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Welcome to TCC 2.0

Welcome to TCC 2.0! You may have noticed that we have a new look: a new logo and a new website.

Welcome to TCC 2.0!  You may have noticed that we have a new look: a new logo and a new website. We were lucky to have the support of a host of great people to create the new look TCC.  I want to especially thank Todd Vogel and Karen Hust from the Loom Foundation for the funding to get the ball rolling.  Our excellent team at Groundwire, Karen, Chris, Matthew, and Neal pulled together the new website (and new database!).  Scott Michelson was a great project manager and came up with our new tagline: Transit For All.  And finally the whole look, design, and feel of the new TCC was created by our amazing designer Mary LaFleur.  We needed an extreme makeover and she was phenomenal to work with.

In addition to the new look of TCC, we’re also just wrapping up a strategic planning process, look for that on our website around Thanksgiving.  We’re adding a few new Board members, welcome Greg Nickels, Pearl Leung, Josh Kavanagh, and Genesee Adkins to the TCC Board.

As we like to get ready for the rest of 2011, I'd like to highlight a challenge ahead of us and a big victory for us.  Our big victory comes in the form of our new Membership Manager Carla Saulter!  Carla has been working in transit issues in Seattle for a long time, and if you aren’t familiar with her work, please check out her Bus Chick blog.  As our Membership Manager Carla will be in charge of working with you.  Developing member benefits that are appealing to you, putting on events you want to come to, and being your conduit to TCC and our work.  We are very lucky have her on board!

The No on I-1125 campaign is probably our biggest challenge for the remainder of 2011.  If you haven’t been tracking that campaign, it’s Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman’s latest attempt to thwart the construction of light rail to Bellevue and to keep transit from getting new revenue.  Join us in fighting to defeat I-1125!  Carrie and Viet have been working hard on that campaign and it, along with the Seattle $60 car tab measure and the Clark County Preserve Our Buses campaign are the three big ballot measures we have left for 2011.
There has never been a more important time for you to get engaged in our work at TCC.  Please consider renewing your membership, signing up to volunteer, or stopping by the office to see how you might help.  As always thanks for all of your support!

 

Rob Johnson
Executive Director

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You Did It! Buses Saved in King County

Thanks to the efforts of thousands of bus riders just like you, the King County council voted to save Metro from devastating cuts.
You Did It! Buses Saved in King County

Metro bus

Last night, the King County Council saved Metro!

The council members who voted in favor of the congestion relief charge were Bob Ferguson, Larry Gossett, Jane Hague, Kathy Lambert, Joe McDermott, Julia Patterson, and Larry Phillips.

Council member Larry Phillips championed the cause to save Metro by proposing the initial congestion reduction charge at the County Council. Thank you Larry Phillips, Executive Constantine, Joe McDermott, and the other five other council members who voted in favor to save Metro buses. This was not an easy vote to take and we appreciate your leadership.

Send a thank you letter to the council members.

We're in this situation because of out-dated state law that restricts local voters to only fund their transit service with the sales tax -- a funding source that is regressive, volatile, and declining.

Luckily the state legislature recognized this problem for King County Metro and gave the County Council a temporary stop-gap measure to adopt until the state comes up with a longterm, statewide solution.

The council has adopted the stop-gap measure, so let's take this time to celebrate and to thank our council members.

This wasn't possible without you. Together we signed and sent more than 15,000 petitions and letters. We made hundreds, maybe thousands, of calls into the council members. And we stood in a two-block-long line for two hours in order to testify at a public hearing.

So, even more than a thank you to our council members, this is a big thank you to you.

Together we saved our buses!

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Join us: Endorse Proposition 1 in Seattle!

Join us in endorsing Proposition One for safer streets and better transit in Seattle this November!
Join us: Endorse Proposition 1 in Seattle!

Metro Rapid Ride

Transportation Choices Coalition is proud to support the Streets for All Seattle Campaign.  We are writing today to encourage you to vote yes on proposition one this November to build better transit and safer streets in the City of Seattle.

The campaign has a goal of 1,000 endorsements from regular people in Seattle.

They've received some great endorsements from groups that representing the working class and low income advocacy groups: the King County Labor Council, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Engineers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Professional & Technical Employees Local 17, and Real Change News & Homeless Empowerment Project are all supporting YES on Prop 1.

If you haven't signed your name yet to the online endorsement form, please do so now. Click here.

In less than 48 hours, 238 people have signed their name or our online endorsement form. But we face an uphill battle. The conservative Tim Eyman has starved Seattle of transit and transportation funding. As a result, we can't fund what matters most.

Together we can fight back. Proposition 1 is the most progressive funding option for transit. Yesterday the Sightline Institute showed how Proposition 1 will impact the pocketbooks of working-class and low-income families the least and benefit them the most.

That's why labor and low-income groups have jumped on board in support of Proposition 1. You still have time to endorse too.

Help us reach our goal of 1,000 endorsements. Sign the online endorsement now.

Together we will win.

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Draft State Energy Strategy Released

The Washington Department of Commerce has released a draft State Energy Strategy and transportation advocates should care about it!

The Washington Department of Commerce has released a draft  State Energy Strategy.  Legislation passed in 2010 (E2SHB 2658) directed the revision of the State Energy Strategy, Washington's comprehensive energy plan for meeting future energy needs, and declared it must meet three goals: Maintain competitive energy prices; foster a clean energy economy and jobs; and meet obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Here are links to the documents: Cover Letter, Executive Summary, and Issues and Analysis documents.

Chapter 3 of the draft plan addresses "Advancing Transportation Efficiency".  There are many creative and forward looking near and long term policy recommendations.  It is worth a read.

The Department of Commerce is accepting public comment till October 23rd.  You can send your comments to energystrategy@commerce.wa.gov. They are also holding two public meetings:
UW Tacoma: Wednesday, Oct 12 - 6pm to 8pm 
WSU Spokane: Thursday, Oct 20 - 5pm to 7pm

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One Bus Away is Saved

One Bus Away is Here to Stay
One Bus Away is Saved

one bus away logo

There is some good news out of the transit agency world this morning.  UW, Metro, Sound Transit, and Pierce Transit are teaming up to keep run bus away running for the long term!  The future of this incredibly useful tool which transit riders across the Puget Sound have grown to love was in doubt for a while.  Fear not fellow transit riders, One Bus Away is here to stay.

Here is the full release from Sound Transit:

Popular transit schedule application to continue after student creator moves on

Puget Sound area transit agencies have reached an agreement with the University of Washington to keep the popular transit scheduling software application One Bus Away up and running now that the original developer – a UW graduate student – has moved on to the private sector.

Sound Transit, King County Metro, Pierce Transit and the UW through its Washington State Transportation Center and Department of Computer Science and Engineering will fund up to $150,000 to further develop and maintain the application for 13 months.

The application, available over the internet, for iPhone and Android devices and as SMS message alerts is available for free and has become a valuable tool for thousands planning transit trips throughout the region. The application tells users when their bus is expected to arrive at their stop in real time.

The transit agencies and UW will continue investigating other real-time transit information technologies to keep riders better informed about transit options.

UW computer science graduate student Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins developed the first versions of One Bus Away as a class project. The project grew into a collection of phone applications and Ferris’ PhD. project.

Today the service is used more than 50,000 times a week. Ferris graduated earlier this year and now works for Google in Zurich on mapping and navigation technology services.

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Lessons Learn from Portland's Newest Line

This is our latest installment in our series "Portland Transit Authority".

As Sound Transit begins construction on the North Link and East Link light rail lines, it is worth taking a look at our neighbor to the south as they embark on their most expensive and ambitious project to date: the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) line. TriMet has staked a great deal of time and money on this controversial project, and only time will tell if it was all worth it. In any case, there might be some lessons for the Seattle region as we take a look at the newest addition to MAX.

The PMLR MAX line will run 7.3 miles to the southeast from downtown Portland, beginning at the existing transit mall and heading to downtown Milwaukie. This corridor is currently dominated by McLoughlin Blvd, a state highway that primarily carries commuters from Milwaukie and SE Portland to and from downtown Portland. The transit options currently include 1 frequent bus line, 2 infrequent bus lines, and 1 peak-only express bus. High demand on this corridor demonstrated the need for high capacity transit, so several years ago TriMet started planning for this MAX line. Construction is now underway and the line is planned to open by 2015.

PLMR light rail line map

While the PMLR line has gotten strong support from most elected officials and transit advocates, it has also been mired in controversy due to the high cost of $1.4 billion, or about $200 million per mile. The Transport Politic notes that this makes the PMLR project the most expensive surface-running rail project in the country. Many are concerned about this cost, considering the current funding crisis facing TriMet, which forced service cuts in the last couple years. So why is this line so expensive?

One factor is the inclusion of a new $200 million bridge over the Willamette River that will carry light rail, streetcar, bus, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. Notably, the bridge will be closed to car traffic. This bridge will ensure that transit can bypass the traffic congestion found on most bridges during peak times. It seems unfair to include the full cost of bridge in any criticism of the light rail line, as it will benefit so many other modes of travel and will speed up the light rail line significantly.

Another reason for the high cost is the decision to route this line alongside an existing freight rail line. If TriMet were simply using an abandoned railroad right-of-way, this would be much more cost-effective, but instead they are buying out existing properties along the existing rail line. This property acquisition accounts for a great deal of the line's cost. Many have praised TriMet for avoiding a freeway alignment (unlike many existing MAX lines), but on the other hand this alignment still runs along a freight track, limiting the potential for redevelopment along the line. Another option might have been to run the line down the center of McLoughlin, similar to the Yellow Line on Interstate or Seattle's Link as it runs down MLK Blvd. This option would have required removing some car capacity, but would have been much less expensive to build. To get a better view of the route, you can watch this video simulation.

The controversy over cost came to a head with the announcement in Summer 2010 that the line would not receive the 60% federal match TriMet was expecting, but instead would only receive 50%. TriMet was forced to scramble for the remaining $140 million and ultimately had to borrow against future operating revenue to fill the hole. This means there will be less funding for operating service in the future, in order to pay the construct this light rail line now. TriMet could have taken the PMLR line to a public vote in order to get new funding through a general bond measure. Instead, TriMet has taken great pains to avoid a vote that it knew might have difficulty passing.

What can other regions learn from the PMLR line so far? First, it may be prudent to separate out a multi-modal bridge from the other elements of the project, so that people can see it as more than just a part of the light rail line. It could be separately funded by general transportation dollars, not just dedicated transit funds. Second, routing decisions have a huge impact on the cost of a project. On the one hand, it is smart to avoid freeway medians with limited potential for redevelopment or ridership, but on the other hand it can be expensive and disruptive to buy up hundreds of properties. Sometimes the best option is to take existing car capacity on an arterial and convert it to transit. A third lesson is to avoid expecting too much from the federal government, especially in the current deficit-cutting budget climate, and to line up a contingency plan in case the feds don't come through. Finally, as much as any transit agency might want to avoid the messy process of a public vote by assembling funding from other sources, doing so can cause controversy and a general lack of public trust in the project.

-Zef Wagner

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Speak Your Mind on Transportation

Fill out the State transportation survey. What better way spend a cold, rainy weekend!

Are you looking for a fun weekend activity?  The Washington State Transportation Commission has an online survey about transportation issues in your local area and across the State. It is your chance to let state transportation policymakers know what is most important to you.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has an online survey about transportation issues in your local area and across the State. It is your chance to let state transportation policymakers know what is most important to you.

Here is the link: http://voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org/

The survey allows you to grade the current transportation system in the state, locally and regionally.  It offers many opportunities to comment what you think is most important for the state's transportation system.  It allows you to assign percentages to different objectives, such as expanding transportation choices versus expanding capacity.

The survey is pretty lengthy, please allow yourself plenty of time to tell state decision makers what is important to you.

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Innovative Companies See Opportunity in WA

Transportation Choices Coalition is working with a coalition of businesses, advocates, and policy makers that want to attract peer to peer car sharing companies and services to WA state. TCC will support legislation in Olympia this year to attract these companies through no cost policy tweaks.

Transportation Choices Coalition is working with a coalition of businesses, advocates, and policy makers that want to attract peer to peer car sharing (P2P) companies and services to WA state.  TCC will support legislation in Olympia this year to attract these companies through no-cost policy tweaks.

Car owners invest large amounts of time and money into an asset that is rarely used. Cars are driven only 8% of the time, while potential drivers walk past block after block of underutilized cars. Car sharing enables car owners to safely rent out their underutilized cars to a community of trusted drivers. People in need of a car can rent one by the hour using technology to connect them to available cars.  P2P car sharing empowers people to travel more efficiently and cause a shift from personal to shared transport. It can trim emissions, traffic accidents, fuel costs, need for costly parking, while it generates income for car owners, and stimulates the local economy.

Even the USA Today, is on to this growing business opportunity, printing an article about P2P car sharing, Peer-to-peer car sharing gains investors, users.  In our efforts to expand P2P car sharing in Washington, TCC is working with Shelby Clark, from Getaround a P2P car sharing company based in San Fransisco. In the article, "Clark says he expects car sharing to make its way to more cities soon as other states resolve insurance and liability issues. ...We're looking at 15 million cars on the road that are eligible. This deal changes the way we can grow and helps us serve more people in way more areas."

TCC is working to resolve policy issues and barriers in the next legislative session that starts in January, so WA can attract investors and companies to this growing business opportunity.

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Election Night Liveblog

Live blog from last night's election results
Election Night Liveblog

Vote!

9:38 am (next day)- Sorry for the abrupt end of the live blog.  Thank you all for following.  All in all it was a pretty election.  We are sad to see Proposition 1 in Seattle lose, but we are happy to see voters statewide saying no to Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman's whacky Initiative 1125 and voters in Clark County saving bus service.  Most importantly, thank you, without you we couldn't work hard on these ballot measures to bring more transportation choices to literally every corner of Washington State.

8:32- Summary so far (with twitter handles) . @preservebuses Clark County will pass. @streetsforall Seattle will fail.  1125 still up in the air but I'm pretty sure will fail.

8:25-Prop one is Seattle going down 40-60%

8:24-Snoho barely against 1125, Pierce barely for.

8:20-King Co just came in on 1125 strong 60% no in King Co on 1125.  Pulls 1125 into no category from yes but still close.

8:17pm-Lots of happy transit people and bus riders in Clark County.  An amazing feat and win!  Thank you everyone who helped.  Waiting for King Co. #s now on 1125 and Seattle Prop one.

8:07pm-First work for Clark County elections, 54 to 46%. Great news for stopping 35% cuts to bus service in Clark county!!!  http://www.co.clark.wa.us/elections/results/2011/2011GeneralNovElectionResults.pdf

7:45pm-Anxiously waiting, longest 30 of the last 3 months...

6:28pm- In other national news working families and unions scored a big win in Ohio tonight with the anti-collective union measure going down in every county across the state of Ohio.  Here is a statement on the issue from Larry Hanley, International ATU President. http://tinyurl.com/conw2y2

6:11pm- We are not done yet! Are phonebanks are still full of people turning out the vote and telling people to drop off their ballots at drop boxes.  In good news on the East Coast, there is a %.5 transit tax on the ballot in Durham N.C. today and it is passing with an incredible 63% after first returns.  Amazing! I hope the transit gods are with us today?

9:50am- Today is the day! This is a huge election for transit advocates across Washington State.  King Co. folks here is info on where you can drop of ballots across the county.  Here is the same info in Clark County. Secretary of State has links for all other counties! GO, FIGHT, VOTE!

 

We'll be updating election results from across the state right here on election night.  Stay tuned!

Tomorrow's election may be an "off-year," but we are in 5th gear at the office. Whether it is trying to stop Eyman's latest misguided transportation plan, speed up buses in Seattle, or stop 35% cuts to bus service in Clark County, our staff members are traveling around the state, working our tails off this election.

The most important thing you can do this November is VOTE.  Your ballot has to be postmarked by tomorrow, so the safest thing to do is vote today (if you haven't already).

Statewide, it is very important that you vote NO on I-1125, Eyman's latest scheme that could stop light rail from getting to Bellevue, outlaw variable tolls, and take tolling policy out of the hands of the transportation commission and put it in the hands of the politicians in the Legislature. Please vote no on 1125.

If you have a few hours to help with the transit ballot measures please email me, and I will get you plugged into volunteer opportunities these last two days. No matter where in the state you are, you can help!

Lastly, on the night of the election, I'll be liveblogging the results as they come in.

Thank you for all that you do, and please VOTE!

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TCC's Legislative Agenda Unveiled

The long awaited TCC 2012 legislative agenda is here.

The long awaited TCC legislative agenda is here. It is a forward-thinking agenda during this difficult time. Legislators must not overlook transportation revenue and policy this session.  Transportation is the mainstay of our economy; communities and businesses depend on a network that provides reliable, safe, healthy and efficient choices.

Check out the agenda here.

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Election Wrap Up

Final wrap up of this year's election.
Election Wrap Up

Preserve Our Buses!

This story will also be posted in our Winter newsletter.  Don't get our newsletter? Then become a member today!

At TCC we had a very busy fall, thanks to three ballot measure campaigns.  Two out of three went our way as voters in Clark County overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase to save bus service and voters statewide said no to Tim Eyman’s latest bad idea.  Unfortunately, voters in Seattle decided against a streets and transit measure because it was simply not the right way to fund Seattle’s growing transportation needs.

While we were disappointed to see Proposition 1 fail in Seattle, we are looking forward to working in Olympia, finding more progressive funding options and continuing to refine the potential projects to make the city safer.

Defeating Eynam’s Initiative-1125 is a victory we can celebrate around Washington.  TCC, and many of our coalition partners, worked hard with the No on I-1125 campaign to talk to thousands of voters statewide about the initiative.  Thanks to this effort we beat back Kemper Freeman’s latest attempt to stop light rail across I-90, and we also told Tim Eyman that we are sick of his harebrained transportation schemes.

Last but not least, TCC invested heavily in Clark County this November to save bus service. By helping to pass Proposition 1, which raised the sales tax by.02%, we stopped massive 35% cuts to C-TRAN buses that would have left thousands of riders stranded.  Thanks in part to our work, Clark County residents will continue to have Sunday and evening bus service.

We pride ourselves on being a statewide organization, and ballot measures are a great opportunity for our staff to work in every corner of the state expanding and saving transit service. Without your support we couldn’t reach all communities that need our help and bus riders across the state say thank you!

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TriMet considers BRT

Our latest installment from Zef Wagner on what is going on with transit in Portland. This article looks at plans that TriMet has for bus rapid transit (BRT)
TriMet considers BRT

Metro Rapid Ride

The latest update of TriMet's Transit Improvement Plan contains an intriguing and somewhat surprising item: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Portland region is well-known for its extensive network of MAX light rail lines radiating from downtown, but this marks the first real indication that TriMet is considering another form of high-capacity transit. BRT has the potential in certain corridors to provide a superior form of transit service without the huge capital costs of a full light rail line, and it is encouraging to see TriMet showing some flexibility in their thinking.

So what is Bus Rapid Transit? The term originally referred to the completely grade-separated rail-like systems found in cities like Curitiba and Botage. This "full BRT" is often used in developing countries that need the speed and capacity of a rail line but have difficulty raising the high amounts of capital required. In the US, the availability of federal funds for major rail projects has made full BRT less common. The cost of acquiring the necessary right-of-way is also a major part of the cost of a light rail line, so full BRT may not save as much capital funding as one might expect.

The Seattle region is familiar with a more limited form of BRT in the form of Metro's Rapid Ride and Community Transit's SWIFT. These systems, which TriMet calls "On-Street BRT," usually run buses in mixed traffic like normal, and instead rely on a variety of other mechanisms to make the buses run with more speed and reliability. These tools include: high frequency; off-board payment; real-time arrival signs at stations; wider stop spacing; signal priority; queue jumps and bus-only signals; and many others depending on the project. The rise of On-Street BRT is driven primarily by a new category of federal transportation funding called Very Small Starts. This funding source provides relatively small grants to transit agencies that create such a BRT line, and comes with several requirements. For example, this type of BRT must have its own brand (like RapidRide) with distinctive vehicles, and must have widely spaced "stations" with off-board payment rather than just normal stops.

TriMet is considering "BRT-lite" lines in two major corridors. The first would run downtown Portland east to Gresham via Powell Boulevard. This corridor was identified in the recent Metro  High Capacity Transit (HCT) Plan as a first-tier priority for the region. This BRT line would replace portions of the busy number 9 bus and would provide an excellent parallel route to the existing MAX Blue Line to Gresham farther north. Powell Boulevard is currently very car-focused, so a major transit investment like this could make a huge difference in this corridor.

So why not light rail? One problem is a lack of available right-of-way. While it would be technically possible to put light rail in the center of the roadway like the Yellow Line on Interstate, the reduction in car capacity would be unacceptable on this major arterials. Another related problem is that Powell is a federal highway, so TriMet would be severely constrained in any efforts to remove or change automobile capacity. It is also worth pointing out that this BRT line would be able to bypass the Ross Island Bridge, the worst traffic bottleneck in the corridor, by using the new transit bridge currently under construction.

The other BRT line being considered as a longer-term project would run on I-205, connecting Clackamas Town Center (terminus of the MAX Green Line), Oregon City, Tualatin, and Tigard. This corridor is in the second-priority tier of projects in the HCT Plan. The I-205 BRT line would be a useful crosstown service connecting several suburban employment centers without going through downtown. It would also provide an east-west link between the WES Commuter Rail, the future Southwest Corridor light rail line, and the MAX Green Line. This is another corridor unsuitable for light rail because there is little available right-of-way along the freeway.

-Zef Wagner

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Membership has its privileges

TCC members can take advantage of a great new benefits package!

We know that for our fantastic TCC members, supporting transportation options in Washington is its own reward. But, we’ve added a few perks that we hope will give you even more reasons to renew.

Thanks to our friends at Amtrak Cascades, every new and renewing TCC member will receive a coupon for a free Amtrak companion fare. That alone is worth the cost of membership. But there’s more!

Members can also take advantage of a number of great discounts, including reduced-cost memberships to Zipcar and Better World Club, a gift with purchase at the Fremont cycle boutique Hub and Bespoke, and a 15% discount on Brenthaven bags (sold online and at their store in Bellingham). Brenthaven makes a variety of durable, attractive bags that are ideal for those of us who get around using public transportation, bikes, and our feet.

Members that join at the $50 level can also choose from three public-radio-style thank-you gifts: a TCC t-shirt with our new logo and tagline, a DVD of the Streetfilms series Moving Beyond the Automobile, or a copy of the groundbreaking book Carjacked. To find out more about discounts and thank-you gifts, visit our membership page.

And, of course, you’ll still get all the other great benefits that come with being a TCC member: invitations to member-only events, easy opportunities to communicate with legislators and other decision makers, and our fantastic newsletter.

Renew your TCC membership today!

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Olympia- Special Session Edition

I will be updating you of the Olympia highlights, every Friday on “Choice Words”, with the schedule for the following week, actions to be taken, and interesting transportation related events at the capitol. Kicking it off this week, here are a few things to watch as the special session ends and the regular session begins.

 

Special session is on, and the capitol is a buzz with legislators, lobbyists, and protesters. Governor Gregoire called lawmakers back to address the$1.52 billion deficit in the operating budget. Currently, there does not seem like there is a path to resolution to the operating budget issue, and the special session will most likely bleed into the regular session which starts 1/9/11.  I will be updating you of the Olympia highlights, every Friday on “Choice Words”, with the schedule for the following week, actions to be taken, and interesting transportation related events at the capitol.  Kicking it off this week, here are a few things to watch as the special session ends and the regular session begins.

There is a lot of chatter that there will be an attempt to generate transportation revenue by updating transportation related fees in the special session or early on in the regular session.  Some of these fees have not been updated since the 1980’s.  A recent statewide survey for the Washington Transportation Commission (WTC) shows that fifty-nine percent of those surveyed support raising transportation taxes and fees.  Last year, a fee bill (HB 2053) passed out of the House that rose over $70 million that included $13 million for special needs public transportation and $5 million for the Safe Routes to Schools grant program.

We hear that there will be attempt to alter the fee bill to reduce or eliminate money for transit, despite the fact that the WTC survey shows that 63% of folks support or oppose providing more state funding for public transit and passenger rail.  Transportation Choices Coalition and T4WA partners are prepared to ensure that any transportation revenue is balanced and includes money for reliable, safe, and healthy transportation choices.

Also, between now and the regular session, the Governor is slated to release a supplemental transportation budget in mid-December.  She will address any changes to the budget that was passed last year.  As illustrated below, that budget that dedicates 54% of funding to Highway Construction and 6% to rail and public transportation ($366 million of the 6% is federal rail monies pass through the state). See the image above. We will watch to see if the proposal cuts any of the limited amounts that currently go to public or active transportation.

Here is what is on tap next week in Olympia:

Tuesday, 12/06/11

10:00 am

Transportation, Joint Committee

Public-Private Partnerships Policy Work Group
Sen. Conf. Rms ABC
J.A. Cherberg Building

Agenda:

  1. Welcome and overview.
  2. Discussion of Conceptual P3 Implementation Plan recommendations.
  3. Financial model inputs for CRC, 509 & 167.
    1. Revenues.
    2. Initial capital costs.
    3. Long term capital costs .
    4. Operating costs.
    5. Risk registers / VFM inputs.
  4. Financial model results update.
  5. Next steps

 

Wednesday, 12/07/11

8:00 am

Transportation, Joint Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Agenda:

  1. P3 Study.
  2. Ferry Management Organization Study.
  3. Ferry LNG Study.

3:30 pm

Senate Transportation

Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Work Session:

  1. Operational Efficiencies 2009-present, Washington State Department of Transportation, Department of Licensing.
  2. Washington State Ferries updates:144 car vessel construction & fuel hedging program
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Holiday Parties are this week!

Our holiday parties are this week! Tonight in Seattle and Thursday in Tacoma. Read on for more info.

It is that time of the year when we take a quick break to celebrate and say thank you.  It has been a busy 2011 for TCC.  We launched a new website and transportation for Washington, saved buses in Clark and King County, and much more.  We could not do what we do everyday without you.  So please join us in Seattle and Tacoma for our free holiday parties as we simply say, thank you.

Seattle Holiday Party

5pm Today (Monday) at Farestart

 

Tacoma Holiday Party

Thursday 5pm at The Space, 729 Court C, Tacoma

 

See you there!

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Breaking: Sound Transit gets $10 Million for South 200th

Breaking news, Sound Transit announced today that it has secured $10 Million TIGER III Dollars for the South 200th Light Rail expansion project

Sound Transit announced earlier today that they received $10 Million from the incredibly competitive TIGER III USDOT grant to go towards the South 200th light rail extension project.

King County Councilmember Julia Patterson pointed out in an email yesterday that "the US Department of Transportation received 828 applications that totaled $14.1 billion dollars. Of that, DOT only awarded $527 million dollars in grants. That means that the S. 200th project stood out against applications from throughout the nation."

This is great news for transit riders and advocates across the Puget Sound. It will build an important access point into the light rail system. This grant will allow Sound Transit to accelerate the project delivery and open the South 200th Station in 2016, in conjunction with the University Link expansion opening. With important regional trail and bus connections and additional parking capacity and TOD potential, this station will increase access to the light rail system for thousands of potential transit riders in South King County and beyond.

In the press release Senator Murray was quoted by saying “This is great news for local commuters, communities, and the economy throughout Seattle.I was proud to create the TIGER program to fund investments like this one for Sound Transit that put people to work, boost the local economy, and lay down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth.”

Transportation Choices was a strong advocate for the South 200th street extension's TIGER application. We sent a letter of support and did a video testimony in support of this project. Today's announcement is simply great news for Sound Transit and transit riders alike.

In other news, WSDOT also received TIGER III funding for traffic mitigation work in the JLBM area of I-5, one of the most congested areas in the state.  This project (scroll down) will install smart traffic management technology in this area and HOV lanes on the on-ramps, among other things. This grant is also good news that will help mitigate traffic in a very congested corridor. Hopefully, eventually HOV lanes will be installed throughout this segment of I-5 to improve transit and carpool mobility, but this is a great start.

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A JUMPING, JAM-PACKED JANUARY

Happy New Year! At Transportation Choices we are jumping right into 2012 with both feet. With the Legislative session right around the corner, this is the time of the year we need you as an engaged advocate.
A JUMPING, JAM-PACKED JANUARY

Advocate with us!

Happy New Year! At Transportation Choices we are jumping right into 2012 with both feet. With the Legislative session right around the corner, this is the time of the year we need you as an engaged advocate.

1)  The environmental priorities legislative workshop happens this Saturday, January 7th at the University of Washington, Click here for more info.

2)  On January 20th, our Friday Forum of the month will be a comprehensive update on what is going on with connecting health and transportation policies and priorities. Please join us for this exciting Friday Forum in Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. Click here for more information and to register (Please note that there will be no Friday Forum in this week.)

3)  Environmental Lobby Day is on January 25th. Here is more info.

4)  Last but not least, Transportation Advocacy Day , your chance to connect with advocates from across the state and speak directly to your legislators about the future of transportation in our state, is on January 31st.  Please REGISTER TODAY!

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Legislative Session is Upon Us

The 2012 session starts on Monday. Lawmakers, lobbyists, advocates and citizens are planning for a very tough session. A huge budget shortfall still needs to be addressed, while lawmakers look for ways to stimulate our economy for a turn around. The big issues of the session will be the operating budget, job creation, gay marriage, and potentially, transportation revenue.

 

On Fridays throughout session, we will be providing weekly updates about the happenings in Olympia. We will provide updates on TCC's legislative agenda items and other relevant transportation items.  We will also include information about action that is scheduled for the next week. Here is your first installment.

The 2012 session starts on Monday.  Lawmakers, lobbyists, advocates and citizens are planning for a very tough session.  A huge budget shortfall still needs to be addressed, while lawmakers look for ways to stimulate our economy for a turn around.  The big issues of the session will include a fix for the operating budget, job creation, and transportation revenue.

The Governor has plans to announce a transportation revenue proposal as early as Monday.  It may include revenue and policies that can be done with a majority of legislators in the session, paired with revenue and policies that will go to the voters for approval in November.  Transportation Choices Coalition and our partners in Transportation for Washington are working to influence the proposal that is put forth for legislators and the voters.  We are advocating for proposals that ensure we have enough money to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the critical parts of our existing infrastructure (fix it first!), for meaningful direct investment in transit, more revenue tools for transit, and for investments in sustainable communities (stormwater retrofits, complete streets, safe routes to schools, ect).

Don’t forget to sign up for Transportation Advocacy Day on January 31st!

Next week, the House and Senate Transportation committees kick session off with a full docket of work session and a few hearings.  The schedule is below.

Monday, 1/9/12 3:30 pm

House Transportation

House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Work Session: Department of Transportation Secretary's Report - The State of Transportation.

Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Work Session:

  1. Overview of Governor's proposed 2012 supplemental transportation budget: Office of Financial Management.
  2. Statewide transportation agency updates:
    1. Washington State Department of Transportation.
    2. Department of Licensing.
    3. Washington State Patrol.


Public Hearing: SGA 9199 - Alan Haight, Director, Department of Licensing.

Tuesday, 1/10/12 3:30 pm

House Transportation

House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Work Session:

  1. Governor's Supplemental 2012 Transportation Budget.
  2. Department of Transportation 2011-13 budget update.
  3. Department of Licensing 2011-13 budget update.
  4. Washington State Patrol 2011-13 budget update.

Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Work Session:

  1. Federal transportation update: Washington State Department of Transportation.
  2. Joint Transportation Committee: Summaries of 2011 interim studies.


Public Hearing: SB 5188 - Harmonizing certain traffic control signal provisions relative to yellow change intervals and certain fine amount limitations.

 

Wednesday, 1/11/12 3:30 pm

House Transportation

House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Work Session: Commute Trip Reduction Program briefing.

Public Hearing: HB 2206 - Concerning the issuance of drivers' licenses and identicards. (If measure is referred to committee.)

Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Work Session:

  1. Report from the Governor's Connecting Washington Task Force.
  2. Transportation Commission's Statewide Transportation Survey: Andrew Thibault, Principal, EMC Research.


Public Hearing: SSB 5250 - Concerning the design-build procedure for certain projects.


Thursday, 1/12/12 3:30 pm

House Transportation

House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Work Session: Governor's Connecting Washington Task Force.

Senate Transportation
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building


Work Session:

  1. Washington Traffic Safety Commission updates:
    1. Electronic Traffic Information Processing (eTRIP) Initiative.
    2. Target Zero Trooper pilot program.
  2. Freight database pilot project: Washington State Department of Transportation.


Public Hearing: SSB 5128 - Concerning statewide transportation planning.

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Our Response to Governor’s revenue proposal

Gregoire’s transportation funding proposal is a good first step, but still needs to be more balanced

Transportation for Washington released the following joint statement from campaign co-chairs Hilary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise and Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, reacting to Gov. Gregoire’s proposed multi-billion dollar transportation package:

“We credit the Governor for taking this first step to address our state’s transportation crisis.

“More investments in our transportation system are critical to getting our economy moving again. By putting an emphasis on safety, maintenance and operations, the Governor is making sure that our existing infrastructure is working efficiently and safely. Her call for progressive transit funding at the local level is urgently needed as demand for transit is growing but service is being cut across the state.

“It’s a positive sign that in this proposal, oil is being asked to pay their fair share and that a portion of these funds are going towards helping keep our waterways clean. The public has historically supported this “polluter pay” approach as the fairest way to fund clean-up. Still, we do have concerns that this revenue is being allocated too broadly.

“While we commend the Governor for stepping up to tackle the transportation crisis, we strongly believe that any proposal must be balanced. As it currently stands, the proposal is still overwhelmingly weighted towards serving automobiles and doesn’t provide any funding for bi-partisan supported safety programs such as Safe Routes to Schools or the newly created Complete Streets grant program.

“We look forward to working with the Governor and legislators to balance out the proposed package and make sure it is designed to meet the growing needs of our economy. As we move forward, Transportation for Washington will ensure that any funding package meets three principles: fix-it first, more transit, and build great, healthy communities.”

Contact:  Viet Shelton, 206-719-8598

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Rep. Billig introduces healthy transportation bill

New legislation would require transportation policy and investments to improve health and livability in Washington

Today Rep. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) introduced legislation to help build healthy and livable communities.

The bill, HB2370, adds a health policy goal to the existing transportation goals. The goals direct the planning and performance of the state department of transportation, and will lead Washington to build a transportation system that generates local prosperity, protects our most vulnerable citizens, prevents chronic disease and reduces obesity and health care costs. Transportation policies impact the health status of a community, so transportation decisions informed by health data can improve health and safety and reduce preventable medical care costs.

“Transportation decisions have a direct effect on our health, and healthy planning within our transportation system is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower health care costs and improve the quality of life in our state,” said Rep. Billig. “An unintentional consequence of past decisions is that we have made healthy transportation choices more difficult. We deserve a safe, effective transportation system that makes healthy options easy.”

In creating a public health priority for transportation policy, considerations such as how existing systems and investments affect health status will influence future decisions. Wise investments in healthy transportation choices will save millions of dollars in future health care costs.

“Over the years, our insulated focus on motorized transportation has also contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity in Washington and all the damaging costs associated with it,” said Victor Colman, Director of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. “This bill gets us on a path to build a healthier Washington from a new vantage point while also developing a more efficient transportation system.”

The proposed legislation will help ensure that Washington’s transportation systems connect people to where they live, learn, work, shop and play by providing safe and convenient transportation choices. A new health priority will also help the state develop solutions that can help achieve social and economic equity in all communities with policies that create public and non-motorized transportation options for transit-dependent and low-income communities.

“As a nurse practitioner, I see firsthand the negative impacts when we fail to consider health in our transportation decisions,” said Kevin Carrabine, a nurse practitioner at the UW.  “We can build a transportation system that improves our health and saves us money if we set the right goals.”

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Car sharing bill introduced in Washington legislature

The bill, HB 2384, would allow personal peer to peer car sharing in Washington State that is safe, convenient and affordable. Car sharing empowers people to travel more efficiently and cause a shift from personal to shared transport. It can trim emissions, traffic accidents, fuel costs, need for costly parking, while it generates income for car owners, and stimulates the local economy.

For Immediate Release:  January 12, 2012

Contact:  Viet Shelton, 206-719-8598

Car sharing bill introduced in Washington legislature

New legislation would open the door to personal car sharing in Washington

SEATTLE – Today Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-Tukwila) introduced legislation to open up Washington to the personal car sharing market.

 

The bill, HB 2384, would allow personal peer to peer car sharing in Washington State that is safe, convenient and affordable. Car sharing empowers people to travel more efficiently and cause a shift from personal to shared transport. It can trim emissions, traffic accidents, fuel costs, need for costly parking, while it generates income for car owners, and stimulates the local economy.

 

“There are tens of thousands of cars in our state that just sit in parking lots and driveways doing nothing most of the day,” said Rep. Hudgins. “Well, what if there was a way to put your car to work for you, earn a little extra cash and makes our transportation system more efficient and less polluting? This legislation will open the doors to a straightforward free market that helps everyone get around easier and more conveniently.”

 

Peer to peer car sharing is a way to let automobile owners earn some additional money from their cars, which usually sit idle 23 hours out of the day, and help those who want the freedom of not dealing with the costs and burden of owning a car to still have convenient, affordable access to a car when they need it.

 

Due to a variety of reasons, such as generational shifts, the continually rising costs of gas prices and insurance coverage, more people are looking for alternatives to owning a car. Today, while hourly car rental services exist in Washington’s larger cities, car-sharing vehicles are not available to most of the state. At the same time, there is a large supply of cars available in every parking lot, garage, and driveway for individuals who need to use a car for a short time.

 

The proposed legislation would open the door for individuals to rent out their cars via a car sharing company, allowing those who need to drive to use a car access to one and in return, car owners have a new business opportunity to earn extra income to help cover the cost of car-ownership.

 

The car sharing legislation would establish simple and clear rules and standards for private peer to peer car sharing that clarifies issues of insurance and liability.

 

“As someone who chooses to live without a car, I know the benefits of car sharing. Existing car-sharing companies, like Zipcar, allow me to get to meetings when I am time pinch for time or traveling to areas without transit,” said Andrew Austin, Field Director for Transportation Choices Coalition. “This bill will open up car-sharing to everyone across the state, benefiting car-owners, people like me who live without a car, and our entire transportation system.”

 

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Next week in Olympia- Week #2

The first week of session is almost done, and it seems like a month has gone by. The main transportation highlight for the week has been the Governor’s transportation proposal. Find out more about here proposal here. Read Transportation for Washington’s response here. This week saw the introduction of three items from our legislative agenda: · Transportation goal of Health– HB 2370 Rep. Billig · Personal carsharing bill – HB 2384 Rep. Hudgins · Mileage Based Insurance- HB 2445 Rep. Ryu We hope to have hearings next week on personal carsharing and mileage based insurance, but the hearings are TBD for now.

The first week of session is almost done, and it seems like a month has gone by.  The main transportation highlight for the week has been the Governor’s transportation proposal.  Find out more about here proposal here.  Read Transportation for Washington’s response here.

This week saw the introduction of three items from our legislative agenda:

·         Transportation goal of Health– HB 2370 Rep. Billig

·         Personal carsharing bill – HB 2384 Rep. Hudgins

·         Mileage Based Insurance- HB 2445 Rep. Ryu

We hope to have hearings next week on personal carsharing and mileage based insurance, but the hearings are TBD for now.

Here is the transportation committee and finance schedule for next week.

Monday, January 16, 2012

 

Senate Transportation
3:30 pm

Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building


Work Session: Local programs updates:

  1. Transportation Improvement Board.
  2. County Road Administration Board.
  3. Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.
  4. Washington State Department of Transportation local programs.

House Transportation

3:30 pm
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 2234 - Addressing employer notification upon commercial driver's license suspension.
  2. HB 2240 - Concerning public improvement contracts involving federally funded transit facility projects.
  3. HB 2252 - Concerning proof of payment for certain transportation fares.
  4. HB 2270 - Concerning signage for automated traffic safety camera locations.
  5. HB 2280 - Establishing a yellow dot program for motor vehicles.
  6. HB 2283 - Modifying the display requirement for certain parking placards.

 

 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Senate Transportation

3:30 pm
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building

Work Session: Local programs updates:

Association of Washington Cities.
Washington State Association of Counties.
Washington State Department of Transportation local programs: Main Streets Program.



    Public Hearing:  SB 6081 - Authorizing counties and ferry districts operating ferries to impose a vessel replacement surcharge on ferry fares sold.

    House Transportation

    3:30 pm
    House Hearing Rm B
    John L. O'Brien Building
    Olympia, WA

    Work Session:  Washington State Patrol and Traffic Safety Commission updates:

    1. Target Zero Trooper pilot program.
    2. Electronic Traffic Information Processing (eTRIP) Initiative.

    Public Hearing:  HB 2355 - Concerning the use of alternative traction devices on tires under certain conditions.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    House Transportation
    3:30 pm
    House Hearing Rm B
    John L. O'Brien Building
    Olympia, WA

    Work Session: Fuel cost mitigation initiatives.

     

    Senate Transportation
    3:30 pm
    Senate Hearing Rm 1
    J.A. Cherberg Building

    Public Hearing:

    1. SGA 9171 - Anne E Haley, Member, Transportation Commission.
    2. SGA 9205 - Jerald (jerry) R Litt, Member, Transportation Commission.
    3. SGA 9234 - Joe M Tortorelli, Member, Transportation Commission.
    4. SB 5990 - Creating state flower special license plates.
    5. SB 6034 - Creating "4-H" special license plates.

     

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    House Business & Financial Services
    8:00 am
    House Hearing Rm B
    John L. O'Brien Building

    Possible Public Hearing: Bills referred to committee.

    Possible Executive Session:

    1. HB 2242 - Requiring the department of licensing to adopt rules regarding online learning for training in cosmetology, manicuring, barbering, esthetics, and instruction.
    2. HB 2255 - Concerning nondepository institutions regulated by the department of financial institutions.
    3. HB 2256 - Regulating the licensing of escrow agents.
    4. HB 2301 - Concerning boxing, martial arts, and wrestling.

    House Transportation
    3:30 pm
    House Hearing Rm B
    John L. O'Brien Building

    Work Session: Joint Transportation Committee Public Private Partnership Study.

    Senate Transportation
    3:30 pm
    Senate Hearing Rm 1
    J.A. Cherberg Building

    Public Hearing: To be announced.


     

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    Two Important Hearings This Week, Two More Next Week

    Important hearings are coming up.

    UPDATE!!

    Both of the hearings will now be on Friday.

    Two bills on TCC's leg agenda will have hearings this week. Both are in the House Business & Financial Services - House Hearing Rm B  in the John L. O'Brien Building.

      Friday, 01/20/12  1:30 pm

      HB 2445 - Regulating mileage-based insurance.

      HB 2384 - Regulating personal vehicle sharing programs.

      Next week we hope to have a hearing on HB 2370 Including health in the state transportation system policy goals, and we expect a hearing on the Governor's transportation revenue proposal.  We are expected to see bill language for the revenue package early this week.

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        Week 3 in Olympia

        Many things are planned for the third week of session. The transportation highlights include: Tuesday- there are hearings on the Governor’s revenue proposal in House and Senate Transportation. Also, bills to authorize tolls on the Columbia River Crossing and the Viaduct will be in Senate Transportation. Two TCC priority bills (HB 2445- mileage based insurance and HB 2384- personal vehicle sharing) are scheduled for Executive Sessions in House Business and Finance. Wednesday- a TCC priority bill, HB 2370 - Including health in the state transportation system policy goals, will be heard in House Transportation.

        Many things are planned for the third week of session. The transportation highlights include:

         

        Tuesday- there are hearings on the Governor’s revenue proposal in House and Senate Transportation.  Also, bills to authorize tolls on the Columbia River Crossing and the Viaduct will be in Senate Transportation. Two TCC priority bills (HB 2445- mileage based insurance and HB 2384- personal vehicle sharing) are scheduled for Executive Sessions in House Business and Finance.

         

        Wednesday- a TCC priority bill, HB 2370 - Including health in the state transportation system policy goals, will be heard in House Transportation.

         

        For more transportation highlights see below.

        Monday, 01/23/12

         

        3:30 pm Transportation
        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building

        Work Session:  Transit Agency challenges.

        Public Hearing:

        HB 2553 - Concerning nonvoting labor members of public transportation governing bodies.

        HB 2601 - Improving public transit through the creation of transit service overlay zones.

         

        Tuesday, 01/24/12

        1:30 pm Business & Financial Services
        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building

         

        Possible Executive Session:

        HB 2384 - Regulating personal vehicle sharing programs.

        HB 2445 - Regulating mileage-based insurance.

         

        3:30 pm Transportation
        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building

        Public Hearing:

        HB 2660 - Addressing transportation revenue. (If measure is referred to committee.)


        3:30 pm Transportation

        Senate Hearing Rm 1
        J.A. Cherberg Building

        Public Hearing:

        Governor's proposed transportation revenue package:

        Revenue bill [Z-0987.1] (If referred to committee).

        Authorizing tolls on the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel facility [Z-0737.3]. (If referred to committee).

        Authorizing tolls on the Columbia River Crossing facility [Z-0738.3]. (If referred to committee).

        2ESSB 5251 - Concerning electric vehicle license fees.

        SB 6032 - Imposing a fee on each new tire sold that contains studs.


        The draft bill (or PSSB/striking amendment) is posted on the Committee’s website at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/TRAN/Pages/default.aspx and is also available from committee staff. and is also available from committee staff.

         

        Wednesday, 01/25/12

         

        3:30 pm Transportation
        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building

        Work Session:  Stormwater management.

        Public Hearing:

        HB 2370 - Including health in the state transportation system policy goals.

        HB 2433 - Authorizing the implementation of a facial recognition matching system for drivers' licenses, permits, and identicards.

        HB 2455 - Concerning the covering of loads on public highways.

         

        3:30 pm Senate Transportation
        Senate Hearing Rm 1
        J.A. Cherberg Building

        Work Session:  Commission on State Debt: Washington State Treasurer, James McIntire.

        Public Hearing:

        SB 6064 - Authorizing regional transit authorities to use the job order contracting procedure.

         

        Thursday, 01/26/12

         

        8:00 am Business & Financial Services

        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building

        Public Hearing:  HB 2434 - Creating the Washington investment trust.

        Possible Public Hearing:  Bills referred to committee.

         

        3:30 pm Transportation

        Senate Hearing Rm 1
        J.A. Cherberg Building

         

        SB 6215 - Establishing an optional transportation benefit district rebate program for low-income individuals.

        SB 5990 - Creating state flower special license plates.

        SB 6034 - Creating "4-H" special license plates.

        SB 6123 - Creating "National Rifle Association" special license plates.



         

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        Olympia Update- Week 4

        TCC had an exciting week in Olympia. One of TCC’s priority bills, HB 1700- safe and flexible street design, passed out of the House and is on its way to the Senate. We negotiated a vehicle car sharing bill that passed out of the House committee (and had a great Senate hearing). Next up, a vote by the full house. We testified for more balanced funding in hearings on the Governor’s transportation revenue package. We celebrated a great hearing on a bill to add health to our state transportation goals. This bill has another week to move out of the House transportation committee.

        TCC had an exciting week in Olympia.

         

        There are many transportation related bills that we are closely tracking.  This week, nine bills to attack Sound Transit were introduced, and we are working hard to make sure these do not get any traction in Olympia.

        We are also tracking bills that amend the transportation benefit district, amend state transportation planning, proposes a taskforce on VMT pricing, and many others.

        Here are some key hearings coming up next week.

        Tuesday, January 31, 2012

        3:30 pm House Transportation
        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building
        Olympia, WA

        Public Hearing:

        HB 2659 - Modifying certain provisions regarding transportation benefit districts.

        3:30 pm Senate Transportation
        Senate Hearing Rm 1
        J.A. Cherberg Building
        Olympia, WA

        Public Hearing:

        SB 6451 - Modifying certain provisions regarding transportation benefit districts

        Wednesday, February 01, 2012

        1:30 pm House Transportation

        House Hearing Rm B
        John L. O'Brien Building
        Olympia, WA

        Public Hearing:

        HB 2704 - Creating a road user future funding task force.

         

         

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        House Republicans Attack Transit!

        The House Republicans in Washington DC have made an unprecedented attack on transit. Act now to stand up for for transit in D.C.!

        This is just in for our friends at Transportation For America! Act now to stand up for for transit in D.C.!

        A key House Committee is threatening to kill three decades of successful investments in mass transit — originally started under President Ronald Reagan — by ending the guarantee for dedicated funding for public transportation, leaving millions of riders already faced with service cuts and fare increases out in the cold.

        In a stunning development late last night, House leadership and the Ways and Means committee made a shocking attack on transit that would have huge impacts for the millions of people who depend on public transportation each day.

        They proposed putting every public transportation system in immediate peril by eliminating guaranteed funding for the Mass Transit Account and forcing transit to go begging before Congress for general funds each year — all while highway spending continues to be guaranteed with protected funds for half a decade at a time.

        We know it’s been a busy week already, but can you take just a moment and tell your representative that this short-sighted idea is intolerable for their voters?

        This incredible move would roll back 30+ years of bipartisan federal transportation policy and reverse a decision made by President Reagan in the 1980’s to fund our nation’s transit system out of a small share of gas tax revenues. This change would mean no more guarantee of funding each year and no long-term stability for public transportation. States, cities, communities and their transit systems could lose billions.

        “Today transit ridership and demand is growing, yet agencies are being forced to make double digit service cuts. Now is the time we should be doing more to help transit riders. Instead, this short-sighted proposal will only leave more people stranded at the bus stop without an affordable way to get to their jobs,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “As members of the Ways and Means committee, I hope Congressmen Dave Reichert and Jim McDermott will stand up for their constituents and stop this assault on transit and the tens of thousands in their respective districts who depend on convenient, reliable public transportation.”

        Transit is an important component of our nation’s transportation system. More people on transit means less congestion, less pollution, and fewer cars on the road.

        Tell your representative that this unprecedented attack on transit won’t stand.

        UPDATE: If your organization opposes this attack on transit. Click her to add your organization's name to a letter of opposition to this egregious measure.

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        Response to Washington Policy Center's False Claims

        Recently the Washington Policy Center released a report titled, “Public Transit is not underfunded in Washington”. Here at Transportation Choices, we respectfully disagree with this bogus and ill-supported opinion. Below are the claims made in WPC’s report, followed by the facts.

        The Truth About Washington State's Public Transit Funding

        Recently the Washington Policy Center released a report titled, “Public Transit is not underfunded in Washington”.  Here at Transportation Choices, we respectfully disagree with this bogus and ill-supported opinion.  Below are the claims made in WPC’s report, followed by the facts.

        Claim: There are 31 public transit agencies in Washington and they collected $2.05 billion in total revenues in 2010. To put this in perspective, in 2010 the state collected about the same amount ($2.09 billion) from the three major revenue categories (taxes, fees, and misc.) that fund the state’s entire transportation budget.

        Truth. The 2011-13 biennial transportation budget is $9.04 billion, which is much larger than the cited $2.09 billion. (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Finance/budget/BudgetPieCharts.htm). Ennis is cherry picking just state gas tax and fees to make his number, while comparing it to the totality of all sources of revenue for transit including federal, local and all other sources.

        Claim: In 2010, the 31 public transit agencies collected $1.23 billion in sales taxes, which is more than the entire state collects in gas tax revenue ($1.21 billion).

        Truth. State gas tax revenue makes up less than a quarter of WSDOT’s total budget (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Finance/budget/BudgetPieCharts.htm).  On the other hand, local sales tax makes up 70-75% of transit agencies’ entire budgets.

        Claim: Collecting more than $2 billion in a year is remarkable considering how small public transit is compared to the state’s overall transportation system.  Public transit agencies’ total market share is only about 2.4% of all daily person trip demand, statewide.

        Truth. This is fuzzy math. He takes a real, local statistic (how many trips per year transit carries) and then compares it to a federal estimate of how many trips the ‘average’ American household takes. The truth is that over 40% of people who commute to downtown Seattle every day and 25% to downtown Bellevue are using Metro alone. And these trips are happening during rush hour, when traffic is at its worse.

        Claim: Transit officials also claim sales tax revenue is volatile and unreliable as a consistent funding source, but public transit’s sales tax revenue has grown 150% in the last ten years, from $484 million in 2001 to $1.23 billion in 2010.

        Truth. The truth is, sales tax is volatile. For King County Metro, in 2009, because of the recession, sales tax revenue dropped by nearly 14%. (http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/transportation/connect/20110719/transportation_needs.pdf) Page 28.

        This is a double digit dip decrease over one year. That looks like the definition of volatile to me. Also keep in mind a lot of transit agencies went to increase their sales taxes about 10 years ago to replace lost MVET revenues. So the reason why sales tax revenue has grown? To make up for the underfunding of transit by the state.

        “Statewide, local sales tax collections dropped by 11.6% (95M) between 2008 and 2010. Demand is peaking while revenues are dropping.” (WSDOT strategic investment study)

        Claim: Since 2008, statewide transit ridership has fallen 4.5%, while operating expenses have risen 5%.

        Truth. Ridership dipped in 2009 because of recession. That’s what happens when we have near double digit employment, less people go to work. However, over the last year, month over month, 2011 ridership has consistently beaten 2009 and 2010 ridership numbers as the recovery continues(slowly) and gas prices continue to rise(not so slowly). (http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/monthly-measures/ridership.html)

        But who knows what will happen now that bus agencies have just implemented double digit service cuts in places such as Community and Pierce Transit.

        Conclusion: The Washington Policy Center's claim that transit funding is adequate and does not need any additional investment is a myth, not a fact.

        UPDATE (3/2): The Washington State Transit Association (WSTA) recently released a memo countering WPC's bogus claims that tells the real story behind transit funding in Washington State. Click here to read it.

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        WSDOT REPORT: Climate Change and Transportation

        This report states, "Changing weather patterns and their associated physical, financial and social impacts are affecting or will affect the way transportation professionals finance, plan, design, construct, operate and maintain multimodal transportation infrastructure."

        Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) released a report completed for the Region X Northwest Transportation Consortium (NW and Alaska state DOTs), titled "Climate Change Impact Assessment for Surface Transportation in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska".

        The report looks at how the changing climate will affect our transportation network. It predicts It analyzes the likely impact of climate change on: regional temperatures, including extreme hot days and heat waves, arctic temperatures, permafrost and freeze/thaw events, sea levels and the intensity of precipitation events.  All of these changes will have impacts on how we develop and manage our transportation system.  This report states, "Changing weather patterns and their associated physical, financial and social impacts are affecting or will affect the way transportation professionals finance, plan, design, construct, operate and maintain multimodal transportation infrastructure."

        The report does not discuss ways to reduce climate pollution that leads to climate change, because the focus is on how we must adapt to the climate change that is already occuring.

        Read the full report here.

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        Transit Still Under Attack

        Transit continues to be on the chopping block in Washington D.C. as House Republicans lead the charge to essentially defund transit in America.
        Transit Still Under Attack

        Transit leaders stand up for transit riders

        Transit continues to be on the chopping block in Washington D.C. as House Republicans lead the charge to essentially defund transit in America.

        Today Puget Sound Transit agencies stood together to articulate the dangerous impacts of the House Republican anti-transit plan.

        Metro’s General Manager stated, “This House bill is alarming, because it puts at risk a critical source of predictable revenue that transit agencies have counted on year after year. For Metro alone, as much as $70 million in annual revenues would be at risk, worsening our financial hole at a time when demand for transit service is rising.”

        Pierce Transit and Community Transit, two transit agencies who have already made draconian service cuts, amounting to approximately 40% each, would also be hit hard by the House Republican plan.  Community Transit estimates this plan would amount to an additional 9% service cut and Pierce Cut would be forced to cut an additional 28% of their service, taking bus service to dangerously low levels in Peirce County. This plan is not just a Puget Sound problem.  Every single transit agency in the State of Washington will feel the pain if the House Republican attack on transit moves forward.

        Not only would local bus agencies be impacted by the anti-transit plan, so would Sound Transit.  If this plan passed voter approved ST2 projects would be delayed with the loss of federal matching dollars.

        The New York Times has called this proposal, “A Terrible Transportation Bill”. Our government, U.S. Congress, can and must do better.  Click here to sign a Transportation for America action alert to tell your Congressperson to vote NO on the House Republican’s unprecedented attack on transit.

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        WSDOT Plans to Eliminate Passenger Ferry at Colman Dock

        WSDOT is undergoing a process to plan for the replacement of the Colman ferry terminal. We fullt support preservation projects and our state's ferry system, but the current replacement project will eliminate the existing passenger ferry dock, which will threaten the King County water taxi and other passenger ferry services in and out of Downtown Seattle.
        WSDOT Plans to Eliminate Passenger Ferry at Colman Dock

        West Seattle Water Taxi docks in at Colman Dock, image courtesy of West Seattle Blog.

        WSDOT is undergoing a process to plan for the replacement of the Colman ferry terminal.  We fully support preservation projects and our state's ferry system, but the current replacement project will eliminate the existing passenger ferry dock, which will threaten the King County water taxi and other passenger ferry services in and out of Downtown Seattle.  Later this week WSDOT will be holding an open house on this project. We encourage all riders and advocates of current and future passenger ferry service (also known as waterway transit) in Seattle to attend this open house and tell WSDOT not to eliminate the passenger ferry dock at Colman Dock.

        Currently a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not planned for this project so WSDOT is not planning to study the consequences of eliminated the passenger ferry dock in Downtown Seattle.

        Some of the irony here is that WSDOT used to use this passenger ferry dock when they ran foot ferries on the Vashon-Seattle and Bremerton-Seattle routes.  Since WSDOT (and the State Legislature) rid themselves of their responsibility of running passenger ferries (and sold the boats to the Golden Gate Bridge Authority in San Francisco) King County took over the Vashon-Seattle route and added the popular West Seattle-Downtown route.  The West Seattle water taxi is crucial in WSDOT's own plans for traffic mitigation during the Viaduct construction project.  In that vein, with no downtown exits in the new Viaduct tunnel, the West Seattle Water taxi's importance to regional transportation will only continue to increase.  Yet, the current Colman Dock "replacement" plan eliminates the foot ferry dock in the heart of Downtown Seattle?  This action would require King County to undergo an EIS planning process to find a new passenger ferry dock, which would likely cause a suspension of service and be located in a less convenient and connected area.

        One of the stated goals of the Viaduct replacement project is to open up Seattle's waterfront and create a better transit and pedestrian connected city.  The City of Seattle is currently planning the bike, pedestrian, transit, and automotive transportation aspects of Seattle's new waterfront with a goal to make it more transit focused and pedestrian friendly. One of WSDOT's stated goals of the Colman Dock project is to "Improve existing pedestrian connections (from Colman Dock) to local transit service."

        Existing and expanded passenger ferries are crucial to a transit connected and people focused waterfront.  From New York to San Francisco, and Port Orchard to Vancouver, B.C., passenger ferries are part of the working transit system.  Please attend Thursday's open house and tell WDSOT not to eliminate a home for passenger ferries in the heart of Downtown Seattle. If you can not attend please send an email to FaulknE@wsdot.wa.gov.

        Update: The Kitsap Sun did an article on this very topic yesterday. Washington State Ferry Chief David Moseley is quoted in response to the concerns over the loss of the passenger only landing:

        "Those agencies that have, or hope to have, passenger-only service need to determine what is in their interest and where they believe would be the best location for their terminal," Moseley said. "That may or may not be Colman Dock. There are a number of potential locations along the waterfront. If they would like to talk with us about space in or around Colman Dock, I have committed to them that we will be happy to have those discussions."

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        Rep. Fitzgibbon Stands up for Passenger Ferries

        Breaking News: Rep. Fitzgibbon, with the support of Rep. Clibborn and Senator Rolfes, introduce a budget proviso to stop WSDOT's preliminary plans to eliminate passenger ferry facilities at Colman Dock.
        Rep. Fitzgibbon Stands up for Passenger Ferries

        Rep. Fitzgibbon, Passenger Ferry Champion

        WSDOT's preliminary plans for their replacement of Colman Dock eliminate the passenger ferry landing as part of their terminal redesign. I covered this issue extensively on this blog and it was written up in Publicola and the Seattle Times.

        I just got word from transit and passenger ferry champion, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, that with the support of Transportation Chair Rep. Judy Clibborn and Senator Christine Rolfes, he successfully inserted a proviso into the budget that dictates that WSDOT and WSF (Washington State Ferries) must plan for the inclusion of passenger only ferries at Colman Dock; period and end of story. Budget provisos are a way the Legislature can dictate policies within state agencies for the span of the biennial budget without passing separate legislation. Here is the proviso Fitzgibbon and Clibborn inserted into the House Budget:

        "Consistent with RCW 47.60.662, which requires the Washington
        state ferry system to collaborate with passenger-only ferry and transit
        providers to provide service at existing terminals, the department
        shall ensure that multimodal access, including for passenger-only
        ferries and transit service providers, is maintained at the Seattle
        terminal and included in any future modifications at the terminal."

        Concerned citizens and ferry riders should continue to harp on WSDOT for their ill-advised plans to eliminate the passenger landing at Colman Dock. That said, if this proviso sticks, it will be impossible for WDSOT to move forward with their plans as they currently stand. So, passenger ferry fans should email Rep. Fitzgibbon, Rep. Clibborn, and Senator Rolfes to simply say thank you. As transit advocates working for a connected multi-modal waterfront, those of us at Transportation Choices would also like to say, thank you!

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        Input needed on Bellevue Transit Master Plan

        The City of Bellevue is undergoing a 20 year planning process on the future of transit in the city, and they need your input.
        Input needed on Bellevue Transit Master Plan

        Transit ridership continues to grow in Bellevue

        The City of Bellevue is undergoing a 20 year planning process on the future of transit in the city, and they need your input.

        Bellevue is a rapidly growing and urbanizing city and transit is going to play a growing role in the years to come. That is why the City of Bellevue is undergoing a transit master planning process to articulate their vision for transit in the city for the next 20 years.  They need your input into the transit planning process. Better yet, participants who take the survey will be entered to win a gift card!

        Here is the full site to learn about the process and take the survey: http://www.bellevuewa.gov/bellevue-transit-plan.htm

        Survey page: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6TJV5L3

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        State Senate Shortchanges Transit

        The Senate Transportation fee proposal slashes transit funding, ignores road maintenance, and spends million in "road planning." The Washington Legislature is in the midst of negotiating the transportation budgets. Here is a breakdown of the differences between those budgets.
        State Senate Shortchanges Transit

        Budget comparison

        The House and Senate Transportation committees are both proposing a package of increased transportation fees to help meet the budget shortfalls in transportation across the board. These proposals would direct those fees to various transportation investments.

        Sadly, only one of these proposals could be called balanced.

        The breakdown of how these new fees are spent in the House is pretty good for advocates of more transit and bike/ped funding.  It very closely matches the compromise that was agreed upon last year.

        Unfortunately, the Senate proposal drastically reduces the share of new fee revenue that goes towards public transportation and safe routes to schools.

        With transit agencies on the financial brink, and basic road and ferry maintenance needs
        across the state growing, we cannot support the Senate's ill-advised, unbalanced proposal.

        The 7% for transit and 3% for bike-pedestrian that the Senate committee proposes, simply put, is not enough. The Senate proposal woefully underfunds the immediate maintenance needs of our state’s transportation system. In fact, the Senate’s proposal spends millions of dollars in planning for new roadway capacity instead of fixing our crumbling bridges and unsafe highways that are in desperate need of repair.

        As an important side note, the Senate budget also doesn't include the fix for the Colman Dock passenger ferry issue that the House budget did.

        Below is a full break down of how each body (last year's compromise, the House, and the Senate) propose to spend the additional fees. Please note, the preliminary design category is road planning money that will be spent over the next year, with more money slated to go towards that category in the next three years.

        Please contact members of the House and Senate Transportation committees and tell them to pass a balanced transportation budget that is focused on maintenance and transportation choices that work for everyone.

        Budget Comparision

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        Zipcar Enters Peer-to-Peer Carsharing Market

        Zipcar announced today that it is entering the peer-to-peer carsharing market by making a $13.7 Million dollar investment in Wheelz, a campus based P2P carsharing company.
        Zipcar Enters Peer-to-Peer Carsharing Market

        Zipcar's newest P2P partner

        America's most prominent carsharing company, Zipcar, announced today that it is entering the peer-to-peer (P2P) carsharing market by making a $13.7 Million dollar investment in Wheelz, a campus-based P2P carsharing company.

        “Based on our analysis and primary research, we believe P2P could expand the total addressable market for car sharing,” said Zipcar Chairman and CEO Scott Griffith. “We chose to make this investment because we believe that Wheelz has the right leadership, technology and business model to succeed in the emerging P2P space.”

        Is this a sign that Zipcar will shift entirely to P2P down the road? Perhaps, but more likely this is a sign that Zipcar sees the community benefits and financial possibilities of P2P carsharing and thus is making a large investment in it. If Zipcar eventually offered P2P and traditional carsharing in one platform, it would be the ultimate one-stop shop for carsharing. In high density areas like Downtown Seattle, traditional carsharing is always going to have a strong foothold, but in less dense neighborhoods and suburbs, P2P will be able to reach many more people.

        In the short term, this is another sign that peer-to-peer carsharing is here to stay and will be a growing trend in America. Peer-to-peer carshing will never take off in Washington State unless we pass one of TCC's priority bills, House Bill 2384. Thankfully, HB 2384 is moving along in the legislative process. It has passed the full House and is waiting debate and approval in the Senate. Stay tuned.

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        Health as Transportation Goal? Yes! Says a New Poll

        A new poll finds nearly two-thirds of WA State voters support adding health to the State's transportation goals.

        The Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition released a poll today that finds 71% of Washington State voters support adding health to the State's transportation goals. This is all the more reason why the Washington State Senate should pass House Bill 2370 without any tacking on any distracting amendments.

        Here is more on the poll from our partners at the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition:

        Today, the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition released a statewide poll showing by a 55% to 25% margin, a majority of Washington state voters favor current legislation requiring the state to consider impacts on people’s health when planning new transportation projects.
        The survey also reveals voter reactions to some of the reasons for supporting health as a transportation goal. Support of this policy idea increased to 71% (a 45 point margin) after hearing these reasons, the most compelling of which had to do with children’s health. The most persuasive concern among voters surveyed was the direct connection between asthma and air pollution. Safer options for walking, biking and transit could help reduce triggers for dangerous asthma attacks and reduce childhood asthma.

        The survey also comes at a time when a childhood obesity epidemic is heightening concerns among states and communities across the nation. Programs like Safe Routes to Schools are seeking to encourage safe and active ways for children to travel to school.

        For more information on the survey, the independent research group, EMC Research, who conducted the polling has provided polling results and a summary brief at http://copcwa.org/?p=509.

        Funding for the survey was made possible through a grant from the American Heart Association.

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        Stop Sprawl

        The Legislature has a proposal to dismantle the growth management act. We need your help to stop it.
        Stop Sprawl

        Sprawl in Texas

        Transit cannot work without good land use. A few years ago I traveled to Texas. Anyone who has been to Texas knows that unchecked and endless sprawl, creates awful places for humans beings.  If you are crazy enough to walk in Texas cities, like I was, you put your life on the line every time you step out the door. Research shows that unchecked sprawl is bad for the air we breathe and the water we drink, and leads to increased obesity and numerous health epidemics.

        Fortunately, in Washington State, we have the Growth Management Act, a landmark piece of legislation that serves as a tool to focus growth in compact walkable cities and stops endless and unchecked sprawl.

        Unfortunately, some legislators in Olympia want to roll back the Growth Management Act (GMA). In the last few days of the legislative session, powerful special interests are pushing Senate Bill 6406.  Amongst an attempt to rollback many our bedrock environmental laws, this bill also aims to take away citizen’s ability to petition illegal violations of the Growth Manage Act. This bill would lead to more sprawl, more car-oriented development, and would allow Illegal land use decisions to go forward without any public scrutiny.

        Do you want Washington State to become the next Texas, a place with never-ending sprawl, polluted skies, and more freeway overpasses than people?

        They say don’t mess with Texas; I say don’t mess with the GMA!

        CLICK HERE to send a letter to your Senator and tell them to Stop the Sprawl.

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        Join Our Team

        Transportation Choices is looking for a Pierce County Complete Streets Coordinator.

        Have a passion for all things transit, walking and biking?  Want to be part of our team?  TCC is hiring for a new position - Pierce County Complete Streets Coordinator.  Read the job description here and send us a resume if this sounds like the gig for you.

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        Pass the Map!

        Pierce Transit's future rests in your hands! There is a proposal on the table to shrink the boundaries to a more reasonable size that is aligned with service. Please attend this public hearing this Thursday and tell the Public Transportation Improvement Conference (PTIC) to PASS THE MAP!
        Pass the Map!

        The 2011 votes

        Pierce Transit's future rests in your hands!  There is a proposal on the table to shrink the boundaries to a more reasonable size that is aligned with service.  Please attend this public hearing this Thursday and tell the Public Transportation Improvement Conference (PTIC) to PASS THE MAP!

        We are never going to have decent bus service in Tacoma and Pierce County unless Pierce Transit secures additional revenues.  The current map proposed in front of the PTIC will align Pierce Transit's taxing district with where there is bus service, paving the way for more efficient service in the future and allow voters in Tacoma, Lakewood, Gig Harbor, and Puyallup to vote for transit revenue (again) and restore their bus service. Voters in Bonney Lake and rural areas should NOT decide the fate of transit service in Tacoma and its suburban neighbors. Please attend this hearing and tell the PTIC to PASS THE MAP! Due to the schedule to get on the ballot, we need to this to pass at this meeting!

        Click here for more details on the meeting and RSVP!

        If you are unable to attend the hearing, click here to send an email to the PTIC!

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        House Dems Stand up for Transit

        Today 32 House Democrats stood strong in support of transit riders across the state.
        House Dems Stand up for Transit

        32 House Dems stood with transit today

        Yesterday the Senate decided to not concur with the House versions of two important bills, ESSB 6455 and ESSB 6582. These two bills are crucial to the future of transit funding and service in Washington State. One of them would provide more local options to cities, counties, and transit agencies to fund transit service and prevent cuts or restore service.  The other bill would raise transportation related fees and give a significant portion of that revenue to transit operations.  If the House version of these bills past, it would park the first time since the lost of MVET that the State would be contributing directly to transit operations, and a huge step forward for local revenue options for transit.

        Unfortunately, the Senate did no concur with the strong House versions of the bills. This means the bills will go to conference where appointed members of each caucus will debate the final versions of the bills. It is regretable that the Senate turned their backs on transit, but there is still hope.  The conference committee could agree on a version that stands up for transit in our communities across Washington.

        Thankfully, earlier 32 House Democrats stood strong in support of transit riders across the state. They sent a letter stating that the transit portions of these two bills must stay in tact in order for them to vote in support of the bills. These 32 members truly stepped up as strong advocates for transit. Stay tuned as we continue to work and watch this important end of session outcome.

        Fee letter 2012

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        One last vote for transit

        UPDATE: Last night the legislature passed the fee bill with transit and safe routes to schools funding, but did not take action on the local options for transit and local governments bill. We are disappointed that they did not take action last night, but they still have to opportunity to take it up during special session, so please keep sending letters of support.

        The state legislature is mere hours away from passing a local options bill that will put transit and local governments on better financial ground -- helping to save, restore, and expand service across the state.

        This bill will give local governments and transit agencies more local options for funding bus service.

        The Senate and House will vote on the bill very, very soon.

        Please send a letter of support to your legislators right now >>


        On Tuesday, the Senate voted to not concur with the House version of SB 6582. The bill then went to a conference committee to be negotiated.

        So we worked to get dozens and dozens of calls into Representative Judy Clibborn from local elected officials, businesses, and organizations. These leaders told her they supported her effort to champion transit.

        It worked! Late last night the conferees officially adopted the agreement and now it goes to the full House and Senate for final adoption before adjournment tonight!

        Send your letter right now to tell your legislator you support the local options bill for transit >>

        UPDATE: Last night the legislature passed the fee bill with transit and safe routes to schools funding, but did not take action on the local options for transit and local governments bill.  We are disappointed that they did not take action last night, but they still have to opportunity to take it up during special session, so please keep sending letters of support.

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        Big Win for Pierce County Bus Riders

        Last night was a big big deal for bus riders and transit advocates in Pierce County, and here's why.
        Big Win for Pierce County Bus Riders

        The map passed!

        Three years ago, around the time I started at Transportation Choices, I was sitting around a coffee table with transit advocates like Chris Karnes of Tacoma Tomorrow discussing the future of transit service in Pierce County.  The recession was in full swing, and it was becoming clear that Pierce Transit, like nearly every other transit agency in the state, would need to secure new revenue or face drastic cuts in the years ahead.  Fast forward a few months, Pierce Transit was in the midst of their redesign process and discussing ballot possibilities for securing the rest of the their state allowed sales tax (they are at .6% and the state allows up to .9%). Polling that showed public support for a sales tax measure in Pierce Transit's expansive taxing district was at a miserable 42%.  Despite behind the scenes pleading on the part of transit advocates, it was deemed politically infeasible to shrink the taxing district before going to the ballot.

        Pierce Transit's taxing district grew time and time again during the 80s and 90s in order to capture MVET revenue and serve rapidly growing exurban areas (thanks to bad land-use decisions at the county over the past two decades). As a result the taxing district was massive.  It included rural areas like the Key Peninsula and Orting, that are impossible to serve transit in a cost effective manner.  When the Feb. 2011 ballot was in front of voters, some voters hadn't seen bus service in over five years, yet were still paying sales taxes for transit.  Despite a rigorous campaign effort, we were unsuccessful at the ballot. The City of Tacoma overwhelmingly voted for the tax measure, the close in suburban cities were 50-50, and the rural and exurban areas like Bonney Lake voted against it by over 70% in some places. Chris at Tacoma Transit has a great analysis breaking down the election results of the Feb. ballot measure.  The short story is, the far out exurban and rural areas have never supported transit taxes, but have grown faster than the urban areas of Pierce County in the last 10 years, and that is why we won 10  years ago but not in 2011.

        None of this is rocket science. It is extremely expensive to provide fixed-route bus service to sprawling car-centric areas.  In those sprawling communities, they don't see the value of bus service (or don't even have any service) and have more conservative anti-tax voters than urban areas like Tacoma. As a result, they came out swinging against save our buses, and we lost.

        As a result, bus service in Tacoma, Puyallup, and across Pierce County is unacceptable. Most routes stop running at 8pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends. Many areas have inconvenient and infrequent service and riders are suffering.  Service has been reduced by 42% in the last four years, thousands of riders have been lost, and hundreds of bus drivers earning a good family wage got laid off.

        Last spring, with the support of Futurewise and Transportation for Washington Campaign, we launched a large-scale grassroots effort after the ballot failure to push Pierce Transit to adopt efficiency based cuts. The original Pierce Transit cuts plan tried to spread their cuts across the system like peanut butter, decimating their ridership and maintaining service in low-ridership areas that voted strongly against paying more for transit.  We turned out hundreds of riders and advocates with the simple message, adopt a cuts plan that keeps the maximum numbers of riders on system and doesn't disproportionally hurt communities of color and low income neighborhoods (which the peanut butter plan did). Thanks to hundreds of angry riders, support from groups like Downtown on the Go, agency staff/leadership flexibility, and the leadership of people like Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Councilmember Jake Fey, the Pierce Transit board adopted a cuts plan last Spring that while still painful, was efficiency based, maintained core service in urban areas, and kept over a million riders per year on the bus system.

        All of this is just interesting history that leads us to where we are today; a bus system in Pierce County that has cut 42% of its service since its peak four years ago and as ATU President Don McKnight put it last night, is a smaller system than Pierce Transit ran 30 years ago. Evening and weekend service is miserable, frequencies are greatly reduced, and coverage in many core areas is sub-par to say the least. For me, this means I can't catch the bus home from my favorite bar after 8pm at night, but for many, they can no longer get home from their job at 10pm or get to the doctor on Sunday. Nobody is happy with the current state of transit in Pierce County.

        Now the good news. Last night was a huge step forward that was three years in the making.  The Public Improvement Transportation Conference (which is separate from the agency), under the leadership of Gig Harbor Councilmember Derek Young, unanimously approved a map that radically alters the taxing boundary lines for Pierce Transit. At the hearing a broad swath of community leaders and bus riders testified in favor of the new district. This move is a win-win. It aligns Pierce Transit's service area to places that can reasonably be served by fixed route bus service. It reduces the tax burden on communities like Bonney Lake who were not getting their money's worth in service. It also allows those communities to come up with local solutions at a lower tax rate and possibly contract bus or van service for specific transit needs. Last but not least, it sets transit in Pierce County on a path for success in the near and long-term future.

        We have hit the rock bottom of bus service in Pierce County. Under the current map, communities that are willing to pay a little more to restore thousands of hours of bus service will be able to do just that. The fate is now in our hands. As of today, we have the opportunity to restore bus service to the thousands of people who need it to get to work, visit family, or go to the doctor every single day. As County Councilmember Talbert put it last night, whether or not people use transit, we all benefit from it. Once this map is finalized by the County, the future of transit service will be in the hands of the communities that want and need it the most. We will go back to the ballot and we will win; because as a community, we can't afford not to.

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        Legislative Session Results (so far)

        With special session underway, find out what transportation bills are still in play.

        The special session is already well underway, as budget negotiators try to find a deal on the operating and capital budget.  The transportation budget and a transportation fee bill passed in the final hours of the regular session, but a very important bill to give more local options to local governments including transit agencies, did not.  This local options bill is in play during the special session, and we will continue to work this bill to the very end.  

        During regular session, legislators received more than 2,750 letters supporting transit and safer streets. It paid off; there were significant wins in the supplemental transportation budget. We were able to fend of the $10 million sweep of multi-modal funds that the Governor proposed, and the budget funds a task force to look at the transition from the gas tax to a road user assessment system of paying for transportation.

        Also, the legislature passed HB 2660 to raise transportation-related fees.  The new fees are expended in the transportation budget.  The budget dedicates $9 million in this biennium for public transit operating grants.  Even though the amount is small, it is significant because this is the first time since the MVET was repealed, that the State is dedicating transit operating funds. Unfortunately, in final negotiations the legislators agreed to phase out this grant program in 3 years, so we will have to continually work to make sure transit gets a fairer share of the transportation budget.  New transportation related fees are also dedicated to the Safe Routes to Schools grant program ($2.25m).

        The regular session also brought a few very important policy wins.

        Safe and Flexible Street Design (HB1700, Rep. Fitzgibbon) - Allows the use of updated guidelines for designing for bike and pedestrian uses, to increase safety and reduce costs of projects.

        Personal Car Sharing (HB 2384, Rep. Hudgins) - Removes barriers to peer to peer car sharing (P2P), clearing the way for pioneering companies to set up shop in Washington.

        Our work continues in special session, to pass the Local Options Bill (SB 6582). As currently negotiated, the bill will give cities and county councils the ability to approve up to $40 car tab, council manically.  King County could seek voter approval of a motor vehicle excise tax up to 1%, and transit agencies in urban areas could seek a motor vehicle excise tax up to 1% by creating a new transportation benefit district. The bill also creates a unique program in King County to encourage affordable housing at transit stations.

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        T4WA Submits Letters To Support Local Options

        Nearly 100 organizations and public officials show support for long-term transit funding bill in the Legislature.

        For Immediate Release:  March 20, 2012

         

        Contact:  Carrie Dolwick, 206-769-8353

        Nearly 100 organizations and public officials show support for long-term transit funding bill waiting for legislative action

        Strong and varied support for more transportation funding choices for local governments and transit for Washington residents

         

        OLYMPIA, WA – A wide-ranging group of businesses, human and community service organizations, environmental organizations, educational institutions, labor unions, and elected officials from all over King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, and across the state, signed a letter to Governor Gregoire and legislative leadership, urging their support of a local options bill (SB 6582), that provides revenue options to local governments and transit agencies across Washington.

         

        The extensive list of supporters are concerned about the economic impacts that looming transit service cuts will have on individuals and businesses throughout the Puget Sound. The letter specifically calls out support for a one-percent motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) for King County and resources for transit agencies in Pierce and Snohomish counties.

         

        “Building great communities requires great transit service,” said Hilary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise. “Unfortunately, transit agencies are locked into the regressive and volatile sales tax and have drastically cut service. We need this progressive local funding option.”

         

        A billion more people nationwide took public transportation last year than in 2000, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Transit ridership in the Central Puget Sound region increased by 23% from 2005 to 2008.

         

        Meanwhile, Puget Sound transit systems have reached a breaking point. Most do not have the authority to increase revenue to sustain systems and they are being forced to cut back on service -- compromising mobility, economic development, and quality of life. This is especially devastating as gas prices continue to rise and cut into people's way of life.

         

        “Transit agencies in our state are cutting services at the worst possible time,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “This critical bill provides local options for sustainable, voter-approved funding solutions that would give our communities the transit they want and depend on every day.”

         

        While communities feel the sting from drastic cuts, this bill did not meet the deadline for regular session.  Supporters on this letter want the bill to be considered and passed during the current special session.

         

        The letter with the list of signers is available online at http://t4washington.org/letter-to-governor-gregoire-and-legislative-leadership-for-a-local-option-for-transit/.

         

        # # #

         

        Transportation for Washington is a multi-year, statewide campaign that lays a new vision for Washington around fixing what’s broken, expanding transit, and building great healthy communities. The campaign is led by Futurewise and Transportation Choices and is supported by a coalition of more than 150 public officials, businesses, labor unions, and environmental, faith, health, and neighborhood organizations.

        www.T4Washington.org

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        Demystifying the State Transportation Budget

        Transportation funding can be complicated. We break it down for you TCC-style.
        Demystifying the State Transportation Budget

        Operating Budget 2012

        Demystifying the State’s Supplemental Transportation Budget

        Transportation funding is not an easy thing to track and analyze.  Transportation is funded at the federal, state, regional and local level, out of hundreds of different programs and accounts, which makes it very difficult to track where money is coming from and how it is spent.  Supporters of the status quo make claims that there are not additional resources for balanced transportation investments, and they claim that transportation choices are overfunded.  Understanding transportation funding is vital to disproving these claims, and is a first step to securing a more balanced transportation system. We’ll breakdown the state transportation budget for you here.

        Review of the Basics

        State funding makes up about 50% of all transportation investments in Washington, while federal funding makes up ~23%, bonds ~30%, and local funds make up  1% of the State budget

        The State of Washington’s transportation budget is a two-year (biennial) budget cycle, staring on July 1st of the odd numbered years.  The legislature and Governor create and approve these budgets, and then pass supplemental budgets every other year.  The legislature just passed the supplemental budget, for the biennial budget that covers July, 2011- June 30, 2013.

        There are over 60 sources of state funds to support our transportation system.  The largest is the motor vehicle fuel tax which collects up to $975 million/year. Other sources are license, permits, fees, and tolls.

         

        The Details

        The state’s transportation budget is broken down into operating and capital expenditures.  The current biennial budget appropriates $9.8 billion.  Of this amount $6.8 billion are funds generated by the state.  Here is how that money breaks down in expenditures:

         

        Operating Budget 12

        Public transit, bike/pedestrian, and rail operations receive 7% of the entire state transportation budget.

        Capital Budget 12

        State highway improvements receive over 80% of capital funding. Public transit receives no state capital investments, while bike and pedestrian get a very small amount.

        These charts show how unbalanced our current transportation investments are at the state level. The state has chosen to invest only in a few components of the transportation system.  Part of the reason for this is the 18th amendment of the State’s constitution restrictions on transportation spending of the motor vehicle fuel tax.  Case law has determined that this money cannot be used for public transportation.  There are many fees that are also statutorily restricted, that can be changed without a constitutional amendment.  Yet, because of Tim Eyman’s I- 1053, fees must pass the nexus test, where fees generated must be expended on a related use.

        In this supplemental budget, there is $167 million available in the multi-modal fee account, which could be used for public transit.  Twenty percent of multi-modal spending is spent on projects that are eligible for motor vehicle fuel tax funds.  This indicates that there is more flexibility for transit funds than many claim. They are using very limited multi-modal funding for projects that can be funded with non-flexible funds.

        Cities, counties and transit systems are given authority for local revenue options, so they can raise money in their jurisdictions to manage transportation systems around the state.  Local governments and transit agencies are hungry for additional options.  Without direct state investment and with their limited or maxed out options, they must go to Olympia and advocate for more choices.  Transit agencies in WA only get 1% of their funding from State resources. Therefore they must rely on local taxes.

        Local taxes for public transit in 2010 totaled $1.3billion, which accounts for 74.6 percent of the operating revenues for public transit systems. This figure includes: local sales tax revenues, utility tax revenues as well as MVET (Sound Transit). King County Metro represented 30.0 percent of the local taxes collected for public transit in 2010, while Sound Transit’s local taxes represent 43.4 percent of the statewide local tax.

        Relying mostly on local taxes for public transit is not a sustainable solution, and more direct state investment in transit and bike and pedestrian is needed to stabilize our system and ensure that we have a system that works for mobility of goods and people throughout Washington.

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        State Legislature Leaves Transit Riders Stranded

        Special session ended today with no solutions for our state's struggling transit agencies--or their riders.

        The latest news from Olympia is not good. Here's an excerpt from today's Transportation for Washington press release.

        "The special session came to a close yesterday without any action taken to address the local transportation funding crisis in Washington State.  In a time of rising gas prices and increased demand for transit, bus service has been slashed by over 40% in the past two years in Pierce and Snohomish Counties.  In less than two years King County Metro faces a similar financial free fall when their temporary congestion relief fee expires."

        Read the rest...

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        The Future of HUD Sustainable Communities

        We need your help to protect the Sustainable Communities Initiative.

        The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative has helped communities in Washington State create jobs, become more economically viable and create housing and transportation options.

        We can't have transit systems that work for the majority of people in our cities unless we have great communities around our transit. The Puget Sound Regional Council recently received money from the HUD sustainable communities funding to plan great transit communities. 

        Now we need your help to protect the Sustainable Communities Initiative. The Senate is currently drafting a budget for fiscal year 2013, and among their decisions will be how to fund HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. Your voice can help make sure this agency continues to help individuals and communities in the coming year.

        Out friend at Futurewise have an action alert up about this very issue.  Please click here right now and tell Senator Murray to support the Office of Sustainable Communities!

        Senator Murray sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will make this important decision by Tuesday, April 17. By speaking out today, you can help the Senator and the Committee to understand how their funding decisions will impact your neighborhood, your town or even the country.

        Sustainable communities help everyone. Please join us in telling Senator Murray to support HUD’s Office of Sustainable Communities today.

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        One big day in May

        Donate to TCC on May 2nd and make your money count.

        On May 2nd, the Seattle Foundation is hosting its second annual GiveBIG Day, a community-wide giving challenge and a great opportunity for local nonprofits to stretch their fundraising dollars. For every dollar TCC raises on May 2nd, we'll receive a proportional match from the Seattle Foundation. (Find more about how this works here.) We hope you'll consider donating to Transportation Choices on GiveBIG Day.

        Want a good reason to give on May 2nd? How about three?

        • We put your dollars to work. We save bus service, educate citizens, pass innovative legislation, and sit through a lot of boring meetings so you don't have to. (We love boring meetings!) Plus, we have some fun new programs up our sleeves for the summer. Stay tuned...
        • Your money will be matched twice. Our amazing board has agreed to match the first $3,500 in donations on GiveBIG Day. And, if you work for an organization that matches your charitable donations, it will be a triple win for TCC.
        • It's tough out there. Changing the way this state does transportation is hard. Sometimes it feels like there are more setbacks than victories. We're up to the challenge--we've been working for real choices in Washington since 1993--but we can't do it without you.

        So, mark your calendars (vcal reminder; ical reminder) for May 2nd--the day to give BIG to TCC!

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        GiveBIG Day results

        Your support helped us raise almost $10,000 for our important work.

        Thanks to the many TCC supporters who gave BIG for transit on May 2nd! You helped us raise almost $10,000, which was our goal.

        Your generosity will help us continue to fight for a sustainable funding source for transit—we can’t afford to lose one more hour of bus service—and for policies that support innovative and efficient transportation investments.

        We appreciate you and your support of transit for all!

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        Transit Trivia Night puts the "fun" in fundraiser

        Test your smarts against the likes of legislators, city councilmembers, transit bloggers, and bus drivers at our first ever Transit Trivia Night.

        Think you know a lot about transit? Get ready to bring it at our first ever Transit Trivia Night. Test your smarts against the likes of legislators, city councilmembers, transit bloggers, and even bus drivers. Teams will compete for bragging rights and cool, transit-themed trophies.

        What: A transit nerdfest/TCC fundraiser
        Where: Buckley's in Belltown, 2331 2nd Ave, Seattle
        When: Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 5:30 - 8:30 PM

        All proceeds will benefit Transportation Choices Coalition and help us fight to save transit all across the state.  

        Ready to sign up? Here's how:
        1) Find some friends to play with. (Teams can be up to four people.)
        2) Come up with a great name for your team.
        3) Register! (Each team member must register separately.)

        If you don't have any transit-obsessed friends, sign up solo, and we'll match you at the event.

        Suggested donation per player is $25. Ticket price includes light appetizers.

        Hope to see you in June!

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        Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs

        A new report by the Brookings Institution looks at how transit systems link workers to jobs.

        This is a guest post by Hester Serebrin who will be occasionally writing for Choice Words.

        “It is not enough to create jobs if we can’t get people to them. As is, commuting has become a heroic act.” – Brookings Institution Vice President and Director of Metropolitan Policy Bruce Katz

        In early May, the Brookings Institution released both a new report and interactive tool designed to highlight the D.C.-based think tank’s first-of-its-kind analysis of how transit systems link workers to jobs.

        The report, “Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” analyzes data from 371 transit providers in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, focusing on three primary metrics: coverage (share of working-age residents near a transit stop), service frequency (median wait for any rush hour transit vehicle), and job access (share of all jobs reachable via transit in 90 minutes).  for a quick summary, go straight to the 100 metropolitan profiles, which cover the major highlights.

        As one might expect, Seattle (and surrounding areas) did slightly better than the national average in all three measures. However, poor suburb-to-suburb transit coverage and an uneven distribution of jobs in low-skill industries added up to very low “job access” scores, both regionally and nationally.

        Coverage
        Brookings defined coverage for a given metro area by looking at the number of block groups (a geographical unit used by the Census Bureau that generally contains around 1000-1500 people) with access to at least one transit stop within 3/4 mile of their approximate centers. The study found that “nearly 70 percent of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind.” In the Seattle metro area (which includes Tacoma, Bellevue and in-between), that number jumps to 85 percent.

        Service Frequency
        The national median wait time for rush hour transit service in a block group was 10 minutes, while lucky Seattle metro area citizens have a mere 8.8 minute median wait.

        Job Access
        Statistics for metro-wide job access were a bit grim. The report found that the “typical metropolitan resident” can reach only about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit within 90 minutes. Seattle metro area residents didn’t fare much better, at 33 percent.

        As one might expect, that figure (which is a very mathematically complicated average of every citizen’s “job access” across the entire metropolitan area) varies significantly within the “Seattle” metropolitan area: City residents enjoy slightly better job access (47% of jobs are within 90 minutes via transit), whereas suburban citizens can only reach 26% of jobs within 90 minutes via transit. (This trend is seen in every region of the country.)

        And while the numbers also show better access to metropolitan jobs for residents of low-income communities (who are more likely to depend on transit) than for residents of higher-income communities – this is true both nationwide and in the Seattle metro area – the jobs accessible might not be appropriate for the workers who can reach them. Across all the profiled metro areas, more than half of the jobs in cities are in high-skill industries. According to the report, “[a]mong the 100 metro areas, 94 provide access to greater shares of their high-skill industry jobs via transit than their low- and middle-skill industry jobs.”

        “Taken together,” the report concludes, “the findings for low-income and suburban neighborhoods raise concerns about the ability of a suburbanizing poor population to connect to employment opportunities via transit […] Although both low-income people and jobs have suburbanized over time, poor suburban residents are already less likely to live in a jobs-rich area than their higher-income counterparts, and as a result may have to commute farther to find work. This only serves to underscore the challenges facing these residents as they try to connect with employment opportunities throughout the wider metropolitan region.”

        There’s no silver bullet for problems like these, and Brookings doesn’t pretend to have one. Instead, the report fleshes out a few broad suggestions (make job access part of total transportation decision making; link accessibility to next-generation metro growth policy and practice; deploy data and advanced technologies for decision making), and drives home the need for broadly coordinated, forward-thinking policy decisions. If the report’s analysis provides “a platform for decision makers to strengthen metropolitan economies and help all residents share in their growth,” then so much the better.

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        Olympia’s special session ends with no action on transportation

        The Connecting Washington taskforce recommends a 10 year investment package of $21 billion, which will come from a variety of revenue resources, including; the gas tax, weight fees, emission fees, and a variety of local options. The proportionality of how the revenue will be spent is yet to be negotiated, but the group agreed that operations and maintenance should be the number one priority for investment, fix it first.

        The special session ended Wednesday without any action on funding for transportation as lawmakers got out of town after passing a short term fix for the operating budget.  Even so, there were considerable advances around the transportation revenue discussion as the Governor’s Connecting Washington Taskforce wrapped up this week.

        The taskforce, which comprises nearly three dozen locally elected officials, members of state legislative transportation committees, tribal members, organized labor, trade associations, businesses, and TCC’s board member Barbara Wright was tasked with reviewing statewide transportation needs, recommending the most promising investment options and revenue sources to address top priorities.

        The taskforce recommends a 10 year investment package of $21 billion, which will come from a variety of revenue resources, including; the gas tax, weight fees, emission fees, and a variety of local options.  The proportionality of how the revenue will be spent is yet to be negotiated, but the group agreed that operations and maintenance should be the number one priority for investment, fix it first.

        After the last meeting, the group is working to finalize a report that will be delivered to the legislature before the end of the year.  The Governor plans to present her transportation revenue package in mid-January, as the regular session gets underway. In summation, this is a good first step on framework, there is still a lot of work to be done, and the devil is in the details in terms of projects and WSDOT spending priorities.

        Update on Complete Streets!

        Last year TCC led the effort to pass a Complete Streets bill in Olympia.  Since then, WSDOT has initiated a Grant Program that would provide a funding source for Complete Streets and Main Street Highways projects.  Seee the report that they delivered to the legislature.Within this effort they also published a Complete Streets report with case studies and practice resources.  It is a nice report that details Complete Streets efforts around the State.  Now that a program has been developed, WSDOT is ready for state investment in the program.

         

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        Take your mind on a ride with Books on the Bus

        Today we are excited to announce Books on the Bus, a book club for transit riders.

        Today we are excited to announce Books on the Bus, a collaboration among Transportation Choices and King County Metro, King County Library System, Richard Hugo House, and Pacific Northwest Booksellers.

        The Books on the Bus concept is simple: It's a book club for transit riders. Here's how it will work.

        Every quarter, we will select a book for participants to read on their bus rides. (In the spirit of community, we will make an effort to select books written by local authors or that take place in the Pacific Northwest.) Our current selection is Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices. Hotel Angeline was written live on stage by 36 of Pacific Northwest's most interesting writers. Half of the proceeds from sales of the novel go to support local literacy nonprofits--this year, Powerful Schools and 826 Seattle.

        At the end of the three-month reading period, we will host an event to celebrate and discuss the book. Then, we will repeat the process with a different book.

        Though the final event will certainly provide plenty of stimulating book talk, it is during the reading period where the "magic" of Books on the Bus will happen. The magic maker, of course, is the bus.

        Buses are perfect places to, as our friends at King County Library say, "take time to read." Public transit allows you to use your travel time as you please, and for many people, daily commutes are the only times they find to read for pleasure.

        But public transit also provides opportunities for interaction. Buses create spontaneous, mobile, and very diverse communities--all over the county, all day long. Buses can certainly lead to lasting relationships, but perhaps more meaningful, and certainly more common, are the incidental interactions: the good-morning nods, sympathetic smiles, and relinquished seats--the history lessons, sports debates, and occasional flirtations--that add richness and texture to every bus rider's life.

        It is these incidental interactions that we hope Books on the Bus will provoke and strengthen. We want buses to be places where people in King County "take time to read," but also where they connect and communicate.

        We hope you'll sign up for Books on the Bus and make Hotel Angeline your summer ride read!

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        It's not easy to 'Dump the Pump'

        It's not easy to 'Dump the Pump'
        It's not easy to 'Dump the Pump'

        Photo credit: Pierce Transit

        Today is National Dump the Pump Day, a day when millions of Americans choose to ‘dump the pump’ and take public transit instead of driving.  But for thousands of residents in Washington State, devastating cuts to bus service, especially the loss of Sunday and night service in some places, has made it difficult to take the bus to work, school, the doctor, or the grocery store.

        In response, the Transportation for Washington campaign is releasing a set of principles to create a system that is fair, provides access, and creates opportunity for all Washingtonians. Read the principles here.

        These equity principles emphasize policies and investments to preserve, restore, and improve transit service; plan and build healthy, safe, and inclusive communities; increase access to quality jobs and workforce development; and focus on results.  The principles are designed to serve as a guide for policymakers and advocates to advance solutions that create a more balanced transportation network in the state.

        “Bus service is not just lines on a map.  It’s about connecting people to jobs, services, and their communities.  In neighborhoods in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, loss of bus service has cut off access especially for communities of color, low-income families, seniors, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro De La Raza and endorser of the Transportation for Washington Campaign.  “In these tough times, there must be a renewed urgency to make our transportation system work for all in community,” she added.

        “Across the state, communities are seeing transit service disappear as a result of budget cuts.  More cuts are around the corner if we do not find a more permanent, sustainable, and fair solution to save transit service,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition and co-chair of the Transportation for Washington campaign.

        Hilary Franz, Executive Director, Futurewise and co-chair of the Transportation for Washington campaign added, “If we are to remain economically competitive and a vital place to live, we must create communities that are affordable, healthy, and well connected with great transportation choices.”

        Transportation for Washington is a multi-year, statewide campaign to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, save and restore transit service, and build healthy communities for all.  It is led by Transportation Choices Coalition and Futurewise and supported by a coalition of nearly 100 public officials and 88 organizations from the social justice, housing, faith, health, environment, labor, and business communities.  For more information on the equity principles and the campaign, please visit www.t4washington.org

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        Make Hotel Angeline your summer ride read

        The unique (and very local) novel, Hotel Angeline, is the first Books on the Bus selection.

        This is a guest post by Hester Serebrin, who will be occasionally writing for Choice Words.

        On Thursday, Transportation Choices, in conjunction with King County Metro, King County Library System, Richard Hugo House, and Pacific Northwest Booksellers launched Books on the Bus (BOB), a book club for transit riders in King County.

        Want in on the fun? Go out and grab a copy of this quarter’s book, Hotel Angeline. The story revolves around a “rickety former mortuary perched atop Capitol Hill in rain-soaked Seattle” and its quirky tenants, and if early reviews (or the glowing forward to the book by beloved celebrity librarian Nancy Pearl) are any indication, this book is not to be missed.

        But even more interesting than the book is the process behind it...

        Hotel Angeline is the product of “The Novel: Live!” - an extraordinary event of author collaboration and marathon writing conceived by Seattle7Writers co-founders Jennie Shortridge and Garth Stein. In the book’s introduction, Stein describes his initial vision:

        “We would write twelve hours a day for six days. Each writer would take a two-hour stint, requiring thirty-six authors. We would do it in a public place, on a stage, with an audience. We would simulcast it on the Internet, have a chat room function, raise money for our causes. We would bring in school field trips, auction off naming rights, and, hopefully, get it published. But best of all, we would energize readers and writers everywhere for a once-in-a-lifetime event!”

        Richard Hugo House offered up the space, and on October 11, 2010, at 10:00 a.m., the fun commenced. Still, it was no free-for-all. Stein is quick to explain the careful groundwork that took place behind the scenes:

        “Before we began, an editorial committee was convened […] we brainstormed a story idea and outlined a plot. […] in addition to each author reading the text that had already been written, he or she also met with an “editor” before taking the stage. The editor reviewed the narrative arc and the themes, and made suggestions about where we had to go next. Outside of these specific plot necessities, the writer was free to let his or her imagination roam.”


        Seattle7Writers’s mission is twofold: to raise awareness of Northwest literature, and to give back to their community by doing good works for literacy causes, and the Hotel Angeline project is no exception. The book showcases the talents of thirty-six local writers*, and half of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to support local literacy nonprofits - Powerful Schools and 826 Seattle.

        Hotel Angeline is available in e-book and paperback. If you opt for the paper version, visit your favorite independent bookstore to pick up a copy, or check one out at the library. Both Seattle Public Library and King County Library System have copies available. (Note to the motion sickness-prone: although Hotel Angeline isn’t yet available on audiobook, that’s no reason to sit this quarter of BOB out; if you read the book at home, you’ll be just as ready to join in the conversation mid-commute.)

        Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest reading selections, dates and times of book celebrations, and any other BOB-related news.


        * Hotel Angeline was written by Kathleen Alcalá, Matthew Amster-Burton, Kit Bakke, Erica Bauermeister, Sean Beaudoin, Dave Boling, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, William Dietrich, Robert Dugoni, Kevin Emerson, Karen Finneyfrock, Clyde Ford, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth George, Mary Guterson, Maria Dahvana Headley, Teri Hein, Stephanie Kallos, Erik Larson, David Lasky, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, Jarret Middleton, Peter Mountford, Kevin O'Brien, Julia Quinn, Nancy Rawles, Suzanne Selfors, Jennie Shortridge, Ed Skoog, Garth Stein, Greg Stump, Indu Sundaresan, Craig Welch and Susan Wiggs. Foreword by Nancy Pearl. Introduction by Garth Stein.

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        Seattle's Walk Bike Ride Challenge is back

        Summer is here! Drive less, spend more time in the sunshine, and win prizes.

        Walk, bike, and ride transit more this summer through Seattle’s Department of Transportation’s Walk Bike Ride Challenge. Get active, connect with your neighbors and local businesses, and get moving and healthy by cutting back on car trips.

        Enter the Walk Bike Ride (WBR) Challenge, switch at least two car trips per week to walking, biking or transit, and earn chances to win these prizes:

        Once you sign up for the WBR Challenge, you become part of a community making Seattle a more active and better place to live.  You receive weekly emails with tips on walking, biking, and riding and can track your individual progress and the program’s collective impact online. The more trips you report, the higher the chance you have of winning.

        The WBR Challenge is part of the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Way to Go, Seattle! Program. It encourages people to walk, bike, ride transit and carpool more by offering incentives, tools and information and runs on a two month cycle. The current round is for July and August.

        Click here to sign up for the Walk Bike Ride Challenge

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        Cutting costs…at what cost?

        Some East Link cost cutting measures seem to undermine light rail.

        The following is a guest post by Hester Serebrin

        Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue are currently locked in negotiations that will ultimately determine Bellevue’s financial contribution to the East Link light rail project that is projected to serve upwards of 50,000 Bellevue residents daily by 2030. Some of the cost-savings measures under consideration, however, seem to undermine the spirit of this highly anticipated (and controversial) mass transit project.

        The East Link line, when completed in 2023, will connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake area. The $2.8 billion project was approved in 2008 by Puget Sound voters, and in 2011, the Sound Transit board selected – from several alternatives laid out in the Environmental Impact Statement – an alignment that included a tunnel in downtown Bellevue. That is, a $320 million tunnel that wasn’t part of the plan approved by voters.

        In November 2011, the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, in which Bellevue committed to providing up to $160 million towards the cost of the tunnel. $100 million of the contributions are “up-front” and due regardless of the final cost of the project, whereas the remaining $60 million are “contingent” – meaning that any cost reductions in the project will go towards the reduction of the contingent contribution. The MOU also committed Sound Transit and Bellevue to review and consider such cost-saving design changes.

        Which brings us to the current negotiations. The general areas considered for cost-saving include tunnel design optimization, tunnel station design optimization, elevated guideway design, and expedited construction (through additional temporary road closures). Each of the specific cost-saving ideas will then be evaluated on operations, potential for savings, access & ridership, traffic mobility, noise, appearance, environmental factors, and schedule risk. On June 28th, Sound Transit and the City of Bellevue agreed on a set of cost savings recommendations to advance for further study. The final cost-savings ideas are slated to be selected no earlier than 2013.

        Some of the ideas have garnered support in the community, while others should raise concerns for transit fans. The following proposals stand out as particularly worrisome:

        Adding a road lane for light rail?

        Shift Bellevue Way West; estimated savings: $6-10 million
        The portion on the table is a stretch of Bellevue Way West that passes by the historic Winters House, Bellevue’s only public building on the National Historic Register and the home of the Bellevue Historical Society. Under the current plan, the rail line runs in a trench in front of the building, but this City-backed cost-saving idea would move the rail out of the trench and onto the surface, shifting the tracks and roadway to the west, simultaneously adding a southbound HOV lane.  The HOV lane is not part of the cost-saving measure. For years, prominent downtown developers and light rail opponents Kemper Freeman and Kevin Wallace (current Bellevue City Council member) along with the Bellevue Chamber have advocated to expand Bellevue Way. The City now sees an opportunity to slip in the expansion, endorsing the idea in a recent meeting, where they praised the potential “synergy” and “efficiencies” of coordinating the shift west with the addition of the HOV lane.

        Not everyone sees the synergy. The Downtown Bellevue Association and community group Move Bellevue Forward have questioned the proposal.  Further, the city has not had any sort of public process to vet this addition especially with Enatai neighborhood that will be most impacted by the increased traffic on Bellevue Way.

        Moving the station away from where the people are?

        Relocate the downtown station to NE 6th; estimated savings: $10-18 million OR relocate the downtown station to City Hall/Metro Site; estimated savings $14-23 million

        Currently the Bellevue Downtown station is slated to be a cut-and-cover tunnel below 110th Ave NE and NE 4th Street, with access points on both sides of NE 4th Street. The first idea moves the station to NE 6th St. with above-grade station access, while the 2nd idea would relocate the station to the City Hall Plaza in a shallower tunnel.

        Cost-savings for both alternatives come from the potential to shorten construction duration and reduce construction risk, but otherwise these changes create more problems than they solve. One of the most striking statistics shows that under the current plan, 14% of “2030 Downtown residents” would be within a 5-minute walk of the station. That number drops to 7% under Idea 3d and only 4% under Idea 3c.

        In this letter to Sound Transit and the Bellevue City Council, the Bellevue Downtown Association speaks out against the proposed relocations, citing the reduced ridership, reduced train speeds, and lack of protection from the elements all as reasons not to relocate:

        The Cost Savings Report says options 3c and 3d would reduce ridership due to the loss of a second entrance serving riders south of NE 4th Street. […] In addition, the visuals show a minimal degree of weather protection for an outdoor station. If implemented, this minimal treatment could affect ridership even more at what should be the most productive light rail station on the Eastside.

        This approach may be a suitable for a lower‐density area, but Downtown Bellevue will be East Link’s highest ridership access point. […] When factoring in costs to make this station, its ridership potential and its environs acceptable, we question whether any cost savings will result.

        While the cost-saving efforts are laudable, cutting costs simply for the purpose of cutting cost is short-sighted. Good, lasting infrastructure takes both time and a decent investment – if we’re going to sell future riders short for a proportionally small chunk of change, is the project is worth doing at all? Perhaps everyone needs a refresher of the Memorandum of Understanding:

        [E]limination of other Project elements that have a direct, substantial negative impact on East Link Project ridership or operations and maintenance shall not count towards a reduction in the City Contingency.

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        Transforming the community

        Pierce County is working on new ways to battle health concerns in the community.

        Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke rates in Pierce County are some of the highest rates in all of Washington State. This has recently become a major concern for public officials and residents of Pierce County. Statistics from the Tacoma-Pierce County Heath Department show that on average 80% of 10th graders do not receive the recommended 60 minutes of exercise daily, 75% of adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, 16% of adults and 15% of 10th graders smoke and 30% of adults are obese. These numbers raise a lot of concern for the health and well being of Pierce County. Action must take place soon in order to transform Pierce County into a healthier and more active community. No single organization, community group or business can change these numbers on their own because collaboration between all community members is extremely necessary.

        In the fall of 2011, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the TPCHD a Community Transformation grant, which provided almost $800,000 per year for five years to help break down barriers to achieve better health in Pierce County. To combat this major issue, the Health Department along with five community coalitions and local officials have teamed up to create the Community Transformation Partnership. The goal of this partnership is to transform Pierce County into a healthy and livable community everyone can enjoy.

        Over the next five years, the partnership will be focusing on five main goals including, health equity, active transportation, tobacco-free living, healthy eating and active living and clinical and community health. Health equity’s goal is to ensure that all residents of Pierce County have the opportunity to make the right choices and decisions in order to live a healthier life.

        Transportation Choices Coalition is assisting with the active transportation goal, which includes planning safe and comfortable streets for pedestrians, bicyclists and people of all ages and abilities, as well as making transportation accessible for all. The goal of the tobacco-free living is to create tobacco free environments, so people can live, learn, and play in a clean area without the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and cigarette litter. Healthy eating and active living is making sure that children have the opportunity to be active before, during and after school, as well as having healthy food options available throughout the community. The last goal, clinical and community health, is helping to prevent heart attacks and stroke through working with health care providers, hospitals and community organizers.

        Because active transportation is so critical in contributing to a healthy lifestyle, the City of Tacoma was awarded a $1 million federal grant to help fund a 13-mile active transportation corridor. With this grant, streets will become safer for all commuters. It will also encourage more people to commute around the city on foot, bike or public transit. Funding for this project is supported by the Coalition for Active Transportation.

        The Coalition for Active Transportation has been working hard for the last year to encourage healthy living and active transportation in Pierce County. The mission of the coalition is to plan streets that are safe and highly accessible for all people. The coalition is also working to establish Complete Streets in Pierce County, which would further enhance the accessibility and safety of the streets. The benefits of Complete Streets are endless! They balance the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and motorists, provide people of all ages and abilities safe and comfortable transportation options, make it safe to walk and bike around a neighborhood and create vibrant, livable and healthy communities where all people can thrive. The coalition is working hard to make affordable transportation available throughout of all of Pierce County because ensuring that everyone can afford to get to work, school and other essential destinations is extremely important.

        Getting active is the first step to living a healthier life and getting involved in the community is even easier! There are plenty of events held every month that encourage and support a healthy lifestyle, such as:
        •    Park(ing) Day: September 21st, 10am-2pm. Downtown Tacoma.
        •    Shake Your Shape: September 22nd, 9am. Wright Park, Tacoma.
        •    Annual Bike/Ped Counts: September 25-27th 7-9am and 4-6pm. Countywide locations.
        •    Tobacco-free Alliance of Pierce County Annual Summit: December 7th.
        For more information on the Coalition for Active Transportation or any of the upcoming events, visit http://www.tpchd.org/environment/community-transformation/.

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        And the fall Books on the Bus selection is...

        The Hustle, winner of the 2011 Washington State Book Award.

        We’re excited to announce the fall Books on the Bus selection, The Hustle, a memoir by Seattle native Doug Merlino. The Hustle is the winner of the 2011 Washington State Book Award, and for good reason. Here’s the book description.

        The experiment was dreamed up by two fathers, one white, one black. What would happen, they wondered, if they mixed white players from an elite Seattle private school - famous for alums such as Microsoft's Bill Gates - and black kids from the inner city on a basketball team? Wouldn't exposure to privilege give the black kids a chance at better opportunities? Wouldn't it open the eyes of the white kids to a different side of life?

        The 1986 season would be the laboratory. Out in the real world, hip-hop was going mainstream, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson ruled the NBA, and Ronald Reagan was president. In Seattle, the team's season unfolded like a perfectly scripted sports movie: the ragtag group of boys became friends and gelled together to win the league championship. The experiment was deemed a success.

        But was it? How did crossing lines of class, race, and wealth affect the lives of these ten boys? Two decades later, Doug Merlino, who played on the team, returned to find his teammates. His search ranges from a prison cell to a hedge fund office, street corners to a shack in rural Oregon, a Pentecostal church to the records of a brutal murder. The result is a complex, gripping, and, at times, unsettling story.

        The Hustle tells the stories of ten teammates set before a background of sweeping social and economic change, capturing the ways race, money, and opportunity shape our lives. A tale both personal and public, The Hustle is the story a disparate group of men finding - or not finding - a place in America.

        The author lives in New York now, but he and some of his teammates have agreed to join us for a discussion about the book in January. It promises to be a great conversation, so grab your copy now (there are lots available at SPL and KCLS) and get started reading.

        Not part of Books on the Bus yet? Sign up here!

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        Transportation Choices in 2012

        TCC's had a busy year. Find out what we've been up to.

        At Transportation Choices, we have a vision of a transportation system that provides opportunity for everyone to get where they need to go safely, efficiently, and affordably. Every year, we work hard to achieve that vision, and 2012 was no exception.

        Here are some of the themes from TCC's past 12 months.

        Breakthrough

        When state transportation fees were increased, we made sure that some of the additional revenue from the increases was set aside for transit operations and Safe Routes to School. This is the first time in over a decade that the state will directly fund transit operations. We like the precedent this sets and will continue to push for a more equitable distribution of our state's transportation resources.

        Innovation

        We passed a personal carsharing bill (HB 2384) that will expand carsharing opportunities to more communities. The bill clearly spelled out insurance liability issues (often a barrier to personal carsharing) and is now widely viewed as a model for the nation.

        We introduced HB2370, a bill that adds health to the state's existing transportation goals. While it didn't make it through the legislature in 2012, we have plans to reintroduce it in the 2013 session.

        We launched Books on the Bus, Washington's first book club for bus riders, as a way to increase community on public transit. The program has hundreds of participants, and we're already on our second book. (Sign up today if you haven't already.)

        Disappointment

        We worked very hard to pass Pierce County' Prop 1, the ballot measure to prevent the near decimation of Pierce Transit. The measure lost by a heartbreaking 700 votes.

        Our legislative priority was passing a local options bill in Olympia, to secure funding sources for transit agencies that are more stable, reliable, and progressive than sales tax. Unfortunately, the bill wasn't successful this year.

        Moving forward

        While we're certainly disappointed about the things that didn't go our way, we don't have time to be depressed. We're already gearing up for 2013, exploring options to preserve as much service as possible for Pierce County transit riders, and making local funding options for transit agencies our most important priority.

        2013 also happens to be our 20th anniversary year, and we're planning lots of ways to celebrate, commemorate, and share our vision for the next 20 years. Stay tuned for details!

        Happy holidays, and thanks for supporting Transportation Choices.

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        2013 Legislative Agenda

        Washington only works when we all have an opportunity to get where we need to go.

        Picking up your children from daycare, delivering goods to the market, getting to school or work, we all deserve the opportunity to get where we need to go safely and affordably.  Our transportation system should provide opportunity not expenses, headaches, and danger. Washington only works when we all have an opportunity to get where we need to go.

        Transportation Budget and Revenue

        Authorize a diverse menu of local and regional revenue options for transit and local governments- transit requires a menu of local options for transit investments that are less regressive and volatile.

        Pass a balanced biennial transportation budget that meets the following principles-

        • Increase state investment in transit, bicycle and pedestrian uses, including the state’s Complete Streets grant program.
        • Ensure investments in road projects are based on sound financial and project plans.
        • Keep tolling revenue flexible for use on the movement of people and goods.

        Support a revenue package that meets the principles of Transportation for Washington:

        • Fix it First.
        • More transit to reduce congestion, improve freight mobility, decrease pollution, connect people to jobs, connect our rural communities, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get where they need to go.
        • Build great, healthy communities; an efficient transportation system supports both affordable and healthy neighborhoods.

         

        Safe and Healthy Transportation

        Transportation Goal of Public Health - Adds health to Washington transportation goals to integrate health in transportation policy, planning and investments, in order to reduce chronic diseases, reduce motor-vehicle-related injury and deaths, and ensuring transportation access for all people.

        Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill- Provides cities and counties the authority to establish 20 mph zones on some non-arterial streets to lower accident rates and protect vulnerable users.

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        Be a Citizen Lobbyist

        Make a difference. Sign up for the 2013 Transportation Advocacy Day.

        Transportation Advocacy Day is coming!  Kick start the new year by signing up for Advocacy Day on February 12, 2013. 

        In 2012, more than 200 citizen activists like you showed up in Olympia to fight for transit funding, safer streets and healthier communities.

        We need you in Olympia more than ever! Transportation is center stage... whether it's the budget, bus cuts, or the disturbing rise in cyclist and pedestrian deaths. Be a part of the solution.

        Make your voice heard on February 12, 2013.  Advocacy Day is free and registering will take 2 minutes of your morning. So please sign up today,

        You can help us create a better future for transportation in Washington State.

        Sign up for 2013 Transportation Advocacy Day!

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        Pierce Transit Service Changes

        On Monday night, the Pierce Transit Board met and discussed options for service cuts.

        On Monday night, the Pierce Transit Board met and discussed options for service cuts that are necessitated by the failure of Proposition 1 to pass last November. (You can read the full Tacoma News Tribune article here.) The board voted 6-2 to adopt the cuts and made a plan to put them into effect on September 29th.

        While a 34% reduction in service will be a devastating blow to Pierce County, the cuts are not as severe as the 53% reduction estimated earlier last year. This is due in part to a small increase in sales tax revenue over the last few months.

        After cuts are made, Pierce Transit will be at approximately 275,000 service hours, down from 417,000 services hours. This is a pre-1980 level of service.

        Here is a list of the changes that will happen in September.

        • Weekend and holiday services will be eliminated.
        • Weekday service after 7 PM will be reduced.
        • Mid-day service will also be reduced.


        To see specific service reductions to routes, click here and here.

        For information about how to get involved, visit Pierce Transit’s Website.

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        Books on the Bus winter selection

        We've got a new book for you to read on your rides.

        I'm excited to announce our winter BOB selection: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. In case you haven't yet had the pleasure of reading her work, Octavia Butler was a celebrated speculative fiction writer and a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. She lived in Seattle from 1999 until her tragic death in 2006—and incidentally, was also a "confirmed non-driver" who rode the bus and walked to get around.

        Parable of the Sower is the first of a two-book series and was originally published in 1993. Here is the book description.

        In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

        Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

        When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.


        Stay tuned for details about our Parable of the Sower event. In the meantime, grab a copy to read on your rides. It’s available to check out—at SPL or KCLSdownload, or purchase at your favorite bookstore.

        Enjoy!

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        Transportation Choices supports a low-income fare

        Last week, TCC sent a letter to the King County Council expressing our support of a low-income fare.

        This is a guest post by Jasmine Beverly, our rock star intern.

        Due to multiple fare increases and the elimination of the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle, it has become more difficult for many King County residents to get around using public transportation. To address this issue, the King County Council has appointed a committee to study the feasibility of a low-income fare for King County Metro riders.

        In mid-December, the Seattle Transit Riders Union delivered a letter to the King County Council in support of a low-income fare. The letter was signed by 27 organizations, including Puget Sound Sage, El Centro de la Raza, The Seattle King County NAACP, and Real Change.

        Transportation Choices also supports a low-income fare in King County because we believe that everyone has the right to safe and affordable transportation. On January 18th, we sent our own letter to the council encouraging its members to adopt such a program.

        For more information on the details of the committee, click here.

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        Let's get this right.

        The new House transportation package needs better balance and more funding for transportation choices.

        As you may have heard, House Transportation Chair Rep. Judy Clibborn has released a transportation package for consideration in 2013 Legislative Session.  This $10 Billion package seeks to raise new revenue to pay for road projects, maintenance and operations, transit, bicycle and pedestrian, ferries and freight projects.  

        We are appreciative that Chair Clibborn has begun this important conversation around transportation issues and the urgent need to fix our broken roads and bridges, save transit service, and make it safer for people to bike and walk.

        The Transportation for Washington campaign has focused on three main principles:

        • Fix our crumbling roads and bridges first before investing in new road capacity.  We must ensure that our new investments will create jobs, spur economic growth, and improve the safety and health of our communities.
        • Preserve and expand transit service, and
        • Build healthy, safe, and affordable communities.

         

        Last week, we sent a letter to Chair Clibborn that emphasized these principles and called on her to do the following:

        • Increase the size of the overall package to more accurately reflect the tremendous state, regional and local needs.
        • Improve the balance of the package funding to better reflect want Washingtonians want including more transit, walking, biking and healthy communities.
        • Provide local communities with the ability to raise additional revenue to fund transit and local street improvements.
        • Increase the diversity of revenue sources that fund transit, local governments, and ferries so that they are at less risk of repeal.

        We believe that this package is a first step and that there is much work to be done to make this a balanced transportation plan that gives Washingtonians equal opportunity to get where they need to go.  And you can help by telling the House Transportation Committee to make this package better. Take action now!

        Washington only works when everyone has the equal opportunity to get to where they need to go.  Together, we can create this equal opportunity by investing in a balanced approach that spurs our economy, protects our environment, and creates a future where all can thrive.

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        Rep Farrell introduces local options bill

        New bill would authorize local funding options for transit agencies.

        Today, former Transportation Choices executive director and newly elected 46th district representative, Jessyn Farrell, introduced HB 1959, a bill that would authorize local funding options for transit agencies.

        “With more commuters than ever choosing public transit to get to work every day, we need both state and local funding options for our transit agencies,” said Farrell. “We have to give our communities the tools they need to protect their core programs and services.” Farrell’s legislation would permit counties with a population of one million or more to levy a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) of up to 1.5 percent. It would dedicate 60 percent of the MVET funding to public transportation systems, while reserving the remaining 40 percent for cities and counties to perform road maintenance.

        [...]

        “These transit services that are used disproportionately by low-income families, seniors, and people living with disabilities. This is about protecting everyone’s right ability to get where they need to go by preserving transportation choices in our communities,” said Farrell.

        Transportation Choices fully supports HB 1959 and applauds Representative Farrell for her efforts on behalf of transit riders.

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        One step closer for transit bills

        Local options bills pass out of Committees.
        One step closer for transit bills

        King County Metro buses

        Six weeks of the legislative session are finished and now things are beginning to heat up!. Several key bills that will save transit and invest in walking and biking are gaining traction.  It’s now that we need you to tune in, pay attention, and stand up to make sure that Washingtonians have an equal opportunity for prosperity.

        Local options for more transportation choices

        SB 5793 & HB 1898 both create an enhanced transportation benefit zone to restore some of the bus cuts Pierce Transit has already had to make.  HB 1898 was passed out of House Transportation Committee on March 1st and awaits a floor vote.

        SB 5773 & HB 1953
        will give Community Transit a new voter-approved funding tool to restore their lost Sunday service.  It was supported by business, labor, riders, and human service advocates. Both bills have passed out of their committees and await a floor vote.

        SB 5861 & HB 1959
        provides cities and counties with increased local funding options, and specifically helps King County Metro prevent 17% cuts next year.  SB 5861 was heard yesterday in the Senate. HB 1959 was passed out of House Transportation Committee on March 1st and awaits a floor vote.

         

        Stay tuned for an update early next week on how you can help move these bills forward.

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        Keep King County moving!

        Today in Seattle, a countywide coalition called for Olympia to take action on essential local and statewide transportation funding.

        Today, a countywide coalition--made up of business, labor, education, and advocacy groups--called for Olympia to take action on essential local and statewide transportation funding. From the press release:

        “We’ve significantly reduced Metro’s labor, operating, and capital costs; raised fares several times; and made our transit system substantially more efficient and productive, but without additional revenue options, we cannot sustain our transit system. The people of King County will face gridlock and fewer, far more expensive options for getting to work. Sustaining funding for Metro Transit is critical to maintaining the strength of our regional and statewide economy” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee.

        “Behind the need to invest in our transit system are real riders – real people - who will be hurt if efforts are unsuccessful,” said Josh Kavanagh, Director of Transportation at the University of Washington. “This includes the thousands of students in King County – 37% – who rely on the bus to get to school every day. These are our future workers, and the people who will be directly hurt by transportation cuts if solutions aren't found."

        Do you part to keep King County moving by contacting your legislators and asking them to support local options for transit. Click here to send a letter to your legislators now.

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        Honor your bus drivers on March 18th

        March 18th is Bus Driver Appreciation Day. Here are five ways to let your drivers know you appreciate them.

        Mark your calendars, bus riders! Monday, March 18th, is Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

        What is Bus Driver Appreciation Day, you ask? It’s a holiday (started by a couple of Seattle bus riders in 2009) set aside to acknowledge, celebrate, and otherwise lift up all the hard-working men and women who get us where we’re going. Why March 18th? The first bus service in the world started on March 18th, 1662--in Paris, France.

        Here are some ways to honor your bus drivers on this holiday.

        1. Say “thank you.” Many of us already take the time to thank our drivers as we get off the bus. (These days, the rear exit system in King County makes this more difficult for KC Metro riders, but some of us still shout it out.) On the holiday, make a special effort to thank your drivers when you board the bus. Something simple like, “Happy Bus Driver Appreciation Day,” or “Thank you for your service,” is all it really takes to acknowledge your drivers’ hard work—and maybe even make their day.
        2. Be a good bus citizen. Make your driver’s day easier by helping someone on or off, giving up your seat for an elderly or disabled passenger without being asked, or picking up trash if you find some near your seat.
        3. Submit a commendation. If your bus driver does a great job, let the agency know. Commendations are tracked, included in drivers’ files, and are often considered as part of operator of the month/year decisions. Most transit agencies have an easy way to do this through their website. Or, simply pick up the phone and call.
        4. Put up a sign. Create a handmade sign or banner to put up somewhere along your favorite bus route. That way, all the drivers who cover the route will feel the love.
        5. Give a small token. Some agencies have policies against giving drivers gifts, but we’ve heard from a number of drivers that cards and small, edible treats are very much appreciated.
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        Heir to the gas tax throne?

        A primer on the road usage charge.

         

        There’s been a lot of focus on current legislative bills designed to provide more – and more flexible –revenue options for local transportation needs. However, recently we’ve been intrigued by an interesting idea for raising revenue that hasn’t yet made it to the legislative floor.

        Washington State is currently considering implementing a road usage fee, which would charge drivers for their time or distance traveled rather than through a gas tax at the pump. In the 2012 session, legislators appropriated $1 million dollars for the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington State Transportation Commission to work with a 20-member Steering Committee to both determine the feasibility of transitioning from the gas tax to a road user assessment system and assess the operational feasibility of such a system. In January of this year, the Steering Committee presented their Feasibility Assessment, Work Plan and Budget Report to the legislature.  Below, a primer on this promising policy.

        Why a Road Usage Charge?

        Road usage charging is gaining traction as a replacement for or supplement to the gas tax. Last year the GAO released a report lauding mileage-based user fee as an “equitable and efficient use of roadways,” and as of this year, general road usage charging has been studied and subjected to pilot tests in almost 20 states.

        But increased revenue is only one of the benefits of road usage charging. As fuel efficiency improves, the link between gas tax paid and amount driven becomes more tenuous. By charging by the mile or minute, the road usage charge creates a direct incentive to drive fewer miles, influencing the demand for transportation, decreasing congestion and vehicle emissions.

        Of course, the charge-per-mile system could be argued to penalize those with long commutes. Those who drive to and from rural areas may indeed pay more in road usage fees than those that live and work in denser urban centers. However, long-distance commuters are also likely already paying more in gas taxes to fill their tanks for the long ride. Road usage charges at least have the benefit of not punishing lower income households who own older cars. Because older vehicles are typically less fuel-efficient, their drivers may travel the same or fewer miles as those with higher incomes while spending more on gas – and paying more in gas taxes.

        How?

        The simplest kind of road usage charge uses the following formula:

        Rate Based on Vehicle Classification   X   Usage   =   Road Usage Charge

        In this general scenario, rates could vary by vehicle depending number of axles, vehicle size, or type (e.g. hybrid, diesel, etc.), or a combination of the above.

        Usage can be measured by time (e.g. engine run time or a flat pass purchased for a particular period of time) or distance (e.g. odometer reading or computations from GPS).  Again, depending on the policy, the charge may be assessed using one or more of these factors.

        More advanced road usage charging systems may also account for level of congestion (by charging more during peak times or in specific areas) or environmental factors (say, by measuring actual emissions) when assessing rates.

        Based on these factors, the Steering Committee came up with eight different operational concepts, which they then evaluated based on a wide variety of feasibility criteria ranging from convenience to transparency to flexibility. Note that this evaluation exercise wasn’t intended to guide the committee towards a top pick, but rather to lay out the landscape of possibilities.

        What now?

        It was this landscape of possibilities that the Steering Committee presented to the legislature in January. While they didn’t propose a specific operational concept, the committee members “unanimously agreed that road usage charging is feasible in Washington and recommended further assessment and advancement.” But “whether or not it makes sense and is desirable for Washington State,” hedged the report, “will require additional work.” And that additional work has a price tag. The report requested $1.6 million in the 2013-15 biennium to carry out tasks of the first phase of work laid out in budget section. If approved, the committee would move forward on Phase 1, which includes public engagement, defining policy objectives, detailing technical requirements, developing a business case, and more.

        You can find all the relevant documents and read more about the Steering Committee on their website.

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        The clock is ticking to save bus service

        Take action to save your bus service.

        Think traffic is bad now?  It's going to be far worse when tens of thousands of bus riders in the central Puget Sound see their buses cut, forcing them back into a car to drive to work.

        And worse than traffic, what about the thousands of Washingtonians who will no longer have an affordable or reliable way to get to work, school, or everywhere in between? We can't just stand by and let this happen, not when there's an easy solution at hand. We need the legislature to act now to pass local transit options.

        Tell Governor Inslee and your legislators that bus cuts are unacceptable.  Take action now to save your bus service.
        Bus service is in bad shape.
        • Pierce Transit has cut service by 43% and plans another 28% cut this year.
        • Community Transit in Snohomish County has eliminated service on Sunday's and has cut service 37% over the past 4 years.
        • King County Metro bus cuts next year will impact 70% of the 400,000 bus riders in King County unless we pass a bill this year to support more bus service. 

          Last week in Olympia, we sent 50 Mayors, City Councilmembers, and CEOs to lobby the Legislature to pass a local options bill this session to keep our buses on the streets in the Puget Sound.   Now we need your help to make sure the legislature knows how many more Washingtonians are watching and waiting for them to act too.
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          When is a tunnel station not a tunnel station?

          Bellevue's downtown East Link station pits cost savings against riders.

          By the end of April, Sound Transit is slated to settle on the final Cost Savings Ideas for the East Link Extension that would connect Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake area. The cost savings process kicked off with a November 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit, which aimed to reduce Bellevue’s contribution for a downtown light rail tunnel by up to $60 million.

          Perhaps it's ironic that one of the surviving cost cutting options takes the downtown Bellevue station out of the tunnel altogether. The currently selected alternative provides a cut-and-cover tunnel at 110th Ave. NE, with access points on both sides of NE 4th Street. A display board from an April 4th cost savings Open House shows the two cost cutting options for the downtown station that are left standing:

          • The “Optimized Selected Alternative” reduces the depth of the tunnel and shifts the station entrance west of 110th Ave NE, closer to Bellevue Transit Center.
          • The “NE 6th St. Station” also reduces the depth of the tunnel, but replaces the tunnel station with a surface station at NE 6th St.

          The “Optimized Selected Alternative” seems a reasonable improvement, with engineering efficiencies that have been generally well-received, and estimated savings of up to $6-10 million. The NE 6th St. Station option (proposed by the Bellevue City Council), on the other hand, is one of the same cost cutting ideas that we were griping about more than eight months ago. While the estimated savings are more substantial at $19-33 million, the long-term benefits are nil. The exposed outdoor station would provide minimal weather protection for riders, and the loss of a second entrance is estimated to reduce by half the number of residents within walking distance (down to 7% of downtown residents within a 5-minute walk radius from 14% for the optimized alternative). The proposed placement also increases the number of pedestrian crossings needed to access the station from the transit center, and if you’ve spent much time in the area, you will know that these monstrous crossings are not pedestrian friendly.

          As Seattle Transit Blog put it bluntly in an open letter to the Bellevue City Council and Sound Transit:

          “The NE 6th St Station design is wholly unacceptable and defeats the purpose of the downtown tunnel. It reduces walk access to employment and housing throughout downtown Bellevue, results in slower travel times due to substandard curves and will result in inferior passenger comfort. It also has little TOD or development advantage over other station designs.”

          Do you agree? Show your support for a downtown tunnel station that maximizes ridership and increases access for riders - take action now!

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          48 Hours to Go: Bike Month Begins Wednesday!

          Bike month kicks off on May 1st and runs the whole month of May. Check out local events and challenges and get riding!

          If the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having isn’t enough to make you want to ditch your keys and grab your helmet, May is Bike Month!

          Whether you are a regular bike commuter or it’s your first time on two wheels, there are plenty of activities across the region. Highlights include May 8th, Bike to School Day, and of course on May 17th, thousands of commuters participate in Bike to Work Day! Check the list below for rides, events, and resources for riding in your area.

          King County

          Pierce County

          Whatcom County

          Snohomish County

          Thurston County

          Spokane

          Log your miles in May and see how far you’ve gone, how many calories you’ve burned, and how much money you saved. Be sure to brush up on your safety tips before you head out, and remember, biking doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Take advantage of your transportion choices and find tips from Sound Transit on combining bicycling with public transit to make your commute multimodal!

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          What to read on your rides this spring

          The spring Books on the Bus selection is an homage to the most beloved landmark in the Pacific Northwest.

          On this gorgeous spring day, a day when our mountain is "out," I am pleased to announce (a little later than planned) the spring, 2013, Books on the Bus selection: Bruce Barcott's love letter to Tahoma, The Measure of a Mountain. Here's a taste from the first chapter.

          "Like rain and rivers and trees, the mountain is a continuous presence in our lives, but in our psychological landscape, it occupies a place greater than the forests and falling water. We look at Rainier and feel love for a mountain, if such a thing is possible. The mountain inspires in us a feeling akin to spiritual awe: reverence, adoration, humility. We look at Rainier and regard the vastness of God; yet we look at it and claim it as our own. The strange relationship we have with the mountain is romantic, uninformed, even presumptuous. Rainier is a mountain few of us know."

          Barcott goes on to detail his own attempts to know the mountain--from his initial, disastrous, solo hikes, to his extensive research and interviews, to his ultimate attempt to reach the summit--and in the process, helps all of us understand this remarkable natural wonder a little better.

          The Measure of a Mountain is available at SPL, KCLS , and most other libraries in the state, as well as for download or traditional purchase. Get your hands on a copy today, and then visit the Books on the Bus Facebook page to share your thoughts.

          Stay tuned for event information. In the meantime, happy reading!

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          #SaveMetro…#Again. #ForGoodThisTime.

          It’s time to Save Metro.

          It’s time to Save Metro.

          Funding for Metro has been a series of stopgap, temporary, or volatile measures for as long as most of us can remember. Metro depends heavily on revenues from sales tax, which plummeted with the recession, and we’ve been struggling since 2009 to fill the gap.

          Most recently, in 2011, King County Council approved a temporary congestion reduction charge (CRC), a $20 annual vehicle licensing fee that bought us two years of steady funding, along with a directive for Metro to improve efficiency and productivity. Collection of the charge, however, ends in spring of 2014.

          So here we are again. Between the expiration of the CRC and the declining sales tax revenues, Metro is looking at a projected funding shortfall of $75 million just to maintain current service through 2015.

          Without a new, stable funding source, Metro will be forced to make a 17 percent - that’s 600,000 hours - reduction in transit service. If you live in King County, it’s more likely than not that bus service in your neighborhood will be affected. Metro’s current projected impacts show reduced service for 86 routes and eliminate another 65 routes altogether.

          So, what now? Monday, May 13th, is the start of the legislative special session. There’s still an opportunity for the legislature to give King County local funding options, including giving voters the chance to pass a motor vehicle excise tax that would be split between transit and roads.

          This is our last chance to save Metro. We need to tell our legislators to approve a local funding option, and Tuesday, May 14th, is the time to speak up. King County Council is holding a hearing at 4:00 p.m. at Union Station, where the public is invited to give testimony about how transit service cuts will affect them.

          So rally the troops and come testify. Tell your representatives how bus cuts are unacceptable, and that we want a permanent funding solution for Metro.

          Can’t make it in person? Submit your testimony online.

          Want to do more?


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          People are driving less

          Millennials are leading the change in transportation trends.

           

          As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund, finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. Major demographic shifts are likely to depress driving levels for decades, according to the report, A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America's Future.

          "The trends highlighted by this report have significant implications for the Puget Sound area," said Rob Johnson, the Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, "and it's crucial that Washington's leaders right-size our plans and projects to ensure that we don't build projects for tomorrow based on assumptions from yesterday."

          "The driving boom is over," said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst at the U.S.PIRG Education Fund and co-author of the report. "The constant increases we saw in driving before 2005 are unlikely to return. And if millennials' tendency to drive less becomes the norm as they age, the reduction in driving will be even larger."

          Miles driven per capita peaked in 2004. The average American currently drives no more miles than at the end of President Clinton's first term. The millennial generation is leading the change in transportation trends. Those 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than in 2001 - a greater decline in driving than any other age group. In addition, millennials are more likely to want to live in walkable neighborhoods and are more open to non-driving forms of transportation than older Americans.

          The report finds that under any reasonable scenario, the number of miles driven annually will be far fewer in the future than if Baby Boom trends had continued. The driving boom during the second half of the 20th century was fueled by low gas prices, rapid suburbanization, and an ever-increasing number of women commuters entering the workforce.

          "The shift away from the car is part of a new way of life being embraced by our younger citizens, who are leading the trend away from driving," said Hilary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise.   "Effective management of our limited government dollars requires our local planners, leaders and our representatives in Congress to recognize this dramatic change and begin shaping our communities and focusing funding on the type of infrastructure needed to meet this new demand."

          The report examines a number of high-profile official transportation forecasts and finds a consistent pattern of overestimating how much Americans will drive, and then only partially revising those forecasts when they turn out to be incorrect. The government forecasts examined all seem to be based on the assumption that the driving boom will last forever, and all fall above even the most conservative scenarios forecast in the report.

          Changes in driving habits will affect the amount of revenue collected for transportation, whether through tolls or from the gas tax. Coupled with improvements in fuel efficiency, reduced driving means Americans will use about half as much gasoline and other fuels in 2040 than they use today, making the real value of gas taxes fall as much as 74 percent. Gas taxes provide the chief source of federal and state transportation funds.

          "These trends make it clear that, as a nation, we need to take a hard look at our transportation programs, whether we are building what we need for the rest of this century, what we ought to build instead and how to pay for it," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America.

          "In Washington, we need a new funding model to fix existing infrastructure and meet the needs of our communities. As we search for new transportation funding solutions in an age when the old gas tax no longer suffices, the solutions we land on must recognize the new reality that Washingtonians are driving less and choosing to live in affordable, walkable communities connected by transit," said Johnson.

          Download A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America's Future.

          #    #    #

          Transportation Choices Coalition seeks to bring Washingtonians more and better transportation choices -- real opportunities to take a bus, catch a train, ride a bike, or walk.

          Futurewise is a statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines for present and future generations.

          U.S. PIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.uspirgedfund.org

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          Smarter growth = more economic benefits.

          A new report on the economic benefits of smart growth.

           

          Towns across Washington State are looking for ways to balance their budgets and implementing smarter development strategies could help them do that.


          A new report released today by the national non-profit Smart Growth America reveals how much municipalities can save, on average, by using smart growth development strategies. The report also examines how much revenue smart growth development generates compared to the alternatives.

           

          “Communities across Washington State are already using smarter growth to cut costs and increase revenue,” said Hilary Franz, Executive Director of Futurewise.  “This is true for cities like Spokane to counties like King.  Just last year King County voted to keep schools serving urban populations inside urban growth areas to avoid $30 million in county road costs alone. This new report shows other communities what savings they could achieve if they too planned development and used land more efficiently.”

          Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development surveyed case studies from across the country that compare the costs and benefits of smart growth development with conventional suburban development. The report finds:

          1. Smart growth development costs at least one third less for upfront infrastructure construction.
          2. Smart growth development saves taxpayers at least 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.
          3. Smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.

           

          “These figures should make ever civic leader in America stop and take a hard look at what impact their development is having on public finances,” said William Fulton, Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation at Smart Growth America. “Smart growth strategies can cut costs and raise revenues for any town or city, that’s what this research shows.”

           

          “By focusing development inside our existing cities and towns, not only will we reduce costs for taxpayer for infrastructure like roads, sidewalks and bus lines, but we’ll also keep household transportation costs down too,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition.

           

          “At a time when more and more working families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, our local and state elected officials need to take every opportunity to reduce taxpayer costs and use our existing resources more efficiently, this report shows we can do that by changing how we build  our communities,” added Franz.

           

          Read the complete report at http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/building-better-budgets.

           





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          Update on the Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee

          A sneak peek at the committee’s upcoming recommendations

           

          In October 2012, the King County Council voted to establish the Low-Income Fare Options Advisory Committee, a group of diverse stakeholders that was charged with reviewing Metro’s current low-income fare options, and developing recommendations for a new low-income fare program. Those recommendations are due to the council by July 1, 2013.

          On Wednesday, June 12th, the committee held their seventh and final meeting (this and prior meeting materials can be found here), where members discussed and revised a draft of their final report. While no further meetings are planned, members will review and sign off on an updated version of the report over email before handing it over.

          Below is a rough preview of the committee’s thoughts and recommendations. To learn more, join us at our next Friday Forum, where we'll hear from members of the committee and a representative from Metro.

           

          On funding options:

          Given that Metro is facing potentially massive service cuts, it is not an easy time to be asking for new programs. Therefore the committee was careful not to frame their recommendations in such a way that pitted the creation of a low-income fare against service restoration and preservation.

          First, the committee stated that as new or increased revenue becomes available, the low-income fare program should be considered as a beneficiary. The committee also recommended that Metro should consider both seeking out new revenues (at one point, the committee debated the merits of instituting a regional employer tax) as well as revising the existing fare box structure. While the financial impacts of a low income fare might be offset by raising some or all existing fares, the committee was quick to point out that any fare increases or redistribution should be backed by a strong policy basis.

          During the last meeting, an interesting discussion developed around whether Metro alone should be responsible for funding and implementing a new low-income fare program. Some committee members felt it was the job of the county as a whole to help meet the needs (mobility and otherwise) of low-income residents, and that the county should therefore help fund such a program. Other members countered: “If Metro came back with a proposal to implement this program using only farebox restructuring, would we say no? I don’t think we would.” A specific recommendation for the county and Metro to jointly fund the program was ultimately dropped.

           

          On existing King County reduced fare programs:

          Part of the committee’s charge was to review the current fare options available to meet the mobility needs of low-income individuals. While King County Metro does have some reduced fare options, most target seniors, youth, or those with disabilities, rather than riders below a certain income level. (Metro’s existing fare structure is well documented in the Advisory Committee notebook.)

          The primary exception is the Human Services Ticket Program, which provides bus tickets to human service agencies at 20 percent of cash value to help low-income and homeless riders get around. Members of the committee agreed that those served by the Human Services Ticket Program would not be served by a low-income fare no matter how low. For this reason, the committee felt strongly that any low-income fare should not replace the human services ticket program.

           

          On the definition of low-income:

          The charge of recommending a definition of low-income proved particularly challenging. There was general agreement that the low-income fare should serve the working poor, which typically includes those earning between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level. However, some committee members felt that by expanding the definition to 200%, the program could be more expensive to sustain, making it less likely to be implemented in the first place. Others argued that by broadening the base of users served, the number of riders who would advocate on behalf of the program would increase.

          The report ultimately did not make a firm recommendation one way or the other. The committee did, however, suggest that it would make sense to use eligibility requirements that mirror those at other regional human services organizations. This would also streamline any cooperation with such agencies that provide income verification.

           

          On eligibility verification and administration:

          There was a general consensus that eligibility for other human services programs in the area should itself establish eligibility for the low-income fare (despite some variation in income requirements from agency to agency). This would limit the amount of income verification that Metro would have to do.

          However, there was a strong argument that eligibility for other services should not be the sole means of qualifying for a low-income fare. Some immigrant and refugee populations may be excluded from these programs, and therefore the ability to qualify based on income was still necessary.

          The committee hoped to minimize the administrative and financial burden on Metro of income verification, suggesting that Metro partner with third-party agencies that have established income verification processes, rather than create a new entity solely for the purpose of administering the low-income fare. While the committee did indeed recommend that Metro explore such relationships, some members pointed out that these third-party organizations would still need to be compensated financially, and that even with third-party verification, there will still be plenty of administrative work on Metro’s end.

           

          On potential cost and fare price point:

          Both a lack of consensus and a self-proclaimed lack of expertise prevented the committee from recommending an exact low-income fare amount, but the report did include projected revenue and ridership impacts at four different fare levels ($0.75, $1.00, $1.25, and $1.50, see inset) and across the two different definitions of low-income initially discussed.

          In the end, committee members agreed that “something is better than nothing,” if it helps get a low-income fare program off the ground. In other words, they recommended that Metro implement a low-income fare at the lowest price that it is sustainable, and that a phased or incremental approach that helps some low-income riders now would be preferable to delaying the program due to lack of full funding.

           

          Next steps

          Stay tuned! After the report is delivered by the committee, the council will schedule a briefing to discuss - likely in July or August. The committee is requesting a formal response to their report by the end of the year.

           

          Take Action!

          Although the committee won’t hold any further meetings, there’s still time to voice your support for a low-income fare. (You’ll be in good company - TCC supports a low-income fare, too!) King County is accepting comments online, and the Transit Riders Union is circulating a petition similarly expressing support for a low-income fare. Signatures will be delivered to the King County Council on July 1, 2013.

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          Inspiration to keep fighting

          Find out who's in our Transportation Choices Hall of Fame.

          Last month, we unveiled the Transportation Choices Hall of Fame at our 20th anniversary celebration, and we thought it was about time to share it with all of you. We hope you enjoy learning about, remembering, and celebrating the accomplishments of these committed, creative transportation heroes. (If you'd like to see photos of the inductees, click here.)

          1. Patty Murray
          US Senator representing Washington State
          Senator Murray has championed a balanced, safe, modern transportation system and is working tirelessly to make this a reality in Washington and across the country.

          2. Aubrey Davis
          Lifelong transportation advocate
          Aubrey Davis was an effective and respected transit champion. From helping to start King County Metro to his longtime service as a State Transportation Commissioner, Aubrey’s accomplishments are a tribute to his quiet, pragmatic style.

          3. Ruth Fisher
          Former Chair, State House Transportation, former 27th District representative
          Rep. Fisher spent 20 years in the State Legislature fighting for transportation alternatives.  She is called the mother of Sound Transit and is one of the “Steel Magnolias,” a group of six women legislators who helped pass the Growth Management Act.

          4. Ron Sims
          Former King County Executive and Sound Transit Board member
          Over the last 20 years, Ron Sims’s leadership at King County Metro and Sound Transit and his efforts to develop of system of regional trails has made King County a leader on sustainable transportation.  

          5. Bullitt Foundation
          A philanthropic foundation founded by Dorothy Bullitt in 1952
          The Bullitt Foundation’s visionary commitment to sustainable transportation and land use helped start Transportation Choices 20 years ago and has continued to support a number of nonprofits that are working hard to make that vision a reality.

          6. Transportation Choices founders (Honorees: Aaron Ostrom, Jemae Hoffman)
          Some of the committed people who created Alt Trans, the organization that would later become Transportation Choices
          The courageous work of Jemae, Aaron, and others laid the foundation for all of Transportation Choices Coalition’s accomplishments.

          7. Greg Nickels
          Former Seattle Mayor
          Greg Nickels’s transportation accomplishments stand tall in Seattle and in the region: helping to lead the first-ever advisory ballot approval to plan a rail system in 1988, the passage of street improvements with Bridging the Gap in 2006, and light rail expansion in Sound Transit 2 in 2008.

          8. Ed Murray
          Washington State Senator representing the 43rd District in Seattle
          Ed Murray has worked hard to change how this state approaches transportation. It is because of his work that WSDOT has a deputy director of transit, and the Regional Mobility Grant program continues to support transit all across the state.

          9. Richard Walsh
          General manager, Whatcom Transit
          Richard Walsh began his career at Whatcom Transit—then named the Bellingham Transit Department—in 1978. His 35 years of exceptional service to transit riders in Whatcom County includes a 2009 Federal Transit Administration Ridership Award for Whatcom Transit.

          10. Joni Earl
          CEO, Sound Transit
          Sound Transit has been transformed under Joni Earl’s leadership. After successfully guiding the agency through growing pains, Joni is now spearheading Sound Transit’s 51 mile light rail expansion in the Puget Sound region.

          11. U-PASS (Honorees: Mayor Mike McGinn, Heidi Wills, Mike Williams, and Bill Roach)

          The University of Washington’s first-of-its-kind universal bus pass
          U-PASS is a shining example of creativity and perseverance. This program has provided transportation options to thousands of students while improving our air and reducing congestion.

          12. One Bus Away (Honorees: Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins)
          A free service that provides real-time transit arrival information
          Puget Sound residents can use OneBusAway’s website, touch phone service, SMS interface, and smartphone apps to find out when their ride will arrive. It is not a stretch to say that the service has changed the lives of Western Washington’s transit riders.

          13. Undriving (Honoree: Julia Field)
          A creative program that encourages people to drive less
          Julia Field’s creative and fun program to encourage people to drive less has encouraged thousands to become “Undrivers”—and reduce their impact on the planet one trip at a time.

          14. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587
          The ATU local that represents transit workers in King, Clallam, and Jefferson Counties
          As the largest transit employees’ union on the west coast, Local 587 has advocated successfully for fair wages and working conditions of bus drivers. More recently, the organization has increased its impact by collaborating and forming alliances with riders.

          15. Walkscore

          A Seattle-based startup that calculates the walkability of any address
          Walkscore has popularized the concept of walkability and revolutionized the way people choose where they live and work.

          16. Barb Culp and Chuck Ayers
          Culp: Former, two-time executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington
          Ayers: Former executive director of Cascade Bicycle Club

          Barb Culp and Chuck Ayers have helped build Washington’s robust bicycle movement.  These stalwarts are responsible for the increased bicycle infrastructure, better education for all users, and Washington’s ever-growing population of bicycle riders.   

          17. Flexcar (Honorees: Bill Roach, Neil Peterson, Ref Lindmark, and Tracy Carroll)
          Carsharing company, purchased by Zipcar in 2007, that pioneered the concept of carsharing in the Puget Sound
          The innovative, committed group of people that founded Flexcar can take credit for providing Washingtonians with a cheaper alternative to car ownership and removing thousands of cars from our roads.

          18. Island Transit
          Fare-free public transit agency serving Island County
          Island Transit’s philosophy is simple – encourage and emphasize rider use.  In their words, “There is no farebox at the door of a public library. Its mission is to provide the means to books and education. Why put barriers in the way?” We agree.

          19. Valley Transit campaign (Honorees: Dan Clark, Barbara Clark, and Norman Osterman)
          Volunteer-led campaign to save Valley Transit in Walla Walla
          Valley Transit’s 2010 ballot measure asked residents of Walla Walla and College Place to raise the sales tax by .3% to prevent 50% cuts in service. It passed with over 76% approval, thanks mostly to the hard work of committed volunteers.

          20. Anirudh Sahni
          Citizen activist responsible for the Capitol Hill 545 stop
          Anirudh Sahni’s eight-year crusade to add a single bus stop to Sound Transit’s 545 route is a wonderful example of informed, committed, and yes, stubborn activism.

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          Growing Transit Communities

          Transit and a changing neighborhood in Tacoma.
          Growing Transit Communities

          Photo Credit: Dorian Waller

          This week, city planners, elected officials, representatives from Pierce Transit and Sound Transit met with residents of the Tacoma Hilltop Neighborhood to talk about what transit means for the future of the neighborhood.

          Partnering with Tacoma Urban League, Transportation Choices Coalition held a forum on Growing Transit Communities, a program designed to help make the most the region's investment in rapid transit by locating housing, jobs, and services close enough to transit so that more people will have a faster and more convenient way to travel, The forum gave attendees an opportunity to share their vision for the Hilltop neighborhood. The group discussed what equity means with access to services, barriers in place, and learned how to get involved in the process of public comment on transportation and city planning.  Representatives from The City of Tacoma department of public works discussed the process to update to the city’s comprehensive plan over the next two years. Mayor of Tacoma, Marilyn Strickland, spoke passionately about the need for more public comments from citizens attending the forum “We need to hear from you”, she said.

          Pierce Transit Government Relations staff, Justin Leighton, also a resident of the Hilltop Neighborhood, was on hand to answer questions about how Pierce Transit operates and is funded, as well as cuts looming this September due to the failure of Proposition 1 at the ballot last fall.

          The conversation centered on a big change for the future of Hilltop, and opportunity for public comment.  Last month, Sound Transit board’s unanimously decided to continue to study the Hilltop Corridor for expansion of the Tacoma Link system.  While laying down track is a long way off, this fall there will be many opportunities to engage with Sound Transit as the agency moves forward with studying the corridor.

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          Senate Republicans leave us high and dry

          Senate fails to act to save bus service and fix our roads and bridges.
          Senate Republicans leave us high and dry

          King County buses

          For 5 consecutive Legislative Sessions now, Transportation Choices has been advocating in Olympia for long term funding to keep our buses on the streets. And here we are on July 2nd with bad news again. The legislature adjourned without taking action to prevent bus cuts. I'm really disappointed in the leadership of Senator Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans.

          Actually I'm not disappointed, I'm angry.

          For more than 9 months now a broad group of stakeholders have been pushing for the Legislature and the Governor to take action on a new transportation revenue plan. Collectively our coalition held more than a dozen lobby days in Olympia, legislators received more than 1,000 phone calls from you, your friends and even the COO of Microsoft.  We sent in more than 10,000 emails to legislators expressing our support for funding for local transit, bike lanes, sidewalks, and safety and maintenance funding for our state highways and bridges. Even a bridge along I-5 collapsed, and STILL no action was taken by the Majority Coalition Caucus in the State Senate.

          This is unacceptable. This is not leadership.

          Today, I'm asking you to email Senators Rodney Tom, Steve Litzow, Andy Hill, Curtis King, Mark Schoesler and Joe Fain, the leaders of the Majority Coalition Caucus and let them know that you are paying attention. Their decision not to consider a transportation revenue package will mean that we will have fewer choices to get to work, and school and we will be stuck in congestion.

          Passing this package would have given King County the chance to save 600,000 bus service hours, the equivalent of all weekend service. It would have given Community Transit in the opportunity to restore Sunday service in Snohomish County. And for Pierce Transit which is facing another round of drastic cuts this fall, it would have meant the chance to prevent these cuts. And that's just local options. Passing the package would have also meant $567 million for transit, $323 million for bike & pedestrian infrastructure and $156 million for storm water infrastructure.

          Not only did we lose the option to raise our own revenue locally to prevent dramatic bus cuts but the failure of the leadership in the Senate means ZERO dollars for transit, ZERO dollars for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and ZERO dollars for storm water infrastructure.

          Will you stand with me today and tell the Senate Republicans this is unacceptable?

          Despite the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus' failure to act, we are taking matters into our own hands. I have been fielding calls from partners that want to stand with us to find funding to save bus service. We're working on a plan to find a path to prevent devastating bus cuts across King County and around the state.

          I'd like to thank those in Olympia that did take real leadership on this issue. In the House, Speaker Chopp, Representative Clibborn, and our champions including Representatives  Liias, Farrell, Fitzgibbon, Fey, Habib, and Zeiger who were all critical in getting us so close to our goal. The Governor and his staff deserve our thanks for pushing hard for a transportation package since the beginning of session. In the Senate we owe thanks to Senators Eide, Murray, Harper, Billig, Frokt and others for pushing for a vote once the bill came over from the House. Due to the tireless support of these Legislators and your persistent advocacy we came very close.

          We haven't given up and we certainly won't quit.  Thanks for your support.

          Rob signature

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          How transit service cuts impact health

          A connection between reduced service and health?


          Legislative session ended last month without a transportation package, and without a local funding option that would have given local transit agencies the ability to ask the public for money. Money that might have mitigated the drastic funding shortfall that Metro is facing. Without that funding, bus service will likely be cut by as much as 17 percent starting in the fall of 2014, around the same time that a planned fare increase will go into effect.

          The immediate outcomes of such bus cuts are obvious: with fewer buses, running far less frequently, it will be much more difficult (for almost anyone: more than 70% of routes could be affected) to get from point A to point B.

          But the longer-term, derivative consequences of reduced service are less obvious and arguably much more detrimental. In May of this year, Alameda County Public Health Department released a study that assessed the health impacts of recent bus service cuts and fare increases in the area, showing how remarkably nuanced and devastating the effects of something as seemingly straightforward as service cuts can be on riders’ health.

          The study surveyed vulnerable communities in Alameda County that had experienced reduced service in the past few years, focusing on those most likely to rely on transit by looking at demographics such as: proportion of residents without cars, those below the poverty level, and people of color. For transit-dependent individuals, the study points out, “public transportation is a lifeline to jobs, education, family and friends, healthy, affordable food, recreation, and medical care, all of which are essential for individual health and well-being.” Take that lifeline away, and you’re left with a whole host of problems.

          Surveyed participants reported:

          Stressful Commutes:

          o Longer waits for the bus increased stress for riders, especially when they felt unsafe at certain bus stops.

          o Reduced service means crowded buses, with fewer places to sit, or even getting passed by the bus. This reduces bus access overall, especially for people in wheelchairs, and increases risk of pain or injury for seniors and people with disabilities.

          Unhealthy Trade-offs & Cutbacks

          o When fares go up, riders report having to make difficult budget trade-offs or cutbacks when they don’t have enough money to cover both increased transportation costs plus their other monthly expenses. Focus group participants said they have had to cut back on food, social activities, and trips to the doctor.

          Missing Work and Wages

          o Many riders reported an increase of 30 minutes or more to their commutes. Longer commutes can mean arriving late and losing wages for time missed at work, which in turn can make it harder to afford basic needs that support good health.

          Unhealthy Disruptions to School Attendance

          o Some participants reported longer commute times to school, which leaves less time for activities that support good health, like sleep and exercise.

          o Reduced bus service can often result in tardiness and missed school days. Tardiness and absences have been linked to lower academic performance and school graduation rates, whereas higher levels of educational attainment have also been linked to higher incomes, which correlates with better health and more positive health behaviors.

          Social Isolation and Mental Health

          o After bus service cuts, some participants reported that they met family and friends less often, and expressed concern about their social isolation, which is especially a problem for those with no friends or family within walking distance.

          Reduced Access to Health Care Appointments

          o As with school and work, reduced service impacted surveyed participants’ ability to get to healthcare appointments. Longer travel times meant missed appointments and fewer trips to health care over all.


          Compounding these effects is the fact that many surveyed participants are from communities already at risk for health disparities, and are more likely to live in neighborhoods with fewer “health-promoting resources” such as places of employment, schools, social and community activities, and healthcare facilities.

          Based on the study’s findings, Alameda County recommended restoring funding for transit service, exploring a reduced fare for low-income populations, and, perhaps most importantly, the study emphasized the importance of including quality of trip experience and service conditions into existing data collection and health analyses.

          Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a way to stave off the Metro cuts slated for fall. If not, it appears we’ll be dealing with far bigger problems than just simply reduced service.

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          Grants for Bike and Pedestrian Projects- PSRC

          PSRC’s 2013 Transportation Alternatives Program is now open.

          The Call for Projects for PSRC’s 2013 Transportation Alternatives Program is now open.  Applications are due to PSRC by August 26, 2013.  Please refer to the attached memo for more information.  All materials in the Call for Projects are posted on PSRC’s website at http://www.psrc.org/transportation/tip.

          A workshop will be held on July 22, 2013 in the PSRC Boardroom to review the 2013 Transportation Alternatives Program, including the evaluation criteria and application materials.  All eligible project sponsors and interested parties are invited to attend. If you have any questions, please contact Kelly McGourty, (206) 971-3601 at PSRC.

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          SVP and TCC!

          This will be the start of something big.

          Transportation Choices is honored to be the newest investee of Social Venture Partners. Social Venture Partners (SVP) grants involve more than money; they also commit expertise to help nonprofits build organizational capacity to achieve their mission. We’re excited to partner with them to build a bigger, stronger and more effective TCC.

          Here’s what SVP had to say about TCC on their blog.

          "Transportation is responsible for more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the State of Washington and is the leading contributor to contamination of Puget Sound from urban stormwater runoff,” shares SVP Grant Committee member Rich Gary.  “TCC is a key player in Washington’s transportation community.  Its staff is knowledgeable and dedicated, with an outstanding reputation in industry, government, and the nonprofit community.  They have made, and will continue to make, a huge difference in the State of Washington."

          Read the rest here.

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          A new book to read on your rides

          Books on the Bus announces the summer/fall 2013 selection.

          Books on the Bus is excited to announce the selection for summer/fall 2013: Unaccustomed Earth, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri.

          Lahiri is the author of a number of acclaimed books, including Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, and the soon-to-be released novel, The Lowland. Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of stories that explore the experiences of Bengali immigrants in the United States. The title story is set in the Seattle area.

          "These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind."

          Unaccustomed Earth is available through all of the library systems in the Puget Sound region, as well as for download or traditional purchase. Get your hands on a copy today, and stay tuned for event information.

          Happy reading!

          P.S. - Thanks to everyone who attended our event with Bruce Barcott last Thursday. We will post a link to the library’s podcast on the BOB Facebook page as soon as it is available.

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          Improved prospects for transit?

          Things are getting better. But not that much better. And they weren’t that great to begin with.


          July brought some great news for Pierce Transit’s riders. The agency announced on Thursday, July 25, that better-than-expected growth in sales tax revenue was leading the PT Board of Commissioners to reconsider the service cuts planned for September. After many sluggish years following the recession, the agency saw an 11-percent increase in sales tax revenue during the first four months of this year. The Board voted on July 31 to formally rescind the service reduction plan it approved in June. The planned cuts included a 28% reduction in service hours and employee layoffs, and would have affected almost every single route in the system. Pierce Transit will now likely maintain near-current levels of service through 2014, at which point a revised service plan will be proposed. Cuts are not completely off the table.

          Even without the new cuts, transit service is impaired: Over the past five years, Pierce Transit has already reduced service hours by more than 35%, from 617,000 in 2008 down to 399,000 this past June. And neighboring counties are telling a similar story: Yes, things are getting better. But not that much better. And they weren’t that great to begin with.

          Snohomish County also saw increases in taxable sales for the first quarter of 2013. Good news, yes, but it’s also important not to forget that Community Transit made deep cuts (37% reduction in service and layoffs of a third of their employees) during the recession. While the increased sales tax revenue is a bright spot, no Sunday service continues to hobble the transit agency's ability to serve Snohomish County residents who need service 7 days a week.

          Even King County saw revenue growth. King County Metro’s updated sales tax projections show about 6 percent growth for 2013 - higher than the 4.4 percent projected in the budget. However, this kind of increase won’t be enough to stave off the massive cuts planned for next year. Due to the weakened economy and subsequently poor sales tax revenues, Metro has been facing a huge budget shortfall and plans to cut about 600,000 annual service hours starting in fall 2014.

          It’s an oft-repeated line, but reliance on volatile sales tax revenue is not a sustainable way to fund transit service. This is not the first time Metro, Pierce Transit or Community Transit has been in a financial bind, and unless we explore other funding options, it won’t be the last.

          No one is disappointed to hear that the economy is bouncing back, and with it, sales tax revenue. But our transit systems shouldn’t be riding the same roller coaster. When the economy is in the dumps, and people are relying on public transportation more than ever, the opportunity to get to and from work could make all the difference in our region’s ability to weather the economic ups and downs.

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          They Want To Hear From YOU

          Senate Transportation hearings set around the state.

          Senate Transportation Committee co-chairs Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, announced a statewide listening tour aimed at gathering input from Washington residents on building a new package of transportation projects.

          The only way to pass a balanced transportation package in a special session this November is if the Senate hears loudly and clearly that voters like you are demanding action. They want to hear from you about what needs to be included in a transportation package. Let’s show them the huge demand to save transit, fixing our roads and providing safe biking and walking infrastructure.

          Each meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. and feature presentations from regional transportation officials, as well as opportunity for public comment.

          Here are links to RSVP for the hearing, I will be there to show support for a transportation package that includes transit, walking and biking
          I can't make the hearing so I will volunteer 3 hours to help save transit service!

          Remaining Senate Transportation Leadership Forums

          Oct. 9 – Tacoma (Olympic Region) 6-9 p.m.

          Evergreen Tacoma Campus, Lyceum Hall, 1210 6th Avenue, Tacoma

           

          Oct. 14 – Seattle 6-9 p.m.

          First Presbyterian Church, 1013 8th Avenue

           

          Oct. 15 – Bellingham 6-9 p.m.

          Port of Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue,

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          Transit for the win!

          Introducing ... Try Transit Month

          This October, Transportation Choices is launching a fun new challenge: Try Transit Month. Next month, challenge yourself to take the bus or train to a place you would normally drive. We have fantastic prizes and great resources to help you make positive changes to the way you get around.

          Whether you've never ridden a bus or train, or there's a new route you've been meaning to check out, Try Transit Month is the motivation you need to take the plunge.

          How it works

          Try Transit Month runs from October 1 - 31. Register for the challenge on the Try Transit Month challenge page. (Create a team if you want to, or participate solo.) Any time you ride public transportation during the month of October, log your trip on the challenge page.

          After you log a few trips, you will be entered into daily drawings to win fabulous prizes, including preloaded Orca cards, theater and ballet tickets, Zipcar and car2go credit, and a grand prize of Seahawks tickets. (!!!)

          Need some help getting on the bus? Transit Month organizers are planning several group "busventures" to help you get your feet wet. And, we've also scheduled a number of other fun events (including Transit Trivia Night and a great Books on the Bus panel) to keep the transit theme going all month.

          Sign up today to win Sounders tickets!

          If you sign up for Try Transit Month before the end of the day (11:59 PM) today, September 23rd, 2013, you will be entered into a drawing to win tickets to the September 29th Sounders game against the New York Red Bulls.

          Sign up. Take a ride. Have a blast. Win some prizes.

          See you on board!

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          48,443 transit miles in 10 days

          Learn about the impact our participants are making--and the prizes they're winning.

          We’re 10 days into Try Transit Month, and what a start its been!

          As of today, our 823 (and counting!) participants have taken over 5,200 transit trips, totaling more than 48,000 miles. That means we’re almost halfway to our goal of 10,000 trips, and we still have 20 days left to ride. (!!)

          If you haven’t already signed up, it’s not too late.

          We’ve given away two Sounders tickets, four Wing Luke Museum passes, 10 preloaded ORCA cards, and 300 minutes of car2go driving credit. And we’re just getting started!

          Of course, prizes are a nice incentive, but there are many other reasons to participate in Try Transit Month. Here are a few.

          • Transit riders save money.
            Riding transit instead of driving can save you $970 a month on transportation costs.
          • Transit riders get fit.
            Bus and train riders are three times as likely as those who drive to get the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise.
          • Transit riders have time to read and relax.
            There’s even a book club for them. :)
          • Transit riders are reducing their impact on the environment.
            Transportation accounts for more than half of our state’s emissions and is the number one polluter of our precious Puget Sound.


          This has been a difficult year for transit advocates and a difficult month for everyone in this country. So many important decisions are out of our hands and seem beyond our control. The good news is, we can control our own actions. We can make choices every day that make a difference.

          Try Transit Month is an attempt to help all of us focus on the daily decisions we can control. The numbers don’t lie; we’re making a huge collective impact. Let’s keep riding, and while we’re at it, let’s tell every decision maker who will listen that we demand transit service in our communities.

          See you on board!

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          Tacoma families "try transit" to Point Defiance

          Last weekend, Downtown on the Go led a fun-filled "busventure" from Wright Park to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

          This is a guest post by Downtown on the Go's Laura Wisdom.

          As part of Try Transit Month, Tacoma’s Downtown On the Go (DOTG) hosted a transit-powered zoo adventure on Oct 19, 2013. After meeting at the historic Wright Park in downtown Tacoma, participants were provided with free ORCA cards and guidance on reading bus maps and schedules. Then the seven families (including children from 5 months to 10 years old) piled on the Pierce Transit #11 bus.

          Bus adventure 1

          Zoo adventure 2

          Arriving at Point Defiance Park, the group walked to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium entrance, passing cars overflowing from the zoo’s lots. DOTG’s bus riding event coincided with “Zoo Boo,” a Halloween-themed event hosted by the zoo. Lots of kids in costume and special pumpkin-themed treats for the animals made the day a memorable and photogenic one.

           

          Zoo adventure 4

          As the popularity of Zoo Boo filled the parking lots (and then some), the bus riders were happy to miss out on parking. After getting their fill of tigers, elephants, meerkats, sharks, and red wolves, some participants elected to take the return bus with DOTG, while others had become familiar enough with the bus through the event to make the return trip on their own.

          We can't wait to do this again next year!

          Zoo adventure 5

          P.S. - You can find more photos of DOTG's Tacoma Bus Adventures (including Wednesday's Try Transit Month bus pub crawl), here.

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          Did They Listen?

          The Senate Transportation Committee toured the state to hear input on a Transportation Revenue Package. But did they listen?

          250 in Tacoma, 400 in Bellevue, 450 in Seattle. Across the state on the Senate Transportation Listening tour, transit advocates have turned out in huge numbers. Thanks to you, we’ve packed rooms, sent thousands of comments, waited in line to testify.

          Legislators have heard, but are they listening? Cumulatively over the regular session, special session, and second special session, you have contacted your legislators over 5000 times. You’ve showed up at lobby days and council hearings and “stop the cuts” rallies. Our transportation system is in crisis.  Across the state, you came, you told your stories of infrequent mid-day service, service on weekends that is almost non-existent, buses that are older than most cars on the road.

           

          The situation in Pierce County is grim, and King County is facing 17% cuts next year if something doesn’t happen soon. Community Transit has ZERO Sunday Service. The Majority Coalition Caucus’ failure to act, to let a package die on the floor while leaving hundreds of thousands of transit riders literally stranded

          is unacceptable. The Majority Coalition Caucus’ proposal increase the gas tax by 10.5 cents to raise $8.4 billion and spend nothing ($0.00) on the infrastructure that makes our communities better and healthier is unacceptable.

          We can’t stand by and let bus service get cut time and time again, we need solutions, not stop-gaps. We need sustainable funding for transportation in this state to remain competitive, to attract the kind of business and employees that are proud to call the Northwest their home. We need to get cars off of I-5 so parents can get home to their kids at a reasonable hour. We need to protect our natural environment and prevent more runoff from polluting our Sound. We need good jobs, and access to education, a lifeline for our seniors and people with disabilities.  We need transit. And this is why we need a balanced transportation revenue package.

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          Tacoma Pierce County Equity Summit

          Learn more about our transportation equity work in Pierce County.

          What does equity mean? When it comes to transportation and conversations around transportation investments in the Puget Sound region, what considerations to ensure equity must be made? Last week in Pierce County, the Tacoma Equity Network held a summit which aimed at starting these conversations, discussing Jobs, Housing, Transportation, Criminal Justice, and Environmental Justice and how all of these areas of our community may be made more equitable. These conversations will be continued at a Regional Equity Summit next weekend at Highline Community College.

          As part of an ongoing project, Growing Transit Communities, in partnership with Transportation Choices, The Tacoma Urban League,  Solutions for Humanity, Community & Environment, Tacoma Pierce Affordable Housing Consortium, The City of Tacoma, Associated Ministries, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Forterra, and Pierce County, partnered to plan the first ever Pierce County Equity Summit.  These groups comprise the Tacoma Pierce County Equity Network, which will hopefully be an ongoing project enabling conversations in Tacoma and Pierce County, part of a larger Puget Sound Equity Network.

          Over 100 participants came on Thursday night to discuss equity concerns in Pierce County, specifically how to continue to make Pierce County a place where all citizens have equal access to services and can live and thrive. The summit included time for general discussion and small group breakout sessions after presentations included Amy Bates, Executive Director of Solutions for Humanity, Community, and the Environment, Marya Gingrey City of Tacoma Human Rights Manager, and Victoria Woodards, President/CEO, Tacoma Urban League.

          Funding provided by U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development through the Growing Transit Communities Partnership.  More information about the work of the Puget Sound Regional Equity Network can be found at http://pugetsoundequity.org/?p=74 and http://www.psrc.org/growth/growing-transit-communities/regional-equity/ .

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          Yes for Tacoma Streets!

          Fix our sidewalks and streets.

          It was an unseasonably dry and warm October evening, and I was on my way to the Tacoma leg of the Senate Transportation Listening Tour. I strapped my lights to my bike and took off from my home in the Central Tacoma Neighborhood to the Evergreen State College Campus. My choices were:

          1. Go north on MLK, a busy road with a lot of speeding vehicles and no bike lane, sidewalks in disarray.
          2. Take a smaller neighborhood street, with less car traffic, but crossing busy intersections at 19th, 15th and 12th streets with no signal, still no bike lane, low visibility and potholes so large, I could bend a wheel or worse.

          I went with option 2 riding on Sheridan going north to 6th, running a slalom through the potholes, losing light, and crossing my fingers. I made it safely that time, but every time I ride in my neighborhood (which is nearly every day, rain or shine) I worry about safety, dodging cars on foot with no painted crosswalks, sidewalks ending abruptly often without curb cuts. If you spend any time in Tacoma, be it by bus, on a bike, on foot, or even in a car, you know Tacoma’s streets need fixing. Our neighborhoods need to be invested in.

          That’s why The Tacoma City Council voted unanimously to place proposition 1 on the ballot for this November. If approved it would increase the gross earnings tax on power, natural gas and phone utilities by 2% for the sole purpose of improving neighborhood streets and road safety upgrades.

          The passage of this measure will provide funding for much needed infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians in the City of Tacoma and provide funding to:

          • fix potholes permanently in every neighborhood for safer travel
          • fix about 70 traffic signals around the city helping to save thousands of gallons of fuel each year and cars from idling
          • dedicate revenues to the mobility master plan implementation
          • help fix many sidewalks
          • paint the city with bike lanes and other striping for mobility improvement

           

          Passing this basic, common-sense infrastructure measure in Tacoma will have real impact in every Tacoma neighborhood: over 3,600 additional permanent pothole fixes per year, 510 neighborhood blocks repaved in the next 5 years alone, as well as traffic signal improvements city-wide and safety improvements to 46 neighborhood schools and community centers.

          Tacoma desperately needs infrastructure improvements and safe neighborhood streets. With a stretched city budget and historically low construction costs, now is the time to put over 300 people to work repairing our streets.

          Please join us in supporting this community-driven effort, backed by countless local civic organizations, including Transportation Choices Coalition, labor unions and small businesses.  For more information about Prop 1, visit www.cityoftacoma.org/prop1facts and www.fixtacomastreets.com.

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          Small Agency, Big Vote!

          Will Okanogan County get a brand new transit agency?

          Tomorrow's election may be an "off-year," but it’s not an off year for transit! In Okanogan County, a county as large as the entire state of Connecticut, has formed a public transit authority and is asking voters for a 0.4% sales tax increase to fund transit service to the county. TCC has been working on the measure since early this year and traveling around the county meeting with social service organizations, veterans groups, and local businesses to drum up support for the measure.

          Okanogan County has continually shown growth, a transit system connects Okanogans to services, retail centers, tourist activities, medical appointments, and jobs. With a large senior and veteran population, transit service is essential to ensure the continued mobility of these populations.

          The current, non-profit system operated with grant funding and local community support is busy five days a week throughout the county, with a fleet of 13 buses. What originally started as a small ancillary services offered by the seniors’ association has grown into a countywide transit system, providing ridership for over 70,000 riders annually. . The local sales tax increase would be dedicated solely to funding public transit. OCTA’s ballot initiative to increase local sales tax four-tenths of one percent, or four cents on every $10 taxable purchase would generate slightly over $2 million for the transit fund. The OCTA board favors transit services that are designed to function as a “hub and spoke” system, with a transit hub proposed to be located in the central Omak/Okanogan area.

          What does a yes vote mean for Okanogan?

          Upon successful election results, some of the door-to-door service will increase in days and frequency of service to more adequately serve the needs of the elderly and disabled. Based on year 2011 actual sales tax revenue figures in Okanogan County, the sales tax revenue at .4% is expected to produce approximately $2 million in annual revenue. This amount will serve as the baseline budget for OCTA and does not include additional state and federal grant money that typically becomes available with a local tax in place.

          Whether you live in Okanogan County, King County, or somewhere in between, the most important thing you can do tomorrow is VOTE. Your ballot has to be postmarked by tomorrow, so mail it on or drop it off at a ballot box today (if you haven't already).

          Just over 24 hours until this election is decided! Go, vote, win, and Get On the Bus!

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          Metro's "painful proposal"

          King County Metro proposes devastating cuts.

          Yesterday, King County Metro released a list of the cuts and service reductions that will begin in June unless the agency finds a sustainable source of revenue.

          You can find detailed information about the proposed cuts here.

          It’s a devastating list that will affect over 80% of Metro routes, and it’s coming at a time when the agency should be growing service by 15% just to reduce crowding and keep up with demand.

          Why do we keep hearing about cuts?

          Because King County Metro is primarily funded by sales tax, the agency has been experiencing financial challenges since the Great Recession began almost six years ago. Metro has done everything possible to avoid cuts, including raising fares four times, implementing efficiencies, and spending reserves.

          In the meantime, they (and we) have been asking legislators in Olympia to authorize a long-term funding source for transit. To be clear, King County is not asking for money from the state; we are only asking for the ability to decide for ourselves how to fund our critical transportation needs.

          The legislature has failed to take any action to resolve our transit funding crisis.

          What’s next?

          What’s next is a ballot measure to save Metro.

          Right now, the legislature is holding its third special session of 2013. It is possible that they will vote on a transportation package during this session, and we are pushing to ensure that the package will authorize a local funding source for King County Metro.

          But whether or not the package passes, we are going to take this issue to the people. King County has a taxing authority that, if approved by the voters, could be used to fund Metro service.

          We don’t know what will happen in Olympia this week, but we do know that Metro funding will be on the ballot no matter what happens.

          The routes that are slated to be cut aren’t just lines on a map; they represent people’s lives.  We refuse to let the legislature hold our lives hostage any longer.

          We’ll keep you posted!

          P.S. – We’re going to need all the resources we can get for next year’s campaign. Help us prepare for the fight by donating $5 today!

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          Transit Wins

          Across the country on election night, transit saw significant wins.

          It isn’t all bad news for transit. Across the country on election night, transit saw significant wins. According to the Center for Transportation Excellence, 71.4% (10 out of 15 measures, with one pending) of transit measures nationwide were successful.

          Washington State measures were among notable wins across the country (via Americans for Transit):

          Statewide Maine passed a bond measure 72%-28% for primarily roads with a small portion going towards transit.

          Schoolcraft County, MI passed 68%-32% mill/property tax increase for transit operations.

          Missoula, MT 57%-43% passed a mill/property tax increase to expand bus service and meet growing demand in the community.

          Spencer Township, Ohio passed a measure 51%-49% to remove the town from the regional transit service, TARTA. This was the one potential loss of the night for transit voters that simply lost due to it being a low turnout year. Last year the exact same proposal was defeated during a higher turnout election. It is currently losing by 26 votes.

          Lake County Ohio 71%-29% passed a measure that sets aside 25% of the locally collected sales tax for transit service operations.

          Grays Harbor, WA passed a sales tax increase to stave off cuts to this predominately rural service 71%-29%.

          Last but not least, Okanogan voters passed a sales tax measure 56%-44% to essentially create a new transit system in rural north central Washington State. (You can find the full list of transit ballot measures on the CFTE website.)

          Across the country we saw rural victories, pointing to an increased demand for transit outside of urban cores. As we look toward 2014, with some larger agencies going to the ballot, in King County and across the country, let’s keep voters saying yes to Public Transportation.

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          Not Our Vision - Act Now!

          The state legislature may be getting close to investing in our transportation system, but the Senate proposal will do little to build the vision we all want.

          Most Washingtonians agree: we want to spend less time in traffic and more time with our families. In fact, a Washington Transportation Commission survey was just released that shows that 60% of voters were willing to support increased taxes/fees to address important transportation elements — up from 51% from the same survey question last year.From a list of 12 transportation elements, the 2 that earned top support were (1) maintaining roads/bridges, and (2) expanding public transit service.

          We want a transportation system that creates more choices and preserves our existing system of streets, bridges, ferries, and buses.

          And while it looks like the state legislature is finally getting close to investing in our transportation system, the Senate proposal will do little to build the vision we all want.

          In fact, it will double-down on a failed transportation system by weakening laws that protect our environment and working families. And the proposed $12 billion package will spend less than 2% on giving you and I alternatives to being stuck in traffic. For more information about their proposal check out their bills and balance sheet.

          This isn't our vision. We need your help to turn this package around.  The legislature could vote on a transportation package as soon as the end of the week.

          Please click here to email your legislators right now.

          Want to do more? The Senate is now holding a work session on their transportation proposal on Thursday at 1:30pm in Olympia, Senate Hearing Rm 4 in the J.A. Cherberg Building; Olympia, WA. They will be taking public comments between 1:30-5:30pm.

          In addition to a funding the wrong vision, the proposal will also weaken our environmental laws even though they are completely unrelated to our transportation system.The Senate's proposal diverts $280 million away from our toxic waste cleanup fund, directly benefiting oil and gas corporations at the expense of cleaning up important waterways like the Duwamish waterway and the Bellingham waterfront.That's bad enough but it gets worse.  The proposal also eliminates protections for our shorelines and forces our state to adopt weaker federal protections instead of the stronger laws of the Evergreen State.

          Your legislators need to hear from you today. Click here to contact your legislators >>>

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          What to read on your winter rides

          Books on the Bus announces the winter '13/'14 selection.

          Our last Books on the Bus selection explored the experiences of some of the Puget Sound region’s newest arrivals; this one focuses on its original inhabitants. Michael Schein’s Bones beneath Our Feet tells the story of the Puget Sound War of 1855 and of two of its primary actors: territorial governor Isaac Stevens and Chief Leschi, the Nisqually leader who was executed for a murder he did not commit. From the book description:

          BONES BENEATH OUR FEET is the moving historical epic of the conquest
          of the Puget Sound by the “Boston” tribe. This is lyrical fiction deeply rooted
          in the people and events that made our history.

          […]

          The gravestone of Chief Leschi, leader of the Native cause, reads: LESCHI
          – Judicially murdered Feb. 19, 1858

          Behind these words lies an essential story for all who are passionate about
          tolerance, dignity, and liberty.

          Bones beneath Our Feet is available through all of the library systems in the region, as well as for download or traditional purchase. Get your hands on a copy today, and stay tuned for event information.

          Happy reading!

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          Transportation Choices is hiring!

          Want to help save transit? This job is for you!

          Transportation Choices is hiring a campus outreach organizer. Here is the job description.

          2014 will be a pivotal year for transit in King County. Impending discussions about reducing and/or eliminating significant portions of our bus system and the correspondingly massive redesign of the bus system will re-shape how we get around for years to come.  The dissemination of information about the scope and magnitude of these cuts and redesign is at the top of mind for Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC) as we head into next year.  Given how reliant the UW is on King County Metro, TCC is hiring a campus outreach organizer to work with UW institutions in King County around Metro transit cuts outreach.  This position will start in January 2014 and could run up to 11 months.

          Position Summary

          The Campus Transit Outreach Organizer will work with TCC, King County, University of Washington Transportation Services (UWTS) and other organizations to keep accurate and up to date on plans and processes for proposed King County bus cuts and timing associated with those cuts.  They will in turn take that information and disseminate it to members of the UW community including, but not limited to, students, faculty, and staff at the main campus. Implement the outreach plan as outlined by TCC and UWTS.

          Duties and Responsibilities include:

          • Disseminate information about proposed cuts and track number of meetings attended.
          • Track and measure the number of groups contacted to receive information about the proposed cuts.
          • Schedule regular meetings with interested organizations on campus to help keep up the direct flow of information about the timing and scope of cuts to interested parties.
          • Encourage members of the UW community to attend public outreach meetings associated with the proposed service cuts or provide comments about the proposed cuts on-line or by phone/text.
          • Keep lists of interested members of the UW community and share with UW Transportation Services and Transportation Choices Coalition.  The organizer will also share key contacts at departments, student groups, and other organizations on campus.
          • Organize student leaders to testify, attend press conferences, and make appearances as needed.

          Skills and Qualifications

          Required:

          • Experience with political campaigns, issue advocacy campaigns, or labor organizing.
          • Demonstrated ability to utilize innovative organizing techniques including social media marketing.
          • Demonstrated commitment to transit and environmental issues.
          • Ability to multi-task, strategically prioritize, and manage time and projects efficiently.
          • Accountable, independent and self-motivated.
          • Excellent communication skills and attention to detail.
          • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends.
          • Previous experience organizing on college campuses.

          Position Details: We expect this organizer to work at the main UW campus as well as UW Bothell and any other affiliated UW campuses within King County.  This position is a contract temporary employee (for up to 11 months), full-time, with a pay scale dependent on experience, and a monthly bus pass.

          Application Procedures: Transportation Choices Coalition is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values diversity in all areas of its operations. Email your resume and cover letter by January 5th 2014 to rob@transportationchoices.org.   Please include UW Outreach Organizer in subject line.

          Applicants will be screened/interviewed as applications come in, so applying before the deadline is preferred.

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          Email Alert

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          Stay tuned for the 2015 Legislative Session!