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transportation

A new study conducted in Portland neighborhoods confirms that the more traffic there is on a street, the more air pollution cyclists are breathing.

A number of studies have measured air quality along bike routes, but Alex Bigazzi wanted to see how much pollution got into cyclists’ lungs.

A photo from the Seattle Fire Department's Twitter feed shows the side of a bus ripped open after a collision with a duck amphibious vehicle on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle.
Seattle Fire Department

The penalty that Ride the Ducks of Seattle faces over a fatal crash just went up.

The company had already agreed to a proposed $220,000 settlement with the state. But the Utilities and Transportation Commission decided that wasn't enough. It's proposing $308,000.

This week on Hidden Brain: Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and it only seems to be getting worse. But is there a way to make roads safer and faster? Of course! (We just normally do the opposite).

Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET with an editor's note at the end of the story.

Sometimes you call an Uber, and what you thought would be an $8 ride is going to be two, three, even four times more — the result of greater demand brought on by a blizzard, or a baseball game. Whatever the reason, surge pricing is not fun.

It turns out Uber is working to fix it — or, should we say, end it. The move likely will be great for riders, but not for drivers.

Hunting For Surge

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Transit riders around the region have told Sound Transit that the agency's proposal to build 58 miles of light rail over the next 25 years is too slow.

It's been a clear theme in the more than 30,000 comments the agency has received as it gears up for the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure this fall.

'Week in Review' panel Ross Reynolds, Claudia Balducci, Joni Balter and Rob McKenna.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Will the city come to a standstill with the viaduct closed? That isn't the only transportation story this week, we're also talking about Sound Transit 3.  And can you win an election without big donations? Why aren't more people furious about Troy Kelley? Plus, a round up of this week in pot. 

Ross Reynolds talks the week's news with former Attorney General Rob McKenna, Seattle Channel's Joni Balter and King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. 

On the eve of a two-week closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, former Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said she’s confident the tunneling project under Seattle’s waterfront will ultimately succeed.

The viaduct is closing to allow the tunnel-boring machine known as Bertha to dig underneath the double-decker structure. Under the original timeline the tunnel was supposed to be open by now and the viaduct long ago torn down.

Two workers walk through the first rings of the tunnel toward Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bertha the tunneling machine will slowly grind its way below the foundations of the viaduct over the next two weeks.

Bill Radke talks to The Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom about the mass transit proposal Sound Transit 3 and how the plan will reach residents in Everett. 

A bus moves into traffic on Delridge Way in West Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

King County Metro plans to increase transit service in the next five years, and it plans to do so without adding more greenhouse gas emissions.

Herrera Beutler Pushes More Oil Train Spill Planning

Apr 22, 2016

Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler has introduced a bill that would help firefighters around the country get grant money for oil train derailment and accident planning.

The bill doesn’t actually call for more dollars. Instead, it would create a higher priority for funding plans in communities where oil trains regularly travel.

Uber drivers will stay independent contractors, not employees, in California and Massachusetts, just as the ride-booking company had maintained they were. Uber is settling class action lawsuits by drivers in the two states for a maximum of $100 million.

In a statement, the company says it will pay the plaintiffs $84 million, plus another $16 million if Uber goes public and within a year increases in value by one and a half times over its worth in December.

People cover the westbound lanes (right) of state Route 520 during festivities on April 2.
Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The new 520 floating bridge has only been open a little over a week. But apparently it's been grating on the ears of some Medina residents.

When you ride on buses or trains in many parts of the United States, what you say could be recorded. Get on a New Jersey Transit light rail train in Hoboken or Jersey City, for example, and you might notice an inconspicuous sign that says "video and audio systems in use."

A lot of riders are not happy about it.

"Yeah I don't like that," says Michael Dolan of Bayonne, N.J. "I don't want conversations being picked up because it's too Orwellian for me. It reeks of Big Brother."

Gilbert Ruiz of the Depot Cafe and Smokehouse. He could throw a brisket and hit the future light rail station in downtown Everett.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Sound Transit is halfway through the public comment period on its big expansion plan, called Sound Transit 3. The current plan puts downtown Everett last in line for light rail. KUOW went to Everett to see how people feel about that.

Around the world, subway projects are booming. New metros have sprung up or are in the works in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and India, and China announced several years ago that it would build 25 new subway systems. But in the United States, investment in new subways has lagged.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks to Fred Salvucci, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering at MIT and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, about what state and local governments should be doing about transportation for the future.

Vancouver Port Hears From Public On Oil Terminal Lease

Apr 12, 2016

Commissioners at the Port of Vancouver are weighing whether or not to breathe new life into what could be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The project’s backers, oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, have asked the port to extend the terms of their lease by two years.

In its first-ever transparency report, Uber has revealed that it has given federal and local U.S. agencies information on more than 12 million riders and drivers between July and December 2015.

This kind of report is not uncommon in the tech industry, but this particular one does something extra: It uses the report to take regulators to task for what Uber sees as excessive data sharing, making a case that it frequently tries to narrow the scope of requested information.

View of the construction site in Kenmore at the north end of Lake Washington, April 29, 2012.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/bEiMv9

People are able to drive part of the brand new 520 floating bridge Monday morning. The westbound lane is open after weeks of hype and an official ribbon cutting. But now there's an old bridge, and getting rid of that will be much less glamorous.

Paige Browning explains, there's a dispute over where to destroy it.

BMW's all-electric i3 is one of the vehicles being offered by the company's new ReachNow car-sharing service.
COURTESY BMW

The carmaker BMW has made Seattle the launching pad for a new car-sharing service called ReachNow. It’s similar to Car2Go, and the city could allow still more companies to enter the market.

As KUOW’s Amy Radil reports, ReachNow says it plans other services as well. 

During her second State of the State address Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown renewed her call for the legislature to approve a massive transportation funding package.

Backers of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver have asked for an amendment to their lease with the port. Port commissioners plan to discuss the request in a series of public meetings next week.

Officials with the Vancouver Energy Project said Tuesday they need more time to complete Washington’s permitting process.

Jennafuh Singer of The New York Xchange says business is up since light rail moved to Capitol Hill. Her store is moving a few doors down into a space shared with Panache, in part to be even closer to light rail.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Some businesses on Capitol Hill are reporting 15 to 20 percent more customers since the light rail station opened there.

File photo of the Sodo area of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/cyojwG

A proposed sports arena in Seattle was once again the topic of debate in city hall. This time, the focus was traffic impacts.

The City Council's transportation committee is preparing to vote on whether to shut down part of Occidental Avenue in SODO to allow for a proposed NBA arena.

Alaska Airlines management is expressing confidence about integrating its rival Virgin America, whose pending acquisition was announced Monday. Any airline merger poses challenges and this one is no exception.

Alaska Air outbid rival JetBlue Airways to acquire Virgin America in what Alaska Air CEO Brad Tilden described as "a hard fought competition." Alaska Air won the bidding war with a $2.6 billion all-cash offer that was announced Monday.

Alaska Airlines
Flickr Photo/BriYYZ (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cBWGoo

Bill Radke talks to Henry Harteveldt, airline analyst with the Atmosphere Research Group, about Alaska Airlines' purchase of Virgin America.

The parent company of Alaska Airlines has struck a deal to buy Virgin America, creating a West Coast-focused airline. If approved by regulators and Virgin America's shareholders, the combined airline will be the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, according to Alaska Air Group.

"By bringing them together, we're creating the premier airline for people who live anywhere on the West Coast," Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement.

SR 520 Launch Party Was A Jam (And Lots Of Fun)

Apr 3, 2016
A couple poses during a staged ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new SR 520 bridge. The bridge was open to foot traffic over the weekend.
Courtesy of Chris Moore

"It's so nice and smooth."

That's how one man described the new State Route 520 bridge, which opened to foot traffic over the weekend.

You may have heard that some people were stuck on the bridge, in a foot traffic jam, waiting an hour for a shuttle to scuttle them home. But most seemed OK with the situation. They bought food from food trucks and marveled that the bike lane will extend from the Arboretum to the Eastside. 

'Week in Review' panel Mike McGinn, Erica C. Barnett, Bill Radke and Keith Schipper.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Caucusers went for Sanders, so why are super-delegates backing Clinton? Can Sound Transit sell you mass transit for $27 billion? And if you don't think police will keep you safe, is it wrong to hire private security guards?

Bill Radke walks the news beat with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, blogger Erica C. Barnett and GOP consultant Keith Schipper.

The oil industry said it's backing down from an effort to overturn Oregon's clean fuels law at the ballot. Instead, the Oregon Fuels Association will try to get lawmakers to modify the law when they renew debate on a highway funding plan in 2017.

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