Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

Women of Washington is an educational organization with a focus on understanding local, national, and global issues that are critical to our world today.

Transportation: Volume 1, Issue 1

Hi. I’m Vic (as in Victor H. Bishop, P.E.). I’m a Professional Traffic Engineer who has worked in the transportation arena in the Puget Sound region since 1964, when I came to the Northwest to attend graduate school at the University of Washington. After receiving my MSCE in 1966 I worked as a traffic engineer for Boeing developing the 747 site in Everett. In 1968 I joined a small consulting firm as its second employee, which I eventually owned and operated for 37 years. I retired from active consulting in 2007. In those 41 years I worked on many street projects all over the region. I claim over 250 intersections that have had a traffic signal with my name on it (most have since been replaced over time, as is the nature of transportation in a growth area in a growth era). I strived to make the arterial street system work better.

I have been exposed to transportation policy issues all of my professional life. I now feel free to openly express my opinions on them. I currently serve as a Board Member and Chair-Elect of the Eastside Transportation Association (ETA), an appointed member of the City of Bellevue Transportation Commission, an appointed member of the King County Metro Service Guidelines Task Force, a volunteer on the King County Municipal League Transportation Committee, a Life Member and past-president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Washington Section, a Life Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a resident of the City of Bellevue. I am having more fun than ever.

Transportation is an immensely complicated subject. There are multiple jurisdictions, interests and outcomes that can be discussed. We will try to simplify some issues.
A few basic philosophies:

  • I’m a roads advocate; here’s why: Freedom, it works, best for the environment, fundamental to the economy.
  • We have been led to deliberately, consciously under-fund our road infrastructure for at least 3 decades.
  • Transit is an important, SMALL part of the transportation system.
  • Buses work in our region; light rail does not.
  • Light rail: Does too little, costs too much and takes too long.
  • Congestion is the problem. We can do something about it.
Transportation Basics
A good place to start is the current regional plan for transportation. There is one. It is called Transportation 2040, adopted and published by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) in 2014. It was created in 2010 and recently updated in the spring of 2014, called the 2014 Update. The actual 2014 document is a 136 page tome with multiple Appendixes, an Executive Summary and lots of official approvals. You may never have heard of it.

The attached two pie charts summarize the big picture of the plan in terms of how much money we will spend under the plan and how we are projected to travel if we spend the money that way. (See page 4 of the Key Performance Measures document for the full report. We will dig into additional charts from this report in the future.

Some Data
PSRC projects that we will spend $173.7 Billion on transportation (about a 37% increase in spending above our ‘current law’ taxes in the next 25 years). The region will grow by more than 1,000,000 people by 2040 and the regional daily ‘person trips’ will be nearly 19 million every weekday.

The first pie chart shows in green that PSRC expects to spend just over half of the money collected for transportation in the region on transit and ferries. The second chart shows that the Plan projects that about 4.3 % of the daily ‘person trips’ will use the transit system by 2040.

This says that we ‘plan’ to spend over half of our regional transportation dollars on a sub-set of our system that will carry less than 5 % of the daily trips.

The ‘plan’ also says that we will travel less, congestion will be more severe and our mobility will be more restricted.

I suggest that this ‘plan’ is not acceptable. More details of the plan to come.