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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Sound Transit ATCMTD Application Volume 1 - Technical Application


Next Gen ORCA will be deployed in the central Puget Sound region, a four-county metropolitan area. The central Puget Sound Region includes King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties and 73 cities. The central Puget Sound region is the largest metropolitan area in Washington State and is also the State's economic engine. As one of the fastest growing regions, 1,100 residents are moving to the area per week (US Census Bureau). The four counties cover approximately 6,290 square miles. In 2016, the population of the four counties was over 4 million and employment levels were over 2 million (PSRC).

Information from the Puget Sound Regional Council's Draft Economic Analysis of the Central Puget Sound Region:

  • The Puget Sound Region is growing faster than it has in decades. Population growth has increased each year since 2010, with more than 86,000 new people in the region added between 2015 and 2016. Seattle is the fastest growing city in the nation.
  • The regional population is growing faster than the nation and the state. Between 2010 and 2015, the region grew by 207,800 people, for a total increase of 5.6%. This rate is higher than the population growth in the U.S. over the period, which grew a total of 3.9%. It was also higher than population growth in the state, which grew a total of 5.0%. The region's population accounted for 55% of total state population in 2015. The region recently surpassed 4 million residents.
  • Regional Job Growth is Outperforming the Nation. Jobs in the region grew at an average annual rate of 2.7% per year between 2010 and 2015. This rate of regional growth outperformed the national growth rate of 1.8% over the same period. During the last five years, job growth has been especially robust. The region added more jobs than any five year period since the early 1990s.
  • The Regional Economy is Booming. The Puget Sound economy continues to grow at a fast pace. In 2016, the region added 59,400 jobs, the 7th consecutive year of job growth.
  • The Region Is Expected To Add 1 Million People and 850 Thousand Jobs by 2040. The region is expected to continue to grow at a brisk pace in the future. The region is on track to hit 5 million people by 2040. By this time, this growth will count for an estimated 600,000 additional households. In addition, the number of jobs is expected to grow by 850,000 by that time.
  • The Strongest Job Growth Has Occurred in Regional Centers. The region has plans for managing growth, with Regional Growth Centers serving as locations for dense residential and commercial development. The regional growth centers, just 3% of the urban land area, captured 33% of job growth between 2010 and 2015.

The Region has High Levels of Traffic Congestion and High Levels of Transit Use. Per PSRC's "Stuck in Traffic: 2015 Report," population and employment growth has put an increasing amount of stress on an already fragile transportation system. Overall, growing hours of delay are a concern for the region's economy and quality of life:

  • The average Seattle driver wastes 48 hours a year in traffic.
  • I-5 through Seattle is the fifth busiest highway section in the United States with 301,061 car trips per day. Seattle is ranked the eighth most traffic-congested city in North America.
  • Delay on regional freeways increased 95% between 2010 and 2015
  • In 2013, highway delay costs Puget Sound residents and businesses over $800 million.
  • The Puget Sound region has the fastest growing transit ridership in the US. By 2035, transit demand is expected to grow up to 75% by 2035 due to population and employment growth.

Regional Plans Identify Tolling to Manage Demand on the Highway System. The Puget Sound region's Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Transportation 2040 lays out a financing plan with more reliance on users paying for transportation improvements. Washington State is integrating tolling as a strategic tool to help manage congestion, enhance mobility and generate revenue for future improvements. Transportation 2040 calls for full highway system tolls by 2030. Generally, carpools, vanpools and transit do not pay tolls. Affordable Next Gen ORCA transit fares and tolling the highway system gives drivers an incentive to carpool or take transit – increasing the capacity and person throughput on the highway system.

Major Investments to Increase Capacity of the Regional Transit System. To increase transportation capacity in the region, transit agencies and project partners are building voter approved BRT, commuter rail and light rail systems. In ideal conditions, an uncongested highway lane can move as many as 1,900 vehicles per hour. A congested highway lane may only see 700 vehicles per hour. In comparison, a light rail train can move up to 12,000 riders per hour in each direction, or 24,000 riders per hour in both directions (Sources: PSRC and Sound Transit Long Range Plan). Currently there is over 20 miles of light rail in service. By 2023, over 50 miles will be in service and by 2040, over 116 miles of light rail will be completed.

Next Gen ORCA must be Operational in time for New Light Rail Extensions. Upcoming transit expansions will dramatically increase already high levels of transit ridership, light rail
ridership has grown by more than 80 percent since Sound Transit opened its University of Washington and Angle Lake extensions last year. By 2040, overall weekday system ridership is projected to grow from 147,000 today to up to 695,000.

  • By 2021, light rail to the University District, Roosevelt and Northgate will be complete.
  • In 2023, trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue, Overlake/Redmond, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.
  • In 2024, light rail will expand to Federal Way and downtown Redmond.

The Next Gen ORCA system must be operational by 2021 for these new light rail extensions.

The Puget Sound region has one of the largest bus and ferry systems in the country. The Seattle Times reported that Seattle is now the second most bus-reliant metropolis, after San Francisco. Riding the bus is how one out of five — that's 78,000 Seattleites — get to their jobs. Between 2010 and 2014, Seattle experienced the biggest jump in bus ridership of any major U.S. city. In this period, Seattle's workforce population grew by about 44,000 — and nearly 19,000 of those people are commuting by bus (42% of the total increase). According to surveys conducted by King County Metro, about 90% of its riders have access to a vehicle, so these are people who take the bus by choice. People are taking buses and trains because they've concluded it's a better option than driving. (Source: Seattle Times "Seattle sees biggest jump in bus riders of any U.S. city", April 11, 2016). The Puget Sound region also moves more people via vanpool than any other place in the country. Vanpool ridership per person in our region is more than 3 times what it is in Los Angeles. Next Gen ORCA will be used on all modes of transit.

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