1. Buried at the bottom of the Washington State Department of Transportation announcement last night that the Viaduct reopened after Bertha finished its tunneling task directly below the Viaduct five days early, WSDOT's acting director Roger Millar snuck in this line: “I hope commuters saw the value of having several transportation choices, and consider using alternatives to driving alone more regularly going forward.” (And the GOP thought they’d purged WSDOT leadership of those transit liberals!)
Millar is on to something: As Crosscut’s David Kroman reported on Friday , the predictions that commute times would increase by 50 percent didn’t come to pass. Not even close.
And as I reported on Friday, light rail saw ridership spike about 60 percent from its new (post U-Link uptick) of about 55,000 riders per weekday to about 83,000 on the first day of the closure.
Anyway: The Viaduct is open again.
2. Light rail isn’t the only transit project with a frustrating timeline. Seattle Bike Blog’s Tom Fucoloro reported late last week that the plans for the 9th Ave. N. bike lane—the bike route connection from the new Westlake lane through South Lake Union to Downtown— are delayed until 2018; the lane was supposed to open late this year.
Fucoloro also picked up on an embarrassing footnote, reporting:
This change even calls into question Pronto Cycle Share expansion funding. The City Council mandated that bike lanes on 9th Ave N from Westlake to Denny be “on schedule to be completed” before they release funds to expand the bike share system. This amendment bit off only the lowest hanging fruit in the city’s scaled back bike plan, but now it appears SDOT won’t even meet that goal.
Fucoloro is right to call this "low-hanging fruit;" when bike fan council member Mike O’Brien added the bike lane infrastructure amendment to the Pronto legislation, SDOT had assured him they would easily meet that requirement.
The city attributes the delay to the booming SLU construction on 9th.
O’Brien tells Fizz: “When the council approved the purchase of bike share assets, we also made it clear that we would only expand the system if the city is on track for building certain downtown protected bike lane projects. The 9th Avenue project is one of those and the timeline I heard the other day [presented at last week’s Bike Board meeting] is not what we asked for.”
SDOT already bought Pronto for $1.4 million, but the news about 9th jeopardizes SDOT’s ability to spend any additional money to expand the program.
O'Brien is meeting with SDOT this week about the surprising development.
3. In better news for fans of transportation sharing: BMW’s ReachNow, the new car sharing option that debuted in Seattle early last month to compete with Car2Go, says 13,000 members have already joined.
Car2Go has been up and running since 2013 and has 77,000 members. They signed up 18,000 people in their first three months.
The city has lifted the 750 cap per company on car sharing and allows car share customers to park for free in any legal parking spot. Between Car2Go and ReachNow, there are slightly more than 1,100 cars available.
4. Meanwhile, in more bad news for transit fans: In case you missed Friday's Afternoon Jolt—polling shows that spending money on park and rides in ST3 is far more popular than spending money on bike and pedestrian access.