Archive for August, 2009

BDA-Walk logo-final2September 3 concludes the Bellevue Downtown Association’s 3rd Annual Walk Downtown Bellevue campaign. For 10 weeks Walk Downtown Bellevue participants were challenged to leave their car behind and walk 10,000 steps a day. Free Starter Kits, which included a pedometer, were given to the first 1,500 people who signed up to track their steps online at bellevuedowntown.org/walk.

Over the years Downtown Bellevue has become quite a “walkable” city. I routinely walk to the mall, the bank, to lunch and to meetings during my work day. Not only does the fresh air help to clear my mind, but walking those few extra times throughout the day has really benefited my health and fitness routine. Rumor has it the average office worker only takes about 3,000 steps per day so increasing my count to 10,000 was quite the test! Of course the amazing weather we’ve had this summer really helped my cause to get outside and walk.

The campaign’s overall step count will be announced at a Celebration Day during this week’s Live at Lunch Concert on Thursday, September 3, noon-1:30 p.m. at Bellevue Galleria, featuring Beatles cover band Creme Tangerine. Be sure to walk on by, listen to some great music, and help us celebrate an active Downtown!

-Jordan

Monday, August 31st, 2009 4:44 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

King County Metro is giving you old school prices for a new school commute! Start a new 7-passenger King County Metro vanpool and pay just 40 bucks a month per person for the first two months. Gas, insurance and maintenance are all included. Promotion is limited to the first 36 groups who start by December 31, 2009.

Call 206-625-4500 to get started in a vanpool today!

For more information on King County Metro’s vanpool program visit http://metro.kingcounty.gov/commutervans or email vanpool.information@kingcounty.gov.

Find carpool and vanpool matches online at www.rideshareonline.com.

Final Poster_8 5X11 - FOR CYWB

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 9:52 AM | by admin | Comments (2)

Sound Transit has partnered with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) to offer this awesome video contest to Puget Sound area transit users, so we wanted to let you know about it!

Why have YOU Dumped the Pump?
• Saving your hard-earned cash?
• Helping to protect our environment?
• Is traffic is stressing you out?

Whatever the reason, you could win a year of free public transportation from Sound Transit by entering APTA’s Dump the Pump video contest. Simply to send a video explaining why you are “Dumping the Pump” and riding public transportation. Here’s how:

1. Create a video with your phone or digital camera and film yourself describing why you’re Dumping the Pump this summer. Get creative!

2. Upload your video to YouTube and make sure to tag your submission with “dump the pump.” APTA will find it and add it to the other videos at the Dump the Pump YouTube channel.

Here’s what you could win:
• Free public transportation from Sound Transit for one year if your video is chosen by APTA as having the most overall impact. Second place winner will receive six months of free transit. Third prize is three months of free transit.
• The first 25 individuals who submit a video entry to the contest will receive a $25 VISA cash card just for competing.

But hurry! APTA’s Dump the Pump contest ends September 18, 2009.

Learn more at Sound Transit’s Dump the Pump site.

See some of the videos that have already been submitted:

-Jordan

Monday, August 17th, 2009 10:19 AM | by admin | Add a Comment

Light Rail 003It’s nearly 8 a.m. as I begin my journey down the long set of stairs into Westlake Station in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, but this morning I will not be transferring to my usual route across I-90 to my office in Downtown Bellevue. Instead, I will be hoping on Sound Transit’s new Link Light Rail line, Central Link, for a test drive!

Why do you ask? I work for TransManage, the transportation service of the Bellevue Downtown Association.  We provide services, tools and resources for Downtown Bellevue employees to make the most out of their commute, from planning transit trips to finding rideshare partners, and more. We have a partnership with King County Metro and the City of Bellevue’s Transportation Department who have asked me to write about my experience riding Central Link—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So here you have it:

My first encounter with Link was in September 2008. Sound Transit invited us to take a tour of the new light rail line and maintenance facilities. We began the tour in Seattle and were taken by bus along the line through Rainier Valley to the final stop in Tukwila.  At the time, completion of Central Link didn’t seem too far off since light rail cars were already running back and forth on the tracks and we were even able to go inside one to look around. But months of testing still had to be done to ensure safety and proper functionality of the system. Why do these things take so long anyway?

Light Rail 007Flash forward to June 18, 2009 when the 13.9-mile Central Link light rail line from Westlake Station to the Tukwila International Boulevard opened to the public (Central Link’s extension to Sea-Tac Airport will open in December 2009).  According to Sound Transit’s “ST_TravelLight” Twitter page, Link trains carried 51,000 riders on opening day—over double the ridership Central Link is expected to reach every weekday by the end of 2009. I think temperatures reached over 90° degrees that day. What dedicated light rail fans!

Now back to my ride. It was a few weeks after the grand opening so I had a number of questions running through my head: Who will be riding Link and where will they be going? How will the payment system work? Will there be any bugs or malfunctions? And how will Link be timed with the buses that travel through the bus tunnel?

All of these questions and more were about to be answered with my first ride on Seattle’s new light rail line. As the next train approached I wondered how I would pay my way on. There were new ORCA card readers in every direction, but no check-point or fare gate to indicate that I was a paying customer. Maybe I would be able to swipe my FlexPass in the light rail car? I’d soon find out that was not the case.

Many of you probably saw the headline story Link’s ticket system confounds light-rail riders in The Seattle Times August 12th edition. From reading this article you can see I am certainly not the only one to ponder the complicated fare question, but Sound Transit has been implementing software upgrades to work out bugs in the ticket machines and expects riders will get used to the new payment system over time.Light Rail 067

After getting situated for my first leg from Westlake to Stadium I browsed Sound Transit’s “Travel Light: Guide to Central Link light rail” brochure. I soon learned fare inspectors are stationed on the trains to periodically check passengers for their ticket or bus pass. Wish I knew this before thinking I had illegally boarded the train, but now I know, and practice makes perfect.

Central Link makes 12 stops from Westlake Station to Tukwila International Blvd Station so I planned to hop off and on the train to observe the character and amenities of the surface, tunnel and elevated stations. Here’s what you’ll find:

First Stop: Stadium (501 S Royal Brougham W, Seattle)
Funny enough, I was the only passenger who got off at this stop and the only person waiting on the platform for the next train to come. In between rides I took some time to walk around this street-level station. Everything from the ground to the ticket vending machines to the benches looked sparkling clean. Info boards with Central Link’s route map and “how to” ride and purchase tickets were everywhere to help inform riders. I scoped out the ticket vending machines which seemed fairly straight forward; however I’m not sure someone who doesn’t work within the transportation field or regularly purchase a monthly bus pass would find them as user-friendly.

Light Rail 014          Light Rail 015          Light Rail 008

Second Stop: Beacon Hill (17th Ave S & S McClellan Street, Seattle)
What a sight! This station was created with a tunnel boring machine drilling165 feet under Beacon Hill’s surface. High speed elevators take passengers up to street level with the option to transfer to connecting bus routes or store your bicycle in a locker. Aesthetically, Beacon Hill is atthe top. Beautiful glass artwork flies above the station’s platform and deep purple walls set a calm environment. By far my favorite!

Light Rail 034          Light Rail 030          Light Rail 036

Third Stop: Mount Baker (2415 S McClellan Street, Seattle)
This elevated station was also quite striking, especially its size. Mount Baker came not long after the Beacon Hill stop. I got off here and was pleasantly surprised to see about 10 other passengers getting on and off the train as well. I took the escalator down to the main level and saw more colorful artwork that lined the ceiling. As with Beacon Hill, the Mount Baker station has a prominent street presence, which I think is great, simply from a public knowledge stand-point.

Light Rail 048          Light Rail 054          Light Rail 055

Fourth Stop: Tukwila International Blvd (15426 35th Ave S, Tukwila)
This was my final stop before making the journey back to Seattle and then Bellevue. Tukwila Station is another elevated station with access to ticket vending machines, bicycle lockers, and even a 600-stall park & ride lot. Until the extension to Sea-Tac is completed (December 2009), connector buses run every 10 to15 minutes to get riders to their final airport destination—and your Link ticket, bus pass or transfer will get you on for free! Tukwila is where my journey came to an end. It was time to ride Link back to International District Station and transfer to the 550 to get back to my office in Downtown Bellevue.

Light Rail 096         Light Rail 099         Light Rail 103

Overall my first ride on Central Link was a positive one. It was quite amazing how fast the train went and how often a new train would arrive at each station—7.5 minute headways during peak commuting times and 15 minute headways during the off-peak. I’ll probably never need to look at a schedule again! And as with any new infrastructure upgrade it’s given that unforeseen flaws will arise and eventually be worked out. Folks using the system will take some time to adjust to new protocols. And there will be mixed reviews from the community as word travels around about good and bad experiences. But from someone who grew up in Bellevue my entire life and never stepped foot onto our public transportation system until college, I find Link light rail quite the accomplishment for our region. I will eagerly await the Airport Link and University Link extensions, and in 2020, the East Link connection across Lake Washington to Downtown Bellevue. Now I just need Sound Transit to put a line close to my apartment…just for convenience sake.

Light Rail 059
-Jordan

 

Friday, August 14th, 2009 4:08 PM | by admin | Comments (1)

commuterform-0022In July we debuted our commute inquiry form, making it easier than ever for you to get customized assistance in exploring your transportation options. Even better, each commuter who made an inquiry was entered into our monthly drawing for a $25 gift card.

Congrats to July’s winner, KW, who let us show her how to commute from Kent by bus and carpool. We found two potential carpool partners for her using www.RideshareOnline.com, as well as a nearby park & ride where she can catch a Sound Transit Express bus directly to Bellevue. We even discovered a few local Metro routes just ¼ of a mile walk from her house that serve Kent Station, meaning she can skip the driving altogether by making one easy transfer to the Express bus.

Last month we also planned:

  • A trip to SeaTac Airport, which is $5 round trip from downtown Bellevue—compare that to the cost of parking!
  • A bicycle commute from Kirkland to The Summit, which offers bike racks and showers for tenants
  • A bus + bike commute from the Ivanhoe neighborhood to Surrey Downs

You could be a winner next month. Just complete our commute form and we’ll do the rest. Not only are you entered to win a $25 gift card, but you’ll also get the best ideas on a cost-saving and stress-reducing commute. Now that’s what I call a victory!

-Sarah

Friday, August 7th, 2009 11:08 AM | by admin | Add a Comment

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