What Is Wrong with the City Council? They're Cowards When It Comes to Rail Planning.

Comments

1
One reason why might be that our transit systems sucks, so instead of fixing it, lets build a totally different transit system and hope that doesnt suck, because if it does, then we'll have to build another totally new system. We'll pay for it all naturally by jacking up the car tab fees, which i'm sure all the drivers just love to hear how their car tabs are paying for a system that sucks and doesn't work.
2
Who profits most by not doing this now? Identify them and trace the money in contributions back to Rasmussen. There's your answer.

Another reason for district elections, right here.
3
Between this and the weird Frankenstein beast that is the new "Rapid Ride" system, I'm getting the sense that transit in this city is measured solely on whether it can get people from point A to point B without much thought to the spaces in between. That there's already a route going from Downtown to UW means that we don't need to bother with another route that serves SLU. That the buses go from Ballard to West Seattle is all that matters, not that they bypass areas of growth like SoDo and Interbay.

So long as the accounting is pretty, everything else is irrelevant.

It's a shame that this should be thought of as a utility more than a business.
4
Studying an Eastlake trolley is the thread that if plucked will unravel our entire rail-planning-sweater? Really?
5
No Dominic you fucking little putz. The Eastlake corridor is jammed enough as it is, and when people talk about rail, they're talking about GRADE-SEPARATED FUCKING RAIL, and not trying to jam 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag because RAIL. When even Erica C. Barnett gets it, and you don't, it's time to find another line of work.
6
Yeah, I would have thought the lack of budget for both 520 and 99 is the major issue, and the services that connect to those, including the bridges.
7
@4 on its own no, but Dominic's point is that you have to look at this in the context of years and even decades of Council making similar decisions that kick the ball down the road on rail. Death by a thousand funding cuts.
8
Nicely put, Dom. But I think you know the answer to the question in your headline... The Council isn't cowardly, it's conniving. Politics are what motivated this decision.

The City Council, all of whom secretly (or sometimes explicitly) wish they could be Mayor, couldn't let McGinn have another win on rail. He just got ~$2M from the feds for study on extending the First Hill alignment- if he was seen as actually getting shit done on transit, they worry that he would have better chances in 2013.

Nobody on the City Council, with the possible exception of O'Brien, wants McGinn in office. He hasn't been playing by the rules, and they like the taste of power they got when he was still figuring out how to be Mayor.
9
I was talking to my dad a while back, a couple years before we got light rail. The one route we have. He said he remembers voting on this crap and the city arguing about it when he was my age (mid 20's); and he is 66 now. 40 years of no progress sounds about right to me.
10
erly, we voted against it in 1968 and 1970, that's when your dad likely remembers.
11
@7 fair enough. To be frank I'm looking at this through the lens of a person who doesn't find trolleys a particularly good way to spend transit money in any case. If this was grade separated light rail, holy shit, I love it. But trolleys? One thing I love about Ben's linked post is that he has the decency to correct everyone who's been claiming the term "high-capacity" as it relates to transit can include trolleys.
12
It's not cowardice so much as it their placing the good of the city below their desire to replace McGinn.

Certain members have basically adopted the strategy of the Congressional Republican. But instead of doing anything (or nothing) to ensure the President doesn't get a political win ( even if it means the country suffers) they are doing everything they can to make sure the Mayor doesn't get a win (even if the city suffers for it).
13
I remember voting for the monorail a few times. Let's do it again!
14
Meh, Monorail is dead. Seattle Subway is where it is at:
http://seattlesubway.org/
15
Anyone who thinks a stuck-in-traffic trolley through an isolated strip with 4,000 residents and almost no demand generators will "carry 25,000 riders a day" is a fucking imbecile.

Not even the slanted TMP study makes that claim. Its calculation of 25,000 "boardings" (that's half as many riders) presumes a huge increase in usage along the SLU segment that already exists, plus more than a few short-hop riders from one part of the U-District to another. Vital!

If that's what your idea of a sea change for the Seattle transit experience looks like, then you need to get out more.
16
Also, the blathering, ironically-titled nonsense from Mr. Schiendelman in Dominic's link was a reaction to a post of actual synaptic function by a different writer on the same blog.

Sloggers owe it to themselves to give it a read before jumping to Dominic's conclusions: http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/10/31…
17
Just because a transit proposal uses rails doesn't make it better or faster or cheaper. This isn't a subway or an el folks. It's not the Link Light Rail.

I agree, the money would be much better spent on planning for the Seattle Subway (Light Rail Extensions). Duplicating bus service with more expensive, slower, tracked trolleys seems pointless. Why not just buy more electric buses for that route? Why put in tracks that are cyclist hostile?
18
Why does McGinn support surface rail? Bicyles can trip over rails.

Okay all sarcasm aside this does seem to be a natural rail corridor. Let's get on it City Council.
19
And what is the advantage to a tracked streetcar? Seriously.
20
Over $1 million for a study? Because that's what they decided to delay: the study. How they would read the study would be a whole other thing, and if they then decided not to do it, we wouldn't get that $1+ million back again.
21
I don't get this, the SLUT is already half built, just fucking finish it!
22
What d.p. said.

The SLUT is a monument to letting one developer's agenda undermine long-term transit planning, and adding this proposed leg to it and essentially duplicating the light rail line presently under construction to justify its existence just throws good money after bad.

23
@19 - wide doors, easy on/off for passengers in wheelchairs, super fast load/unload times compared to a bus. Do you ride a bus? Have you ever ridden a street car? I don't think you'd be asking that question if you'd had...
24
The Council must have list interest when they found out it was only a million. Throw in a multi-billion dollar car tunnel if you want them to get interested.
25
#23 - Thanks for the serious answer! I do ride the bus, all the time. I've only ridden streetcars a few times, mainly in other cities, where the designs are older, more like buses. I guess my follow up question is, are flat floors and extra wide doors worth it? I know I'd appreciate them on my primary route, the 3/4. Though a streetcar can't do those hills, easy roll on and off would sure speed up all the wheelchairs and strollers on that route.

Is that worth the extra cost of construction? Would it make more sense to simply use the money to buy a lot more buses to service the existing routes more often? (I don't know the answer).

Most of the time, comfort, easy boarding, etc are not what's put foremost in the streetcar pitch.

If those things are attractive enough to get a lot more people riding, then that would be great, I could support that. Like most people I'm most interested in fast and frequent. A slow and infrequent but comfy ride may not be enough.
26
@25 - you're welcome =)

As for it being worth the cost, I say yes, but I'm sure compelling arguments can be made against it too. I like nice infrastructure and I'm willing to pay more for nice bridges, nice sidewalks, nice parks, nice transit, and a nice city. I don't like the race to the bottom where the only discussion concerning any public investment is "how cheap can we make it?"

Having said that, you're right about frequency - it's the most important factor to me as well.