Morning Fizz

Light Rail Ridership Spikes at 80,000 Passengers in One (Non-Event) Day

Booming ridership, opposition dollars, and an Amazon drive-thru.

By Josh Feit August 26, 2016

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 1. I’ve been tracking the spike in light ridership since the new light rail stations opened in March when ST CEO Peter Rogoff reported a 38 percent increase from 36,000 boardings a day (on the pre-March line) to about 50,000 boardings a day.

At that time Rogoff also noted a “remarkable” tally of 80,000 boardings on Mariners opening game day.

The numbers continued to increase throughout the spring, reaching about 65,000 riders a day. And a recent Puget Sound Regional Council report  noted a 76 percent jump in light rail boardings between 2015 and 2016, with 1.86 million in May 2016, for example, versus 1.05 million in May 2015.

Apparently, it’s no longer about Mariners games.

At yesterday’s ST board meeting, Rogoff said there were 80,000 boardings in one day—the first time ridership has hit that milestone on a “non-event day” Rogoff said.

Here's latest data on daily boardings from ST since March:

March (partial month of U Link): 43,364
April: 60,354
May: 65,409
June: 64,904

* "Boardings" and "Passengers" are the same metric, measuring every time someone gets on a train—meaning one person, getting on, and then back on for their return trip, is counted twice.

2. In other revealing numbers news: Opposition research pays. The top-two finishers in this month's U.S. congressional race spent the most money on opposition research firms. 

A review of candidate spending in this year’s primary race for retiring U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s (D-WA, 7) seat shows that all three candidates, first place finisher state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), second place finisher state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill), and third place loser King County Council member Joe McDermott, spent big bucks on traditional opposition research firms.

Jayapal paid Democratic research team Jones Mandel $30,000; the firm’s Ben Jones has run oppo research for the DNC and is known for finding several of the gotchas on Sarah Palin in 2008.

Walkinshaw spent about $12,000 on Point Loma Strategic Research; Loma principal George Scanlon is known for doing oppo research for the Democratic Governors' Association.  

And Joe McDermott spent $10,000 on M Street Solutions, a firm that has done opposition research for Obama.

3. And here’s one for Amazon haters (and file it under Anti-Pedestrian Chronicles.) 

Usually, the online retailer’s explosive growth is accused of turning Seattle into a city too fast. But this time, the company’s hyper development is contradicting the city’s urbanist goals.

Erica C. Barnett has the scoop that Amazon is building a fricking drive-thru store in the Ballard Hub Urban Village, one of the city’s designated centers for pedestrian, mass transit oriented development.

Barnett opines:

Auto-oriented businesses promote the opposite. They encourage people to drive to an area, and to leave that area without getting out of their cars and exploring the cafes, parks, and small retail businesses that characterize dense, walkable neighborhoods. Worse, they make sidewalks more dangerous and uninviting for pedestrians, who have to navigate cars and delivery trucks driving in and out of a driveway designed for maximum convenience for automobiles, not people. Imagine walking through the drive-through line at McDonald’s: You can do it, but the people who have priority are the ones in cars, and it’s up to you to navigate around them at your peril.

Surprisingly, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Office of Planning and Community Development, the new drive-through grocery store will require no formal review process, and the city is providing no avenue for people to submit public comments on the proposal.

There are six "Hub Urban Villages" in Seattle's new comprehensive plan—the designation for the city's main growth centers, including Ballard, that are supposed to be at the center of the city's new pedestrian friendly plan for increased density.

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