transportation | KUOW News and Information

transportation

Nikk Wong lives on North Beacon Hill and wonders if a plane might one day crash on his house.
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

Seattleites worry a lot about disasters. Earthquakes, landslides, forest fires (or at least the smoke from them) ...

Then there's the concern that a plane might land on your head.

KUOW reporter Casey Martin, right, gets instruction with Spence Campbell of Aviation Training Center on how to use a flight simulator to fly a Bombardier Q400 on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.
KUOW photo/Casey Martin

The man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac Airport Friday didn't have a pilot's license.

How could he have learned to fly? I went to flight school to find out.  


As legalization of recreational and medical marijuana continues to expand, police across the country are more concerned than ever about stoned drivers taking to the nation's roads and freeways, endangering lives.

With few accurate roadside tools to detect pot impairment, police today have to rely largely on field sobriety tests developed to fight drunk driving or old-fashioned observation, which can be foiled with Visine or breath mints.

Ninety-four million extra miles of driving.

A new study says that’s the amount of traffic that ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft added to Seattle streets in 2017.


The push for a bullet train between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC, is getting additional backing. The state of Oregon and Microsoft Corporation are putting money into an in-depth "business case analysis" previously launched by Washington and British Columbia.

Sail Like a Girl heads off into the sunset.
Photo by Katrina Zoë Norbom.

It's an 1,110 mile drive from Port Townsend up to Ketchikan, Alaska.

There is a way to shave 350 miles off the trip, but there's a catch: You have to sail.


Seattle's Chinatown-International District
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hVGFD

The Chinatown International District will soon become a light rail hub in Seattle. Lines from Bellevue (2023), West Seattle (2030) and Ballard (2035) are planned to connect here. 

City Light Superintendent Gordon Vickery with a prototype AMC Gremlin electric car, 1973
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/UYLihW

Tesla tried to go mass market last year by starting production on the Model 3 – price tag starting at $35,000.

It didn’t go well. 

An illustration from a Scout.ai story.
Illustration by Cody Fitzgerald

Rumors of flying cars may have been greatly exaggerated, but the future is changing faster than our brains can keep up. Berit Anderson, CEO of Scout.ai, is trying to change that with a very ancient technology: stories.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is celebrating the company having reached its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 electric cars a week by the end of June.

"We did it!" Musk wrote in an email to the company, as reported on the website Electrek, which follows Tesla closely. "What an incredible job by an amazing team."

KUOW listener Audrey Farmer was curious about why escalators on her commute seem to break down so often.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

If it feels to you like certain light rail escalators tend to break down often, you’re not wrong. Some escalators break so frequently, in fact, that Sound Transit is paying more than half of what it originally spent on those escalators in order to fix them.


Beginning next month, driver’s licenses in Washington state will be changing. Regular licenses and ID cards will be marked with the words “federal limits apply.” Oregon is going down this path too, but not until mid-2020.

Tesla Lays Off 9 Percent Of Workforce

Jun 12, 2018

Tesla will lay off about 3,500 workers in an effort to boost profitability, CEO Elon Musk wrote in a company email.

"What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable," Musk wrote.

KUOW Photo / John Ryan

Complaints have poured in over the yellow, green and orange bikes that have sprouted like mushrooms across Seattle, yet 74 percent of Seattleites have a favorable opinion of the rapidly expanding bike share program, according to a Seattle Department of Transportation survey.


New biometric technology will match your face with your passport photo at airport customs. Is this a cause for celebration or concern?
Flickr Photo/Kat (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/6gTcVm

Assumptions about which passport line you belong in, the president's so-called Muslim ban, "random" screening that seems to target certain populations - airports are increasingly a frontier of ethnic and religious bias. Could we bypass some of those problems by taking the human element out of screening?

Filmmaker, photographer, and King County Metro Transit bus driver Nathan Vass.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Nathan Vass is an 11-year veteran of King County Metro Transit - no small feat at 32. Even more impressive is his ability to stay engaged and delighted by his job over all those years. He's been called 'the only happy bus driver in Seattle', which he's quick to dispute on behalf of other equally cheerful colleagues. But he's pretty stoked to be here.


Seattle traffic was ranked 9th worst in the country in 2017, according to INRIX
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

It was 8:30 a.m., and I was crawling south on Interstate 5 in gummy Seattle commuter traffic. 


Commuters ride the E Line bus southbound on Aurora Avenue North, around 5:30 a.m., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It was standing room only on the E Line RapidRide bus when the man seated next to Sonnet Stockmar started talking to her. "Take your top off," he said in front of the other bus riders.


This stretch of 99 is looking more walkable today because Tukwila took it from the state.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It started with street trees. Tukwila wanted to plant some along state Route 99 to slow down traffic and beautify the area.

But the state said no. Trees, it turned out, were not safe, at least not as safe as lamp posts. 


MV Puyallup is one of the biggest ferries in the fleet
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Ferries have been running a few minutes behind, and listener Nick Wilson wanted to know what was up.

Turns out ferries can reduce CO2 emissions significantly by laying off the throttle just a bit. Like, equivalent to taking more than 1,200 cars off the road.


Drive across Oregon and it’s hard not to notice that many of the state’s steel bridges — from the foggy coast to high desert — are the same shade of sage green. It’s so ubiquitous that the paint’s manufacturer calls it “ODOT Green" after Oregon’s Department of Transportation.

But ODOT Green — a color that started a national phenomenon — is a color that almost didn’t happen: Oregon’s first green-painted bridge, the St. Johns, was initially supposed to be striped black and yellow like a bumblebee.

Light rail runs on the surface in Seattle's Rainier Valley.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Nonprofit developers plan to build more than 300 affordable apartments in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. The project is slated to go on surplus land that Sound Transit is handing over for free.

The Battery Street Tunnel in downtown Seattle in 1954 during a carbon monoxide test. The tunnel will come down this year with the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Item 45797, Engineering Department Photographic Negatives (Record Series 2613-07), Seattle Municipal Archives.

What will happen to the Battery Street tunnel after the viaduct comes down?

This is a question KUOW has received multiple times as the new Highway 99 tunnel, built to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, inches closer to completion.

Bike share bikes in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Frederick Rivara about whether the increasing popularity of bike sharing has led to more head injuries. Dr. Rivara is professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

This interview was inspired by a question from KUOW listener Patricia Boiko.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee was on the shore of Lake Union in Seattle Wednesday to launch a cross-border flight service between the Emerald City and Vancouver, British Columbia.

An image from King County Metro Transit's anti-sexual harassment campaign, 'Report It to Stop It.'
Courtesy King County Metro Transit

Ridership is up on King Country Metro. Night bus services are up. And so are reports of sexual misconduct.

A view of the sky over Bertha the tunnel borer, whose efforts brought the SR-99 tunnel to life.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/yNcg1q

Let's say you owe me $20.

You decide that to pay me back, you'll set up a lemonade stand. There's about $50 in overhead: lemons, sugar. And don't forget wages for the younger siblings you'll be pressing into service to man the booth.

In the meantime, I decide to charge you $13 in interest. And suddenly, you find yourself needing to raise $100 to pay me that original $20.

Construction continues on the SR-99 tunnel on Thursday, November 2, 2017, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

You know the phrase: "You have to spend money to make money." That's the case for tolling the state Route 99 tunnel in Seattle.

Washington state says it will spend about $500 million to run a tolling system on the tunnel in order to fulfill its obligations.

Students from Oregon State University, Granite Falls High School in Washington and the University of British Columbia are among 99 teams pushing the boundaries of automotive fuel efficiency. The Northwest students are driving in an international competition in California through this weekend.

Cameras on the Highway 520 bridge take pictures of license plates as vehicles pass to assess tolls.
Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9ftjw3

Drivers will have a free ride on the state Route 99 tunnel in Seattle when it first opens this fall. After a few months, however, expect to pay a toll of $1.00-$2.50 for each trip.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has proposed multiple tolling options and will present them in public meetings this spring. 


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