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*Even more* to look forward to in 2015 Capitol Hill transit: Car share expansion, 23rd Ave greenway

Here’s an old trolley posted recently to Reddit Seattle

To start the year, our semi-regular Bus Stop column looked at the year ahead in Capitol Hill transit including the start of service for the First Hill Streetcar, expanded Metro service, completion of Capitol Hill Station along with an “optimization” of Metro routes serving Capitol Hill in preparation for the opening of U-Link expected by 2016. Here are *even more* multi-modal projects to look forward to in 2015.

Car2Go's current service area

Car2Go’s current service area

  • Car sharing: Tuesday morning, the City Council’s transportation committee voted to expand Seattle’s massively successful “Free-Floating Car Share Pilot Program” — you know it (right now) as Car2Go. By the end of 2015, there could be three more operators joining Daimler AG and up to 3,000 shared vehicles on the streets of Seattle.

Here’s the plan approved Tuesday:

  • In 2015 allow 500 vehicles per operator or 750 if an operator provides citywide service
  • In 2015 allow a maximum of four operators 
  • After 2015, program caps are established by Director’s Rule
  • Operators must provide citywide service after two years of business in Seattle
  • Permit fee increase to more accurately account for costs of the RPZ program

UPDATE 1/20/2015: The full City Council has approved the committee’s plan. Up to 3,000 car sharing vehicles could be on the streets of Seattle by the end of 2015.

City Hall is also making plans to fine tune the program's impact on other resources

City Hall is also making plans to fine tune the program’s impact on other resources

As part of the rules, providers will need to expand service to the full city within two years. While Car2Go has been exceptionally successful from a membership standpoint (59,000 and counting in Seattle), critics have argued that its current service zone underserves poorer areas of the city. Car2Go, by the way, is now on the clock for full-city service this year if it wants to continue serving Seattle.

While the program is looked at as a big success for SDOT, planners admit the program has come at a cost to the bus ridership in the city as customers who can afford car share are often choosing the option instead of Metro.

“I think providing great mobility options for the people of Seattle is outstanding,” Council member Mike O’Brien said before Tuesday’s vote. “The people of Seattle have so many more options than they had even a few years ago.”

  • New trolleys: Metro’s new fleet of electric trolleys are due on the streets of Capitol Hill later this year:
    The county began making plans to spend the millions necessary to replace the more than 25-year-old fleet of nearly 160 buses in 2011. In the meantime, Metro worked to test possible replacements and work out a deal to purchase the new trolleys. According to the county, Metro teamed up with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) to purchase the replacement coaches under the same contract — “a move that ensures both Metro and SFMTA get highly competitive pricing.” The county says $138 million in federal grants are part of the final price tag.
  • Streetcar fare changes: The streetcar on Broadway will start running on… we don’t know! But we do know it will cost a little less per ride for most adults.
  • New parking pay stations: Sayeth City Hall —
    The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will soon begin replacing the current on-street parking pay stations that were installed between 2004 and 2010. The first new pay stations will be installed in Pioneer Square, then throughout other sections of the city. SDOT will replace all its parking pay stations in 2015-2016 with new technology. The older technology in the current pay stations is slower to process transactions, provides less reliable cellular communication and includes old credit card readers no longer supported by the vendor. Technology is changing rapidly. Even the newest of the existing pay stations will no longer communicate when the AT&T 2G network is decommissioned. New requirements such as chip credit card readers would require major overhauls.
  • A new ‘Dynamic Message Sign’: Lucky you, 24th Avenue:
    Dynamic Message Signs, are large overhead message boards that inform motorists of traffic problems ahead. These signs can also recommend alternative routes, limit travel speed, warn of duration and location of problems, or simply provide alerts or warnings. Strategically located traffic cameras throughout the city are monitored in SDOT’s Traffic Management Center, and inform staff of conditions and issues that warrant a sign message.
  • Better data: This one isn’t happening… yet. But it should!
    If you are using any one of the apps most Seattle riders use to navigate our transit system on a daily basis, I’ll forgive your confusion.  Apps like OneBusAway, Transit App, Google Maps, and others are all powered by transit data from local agencies and increasingly, that data is just plain wrong.
  • Pronto CD: Mayor Murray’s budget includes cash to expand the city’s nonprofit bike share program to the Central District:
    By the time the City Council votes on the 2015-16 budget, Pronto Cycle Share will have been operational for about a month. With 50 stations in downtown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill and the U District, one of the biggest questions people will ask is: Why aren’t there stations in lower income areas like Yesler Terrace and nearby parts of the Central District?

    The Central Area Greenway

    The Central Area Greenway

    Murray has anticipated these questions by including $600,000 (on top of about $400,000 received in federal grant money) to increase low-income access to the system and expand it into the CD and Yesler Terrace in 2015.

    The City Council approved the budget plan with the Pronto bucks intact.

  • Central Area Neighborhood Greenway: The “Hybrid” option for a bicycle and pedestrian friendly parallel to the 23rd Ave corridor will start to become reality later this month:
    Installation of Phase 1 of the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway begins the week of January 19. Phase 1 runs between E. John Street and S. Jackson Street along 21st Avenue E, 22nd Avenue E, and 25th Avenue S. Installation elements include: Bicycle pavement markings Stop signs on all streets crossing the greenway Flashing beacons for pedestrians and bicyclists at arterial crossings: 25th Avenue S and E Yesler Way; 25th Avenue S and E Cherry Street Enhanced pedestrian traffic signal at 22nd Avenue E and E Union Approximately one speed hump per block on the route This work will necessitate some temporary on-street parking restrictions, pedestrian and cyclist detours, and some light construction noise. Access to businesses and residences will be maintained except when temporary restrictions are necessary. Normal work hours will be 9 AM to 4 PM. Installation is expected to be complete in late Winter 2015.
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17 thoughts on “*Even more* to look forward to in 2015 Capitol Hill transit: Car share expansion, 23rd Ave greenway

  1. So what happens where the greenway crosses 23rd Ave? The other arterials are slated to have flashing lights but there is nothing noted for improvements at 23rd.

  2. “While the program is looked at as a big success for SDOT, planners admit the program has come at a cost to the bus ridership in the city as customers who can afford car share are often choosing the option instead of Metro.”

    I am BOTH a Car2Go subscriber and a monthly Metro/ORCA subscriber. I take the bus whenever possible. However, on a few occasions when buses run very, very, very late; or run infrequently (Sundays & holidays, usually) – which means schedules are highly inconvenient, then I use car-share as the sole viable alternative. To characterize car share services as taking money from KC Metro requires long-term proof – show me the stats on money (or lack thereof, in this case) – because when I look around, the real loser in the car share program is not Metro. In fact, I suspect the real loser, if there is a loser in this deal, is City Parking (which is simple to fix as all they need to do is increase the cost of parking in garages). I am aware of other fellow car share subscribers who use the service (& who do not ride the bus at all since they are overwhelmingly vehicle owners – so there is no revenue being “lost” by Metro to care sharing) because the smaller vehicles are easier & more convenient to find street parking for.

    I wish SDOT planners are tasked to present more weighted stats before coming to their conclusions because more transportation options DO improve the business vitality & well-being of our neighborhoods (especially if KC Metro is unwilling or incapable of providing additional bus services!). And as a regular bus rider, I would still prefer to principally ride the bus IF they run on time – and often.

    • Exactly. It’s about having the package of alternatives that makes it viable for young people (and others) to not need a car: public transit, Uber, Lyft, Car2Go, ZipCar, etc.

      I work at a large tech company doing customer research, and one of my favorite moments was when I literally could not find anyone in our team who owned a car to drive us to our customer sites. (we finally had to rent one for the day). These are all people earning six figure salaries who had a choice, and felt it wasn’t necessary or worthwhile at their life stage.

      An alternative of having ‘just public transit’ is a feeble alternative to car ownership.

      • I’m just guessing, but probably you work for Amazon….? Has the Amazon criticism gotten to the point where people who work there are afraid to admit it?

    • I would imagine the biggest losers are taxi services. It’s a trade-off between convenience and cost, but IMO paying $4 for a Car2Go to get me from Capitol Hill to the CD at 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday night/Sunday morning is a much better deal (even if I have to walk a few blocks to get to the car) than paying twice that much – or more – for a cab at the same hour; when there’s no bus service whatsoever.

  3. Hey, that’s the photo I put on the Vintage Seattle facebook page a few weeks ago! Didn’t think it would make it here. Cool. The neon and green Raff’s sign was on the roof stairwell of the building for many years. When Hunters Capital refurbished the building, it was taken down. Don’t know what happened to it. Really enjoyed looking at from my window.

  4. The buses are good and fine, but there is a gap in your transportation option if you need a car to get to it (or you have no car at all). What Seattle really needs and apparently will never get is a subway system. That will free up traffic above ground, speed it up, and stops can be located in neighborhoods where people can get to them quickly and easily. All this bus, light rail, monorail stuff is BS.

  5. It seems to me that light rail IS a subway system, and of course this is being built….slowly, but surely. We are way behind the times on this, but eventually we’ll catch up.

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