This report describes the results of the Let's Improve Transportation Challenge, an online experiment in participatory democracy facilitated by researchers at the University of Washington. 135 residents of King, Pierce, and Shohomish and neighboring counties contributed their ideas and concerns in the LIT Challenge.
The recommended package contains 27 road and transit projects. The total cost of the package is $11.8 Billion. The package was endorsed by 61% of the 57 voting participants.
The LIT Challenge was conducted between October 16 and November 13, 2007. To view the website where the experiment took place, visit www.LetsImproveTransportation.org. See Appendix A for more details about the LIT research study. Contact information for the researchers who developed LIT can be found at www.pgist.org.
All participants in the LIT Challenge had the opportunity to review this report and suggest revisions to this report. 50 participants voted to endorse this final version of the report, while 12 participants voted to reject it.
For contact information, please visit www.pgist.org.
135 residents of King, Pierce, and Shohomish and neighboring counties contributed their ideas and concerns in the LIT Challenge.. Here is some information about these contributors.
|Area of residence:||
52.6% : Seattle and North King
15.6% : Pierce
14.1% : East King
7.4% : South King
6.7% : Snohomish
3.7% : Other
|Primary mode of transportation (daily commute):||
28.1% : Undeclared
23.7% : Drive Alone
23.0% : Bus or Transit
18.5% : Walk or Bike
6.7% : Carpool or Vanpool
0.0% : Ferry
0.0% : Other
|Yearly household income||
27.4% : Undeclared
27.4% : $0-$39,999
20.7% : $40,000-$69,999
14.8% : $70,000-$99,999
7.4% : $100,000-$159,999
2.2% : $160,000 or more
The experiment was open and available to any member of the public, and participants were self-selected. The experiment designers set participant recruitment targets for five different geographic areas within the three-county region and used a small payment as an incentive to promote geographic diversity. However, no willing participants were turned away. Despite targeted recruitment efforts outside of Seattle city limits and the use of payment incentives, the final population of active participants was heavily biased towards Seattle and North King County. The outcomes of the experiment appear to reflect this geographic bias.
It should also be noted that participants were not specifically asked to disclose their multi-modal transportation activities. So the "Primary Mode" statistics above do not accurately reflect the behavior of participants who, for example, regularly commute using multiple modes of transportation in a single trip.
The first step of the LIT Challenge involved brainstorming concerns about the regional transportation system. Displayed below are summaries of themes which emerged from this brainstorm. These summaries were drafted by the LIT moderator using a computer-assisted concern synthesis process. The summaries were then reviewed by participants and revised based on their input.
Transit Convenience and Comfort
Many participants expressed the need to improve the convenience of our current transit system to make it more attractive to new users. Ideas ranged from digital readouts of the next bus arrivals at all bus stops, to more frequent and timely bus service, to making bus schedules available on mobile Internet devices. The comfort of our transit system was also a concern, including overcrowding, a lack of public toilets, and the safefy of buses and park-n-rides (see the "Safety and Security" theme). Others suggested simplifying the transit fare system, making transit fare collection more efficient, and/or studying the removal of transit fares altogether as an incentive for people to take transit. Eastside participants are concerned about the lack of convenient transit options for traveling around the Eastside. Additionally participants pointed to the need for better schedule coordination. For many participants, these details should not be overlooked as we push for larger infrastructure improvements.
[Updated 09 November 2007]
37 out of 39 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Governance and Funding
Funding and governance are two related but distinct themes. "Governance" refers to concerns about how regional transportation planning and decisions are made and implemented. Several participants commented on the many separate agencies responsible for transportation planning and the lack of coordination between them. Others pointed out that we shouldn't plan our transportation system improvements without also considering the interrelated land use issues, such as housing and retail development. For example, a specific suggestion was the significant need for more affordable housing along the new light rail corridor in South King County. Also related to this theme were frustrations with excess government bureaucracy and regulation. A few agreed that there are problems with leadership and management structure at our agencies, and specifically described the need for a more corporate-style organization and decision making capabilities at Metro.
An even stronger theme was the issue of funding transportation system improvements. As one participant put it: funding has "stymied our politicians for decades". Participants agreed on the need for increased funding and generally agreed that funding mechanisms should be used strategically to provide residents with incentives to shift their transportation habits away from a dependence on SOVs (single occupancy vehicles). Accordingly, many argued for increased use of tolls, express toll lanes, and congestion pricing as both a way to fund maintenance and improvements as well as a disincentive to SOV travel. Increased parking fees were another suggested funding mechanism which doubles as a disincentive to driving. Another idea was the use of targeted property taxes that tax those who directly benefit from road improvements. Also supported was the use of gas tax and excise or value taxes on car registration. Finally there appeared to be an overwhelming consensus against the use of general sales taxes, due to both their disproportionate impact on the poor and the fact that they inappropriately tax activities unrelated to transportation.
[Revised Oct. 22, 2007 in response to participant comments]
11 out of 13 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Safety and Security
Safety and security concerns included the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, park and ride users, and bus users. Cyclists recognize the dangerousness of potholes on streets, careless drivers, lack of appropriate lighting and debris buildup on bicycle trails. Some call for more bike-only bike routes and for recognition by roads departments that bicycles are among the vehicles using the roads (for example, adjusting existing traffic light sensors to detect bicycles). Participants also call for a greater consideration of how surface street intersections are used by pedestrians and cyclists, citing the South Lake Union trolley rails as an example. Some participants propose that more pleasant street designs, such as more intersections with diagonal crossings, would contribute to a general sense of security in pedestrian travel. Park and ride users are concerned by the theft at these places, which may disuade users from public transit. Participants also see the need to further invest in the safety of bus riders, particularly on high-incident bus routes and at major transfer locations. Participants point to the "complete streets" ordinance, as one move to take into consideration the multiple, safe uses of our transportation system.
[Updated 09 November 2007]
29 out of 31 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Urban Design improvements for Bikes and Pedestrians
Participants were concerned about the quality and extent of our transportation infrastructure dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists described the need for more clearly indentifiable bike routes, general street maintenance to reduce potholes, adequate trail lighting, more bike capacity on buses, more bike lockers at transit hubs and workplaces, and adjusting existing traffic light sensors to detect bicycles. Also of concern is the safety of riders (see "Safety and Security" and the general need for education about cyclists' rights and responsibilities.
The need for better sidewalks topped the list of concerns of pedestrian advocates. Examples included more sidewalks crossing between Capitol Hill and Downtown Seattle over I-5, walkable sidewalks with adequate lighting, and safe crossings at transit stops. The health benefits of walking was also emphasized.
A popular way to frame this problem was the need to focus on better urban design standards. This includes "complete streets" laws which mandate providing for non-automotive transport in all road improvements, better zoning, bike/ped friendly neighborhood street design, and closing down some streets to automobile traffic.
[Revised on Oct. 22, 2007 in response to participant feedback]
38 out of 39 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Traffic congestion and the need to reduce driving
While "traffic congestion" was a significant theme among participants, there were different opinions regarding how to deal with the problem or whether we should consider congestion to be a problem at all. Some participants expressed concerned about traffic congestion and bottlenecks on highways as well as the resulting delays for automobile and transit commuters. A minority described the need address this problem with targeted highway expansions. Others argued that congestion is not a problem you can fix with more road capacity, as car traffic will simply continue to grow. Therefore several participants instead called for providing incentives for people to choose alternatives to driving through a combination of "carrots" and "sticks". Specific suggestions included using congestion pricing on highways to provide disincentives against driving during peak commute periods (see Governance and Funding), improving rapid transit alternatives (see Expanding Rapid Transit Options), and providing more parking at park-n-rides so that folks can use these rapid transit alternatives. Additionally, a few participants promoted telecommuting as a way to reduce the need for people to commute to an office or workplace each day.
[Revised Oct. 22, 2007 in response to participant feedback]
19 out of 20 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Expanding Rapid transit options
A particularly popular topic was the need to expand rapid transit options, including expanding rail, bus rapid transit, and even personal rapid transit options. Participants described the benefits such as decreasing our regional energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, managing urban growth, containing urban sprawl, and getting people out of their cars. Solutions varied, from allocating more dedicated road right-of-ways for buses and streetcars to the need to build more tunnels and light rail infrastructure.
31 out of 34 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
Many participants are concerned about the environmental impacts of our transportation system, and more broadly that transportation is implicated in global changes in climate. These concerns include excessive energy use, the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from cars, and the sprawl facilitated by highway and road expansion projects. Several participants expressed a desire for reducing these impacts and our region's "carbon footprint" more generally. Some participants point to the need for affordable housing in high density areas, and the persistance of affordable housing in areas served by public transportation. Many of the other concern themes summarize strategies participants offered for making these kinds of changes.
[Updated 21 Oct. 2007]
35 out of 37 agree that this summary reflects the concerns of all participants.
The second step included a review, discussion, and weighting of "improvement factors" used to evaluate the proposed transportation projects. They were used by a panel of transportation specialists to qualitatively "score" proposed projects. (Appendix B includes a detailed discussion of the factors and scoring process). After a period of discussion about the relevance of the improvement factors to the concerns discussed in Step 1, participants weighted the relative importance of each factor based on their individual preferences. A total weight of 100 was distributed by each participant across the factors. The following table displays information about the improvement factors and average participant weight preferences.
A few participants suggested ways to improve upon these factors. Popular suggestions included adding "Impact on incident response and emergency evacuation" to the Safety factor, adding "impact on global climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon footprint" to the Environment factor, and adding "impact on public health", presumably to the Quality of Life factor. Other popular suggestions spoke to the desire of many participants to consider transportation projects as part of a broader plan for urban development, rather than improvements that can be evaluated in isolation. For example, participants called for attention to the impacts of projects on density and affordable housing, urban/suburban design, sustainable development, and land use and zoning. In other words, many participants were concerned about the interrelationship between transportation and urban development, an issue that calls for an entirely different methodology for specialist evaluation.
In the third step participants first reviewed and discussed a list of proposed transportation improvement projects in the 3 county region. This was followed by a review and discussion of available options for funding these transportation improvements. Finally, participants were each given the opportunity to create their own personal transportation package including both a set of projects and a set of funding sources which provide enough money to pay for the projects. The results of participant project and funding source selection are described below. Note: only 115 of the total 135 participants completed this step.
The list of proposed transportation projects was derived from three sources: The RTID Blueprint for Progress, Sound Transit 2, and the Washington Department of Transportation. The commonality in the list of projects is either that they have all been recently considered for regional funding. During their review and discussion of packages, a number of participants commented on the lack of projects which address short-comings in our existing transit system. For example, one popular suggestion (21 participants in agreement) was building improved and well-lit bus shelters at every transit stop which includes route maps and electronic bus destination and arrival time displays. Such improvements, they argue, would be far cheaper than the major infrastructure projects on the project list, and possibly quite effective at increasing ridership. Another suggestion (with 7 of 8 participants in agreement) was that future lists of proposed projects should have more general, qualitative improvements to the transportation system (including more WiFi access on buses, public lavatories at transit stations, new information technologies for transit times, etc). The discussions about funding also produced some popular suggestions for options not on the list. Examples include a progressive income tax for funding projects, congestion pricing on all freeways, and a London-style congestion charge for downtown Seattle.
|Project||Money needed||County||Number of participants who selected||% of participants who selected|
|Alaska Way Viaduct|
|Alternative 1, Elevated Structure||$416.5 million||King||24 of 115||21%|
|Alternative 2, 6-Lane Tunnel||$2.2 billion||King||6 of 115||5%|
|Alternative 3, Surface/Tunnel Hybrid||$574 million||King||29 of 115||25%|
|Alternative 4, Streets + Transit||$996.5 million||King||30 of 115||26%|
|Enhanced Express Bus Service|
|N. 8th Street Parking Garage in Renton||$41.4 million||King||42 of 115||37%|
|Transit Center & Parking Garage at Bothell||$44.9 million||Snohomish||53 of 115||46%|
|Enhanced Transit: Downtown to Capital Hill via First Hill|
|Alternative 1, Street Car||$149.2 million||King||28 of 115||24%|
|Alternative 2, Bus||$15.4 million||King||45 of 115||39%|
|Bellevue to Renton||$904 million||King||30 of 115||26%|
|HOV lane between Bellevue and Seattle||$25 million||King||68 of 115||59%|
|Light Rail Extension Studies|
|Preliminary Engineering for Overlake to Redmond||$100.6 million||King||46 of 115||40%|
|Study of Port of Tacoma to Tacoma Dome||$33.4 million||Pierce||45 of 115||39%|
|Light Rail Extension to the Eastside|
|Alternative 1: Seattle to Bellevue (partial aerial alignment)||$1.7 billion||King||25 of 115||22%|
|Alternative 2: Seattle to Bellevue (partial tunnel alignment)||$2.2 billion||King||6 of 115||5%|
|Alternative 3: Seattle to Overlake (partial aerial alignment)||$2.4 billion||King||17 of 115||15%|
|Alternative 4: Seattle to Overlake (partial tunnel alignment)||$2.9 billion||King||14 of 115||12%|
|Light Rail Extension to the North|
|University of Washington to Lynnwood||$2.5 billion||King/Snohomish||33 of 115||29%|
|University of Washington to Mountlake Terrace||$2.2 billion||King||10 of 115||9%|
|University of Washington to Northgate||$1.3 billion||King||28 of 115||24%|
|Light Rail Extension to the South|
|Sea-Tac Airport to Federal Way Transit Center||$1.5 billion||King||25 of 115||22%|
|Sea-Tac Airport to Kent/Des Moines Road||$684.1 million||King||11 of 115||10%|
|Sea-Tac Airport to Port of Tacoma||$2.4 billion||King/Pierce||35 of 115||30%|
|New Highway Segments|
|Cross Base Highway (SR 704)||$276 million||Pierce||21 of 115||18%|
|Extend SR 167 from Puyallup to SR 509||$2 billion||Pierce||19 of 115||17%|
|Extend SR 509 to I-5||$798 million||King||27 of 115||23%|
|Monroe Bypass/US 2 (Phase 1)||$44 million||Snohomish||35 of 115||30%|
|Other Pierce Road Improvements|
|SR 410/SR 162 Congestion Relief Project||$58 million||Pierce||37 of 115||32%|
|Tacoma Mall Access Project||$12 million||Pierce||31 of 115||27%|
|Other Seattle Area Improvements|
|Adds direct transit access from I-5 to S. Industrial Way||$83 million||King||45 of 115||39%|
|Replace the South Park Bridge||$99 million||King||47 of 115||41%|
|South Lander St. Grade Separation||$55 million||King||37 of 115||32%|
|Upgrade King County Metro Bus Rapid Transit on SR 99||$37 million||King||62 of 115||54%|
|Widen Mercer St. from I-5 to Dexter Ave. N.||$100 million||King||46 of 115||40%|
|Widen Spokane St. Viaduct||$146 million||King||31 of 115||27%|
|Other Snohomish Road Improvements|
|Add capacity & safety features on 84th Ave. W from 212 St. SW to 238th St. SW||$8.7 million||Snohomish||34 of 115||30%|
|Add capacity on 238th St SW from 84th Ave. W to SR 104||$2.2 million||Snohomish||30 of 115||26%|
|Build a new SR 522 and Paradise Lake Road Interchange||$127 million||Snohomish||26 of 115||23%|
|Grade seperate BNSF railway at 36th St., Lowell River Rd., and Everett Ave.||$17.6 million||Snohomish||36 of 115||31%|
|Reconstruct SR 99 and SR 104 Interchange||$40 million||Snohomish||30 of 115||26%|
|Widen & Connect 39th and 35th Ave. SE from 240 St. SE to Seattle Hill Rd.||$79 million||Snohomish||21 of 115||18%|
|Widen 20th St. SE from US 2 to SR 9||$34.9 million||Snohomish||23 of 115||20%|
|Widen 36/35 Ave. W. from Maple Rd. to 148th St. SW||$11 million||Snohomish||23 of 115||20%|
|Widen SR 524 from 48th Ave W to I-5, and 24th Ave. W. to SR 527||$122.5 million||Snohomish||18 of 115||16%|
|Widen SR 531 from 43rd Ave. NE to 67 Ave. NE||$55 million||Snohomish||19 of 115||17%|
|Snohomish County Transit Improvements|
|Bus/Van Fleet Expansion||$12 million||Snohomish||59 of 115||51%|
|Edmonds (SR 104) Multimodal Terminal||$122 million||Snohomish||40 of 115||35%|
|I-5 Mountlake Terrace Commuter Parking Lot Expansion||$2 million||Snohomish||49 of 115||43%|
|North County (I-5, SR 2, SR 9) Park & Ride Facilities||$20 million||Snohomish||44 of 115||38%|
|SR 525 Mukilteo Park & Ride Lot||$6.7 million||Snohomish||48 of 115||42%|
|Snohomish I-5 Access Improvements|
|Add capacity on 116 St. NE from I-5 to State St.||$2.1 million||Snohomish||30 of 115||26%|
|Upgrade arterials and intersection at I-5/US 2 in Everett||$306 million||Snohomish||37 of 115||32%|
|Upgrade State Ave. from 136 St. NE to 152 St. NE||$3.6 million||Snohomish||32 of 115||28%|
|Widen 112th St. SW from I-5 to SR 527||$3 million||Snohomish||30 of 115||26%|
|Widen 44th Ave. W. from 200th St. SW to SR 524||$1 million||Snohomish||31 of 115||27%|
|Snohomish SR 9 Improvements|
|Widen Airport Way from SR 9 to Bridge #1 in Snohomish||$304 million||Snohomish||18 of 115||16%|
|Widen SR 9 from SR 92 to 176th St. SE||$486.3 million||Snohomish||17 of 115||15%|
|New Sounder Station at Edmonds Crossing||$30.6 million||Snohomish||59 of 115||51%|
|Parking Garage and Pedestrian Bridge at Puyallup Station||$53.3 million||Pierce||48 of 115||42%|
|Parking Garage and Pedestrian Bridge at Sumner Station||$37.7 million||Pierce||51 of 115||44%|
|Parking Garage at Mukilteo Sounder Station||$9.8 million||Snohomish||47 of 115||41%|
|SR 167 Improvements|
|Congestion Relief Green River Valley Corridor||$391 million||King||27 of 115||23%|
|SR 167/I-405 HOV-to-HOV Interchange||$316 million||King||46 of 115||40%|
|Upgrade Interchange at I-5 and SR 18||$89 million||King||38 of 115||33%|
|SR 520 Bridge|
|Alternative 1, 4-Lane, No Transit||$1.6 billion||King||11 of 115||10%|
|Alternative 2, 6-Lane, HOV/Transit||$2.4 billion||King||44 of 115||38%|
|Alternative 3, 6-Lane, Pacific Interchange||$2.7 billion||King||19 of 115||17%|
|Funding source||Money raised||Annual cost to average resident||Number of participants who selected||% of participants who selected|
|Vehicle license fee|
|$150 per vehicle||$3.4 Billion||$150||7 of 115||6%|
|$15 per vehicle||$438.8 Million||$15||24 of 115||21%|
|$100 per vehicle||$2.5 Billion||$100||14 of 115||12%|
|$50 per vehicle||$1.4 Billion||$50||21 of 115||18%|
|Employer excise tax|
|$1 per month paid by employer for each full-time worker||$342 Million||$12||21 of 115||18%|
|$3 per month paid by employer for each full-time worker||$978 Million||$36||17 of 115||15%|
|$5 per month paid by employer for each full-time worker||$1.6 Billion||$60||20 of 115||17%|
|Toll on I-405, south of I-90|
|Variable rate: $2.25 peak period, $0.50 off-peak||$611 Million||$30||16 of 115||14%|
|Fixed rate: $1.25||$458.2 Million||$28||6 of 115||5%|
|Variable rate: $1.25 peak period, $0.25 off-peak||$372 Million||$15||25 of 115||22%|
|Fixed rate, $0.50||$279 Million||$13||12 of 115||10%|
|Toll on I-5, south of I-90|
|Variable rate: $3.25 peak period, $0.50 off-peak||$584 Million||$40||21 of 115||18%|
|Variable rate: $5.25 peak period, $0.75 off-peak||$948 Million||$63||7 of 115||6%|
|Fixed rate: $3.00||$711 Million||$68||6 of 115||5%|
|Fixed rate: $0.75||$438 Million||$18||7 of 115||6%|
|Sales tax on gas (currently there is no sales tax on gas)|
|8.8% sales tax on gas||$3.8 Billion||$170||17 of 115||15%|
|6.5% sales tax on gas||$2.5 Billion||$124||20 of 115||17%|
|Gas tax increase (rate now 37.5 cents per gallon)|
|16 cents per gallon||$4.2 Billion||$87||5 of 115||4%|
|2 cents per gallon||$598.8 Million||$11||17 of 115||15%|
|20 cents per gallon||$4.8 Billion||$109||18 of 115||16%|
|12 cents per gallon||$3.3 Billion||$65||13 of 115||11%|
|6 cents per gallon||$1.8 Billion||$33||29 of 115||25%|
|Toll on I-5, north of I-90|
|Fixed rate: $0.75||$438 Million||$18||13 of 115||11%|
|Variable rate: $3.25 peak period, $0.50 off-peak||$584 Million||$40||16 of 115||14%|
|Variable rate: $5.25 peak period, $0.75 off-peak||$948 Million||$63||8 of 115||7%|
|Fixed rate: $3.00||$711 Million||$68||5 of 115||4%|
|Toll on I-90|
|Fixed rate: $0.50||$198 Million||$13||8 of 115||7%|
|Fixed rate: $1.50||$315 Million||$35||6 of 115||5%|
|Variable rate:$2.50 peak period, $0.40 off-peak||$420 Million||$30||24 of 115||21%|
|Variable rate: $1.75 peak period, $0.25 off-peak||$264 Million||$20||14 of 115||12%|
|Commercial parking tax|
|$0.50 per parking visit||$276 Million||$12||24 of 115||21%|
|$2.00 per parking visit||$960 Million||$48||17 of 115||15%|
|$1.00 per parking visit||$528 Million||$24||35 of 115||30%|
|Toll on SR 520 bridge|
|Fixed rate $0.50 one way||$199.5 Million||$10||16 of 115||14%|
|Variable rate: $2.75 peak period, free off-peak||$266 Million||$20||23 of 115||20%|
|Fixed rate: $2.50||$312 Million||$45||10 of 115||9%|
|Variable rate: $4.00 peak period, $0.75 off-peak||$416 Million||$38||24 of 115||21%|
|General sales tax increase (rate now 8.9%)|
|0.3%||$4.5 Billion||$73||12 of 115||10%|
|0.5%||$7.5 Billion||$125||8 of 115||7%|
|0.1%||$1.5 Billion||$21||24 of 115||21%|
|0.9%||$10.1 Billion||$229||1 of 115||1%|
|0.7%||$9 Billion||$177||1 of 115||1%|
|Toll on I-405, north of I-90|
|Variable rate: $2.25 peak period, $0.50 off-peak||$611 Million||$30||22 of 115||19%|
|Fixed rate: $0.50||$279 Million||$13||7 of 115||6%|
|Variable rate: $1.25 peak period, $0.25 off-peak||$372 Million||$15||17 of 115||15%|
|Fixed rate: $1.25||$458.2 Million||$28||8 of 115||7%|
|Toll on Alaska Way Viaduct|
|Fixed rate: $0.20||$68.2 Million||$10||8 of 115||7%|
|Fixed rate: $0.75||$105.8 Million||$35||13 of 115||11%|
|Variable rate:$1 peak period, $0.20 off-peak||$141 Million||$20||31 of 115||27%|
|Variable rate: $0.40 peak period, free off-peak||$91 Million||$5||14 of 115||12%|
|Motor vehicle excise tax increase (rate now 0.3%)|
|0.3%||$1.3 Billion||$43||24 of 115||21%|
|0.7%||$2.9 Billion||$100||11 of 115||10%|
|0.1%||$445 Million||$14||17 of 115||15%|
|0.5%||$2.1 Billion||$72||15 of 115||13%|
|0.9%||$3.6 Billion||$129||14 of 115||12%|
|Toll on SR 167|
|Fixed rate: $0.40||$144.8 Million||$10||9 of 115||8%|
|Variable rate: $2.00 peak period, $0.40 off-peak||$312 Million||$25||21 of 115||18%|
|Variable rate: $1.50 peak period, free off-peak||$193 Million||$15||25 of 115||22%|
|Fixed rate: $1.25||$234 Million||$28||7 of 115||6%|
Participants created 111 unique packages. In order to narrow the field of packages under consideration for recommendation, a small set of new packages were computationally generated. These new candidate packages collectively represent the diversity of packages created by participants in Step 3. Details about each of these packages, as well as the methodology used to create them is available in Appendix C.
In the fourth step, participants reviewed and evaluated these candidate packages. A preliminary poll regarding participants' degree of support for each of the packages was used to inform the discussion. This was followed by a final package recommendation vote. Note: only 57 of the total 135 participants cast their vote.
Many of the participants pointed out faults with each of the five candidate packages. Most significant (and popular) among these critiques was the fact that none of the packages covered all three counties particularly well, and that two of the packages included a contradictory funding source--tolling the Alaskan Way Viaduct while also replacing it with a surface level boulevard.
In the final package election, 61% of voting participants expressed their willingness to recommend Package #3, which is described in detail below. However only 11% of voting participants expressed an enthusiastic support for this package. To address these wide-spread reservations participants suggested several popular revisions to Package #3 to improve upon its flaws. These suggestions included:
|Area of residence:||
54.4% : Seattle and North King
17.5% : East King
14.0% : Pierce
7.0% : South King
5.3% : Snohomish
1.8% : Other
|Primary mode of transportation (daily commute):||
28.1% : Drive Alone
26.3% : Bus or Transit
24.6% : Undeclared
15.8% : Walk or Bike
5.3% : Carpool or Vanpool
0.0% : Ferry
0.0% : Other
|Yearly household income||
28.1% : Undeclared
28.1% : $40,000-$69,999
17.5% : $0-$39,999
14.0% : $70,000-$99,999
8.8% : $100,000-$159,999
3.5% : $160,000 or more
Residents of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties were invited to participate in the Let's Improve Transportation Challenge, an experiment in online participatory democracy. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate a new and potentially more meaningful way to involve citizens in the process of regional transportation improvement decision making.
Participants were asked to imagine they are a member of a large citizen advisory committee, charged with providing policy makers their recommendations regarding a regional transportation ballot measure. The measure would ask voters in the region if they wish to raise taxes to pay for a package of road and transit improvement projects. The participants' task was to determine which projects to build and which funding mechanisms (such as taxes or tolls) should be used to pay for them. The challenge for participants was to identify which package of projects and funding options they could collectively recommend. An innovative new website called Let's Improve Transportation was developed to support this collaborative process, which included five steps:
No prior experience with transportation issues was necessary for participation. Qualified participants who completed the LIT Challenge received a small stipend for their efforts.
The Participatory GIS for Transportation (PGIST) research study at the University of Washington(1) was founded to develop web and mapping technologies for supporting public participation in transportation improvement programming decisions. A demonstration website, www.LetsImproveTransportation.org employs state-of-the-art Web 2.0 technology which provides a simple web interface to support facilitators or agency planners in several stages of a transportation improvement programming process.
Researchers hope that web technology developed by PGIST can be refined, improved, and eventually put to use by transportation agencies around U.S. and the world.
All proposed transportation projects appearing on the LIT website have a letter grade for each improvement factor. The factors were not scored directly. Rather, a panel of six researcher team members with a diversity of perspectives in transportation planning assigned a numeric score to each objective associated with the improvement factors. The scores, ranging from negative three to positive three, correspond to a subjective judgment regarding the predicted impacts of the completed project on the region. Positive scores mean the project is predicted to have a positive impact on the region for the objective under consideration, while negative scores mean the predicted impact is negative.
For example, a score of two for the objective "impact on vehicle emissions and air pollution" means that the panel judged the project would have a moderate amount of beneficial impact on the region's vehicle emissions and air pollution. Conversely, a score of negative one for the objective "impact on travel demand" means the judges felt the project would have a minor negative impact on travel demand (or, in other words, a minor increase in regional travel demand).
A project's improvement factor grade is based on a numeric average of the scores assigned to each of the four objectives associated with that factor. Each objective score is the average of two individual judges' scores, one with expertise in transportation engineering and another with expertise in urban planning or urban geography. The judges assigned scores to each project over a three-week period. To evaluate the projects they used the same project information currently available to users of the LIT website.
It is important to note that the scores represent the qualitative judgments of research staff based on limited information. The transportation projects under consideration are at widely varying levels of completion. Some are nearly ready for construction, others have barely begun the planning and design process. In some cases a great deal of information is known about the projects, in others it is too early in their development to have many details. Therefore, the project grades are intended simply to begin a broader conversation among LIT participants regarding the potential merits and impacts of proposed projects.
After every participant submitted their package in step 3c, a statistical procedure was used to identify a small set of "candidate" packages that best represented the diversity of packages created by all participants. The statistical procedure is called "cluster analysis". In this procedure, all of the participant packages were separated into clusters (subgroups of packages) based on the package's project and funding selections. Then, for each cluster, one representative package was identified as a candidate package. (Kaufman and Rousseeuw, 1990).