Council approves transit plan | Ridership projections in question

Trusting in a promise from Kemper Development Company that its expanding downtown core will continue to offer free parking long into the future, the Bellevue City Council on Monday approved a transit master plan after two years in development.

Members of the city’s transportation commission gave the council the green light to approve the transit plan on Monday. Vic Bishop cautioned one “red flag” is an operational study for “running projects” that assumes higher rates for parking downtown in the future in its projected 60,000 daily riders in Bellevue by 2030.

Such projects include a high-occupancy vehicle lane on a portion of Bellevue Way near the South Bellevue Park and Ride. Bishop said if any running project is considered in the future, the city must ensure the ridership projections tied to it are correct.

KDC Vice President Bruce Nurse said the study method should be corrected and not include higher parking rates which falsely inflates ridership projections. CEO Kemper Freeman has been a long-time opponent of light rail in the city and advocate for infrastructure improvements for motorists.

“Our company has stated publicly that we have a policy for not charging for retail parking and our philosophy is if it were to be charged than we would lose a great deal of customers to and from,” said Nurse, adding the company does not believe people park at the Bellevue Collection and then access transit.

After reassurances from staff that the city wouldn’t move forward with a running project without the most up-to-date ridership projections, the council approved the transit master plan unanimously.

“If you can convince the Seattle Transit Blog you’ve done really good work on transit, you have,” said Councilmember John Chelminiak.


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