Monthly Archives: October 2008

I’m a bus chick and I vote, part II

Despite the fact that global warming, energy issues, and the economy are top-of-mind for most voters (the last day for online/mail-in registration is tomorrow, by the way), there’s been precious little talk about public transit in this election. Odds are, it won’t come up in either of the remaining debates, and that’s a shame–especially since campaign coverage focuses more on the “horse race” than on the candidates’ records and ideas.

Thankfully, the Brookings Institution has published a comparison of McCain’s and Obama’s transportation philosophies/policies. It covers, among other things, congestion pricing, the gas tax “holiday,” public transit incentives, and smart growth.

If you want more, Obama has a transportation white paper on his website. Some excerpts:

On transit funding:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Obama and Biden will work with state and local governments across the country on efforts to create new, effective public transportation systems and modernize our aging urban public transit infrastructure.

On transit incentives:

The federal tax code rewards driving to work by allowing employers to provide parking benefits of $205 per month tax free to their employees. The tax code provides employers with commuting benefits for transit, carpooling or vanpooling capped at $105 per month. This gives drivers a nearly 2:1 advantage over transit users. Obama and Biden will reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal.

On smart growth:

Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars, to walk, bicycle, and have access to other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to endure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

Obama’s site also has a Public Transit/Mass Transit online group.

There’s no mention of transit (that I can find, anyway) on McCain’s site, and (unlike Obama), I’ve never heard him mention the issue in a speech. I could make assumptions–based on his Amtrak position and his general world view–but I’d rather have facts. Anyone got any?

Westbound 27, 10:40 AM

Two twentysomethings are sitting in the back, discussing job prospects and financial woes.

Twentysomething woman: “I’ve been hitting up everyone I know that works at Sound Transit, asking them to hook me up with a bus pass. Just hook a girl up! They’re like, ‘dude, we’ll get fired.'”


Twentysomething man: “You should get, like, a whole bunch of old bus passes–from, like, way back–and sell them for like, five bucks… That’s just the kind of thing liberal douchebags would buy.”

September Golden Transfer, continued

There’s another deserving co-recipient of Cari’s award: her employer, Children’s Hospital. Thanks to some incredibly creative and hardworking Commute Services employees (and, I assume, a strong commitment from management), Children’s is a leader in encouraging (and facilitating) its employees’ alternative commutes.

Children’s was the very first Transit Now partner and worked with Metro to increase the frequency of the 75 and 25, two routes that serve the campus. (It’s the frequent service of the 75 that makes Cari’s bus commute possible.) The hospital also runs a shuttle, called the Green Line, which transports employees to and from downtown (simplifying some bus commutes) and to and from Children’s satellite clinics (eliminating the need to drive for work-related daytime travel). Last month, the good folks in Commute Services launched Children’s InMotion.

As I mentioned yesterday, I met Cari at the “Car-free with Kids” event the hospital hosted, which was open to employees and patient families and aimed at helping parents explore options for getting around with their children. (I found this event especially impressive, since alternative commuting is often seen as the province of young, single types–not for people with precious cargo to transport, or daycare drop-offs and clarinet lessons to facilitate.)

All these efforts are paying off. Even before the InMotion launch, almost 65% of Children’s employees were using alternative commutes.

“Children’s staff has really embraced the health, community and financial benefits of leaving the car at home,” says Matt Bullen, a car-free parent who also happens to be a member of the hospital’s Commute Services staff. “We understand that, in a sense, Children’s ability to grow responsibly depends on us all.”