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.

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Vanpool Fact-of-the-Day #3

October 3, 2009 in Blog

the Puget Sound there are six transit agencies that provide vanpool services:
Community Transit, Intercity Transit, Island Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap
Transit and Pierce Transit.

Even when we are right, we are wrong

October 2, 2009 in Blog

This from the Publicola blog:

2) The second press release is from the Washington
Policy Center, a right-wing transportation policy think tank,
announcing a new study showing that vanpools are “the most cost
effective and efficient mode of public transit.” The press release
doesn’t actually include or link to any data showing that vanpools are
better than actual transit (carpooling, vanpooling—whatever you want to
call it—isn’t transit). We’re not impressed. We give it an F.

By the way, the American Public Transit Association (APTA) defines public vanpools as mass transit:

It is considered mass transit service if it is operated by a public entity or is one in which a public entity owns, purchases, or leases the vehicle(s).

There are twenty vanpool programs in Washington State and all of them are provided by public transit agencies.

Vanpool Fact-of-the-Day #2

October 2, 2009 in Blog

2008, there were about 2,360 vanpools with an average load of 8.14 passengers
per van across Washington State.

Vanpool Fact-of-the-Day #1

October 1, 2009 in Blog

Washington Policy Center is rolling out a four-part series on the effectiveness of vanpools in the Puget Sound region. To highlight the key findings, WPC will also be releasing a fact-of-the-day through the month of October.

Here is the first vanpool fact-of-the-day:

The largest public vanpool program in Washington and in the United
States is King County’s, serving more than two million annual trips
with 826 vans in operation.

You can find more information on our vanpool study at
You can also become a Facebook fan to have these facts and other transportation-related data delivered right to you.

McGinn's Viaduct plan would increase traffic congestion

September 21, 2009 in Blog

Last week, Seattle Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn suggested that expanding light rail to West Seattle could help serve travelers displaced from his ultimate plan to remove the Viaduct.

For this to work, McGinn assumes half of the passenger vehicles that currently use the Viaduct would shift to public transit. This is the same assumption Viaduct planners used during their analysis, which concluded a 50% increase in transit trips in Seattle over the next seven years.

But according to the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) annual ridership reports, transit trips for King County have only!
risen 13% over the last seven years. This means the growth rate for transit trips in the Seattle region would have to increase by nearly 400 percent for McGinn to be right!

The more likely result is these displaced cars would not disappear but rather shift to surface arterials and I-5, both of which are already congested today. Consider this: if the Viaduct were not replaced, Seattle would have only two continuous North and South freeway lanes to serve all private and commercial traffic coming into and leaving downtown!

Costs are sinking a new Columbia River Bridge

September 18, 2009 in Blog

According to this article in the Oregonian, costs are forcing officials to look for cuts in replacing the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River.

The preferred option costs around $4 billion and includes light rail. The light rail piece has a cost estimate of over $1 billion. So light rail represents about 25 percent of the total costs.

According to the Regional Transportation Council, the
bridge carries about 3,300 transit trips per day, so only 2.4
percent of all trips that cross the bridge are on public transit.
This means local officials want to spend over $1 billion more to serve 2.4 percent of total bridge crossings.

officials estimate transit demand
across the bridge would increase with light rail, because riders will
not experience congestion like bus riders do today. As a result, CRC
projects light rail would boost transit crossings to about 20,000 trips
per day by 2030.

Generally, the Federal
Transit Administration presumes there is no modal preference for trains
over buses when travel time, comfort level, and other factors are the
same. So there is likely some validity to the CRC logic that congestion
is somehow suppressing transit demand across the bridge. However, a 500
percent increase in transit demand is an unrealistic estimate of light
rail’s influence on attracting new passengers.

assuming their ridership estimate is correct and accounting for population and growth in
bridge crossings over the next 20 years, light rail’s mode share would
still only rise to about 9.8 percent of daily crossings.

what light-rail advocates claim, deliberately increasing costs by 25
percent to serve between 2.4 percent and 9.8 percent of all bridge
crossings establishes a very large gap between public costs and public

Washington transportation taxes should be used more efficiently and tied to congestion relief rather than to appease Portland politicians.

$100 car tab increase to pay for light rail

September 17, 2009 in Blog

According to this article in today's Seattle Times, Seattle mayoral candidate, Mike McGinn proposes to expand light rail in the city. He does not have any cost estimates but suggests a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) could be implemented to pay for it.

Under state law, at TBD could implement up to a $100 car tab fee on every vehicle registered in the district, subject to voter approval.

According to the Department of Licensing, there are about 454,000 vehicles eligible for a car tab fee in Seattle. If voters approved the full $100 per registered vehicle, the estimated annual revenue would be about $45 million per year.

Without knowing any specifics on how or where the system would be placed, its virtually impossible to know whethe!
r a TBD could fund such a project. Sound Transit's system is roughly about $350 million per mile, making it one the more expensive systems in the country.

Hypothetically, if the project were to cost $1 billion, it would take an annual revenue stream of $45 million about 22 years to pay.

While feasible, convincing voters, even in Seattle, to triple their car tabs would be difficult; given it would be within three years of Sound Transit's 1/2 cent sales tax increase, King County's sales tax hike for buses, and the city's street repair property-tax increase. Not to mention the negative impact removing the Viaduct and replacing existing streets with rail would have on mobility, congestion and productivity.

Nissan's All-Electric LEAF

August 4, 2009 in Blog

Nissan Unveils the All-Electric LEAF to the World (Exclusive Photos)

Nissan claims the car will run about 100 miles on a single charge and charging the battery could take anywhere between 16 hours with a common household plug or 30 minutes on a special charging station. Nissan also plans to lease the battery pack for each car.

Be sure to read the comment section as there are some insightful questions.

Highways and bridges: "more scenic or more safe?"

July 30, 2009 in Blog

The United States Senate just passed the bailout of the Highway Trust Fund. The bill now heads to the President.

Meanwhile, 'Senators
Tom Coburn, M.D. and John McCain released a report today revealing that
$78 billion from the soon-to-be-bankrupt Highway Trust Fund is not even being spent on bridges or roads.'

 Included in Highway Trust Fund Spending:

  • Over $2 billion on 5,547 bike paths and pedestrian
    walkways, including $878,000 for a
    pedestrian and
    bicycle bridge for a Minnesota town
    of 847.  An additional $2 million in federal
    stimulus funds for a
    bike lane along
    a deteriorating road in Pennsylvania
    , where exasperated local officials say the road is so
    bad they may be forced to drive on the bike path instead. 
  • $850 million for 2,772 “scenic beautification” and landscaping
    projects around the country;

  • $121 million for 63 ferry projects and ferry terminal
    facilities, including $1.6 million for a ferry boat program in Oklahoma
    that features Saturday
    morning cartoon cruises
    with Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote on the
    ferry’s flat screen T.V.; 
  • $84 million for 398 pedestrian and bicyclist safety
    projects, including a
    brochure that encourages bicyclists to “Make eye contact,
    smile, or wave to communicate with motorists. Courtesy and predictability
    are a key to safe cycling”;
  • $3.1 million in federal stimulus funds to make a historic canal
    a permanent
    floating museum in New York,

    in addition to the $28 million already obligated for transportation
    museums from FY2004-2008;
  • $18 million for motorcyclist safety grants; which
    helped fund a “cruisin’ without bruisin’”
    brochure reminding bikers to “Obey traffic lights, signs, speed
    limits, and lane markings … and always check behind you and signal before
    you change lanes”; and 

  • $3.4 million in
    federal stimulus funds

    for a
    road-kill reduction project in Florida, which will help turtles and other wildlife
    pass under a highway.

To read the full report, click here.