Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dick Kelley was just on my street!

I was on my way home from the bus stop just now, and who did I see but Dick Kelley, running for state Representative in the 43rd district. Since Ed Murray announced his candidacy for state Senate, I've been paying attention to the platforms of the people running, and Kelley is by far my favorite.

He's progressive on every issue - he points out in his brochure that low income people pay a much higher percentage of their income than wealthier people in taxes, for instance.

It's his position on transportation that I like. He doesn't even say it's a position on "transportation" - it's "transportation and the environment". From his campaign brochure:
We should focus transportation investments on transit, carpools, and bikes, so we can all get to work faster without more cars on the road.
That's an excellent position to take. Light rail, cleaner buses, bike lanes - these are choices that people want to be able to make, and when we supply them, they reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Kelley won't accept more than $100 from anyone. I suggest anyone reading this check out his web site - hopefully he'll be a representative from Seattle next session.

Amtrak was very late last night:

I wasn't on the 3pm train from Portland to Bellingham, but I heard horror stories last night. Apparently, somewhere just north of Portland, there was an equipment failure of some kind that resulted in the train returning. Passengers had to wait for at least three hours for another train to take them northbound - I'm not sure, but they may even have been later getting into Seattle than the evening service!

We don't have any spare equipment on Amtrak Cascades - any time there's a difficulty, there's nothing available to take its place without waiting for another train that was in service earlier that day. We need to improve this service by buying a spare train.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Eyman may not have enough signatures to get on the ballot:

Today's Seattle P-I is reporting that Tim Eyman may not have enough signatures to get I-917 on the ballot.

This is good news. I-917 (PDF) would gut our transit systems, kill freight mobility projects that are necessary to our state's economic health, and probably result in putting more of the cost of roads on citizens like me who don't drive on them. Granted, I'm not against paying for our infrastructure - I certainly benefit from it - but we don't have a level playing field when we're so heavily subsidizing highways, so we don't see the alternatives that are so readily available in other cities and countries.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our northern neighbors are driving less.

A new report by Statistics Canada, reported on by the Vancouver Sun, shows residents of British Columbia drove less last year than in 2004. Not per capita, either - despite population growth of about 1.27% between the ends of 2004 and 2005, total miles driven dropped by nearly ten percent!

It's likely this is due to higher gas prices - in the article, a representative of the BC Automobile Association agrees. I think that what we're seeing in BC is what happens in something closer to a market system - where there are alternatives to driving. I think this is also evidence that buses aren't a viable alternative, whereas mass transit like SkyTrain probably is.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hey, I'm a guest columnist today!

I submitted a piece to the P-I on why light rail is the right choice for serving the Eastside - it was put on the site tonight, and should be in the print edition tomorrow. It's pretty cool to see "guest columnist" under your name.

Now that Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Issaquah are on board with light rail endorsements, I can only hope that the Sound Transit board will vote the same way when they make their decision about what system to put in next year's ST2 ballot measure.

In other news, Sound Transit has announced increased Sounder service for next year - a fifth round trip in the direction we're accustomed to, as well as a reverse trip serving commuters going from Seattle and intermediate cities to Tacoma in the morning. Because they're getting a train "back" in Seattle from the reverse trip, presumably this means they won't have to buy new equipment for these round trips.

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Amtrak Cascades round trip

Starting on Saturday, Amtrak Cascades began offering a new option between Seattle and Portland, and better connecting service from this corridor to Bellingham and Everett.

I rode the inaugural train - passengers were treated to little cupcakes, Amtrak Cascades pens, and an early arrival into Portland, despite chasing the slower, hour-late Coast Starlight all the way to Centralia. With passengers coming all the way from Bellingham, the train was sold out, including many seats in the dining car.

I browsed the urban design and transport sections at Powell's Technical Books while we were in town, and we returned to Seattle in the evening on the usual late service.

While on board, I learned that about 4/5 of the funding necessary to extend the second northern round trip to Vancouver, BC is now available - $4.5m of $5.5m. That would be fantastic - an evening trip into Vancouver would be possible, doubling the available seats and allowing for trips starting Friday night instead of Saturday morning.