News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood

 

Updates on bus service, Roosevelt Way work

March 9th, 2016 by Mike

Is your bus route changing?

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Over at Re-think Green, Julia has done a lot of work on the changes coming to our bus service as the University Light Rail station opens later this month.

This post is for my peeps who ride Metro (or may want to ride Metro) in the North part of Northeast Seattle. I’m talking ‘bout Lake City, Olympic Hills, Jackson Park, Pinehurst, Northgate, and Maple Leaf. My hood.

Her specific post is here: Metro Changes: A summary for Northgate & Lake City. (The short take, I think, is that many routes that now go downtown will go instead to the light rail station.)

Meanwhile, the Seattle Bike Blog has reported on the extensive work coming to Roosevelt Way this year from Northeast 65th Street to the University Bridge.

Major work to repave Roosevelt Way and rebuild it with transit, biking and walking improvements starts March 14, SDOT says.

That report is here: Work starts soon on major Roosevelt Way repaving & redesign, will last most of 2016.

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Update: Public transportation – and a new City Council

January 30th, 2016 by Mike

Update on Mardi Gras:

The Seattle Times has an opinion piece here. It’s not supportive of Pronto.

Update Feb. 4:

The Stranger has a Pronto story here.

The Seattle Bike Blog has one here.

Update Feb. 3: Josh Feit over at PublicCola has an update on Tuesday’s hearing on Pronto rental bikes.

Bottom line: Not much happened. Any vote was postponed as apparently only two transportation committee members were present – including the chair, Councilman Mike O’Brien.

To O’Brien’s frustration, SDOT’s presentation didn’t come with a specific business plan other than the immediate pitch to stabilize the program—there are currently 50-plus stations with 500 bikes and 3,000 members—and then have the city put it out to bid again in 2017….

O’Brien’s committee didn’t take any action yesterday (Pronto will go under in March if the city doesn’t bail it out); O’Brien reasoned that his other council colleagues are likely to have questions. Indeed, letters have been coming in to city hall suggesting that the $5 million could go to homelessness programs.

Feit tweeted about the meeting here.

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A month into Seattle’s new City Council – in which council members are elected neighborhood by neighborhood – we’ll get a look at what this might mean for local public transportation.

Specifically, what will the council members – representing their districts – say about:

* Rescuing Pronto bike sharing rental.

* The apparent disappearance of much of our direct bus service to downtown.

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether to spend $1.4 million to bail out the failing Pronto public bike rental  system.

Fifteen months after launch, Pronto is insolvent. Also, no one is riding the bikes.

As the map shows, there are no Pronto bikes available in Maple Leaf nor, for that matter, in all of Council District 5 (north Seattle), now represented by Debora Juarez.

There was a proposal to put a Pronto station at North Seattle College, but only if the feds paid for it. The feds declined.

Our earlier post is here. The Seattle Times has an updated story here: Seattle’s Pronto bike-share nonprofit teetering, seeks $1.4M rescue by city. (Note to “terriance”, in the +300-plus comments on that story: We don’t know what an “enterprise producer” is, either.)

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Transportation and Sustainability Committee, said he was disappointed to see Pronto “go financially sideways so quick” and said he’ll have to carefully consider whether to fund it.

“Just barely a year into it we’re going to throw a million and half into it to keep it alive and see what the next phase is.”

He said he believed bike sharing could work in Seattle, but O’Brien said, “If we’re not going to make it work, let’s figure that out as soon as possible and not spend money on it.”

The Seattle Bike Blog has posted here: With Pronto in the red, city outlines takeover and expansion plan.

The Times’ Danny Westneat has a column here.

In its first year, people took 142,832 rides on Pronto bikes. That’s only 391 rides per day. It’s about seven rides taken at each station per day. Each station brought in only an average $30 a day in revenue.  These are terrible figures considering the bike stations are dotted around places like the Amazon jungle, which we imagine should be meccas of alternative transportation.

Also, helmets.

Also, buses.

With the coming of light rail to the University District, there are proposed changes in Metro routes – but we’ll be damned if we understand them.

We weren’t at the Community Council meeting Wednesday evening, but reports on “Metro’s” presentation were not illuminating. [Read more →]

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Maple Leaf, Metro buses and Pronto rental bikes

October 5th, 2015 by Mike

Two things about transportation:

1) Metro is considering a plan that could dramatically increase mid-day bus service in northeast Seattle. Specifically, from about 8,700  to 28,000 households served by a bus every 15 minutes.

There’s a meeting Tuesday night, 6 p.m., at The Mountaineers Club at Magnuson Park, hosted by Rod Dembowski of the King County Council, which oversees Metro.

The address is 7700 Sand Point Way N.E. More details are here.

2) Meanwhile, the city of Seattle,in a bid to rescue the apparently faltering Pronto bike ride-share program, is proposing spending millions of dollars to, among other things, put a Pronto bicycle-renting station at North Seattle College.

From our news partners The Seattle Times:

The proposal to boost the bicycle network is laid out in Mayor Ed Murray’s budget proposal, announced this week. Murray called fora $5 million city contribution to purchase 2,000 new bicycles, to go with a potential $10 million in matching federal grants for stations and other needs….

The idea surfaced earlier this year, as a section of a $25 million federal grant request, primarily to seek $15 million toward the Northgate Station walk-bike bridge over Interstate 5, plus $10 million for the citywide bicycle network.

The grant request touts bike stations around North Seattle College and South Seattle College, which serve higher proportions of low-income and minority students than the city population in general.

The full Times story, and several hundred mostly not-supportive comments, is here.

For more supportive comments, try the Seattle Bike Blog, here.

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Changes come to Maple Leaf bus routes

June 4th, 2015 by Mike

Beginning Saturday, a number of changes take effect on local bus routes – funded in part by passage of Seattle’s Proposition 1 last November, which adds 110,000 hours to dozens of routes in the city.

The easiest way to determine if this affects you is to use this online tool provided by King County Metro.

For example, for Maple Leaf’s popular Route 41, the tool advises:

On weekday evenings, seven southbound trips to downtown Seattle and seven northbound trips to Lake City will be added.

On Saturday, five southbound and eight northbound trips will be added.

On Sunday, two morning and two evening southbound and northbound trips will be added.

These changes will improve service frequency to about every 15 minutes on weekdays and Saturday. Early morning and evening service frequency will improve to about every 30 minutes.

If you’re a regular bus rider and want to flag Maple Leaf changes, please do so in comments.

For more information visit Metro Online.

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Starting today, real-time transit on Google Maps

June 2nd, 2015 by Mike

Now there’s another way to tell where your bus is – on Google Maps.

Starting today in Google Maps, relevant journeys are handily arranged and summarized in the app—so it’s easy to know at a glance how long you’ll be waiting and what your other options are if you just miss that bus.

Sound a lot like OneBusAway, the app used for years by thousands of Seattle commuters to figure out when to be at their stop?

That’s in part because the guy who wrote OneBusAway- as a University of Washington grad student and was then hired by Google – is responsible. From Geekwire:

The new data is being included thanks to Brian Ferris, who created the popular OneBusAway app before being hired by Google in 2011. Google added real-time data for Portland, Ore., later that year, and other cities like Chicago and London have been added since then, but Seattleites have had to rely on timetable data until now.

The change means users will now receive real-time information instead of relying on timetables. Route options will include the on-time status of different transportation options. This means you may be advised to jump on light rail if traffic is slowing down buses, or told to switch to a different bus line if you just missed your normal bus.

Good news? Mostly.

Using the transit data involves calling up Google Maps, remembering how to add layers to it, selecting the “Public transit” layer, not noticing anything new on the map, zooming WAY in and noting bus stops have been added as little blue bus icons.

Touch the icon and bus routes and times appear in a swipe-up menu at the bottom of the screen.

It’s like OneBusAway except that the original, stand-alone app is faster and also tells you if buses are delayed – and by how much.

But it lives in an app – Google Maps – you almost certainly already have and use.

(Thanks to the Seattle Transit Blog for Tweeting about this earlier today.)

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Live north of 85th? Metro Transit is offering free ORCA card

August 7th, 2014 by Mike

This post courtesy of our sister site PhinneyWood.

Metro Transit’s new In Motion program for North Seattle and Shoreline aims to encourage people to use transit, bicycle, walk or carpool.

So it’s offering a free ORCA card good for two weeks of unlimited travel to anyone who pledges to change some of their trips from driving alone. This round of the program is for anyone who lives or works in north Seattle north of  Northeast 85th Street, or in Shoreline.

Just register online and record your weekly progress. (Must be at least 16 years old and have at least one car in your household to participate.) The program runs for 12 weeks.

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Plan C for buses? Don't forget the coming parks tax vote

April 23rd, 2014 by Mike

Late afternoon update April 24: Metro has released new estimates of what routes will be lost or changed. The original figure of 600,000 service hours lost (17 percent of service) has been reduced to 550,000 hours (16 percent).

The revised recommendation will do the following:

Delete 72 routes (formerly 74)

Change 84 routes (formerly 107)

Leave 58 routes unchanged (formerly 33)

The new estimates are here.

Update April 24: Preliminary results from election night indicate that in the state legislative district that includes Maple Leaf (the “Fightin’ 46th, which also includes much of northeast Seattle), the vote passed roughly 59 to 41 percent.

On the other hand, turnout was only 34 percent.

Returns mailed up until the Tuesday deadline are still coming in and being counted.

Also, in comments below Tim has posted a link to the map at right, which shows election night returns. Blue is “yes,” red “no.” The full countywide map is here.

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With the defeat of King County’s Proposition 1, local transit supporters have already announced an initiative, aimed at November’s ballot, to raise money locally for buses.

Seattle voters only would vote on hiking taxes only in Seattle, and the resulting buses would only serve Seattle.

The measure could raise up to $25 million a year for the next six years, enough to reverse most cuts to King County Metro routes that serve Seattle.

“Seattle will grind to a halt if we don’t act fast to save buses,” said Ben Schiendelman, founder of Friends of Transit and proponent of the ballot measure. “Seattle voters want better transit. We will not rest until we have reversed these cuts and begun making the investments we need to provide Seattle with the transit system it deserves.”

The full press release from Friends of Transit is here. The idea is to hike Seattle property taxes $22 per $100,000 of assessed value for the next six years. It thus avoids the $60 car tab fee that likely doomed Tuesday’s transit vote.

Here in Maple Leaf  the toll would be something in the neighborhood of $80 to $100 annually.

Here are stories by The Seattle Times, the Stranger and seattlepi.com.

Should another bus tax make the November ballot, it will follow a vote, currently scheduled for August, on likely the  largest property tax levy in Seattle history – for parks.

City Councilman Nick Licata sent an email blast this afternoon:

On Monday, April 28th, the City Council’s Select Committee on Parks Funding will meet to finalize its proposal for a Seattle Park District funding measure. It would go to voters in August and, if passed, would replace the city’s current levy process with a separate taxing authority authorized under the State’s amended Metropolitan Park Districts law.

Last month the Times’ Danny Westneat looked at that proposal here.

But the tax to pay for this would be the largest property-tax levy in city history — and not by a slight amount. At $54 million a year, it’s 35 percent bigger than the Seattle record-holder, the 2006 “Bridging the Gap” street-repair tax, which is still in effect.

The new parks tax would be more than double the last parks levy. Plus, under this plan it could be nearly doubled again without going back to the voters.

In today’s email Licata says the council’s committee has reduced that $54 million to “around $48 million.

“While some reductions to arrive at this level were technical administrative adjustments, such as staffing expense reductions, others did propose program reductions, such as reducing 25 new programs totaling $205,000 in the Recreation Opportunities for All category.”

Licata would like to restore $200,000 to the recreation category. He proposes other changes as well. His blog is here.

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Plan C for buses? Don’t forget the coming parks tax vote

April 23rd, 2014 by Mike

Late afternoon update April 24: Metro has released new estimates of what routes will be lost or changed. The original figure of 600,000 service hours lost (17 percent of service) has been reduced to 550,000 hours (16 percent).

The revised recommendation will do the following:

Delete 72 routes (formerly 74)

Change 84 routes (formerly 107)

Leave 58 routes unchanged (formerly 33)

The new estimates are here.

Update April 24: Preliminary results from election night indicate that in the state legislative district that includes Maple Leaf (the “Fightin’ 46th, which also includes much of northeast Seattle), the vote passed roughly 59 to 41 percent.

On the other hand, turnout was only 34 percent.

Returns mailed up until the Tuesday deadline are still coming in and being counted.

Also, in comments below Tim has posted a link to the map at right, which shows election night returns. Blue is “yes,” red “no.” The full countywide map is here.

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With the defeat of King County’s Proposition 1, local transit supporters have already announced an initiative, aimed at November’s ballot, to raise money locally for buses.

Seattle voters only would vote on hiking taxes only in Seattle, and the resulting buses would only serve Seattle.

The measure could raise up to $25 million a year for the next six years, enough to reverse most cuts to King County Metro routes that serve Seattle.

“Seattle will grind to a halt if we don’t act fast to save buses,” said Ben Schiendelman, founder of Friends of Transit and proponent of the ballot measure. “Seattle voters want better transit. We will not rest until we have reversed these cuts and begun making the investments we need to provide Seattle with the transit system it deserves.”

The full press release from Friends of Transit is here. The idea is to hike Seattle property taxes $22 per $100,000 of assessed value for the next six years. It thus avoids the $60 car tab fee that likely doomed Tuesday’s transit vote.

Here in Maple Leaf  the toll would be something in the neighborhood of $80 to $100 annually.

Here are stories by The Seattle Times, the Stranger and seattlepi.com.

Should another bus tax make the November ballot, it will follow a vote, currently scheduled for August, on likely the  largest property tax levy in Seattle history – for parks.

City Councilman Nick Licata sent an email blast this afternoon:

On Monday, April 28th, the City Council’s Select Committee on Parks Funding will meet to finalize its proposal for a Seattle Park District funding measure. It would go to voters in August and, if passed, would replace the city’s current levy process with a separate taxing authority authorized under the State’s amended Metropolitan Park Districts law.

Last month the Times’ Danny Westneat looked at that proposal here.

But the tax to pay for this would be the largest property-tax levy in city history — and not by a slight amount. At $54 million a year, it’s 35 percent bigger than the Seattle record-holder, the 2006 “Bridging the Gap” street-repair tax, which is still in effect.

The new parks tax would be more than double the last parks levy. Plus, under this plan it could be nearly doubled again without going back to the voters.

In today’s email Licata says the council’s committee has reduced that $54 million to “around $48 million.

“While some reductions to arrive at this level were technical administrative adjustments, such as staffing expense reductions, others did propose program reductions, such as reducing 25 new programs totaling $205,000 in the Recreation Opportunities for All category.”

Licata would like to restore $200,000 to the recreation category. He proposes other changes as well. His blog is here.

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Voting on the bus tax ends in just five days

April 17th, 2014 by Mike

On Fifth Avenue Northeast across from the Northgate branch library.

Update: A newly released Elway Poll finds that 74 percent of voters statewide surveyed last week said they supported higher local taxes for roads and 60 percent said they supported higher taxes for transit.

Note these are statewide findings, not just in King County where Prop. 1 is on the ballot.

It also seems to contradict a similar poll a year ago.

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Ballots for or against the tax hike to fund bus service and other transportation pieces must be postmarked by midnight next Tuesday, April 22.

Earlier this week our news partner The Seattle Times ran an explainer outlining the pros and cons of the proposal.

Among other things, it delves into the questions over bus drivers’ pay.

The proposal calls for a $60 car-tab fee and a tenth-of-a-cent sales-tax increase for roads and buses.

Voters are being asked to approve Proposition 1, which calls for a sales-tax boost of 0.1 percent, or a dime per $100 purchase; plus a yearly $60 car-tab fee, to replace a $20 fee that expires this summer. Metro would get 60 percent, while the remaining 40 percent would be split among city and county street departments.

Crosscut also has two quite different takes on the election. Conservative commentator and one-time gubernatorial candidate John Carlson argues against it here. Frustrated residents of First Hill – including Tom Gibbs, Metro’s first director – argue the opposite here.

It’s worth noting that the Seattle City Council is now considering an election later this year that would double the city’s parks levy, raising the annual cost for the owner of a $400,000 home from $76 to $168.

It would both maintain existing parks and add new ones, as well as fund new programs.

Here’s a Crosscut piece on parks published April 18th.

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Debate begins over transit tax vote – plus: The bus passed me by!

March 20th, 2014 by Mike

Two weeks before ballots are mailed in the April vote on hiking  taxes to prevent a 17 percent cut in bus service, our news partner The Seattle Times has two transit stories today.

The first is on a debate in Bellevue Wednesday over the proposal for an additional $60 car-tab fee and a tenth-of-a-cent sales-tax increase for roads and buses.

It did not go particularly well for pro-transit advocates, the Times notes:

An early face-to-face over King County’s proposed car-tab-and-sales-tax measure to fund transit and roads took place in front of one of the few organizations opposing the measure, the pro-highway Eastside Transportation Association (ETA)….

…audience members complained about how Metro King County Transit is managed, voiced concerns about seeing some virtually empty buses on some routes and suggested having bus passengers themselves pick up a larger share of the service’s costs.

Metro historically has had difficulty providing the Eastside   – in the past not bus friendly – with enough service to justify the transit  tax dollars the region contributed. One result was buses operated with few riders.

The other, more lively, story is an attempt by the Times to crowd-source the answer to this question: “Full Metro bus pass you by?

“Crowded buses so full they sometimes have to pass by would-be riders. That’s been one manifestation of King County Metro Transit ridership growing back to pre-recession levels.

“Has a full bus passed you by at a bus stop? Tell us about it, we’re mapping pass-ups.”

Ballots will be mailed April 2 for the April 22 election.

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