Posts filed under ‘Transit’
Each year the Washington State Transportation Commission visits four or five communities around the state to learn about local transportation needs, challenges and successes. A visit to Port Townsend and Jefferson County this week kicks off the 2013 community meetings. The Commission will tour various transportation sites on Tuesday afternoon and meet all day in Port Townsend on Wednesday, May 22, at the Port of Port Townsend. In addition to hearing from the cities of Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and Sequim and Jefferson and Clallam Counties, the agenda also includes WSDOT, the local ports and transit agencies and tribes. Presentations will zero in on the importance of transportation to the area’s tourism economy and the unique demands on transit created by the state’s highest percentage of elderly population.
The Commission travels to Walla Walla in June, to Colville and Spokane in September, and to Bothell in November. During other months, with the exception of August, the Commission meets in Olympia.
Do you ever think about “going car-less”? After a long afternoon sitting in traffic on the highway, other transportation options besides driving start to look pretty appealing. But to make other transportation options a realistic alternative to driving, we need reliable options that link home, school, work, and other destinations. In addition, better coordination between transportation providers is critical to ensure connectivity between modes, thereby improving the efficiency of the whole trip. For example, when bus or train schedules are not coordinated with ferry landings and departures, it adds time to the trip and passengers that might otherwise make the trip using transit continue to use their cars.
The issue of improving mobility affects all of us, whether we drive or not. To ensure the timely and reliable movement of people and goods we need to address bottlenecks to relieve traffic congestion. Private sector data providers are increasingly working with transportation agencies to address a range of mobility problems, including bus arrival times, traffic flow information and real-time incident alerts.
As part of WTP 2030, the Commission has developed a preliminary list of the necessary steps and actions to initiate key strategies in the near‐term (initiate actions between 2011-2017).
The Transportation Commission wants to learn about your transportation priorities and ideas. As part of the WTP 2030 outreach process, the Commission will hold 5 Listening Sessions around the state in the month of September.
September 9, Vancouver
WSDOT Headquarters, 11018 NE 51st Circle (9am – noon)
September 14, Yakima
Harman Center, 101 North 65th Avenue (9am – noon)
September 23, Spokane
Downtown Spokane Library, 906 W Main Avenue (1pm-4pm)
September 29, Everett
Everett Transit Station, 3201 Smith Avenue, 4th Floor (9am – noon)
September 30, Bremerton
Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 6th Street (9am – noon)
The objectives of the Listening Sessions are to:
- Actively engage the public and solicit input from across the state to help shape WTP 2030 – the state’s 20-year plan for transportation
- Learn about regional and local perspectives on transportation system needs, challenges and opportunities to further inform the plan
If you cannot make it to a Listening Session, please use the online public input tool to tell us about the transportation issues and priorities that are important to you. Comments will be accepted through October 15, 2010. You can also provide comment by email (email@example.com) or by mail (P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308).
Comments on the plan are welcome and encouraged on this blog. Let us know what you think.
The Washington State Transportation Commission (Commission) has released a draft of the Washington Transportation Plan (WTP 2030) for public review and comment. The Commission led the development of WTP 2030 with ongoing engagement and input from a diverse Advisory Group and other partners throughout the state. You can view the draft plan on the Commission’s website.
WTP 2030 sets a 20-year course for Washington State’s transportation system. It identifies long-term funding shortfalls, service needs, and system-wide challenges along with recommended solutions and approaches aimed at moving the state’s transportation network into the future. Once finalized, the plan will be submitted to the Governor and the 2011 Legislature.
The Commission’s website also features an online public input tool that gives you the opportunity to comment on transportation issues and priorities as well as comment on specific portions of the plan. Comments will be accepted through October 15, 2010. You can also provide comment by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It used to be that teenagers couldn’t wait to get their driver’s licenses and hit the road. But data from the Department of Transportation shows a trend that has shifted dramatically over the last 15 years.
A recent article in Ad Age, Is Digital Revolution Driving Decline in U.S. Car Culture?, discusses the decline.
In 1978, nearly half of 16-year-olds and three-quarters of 17-year-olds in the U.S. had their driver’s licenses, according to Department of Transportation data. By 2008, the most recent year data was available, only 31% of 16-year-olds and 49% of 17-year-olds had licenses, with the decline accelerating rapidly since 1998.
The article suggests several reasons for the downturn. The primary assertion is that the proliferation of wireless and mobile devices makes younger drivers more inclined to use public transportation rather than drive themselves. Additional factors include the increases in the minimum age for first-time licenses and graduated licensing programs, which place limits on teens driving alone and often the hours within which they can drive. Finally, the cost of buying a car and paying insurance premiums is too costly for many young drivers.
Washington State passed a law in 2001 that created an Intermediate Drivers’ License for 16-18 year olds and limited late night driving. The law was amended in 2010 to forbid teenagers with drivers’ instructions permits and intermediate drivers’ licenses from using wireless communications devices while operating a moving motor vehicle. With new and stricter laws to prevent distracted driving popping up everywhere those who want to text, talk, or work on their computers while commuting may choose to take the bus or train.
As the Streets Blog points out in their post on the Ad Age article, Younger People Driving Less, Auto Industry Getting Nervous, both the auto and insurance industries are concerned by the trends, as it means less business from the younger cohort of the population. It’s also interesting to think about what this trend means for the WTP 2030. If fewer young people are driving, that would take cars off the roads – but would also put more strain on our public transportation systems, in addition to an increased demand for wireless access on public transportation.
What do you think a decrease in younger drivers would mean for the roads and transit systems? Do you see this as a positive shift for commuters as a whole?
Even though transit ridership is up, as previously discussed, revenues are down, which leaves jurisdictions challenged to figure out other ways to achieve funding.
One obvious route is to try to get voters to approve a tax increase for more transportation funding – not an easy task.
In Whatcom County, the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) put a measure on the ballot in April 2010 for residents to vote on a two-tenths of one percent sales tax increase to maintain and improve public transportation services. Ridership in Whatcom County has been absolutely booming recently, (an increase of 52% between 2006 and 2009) and the county was tapping into reserve funds to support the increase.
The measure was narrowly defeated, however, by 930 votes or 1.8 percent. As a result, the WTA says it will have to reduce and/or cut service, almost immediately.
In Skagit County in 2008, the story was different. After ridership increased 24 percent between January and July of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, voters approved a .2 % sales tax increase, and as a result Skagit Transit was able to expand service hours and add routes. They also upped fares to help cover operation expenses.
One idea proposed by the Seattle Transit Blog last year was to sell more advertising in Metro stops and on transfers to help raise revenue for the bus system.
An article written by Christopher B. Leinberger on the Atlantic’s website about the potential of privately funded rail lines prompted Sarah Goodyear, a blogger at Streetsblog.net to ask “Could private developers be the key to developing the nation’s transit infrastructure?“
What do you think? Have you heard of any unique or unexpected ways that other states or counties are funding transit? What are some innovative solutions you might propose?
If you’re opting for the bus, train or light rail more often these days, you’re not alone – public transportation went up a record-setting 7% in King County in 2008, with an estimated 118 million passenger boardings.
While boardings dipped down to 112 million in 2009, ridership has trended upward since 2002. The increases are state-wide, as Spokane Transit experienced a 9% increase in ridership between November 2007 and November 2008, and ridership on Whatcom Transportation Authority buses increased by 52% between 2006 and 2009.
But while transit ridership might be up, revenue from transit is actually down, due to a decrease in sales tax funding because of the economic recession. Sales and local taxes account for well over half of transit revenues state-wide, and often much more on a county-by-county basis. And most of the local option taxes available to transit districts (including those for high capacity transit, HOV systems, ferry services, RTIDs, TBDs) require voter approval to be enacted.
How do you think transit could be differently funded to capture the benefits of an increased use of public transportation? Should the state, which currently contributes less than one percent of transit districts’ capital and operating needs, play a bigger role? Or should riders pay more?
Stay tuned for a future post on what jurisdictions themselves are trying to do to fix the funding situation.
On Friday, March 5, I had a great time chatting with the Association of Northeast Mayors at their quarterly meeting in the community of Millwood, Washington. We talked about the challenge of developing a 20-year transportation plan for the state that reflected different needs and priorities in very diverse communities and economies. Not surprisingly, funding concerns and opportunities are at the forefront.
- Deferred maintenance has caused a backlog of projects. With limited funding and taxpayers already hard pressed, it’s difficult to find a yellow brick road solution. In today’s world one may question whether it’s a road, a sidewalk, or a bike path. Perhaps all three are needed. Mayors gave kudos to the Public Works Trust Fund and its low-interest loans that support local efforts, but it too is limited in reach.
Anyone have new ideas for getting more with less?