Serial Catowner, over at Orphan Road, takes issue with a lack of will within the transit community and in a few instances singled out this blog in particular:
This comes to mind as it is increasing apparent that Seattle is scripted to lose the electric trolley buses, and neither candidate for Mayor has any intention of building more streetcars. But it’s hard to find any concern about this at Seattle Transit Blog, or any more than the ritual handwringing about the loss of the George Benson Streetcar. In fact, there is a Pollyanna quality to the beliefs that $930 million is available and will be used to implement the surface improvements Nickels was working on.
On the Seattle Transit Blog you frequently see discussions and advocacy for more diesel bus service, and many, if not most, would agree that you can’t put a streetcar on a street that already carries too many cars. Even the day-dreaming seldom takes a pleasant turn- I’ve never seen a post about converting the existing electric bus routes to streetcars, and using the buses to electrify new routes.
I personally have no opinion on the trolley buses, though I’d argue that not many other media sources have even asked about them. I think it’s great the buses are quiet and green, but I don’t how their costs compare. The Metro audit released this week may contain some answers: it claims that replacing the trolley buses with hybrids when they are up for retirement will save $8.7 million per year. However, it’s feasible that diesel will skyrocket in price sometime in the coming decades — in fact, it would be questionable to assume otherwise. The county shouldn’t rid Seattle of its trolley infrastructure if the trolley buses can be shown to be cheaper when diesel prices are much higher. But what if we need $30 a gallon to make trolley buses more efficient? Given that I don’t know the numbers, it’s hard for me — and other bloggers here — to advocate a strong position on trolley buses.
Like the accusation that we’re “Seattle Rail Blog,” this seems to conflate the idea that we have an editorial point of view with the idea that we’re somehow falling down on our (self-appointed) mission. I’m happy to stack up our coverage of any transit mode — light rail, heavy rail, bus, streetcar, even ferry — against other media outlets in the region. We’re wonks and we like it that way.
However, a command of the facts doesn’t necessarily lead us to an easy opinion; on the contrary, an understanding of the conflicting issues and interests can often make the right policy woefully unclear. If someone can articulate a convincing position on an issue like trolley buses, then they can use their own platform or they can comment here. Regardless, they should probably make the case without relying on someone else to make their arguments for them.