News Aug 3, 2011 at 4:00 am

Suburban Lawmakers Crippled Regional Transportation Planning, Then Tried to Kill It for Being Inefficient

By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


After moving to Oregon, car tabs were quite a bit more expensive. I'd be glad to pay for enhancements to my city's transit if it's outlined well. I use TriMet to commute to and from work (or bicycle) and it's much easier than parking.

I wonder if Seattle could ever implement a sales tax on parking in its core that would be similar to Vancouver's funds for TransLink. Then again, that would probably require some fine-tuning of state law which sounds pretty unlikely at this point.
There seems to be a trend with legislators and councilmembers throwing seattle on the fire to show how independent they are, and dedicated to their constituents. Surrounding areas rely on Seattle to a much greater extent than I think they are willing to admit, and ignoring that fact appears to have us on a trajectory to tragedy.
To be perfectly honest, I still think it's ridiculous that Bellevue, Kirkland and Maple Leaf are not just 'Seattle'. I mean, Seattle: 84 sq miles, Nashville,TN 473 sq miles. wtf?
There seems to be a trend with legislators and councilmembers throwing seattle on the fire to show how independent they are, and dedicated to their constituents. Surrounding areas rely on Seattle to a much greater extent than I think they are willing to admit, and ignoring that fact appears to have us on a trajectory to tragedy.
To be perfectly honest, I still think it's ridiculous that Bellevue, Kirkland and Maple Leaf are not just 'Seattle'. I mean, Seattle: 84 sq miles, Nashville,TN 473 sq miles. wtf?
Downtown Seattle transit is indeed mired in a conundrum. There are actually more buses than necessary yet not enough at the same time. More people are left waiting at stops than are seated in buses roaring by mostly empty. How can this conundrum be fixed?

A Seattle-centric transit design would be contained within Capital & First Hills, Lower Queen Anne & Lake Union, all around and through Central Downtown. The shorter "CENTRIC" routes require the LEAST number of ideal trolleybuses to operate at or under 5 minute intervals. 5-minute service!

Regional transit routes would pass through downtown as straight as possible with least stops where transfers to the Seattle-centric system are conveniently affected with minimal wait. No more waiting at the goddamn curb while stinking diesel buses roar by.

I've made the case for such a Seattle-centric transit design for 10 years. Titled "The Seattle Circulator Plan, its short routes operate more like local 'circulators' than regional lines. It would minimize the clutter of overhead wire and reduce entire system operating costs. To fund operation, a good case for a business excise tax can be made.

After 10 years of your BS, all I can say is, Seattlers are totally fucked by the crooks and halfwits employed as transportation planners.

The bored tunnel is insanity.
Mercer West is atrocious.
The new Alaskan Way design is bogus.
Mayor McGinn is your hero.

Mercer East has potential. Don't ruin it with Mercer West. Reconnecting the Aurora grid is best achieved merely extending the Battery Street Tunnel to Harrison. Don't condemn the Broad Street Underpass until its new usefulness is determined AFTER Mercer East is completed. Broad Street could still be depaved west of Taylor.
It'll help to open University Link and North Link.

But for the rest of the city, we're clearly past the capacity needs that buses can support. We need more light rail. City taxpayers paid for Link, and would likely be happy to pay for more, given the opportunity by the legislature.

A good start would be the vehicle license fee proposed for the ballot this fall. Then, to the legislature for more. The downtown-Queen Anne corridor has the density of Brooklyn: We should be building mass transit there to support continued development so people can live in the city.
Something people seem to forget is Metro began as the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, a regional government entity that was started to operate wastewater treatment plants within its area. Metro famously cleaned up Lake Washington, which was pretty much an open sewer.

Metro took over public transportation from the Seattle Transit System (public) and Metropolitan Stage Lines (private) in 1973. It worked pretty well, though better than nothing is not much of a compliment.

Somewhere along the way, the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle was found to be in violation of the one-man, one-vote rule, because its governing board was made up of one representative from each of the cities within its statutory area. Seattle had as many representatives (one) as Bothell. That would not do, so Metro got disbanded and dumped into King County, because most of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle's statutory area was in King County.

King County being the most feckless, pointless, useless government entity in North America, it clings to Metro Transit because it really has few other reasons to continue to exist. TriMet in Portland works so well not only because it has a fairer, more stable source of funding, but because the people in charge know, first and foremost, the purpose of public transportation is to get people where they want to go, when they want to go. And that you get people to use public transportation by being at least as good an alternative as a personal vehicle, if not a better one. Which King County Metro never, ever is...
The fact that we have multiple transit agencies for one metro area is behind many of our regional transit problems. Multiple agencies = multiple priorities. Not to mention more hassles for commuters. We need one transit agency for the entire area.

"Idaho Spud" references TriMet, which serves the entire Portland metro area. Granted, Portland is smaller, but it's also been much wiser in terms of transit. Seattle is still building core lightrail lines: Portland has had light rail for 25 years!

I would be in favor of implementing something like the "Seattle Circulator Plan" referenced by "Wells," in conjunction with a regional plan.

The solution is not easy, but the current system is irretrievably broken.
The busses cost ?? The double deck 418 cost?? Paying for the psychiatrist of those poor retired metro workers costs??
As well they manage to run over bald eagles on the 520??? How do you manage hitting a bald eagle? Ask Metro 8)
Something to consider is that all parties are acting rationally. King County Metro is rationally favoring buses because it's voters are county voters, and buses make sense at the county level. It's the county's obligation to do the best job for all of it's voters, and only a third of it's voters are in the city.

That's exactly why Seattle needs its own system. Urban transit is fundamentally different than suburban transit. We have enough density here to be able to benefit from high capacity transit systems. Not only will they move us around much faster and easier, but at some point they become cheaper to run than buses and actually help form a better city.

I've been saying this for a few years now. Maybe we've healed enough from the Monorail fiasco to move forward with our own system.
i am fully in support of allowing seattle to make its own decisions & to allow the suburban districts fuck themselves however they feel is appropriate. a much better alternative to the current situation in which the suburban voters get to fuck seattle however they feel is appropriate. if only we had the san francisco set up where the city & the county are one.
@10 I think we have the potential to have it better than SF. Keep county-wide bus service going. Keep region-wide light rail going. Add city-wide transit (light rail? streetcars? gondolas? rapid trolley buses? I don't care as long as they're fast, frequent, and connect our neighborhoods). Win. Win. Win.
@11 that would be great, and i totally support it. however, it might as well be a million miles from where we are right now.
@12 Why? We were nearly there with the Monorail (man, I could taste it - the shovels were hovering over the ground, ready to dig). Considering the current Seattle angst at Metro cutting service, there'd be huge popular support to tax ourselves to start our own system. Even if we started slowly, just making that first step is important.
Further, Seattle just recieved a large, detailed report analyzing a large expansion of our streetcar system - so we have a scope-of-work laid out and ready to vote on. Though I'd prefer adding gondolas to the scheme because they're cheap and easy to install, I'd be happy with almost any technology.
@13 & 14

i am there w/ you too. 100%. i just look at what happened w/ the monorail, where the people wanted it and the powers that be didn't & they manipulated this situation & lied to us & made us vote again & again & again until they got the vote they wanted. what would keep something like that from happening again? i guess my faith in american democracy is subterranean at this point. i don't see the people's desires as being relevant at all to policy making at any level of government, and i see the powers that be as being 100% dead set against pro-transit solutions.
You have every right to be cynical. But everyone says the Monorail would have worked if they had the funding right. But it's just funding - we have some pretty smart people in this city and I doubt we'll make the same mistakes the second time. Just because you burn one pizza doesn't mean you should turn off the oven and starve.
hey, go for it and i hope you are right. but i don't think it is accurate to say we have burned one pizza. i would say that we have burned every pizza we've tried to make and all of the cheese, tomatoes & wheat in the country is currently on fire.
Our light rail pizza is coming out pretty nicely. Same with our personal-sized streetcar pizza.
Gondolas look like a pretty cool idea.
Duh! it would be 1000% faster and cheaper to just tax Seattle residents for more money for more service from RTA? the city of Seattle just don't need to be on the same level as Auburn?

If your going to make Metro a Seattle thing then make it a Seattle thing and kick RTA out and Tax the county's to have a Seattle bus come and go as all they do is run 3 times in the morning and 3 times in the evening unless you slave to Microsoft? then you run every 10 minutes as on top of that they have their own colossal bus system.

Seattle Screws around too much and has screwed around too much to half ass patch any of its long over due responsibility's.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.