Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

WA advisors give preliminary green light to mileage tax

by Matt Rosenberg December 4th, 2012

In a report released today, an advisory committee to Washington state transportation officials pronounced as “feasible” an envisioned and sure to be controversial working concept for charging drivers by the mile, to fund future surface transportation system needs in the state. In a draft feasibility assessment, work plan and budget reviewed today during a meeting in SeaTac of the Washington State Road User Charge Assessment Steering Committee, the body found the proposed mileage tax – which it prefers to call a road user charge – “is feasible in Washington” and warrants further study detailed in the report. Next steps would cost at least $3.5 million and present the state legislature with enough information to decide whether the mileage tax is desirable, and if so, exactly how it would be implemented. Lawmakers will decide in the coming 2013 session whether to proceed with more study.

Cities may seek more delays on green fleet conversion

by John Stang November 9th, 2012

Does the lobbying organization for Washington’s cities want to push against a 2018 deadline to convert municipal vehicles to use alternative fuels? The Association of Washington Cities is pondering that question, and expects to be making a decision in early December, said Dave Williams, the organization’s director of state and federal relations. The next legislative session starts in early January, with education funding and another multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall both front and center. But a recent AWC draft memo to members stresses local concerns about rising fiscal pressures on cities, infrastructure and jobs concerns, and state mandates. It says a possible priority in the 2013 legislative session starting in January is to “further delay the deadline or modify the mandate for conversion of local government fleets to alternative fuel vehicles” past 2018.

Global vehicle penetration, sliced three different ways

by Matt Rosenberg October 28th, 2012

Data visualizations derived from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators show that while North America far outpaces other major global regions in vehicles per 1,000 people, that gap compared to the developing world is declining. And perhaps more revealing: several developing global regions have more vehicles per kilometers of roadway than North America. Surface transportation of course is just one sector of the energy economy. Growing global energy demands in coming decades for surface transportation, plus other consumer, commercial and institutional uses, and manufacturing, accent the bracing challenge of developing competitively-priced green energy on a vast scale in order to limit climate change.

The World Bank has posted a wide array of World Development Indicators to Google Public Data Explorer, so that users can easily build their own charts, graphs and visualizations. Picking just three among dozens of data depictions across different World Development Indicators, let’s look at global vehicle penetration, by global region, and measured three different ways. The first is passenger vehicles per 1,000 people (not including two-wheelers). North America has almost 2.5 times more than the next closest competitor, but has been declining in recent years; while on the rise are the Europe/Central Asia region, Latin America/Caribbean, and East Asia/Pacific. This chart will likely look quite different in 2020, and even more so in 2030, as the gap between North America and the rest of the world continues to narrow.

Adding in buses and freight vehicles, this next graph looks at motor vehicles per 1,000 people. The gap between North America and other continents is even wider.

However, the measurement of motor vehicles (no two-wheelers) per kilometer of built roads is quite different. Though the data set has a few gaps, it is fairly striking that in the one year so far in which data exists for the Middle East and North Africa (2008), it leads the pack. By this metric, North America ranks third among the major global regions used in the World Development Indicators, behind Middle East/North Africa, and Europe/Central Asia. Data for Latin America/Caribbean is limited to only 2004, so can’t really be factored in. East Asia and Pacific is sharply rising. Europe/Central Asia and South Asia are also rising, North America is declining.

As more road infrastructure is built in developing nations, motor vehicles per kilometer of roadway will likely continue to grow in the developing world. This in turn has a strong probability of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the surface transportation sector, unless net-green alternative fuels can be produced and sold on a wide scale. North America of course, with its huge number of vehicles overall, faces a related environmental challenge.

Against a backdrop of strong global concern about climate change, the data suggest we can expect even more effort will be focused on developing affordable green vehicles powered by electricity or biofuels; and that scrutiny will intensify of how electricity is produced for transportation and other purposes. In the developing world especially, will coal continue to dominate, or will cleaner, greener alternative energy sources actually gain a substantial foothold?

RELATED: “Global Energy Use and Carbon Emissions, 2005-2035,” Public Data Ferret.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Sound Transit watchdogs too much like lapdogs, says audit

by Matt Rosenberg October 26th, 2012

A new performance audit by the State of Washington says the Citizen Oversight Panel of the three-county Seattle region agency Sound Transit suffers from poor ethics, a poor understanding of its mission, and could be also considerably more transparent online. The audit details problems due to lack of screening of COP members and poor oversight of themselves by Sound Transit’s overseers. This includes boosterism of Sound Transit by COP rather than scrutiny, plus overlapping relationships and ethically dubious backscratching between COP board members, non-profits and for-profits that were paid by Sound Transit, and the agency itself.

Blue Scholars bust some verse for Sound Transit rail

by Matt Rosenberg October 16th, 2012

Seattle hip-hoppers Blue Scholars are rapping the praises of their regional transit agency in a new music video for Sound Transit.

Here’s one-half of the Scholars, MC Geologic, bustin’ some verse on the South Sounder commuter train from Tacoma to Seattle.

He likes the scenery inside and outside the coach, the WiFi, and the great Asian eats at the end of the line in Seattle. He also has a warning for pedestrians about train crossings.

FLIP THE HIP-HOP:

Sound Transit’s Ridership Up, But Big Challenges Loom,” Public Data Ferret

North Sounder Low Ridership, High Costs ‘Not Acceptable,’ Says Oversight Body,” Public Data Ferret


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

Sound Transit’s ridership up, but big challenges loom

by Matt Rosenberg October 11th, 2012

Commuter volume through August of this year on the buses and trains of Seattle’s regional transit agency Sound Transit was 18.5 million, up 11.7 percent compared to the same time last year. Regional express buses have carried a majority of Sound Transit’s riders from January through August of 2012. That could shift as the starter light rail system is built out over the next decade and if commuter rail usage grows. But overall, as a proportion of all in-region passenger trips, transit use in Central Puget Sound is expected to grow only from 2.9 percent in 2006 to no more than 5.3 percent by 2040.

University of Washington video highlights apps for students

by Matt Rosenberg October 1st, 2012

Recently at Public Data Ferret we reported on a number of digital initiatives to enhance the student experience at the University of Washington.

Today we came across a newly-posted video by UW on some of those apps. It gives quick profiles of tools to find study space according to desired criteria; know when buses will really arrive; find courses quickly; be notified when openings in popular courses occur; and navigate Dawg Daze. The video also suggests some key Twitter news feeds for UW students.


Here’s an auxiliary link to the video in case the embed above is acting balky.

Public Data Ferret’s University of Washington archive


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.