1. Ars Technica reports that ArrivalStar, the notorious Luxembourg-based patent troll that makes its money suing transit agencies for supposedly violating its patents on bus-tracking technology (the patents are broad and vague enough to cover essentially any real-time tracking system), has settled with the American Public Transit Association, which sued ArrivalStar in June.
ArrivalStar's M.O. is to sue transit agencies in the hope of getting a settlement, which is much cheaper than going to court. So far, none of the hundreds of cases the company has come anywhere close to a trial. Locally, ArrivalStar wrested settlements of $15,000 from Sound Transit and $80,000 from King County Metro, as I reported in June.
2. Real Change has the news that Puget Sound Bike Share, the bike-sharing company that plans to start operations next spring, will likely offer discounted memberships to low-income riders. Puget Sound Bike Share plans to charge around $85 for a year-long membership, or $8 for a single day.
The low-income discount could be useful for some former bus riders who now have limited mobility thanks to the end of the downtown ride-free area.
3. Low tax revenues are forcing King County to cut back on road maintenance and snow clearing this year, KOMO reports. Ordinarily, the county would repave between 40 and 50 miles of roads this year; instead, they're scaling back to just seven miles in eastern King County. And they'll be plowing just 10 percent of county roads during the winter season, compared to 30 percent last year.4. The Washington Post reports on the "30 Richest Members of Congress." No. 15 on the list? Washington state's own U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1), who the Post says is worth $23.9 million. DelBene, the paper notes, worked at Microsoft for 12 years and accumulated substantial earnings, including "several big Microsoft assets," during her timethere; her husband, Kurt DelBene, is still at Microsoft.Locally, ArrivalStar wrested settlements of $15,000 from Sound Transit and $80,000 from King County Metro.
5. Josh "The C is for Share Economy" Feit made me post about this one: The Puget Sound Business Journal reports on a new service that hooks up people who have extra garage space with people who have extra stuff—if you're moving and need to stash your stuff somewhere, you link up with someone nearby and pay them for their unused storage space.
The upside is obvious: In theory, you get secure storage for less than it costs to rent a storage unit, and you don't have to get rid of your stuff. The downsides: Security risks, plus you can't store explosives (bye-bye, grenade collection.) Right now, there are only a handful of available storage spaces, all in the North End, but the founders hope to eventually expand the service throughout the county.
Is McKenna just overly irritated with state and federal government, or gearing up for a second run at the governor's mansion in 2016?
6. File this one under Isn't It Weird That ... Isn't it weird that former Republican state attorney general Rob McKenna, who lost his bid for governor to Jay Inslee, has amped up his web site recently, putting up a long list of post with titles like, "Skyrocketing number of regulations burden economy," "State government should focus on core functions," and "Obama's sabotage of the nation's nuclear waste program is all about politics."
Is McKenna just irritated with state and federal government, or gearing up for a second run at the governor's mansion in 2016? That's unclear, but his newfound commitment to keeping his web site fresh is hard not to notice.
7. Finally, in another sign of the times (at least as far as local news coverage is concerned), the Ballard News-Tribune announced yesterday that it would be merging with three other Robinson Newspaper-owned community papers—the West Seattle Herald, White Center News, and Highline Times—to form a single weekly paper, the Westside Weekly, covering Seattle-area communities west of I-5.
"The cost of producing the newspaper has risen significantly in the last few years along with a decline in classified advertising that once was a mainstay of newspaper revenue," editor Ken Robinson writes. "Changing to a single edition will allow us to have just one pressrun instead of three." The online versions of the papers will, he adds, remain the same.