2020: Seattle’s summer of the scooter

This could be you (Image: Bird)

By next summer, electric scooters are primed to join Seattle’s growing fleet of privately-provided mobility options.

The Seattle Department of Transportation has announced the start of a year-long rollout process that includes three phases of outreach, City Hall wrangling over rules and permitting, and, then, eventually rollout in mid-2020.

“(A)t Mayor Durkan’s direction, we plan to draw lessons from other cities’ micro–mobility (a term for new, small, and electric transportation modes) programs and hear from community stakeholders before allowing scooter share in the City,” the SDOT announcement reads.

Before implementation, City Hall must address issues that have emerged with other scooter shares including rider safety and sidewalk safety issues. Continue reading

What candidates have to say about safe streets and transportation investments around District 3

(Image: SDOT

If Monday morning’s CHS post on collisions around Capitol Hill, the Central District, and First Hill and the city’s difficulty in making headway on Vision Zero goals got you worked up about street safety — and you still haven’t cast your August Primary ballot which is due Tuesday, August 6th by 8 PM! — here’s a quick look at the District 3 candidates’ answers about safe streets and car dependence from our CHS Reader D3 Candidate Survey.

We asked each candidate for an overview of their plan to support safe streets and also which areas of D3 transportation infrastructure they feel is most in need of investment. You can also check out the full candidate survey answers on a variety of Central Seattle-focused topics.

Meanwhile, readers who responded to our CHS D3 Primary Poll who indicated they considered “transportation” as a “very important” factor in choosing their candidate, were mostly likely to have said they were supporting Sawant or Orion — also the top vote getters among the full group of respondents. What candidate gains the most support when focusing just on Transportation? That would be Bowers who ranks third after Sawant and Orion among the “very important” transportation respondents. The small percentage of voters who considered transportation to be less than “important” in their decision? They also support Orion and his competitor Murakami.

More survey results here. Answers from the candidates on transit and transportation issues, below.

What is your plan to support safe streets and continue to reduce car dependence in our district? Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s *other* train — City says First Hill Streetcar ridership continues to grow

Seattle saw a sizable increase in ridership for its streetcar lines in 2018 thanks to a 31% uptick on the First Hill Streetcar line, according to a new report submitted by the city’s Department of Transportation.

“2018 was a very positive year overall for streetcar operations,” SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said at a Seattle City Council committee this week.

System-wide ridership went up by 18% in 2018 and indications show another increase in early 2019 over the same period last year. All of that jump came from the First Hill line, a 2.5 mile route that connects major medical facilities, Seattle Central College, Seattle University, and mixed income communities to the King Street transportation hub.

The line, which first opened in January 2016, has seen ridership increase over each of its first three years. It also went up by nearly a quarter in the first three months of this year. Chris Eilerman, SDOT’s streetcar and transit corridors manager, added Tuesday that increases continued through at least May.

“The First Hill line continues to grow,” Eilerman said. “So far, the numbers are encouraging through the early part of 2019.” Continue reading

A few concerns and a lot of hope for improving Madison at Bus Rapid Transit open house

Neighbors and future riders shared some of their last critiques of the Madison Bus Rapid Transit project at an open house for the project held at Miller Community Center Wednesday night.

“We’re at 90% design, so they’re still not completely a hundred percent finalized yet. We’re coming out tonight and showing people the 90% design and what’s changed from 60%,” said Joshua Shippy, the Madison BRT project manager.

Many open house attendees had been following the Madison BRT’s designs since the project’s early stages.

“I always get concerned that transit projects will be watered down when they have to deal with so many different competing interests,” said Steve Goodreau, an open house attendee. “That was a big concern of mine, especially during the first few phases, but I’m happy to see that the dedicated lane remains throughout pretty much all of First Hill, and so has all the signal priority.”

Continue reading

Madison Bus Rapid Transit design changes rolled out as project nears planned 2020 start of construction

How about some shorter crosswalks, for one!

The Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro are ready to roll out a near-final set of design updates for the planned Madison Bus Rapid Transit line that will reshape the street from downtown to the Madison Valley.

With a plan for a 2020 start of construction and service starting late in 2022, the latest Madison BRT design updates will be on display at a series of open houses and community tabling events in neighborhoods along the $120 million, 2.3 mile, 10-station route.

Madison BRT Open House

SDOT has also documented the project in an online open house where it is collecting feedback at RapidRideG.participate.online.

Changes in the latest round of updates follow an earlier series of community meetings on the project. The latest updates focused on improving conditions at key intersections including at 12th Ave and 24th Ave where the route will mix with busy traffic flows and bustling streets. SDOT says highlights include shorter crosswalks — and a major tweak that will prevent it from having to install trolley wires for blocks along the route:

  • Shorter crosswalks at key intersections so people walking have time to get to the other side of the street Continue reading

Seattle marks first commute without buses in downtown Transit Tunnel

Bus riders downtown might be searching for new stops and light rail passengers to and from Capitol Hill should have a smoother, maybe even quicker go of it. Monday morning marked the first commute through Seattle with buses kicked out of the downtown transit tunnel.

City officials are calling it a second chapter of the “Seattle Squeeze” following Seattle’s weeks without SR-99 in chapter one — a story that turned out to be a little overdone.

Sound Transit says the booting of the buses as necessary as the Washington State Convention Center expansion project will soon remove the northbound access point for buses at the former Convention Place Station and the agency needs to update the older downtown Seattle stations to prepare for expansion to Northgate in 2021 and the opening of the Blue Line to the Eastside in 2023.

SDOT has posted about the changes on Seattle surface streets to accommodate the increased bus activity here.

Metro and Sound Transit say the change will have immediate benefits for light rail riders, “enabling reliable six-minute peak hour headways, eliminating significant service disruptions that occur under joint operations.”

“Light rail service frequencies will increase in future years as the system expands,” officials promise.

You can learn more about the Metro service changes and tunnel transition plans here.

Happy third birthday, Capitol Hill Station

Some 7,698 light rail boardings take place every day at Capitol Hill Station. Tuesday marks the three-year anniversary of the opening of the busy Broadway subway station that has forever changed getting to and from Capitol Hill.

Saturday, March 19th, 2016, then-Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine broke out the giant ceremonial scissors to cut the ribbon opening the $110 million station and the start of service on the $1.9 billion, 3.15-mile U-Link extension connecting downtown to Husky Stadium via Broadway. 16 to 18 trucks per day were used to haul dirt away from the site during construction. Sound Transit officials said some 19,900 trucks plied the streets of Capitol Hill hauling muck churned up by the boring machines. Continue reading

City officials say electric vehicle charging station won’t pit Teslas vs. bikes on Broadway

Leave it to Seattle City Hall to somehow pit proponents of electric vehicles against bicycling advocates. But a plan for a new charging station to be installed on Broadway near Capitol Hill Station has sparked a debate over the street and the city’s competing priorities for how to best put the right of way to use.

RESCHEDULED: Electric Vehicle Charging Open House

An open house originally scheduled for February but postponed by the snow will take place next week at Seattle Central to discuss a Seattle City Light plan to install two direct current (DC) fast chargers capable of powering most electric vehicles in front of the Capitol Hill Station mixed-use developments under construction at Broadway and E Denny Way.

While the city-owned chargers would power a typical car for “approximately 80+ miles of range in 30 minutes” at reasonable rate of 43 cents per kilowatt-hour, transit advocates who hope for future extension north of E Denny Way for the Broadway bikeway have noticed the station would be directly in the path. Seattle City Light says be flexible.

“In the absence of a bike lane currently, we believe this is a great location for an electric vehicle charging station,” Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for City Light tells CHS. “Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation describes the situation a little differently. Continue reading

Good news for Capitol Hill Station riders as Metro buses prepare to exit Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel for good

King County Metro is rolling out another set of service upgrades and changes on routes across the Seattle area and while relatively public transit-rich Capitol Hill mostly misses out on any direct upgrades, the changes will include a major step for transportation in Central Seattle — and better service to and from Capitol Hill Station for light rail riders.

It’s time for the end of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel as we know it. In March, the DSTT begins its new life as a “rail only” conduit. Continue reading

SDOT rolling out revised plan in ‘coming weeks’ to speed up Broadway for First Hill Streetcar

Last week, CHS reported on Seattle’s $286 million plan for a 1st Ave streetcar route (and lots of budget for infrastructure work along the way) linking the First Hill Streetcar to the South Lake Union Trolley via downtown.

We asked city officials about a much smaller $50,000 to $75,000 investment in the existing streetcar resources that has been held up at City Hall for more than a year and finally heard back — changes to speed up the streetcar on Broadway are coming… but we won’t know the details of the proposal for a few weeks. Continue reading