Sound Transit wins VISION 2040 Award

Sound Transit  is a VISION 2040 Award winner for its Regional Transit Long-Range Plan.

Mayor Amy Walen and Josh Brown presenting the VISION 2040 Award to Sound Transit Chair Paul Roberts, Everett City Council.

Mayor Amy Walen and Josh Brown presenting the VISION 2040 Award to Sound Transit Vice-Chair Paul Roberts, Everett City Council.

“There’s no doubt amongst local leaders, moving forward with this plan is paramount for the region,” said Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen, Chair of the VISION 2040 Awards Selection Committee.

The awards recognize innovative projects and programs that help ensure a sustainable future as the region grows.

The Regional Transit Long-Range Plan outlines Sound Transit’s plan to expand regional transit, including express bus, commuter rail, light rail and related access projects, beyond what voters have already approved and scheduled for completion in 2023.

VISION 2040 is the region’s growth management, economic, and transportation strategy, designed to meet the needs of the 5 million people expected to be living in the region in 2040.

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Funding approved for special needs transportation

Today the Executive Board approved 20 projects that help people with disabilities, older adults, youth, and people with low incomes get around more easily.

Key Peninsula School Bus Connects project received a grant to use school buses when students were not being transported, service began in November 2011. Community transportation was offered free of charge and targeted underserved populations including seniors, youth, veterans and those with special needs or low income.

The Key Peninsula School Bus Connects project received $150,000 to sustain and extend service connecting the Key Peninsula to transportation options at the Purdy Park and Ride. (Photo credit: Key Peninsula News)

The projects will receive $7.6 million from PSRC and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s coordinated grant programs.  See the full list of projects here.

Among the projects moving forward:

Northshore Senior Center will replace two aging, ADA-accessible minibuses and continue existing transportation service to seniors and people with disabilities in south Snohomish County and north King County.  The service crosses county and transit agency boundaries, providing seamless trips for riders.

Beyond the Borders is continuing its Pierce County Community Connections transportation service for special needs populations living outside of the Pierce Transit service area.  Beyond the Borders provides service to areas of Pierce County where transportation services are unavailable or insufficient to meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities.  

Mobility Management: Hopelink received two grants for short-range planning and management activities and improving coordination among transportation providers.  One of the grants will help develop a coordinated emergency response that addresses vulnerable populations. Hopelink serves people living in north and east King County.

The board also approved a contingency list of projects in the event more funding becomes available before the next grant round in summer 2016.

 

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Growing share of older adults in region’s future

The region is on the cusp of a demographic shift as the share of people over age 65 continues to increase.

Trending toward an aging population in the region.

PSRC’s newly updated  economic forecast indicates that the region’s population will get older over the next three decades. Overall the region is expected to add over a million more people and 850,000 more jobs by 2040.

The forecast projects steady growth in the number of households in the region, especially smaller households.

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PSRC’s Regional Economic Forecast is updated every three years and provides regional totals of households, persons, and jobs.

The forecast is a key input to other PSRC models. It feeds directly into the land use forecast model (UrbanSim) and indirectly into all models that rely on forecasts of population, households, and employment.   The 2015 forecast is expected to be posted on PSRC’s website by the end of this month.

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How is the region’s travel behavior changing?

The Washington State Transportation Commission heard key findings  from the 2014 Puget Sound Travel Study at its meeting yesterday.

This graphic shows the county-to-county commuting patterns. For example, 40 percent of people who live in Snohomish County work in King County.

This graphic shows county-to-county commuting patterns of those surveyed. For example, 40 percent of the workforce in Snohomish County work in King County.

On a regionwide basis, changes have been gradual. The population is aging, as the share of older groups (65+) and the proportion of younger children (5 to 15) has declined.

The share of transit and nonmotorized trips has increased, and the share of people driving has gradually declined.

While changes at the regional scale have been slight, much larger shifts from driving were observed in urban cores of Seattle and to a lesser degree in some areas of Bellevue, Everett, and Redmond.

Between 2006 and 2014, shifting from automobiles was most pronounced for 18-24-year-olds, closely followed by 25-35-year-olds.

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The study includes data on where people live and work, which shows significant commuting from Pierce and Snohomish counties to jobs in King County.

The travel study asked participants a series of questions to understand their attitudes about transportation.

Those responses indicated that increased fuel prices and more competitive, high speed transit options would have the biggest impact on whether they would use an alternative mode to get to work.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of information contained in the travel study.  You can explore the data here.

Going forward, PSRC will be conducting travel surveys on a more frequent basis.

A 2015 booster survey is currently in the field. It’s made up of 50 percent of households from the 2014 survey and 50 percent new households.  PSRC is also piloting a new method of data collection using smart phones.

You can listen to the Washington Transportation Commission presentation on TVW (starting at about 40:22).


Congress prepares two month transportation fix

An emergency measure is expected to advance through Congress next week – moving the expiration of federal transportation programs from May 31 to July 31.

TrustFund

The Congressional Budget Office forecast for the Highway Trust Fund shows growing shortfalls.

Without action before the end of the month, there would be no authority to spend federal transportation funds.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.

The two month measure allows an extension without requiring Congress to backfill the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to approach insolvency starting in August.

Congress will have two months to find a patch for the trust fund, and perhaps take action on a longer term federal transportation program.

Senate leaders announced this week that they are preparing to take initial action on a six year federal transportation program in June.

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Improving the HOV system from Seattle to Everett

Buses traveling along I-5 between Everett and downtown Seattle are often stuck in a broken, overflowing HOV system.

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Community Transit and WSDOT are investigating ways to improve reliability of the HOV system along I-5.

Data on HOV performance released last fall showed that delay has increased 20 minutes since 2010, and Community Transit buses on I-5 were late 25 percent of the time in 2014.

Today, the Transportation Policy Board heard about efforts to develop short-term improvements to improve HOV travel times, and provide more predictable, on-time transit trips for riders.

“If we want people to ride transit, we have to make it predictable, frequent and easy to get to,” said Executive Pat McCarthy. “I applaud your efforts to manage the crisis of the day.”

Improvements being investigated include a transit queue jump at the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station, developing a freeway bus shoulder operation, and implementing restricted weaving zones to improve safety.

The board also heard from Sound Transit and King County staff on their joint long-range planning efforts. King County Metro is developing a long-range plan, while Sound Transit is developing the ST3 plan that could go to the ballot in 2016, with legislative authorization.

The goal of this joint planning is to develop a blueprint for coordinated services and to ensure the future network is reflected in the Sound Transit System Plan and Metro’s Long-Range Plan and technical analysis.

The two agencies are planning joint public outreach meetings this summer and will ultimately develop one map that shows integrated regional services.

“This is a significant milestone to see Sound Transit and King County Metro here talking about the future of transit in the Puget Sound region,” said Mayor Fred Butler. “This is an outstanding example of transit integration and a fantastic first step to coordinate our long-range planning efforts.”

Later this month, PSRC will release the final 2015 Transit Integration Report, detailing how transit agencies are working together to improve transit service throughout the region.   PSRC will host an upcoming transit summit on June 11, 12:00-2:00 p.m., in the PSRC board room.


Special needs projects to get final funding awards

On Thursday, the Transportation Policy Board will recommend $1.8 million to projects that help seniors and people who are disabled get to doctor appointments, grocery shopping and other important activities.

$93,400 is being recommended for the Volunteer Chore Services transportation program, which helps elders and adults with disabilities remain independent in their own homes

$93,400 is being recommended for the Volunteer Chore Services program, which provides transportation and other services to help elders and adults with disabilities remain independent in their own homes

Last month WSDOT awarded $2.7 million in funding to special needs projects in the PSRC region.

Now that the dust has settled on the state’s awards, the Transportation Policy Board will recommend the remaining $1.8 million of PSRC funding to meet additional needs not funded by the state’s program.

The recommended projects include  King County’s Sustain Hyde Shuttles, Disabled Veterans Transportation, Pierce County’s Beyond the Borders, and the Northshore Senior Center. See the full list here.

The funding will help sustain existing programs, and provide minor levels of expansion for a handful of programs in alignment with the region’s Coordinated Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan.

The Transportation Policy Board will also discuss recent transit integration activities in the region, including a presentation on King County Metro and Sound Transit long-range and system planning integration, and interagency efforts to improve HOV performance between Seattle and Everett.

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