Marchione and Somers elected to lead Puget Sound Regional Council

More than 200 local elected officials and regional leaders came together for the Puget Sound Regional Council’s annual meeting today at Husky Stadium.

PSRC leadership:  Mayor John Marchione and Executive Dave Somers

PSRC leadership: Mayor John Marchione and Executive Dave Somers

PSRC’s General Assembly members voted to elect Redmond Mayor John Marchione as PSRC President, and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers as Vice President.

The Assembly also helped kick off and set priorities for a new regional economic strategy.

“This strategy is not going to be a re-do or update, it’s going to be fresh, from the ground-up, a bold new plan for the next phase of the Puget Sound economy,” said Marchione.

“Now, when our economy is strong, is the best time to figure out ways to leverage our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. Now is the time to secure our future prosperity.”

A video helped kick off the strategy (click to play).

One Region from mammoth on Vimeo.

President Marchione presented a VISION 2040 Award to state Representative Judy Clibborn for her hard work and leadership on state and regional transportation.

“Judy led the way to the most important transportation investment package in our region’s history. This means millions of people will have better access to opportunity and more choices in where they work, live and play,” Marchione said.

Mayor John Marchione presents State Representative Judy Clibborn with the region’s President’s VISION 2040 award for her leadership in securing the largest and most important transportation investment package in the state's history.

Mayor John Marchione presents State Representative Judy Clibborn with the region’s President’s VISION 2040 award for her leadership in securing the largest and most important transportation investment package in the state’s history.

The General Assembly also approved the agency’s supplemental budget and work program for 2016-2017.

The region’s General Assembly includes elected representation from all the members of the PSRC, including King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, as well as more than 80 cities, towns, state agencies, transit agencies, ports, and tribal governments.

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Seat opening up on hearings board

Margaret Pageler has announced that she’s leaving the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board on July 1.

Margaret Pageler with the work of the Growth Management Hearings Board at a hearing this week. She's announced she's leaving the board on July 1.

Margaret Pageler with the work of the Growth Management Hearings Board at a hearing last week. She’s announced she’s leaving the board on July 1.

Governor Jay Inslee will appoint her replacement – who must be a former local elected official, preferably with a background in law or planning.

The six-member board listens and responds to appeals related to the Growth Management Act.

Rulings have helped cities, counties and their citizens navigate the details of GMA implementation.

The board’s work has helped maintain the fundamentals of the GMA, including support for local planning, preservation of rural lands and natural resources, and thinking comprehensively.

In recent months the board has been busy sorting through appeals of newly updated local comprehensive plans, critical areas ordinances, and shoreline master programs.

There is a link to the application, and a job description on the board’s website.  The term lasts until 2022.

Pageler, a former Seattle City Councilmember, was initially appointed to the board by Governor Gary Locke.

Margaret is a former board member of the PSRC.  She is active on issues of global sustainability, serving until recently on the Board of Governors of the World Water Council.

Her counterpart on the central Puget Sound growth management panel is former state Senator Cheryl Pflug.


Ferry ridership on the rise

Annual ridership on Washington State Ferries in the Puget Sound region increased in 2015 by almost 3%, marking the third year of consecutive growth in ferry ridership.

Total ferry ridership in the region was 22,357,044 in 2015.

Total ferry ridership in the region was 22,357,044 in 2015.

WSF ferry ridership in 2015 was 21.2 million distributed over six auto-routes. Each route experienced growing ridership.

Ferry ridership on county-provided service has experienced strong growth since 2006, growing almost 70%.

County-level operators have increased service frequency to meet growing demand. A large share of this growth is on King County Ferry District service to Vashon Island and West Seattle. Overall annual boardings neared 1.2 million on county-provided service in 2015.

For more ferry ridership data, see the full Trend.

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General Assembly to meet March 31 at Husky Stadium

You’re invited to join Puget Sound leaders in kicking off an update to the region’s economic strategy at PSRC’s General Assembly meeting on March 31.


The meeting will be held at the Don James Center at Husky Stadium, just steps away from the new U Link station.

The economy is booming now.  But what steps do we need to take to maintain our competitive edge in the years to come?

How can we ensure that everyone shares in the region’s prosperity?

The meeting will be a chance to help set priorities and hear from PSRC President John Marchione on a comprehensive vision for the regional economy.

The Assembly will also honor state Representative Judy Clibborn for her steadfast efforts and leadership on state and regional transportation.

Other business will include electing a PSRC president and vice president and taking action on the agency’s budget and work program.

The meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. To ensure your spot, please register today!



A “truly regional mass transit system” proposed

After years of planning, technical work, outreach and heavy political lifting – a draft plan has been presented to deliver a mass transit system for the central Puget Sound region on par with systems serving the Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

entiremap“An ambitious plan for an ambitious region,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We go big because the need is big.”

The plan would connect 17 cities with light rail extending from Everett to Tacoma and to Redmond and Issaquah.  Thirteen cities would be connected by commuter rail – 12 cities with Bus Rapid Transit.

Sound Transit expects more details to be posted on on Tuesday.   This presentation contains highlights.  Here’s a link to the ST3 Draft Plan Map.

It is a 25 year plan with a $50 billion price tag.

Executive Constantine, who also serves as Chair of the Sound Transit Board, called the plan “a starting point for many weeks of robust public conversation.”

Sound Transit expects to finalize the plan in June in preparation for a November vote.

Executive Constantine referenced the region’s decade long debate over light rail.

“Debate is over. Light rail is here,” he said. “It is the only way to add the capacity we need.”

Sound Transit Executive Director Peter Rogoff compared the miles of the proposed light rail system as on par with BART in the Bay Area and Washington, D.C.’s Metro.

Rogoff said the system would cover twice the territory of Atlanta’s MARTA system.  When complete in 2041, the system would be expected to carry 500,000 riders per day.

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NextGEN arrives at general aviation airports

New technology that will bring greater efficiency to flying will be available to general aviators in the region soon.

NextGen technology coming soon to an airport near you.

NextGEN technology coming soon to an airport near you.

PSRC has been working with the region’s general aviation community and the Federal Aviation Administration to prepare for the arrival of NextGEN air traffic control — a switch from radar to a satellite based system with significant safety and operational benefits.

NextGEN can revolutionize how airplanes fly and how airspace is managed. The technology allows aircraft to safely fly closer together on more direct and precise routes. Benefits include reduced delays, increased capacity, fuel savings, lower emissions, and reduced noise.

PSRC’s NextGEN optimization study identified constraints on general aviation access to the airports in the region and concepts for improving air traffic control, reduction of noise and emissions and improved safety with the implementation of the strategies.

Next steps will involve the region’s aircraft owners, pilots, airports and state and federal agencies. Read more about the work, here.

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Millennials, baby boomers and parents: Trends in travel

PSRC’s Suzanne Childress recently delved into data from household travel surveys to understand trends on driver’s license rates by age, which led to discovery of some other interesting data on travel trends. 


Young people are waiting until an older age to get their driver’s licenses according to a recent national study. We were wondering if the national research on driver’s licenses could be observed in the Seattle region in our recent 2014 household travel survey. As I started to dive into this question from the household survey, it made me ask a bunch of other interesting questions! This blog post reflects the rambling data discovery process I conducted. I’ll take you on the journey with me.



Source: PSRC Household Travel Surveys 2006 and 2014




Our last household survey was 2006, so we are comparing the driver’s license rates between 2006 and 2014.

The image above shows that the percent of 16 to 17 year olds with licenses did decrease from 55% in 2006 to 45% in 2014 in the Puget Sound region. There is also a slight decline from 2006 to 2014 in the percent of people with licenses, until around age 35.

Interestingly, there is a slight trend towards older people hanging onto their driver’s licenses during that time period. For example, 95% of 65-74 year olds had licenses in 2014, as compared to 92% in 2006.

These differing trends between young people and older people made me wonder if the real factor in determining driver’s license ownership was worker status. Many jobs even require that a person has a driver’s license.




The American Community Survey showed a decline for the Puget Sound region in the share of 16-19 year olds working, from 38% in 2006 to 24% in 2014. Conversely, the American Community Survey showed an increase in the share of 65-69 year olds working, from 31% in 2006 to 37% in 2014.


Source: American Community Survey 2006 and 2014

Local workforce participation rates reflect national trends. Since the early 1990s, teen employment rates have been declining, and the most recent recession has amplified that trend. In 1978, 58% of 16-19 year olds had a summer job, while only 31% did in 2014. Conversely, older workers have remained in the workforce longer than expected, in many cases deferring retirement in reaction to the economic downtown of 2007-2009.

It’s interesting to see these employment trends by age alongside driver’s license trends. A greater share of people of an age group working correlates with a greater share of people of the age group having driver’s licenses, but rigorously proving that employment causes young people to get licenses would require much more econometric work.

Anyway, trends in licenses really only matter if people’s behaviors and travel choices are changing. So I asked the next question.




I found this trend in transit by age group to be the most fascinating. Young people are using transit more, but so are middle aged people! You can see this in the image below.

Two groups stand out as outliers in the transit mode share trends: people age 35-44 and people over 65. People age 35-44 are using transit in about the same amount in 2014 as in 2006. Older people are using transit less, commensurate with more of them having licenses. There may be other reasons older people are using transit less. Why do you think people over age 65 have lower transit mode shares in 2014 than in 2006?

I was especially interested in the 35-44 year old group because I hadn’t ever seen that trend before.


Source: American Community Survey 2006 and 2014




My hypothesis is that 35-44 year olds are most likely to have children in the household and this makes it more difficult to switch to transit. The chart below shows that people age 35-44 are the most likely to have children in their household.


Source: 2014 PSRC Household Travel Survey


I happen to be in this age group and having my first child. Even though I’m a transportation planner, I’m wondering how easy it would be to bring my baby on the bus. The main reason is that the bus I ride is standing room only and people are smashed door to door in together and I don’t know how I’ll be able weave a baby in there!

Another reason that adults with children in the household may not use transit as much: child caretaker travel patterns tend to be complicated and may not be well-supported by a transit system. Finally, adults with children in the household have limited time and may not be able to spend the extra time on transit.

The image below shows that the number of children in the household has a strong negative relationship with transit mode share.


Transit Mode Share for Adults with Children in the Household by Number of Children (Source: 2014 PSRC Household Travel Survey)


Thanks for going on this data exploration with me where we found out that:

  • Younger people are getting licenses later, and older people are holding onto licenses more than a few years ago.
  • Fewer young people are employed and more older people are employed than a few years ago.
  • Transit use is generally going up, except for those aged 35-44 and over 65.
  • Adults with children in the household are much less likely to use transit than other adults.

I love household travel studies because they let you observe interesting trends and find things out you might have never guessed.


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