Sound Transit Board Approves Changes to ST3 to Speed Up Light Rail Projects


It is surprisingly common to have sources of additional funding come up for projects like the Ballard to UW line or even the tunnel option. If a project has been studied and is deemed "provisional," that effectively makes it "Shovel Ready" to potential federal funding sources.

And since the current timeline puts the project out to beyond 2030, we're very likely to see another economic downturn between now and then. If history is any example, this is when the Feds will offer notable levels of matching funds, like they did during the 2009 Stimulus Act, and that's when we can jump on the additional money to expand projects.
First time I've ever seen Everett and Tacoma labeled as suburbs. These independent cities are as old as Seattle, and they've never been any city's bedroom communities.
@2- Everett has evolved into a suburb. The express buses are full and capacity at park and rides is a serious issue. I maintain that an elevated rail line running from Everett to Seatac above 99 is probably the quickest, cheapest option that would remove the most cars from the I-5 corridor.
I'm thrilled by the decision to make the 15th Ave. route in Ballard run elevated rather than at-grade. That makes it so much more feasible for that line to be extended further, as could happen with an ST4 ballot measure. I appreciate that this was a decision that runs against the grain politically, where there's been resistance to the impact on views of even a relatively slender monorail. A wide, urban, auto-oriented thoroughfare like 15th is a perfect fit for elevated light rail, even with light rail's bigger footprint vs. monorail.

As to the question of drawbridge-vs.-tunnel under Salmon Bay (I thought it was still the ship canal at that point), I guess I'm in the camp where, yeah, of course I'd prefer a tunnel, but I could live with the drawbridge, and I wouldn't want that decision to hold up the ballot measure.

BTW, terrific writeup by Mike Lindblom in the linked Times piece.
@2 @3 -- They function more as independent cities than they do suburbs. But that doesn't really matter. No one with any sense builds multi-billion dollar light rail lines to suburbs (or separate cites) that far away. Well, no one but BART, and they did that a long time ago, and probably wished they hadn't (and had focused on the core instead). It just doesn't work (nice try, though, BART). There simply aren't that many people willing to make a trip like that, even if it is extremely fast (which BART is, and our system won't be). The answer is to leverage commuter rail when they can (which tends to be cheap) or express buses. Both of which are faster for the vast majority of trips people want to take along that corridor. Light rail (or a subway or whatever you want to call it) works effectively when you have dozens of trip combinations that people want to do all day long. Roosevelt to Capitol Hill, UW to Northgate or UW to Beacon Hill. There just aren't that many people trying to get from the Fife park and ride to the Federal Way park and ride.
@4 I'm thrilled by the decision to make the 15th Ave. route in Ballard run elevated rather than at-grade.

How much did that cost, and what else could you get with the money?
Ross @6, you're absolutely right. We could be building something better, if by "better" we mean worse. And if we only defeat this fatally flawed ballot measure, we could be building the ideal plan sooner, if by "sooner" we mean possibly later or never.

You're welcome now to have the last word...
Light rail to Everett and Tacoma makes sense if you broaden your focus beyond Seattle-centric commute trips. Those two cities are growing and can grow some more, as can the urban villages around intermediate stations.

With major destinations in those cities, trains can haul commuters in both directions. Rail transit can and will stimulate more higher-density development in those two cities.
@7 - Well said.

It's funny how he rails against Sound Transit for their poor planning and yet expects that his ideal projects would be executed perfectly which is even more amusing considering no one in the region, no matter the agency, has pulled off a true BRT route like he's proposing for West Seattle.

The region has universally agreed on Light Rail - just getting to this point is a huge accomplishment in and of itself for the region. Backing off on that because a few people are being anal about making use we use their version of the "perfect" mode for each scenario is a really dumb idea.

Finally the Spine via Light Rail has been promised to the region since the original ST - we've additionally validated it at the ballot box through ST2. Can you imagine the reputation hit if ST "broke" that promise?
Pridge Wessea @9, you've said it all better than I could, but I would just add one point.

Every freakin' time a fixed-rail transit ballot measure comes up in this region, whether it be light rail or monorail, there's always a contingent that raises the BRT flag. BRT is the favorite form of "mass" transit for people who oppose mass transit. And then you know what, the moment the threat of real mass transit goes away, most of these people are nowhere to be seen when it comes time to making the tough changes to upgrade regular bus service to BRT.

Of course, there are some BRT true believers who believe that Seattle is more like Curitiba than every other major city in the developed world, and thank goodness Seattle Transit Blog exists as an outlet for these folks and their apparent unlimited amounts of free time.
Oh, give me a break, you Kool-Aid addled jerks. Ross has never opposed a tax levy in his life. He is no Kemper Freeman or John Niles or Tim Eyman.

It is downright offensive to paint someone as "anti-transit" because they don't buy into your $50 (actually, now $54 billion) worth of worst-practice fallacies.

@8 et al, read this:… No subway in history has ever caused densification in a satellite as remote from the urban core as Tacoma. The notion that this absurdly long-haul overkill boondoggle would enable multi-directional anything is as wholly fictional as the expectation of Magic TOD springing from the parking lots of Federal Way.
@7 -- Are you seriously suggesting that the ST3 plan is better than this one? Have you done any analysis, or are you just trusting your gut? Because I have, and there are an overwhelming number of trips that would be faster with that plan -- even without a new bridge.

Look -- I hate to break it to you, but we aren't Manhattan. There is no way we will ever have light rail going everywhere we live. Consider the north end of Queen Anne. This has a college (SPU) and population density much higher than average for Seattle, but will never have a light rail stop. Nor will most parts of the city. Since most people will never live close to a light rail station, one approach (apparently the ST3 approach) is to just randomly pick places and run lines from there to downtown, with no appreciation of the existing rail or bus network. A better approach is to build a system that integrates both bus and light rail. Vancouver BC does that, and the result is a system we can only dream of. Not miles and miles of light rail going to distant locations (or North Vancouver, an area remarkably similar to West Seattle except with considerably more density and employment) but a relatively short, very frequent set of light rail trains running on the key corridors, along with frequent bus routes on areas where they can run quickly. Vancouver has high light rail ridership (higher than we will ever have) but they also have much higher bus ridership. They simply have a better transit system, which is why three times as many people per capita ride it. Vancouver is an obvious success story, the obvious model for us, yet we have failed to mimic their approach.

ST3 seems to ignore the overall transit network, and be focused on "serving" broad areas with one or two stations. I'm a big fan of transfers, but it doesn't make sense to make a transfer when everyone is just headed the same direction to the same place. If it is noon, and you are on a regular old 120 (no BRT) coming from West Seattle to downtown, why would you want to transfer to a train? Either way the next stop is downtown. The train doesn't add any value during most of the day. You can't find a train line like that in Vancouver, nor should we be building one here.

Compare that with the Ballard to UW line. What if you are on the E, heading south from Aurora, towards downtown. Would you get off of the bus, and take the train? Absolutely. For sure if you are headed to Ballard, the UW, or Capitol Hill. If you are headed to Rainier Valley, that is as good a place as ever to transfer. Otherwise, it is simply a matter of which part of downtown you are headed towards (with Belltown you stay on the bus, with the east side of downtown you transfer).

The ST3 plan simply provides too little for too much money. The number of people that will benefit is remarkably small. Much of the north end gets very little out of this. For example, will any trip from Fremont change, as a result of this very expensive project? It doesn't make sense to go to Ballard and then take the train downtown. Getting to West Seattle is trivial (the only bad traffic they have is in the morning, headed towards downtown). So that leaves Interbay and lower Queen Anne. The combination of a bus and the train might shave a couple of minutes off of the 32 (assuming you make the transfer) but that is about it. That is Fremont, which is right next to Ballard! Phinney Ridge/Greenwood and Wallingford all get nothing out of the deal.

In general, the area north of the ship canal gets hardly anything out of ST3, despite the fact that we are spending billions to provide good light rail to the north end, and would spend billions more to get light rail to Ballard. Northgate to Ballard would be no faster with light rail. That should shock the hell out of anyone who has ever been on a subway system with as many miles as ST is proposing. This isn't a trivial thing. It isn't just Northgate to Ballard, but Northgate to most parts of West Seattle. Transit systems aren't supposed to work like that. Projects should complement each other.

Instead, ST3 is taking a symbolic approach based on what looks good on a map. When you say things like "West Seattle will get rail", it implies that most of the people who live in West Seattle will benefit. They clearly won't. Only those who live close the stations (and there are very few that do) will get the benefit. Everyone else will take the same old bus, or be forced to take a time consuming transfer. Ballard will get a significant improvement, but it will still take a very long time to get to the second biggest urban center in Washington State (the UW) as well as anywhere else in the north end. That is crazy for the amount of money we are talking about spending.
@10 Every freakin' time a fixed-rail transit ballot measure comes up in this region, whether it be light rail or monorail, there's always a contingent that raises the BRT flag. BRT is the favorite form of "mass" transit for people who oppose mass transit. And then you know what, the moment the threat of real mass transit goes away, most of these people are nowhere to be seen when it comes time to making the tough changes to upgrade regular bus service to BRT.

You have been so wrong on so many points, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that you are wrong when it comes to your personal attack on me.

It wouldn't have been too hard for you to figure it out. You could start by simply reading the proposal that I mentioned I support. That links to something else I wrote, which was the inspiration for that piece. In both articles, one of the key pieces is a Ballard to UW light rail line.

That wasn't the first time I proposed light rail. Again, do a little research. Just Google "Ballard to UW light rail" and scroll down a bit until you see the name "Ross". I've also been a long time supporter of a Metro 8 subway as well (those comments from "Ross" are also from me).

So, you are absolutely, fucking wrong when it comes to the idea that I oppose light rail in this town. I support cost effective light rail. I don't support light rail that is a waste of money, especially when there are much better alternatives.

Second, I am a long term supporter of BRT, and look forward to the day (which will occur soon), when we finally see some in the area. I have been a supporter of the WSTT for a while, and well before ST3 finalized their plans. This isn't a radical plan. Nor would we have to worry about that being "watered down" like so many so called BRT systems (e. g. RapidRide). This is a tunnel, similar to the old bus tunnel (that still carries buses). It would work just like a train inside the tunnel. Off board payment, level boarding, and never a single car to worry about.

Even if the rest of those bus routes have on board payment, or lack dedicated lanes, it would still be way more cost effective, or effective in general, then light rail. Getting from Alki, South Seattle college, High Point or most of West Seattle to downtown would be much faster, because you would avoid the transfer. If the city actually improved those corridors (and they are ready to -- see corridor 2) then it would be much better.

I think it is easy to assume that people vote a certain way, or oppose a certain project for the same reason. It is called stereotyping. In this case, as in most cases, you are demonstrably wrong when you engage in such ignorant behavior.
@8 Light rail to Everett and Tacoma makes sense if you broaden your focus beyond Seattle-centric commute trips. Those two cities are growing and can grow some more, as can the urban villages around intermediate stations.

With major destinations in those cities, trains can haul commuters in both directions. Rail transit can and will stimulate more higher-density development in those two cities.

I'm afraid it won't. It hasn't anywhere else (even with BART, a much faster system serving a lot more people). The problem is geography and the nature of light rail. Light rail makes lots of stops. As a result, it doesn't average a really high speed. This is why folks in Queens take express buses to Manhattan, despite having a very good subway system. But people still ride that subway system (like most urban subway systems) because of all the stops that occur along the way.

Our system is no different. Those riding the 41 will soon take the train instead. For many, it will be a deterioration. There will be a transfer, and the bus is often very fast (when the express lanes are going its way). They may whine a bit as the train stops at Roosevelt, the UW and Capitol Hill. But at every stop, large numbers of people will be getting on and off the train, including many from Northgate. That is the trade-off, and it is worth it in an urban setting, because all day long you will have people making those sorts of trips (e. g. Northgate to UW).

But that simply isn't the case as the train goes deeper into the suburbs. There aren't that many people riding from one deserted park and ride (next to the freeway) to the next. There aren't enough people there, or businesses there. Without the high ridership that you would get with those, you have low frequency service (like BART, DART and similar systems) which means that even supporting bus service is poor.

As the train stations get farther and farther away from the places people want to go (e. g. downtown Seattle) the trips take longer and longer. For Tacoma, for example, it is absurd. It will take about an hour and fifteen minutes to get from the Tacoma Dome to downtown Seattle. Very few people live near the Tacoma Dome. So a typical trip -- just to downtown Seattle -- would take take an hour and a half. A trip to Fremont or First Hill would likely take over an hour and forty five minutes. There just aren't that many people in Tacoma willing to do that. Even now, the bus service is more popular than the commuter rail service (Sounder) because most of the day, it is much faster. Yet Link would be slower than commuter rail. Why would someone take the third slowest transit method to get to Seattle? They won't, which is why it will never make sense for Tacoma.

The answer for cities like Everett and Tacoma is to do the same thing other cities have done. Leverage the rail system as best you can and run lots of express buses.
Like I said, there is a tiny group of people who are crazy anal about using their idea of the "perfect" mode in the context of their ideal plan and fuck everything if they don't get it.

Personally I'm holding out for a pegasus to get me from West Seattle to Ballard - with this mode we won't need a bridge or tunnel! And according to my data, a pegasus will increase rideshare and decrease travel times by 48 seconds! Theres the whole FAA thing and concerns from neighbors about pegasus droppings, but I'm sure that'll work out just fine when they see my awesome plan. And if we vote this down we can come back with a Seattle-only plan in a month and we'll probably get unicorn trolleys too!

@11 - Still bitter about getting banned from Seattle Transit Blog huh? Nobody will ban you for your constant tantrums here, so you've got that at least.
d.p. @11, I read that City Lab story too when it came out, and I immediately thought, "I can't wait until the transit foes seize on this as a reason not to build subways." Your willingness to be one of those people seizing on that dubious study as a reason not to build fixed-rail transit tells us all we need to know about you. Yes, we know you're opposed to subways, we know you're opposed to rail transit, we know you're opposed to transit. It's OK.

It's the easiest thing in the world to say, "I support transit in principle, just not this particular transit plan." Every transit measure there is, y'all crawl out of the woodwork and say as much. And that caveat provides instant putative cover. It lets the transit foe come across as a concern-trolling transit supporter.

But hey, whatever, maybe you and Ross and the rest of your Seattle Transit Blog denizens with unlimited words to spew really do know better than that evil, unaccountable, rogue agency that is Sound Transit. If you have the courage of your convictions, you ought to sign up for the "no" campaign. I'm sure you'll find a lot of kindred spirits.
What's remarkable to me is that, for those of us who have been fighting for transit in this region for years, ST3 is as close as it comes to a dream plan, a perfectly balanced wish list that unequivocally and unapologetically fills the most glaring holes in our transit network. And yet, even then, we have this cavalcade of know-it-alls coming forward to tell us how flawed this plan is and how much better their imaginary, back-of-the-napkin, half-baked plan will be.

Why is this? Because, no matter what the plan, no matter how many constituencies it satisfies, these sort of concern-trolling foes will always emerge. It's part of democracy; it's part of life.

If you think these self-proclaimed transit experts are savaging Ballard-to-downtown for not being Ballard-to-UW, if Sound Transit had gone ahead and done Ballard-to-UW, they'd be savaging it even more fiercely for not being Ballard-to-downtown.
Yeah, @17, "gaping holes" like Some Hypothetical Issaquah Redevolpment Zone, or the South Kirkland P&R, or the highway embankment in Fife, or the decentralized low-scale industrial park 20 miles from anywhere, not to mention the Hyperbolic Junction of Smug and Boring (aka the non-even-top-20-in-Seattle-proper population center or locus of commercial activity that 85% of the city never has a reason to remember exists).

I'm so glad those are the "glaring holes" to be addressed by this $54 billion plan. (Which presumes, apparently, Federal contributions that will somehow dwarf and override the actual unfunded needs of millions in New York and DC.)

Shame that 2040 will come, and most of the city will still be an hour from most everywhere else in the city, because those tens of billions to do a sliver of good for Fremont or Greenwood or the Central District or Lake City -- all places denser and more contiguous and with more pervasive non-commute transit needs than the places on ST's to-do list, but which I guess do not qualify as "gaping holes" to you, because reasons.

Listen, I'm as tired of arguing this subject as you are. Go take a plane to any fucking real city anywhere in the world. Note all the successful urban-scaled transit delivering all kinds of passengers in all directions all day for infinite permutations of purposes. Note how many people cycle on and off the vehicles at each and every station, dispersing in all directions and going about their business along vectors that you can't begin to surmise by glancing at the single fucking thing anywhere near the station, as is the case in most any location in Seattle.

Note that the critical masses warranting high-capacity, high-frequency transit do not magically arise from endpoints as sleepy and unpopulated as The Junction, much less from 30-mile-distant malls or industrial parks or economically-challenged second cities, and note that the highest-order transit corridors do not remotely chase such priorities and distances, because they have infinitely better things to do.

Note that most any place you encounter successful urban transit boasts a degree of human bustle unseen anywhere in Seattle, even in the current boom times, including Capitol Hill and Ballard and every place on my own "glaring gaps" list above. Note that Seattle's internal battles over what supposedly constitutes "density" and "overwhelming demand" will start to seem quaint and sense-of-scale-challenged, in comparison to anywhere you visit that could be called "robust" while maintaining a straight face.

ST3 is Worst Practice Design incarnate. Sprawling, expensive, egregiously overextended, poorly routed, missing its marks even when headed towards urban quadrants that might actually gain value from it if done correctly. ST3 would be crap transit even if completed tomorrow, and even if it magically materialized for no cost. That you think haphazardly grazing Tacoma, Everett, Issaquah, and one tiny fraction of NW and SW Seattle with difficult-to-access and (for nearly all trips) grossly time-uncompetitive transit -- which even the most optimistic estimates suggest very few people will ever find useful, no matter how hard they might wish to -- is somehow a "dream plan", simply suggests that you are an inexperienced nincompoop who craves symbols over useful effects. Heaven help Seattle's future mobility and viability if you prove representative of its reasoning skills.
p.s. And re: your couldn't-be-falser aspersions against my intellectual honesty:

I have never owned a car in my life, including in my decade in Seattle. As it happens, I moved back to a particular East Coast city a couple of months ago. I use transit -- painlessly -- to get where I'm going every single day. I use subways or buses, mode-agnostically, on an as-needed trip-by-trip basis.

Believe me, I know what I'm talking about better than you do.

You may have attended an uncorking and gleefully ridden back and forth between Broadway and an ugly stadium-adjacent overpass 4000 times for fun, just to prove to yourself how urbane you suddenly are, but I promise you that I take more subway trips than you, simply because it actually gets me to useful places as I live my life. So really, who's the urbane one, and who's the fucking turnip-truck poseur?

d.p. @19:
As it happens, I moved back to a particular East Coast city a couple of months ago. I use transit -- painlessly -- to get where I'm going every single day.

And I'm sure that, back in the day as that East Coast city was trying to build out its subway system, it had plenty of brilliant armchair transit planners like you telling them how stupid their plans were. (No, no, I know what you're going to say, this particular project is uniquely dim-witted. To sound a bit like Donald Trump, ST3 is the worst transit plan in human history.) Ah yes, and hypothetically that could be true, but that's what the opponents say every time with every mass transit plan, and in a way, I'm sure many of them believe it at the time.

Anyway, I'm glad you care enough about Seattle's welfare and future to grace us with your constructive views even though you no longer have a stake in anything here. Hey, if you care so much, volunteer for the "No" campaign. You'll feel like you're doing something good for the world, for the human race, for society. Clearly, you have nothing better to do in your new home. And I'm sure the "No" campaign have some remote work they can put you on.

P.S. I'm perfectly happy to concede that you are far more urbane than I, Seattle hick that I am.

P.P.S. I would still recommend, for your own sake, that you try to get out there a bit in your new home, meet people, show them what a wonderful and charming person you are to spend time with--y'know, bowl them over with your urbaneness.
You know, if you have even the most remotest interest in understanding why some transit schemes wind up holistically effective enough to become a default means for navigating a city, while others wallow in "it looked good on the napkin" ineffectiveness (while the populace continues to have no choice but to drive), perhaps you should knock off the lame strawmanning and engage in a real dialogue.

I'll inject this little shocker into your rumination cud: I voted for ST2, and I do not regret it. Despite heroic efforts to hobble those projects with terrible design, politicized routing, and incompetent execution, I think that ST2 will do enough demonstrable good to have justified the cost. Bus riders from the north and south will have acceptable transfer-based access to a way to avoid I-5 traffic, and a higher-capacity bi-directional cross-lake option is a genuine need. No regrets whatsoever on that vote.

Unfortunately, ST3 costs an order of magnitude more, and its non-Seattle extensions approach a textbook definition of "diminishing returns". You will no doubt encourage Seattle voters to ignore this, as if $tens of billions in abject money-on-fire could ever be seen as worthwhile horse-trading for much-needed Seattle projects.

Shame, then, that the Seattle projects are themselves so ineffectual, reaching few areas poorly, saving time on a paucity of trips, integrating terribly with connecting transit, and generally acting as the polar opposite of the pervasively-useful-cum-default mobility option that make the subways of the East Coast and Europe the fetishistic envy of you.

Anyway, I mean you no harm, and I certainly wish only the best outcomes for Seattle. Perhaps you should consider self-education rather than lazy, falsehood-accusation-spewing defensiveness. Who knows, maybe one day you'll be informed enough to participate in planning a transit network that actually makes life in Seattle easier, and that doesn't require heroic goalpost-moving and reality-warping to ascribe as a "success".

The electoral rebuke of ST3 will be a necessary precondition to a better-designed subsequent outcome.
d.p. @21, yes, yes, we know. ST3 is the worst-designed transit expansion in human history. You're eminently smarter and more honest than Peter Rogoff and Dow Constantine. We look forward to you and Ross continuing to make those points clear in the coming months until Election Day 2016, even if it requires posting a message at 2:34 AM Eastern time.

The thing is, the points you're making are nothing new, and you and people like you would be making them no matter what Sound Transit put forward, even if they put forward a plan designed by the novices at Seattle Transit Blog. The only well-designed mass transit system is no mass transit system.

Now you're welcome to have the last word.
@21 - It's awesome that apparently none of those east coast cities with amazing transit systems had politics interfere with their mass transit design when they were building their systems out.

How did they pull that off? I imagine if routing had been politicized at any point during the construction process 50-100 years ago, they would be completely and totally ineffectual today and not worth investing in.
I have no reason to question Rogoff's intelligence or his suitability for his defined role. He is a hired bureaucrat whose primary selling point is his assumed facility with FTA funding formulas. He was brought in to try to positively spin ST's poor-ROI West Seattle obsession and to lipstick its zillion-mile suburban pigs.

Whatever. Funding formulas are funding formulas, and the FTA is decreasingly interested in subsidizing lipsticked pigs. ST will be lucky to get any of its expected Federal windfall outside of a Ballard line. I suspect that Rogoff secretly knows this.

Dow, on the other hand, is a well-intentioned dimwit on most matters. His sub-par comprehension of the important challenges that are his professional charge is hardly limited to transit.

Listen, I'm not quite sure why I still care about your proudly stupid sorta-city enough to stay up late and wade through your increasingly nonsensical strawman arguments and character attacks. I guess I simply believe that a massive infrastructural proposal of unprecedented expense might want to be properly vetted for, y'know, non-imaginary effectiveness before charging ahead with five decades of highly-regressive debt service in order to pay for it.

The real question is: Why don't you believe that?

Why do you fetishize the legacy infrastructure of elsewhere, and then endorse as a "dream plan" a paradigm that couldn't be more different, and which follows only the most failed precedents of recent decades? Why would you risk Seattle's entire future on the idea that Sheer Snowflake Awesomeness can overcome terrible design and execution?

Don't ask why I continue to care so much? Ask why you care so little?
And Pridge, politics interferes with East Coast infrastructure all the time, and always has.

But I dare you to show any New Yorker your $54 billion plan to solve very few problems for very few Seattleites. Once their multiple heart attacks have subsided, they'll tell you about their crippling system-wide maintenance backlog that could be wiped away for a fraction of that. They'll tell you about the decades-delayed Second Avenue Subway, which could be finished (one end of the island to the other) for about 1/3 of that. And they'll tell you about the impending catastrophic failure of the Hudson River tunnels, whose replacements could be underway for about 35% of that.

All of New York City's most pressing transit troubles could be solved for the same $54 billion that you would have Seattle spend building a one-stop subway to The Tiny-Ass Junction, a sprawling line to an "airport" with less than one dozen potential commercial flights per day, alongside a sprawling, pedestrian-inaccessible factory owned by a company perpetually threatening to flee, and some random part of not-quite-Issaquah with no valid reason to expect job growth and a present residential population of zero.

No "politics" could ever fix that level of waste and stupid.
d.p. and Ross are quite right on many of these issues I must say.

The fact is Tacoma Link will only be good during the peak of the peak and not anytime outside of it. If you are calling this the best plan you can come up with, it looks like a pork barrel out of Congress. Politicians came with their Christmas wishlists and ST gives it to them no questions asked.

Where do we begin?

1) Issaquah LRT, really? 10,000 riders per day when the current 554 only gets 3,500 per day? Seriously need to get that ridership up before we plunk down a pair of tracks let alone blow $4 billion duplicating half of East Link. You would be better off spending that on HOV direct connectors to 405 let alone have dedicated bus lanes on that stretch of I-90.
2) 405 BRT is half-assed. You are relying on the unpopular ETLs. If Eastside politicians get there way in the next Legislative session, I am willing to wager they will be gone before you know it regardless. The direct connections to ramps are lacking hence the lack of usage and it negates much of the time savings of moving up the line having to cross 3 congested lanes of traffic. I would say it is best to go for something like the Brisbane Quickway that can service more one-seat rides and gets the buses off of 405.Let alone all the trip pairs served and potentially a direct seat to SeaTac airport? What's not to love? Stop forcing the Link transfer.
3) Ballard-Downtown, a drawbridge? Many were claiming boats would cross only a few times a week. The word is now 2-4 openings per day. What happens at 6:01 pm and then the bridge can't shut? Let alone what if you need 2 minute frequencies? That drawbridge would kill any off-peak frequency expansions, we need something reliable for pete sakes. It doesn't really serve the heart of SLU and having a stop at a car sewer of 99 and Harrison hardly justifies the expense.
4) Paine Field does not need rail service. You can claim Snohomish County people want it but it is honestly a giant waste of $1 billion you could use on transit signal priority and some lane striping. Industrial areas are shift oriented and Boeing has showed no loyalty of staying. That does not justify a 1 billion expense let alone an extra 10 minutes for those going to downtown Seattle and an extra 50 cents per one way trip. Connect it to BRT and call it good.
5) Link to Tacoma, again, negotiate with UP and BNSF, create an Alameda of Seattle from Seattle-Tacoma triple track grade separated on the UP line for freight connect the spurs all up to it and BNSF becomes the passenger corridor, improve for high-speed operation. Get Tacoma-Seattle down to 45 minutes and look at an extension from King Street into town a bit further like the RER.

I would suggest looking at BART and I can tell you a few things they have done wrong.
1) They continue to fund BART to San Jose at the expense of other projects back to 2000 including the Dumbarton Rail corridor which could have led to some great new opportunities for rail across the Bay.
2) BART is now in a budget crisis where they took funds from maintenance to fund capital. What is there to prevent that from happening with the ST Board with Link to Tacoma or Everett?

We can't just keep burning money we got to maximize investments and if you don't have good rail in the core well you don't have the resources to have a successful investment outside the city.