Mobility

Improve the predictable movement of goods and people throughout Washington state, including congestion relief and improved freight mobility.

Why is Mobility Important to Everyone?

Predictable, reliable travel choices underpin a strong economy and healthy communities. The biggest challenge to this is chronic congestion, compounded by incomplete or inefficient multimodal systems. Transportation system management and operations can improve efficiency throughout the system. But it is also necessary to identify and address infrastructure chokepoints and bottlenecks that obstruct freight mobility and reliable commuter travel, both of which are central to economic competitiveness. Strategic multimodal system expansion coordinated with transportation-efficient land use policies, effective system management and operations, multimodal integration, practical solutions, demand management, and emerging technologies work together to deliver maximum mobility benefit from the statewide transportation system.

Four Policies that Support the Statewide Mobility Goal:

1

Support efforts to increase reliable multimodal travel for people and goods in communities across the state, recognizing that the diverse nature of places, needs, and opportunities statewide require equally diverse strategies applicable to those communities.

2

Promote innovative, practical strategies and strategic system expansion that maximizes person throughput and freight throughput on our urban corridors, minimizes travel delay for people and goods everywhere, and increases trip reliability across modes and across jurisdictional borders.

3

Monitor and respond to 21st century changes in demographics, transportation technologies, and lifestyle preferences when evaluating and prioritizing transportation system needs and investments to make over the next 20 years.

4

Work to ensure that all people have access to their daily needs with dignity and independence, regardless of their ability or income and without discrimination based on race or other identity.

Recommendations to Support Multimodal Mobility Statewide:

1

Revise statutory policies linking transportation and land use as they relate to urban congestion, informed by findings of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center’s “Roadmap to Washington’s Future” project and augmented with additional research where necessary.

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Passage of the Growth Management Act in 1990 included provisions to ensure that appropriate infrastructure and services would be provided concurrent with new development. Over the last 25 years our thinking has evolved about how system performance is measured and in turn, what that means for integrated transportation-land use decision making.Intractable congestion on some of Washington’s most urban corridors raises questions as to whether concurrency, as defined in Chapter 36.70A RCW, can be applied more effectively to manage growth. This may include more multimodal mechanisms in some areas, strategies to redistribute growth to other areas with sufficient capacity to accommodate it, or other measures. The Ruckelshaus “Roadmap to Washington’s Future” project is expected to identify additions, revisions, or clarifications to the GMA framework of laws, institutions, and policies needed to support current thinking about concurrency. A refresh of earlier research can fill in analysis gaps in the Ruckelshaus work. In the meantime, cities, counties, RTPOs, and WSDOT should continue to engage in efforts to identify innovative practices that make concurrency an effective growth management tool for the 21st century.

2

Ensure management of transportation system operations is a front-line strategy for highway and roadway system improvements, ranging from passive operations strategies in less congested corridors to more active strategies for managing demand and operations in constrained urban corridors.

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WSDOT’s Practical Solutions approach promotes the use of Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) to improve operating efficiency and safety before considering strategic system expansion. Practical solutions support the right investment in the right location at the right time. Continuing education and engagement with engineers and project managers, planners, local and regional policy makers, and others is needed to ensure its acceptance and successful integration into ongoing practices. Beyond TSMO, other important strategies include adequate park-and-ride facilities that support seamless intermodal connections, and an array of Travel Demand Management measures that reduce overall need for single-occupancy vehicle travel.

3

Adequately plan for and provide first- and last-mile access as a part of regional and statewide mobility strategies to support transit and freight transport.

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A robust transit system or intermodal freight system can deliver people and goods efficiently—assuming people and goods can get to or from those systems. The notion of first- and last-mile access refers to the first and last legs of these transit and freight trips. A complete trip—from origin to destination—typically involves one or more connections at either end in addition to what may be the longest trip segment in the middle. This is an important aspect of transit and freight trips, and can make the difference between efficient and inefficient service. Emerging technologies are creating new ways for shippers, transit agencies, and planners to think about and accommodate these essential connections efficiently and reliably.

4

Establish a Smart Mobility Center to ensure the successful introduction and integration of 21st century technology and innovation in Washington State.

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The rapid pace of technological change and adoption of innovative transportation practices by public and private sectors is generating a vast amount of experience, insights, and best practices. A Smart Mobility Center would harness this information in a multi-disciplinary, cross-functional setting to amplify the resulting knowledge base, forge advances in pioneering strategies, identify quick-response research needs, and nurture new partnerships and collaborations. A smart mobility center would promote multi-sector engagement and collaboration to ensure successful integration of new transportation technologies that benefit Washington. Such a center could provide critical guidance on the use and security of Big Data, how to manage bike and e-scooter sharing in crowded urban environments, data-sharing with mobility service providers, and best practices and protocols for introducing new technologies in light of our other GMA and multimodal, safety, efficiency, and equity objectives.

5

Promote development of a seamless, statewide transit fare system with interoperability between public transit, ferry systems, and mobility services providers across the state.

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Figuring out how to pay for transit when transferring between systems can be confusing and act as a deterrent to wider use of transit. A universal fare payment system for Washington’s transit agencies would support seamless service connections, reduce barriers to transit access and make transit a more convenient travel option for more people. While there are many benefits of this in the Puget Sound region, where numerous “outside” transit agencies connect with ORCA agencies in central Puget Sound, it is also important in highly rural areas where passengers may need to rely on two or more transit providers to make long-distance trips. New cloud-based, open-source platforms provide an opportunity to extend the ORCA universal pass concept in an affordable way to include the rest of the state’s transit system.

Cross-Cutting Topics

Cross-cutting topics can advance our understanding, preparedness, and ownership over new horizons. Here we present potential next steps and some options available to deepen understanding.

lightbulb with gears

Technology & Innovation

Automated vehicles will change the way people and goods move around Washington state and between Washington and the rest of the world. A collaborative, cooperative approach will help ensure that automation and shared mobility increase system efficiency and minimize infrastructure costs while supporting societal goals related to equity, growth management, and economic vitality.

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System Resilience

Strategic resiliency starts with building a strong multimodal system, which creates important redundancy. Strategic resiliency planning entails prioritizing transportation system elements to be restored in the event of a natural disaster, identifying which parts of the network and which systems will be brought back on line in priority order. Preparation for prolonged self-sufficiency in outlying areas requires proactive coordination with local and regional partners and service providers.

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Paying for Transportation

We have to be strategic in how we fund mobility, targeting resources where they generate maximum benefit for system performance. We may need to recalibrate some of our expectations about system performance as we sharpen our focus on ways to improve operational efficiency and make targeted capacity investments. Fresh thinking about  user-based fees, innovative public-private partnerships, and growing more transportation-efficient communities must all be part of our strategy for paying for mobility.

Six Statewide Transportation Goals