Morning Fizz: Unjustified Optimism
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring Mayor Murray on ridesharing, previous forecasts on current forecasts, and traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
1. Murray against rideshare caps.
On the Seattle Channel show "Ask the Mayor" this week (filmed, for the first time, in front of a live audience at City Hall), Mayor Ed Murray weighed in again on the debate over new regulations on "ridesharing" companies like UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar.
Earlier this month, the city council voted to cap the number of drivers for ridesharing companies on the road at any one time to 150, and to impose minimum insurance requirements on the companies, while increasing the number of cab licenses for the traditional taxi industry.
Murray has been a supporter of ridesharing, although he told PubliCola he would support "some kind of reasonable cap" on the number of drivers for the services.
"I would like to get to a situation in less than a year where there are not caps."—Mayor MurrayOn Ask the Mayor, however, he was less ambivalent. "I would like to get to a situation in less than a year where there are not caps," he said. "I think we can get there. I think rideshares add a lot to our city."
We have a call out to Murray for more details on how he views the future of ridesharing in Seattle.
2. Seattle new jobs forecast out of whack
As the city begins updating its comprehensive plan—the document that guides growth management—it's starting out with planning goals from King County (based on data from the state and the Puget Sound Regional Council) that there will be 70,000 new households and 115,000 new jobs in Seattle in the next 20 years.
We questioned those numbers with an "Isn't It Weird That" column earlier this week, pointing out the disconnect when you compare that forecast with what actually happened in the last 20 years: 59,000 new households and 56,000 new jobs. The new household numbers are similar, but the difference between the new jobs numbers raises a red flag.
Keeping those actual numbers in mind, we've got some more figures now—earlier official predictions about new households and job growth—that add to our skepticism about the current forecast.
In 1995, the PSRC predicted that between 1990 and 2010, Seattle would add 56,000 new households and 128,000 new jobs. And they predicted that between 2000 and 2020, Seattle would add 70,000 new households and 109,700 new jobs.
Based on what actually happened in the last 20 years, it looks like our current goal for households is right, but we've got unjustified optimism about jobs.
3. Debating Alaskan Way Viaduct traffic data
WSDOT numbers—measured at a consistent point every year—show that traffic on the viaduct just south of the West Seattle Bridge has declined consistently since 2005.
Earlier this month, we reported (based on number-crunching by the savvy geeks at Sightline) that traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct has "plummeted" according to data collected by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
It turns out that "because nearby construction prevented data collection that year," according to SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan, the numbers SDOT was using for 2012 were based on data collected at a slightly different point—one that didn't capture traffic to and from the stadium ramps—by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The WSDOT count also included numbers from Saturdays and Sundays, which would tend to skew the numbers downward.
The difference, according to Sheridan, is significant enough that it "does not allow for a clean comparison, and we should have noted the change in the data source."
Even with all those discrepancies, though, Sightline notes (in its own post noting the odd 2012 data), traffic on the viaduct has still been going down. Although SDOT doesn't have "clean" data for 2012, WSDOT numbers—measured at a consistent point every year—show that traffic on the viaduct just south of the West Seattle Bridge has declined consistently since 2005.
"Still," they note, "actual Viaduct traffic through downtown Seattle remains something of a mystery. ... if SDOT doesn’t know, nobody does."