Perfect 10 — Metro touts another service update with increase in trips

King County Metro says it plans to increase service with more trips on its routes for the tenth update in a row since 2015.

The agency rolled out its Fall 2019 service changes this week. The new schedules begin Saturday, September 21st.

Metro says it is increasing service, adding 200 new trips each weekday, 150 trips on Saturdays, and 200 trips on Sundays totaling 1,350 trips per week, thanks to “investments and Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds from City of Seattle.” Continue reading

Seattle cancels order for infamous ‘too big’ streetcars for Center City Connector line

The First Hill Streetcar line won’t get its connection to a new line running on Seattle’s 1st Ave until the project opens in 2026 — but when the Center City Connector finally opens, it will have cars that better fit with the city’s streetcar system.

The Seattle Department of Transportation announced Monday that even though it is canceling a $52 million order for 10 streetcars for the downtown line, the project remains on track for its revised 2026 target. The canceled cars were the same vehicles Mayor Jenny Durkan made a centerpiece of her decision to pause the downtown project last year as she stoked concerns the new trams might be “too big” for Seattle’s tracks. Continue reading

‘It’s good to remind folks how the system works’ — On first day of school, students get lesson in Sound Transit fare enforcement

The start of the year for Seattle Public School students who rode Sound Transit light rail to school Wednesday included an important lesson. The fare enforcement process deployed by the transit agency is draconian.

And you can’t trust adults.

A photo posted by SPS educator Jesse Hagopian showing an enforcement employee reportedly requesting and photographing student IDs on light rail Wednesday morning sparked backlash about the practices and policies deployed by the agents. Continue reading

‘Superilles’ for Seattle? Council member Mosqueda has her eye on 6-block pedestrian-and cyclist-first ‘superblock’ for Capitol Hill

Seattle knows a thing or two about dramatically changing neighborhoods. But Sant Antoni, a paper-plane shaped neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain, has seen a different kind of radical transformation.

After an extensive renovation, the art nouveau market anchoring the neighborhood returned to its original 19th-century splendor last year. In the area around it, parking was moved underground, newly planted trees and shrubs dot the streets and public plazas, children romp in new play areas, and bicyclists and pedestrians now have ample space to move around freely. In short, public space has increased by thousands of square meters — all because car traffic was deprioritized.

The urban design concept, in this case designed in tandem with local residents, businesses and others, is called a “superblock” or “superille” — and if you ask citywide City Council member Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle should get one.

Mosqueda has her eye on a 6-block area on Capitol Hill, between Pine and Union between 12th and Broadway.

“This could be a really great place to test what this model may need to be successful,” Mosqueda said. “This is an opportunity to look at what other cities like Barcelona have done to change street design elements to reduce traffic and improve pedestrian access to public spaces.”  Continue reading

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.