Meet Washington State's New Transit Master

The Senate's transportation chair weighs in on self-driving cars, lidding I-5, and building high-speed rail to Canada.



Subsidizing e-bikes without throwing at least a bone to folks who ride "conventional" bikes (aka "bicycles") is a big slap in the face. Take a look at who's riding around Seattle on e-bikes—they're not the young or the poor.


I have little problem witb paying a bicycle tax - or a bicycle license fee - if it will lead to the region investing in connected and safe bicycle lanes.


“The data suggest that 95% of car crashes are due to human error. … It is not the engineering of our roads that are causing fatalities,”

That is total bullshit. He is completely misinterpreting the data.

You have to wonder about a politician making assumptions that were just refuted by a major publication.


Japanese style high speed rail is overkill for this area. It would cost a fortune, and take forever. On the other hand, East-Coast-USA style high speed rail is quite affordable, and we could have it fairly soon. There already is a plan (created years ago) it just needs to be implemented:

Going faster than that does not help much. Very few additional people switch from flying or driving. At that point, issues like frequency and reliability matter more. We are better off putting money into local grants for transit service, so that areas like the one he represents have decent all-day bus service.


Agreed, we need to settle for Vietnamese high speed rail or Chinese high speed rail or Korean high speed rail.

Look, the US is a 4th World backwater. Let's get real and go 400 kph minimum speed.

No new airport runways.

No new highway lanes.

Just high speed rail - passenger and freight.


Technology, our savior. gafm


Oof. Kinda rough. Very little vision, and otherwise sort of misguided and outdated thinking across several spheres. My hopes are not high. I hope he gets a lid on I-5 like he says.


I also want to point out, while high speed rail is intriguing in a bigger picture in some respects, in many places across the world it is pretty darn expensive and people on a budget end up taking a bus anyway. Yes, I'd prefer a high speed rail to Vancouver, Portland, SF, whatever. But do I think it's going to change life In a regional capacity more than other transit solutions? Not necessarily. Frankly I'm more concerned about seeing my friends in Tacoma and getting home than all this other stuff. Or being able to commute across the county effectively w/o my car. Can't we keep our eyes on the prize here?

Some wildlife bridges across I-5 would be nice too while I'm dreaming.


Informative interview. Nothing too inspiring, but nothing to freak out about either. I have to keep in mind that Liias is accountable to a number of constituencies who are far less focused on mass transit than I am. I also have to keep in mind that Washington is not allowed to spend money on mass transit at the state level, anyway, or at least not gas tax money. And at least I'm not hearing any talk about messing with the MVET schedule.

@9 +1 on our having many higher priorities than lidding I-5.

As for the question of subsidizing e-bikes as opposed to conventional bikes, how about subsidizing neither and concentrating on, as Liias says, “separated infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians [and] putting in sidewalks"?


Ridership of Amtrak Cascades leveled off around 800,000 per year ( pre-COVID ).
Amtrak's numbers.

It takes a ridership of 6 million to 9 million for high speed rail just to break even.
USDOT numbers

By contrast, ridership of Acela, the closest we've got to HSR here in America, us only around 3 million per year.
Amtrak numbers

Considering the astronomical cost of building high speed rail, it's virtually impossible for me to see how building HSR on the Amtrak Cascades line would ever be justified.