What’s next for Seattle’s new era floating bike shares

It’s a bit of a chaotic test. They get dropped almost everywhere — some literally dropped, for real — and by the end of January, the first electric-assist versions will be on the streets of Seattle. With the city allowing the multi-colored “floating” companies to operate during a Wild West trial period, It’s not a question of whether Seattle will continue to have a bike share program, it’s just a question of what the final rules will be.

“I cannot see a world where Seattle does not have a bike share system,” said Mafara Hobson of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Jasmine Marwaha from City Council member Mike O’Brien’s office agreed. O’Brien chairs the council’s transportation committee, and be turning the cranks on what the final program looks like. Marwaha said that while there have been some concerns about parking the bikes, there has not been anything severe enough to merit ending the program.

Seattle had first tried owning its own bike share system using docking stations similar to those found in some other cities. But the system ended up failing to attract enough riders to make it viable. In July, the city embarked on a new system of dockless bikes. Three different companies — LimeBike, Spin, and Ofo — began scattering brightly colored bikes around town to be rented by the minute. Continue reading

With hope for 2018 construction start, time to finalize design tweaks on $1.6B convention center expansion

After three years of design review, the final touches on plans for the $1.6 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center are down to the nitty gritty. The refined massing, the updated glazing pattern, the landmark lighting plan — each will be broken down as the project takes what could be its final bow in front of the review board Tuesday night at City Hall. Continue reading

Updated Madison RapidRide G plans call for 2021 start of service

You will have to wait a few more years for that RapidRide G bus. Service now isn’t expected to begin on the bus-focused transformation of the Madison corridor until 2021.

Planners presented the latest update on the project to create Metro’s RapidRide G Tuesday night at the January meeting of the First Hill Improvement Association. The full presentation from Seattle Department of Transportation planners is below. Continue reading

Suspected Broadway shoplifter chooses wrong getaway vehicle: the First Hill Streetcar

The First Hill Streetcar is slowwww (Image: CHS)

As far as getaway cars go, we can’t recommend it.

A Capitol Hill shoplifting suspect chose pretty much the slowest possible way to flee from police Monday afternoon on a rainy and busy Broadway.

According to SPD, officers were called to the Walgreens at Broadway and Pine just before 4:20 PM Monday to a report a woman had left the store with merchandise she had not paid for.

As officers arrived, police say the suspect jumped aboard the southbound First Hill Streetcar near its Pike and Broadway stop. Continue reading

Get to Capitol Hill safely as you ring in 2018 with free bus rides, later light rail

The New Year is already shaping up to be better. King County Metro and Sound Transit have announced free bus service, more night service, and longer hours for light rail to ring in 2018:

For the first time, King County Metro will offer free rides on New Year’s Eve between 4 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, and 4 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, including DART and Access service. In addition, Metro will add service to its night routes. The Seattle Streetcar will also be free on New Year’s Eve and Sound Transit will extend Link light rail service between Angle Lake and the University of Washington.

“As we put the finishing touches on 2017, we want you to be able to get out on the town and come home safe,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the announcement of the holiday service upgrades that safety advocates and nightlife industry have been calling for. “Whether you are heading to the Seattle Center or other King County destinations on New Year’s Eve, Metro will get you there and back, all for free. It’s our way of saying thank you for making Metro the nation’s best transit system, and we look forward to riding with you next year.”

CHS reported here on King County Council member Dave Upthegrove’s legislation introduced in early 2017 to make the changes possible.

In addition to free Metro service from 4 AM on Monday, December 31st through 4 AM on Monday, January 1st, Sound Transit will run its light rail trains later through the night, operating “extended Link light rail service” with trains running northbound from Angle Lake Station every 30 minutes until 1:30 AM. Southbound trains from the University of Washington will run until 2 AM. Sound Transit typically operates the light rail system with a four-hour downtime overnight. Capitol Hill Station and the rest of the line operates 5 AM to 1 AM on weekdays and Saturdays.

Additionally, the First Hill Streetcar will operate until 1 AM.

The county says Metro routes with added service will include 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 24, 32, 36, 40, 41, 62, 65, 70, 101, 106, 120, 124, 150, 255, RapidRide A, B, C, D and E Lines, and ST 550, ST 554.

The fareboxes and ORCA card readers on Metro buses will be covered to remind customers not to pay. Regular fare will be required on Sound Transit services.

On New Year’s Day, buses and rail service will operate on Sunday schedules, and “regular valid fare will be required on all services.” Continue reading

Seattle Department of Transportation moving on without Kubly

Kubly

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new administration will not include Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly.

The Seattle Times reports the decision as a “mutual” agreement between Kubly and the new mayor but the Ed Murray selection to head the city’s second most visible department was carrying enough Seattle transit baggage to make the choice mostly unsurprising.

Kubly leaves Seattle City Hall having helped drive passage of the largest transportation levy in the city’s history while making measurable progress in lowering the rate of workers in single occupancy vehicles driving downtown. He took over the job as Sound Transit’s money powered the construction of the First Hill Streetcar which finally opened in January 2016 after more than a year of delays. Along the way, Kubly found himself dispatched to Europe to help sort out problems with the company manufacturing the trains. The First Hill Streetcar’s extension north on Broadway was dead on arrival. Other problems were of his own making. In 2016, Kubly admitted to ethics violations over the deal to bring the Pronto bikeshare system to life in Seattle. Pronto was dead three months into 2017. But Kubly’s relatively nimble department quickly ushered in the next era of floating, dockless bike shares run by private companies. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station sniffs 7,000 boardings a day as ridership continues to climb

Walking Fingers by Ellen Forney

Sound Transit’s annual light rail ridership rose around 13.5% through September — about 10% of the 72,000 additional daily boardings across the system’s 16 stops happened at Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station.

Overall, third quarter boarding totals show Capitol Hill Station’s 2017 jump of 13.4% pretty much mirrors the full system’s rise:

Link light rail ridership continued its strong growth during the third quarter, with a 13.5% increase compared to the same period last year. Average weekday boardings were 76,821, a 13.5% increase compared to the third quarter of 2016. The Angle Lake extension opened the last weekend of the third quarter in 2016. The continued increase in ridership and average weekday boardings is attributed to the two service expansions in 2016 as well as the addition of the Angle Lake Garage with more than 1,100 parking stalls. The region has enthusiastically adopted Link as a convenient transportation choice.

According to Sound Transit’s just released quarterly ridership report (PDF), around 6,953 people board trains below Broadway every weekday — up by about 800 per day from 2016.

Not every piece of data in the set is good news for the system, however. Boardings at Sea-Tac were down more than 13% in the period. UPDATE: Sound Transit attributes the drop to the new nearby Angle Lake Station:

Sound Transit won’t have a enough history for full year over year annual Broadway-boosted comparisons until 2018 — Capitol Hill Station debuted in March 2016 and immediately helped jolt light rail ridership to “record” numbers.

 

$2.75 — Metro will have simplified fare structure starting next summer

If the complicated pricing of transit zones and peak fares were keeping you from enjoying the services of King County Metro, boy is 2018 going to be a good year for you.

The King County Council Monday voted on a new flat pricing for Metro transit fares — $2.75.

“We’ve heard from the community, and we are responding by making riding Metro Transit in King County easier and more convenient,” said Rod Dembowski, chair of the county council’s transportation committee and prime sponsor of the legislation, said. “Riders, especially ones new to the system, should have the confidence to board a Metro bus and know the required fare. I hope the flat fare makes using Metro more understandable and encourages first-time users to ride Metro.”

“The new fare plan eliminates a payment system that fluctuated between time and distance and could cost an adult rider between the ages 19-64 anywhere from $2.50 to $3.25 a ride,” the county said in its announcement.

The new adult fare also will not affect the roughly Metro riders who pay ORCA Lift—Metro’s low income fare program— or youth, senior, and disabled fares. The agency says roughly 2/3 of its riders will pay the standard adult fare.

The new flat rate goes into effect starting July 2018.

Moving on from streetcar extension plan, city also ditches Broadway bike and street improvements

At the end of 2016, CHS reported that a $28 million plan to extend the First Hill Streetcar north on Broadway — and, in conjunction, improve the streetscape and extend the street’s protected bike lane — was put on hold by City Hall and changes in the Capitol Hill business community. 2017 was supposed to be a year for revisiting the plan.

No need. $3 million worth of planning for an extension and the street changes will remain packed away and some of the millions already collected from grants to make the construction happen is now being handed back.

“I would describe it as indefinitely deferred,” the Seattle Department of Transportation’s transit and mobility director Andrew Glass Hastings tells CHS. “That project is pretty much designed. That design is still useable should we decide in the future, in conjunction with stakeholders up on Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

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