Too many people here are looking at where the puck is right this minute rather than trying to skate to where the puck is going to be. This thing got screwed up in the 1970s when folks didn't vote for more transit. Now the traffic problem is coming home to roost.
I'm 53 y/o. My mom is 83 y/o. By the time many of these improvements are finished, I'll be her age and she'll be dead. But we both voted "yes" on ST3, because it's the right thing to do for our region long-term.
Particularly with rail, if you build it, then stuff is going to get built up around it. So you can't judge the usefulness of it based on what Fife or Everett looks like right now (more on that below).
That said, I also think it's a mistake to create false dichotomies between cars and trains, etc. The reality is that we're probably going to have a mix of modalities. For example, I think the electric bike is going to become a lot more popular for shorter trips and last mile connections to transit, especially inside the city of Seattle. Once you can go 15 mph easily with 25 mile range, there are a lot of trips where the electric bike is competitive with a car in terms of travel time, much easier to park, and cheaper to operate.
Nevertheless, imho, rail has an important role to play in that mix. An electric bike with a good rail system is much more useful than an electric bike without a rail system (or for that matter a rail system without an electric bike). The same is true of car sharing, services like Uber, driver-less cars, etc. They aren't necessarily one over the other. They have the possibility of being complimentary.
For example, a town in Florida has been subsidizing Uber rides for its residents to and from the light rail station (and I think within the town as well). http://www.theverge.com/2016/9/1/1273566…
. We can debate whether that's a great idea or not. To my mind, it's definitely a neo-liberal solution to the problem, which I have mixed feelings about. On the other hand, finding creative ways to integrate the last mile with higher density trunk lines, like light rail, seems like an important problem we need to solve. It's telling that Uber has come out in favor of ST3, underscoring that it sees a future where its service and public transit can co-exist and thrive.
Unlike many people, I live in a neighborhood that's now had light rail since it opened. I don't use it all the time, and probably drive more than I should. But every time I do use it, I'm one less person driving my car. It's a great option to have. And every time new stations open, it's that much more useful to me (Link is such a great, stress-free way to get from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill). Can't wait until I can ride it all the way to Northgate and out to Redmond or down to Federal Way.
Along the same lines, think about things like Seawhawks, Mariners, Sounders, and Husky games. Each time people choose to ride transit to the game, rather than driving into SODO, it leaves more room on the highway for all the people who aren't going to the game. And if it's an option for you, it's such an easier way to get there. You can get your drink on if you want, and not worry about drunk driving your car home to the suburbs.
Trust me, all of this will become a lot clearer once North Link and East Link are finished and more people get to start using it more regularly. But we can't wait until that stuff is finished to start funding the next phase. IMHO, we need to bite the bullet and make that happen now.
I was up on Everett not long ago, and it's just so obvious how much a rail connection up there would positively affect the future economic development of the town. From Seattle, it's easy to view Everett as kind of the outer periphery of things. But if the region continues to grow as it's been growing lately, this won't likely be the case 30 years from now.
If transit connectivity is good, all of a sudden, Everett isn't that far away. If businesses know that lot of workers to the south can easily get up there on the train, perhaps they choose to site their business there. And if people know that there is an efficient, relatively flexible, and predictable commute from Everett to Seattle, more people who work in Seattle will likely decide that Everett is a viable/affordable spot to live.The Sounder is great for what it is. But it doesn't run often enough to be the sort of flexible solution that would be useful to more people. It's really just for 9-5 commuters. Buses, on the other hand, without a dedicated right of way, lack reliability, when they are subject to most of the same traffic problems as cars.