by Ingrid Elliott, Rich Stolz, Anna Zivarts
Less than three months ago, a heatwave like we’ve never seen before gripped the Pacific Northwest killing over 1,200 people in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Black, Brown, and poor people were hit first and worst — low-income neighborhoods recorded by far the highest temperatures — but everyone suffered in one of our region’s worst natural disasters.
Scientists called the heat dome “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.” An August Seattle Times piece noted that extreme heat events in the Northwest become 14 times more likely with climate change. We made this reality. How can we pivot to a different one?
Continue reading OPINION: With the Right Transportation Policies, We Can Pivot to a New Climate Reality
by Mark Van Streefkerk
For Seattle to meet its carbon-neutral goal, we need to take an honest look at how we get from one place to another. Burning fossil fuels, like gasoline and diesel for motor vehicles, emits greenhouse gasses. In Seattle, roadway transportation makes up 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. For the U.S., emissions from transportation account for 29% of total greenhouse gases. Reducing our reliance on cars and gasoline plays an important role in reducing our carbon footprint. The good news is that everyday choices to walk, bike, scoot, or roll instead of driving can significantly reduce the greenhouse gasses we produce. Earlier this year a study found that ditching the car for one day out of the week can reduce personal carbon dioxide emissions by a quarter. Swapping even one trip in a car with walking or rolling makes a significant impact over time.
Continue reading The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Safety to Walk and Roll
by Lizz Giordano
While other Sound Transit projects face delays, all three future light rail infill stations — stations to be inserted along existing rail lines — including one planned for South Graham Street, remain on time or early, the agency decided Thursday, Aug. 6, as it confronts a $6.5 billion budget deficit.
At the beginning of 2021, Sound Transit declared much of Sound Transit 3 (ST3) “unaffordable” as the agency faced a shortfall. The agency blames rising land costs, declining sales tax revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and pricey project add-ons for the budget gap, which has since narrowed in part due to increased tax revenue projections.
The board approved a plan Thursday that placed projects into four tiers, prioritizing those in the top two tiers, which are mainly light rail and bus rapid transit extensions. Most of these are facing a two- to five-year postponement. Sound Transit estimates items in tiers three and four, mostly parking and Sounder train projects, could be delayed up to 10 years. On top of a financial setback, some ST3 projects face a one- to two-year planning lag which the agency attributes mostly to the pandemic.
Continue reading Graham Street Light Rail Station Dodges Delay
by Chamidae Ford
Dow Constantine, the current King County executive, is running for reelection this year. Constantine is a Seattle native who grew up in West Seattle and attended the University of Washington. He has had a long career in politics, serving as a Washington State representative from the 34th District for two terms, a State senator for one term, and later held a seat on the King County Council for nine years. Constantine has served as the King County executive for 12 years.
The current executive is running against Joe Nguyen, a member of the Washington State Senate who represents the 34th District, the seat once held by Constantine..
This election, Constantine’s main areas of focus are COVID-19 recovery and building strong, equitable communities.
Continue reading Dow Constantine Runs for Reelection as County Executive Pushing COVID Recovery
by Rich Stolz and Anna Zivarts
Following years of local advocacy and heightened scrutiny by the movement for Black lives around enforcement practices, Sound Transit has announced a new approach to fare enforcement on public transit: the fare ambassador pilot program. This pivot from a punitive system to a supportive one is long overdue. Sound Transit and other agencies must see this process through and fully divorce its transit fare system from the court system. Failure to pay for a transit ticket — whether due to poverty or misunderstanding — should never place transit riders at risk for devastating legal, financial, or physical harm.
Continue reading OPINION: No One Should Go to Court Because They Can’t Afford a Transit Ticket
by Carolyn Bick
King County Metro bus operator Sam Smith is worried about job security. Already, he said, Metro had to cut 200 part-time driver jobs in August, as a cost-saving measure, due to the economic fallout of the current novel coronavirus pandemic. In September, Metro reduced bus service by 15%. If Proposition 1 — which would continue a portion of public transit funding for the next five years — doesn’t pass, Smith thinks his job is likely on the chopping block. He also worries about the effect a lack of funding will have on the wider public.
“Cuts in transit right now are counter-productive. Routes that run in heavily populated areas such as the A Line, E Line, and the 7 which serves South Seattle are packed at capacity,” Smith said in an emailed statement to the Emerald.
In an effort to prevent these cuts, the Transit Riders Union (TRU) will be holding a Day of Action on Oct. 6, which is meant to frame public transportation as a mutual aid effort and make the case for voters to pass Proposition 1 in November. The TRU will also join national transit riders unions across the country that day in calling for the United States Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which includes $32 billion in emergency transit funds.
Continue reading TRU to Hold Day of Action to Bolster Support for Crucial Public Transit Ballot Measure
by Mary Hubert
King County Metro has proposed an income-based fare program that would enable King County residents to pay transit cost on a sliding scale.
This plan responds to increasing concern over the escalating costs of metro fares, which currently exceed those of many other major cities. Although Metro recently rolled out its ORCA LIFT program, which allows qualifying participants to pay $1.50 per ride, the growing number of transit users who either cannot afford this rate or otherwise remain unassisted has prompted further strategizing.
Continue reading Income-Based Fare Program Offers Hope, But Some Say Metro Still Needs to Close the Gaps