In its year-end 2012 Performance Report, presented Thursday at the monthly Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle, ST’s Citizen Oversight Panel took the regional transit agency to task for poor operating cost controls and questionable resource allocation choices, while revenues are 30 percent lower than expected. The COP says in its report that with the Great Recession having smacked down projected ST 2 revenues by nearly a third, Sound Transit needs to clamp down on growth in day-to-day costs such as a planned 9 percent bump in transit operations spending in 2013, and what has been an ongoing five percent average growth rate for agency operating costs. That includes overhead and a particular sore point, security.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category
by Matt Rosenberg March 1st, 2013
by Matt Rosenberg February 24th, 2013
Admitting local state legislators have already warned their colleagues will likely approve electronic tolling on Interstate 90, Mercer Island City officials are still poised Monday night to approve a work plan to battle the move.
Council bill 4809 would OK an initial appropriation of $150,000 from the city’s $2.34 million general contingency fund to hire experts on the economic and traffic impacts to the well-off city of planned state tolling on I-90, plus federal and state lobbyists and a communications and government affairs consultant to fight the plan. Mercer Island has already engaged the high-powered Seattle law firm of K&L Gates, which recently completed a letter to the the Washington State Department of Transportation outlining what should be examined, and how, in the planned Environmental Assessment, or EA, on I-90 tolling.
by Matt Rosenberg February 22nd, 2013
On the State Route 520 bridge and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge most drivers who ignore initial tolling fee bills sent through a process using mounted cameras and mailed notices are not moved to compliance after they receive a so-called Notice of Civil Penalty sent to them by the Washington State Department of Transportation. A report recently presented to the state legislature by WSDOT shows that from April though September of 2012, 170,800 or 76.8 percent of 222,300 NOCPs mailed to drivers on the two bridges were ignored. Additional data provided by the department at Public Data Ferret’s request show that 73,140 or 82.9 percent of 88,169 NOCPs issued from October through December were ignored.
The 243,940 ignored civil penalty notices tabulated for April through December of 2012 would represent almost $10 million, at $40 apiece, although processing fees can add to the cost for those who do comply. WSDOT emphasizes in its report to lawmakers that a stepped-up enforcement program for photo-toll fee scofflaws is scheduled to be fully implemented by the middle of 2013. It will include collection agency outreach, supplementing efforts already launched to deny annual vehicle license renewals for those who continue to leave their toll bills and penalty fees unpaid.
by Matt Rosenberg February 18th, 2013
A new report to the legislature says Washington state is currently $1.43 billion short of what it would take to complete a crucial six-lane, six-mile partially-tolled extension of State Route 167 from Meridian Avenue in Puyallup across Interstate 5 to Port of Tacoma Road and State Route 509. According to the report just issued by the Washington State Department of Transportation, another $1.5 billion is needed for right-of-way purchases, securing permits and building the project, but only $65 million could be raised over 30 years through current plans to electronically toll one lane in each direction. Combined with a long laundry list of other road and transit needs statewide, the findings add to already considerable pressure for lawmakers to approve some sort of transportation funding package in Olympia this session.
State survey: more Washingtonians see transportation problems than a year ago, but they’re iffy on paying for fixes
by Matt Rosenberg February 14th, 2013
Across Washington, just 64 percent of regional respondents say the condition of their surface transportation system rated a “C” grade or better in 2012, versus 70 percent in 2011, according to key results of a major survey presented this week to the state senate transportation committee by the state transportation commission. And just 53 percent felt their area was getting its fair share of state transportation funding in 2012, versus 60 percent in 2011.
With baseline annual state transportation system maintenance needs identified in the survey at $2.1 billion, 51 percent of the 7,897 respondents across the state’s 14 different Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) jurisdictions said they’d support new revenues such as higher taxes, fees or tolls, versus 59 percent in 2011. But questioned more closely on what they’d really be willing to pay, and in what form, responses were quite mixed, showing that state lawmakers and local and regional officials may have a tough sales job ahead.
by Matt Rosenberg February 5th, 2013
A woman run over by a bus in West Seattle. A man who had already won a large settlement for police excessive force but whose attorney was denied key records in the process. A woman attacked and injured by a neighbor’s two pit bulls, about which she had already made complaints. Three different people injured by the same King County bus that rounded a bend on Interstate 5 and smacked into stalled traffic, at 30 miles per hour. These are a few of the 13 “tort,” or negligence lawsuits King County settled before trial with claimants for $100,000 or more in the fourth quarter of 2012, for a total of $10,535,500. The information comes in a new report to the King County Council from Jennifer Hillis, Director of the Office of Risk Management, Department of Executive Services.
The last quarter results bring to $15,785,500 the total of $100,000-plus tort claim settlements by the county in 2012, compared to $23.1 million in 2011 and $10.3 million in 2010, according to earlier county records reported on by Public Data Ferret. The percentage of dollars paid out in such settlements that stemmed from errors attributed to King County Metro transit employees was almost 73 percent in 2012 versus 27 percent in 2011 and 64 percent in 2010.
by Matt Rosenberg January 29th, 2013
Each weekday about three million Washingtonians travel to work. A detailed performance metrics report presented last week to the Washington State Senate’s Transportation Committee finds that nearly three-quarters of those trips are by solo drivers. About 2.2 million or 73 percent drove alone to work in 2010, up slightly in percentage terms though not in raw numbers from 2008. More than 10 percent of Washington work trips were via carpool in 2010. Another 5.4 percent were by transit; 5.6 percent were classified as taxi/motorcycle/bike/walk/other; and 5.3 percent of workers, or telecommuters, travelled only down the hall to their home office to start the work day.
The report says that one objective for the state is to “reduce the percentage of commuters who drive alone to work.” That measure has become an increasingly central baseline indicator of transportation impact on the environment. Compared to solo commutes, carpooling, biking, walking and transit use are considered greener alternatives because there are typically fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger. As more and more jobs move away from downtown cores, it becomes more difficult for regions to reduce solo work commutes. However, improving vehicle mileage and continued market penetration of electric vehicles can also help limit the environmental effects of solo work commuting, as can increased telecommuting.
The “mode split” data on commuting are among a range of indicators on mobility, safety, and environmental impacts in the “2012 Biennial Transportation Attainment Report” from the Washington State Office of Financial Management.
According to the OFM report, walking accounted for 3.49 percent of trips to work by Washingtonians in 2010 and biking for 0.91 percent. This is versus 3.42 percent and 0.69 percent, respectively, in 2007.
The report also looks at transit ridership in the four counties of Central Puget Sound, King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish. The overall five year-trend is a 13.3 percent increase, but “with job losses and depressed economic activity between 2008 and 2010, transit ridership dropped 3.3 percent,” the report says.
by Matt Rosenberg January 28th, 2013
A state tolling advisory panel for the new deep-bored tunnel on State Route 99 in central Seattle is signaling its support for a linked, regional tolling policy affecting all the major highways in Central Puget Sound, partly to neutralize emerging concerns about toll-avoiding drivers clogging adjacent untolled highways. Publicly released just last week, a progress report to the chair of the Washington State Transportation Commission Reema Griffith from the Co-Chairs of the SR 99 Advisory Committee on Tolling and Traffic Management, Claudia Balducci and Maud Daudon, suggests that the state look seriously at a “systems approach to tolling” involving at least four more major highways in addition to the three already tolled.