Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
This November will mark two years since Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana. And today, marijuana dispensaries are finally open across the state. The first licenses were issued yesterday, but this doesn't mean that stores on every corner will be selling marijuana today. In the first wave of licenses that were issued, only about 20 of the 334 applications were granted.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
After several high-profile incidents where the Seattle Police Department used excessive force, a DOJ report found that the police department used biased practices and excessive force. Now, a new police chief is working to manage the department as it works under a controversial “consent decree."
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Monday, June 10, 2013
By Derek Wang : KUOW
In the Seattle area, some cars are driving around with oversized, hot pink moustaches on their front grills. The prop signals an increase in ride sharing. But for some companies and cabbies, the pink moustache is a red flag.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By Kim Nowacki : Online Producer, WQXR
The latest episode of Q2 Spaces takes us to Washington’s Puget Sound and the small sailboat where musician, composer, collaborator and producer Jherek Bischoff was raised.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
(Derek Wang - Seattle, KUOW) King County Metro could eliminate of almost a third of its routes.
Ongoing budget woes are forcing the Seattle transit provider to consider slashing its bus service. Metro is grappling with less sales tax revenue and it’s anticipating the end of a temporary funding source.
On Monday, the agency released a first draft of possible reductions, which could include canceling 65 routes and reducing service on 86 others.
Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond predicted an unpleasant ride. “Those routes are going to be more crowded,” he said. “You may not be on a route now that may be targeted for reduction, but more people may be needing to access your route and therefore that route is going to become more crowded.”
Another thing that could become more crowded: the street. Metro says fewer people would take the bus if the cuts go into effect. The agency predicts that could lead to as many as 30,000 additional cars on the road every day.
Metro says it will continue to look for ways to reduce costs. Desmond adds that Metro has raised fares already--four times since 2000.
The cuts are far from certain. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn have asked state lawmakers to come up with new funding sources for Metro. Those sources could be part of a gas tax increase, or a new vehicle tax that would be based on the value of a driver's car.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
(Derek Wang - Seattle, KUOW) Bus service in King County could get some good news this week. Washington state lawmakers are expected to introduce a plan that could prevent a looming fiscal crisis. But first, it has to clear some hurdles.
One of the most heavily used bus routes in King County is bus route 7. Officials say as many as 12,000 people ride the number 7 bus every day. Resident Steven Anderson relies on it and hasn’t owned a car in years. He said the number 7 can be really packed during rush hour.
“It will be to the point where it will even pass you because it’s too full,” he said. “So it won’t even pick you up, so you have to wait for the next one or the one after that.”
Crowded buses are a problem that could have been worse if the Washington state Legislature hadn’t stepped in. About two years ago, King County Metro was faced with making massive cuts that would have affected most riders. But those major reductions never happened. Metro cut some costs, trimmed some schedules and ended the downtown Ride Free Zone. It also won new funding authority from the state Legislature and started charging a $20 vehicle license fee for bus service.
The problem is that the $20 fee is due to expire next year.
Transportation advocates are sounding alarm bells. “We’re about a year or so away from a major fiscal cliff for King County Metro,” said Rob Johnson, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition. He said other transit systems are facing similar challenges, especially in Pierce and Snohomish Counties. “In Snohomish County, Community Transit has already eliminated all of its Sunday service and significantly reduced service from 2008," Johnson said. "We’re really struggling as a region to keep buses on the streets.”
Transit agencies are in a tough bind because of funding problems. The systems are largely paid for by sales taxes. But when the recession hit, people started spending less -- and funding for transit plummeted.
Last year, King County asked the Legislature for a permanent funding solution, one that would not expire. But that effort failed after King County and its suburban cities couldn’t agree on how to split the new revenue.
This year the issue is before lawmakers again, and some officials are optimistic that they can work out a deal. Democratic Representative Judy Clibborn chairs the House Transportation Committee and is leading this year’s effort in Olympia. She said unlike last year, this year’s proposal is connected to a larger plan for all of Washington, not just for King County, and is expected to cover buses and road improvements.
“This is a whole new ballgame,” Clibborn said. “Last year there was no statewide package on the table. There was nothing that was moving forward for helping cities and counties with transit and ferries and this year there is.”
For the legislation to pass, it will need a lot of support. Two-thirds of the Legislature will need to vote for it in order for it to take effect. But it could still go before voters. And it would be a tough sell to people like SeaTac resident Steve Donah. Donah said state lawmakers are wrong to propose new taxes or fees.
“They need to use the money that they have better. They’re not putting that money in where it needs to go,” he said. “I’ve been in this state for 25 years now, moved from California up here, and I’m seeing more potholes than I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Donah’s sentiments could be a signal of things to come. The last roads and transit package put before Puget Sound voters failed in 2007.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
(Derek Wang, Seattle -- KUOW) The plan to create a bike sharing program in Seattle is clicking into a higher gear. Puget Sound Bike Share hopes to launch in 2014. Organizers updated Seattle officials Tuesday saying they hope to hire a vendor by the spring.
Initial areas for the plan include the University District, Eastlake, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Downtown and Queen Anne.
To get some guidance for the Seattle effort, KUOW spoke with the founder of one of the fastest-growing systems in the US, Nicole Freedman. Freedman started Boston’s program, The Hubway, which launched in 2011. It has 105 stations, more than 1,000 bicycles and 9,000 members. Members have taken about 675,000 trips; more than 500,000 of those trips were taken in the last year. Freedman is also an Olympic cyclist and has studied city planning at MIT and Stanford.
Tip 1: Choose The Right Business Model That Fits Seattle
Boston’s system is operated by a private company, but the system is owned by the city. In fact, city officials view it as part of the transit system. Right now no city money has gone toward the system. Freedman said it’s paid for by advertisements, sponsorships and grants. But as the system expands, the city might be required to spend money on maintenance and operations, like it would for any other transit system.
Seattle’s proposal is slightly different. It would be administered by a nonprofit group, but a private company would run the system’s day-to-day operations.
Tip 2: Locate The Bike Stations Close Together
During the startup phase, planners might be tempted to space out the bike stations to cover as many different neighborhoods as possible. That’s something to avoid. Freedman recommended keeping the stations between 200 to 400 meters apart.
“Let’s say I’m in a meeting in a skyscraper downtown and I have to get back to my office. If I go downstairs, out the door and the nearest station is three blocks away, it’s not worth my time to go walk three blocks, and get on a bike," she said. "If I then have another three block walk at the other end at my office, the efficiencies of saving time and using the bike are pretty much gone because of the walk time.”
Tip 3: Talk To Other Cities
A lot of other cities, including Washington, D.C., Denver and Chicago, have bike sharing programs. Other cities, such as Vancouver, B.C., Portland and San Francisco are still in the planning phases. Freedman says those cities have already done a lot of the groundwork and Seattle could benefit from looking at those different experiences.
[Related: San Francisco Poised to Pick Alta to Run Bike Share.]
Tip 4: Don’t Be Discouraged By Reports Of Hardware And Software Problems
Some systems have had problems with bikes and the software that operates the system. Freedman says Boston was lucky and never had software problems. But she says the problem occurred when one of the nation’s leading vendors switched software developers. Freedman’s point is that the problems should not discourage planners because improvements are always being made. “There’s a lot of great choices out there,” she said. “Doing the homework early will definitely ensure the best system for Seattle.”
[Related: NYC Bike Share Delayed Until Spring]
Tip 5: Think Creatively About Encouraging Membership
Boston has made it a focus to offer service in poorer neighborhoods as well as more well-to-do ones. But low-income people often don’t have credit cards, which are required to become a member. Freedman said in Boston, they’re looking at social service agencies and the possibility that those groups could sponsor people looking to get a credit card.
Freedman has visited Seattle before and seemed excited about the prospects of a bike sharing program in the city. “I can guarantee that it’s going to be a huge success in Seattle,” she said. “It’s a great city. You’ve got a great culture of people that want to be biking.”
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
We continue now with our on-the-ground look at the state of something other than the union President Obama will talk about tonight in his State of the Union Speech. Austin Jenkins, is a statehouse reporter for the Northwest News Network and KUOW in Seattle. Craig Fahle is the host of the The Craig Fahle Show at WDET in Detroit. And Peter O'Dowd is the news director for Fronteras and KJZZ in Phoenix.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The Seattle Supersonics were snatched up in a deal that created the Oklahoma Thunder in 2008. Now the Sonic booms of basketball are being heard again above the Emerald Empire. Seattle's days of being a basketball-free zone may be coming to an end. Sara Lerner, reporter and morning host at our affiliate KUOW in Seattle, has been following the story.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
(Derek Wang - Seattle, KUOW) Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is proposing a new wholesale vehicle fuel tax to help cover the costs of getting kids to school.
Currently, school districts help pay for students' transportation needs, but a recent court ruling says state government is not doing enough to support education. That includes education-related transportation.
Gregoire’s solution? A new tax on refineries to basically pay for school bus costs. Her plan was included in her 2013-2015 budget proposal, which is required under state law. Gregoire said her fuel-tax proposal is directed at oil producers, not consumers.
"Let’s be clear," she says, "the five top oil companies in America, in the first six months of this year, had over $60 billion in profits. So I expect them to do this without passing this on to consumers."
Gregoire’s proposal would cost fuel wholesalers about 5 cents a gallon in the first year, 8 cents a gallon by 2015 and 12 cents a gallon in 2017.
State Senator Andy Hill is the likely chairman of the Senate budget committee. He opposes the plan and predicts that the new fuel tax would get passed down to consumers. “That really hurts the middle class as they fill up their tanks," explains Hill. "I think when you ask the average voter, when you ask about transportation, they think about roads, bridges, tunnels, ferries. They don’t think about school buses.”
Fellow Republicans say the state doesn’t need to raise taxes to pay for education.
Gregoire’s plan would need to be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature and Governor-elect Jay Inslee. A spokesman for Inslee wouldn’t say whether the incoming governor supports Gregoire’s plan. The spokesman said Inslee will lay out his own budget plan during the upcoming legislative session.
Follow Derek Wang on Twitter.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Thanks to everyone who came out to see us in Seattle! We're headed to the Midwest next -- get your tickets now for our September shows in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. And if you've got 45 seconds and like dancers and flying fish...check this out.
Monday, August 13, 2012
We're so excited to team up with Dave Foley for our live shows in Seattle on 8/24 and 8/25. We’re freaking out a little bit because we adored Kids in the Hall, and we’re over the moon that Dave will be on stage with us! Grab your tickets now, and hope to see you soon!
Friday, April 20, 2012
Some call it the Emerald Empire, others Rain City, but Takeaway listeners at KUOW Seattle call it home. Host John Hockenberry has been visiting Seattle this week, and had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Mike McGinn to talk about the narrative of the city — from the changes in the broad-based economy to managing accusations of racial profiling by the police force, and how the city incorporates accessible design with community building.
Friday, April 20, 2012
John Hockenberry is broadcasting from KUOW in Seattle this week. While he's in town, he's reporting on the city's diverse economy. Seattle may be home to industry leaders like Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing, but the city grew up along the port, and the fishing industry is still a major part of Seattle's economy. John traveled to Seattle's Fisherman's Terminal to speak with a number of halibut fishermen who's families have spent generations in the industry. He talks to them about the fishing economy, the gossip on the boat, and, of course, what they think of "Deadliest Catch."
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Northwest has long been a major source of exports. Timber and paper once dominated the Northwest market; these days, it's all about coal. Demand for coal has dropped in the United States, but the clamor for coal in Asia's growing markets has American companies lobbying for controversial coal terminals along the train tracks in Washington and Oregon to transport coal mined in Montana. Explaining this coal controversy is Ashley Ahearn, an environmental reporter for KUOW in Seattle, and a contributor to their "Coal in the Northwest" series.