The world of taxis and ridesharing is changing as rapidly as the release of new smartphone devices; perhaps even faster. The convenience of hailing a ride on a smartphone app inside a warm cozy restaurant has proven to be more desirable than standing in the rain hailing a cab. Why didn’t we think of this sooner?
Google Ventures invested $258 million into Uber and other rideshare companies such as Lyft and Sidecar have entered the Seattle market without city taxi licenses or permission, but they brought jobs to drivers and convenience to eager consumers. When this occurred in Los Angeles, they sent a cease and desist letter to Uber, Lyft and Sidecar; Washington D.C. banned UberX rides; and Vancouver banned Uber. In Austin, Texas, the city threatened to impound ridesharing cars. Many lawsuits were filed in other cities. In entering the Seattle market, an UberX representative from their Public Policy department was reported as saying “Seattle has been clear there’s a policy of non-enforcement [of the law]. . . .Once that became clear to us, we launched UberX in Seattle.”
Seattle, however, chose a more thoughtful approach. The City Council formed a special committee to create a system by which clear rules can be established to allow the new market entrants to participate. I chose to Vice Chair this committee.
Let me be clear: I fully embrace the new service of hailing a ride on your smartphone, cashless transactions, rating drivers, and the overall convenience. The legacy systems of taxis and for-hires must realize in order to compete they must integrate this customer model into their business. This is a prime example of market competition improving service for its customers. I support a robust open model of transportation choices for a car-free Seattle. Consumers should have easy access to taxis, for-hires, TNCs, Car2Go, limos, light rail, KC Metro buses, Sound Transit, and streetcars. Continue Reading »
Seattle City Council: SR 520 Special Committee meeting on Thursday, 4/08/2010 at 5:30 PM. Council will review consultant’s recommendations and the second half of the meeting will be devoted to public comments.
Senate Bill (SB 6392 – 2009-10: Clarifying the use of revenue generated from tolling the state route number 520 corridor.) Senate (3/09/2010, President signed) House (3/10/2010, Speaker signed)
House Bill (HB 2929 – 2009-10: Clarifying the use of revenue generated from tolling the state route number 520 corridor.) 2010 1ST SPECIAL SESSION: Mar 15 By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status.
The Albert D. Rosellini Bridge, formerly the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, and what we all know as the 520 bridge is scheduled to be replaced with a new floating bridge by 2014. Approximately 115,000 vehicles carrying 155,000 people use the bridge everyday (note: the bridge was only designed for 65,000 vehicles). Everyone agrees that the second longest floating bridge in Washington needs to be replaced as soon as possible and the replacement should be six-lanes (3 lanes east and 3 lanes west). While discussion to replace the 47 year old bridge began in 1997 and engineers have identified 2017 as the last year of its useful life despite annual repairs, recent debate over final designs and engineering of how to use the third lane and the impact of traffic flow through the neighborhoods at the Montlake interchange has prompted a 120 day timeline for the State and the City of Seattle to reach an agreement and not jeopardize the 2014 completion date and the $4.65 billion dollar budget allocated for the SR 520 project.
To be candid, this is what is laid out on the table, for all parties to reach an agreement. Representatives on the west side favor using the third lane for high-capacity transit (bus-rapid transit in 2014 and light rail installed for future use). The current proposal (option A+) supports using the third lane for HOV (high occupancy vehicles). Governor Gregoire and the office of the Attorney General state that revisiting the configuration of the third lane would set the project back 18-24 months.
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I have been hearing from citizens and I have read some recent internet postings regarding the issue of parking lots in the vicinity of light rail stations. Here is the issue: In the early part of the decade, the Seattle City Council passed legislation which established transit overlay zones which prohibits certain types of land uses within quarter mile circles of light rail stations. I am certain this legislation was passed with good intentions. However, the lack of parking lots in the overlay zones are producing unintended consequences for businesses and residents. Case in point: the Safeway store on South Othello and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South sits adjacent to the Othello Station. When the light rail line opened, store management noticed that their parking lot was being filled by light rail riders. Grocery stores do not have the resources to manage their parking lots. In turn, Safeway contracted with Diamond Parking to manage their lot to ensure that the “park and hide” stopped and Safeway customers would have a place to park. Sounds reasonable, correct? Because of Safeway’s location in the transit overlay zone, Diamond Parking was verbally told by the city that they could not operate a “pay lot.” This is a situation where a business is being hampered by city regulation.
I have heard from citizens and businesses in neighborhoods along the light rail line about their disappointment that private parking lots are not permitted in the overlay zones. I have heard that more parking is desired in these areas to help promote economic development. I am looking into a policy change regarding parking lots in transit overlay zones. While the policy to prohibit parking in these zones may have been well intended, it appears as though it was implemented against the will of the people and the discussion needs to be re-introduced.
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For fifteen years Burl Garnett, Jr. reluctantly put up with a 4-way “right turn only” traffic star in his neighborhood. Well, Burl decided he was not going to put up with it anymore! You see, the star intersection at 44th Avenue South and South Holly (the only one of its kind in the city) caused Burl, his neighbors and visitors to drive blocks out of their way because of the “right turn only” situation. Disobedience would often times result in a traffic citation. It suffices to say that Burl and his neighbors decided to take this matter into their own hands and correct the situation.
In January of 2009 Burl successfully gathered enough signatures for a petition to have the traffic star changed to a traffic circle that would allow turns in all directions. However, he encountered bureaucratic roadblocks at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) which made it difficult for the neighborhood’s request to have the star removed become a reality. Burl placed a call to my office for help. My staff assisted Burl along with SDOT’s Tracy Burrows and Luke Korpi in making the star become a circle. But the real hero in this is Burl Garnett, Jr. I commend him for his tenacity to get this job done. Great job Burl!
After decades of talk and debate, Seattle now has light-rail to add to its transportation options. The opening of the new 14-mile segment is our 1st down play to move people in this region more effectively. I voted in favor of the Sound Transit 2 measure on last year’s ballot, supporting an expanded system totaling 55 miles and 19 stations in the next 15 years. Light rail is the most effective mode to move a lot of people from urban center to urban center. As one link is built to the next link, between 50,000 to 110,000 will be riding the system in the upcoming decades. Pulling a quote from the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come”, in this case, “If you build it, people will use it.” By the way, for you movie buffs, it is “he” will come, not “they.” The phrase is often misquoted.
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As you may know, I serve on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Transportation Policy Board and its Executive Board. In this capacity, I review and approve numerous regional transportation projects using federal funds. At our July 23rd, 2009, meeting, I was successful in receiving federal funding allocations for two projects known as the “Mount Baker Light Rail Station pedestrian lighting” project and the “Rainier Avenue/Jackson Street Transit Priority Improvement” project. These projects will directly benefit bus riders and users of the Rainier Avenue/Jackson Street transit corridor and other SE Seattle residents. Currently, more than 7 million transit patrons use the services that serve this corridor. The City of Seattle forecasts that transit patronage will increase by 10% when the improvements are implemented.
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