Let's Talk About that Seattle Times Editorial Claiming Sound Transit Should "Slow Down" on New Light Rail

Comments

1
After reading the ST editorial, you can read Jerry Large's column lamenting the death of the daily newspaper.
2
It's kind of a stretch that all the property tax levies will be approved this year.
3
The Seattle Times prioritizes moneyed interests and light rail does not. It's to be expected.
4
And this is why print journalism is dying a slow, painful, mostly unnoticed death...
5
Wow, this is like a Goldy post.
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Why did the wrong paper have to die?
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@6 Seriously.
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It stands to reason that light rail will take commuters out of busses/cars therefore reducing the traffic on the streets....
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@9 Yeah, and we were supposed to have flying cars like in the Jetsons by now, too. I'm not buying this "self-driving cars are going to save us" nonsense.
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Heidi,
Thanks for referencing the KUOW story "Sound Transit: Light rail and heavy marketing" at http://kuow.org/post/sound-transit-light… .
John
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9: KPMG's analysis has driverless cars making traffic worse due to human behavior. It will make grade separated transit more important and but parking less important.

http://humantransit.org/2015/11/self-dri…
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Link Ridership: April 2015 923,815 // April 2016 1,657,616 // Percentage Increase 79.4% // Riders YTD 2015 3,348,812 // Riders YTD 2016 4,729,747 // Riders YTD Increase 41.2%

Only the fact-challenged Seattle Times could call this a failure.
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@9-10-12
No one knows how we will use self-driving cars.
That's what is so exciting about them.
15
The Times is asking the right questions - "What are we paying and what are we getting." This notion that if you question these massive investments in light capacity rail you are somehow saying "Do nothing" or Build roads instead" is not unlike the responses people give who don't believe in global warming and our part in it - irrational and anti science.

Voters need to know three very important things about light capacity rail and BRT:

1. light capacity rail is not a system like Bart in San Fransisco or the Chicago L or the NY subways. This is a very limited capacity 4 car train that shares track with roads. It is not a sleek bullet train. Sound Transit just wants you to think that. We are paying the costs for those kinds of trains but these are glorified street cars.

2. light capacity rail, even 100 miles of it will not reduce congestion nor be a viable alternative for about 99% of the people living here in 2040. The modeling of our official transportation planning agency shows that.

3. Buses in their own lanes with signal priority, or even better upgrades can carry more than twice the number of light capacity trains at "crush" loads. Bus Rapid Transit is happening all over the world. See more info here: https://www.itdp.org/global-rise-bus-rap…

Good government starts with informed voters. A $54 billion dollar ask has to start with Sound Transit showing us their work. How many new riders have you brought in? What's the cost per new rider? What's the risk if it doesn't work? Basic policy analysis questions.

For more information go to: Smarter transit.org and Smartertransit.org on Facebook:

http://smartertransit.org & https://www.facebook.com/www.smartertran…

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@15
Good questions/comments.

17
Where are all these BRT advocates when there isnt a light rail plan up for vote?

#15 - If you want to play this game, you can't say that many obviously false things. Examples: Link has a capactiy if 15-18k per direction/hour. That is around the capacity of 14 general purpose highway lanes. Nothing built in ST3 will be at-grade. We already have "BRT" and it's slowing down every month due to congestion at choke points.
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@15: These "Smarter" Transit folks are 1: not smarter and 2: if you met them seem to be the EXACT PEOPLE who voted NO on rail in 1968/1970. Don't screw us a third time!

How do you know they're not smarter? They try and tell you that 1) they'll vote for some really expensive version of Rapid Ride that no one is proposing and 2) that a 4-car link train (capacity 900 people, to be used regularly within the next couple years) carries less people than a bus. No, you need 13 buses to carry 900 people, and they're going to take away car lanes from roadways. You know "Smarter" Transit isn't going to support that. Why? Because part of their proposed long term car-destiny solution is to build additional I-5 capacity UNDER SEATTLE? How would one do that? It would take about TWO 6-story Bertha tunnels to do what they're talking about, stretching for miles and miles and miles under Seattle. Stop the insanity and don't listen to these kooks and shills. Their car-loving dreams have exacted a heavy toll on us this past century. There are better alternatives... And guess what... ST3 is the type of solution that every other world class city already has.
19
The Seattle Times editorial (like most of their editorials) is stupid. It is a muddled mess. Keep extending the spine, but slow down. That makes no sense. Rail has already reached diminishing returns for the suburbs -- extending it an inch further is idiotic.

Most of the editorials on both sides seem to ignore the main issue here. It isn't rail versus bus. It is building an integrated system that can leverage the benefits of both. Bus ridership in cities with very good subways often exceed subway ridership (as in Vancouver BC and Chicago). We will never be able to afford the sort of system that exists in Washington D. C. or cities with older systems (New York and Boston). We can't build hundreds of miles of rail until every corner of the city has good service. Hell, the current plan doesn't even cover most of the Central Area, the biggest contiguous section of density in the state. What then, for everyone in the area -- are they supposed to transfer at Capitol Hill station? Sorry, but that station is poorly placed for that. As has been the case all along, Sound Transit once again didn't consider bus to rail integration (imagine what a bus network would look like with a stop at 23rd and Madison, as was originally proposed by Forward Thrust).

Nor are they focusing on that for this round. Suburban light rail extending deep into the suburbs never works. If BART doesn't work, then it sure as hell won't work here. They have bigger, more densely populated suburbs, connected to a much bigger city with a much faster train system, yet ridership outside the core urban area is much less than a lot of our buses.

The only way you can build something that will make sense for the region is to recognize that some areas make sense for rail, and some make sense for buses. If you have a region with high density stops every half mile and intersecting transit along the way, then a train makes sense. If not, then it probably doesn't. Ballard to UW rail makes sense -- Issaquah rail does not. A subway following the Metro 8 bus route makes sense -- West Seattle rail does not. For areas like West Seattle, Issaquah, Tacoma, Everett and Kirkland bus infrastructure improvements are a far most cost effective solution. The people in those areas would be able to get to where they want to go much faster (and the improvements would be built much sooner).

Sound Transit is a political organization, focused on making symbolic improvements. Has anyone ever bothered to ask why West Seattle is getting billion dollar rail, while we ignore a rail line through the Central Area? The Central Area is more densely populated, buses travel more slowly (all times of day), stop spacing and connections would be much better. Why then are we building a line to West Seattle? Because it looks better on paper. It goes farther. Like Issaquah rail, it sounds great until you think about how much of the region really benefits. It is the opposite of what we should build -- it is quantity over quality.
20
So bizarre to argue that 2036 is "forever." It's only 20 years. Sound Transit itself is only 20 years. We've only been at this mass rapid transit thing for 20 years and already we're supposed to quit? We've got a fair amount done in 20 years, why would we quit now?
21
Opposition to paying higher taxes is increasingly justified and isn't just a matter for Tim Eyman matter any longer. There are valid reasons for opposing new taxes, like inability to keep up with the expense of this for retired people. Seattle property values are high, and many of us are still making mortgage payments and are living on fixed incomes. Our property taxes are already increasing rapidly as our property values do, but unless we sell our homes, we get no benefit from that higher value. This plan brings annual Sound Transit taxes on the average household to around $740, including a new property tax and sales tax? I've never voted against any school, housing parks or transportation levy, but there comes at time when you simply can't afford to pay higher taxes as the taxes needed to pay for all of these start mounting up. Tell me how am I going to pay the taxes for this and I will support this plan.
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@15: I no longer believe in BRT after riding RapidRide for a while and using it to connect with the Link. It's a ride, but it sure isn't rapid. RapidRide A takes about as long to go from Federal Way to Tukwila as it takes Link to go from Tukwila to UW. And that's assuming RapidRide is on schedule, which it rarely is. This with a semi-dedicated lane on a route that really isn't very congested, which is really ideal conditions.
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@19 - We get it Ross, if the plan isn't perfect and we don't use the "perfect" mode that is "perfect" for each area, than everything is worthless.

Also that you think busses rock and West Seattle doesn't deserve/want/need rail. We know.
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@22 - I remember that when RapidRide was first promised, it was supposed to have "true" BRT... and like all BRT plans, it was watered down. The most you can water down light rail is by making it at grade, and even then its got its own right of way.
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@21- King County has property tax exemption programs for seniors on fixed incomes.

Only 1 in 100 of eligible taxpayers take advantage of it: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor…

Although it’s questionable whether many of those 1 out of 100 should really be qualifying: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news…

The “seniors being taxed out of their homes” canard is hyperbolic.
26
So apparently asking intelligent questions about how this tremendous amount of money is being spent will get you attacked as an anti-transit neanderthal on Slog. Better to be a credulous hack and never question anything.
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Now you've got it, @26!