Seattle hires new SDOT Transit Division director

Today, Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly, announced the appointment of Paulo Nunes-Ueno as the new SDOT Transit Division director. Joining the department’s executive team, Nunes-Ueno will lead a newly created SDOT division focused on addressing the city’s and region’s current and future transit needs.

“It’s critically important that we deliver expanded transit services efficiently and cost-effectively after Seattle voters said yes to Proposition 1,” said Murray. “We’re stepping up to work with Metro to identify the routes and increased service that will roll out this summer. The new Transit Division will help ensure that we get the most from our investment.”

In this new position, Nunes-Ueno will lead a team of transportation professionals focused on delivering safe, efficient and cost-effective transit solutions for Seattle. This division will be responsible for four main areas:

  • Transit policy, planning and procurement
  • Transit design and construction oversight
  • Transit operations and interagency coordination
  • Mobility options and parking programs that support transit.

Nunes-Ueno will also provide subject matter expertise to SDOT leadership, the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and other City departments.

“Making transit better helps everyone who lives in, works in or visits Seattle,” said SDOT Director Kubly. “With the creation of a new Transit Division and the hiring of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, we will have the right team in place to guide our short- and long-term transit efforts. He is a strong hire due to his success at Children’s Hospital, where his transit and commute trip reduction work resulted in sixty percent of employees walking, biking or taking transit.”

Nunes-Ueno joins SDOT after having served as the director of Transportation and Sustainability for Seattle Children’s Hospital, and manager of King County Metro’s Commute Trip Reduction Services Project/Program. He will start at the City on December 17 and will receive annual salary of $144,500.

Mayor, Executive, Council celebrate transit, announce bus service agreement

Metro bus service agreement

The day after voters approved the largest expansion of bus service in Seattle since the Great Recession, Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated the victory and announced the framework of an agreement on transit funding and service delivery between Seattle and King County.

“As the fastest growing city in America, these investments are a huge step forward,” said Murray. “With this accountability agreement with the county, Seattle residents will know that they are getting value for their investment in Metro service.”

“The message from voters is clear: Seattle riders value Metro Transit, and with this vote, Metro will have the means to deliver more transit for the people of Seattle,” said Constantine, who in May created the program for cities to purchase bus service through Community Mobility Contracts.

The funding approved by voters will make key routes in Seattle less crowded, more reliable, and more convenient. A full service plan will be made available in the spring. As expanded service rolls out in June and September of 2015, Metro will:

  • Add new buses to all 16 Seattle routes that are chronically overcrowded
  • Fix the schedules of all 48 routes that are chronically unreliable
  • Add frequency to 28 high-demand routes

“With these investments Seattle will have the best bus service in the history of our city,” said Rasmussen. “I’m grateful to the voters for approving this much needed expansion and can’t wait for the new service to start.”

Today, the City of Seattle and King County announced the elements of a proposed Community Mobility Contract to govern Seattle’s investment in bus service improvements and ensure accountability. The agreement will be submitted for approval to the City and County Councils by the end of the year.

The proposed agreement will:

  • Require robust ridership and performance data reporting by Metro
  • Allow independent third-party audits of Metro’s cost allocation process and service data
  • Reduce City responsibility for county administrative overhead
  • Credit Seattle for higher fare box revenue produced on city trolleybus routes
  • Pay only the annual share of new buses required for increased service
  • Protect against supplanting

A new operating reserve fund will reduce the likelihood of cuts in service in Seattle if system revenues fall as a result a future economic downturn. Each year, $3.5 million will be added to the fund for future needs.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s new Transit Division will provide additional oversight to ensure that Seattle’s investments are supporting improved service on the city’s highest-priority routes.

In October, SDOT began rolling out a series of other transit-related investments that will help speed bus riders to their destinations. The city is making additional infrastructure investments to support the efficiency of the system, including:

  • New bus lanes and extended bus lane hours;
  • More red-painted transit lanes to help educate car drivers;
  • New bus-only signals and signal upgrades;
  • Real-time arrival information so that riders can plan their journeys.

“I don’t have a car, so I depend on transit to go shopping, get to the doctor and visit friends and family,” said Marci Carpenter, a transit advocate and frequent bus rider.  “Nobody likes to wait in the rain for a bus only to have it pass you by because it’s overcrowded. For me, more frequent, reliable bus service from West Seattle is going to make it easier and more affordable to live in the city.”

Mayor Murray declares victory on Transit Proposition 1

Mayor Murray released the following statement on the passage of Transit Proposition 1:

“Great cities need great mass transit – and Seattle is a great city.

Seattle voters understand that, and today’s passage of Prop 1 is the next step to getting the transit system that Seattle wants and that Seattle needs. With today’s vote, we are now able to do something that has eluded elected leaders of this City for decades, and that’s significantly add to existing transit service in Seattle.

Better transit will help everyone who lives, works or visits Seattle, while helping us grow our economy, reduce traffic delays and protect our environment.  This funding will help us improve bus service to South Lake Union, West Seattle, Ballard, UW and neighborhoods throughout the city.

Seattle voters have entrusted us with new resources, and taxpayers must have confidence that they will get value for their money. I pledge that the City will use this money responsibly. We are working with Metro on strict accountability measures that ensure that this funding is used to improve transit services here in Seattle in areas of greatest need.”

Mayor Murray hosts inaugural ride of Seattle’s new Pronto bike share program

Pronto Cycle Share

Mayor Murray today hosted the inaugural ride of Seattle’s first ever bike share program, Pronto Cycle Share. The ride, which started on the new 2nd Avenue protected bike lane at University St. and ended at Occidental Park, included representatives from King County and the City of Seattle, as well as sponsors of the program: Alaska Airlines, Seattle Children’s, Group Health, REI, Vulcan and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“This is an important day for the city of Seattle as we introduce new, progressive transportation options for residents and visitors alike,” said Mayor Murray. “I am proud that the city could help make this milestone a reality. We look forward to expanding the program to additional Seattle neighborhoods next year.”

The bike sharing system is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and brings an initial 500 bikes and 50 stations to neighborhoods across Seattle. Beginning today, users can rent one of Pronto’s seven-speed commuter bikes from solar-powered docking stations located in the University District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, Downtown, Pioneer Square, the International District, Capitol Hill and First Hill. Pronto is the first bike share program in the nation to launch with a helmet distribution system to promote rider safety and to ensure users can easily comply with Seattle’s helmet laws.

You can view more photos from today’s event on our Flickr page and you can learn more about Pronto Cycle Share at www.ProntoCycleShare.com.

Murray proposes 2015-16 budget

mayor before council budget speech

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.

Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.

“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”

Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:

  • moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
  • conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
  • launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
  • developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
  • launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
  • establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.

“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.

Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’

“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”

And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.

“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”

In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.

Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:

“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.

As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.

To learn more about Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015-16 budget please visit here.

Watch the speech:

New protected bike lane triples bike riding on Second Avenue; nearly 1,100 cyclists daily using new facility

2nd Avenue Bike LaneThe Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) today released data for the new Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane that shows bicycle ridership has tripled due to the new facility. With the conversion of the former one-way bike lane to a two-way, protected bike lane, an average of 1,099 bicyclists a day used the new lane on September 9, 10 and 11 according to electronic counters. This is three times the daily number of cyclists that had previously used the former one-way bike lane.

“I am pleased that the new Second Avenue bike lane is addressing Seattle’s need for a safer, more predictable route through downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These changes help enhance safety for everyone and make Seattle better prepared for the launch of Pronto! Cycle Share in October.”

Installed by SDOT, the facility opened Monday, September 8 with new pavement markings for two-way bike traffic, green pavement markings where turning cars cross the bike lane, separate traffic signals for bicyclists and motorists turning left, and plastic posts separating the bike lane from the left turn/parking lane.

SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club teamed up for an education/outreach campaign, and staff was positioned at left turn locations to remind motorists and bicyclists to observe the signals. Based upon feedback obtained during the initial few days, SDOT made additional changes on September 11 to reduce confusion.  “No turn on red” signs replaced “turn on green arrow only” signs and a green straight arrow replaced the solid green circle light. After these changes, an observation of 52 vehicles on Second Avenue at Spring Street revealed that only two drivers made an illegal left turn when their left turn arrow was red, a 96.2 percent compliance rate.

“A better organized Second Avenue means a more predictable roadway for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, and makes it safer for all users,” said SDOT Direct Scott Kubly. “Signals and signs make the rules of the road more clear.”

Since the bicycle lanes opened, travel times for drivers on Second Avenue have been better than originally forecasted. On the first day of the bike lane’s operation, it took drivers approximately one minute longer to travel the 0.71 miles on Second Avenue than before the conversion. With numerous events occurring that first week, to include opening day of the National Football League season at CenturyLink Field, engineers expect travel times to decrease further as drivers become accustomed to the new roadway configuration.

Mayor Murray applauds vote on Metro transit funding in Seattle

Mayor Murray issued the following statement in response to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Board’s vote to place a proposal to fund Metro Transit service in Seattle on the November 4 ballot:

“I was very disappointed with the failure of King County’s Proposition 1 in April, especially because of the overwhelming – two-thirds – support from Seattle residents. It’s clear that Seattle voters value transit service as a way of life and, for many, it is a lifeline we cannot afford to cut. Preserving transit service is the most progressive act we can take, but we must ensure our low-income residents are not overly burdened by the increased taxes. The proposal includes a low-income vehicle fee rebate and increased access to King County’s planned low-income fare.

I want to thank the Board members for sending the proposal to preserve Metro Transit service in Seattle to the ballot. I especially want to thank Board Chair Tom Rasmussen for his leadership in moving this through the Transportation Benefit District.

My colleagues on the Council and I are committed to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. While this measure will help preserve service in the short-term, I am also committed to working with the King County Executive, coalition partners and our legislative leaders toward achieving a balanced comprehensive statewide package as quickly as we can.”

Mayor Ed Murray commends Council on passage of for-hire legislation

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement, in response to Seattle City Council action in favor of for-hire transportation in Seattle:

“Today’s Council vote was one for the history books. I want to thank the Seattle City Council for repealing the initial for-hire legislation last week and today voting in favor of maintaining the principles of the legislation I recently transmitted: balancing the legitimate interests of all sides, protecting public safety, and promoting access to a broad array transportation options in Seattle. Cities throughout the United States will be looking to our innovative work on this issue to bring similar approaches to their cities that focus on public safety and consumer protection while balancing innovation.

“I am also grateful to all parties across the transportation industry who participated in creating this framework. Your hard work and spirit of compromise led to the agreement we developed together which will enable all parties in the industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public. We could not have done this without your participation.”

For more information, visit http://murray.seattle.gov/mayor-murray-transportation-for-hire-representatives-reach-historic-agreement/#sthash.VM3WRDrp.dpuf

Mayor Murray names new SDOT Director

Mayor Murray announces Scott Kubly as new SDOT Director

Mayor Murray today named former deputy commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and former associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation Scott Kubly as his appointment for director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

“Scott is a transportation visionary,” said Murray. “He has a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses. He’s also a transportation renaissance man who’s virtually done it all: he’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability. Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities.”

“Seattle is growing incredibly fast,” said Kubly. “To accommodate that growth and preserve the city’s great quality of life, we need a transportation system that doesn’t just get the basics right like freight mobility and safety, but that also invests in new, high quality transit, bikeshare, new bike lanes for Seattleites from 8 to 80 to ride in, and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. It also means creating an environment in which the private sector can provide transportation services that complement the public transportation network.  This means creating an environment that allows transportation network companies and taxis to thrive, carsharing to expand, or for new types of transportation services to evolve. The fact is, people aren’t tied to individual transportation modes, they’re tied to outcomes – and we must continue bringing forward options that will deliver the positive outcomes they need and expect.”

Murray said Kubly will lead his administration’s efforts to merge the city’s many various transportation modal planning efforts into a single comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system for Seattle.

“Scott is the right person with the right temperament and the right talent-set to move us beyond picking winners and losers between pedestrians, bikes, transit, roads and freight, and instead lead the integration and prioritization of our many planning needs into one comprehensive Move Seattle plan,” Murray said.

Kubly is currently the acting president at Alta Bicycle Share, the largest bikeshare operator in North America. His previous roles include deputy commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation, associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, and planning manager roles at the Office of the Mayor in Washington, D.C. and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Kubly is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He holds an MS in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas and a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Seattle needs a transportation director who recognizes the importance of a balanced transportation system and can help guide our city’s transition from auto-dependence,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen. “Mr. Kubly’s experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. shows a commitment to accomplishing just that. I look forward to our discussions with Mr. Kubly over the next several weeks. I also encourage the public to participate in the confirmation process.”

“Scott’s experience and values matches up very well with the themes we heard from over 30 community advisory committee members representing over 30 stakeholder groups, 350 comments received from the community through our on-line outreach, and input received from a citywide neighborhood summit,” said John Okamoto, co-chair of the Search Committee that conducted the search process for the next SDOT director. “The selection committee was impressed with his innovation and creativity, transportation integration, and mix of project experiences.”

“Scott and I have worked together in Washington, D.C. and Chicago and he was one of the best hires I made,” said Gabe Klein former transportation commissioner of Chicago. “From innovative finance to transit planning, and making active transportation a primary focus and mode of transportation, Scott has a deep understanding of the challenges, the solutions, and has the ability to execute and get the job done which is the key.”

“I have worked with Scott in various capacities over the past 10 years,” said Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Most recently, in Chicago, Scott and I served side by side as deputies to Commissioner Gabe Klein. Scott will be a strong visionary leader for Seattle, bringing a unique blend of project management, financial acumen and innovative thinking developed over the years in both transit and transportation agencies. Scott will take calculated risks and pilot new techniques in an effort to deliver high quality services and maximize resources. Seattle is lucky to have attracted his talent to the Pacific Northwest.”

“When he was leading our city’s efforts to create a streetcar program, Scott Kubly fully engaged the business community so that we became willing partners in both helping to plan and implement a new system of public transportation for DC,” said Richard Bradley, president and CEO of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District. “He understood the needs and concerns of the business community, as he did other communities of interest in our city, and was responsive to these issues. I think he has the potential to deliver both outstanding leadership as well as dedicated professional management to Seattle’s Department of Transportation.”

“Scott has a real passion for multimodal transportation solutions,” said Rob Johnson, executive director for Transportation Choices Coalition. “I look forward to working with him to make Seattle’s transportation system the innovative, world class, system I know we’re striving to become.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s mission is “to create and maintain for Seattle a safe and reliable transportation system which enhances neighborhoods, the environment and the economy.” Everything the department does is aimed at enhancing mobility within the city; this department has as its vision “to be the most innovative and responsive transportation agency in the region.” The viability of Seattle’s neighborhoods and the health of our region’s economy are dependent upon access and mobility.

The Director of Transportation reports to the Mayor and has management oversight of more than 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million.

Kubly will start on July 28 and will earn an annual salary of $180,000. This position is subject to Council confirmation.