News Roundup: $99,000,000,000

Intercity Transit Bus, by majinandoru

Intercity Transit Bus, by majinandoru

Lots of interesting stuff coming in over the interwebs yesterday:
  • Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, has a doozy of a transportation bill.  The transit fund would shoot up to $99 billion, from $53 billion in 2005.  The Bush-era FTA cost-effectiveness metrics would be revised to allow for benefits aside from reduced travel time.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! It’s far from law, but there’s tons of coverage at Streetsblog, the NYT, the transport politic, and Transportation For America.  There’s also a 17-page proposal available for viewing (pdf).
  • In an increasingly common refrain, however, the Obama administration is a little chilly towards pursuing major transportation reform this year.
  • Portland’ s proposed streetcar extension becomes the first in the nation to get federal funding. (H/T: Gordon)
  • The APTA named Thurston County’s Intercity Transit best transit system of its size in the nation.  It’s in the middle of three size categories, and competed against 108 other agencies.
  • Headline from Bizarro Washington: Maryland transportation board raids road fund to pay for light rail. (H/T: Yglesias)
  • Seattle Mayoral candidate Norman Sigler wants to find the money to do Ballard-to-West Seattle light rail sooner.   The Daily Weekly’s Damon Agnos gets Ben’s reaction.

The only thing I might have added to Ben’s comments is to point out that there are useful things to do between a study and actually building the thing. For starters, it’s fairly evident that we’ll have to tunnel under Second Avenue, and a rail-convertible bus tunnel would be a nice down payment that’s useful in the meantime, all for about $1 billion or so.

I was also pleasantly surprised to hear Sigler’s $5 billion figure, which for a total stab in the dark, is both a good guess and not as sugarcoated as most political promises.


  1. says

    I’m sure this will be deleted as being off-topic, but if I save one life by this warning, then it will be worth it.

    Man is near death after being beaten and robbed yesterday a few blocks away from the Beacon Hill Link Station.

    He was swarmed by a group of young males and savagely beaten and robbed. Homicide detectives are investigating.

    Be very careful when riding Link, or even walking to or leaving its stations. It snakes through some of the highest crime and violent neighborhoods in the northwest.

    • Chris Stefan says

      I don’t see a reason to be any more careful on link or near its stations than anywhere else in Seattle (or King County). This incident could have just as easily happened Downtown, on Capitol Hill, in the U District, Ballard, Lake City, Northgate, or along Aurora. For that matter it could have just as easily happened in Bellevue, Renton, or Federal Way.

      Personally I’m not particularly worried that Link will become a crime magnet any more than Metro buses have. Frankly unless you are in a gang or are a drug dealer your chances of being a victim of violent crime anywhere in Washington are lower than even in a “good” neighborhood in some other parts of the country.

      • Seth says

        Being more careful is different than being paranoid…the fact of the matter is you are more likely to be assaulted in Beacon Hill or Rainier Ave than you are in Bellevue or Ballard.

      • Mike B says

        The bums down there are getting scary. I’ve been nearly assalted many times around the Gosple Mission. Even more around IDS.

    • Matt says

      I live in the Rainier Valley and will ride Link frequently. I’m pretty dangerous; watch out!

    • lazarus says

      This event has absolutely nothing to do with Link.

      My only comment would be that maybe if Link had been in operation (with its attendant increase in security and pedestrian traffic) then maybe this event would not have happened.

      Besides, I find these concerns over “crime” along the route to be little more than code words for something else. I’d recommend actually going there and experiencing it – there is a lot of good in those neighborhoods.

    • Matt says

      They had some riots in Los Angeles – watch out if you ride Amtrak’s Coast Starlight!

    • Martin H. Duke says


      You’re a great hero with your courageous effort to save lives by warning people that the city is big and scary.

    • Colin says

      Let’s be honest. High crime neighborhoods in the northwest are a bit like cold cities in California. Yes, it gets kinda cold in Redding, but really they’ve got nothing to complain about.

      That is really too bad about this crime, and people should definitely be careful when wandering anywhere in a shady neighborhood after dark, but let’s not pretend that Beacon Hill is Compton.

      I hope that higher walking traffic in these areas, combined with a greater ability to get quickly to downtown, will help Beacon Hill and the Rainier Valley become safer, more desirable places to live.

      • Erik G. says

        I’ve ridden the LA Metro Blue Line through Compton a number of times and have never had any incidents.

        Now the KCM226/ST 550 at Mercer Island Park n Ride is another story!

    • AJ says

      I love how you’re so petty that you’d use an assault for your own personal gain.

      This happened over half a mile from the station, and statistically there’s typically no reason to fear for this type of crime unless you’re actively participating in gang or drug activity. I’m guessing in your case it’s the latter more than the former.

    • says

      Have you ever set foot on North Beacon Hill?

      Seriously, have you? Because if you had, you would perhaps realize how off-base this post was. North Beacon is not a particularly violent neighborhood, and the assault was a substantial distance from the station, besides.

      Sure, it’s not Laurelhurst, but it is far from what you seem to think it is. As Chris said, this incident could have happened just about anywhere. We don’t live in fear here on Beacon Hill.

    • says

      Here’s the story from the P.I’s 911 blog:

      I just want people to be careful. And yes, people from the suburbs who are going to find their way to the Link line in order to experience DO need to be more careful in this part of town than others. To say otherwise is putting good people’s lives in danger. I would advise people wanting to ride Link for the experience to travel in groups of at least 3 for safety. And only ride it in daylight. People will be coming from all over to ride it, and the should be much, much more cautious in the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill than places like Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, and Redmond.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Actually you can get mugged in the suburbs too.

        Saying people need to travel in groups of 3 or more and only during daylight makes about the same amount of sense for Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill as it does for Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, and Redmond.

        You really need to experience Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, etc. after dark before you go around saying crap like that.

      • Martin H. Duke says


        You are descending into self-parody.

        Be sure to wear a crash helmet if you drive into Seattle, too; you can never be sure when a drunk driver will come after you. Best to keep your speed down to 25 mph, also, especially on the freeway.

  2. Aaron says

    I just searched the Sound Transit website and could not find anything relating to a potential expansion of light rail to Ballard (my home) — does anyone know what exists on this save for the failed planning for the monorail along the 15th ave corridor?

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Yes. For starters, Sound Transit has a study for 2015 to determine a best corridor and estimate ridership now that Link exists.

      I’m also interested in pushing the city to fund such a study before that time, so we can try funding some of it, in, say, 2012.

  3. Mickymse says

    I’ve talked to Norman about this a few times out on the campaign trail… He obviously followed the monorail project intently, and is very clear that waiting 30+ years to prepare something for the west side of the City is too long to wait.

  4. says

    I think we need to be cognizant of the new rules that will be coming out for new starts. It’s not an issue of cost effectiveness alone anymore. The program will change. Take a look at some of the changes and they will certainly favor lines that carry a lot of people, but also promote livable communities and reduce GHG emissions.

  5. says

    Oberstar’s bill is quite exciting. Streetsblog points out he will need support from Ways and Means, so let’s all make sure McDermott knows we consider this a priority.

  6. L. Smith says

    Today, I tried to use my Orca (with a PugetPass and some E-purse) to pay my youth fare and another’s. I asked the driver to set it for both of us, and he told me it wan’t possible. I explained that I could use the pass and my friend could take 75¢ from my E-purse. He told me, no, it’s only good for one person. I didn’t want to get into an argument, and he still wouldn’t have known how to do it, but it’s this type of operator ignorance that I’m afraid could ruin this system.

    • Craig says

      I saw this same thing happen on Wednesday. A lot of drivers still don’t seem to know the system very well.

      • justin says

        the driver probably just didn’t want to wander through the maze that it sounds like the orca interface is. It’s a shame they have a huge scroll interface rather then dedicated buttons.

        the whole point of orca is to be fast, but since they are not doing swipe on and off it’s quite cumbersome.

  7. CriticalWonk says

    The Purple Line !! Beg, borrow, steal to build it!! Folks in Maryland have wanted to get it done for decades. Sure beats seeing one or more accident EVERY morning and EVERY evening on the Beltway. Yeah, it’s exciting that someone has the nerve.

    Sigler isn’t bad. Then there is Forch who is from SDOT. They just have had no buzz, no one knows them, needed to start in on their campaigns a year or more back. I do like what I hear when I’ve seen them speak.


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