Transportation

Because being there is what's most important, WPC's Center for Transportation researches and analyzes the best practices for relieving traffic congestion by recapturing a vision of a system based on freedom of movement.

What's New

House passes bill to toll I-405

February 26, 2010 in Blog

The state House just passed SHB 2941, which would toll I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood. The WSDOT estimates the average toll would be about $4 each way.

WPC completed an analysis on the bill: Tolling I-405 Needs a Closer Look
Here are the key findings:

• Defers some major policy decisions to the Executive Branch
• Fails to adequately compare tolled alternative to a no-build option or to the adopted
Master Plan for I-405
• Underestimates performance of general purpose lanes
• Likely increases traffic congestion in the non-tolled lanes
• Appears to allow toll revenue collected from drivers to be used for public transit
• Overestimates toll revenue bec!
ause of the state law to reduce how much people drive
• Jeopardizes the state’s ability to bond against toll revenue because of state law to reduce
how much people drive

There were three amendments proposed and all three were rejected. The amendments would have:

1. Allowed HOV 2+ to use the toll lanes without having to pay the toll. Currently the bill only allows HOV3+ to use the proposed toll lanes without paying the toll
2. Protected toll revenue to be used subject to the 18th Amendment
3. Prevented the conversion of general purpose lanes to toll lanes

The vote was largely along party lines (56 to 40), with four democrats crossing over to oppose it.

House passes bill OK’ing HOT lanes on I-405 between Lynnwood and Bellevue

February 26, 2010 in In the News
Bellingham Herald
Source: 
Bellingham Herald
Date: 
Friday, February 26, 2010

Local transit gets 60% of money but serves less than 3% of all trips

February 24, 2010 in Blog

In a new WPC study released today, we find that transit agencies in the Puget Sound region collect two-thirds of all transportation taxes and fees but only serve less than 3 percent of all trips.

Key Observations

Traffic congestion on highways around Seattle ranked 9th worst in the country

February 23, 2010 in Blog

In its annual scorecard, INRIX ranks highways around the Seattle region with the 9th worst traffic congestion in the country (same rank as the previous year). 

Tolling Interstate 405 Needs a Closer Look: Converting general purpose lanes to toll lanes would improve travel time for payers but reduce service levels for everyone else

February 21, 2010 in Publications

House Bill 2941 was proposed during the current Legislative Session. The bill would authorize the use of express toll lanes on Interstate 405 (I-405).1 The bill is vague and presumably relies on a study that does not adequately compare toll lanes to a no-build option. The legislature should request a full and complete comparison to a no-build option before authorizing the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to build express toll lanes on I-405.

How Public Officials Spend Our Transportation Taxes: Distribution of Road and Transit Taxes Collected in the Central Puget Sound Region

February 21, 2010 in Publications

Have you ever wondered how much of your transportation tax money pays for that Metro bus you always see on the road? Or how much of it funds light rail as opposed to roads and bridges? New research by transportation expert James W. MacIsaac, P.E. shows that if you live in the Puget Sound region, you might be surprised just how officials spend your hard earned money.

As lawmakers prepare to expand tolling and make it easier for transit agencies to raise their own taxes, it is important to understand how current revenues are distributed.

Letter to the Editor: Laird’s light-rail column was off base

February 14, 2010 in In the News
The Columbian (Vancouver)
Source: 
The Columbian (Vancouver)
Date: 
Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who's Dependent on Cars? Try Mass Transit

February 12, 2010 in Blog

Here is a good article by Ed Braddy describing how much public transit relies on taxes collected from auto-oriented sources. I will add this to my collection of examples showing how the state's law to reduce how much people drive is so bizarre and misguided.

Who's Dependent on Cars? Try Mass Transit

Yet in pursuing this transit-friendly future political leaders rarely confront this inescapable reality: public
transportation is fiscally unsustainable and utterly dependent on the
very car-drivers transit boosters so often excoriate
. For example,
a major source of funding for transit comes from taxes paid by
motorists, which include principally fuel taxes but also sales taxes,
registration fees and transportation grants. The amount of tax
diversion varies from place to place, but whether the metro region is
small or large the subsidies are significant. In Gainesville, Florida
– a college town of 120,000 – the regional transit system received 80
percent of the city's local option gas tax in 2008. In New York City,
the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority diverts 68 percent of its toll revenues to subways and buses.

But perhaps the biggest threat to the future of auto-dependent transit
is the very “cause” that seeks to establish it as the preferred travel
mode. The planning doctrine called Smart Growth
with its rationale of sustainable development is growing in popularity
in urban areas across the country. Local officials are enamored with
visions of auto-light cities where the buses are full, sidewalks are crowded and there are more bicycles on the road than cars.

The dirty little secret remains that public transportation would
collapse without the automobile. It will remain unsustainable as long
as it remains dependent on that which public policy is trying to
discourage. Smart Growth rhetoric makes for great campaign literature
but not for smart decision-making. Responsible officials should
question the underlying assumptions about automobiles and begin
reconsidering the fiscal calculus that underlies transit policy.

Tolling Interstate 405 Needs a Closer Look

February 9, 2010 in Blog

House Bill 2941 was proposed during the current Legislative Session. The bill would
authorize the use of express toll lanes on Interstate 405 (I-405).1 The bill is vague and presumably
relies on a study that does not adequately compare toll lanes to a no-build option. The legislature
should request a full and complete comparison to a no-build option before authorizing the
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to build express toll lanes on I-405.

Key Findings on HB 2941
• Defers some major policy decisions to the Executive Branch
• Fails to adequately compare tolled alternative to a no-build option or to the adopted
  Master Plan for I-405
• Underestimates performance of general purpose lanes
• Likely increases traffic congestion in the non-tolled lanes
• Appears to allow toll revenue collected from drivers to be used for public transit
• Overestimates toll reve!
nue because of the state law to reduce how much people drive
• Jeopardizes the state’s ability to bond against toll revenue because of state law to reduce
  how much people drive

Read the full Legislative Memo: Tolling Interstate 405 Needs a Closer Look