the county system to work serving areas away from the light rail circuit and feeding riders to the stations. “Despite an aggressive ULink restructure, Metro ridership stayed flat, declining by just 0.2%,” the STB wonks write. Continue reading

Plan for more late night Seattle bus service, call for free rides on New Year’s move forward

King County Metro with funding boosted by the Seattle Department of Transportation announced Tuesday an updated plan to expand “Night Owl” bus service across Seattle including routes 11, 44, and 48. But there is another plan moving forward that could bring free transit service to the area for the big late-night holidays of July 4th and New Year’s.

King County Council’s Dave Upthegrove has introduced legislation asking Metro to put together a report “on options for free late-night public transportation service on the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.”

“We want to make it easy for people to make the right decision and leave their car at home as they ring in the New Year or celebrate the Fourth of July,” Upthegrove said in an announcement of the legislation. “Ensuring that buses and trains run late into the evening on these holidays makes everyone safer.” Continue reading