Regional transit ridership outpaces national trends

More people in the central Puget Sound region are riding transit.  But fare increases and service cutbacks are affecting ridership trends for some of the region’s transit agencies.

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Ridership on King County Metro grew 2.8% between 2012 and 2013.

Regional transit ridership grew by 3.1% from 2012 to 2013, compared to a nationwide increase of 1.3% reported by APTA Public Transportation Ridership Report in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Ridership trends varied by transit agency.

Metro King County ridership grew by 2.8%.  Sound Transit Express Bus, Commuter Rail and Central Link grew 7.6%, 8.1%, and 11.7%, respectively.  Sound Transit Tacoma Link experienced a small decline of 1.9%.

Pierce Transit boardings declined by 2.3% and Kitsap Transit by 1.0%.  Community Transit ridership remained stable with just a 0.1% decline.

Previous service cutbacks and fare increases have affected ridership for some transit agencies. Everett Transit reduced service 15% in the last third of 2012 and raised fares by 25 cents, which contributed to a ridership decrease of 11.7%.

See the latest Puget Sound Trend for more details on transit ridership. For more information, contact Mark Charnews at 206-971-3285 or mcharnews@psrc.org.

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Feds to PSRC: Show us the money

Federal officials charged with overseeing regional transportation planning have put the central Puget Sound region on notice that future plans will need to be revised:

unless the regional jurisdictions….and the State of Washington demonstrate tangible progress toward committing resources to pay for your transportation solutions.”

Rick Krochalis

Regional Administrator for the FTA Rick Krochalis

In other words, unless the state enacts a comprehensive transportation package, and voters start approving new taxes for transportation, the region will need to reconsider “vital system improvements and projects programmed in your plan.”

The salvo isn’t meant to interfere with the current update of Transportation 2040 that’s scheduled for adoption on May 29th.   If trends continue, it could mean big changes in the next plan, due in 2018.

The letter arrived a day after King County voters rejected additional taxes to prevent cuts in transit service.  Earlier this year the state legislature failed to produce a transportation package that’s been debated for several years.

Transit agencies in the region lost billions in anticipated sales tax revenue in the Great Recession and have cut service, streamlined operations, and put off planned investments.

Meanwhile, the region’s Transportation 2040 plan relies on a 100% increase in transit service to keep a growing region moving.

The letter from the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration did not mention the United States Congress, but federal highway funds are expected to dry up in August without action.  The region’s plans also rely on growth in federal transportation funding.

The track record of Congress caught the attention of The Herald in Everett, which called on Congress to act.

 


PSRC approves $5 million for Darrington, Oso and Arlington area

The Puget Sound Regional Council’s Executive Board unanimously gave final approval of $5 million in federal transportation funds to support the economic recovery of the Stillaguamish valley communities impacted by the Oso landslide.

The Executive Board unanimously gave final approval of $5 million in federal transportation funds to support the economic recovery of the Stillaguamish valley communities impacted by the Oso landslide.

The Executive Board approved $5 million in federal transportation funds to support the economic recovery of the Stillaguamish valley communities impacted by the Oso landslide.

The PSRC funding will be made available to Snohomish County, which will work with local communities to make transportation investments which will best support local economic recovery.

“As we in Snohomish County have been responding to the tragic events of the Oso landslide disaster, it is apparent that the Town of Darrington will need ongoing support for its economic recovery in the months and years to come.  This funding award will be an important first step,” said Snohomish County Executive John Lovick.

“With this action, we have an opportunity to meet real needs in the Town of Darrington at this time and to set the stage for its economic recovery,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Somers.

“This tragedy has impacted the entire Arlington, Oso and Darrington area and this assistance is important,” Snohomish Councilmember Ken Klein told the board.   “It helps toward building the economy of Darrington and surrounding communities.  We are very grateful.”

Read more about what happened at the Executive Board meeting here.


Special needs projects recommended for funding

An additional $571,835 would fund five special needs transportation projects under a recommendation to the Executive Board.

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Additional funding is proposed for special needs transportation serving seniors and people who are disabled or low income.

The funds would give a boost to transportation services for seniors and others living with a disability or low income.   See the list of projects.

The additional special needs funds are available as a result of higher than estimated federal funding and because of funds returned by project sponsors from the 2011-2013 biennium.

PSRC will be able to fund five projects from the contingency list at this time and add $345,168 to next year’s round of special needs funding.  

The Executive Board will meet on Thursday, April 24, from 10 -11:30 a.m. in the PSRC Board Room.

For more information on special needs funding, contact Gil Cerise 206-971-3053 or gcerise@psrc.org.

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Join us at PSRC’s General Assembly on May 29

Registration is now open for the Puget Sound Regional Council’s annual General Assembly meeting and VISION 2040 awards dinner on Thursday, May 29, 4-8 p.m., at the Seattle Westin.

The General Assembly will meet May 29 at the Seattle Westin.

The General Assembly will meet May 29 at the Seattle Westin.

The General Assembly includes mayors, councilmembers, commissioners, and other representatives from PSRC’s members.

The Assembly will vote on the agency’s budget and an update to the regional transportation plan, and will elect PSRC’s president and vice president.

The business meeting will be followed by a reception and the VISION 2040 awards dinner to honor the outstanding work by public and private organizations to help the region sustain a great quality of life.

For more information, contact Sheila Rogers at srogers@psrc.org or 206-464-5815.

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Maritime industry fuels local economy

Check out this great Port of Tacoma video that follows longshoreman Eddie Flores around town as he spends his paycheck. Eddie is a ILWU Local 23 member.

An estimated 40% of the jobs in Washington state are related to international trade. And the central Puget Sound region is home to a thriving maritime industry, which generates about $30 billion annually in Washington state. Maritime wages average $70,800 per year.

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CityClub event to feature U.S. Reps Kilmer and Reichert

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On April 22, CityClub is hosting a Working Across the Aisle conversation with U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-6th) and U.S. Representative Dave Reichert (WA-8th) to discuss how they find common ground and produce policy solutions.

Participants will be able to hear their thoughts on building trust in (and within) the political system and ideas for avoiding partisanship. Political journalist Robert Mak will moderate the program.

The Working Across the Aisle conversation will be held at the Sheraton Seattle, from 11:30 – 1:30. You can register online.