Help Save the Tri-County Connectors

by JOE A. KUNZLER (“Avgeek Joe from Skagit County”)

Island Transit 411 Whidbey at layover.

Island Transit 411 Whidbey. Photo by author.

We have a situation that requires your attention in Northwest Washington State: namely, the Tri-County Connectors linking Skagit, Island and Whatcom Counties are at risk. Even the Skagit Transit express bus to and from Everett is at risk.

How can this be so? Especially when, according to this Island Transit fact sheet, over 350,000 trips were taken on the five Northwest Washington State county connector routes in 2012? My math indicates for the 5-day week that’s over 1,300 regular users of these routes, and ridership has grown almost every year since 2006, despite the recession.

Yet, the state transportation budget that will come out in a few weeks must include a $6 million per biennium grant for the tri-county connectors. Not as part of some transportation package going to the voters, but in the current no-new-revenue budget. Otherwise, come the end of June… no more Tri-County Connectors.

Arguably, that’s over 1,300 cars off the road. That’s creating capacity on currently existing roads, cutting harmful emissions, saving money that would have to be spent either on road repair or expensive efforts to expand road capacity. That’s also transit access to places in our region such as the Cascade Mall, Naval Outlying Field Coupeville, Bellingham Community College, Bellis Fair and more.

If we are truly one state, then we need to come together and demand that in the current transportation budget there is funding for the county connectors. This is a service that allows Northwest Washington State citizens – many of whom pay more in taxes than receive in services, plus live in that region for a multitude of reasons – to link up with the stellar Seattle area transit network.

Please look up contact the appropriate legislators on page 2 of the fact sheet. Also on that contact list is the entire State House & State Senate transportation committees. Although Rep. Dave Hayes has pledged that he will fight for funding both the Tri-County Connectors and the Everett Connector within existing revenue to protect these trips, until we have a transportation budget signed by Governor Jay Inslee, this is not a done deal.

Comments

  1. Anthony says

    Damn, this sucks. The 411W is a great little bus to catch back to the island from Mt. Vernon.

    Elimination of this route makes it hard for many people who need to get to Skagit from Island County. Definitely need to find funding for this…

    • Anandakos says

      Absolutely. There are transit dependent people in rural areas too. Washington State’s support for the rural transit districts throughout the state is one of the best things about us. It costs very little and makes it possible for some people who don’t want a city life to survive in the country on little income.

  2. barman says

    I always used to take Sounder to Everett with my U Pass, take Skagit to MV and then WTA to Bellingham. It was so easy and cheap.

    • djw says

      Me too, when I want to go up and visit my sister. Occasionally I take the train, because I can afford it and I’m a train geek, but the current transit option from Seattle to Bellingham is affordable, comfortable and convenient.

      Glad to see this on the front page, and glad these valuable routes and the people who rely on them have you for an advocate, Joe. I’m not a WA voter any more, officially, since I live in the state slightly less than half the year, but I’ll contact some legislatures anyway.

      • says

        Glad to see this on the front page, and glad these valuable routes and the people who rely on them have you for an advocate, Joe.

        Thank you very much for that part of your 50th comment. Means a lot :-)!

        I too like trains. Many thanks for the help!!

  3. AlexKven says

    The reason is that the transit laws in our state suck, and that the state legislators have no interest in helping out people who need transit, because they don’t care. They want to solve the traffic problems by cutting transit and building more lanes on I-5, like that’s going to solve anything. New York City doesn’t have bad traffic because all the highways there are 16 lanes wide? Oh, wait, it’s because of PUBLIC TTRANSIT.

    Legislators, when will you get it?

    • says

      Thank you Alex :-)!!!!!!!!

      We can’t afford to spend wheelbarrows of ca$h on $tudies, eminent domain (serious $$$) and actual construction co$ts when there are cheaper alternatives in the Age of McCleary.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Well, the reason that this was funded (and rural routes like it elsewhere in the state were not funded) was that this was our Senate Transportation chair’s district.

      • says

        But now’s the time to make sure the people of NW Washington State do not suffer from our joint effort to shove aside MMH. She was old, corrupt and part of the problem on too many issues… including transit, folks.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Right, so this money should really be competed for by similar rural areas across the state.

      • says

        Ben, I’m going to assume you meant “completed” as in the money should be given to the county connectors as other counties need funding for theirs going forward. We need to work together in the regions that provide your food & your national defense with the cities not against each other going forward over many legislative sessions to come.

        Agreed?

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        This particular set of routes had a sweetheart deal. It’s not actually equitable to all the OTHER places in the state that provide my food for this particular place to get special treatment.

      • says

        Ben;

        As to;

        This particular set of routes had a sweetheart deal. It’s not actually equitable to all the OTHER places in the state that provide my food for this particular place to get special treatment.

        Well then let’s work together going forward and demand that the Tri-County Connectors be a template for other regions of the state? OF course not stepping up for them means not helping create a template to grow a transit coalition.

        Your call.

  4. Zach Shaner says

    I’m generally supportive of keeping these routes, even if their performance isn’t stellar. I personally love taking the Tri-County Connectors because they enable car-free camping at Deception Pass. Sounder to 90X to 411W, and back via 411W and Amtrak Cascades. Super cheap, scenic, and convenient.

    I’m sure cost-per-boarding is really high, but basic intercounty connectivity is probably worth a little more tolerance on performance than your average milk run. Even so, 1,300 riders/day isn’t really that many. Metro alone has 80+ routes with higher ridership.

  5. d.p. says

    I certainly support the existence of this sort of service, and I’m glad that it seems reasonably well-used for a rural intercity connector service, and I do understand that $3 million annually is kind of a drop in the bucket for even the most cash-strapped budget of a fairly populous state.

    But…

    How much does Washington State contribute to the vital functioning of mass transit services in its major cities?

    What? $0?

    Huh? $0?

    What’s that number again? $0?

    How many states contribute $0 to its urban transit services, again? Only two? Including us?

    It’s hard to feel too sorry for a subsidized rural service in a state that goes so far out of its way to give the shaft to urban needs at every possible opportunity. Rep. Dave Hayes had better be intending to support present and future proposals to help urban transit out with a share of state funds, and I sure as hell hope that my own representatives won’t sign on to any perpetual Connector subsidy unless quid pro quo support is forthcoming.

    In the meantime, lobby the three relevant counties to front the necessary $1 million each themselves from now until Olympia becomes willing to stop screwing over the city on a near-constant basis.

    • says

      d.p.;

      Your kind of commentary in that tone is not helpful here. I am not one of those standing in the way of urban transit, I even mentioned on a recent TripAdvisor review the importance of an Orca card.

      Let me add as well that at no time in my guest post did I attack urban areas. In fact important cities such as Oak Harbor, Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Everett and Bellingham need these tri-county connectors for commerce – and arguably Seattle as well. Your intolerant ignorance is duly noted and replied to.

      • d.p. says

        Sure, agreed that it’s a nice thing to have, and that it should ideally be paid for in some way, somehow.

        But you’re bemoaning the potential loss of a transit service that the State apparently pays for. That is to say, something no one else has, and someone others may not have even realized existed in this state before today.

        I can’t help but hear the world’s tiniest violin playing for you.

      • d.p. says

        And I’m sorry if you think pointing out the obvious lack of parity is “intolerant” in tone.

        But someone had to say it.

      • says

        d.p.;

        Progressive bullies like yourself are why transit issues have become more partisan, not less.

        There is state funding for other runs and support, although granted not enough.

        It is very hard for the Jane Hagues, Kathy Lamberts and now Rep. Dave Hayes of the world to support transit as Republicans with your mean, nasty, viscous tone towards them and I. Knock it off. Frankly, good riddance.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I do somewhat agree with d.p. here, at least in concept. This service is funded because it was Mary Margaret Haugen’s district. There’s plenty of similar rural demand elsewhere in the state that should have similar service. Urban areas should too, but at least we *can* pay for them ourselves, where rural areas cannot. It’s the same way I don’t mind rural electrification – I don’t want to provide a big incentive to living in low density, but I also don’t want people who *do* live in low density, and aren’t commuters that are just spread out by highways, to have a low quality of life just because they don’t live in the city.

      • Mike Orr says

        It exists because rural counties don’t have lots of tax-generating businesses to pay for bus service like cities do, yet there needs to be a way for people to minimally get from one county to the next across the state. The cost of this skeletal daytime-only van service is a drop in the bucket compared to a RapidRide route in Seattle, much less a Link line.

      • says

        Bruce, then Ben, then Mike.

        Bruce: Thanks, I was sick of d.p.’s tone and demeanor. Not the way to go about helping the transit cause…

        Ben: Those of us in, a-hum, “low density” areas provide your national defense (e.g. NAS Whidbey Island, OLF Coupeville – the latter of which nobody really wants) and your agricultural needs. As to, “This service is funded because it was Mary Margaret Haugen’s district. There’s plenty of similar rural demand elsewhere in the state that should have similar service.” Absolute agreement.

        Put differently: There’s also a lot of density in Anacortes, Bellingham, Burlington, Mt. Vernon, Oak Harbor and Everett that are linked up by this service. Nothing wrong with linking up more cities :-).

        Mike: Thanks for your support. This is a drop in the bucket and yeah, Skagit + Whatcom + Snohomish Counties all pay into the state more than take out. Island only takes out an additional dime, but then again Island takes on NAS Whidbey Island for the national defense.

      • d.p. says

        Joe, I’m sorry that came off as even more snarky than I intended. I have an even lower tolerance for political cognitive dissonance than usual today, but my purpose wasn’t (solely) to be a jerk.

        I guess I’d just really like to know what you hope to accomplish with your constant open-thread (and now guest-post) harping on this subject.

        Do you expect this blog’s mostly urban constituency to call up our legislators and ask them to go out of their way to direct-fund a service that you happen to use and like? Despite knowing that the political party to which your representatives belong — and to which you also describe — continues to use urban areas’ ability to improve transit even with our own money as a political bargaining chip? Progressives and urban representatives are routinely forced to sacrifice from our own political priorities in exchange for a self-taxing power that should be a given. And you expect us to go to bat to keep direct-subsidizing you? We already built you an empty platform in Stanwood; isn’t that enough?

        Beating up on the cities to score political points is so old-hat to this state’s Republicans that it barely even registers as outrageous and budgetarily counterfactual anymore. The Democrats fail even to unite around urban interests anymore, the anti-urban discourse is now so accepted as inevitable and victorious.

        You have a perk in Connector service. You don’t want to lose it. I too would rather you not lose it. But let’s be honest here that in light of this state’s — and your party’s — outright hostility towards our needs, us urbanites don’t have terribly much reason to care.

      • says

        d.p.;

        Apology accepted. I’m one of those urban Republicans that is trying to talk sense into my people, okay? I’ve done it before, will do it again.

        As to your great questions:

        “I guess I’d just really like to know what you hope to accomplish with your constant open-thread (and now guest-post) harping on this subject.”

        Sure, how about joining forces to save the Tri-County Connectors & the Everett Connector? In return, we should join forces and help the bigger cities.

        “Do you expect this blog’s mostly urban constituency to call up our legislators and ask them to go out of their way to direct-fund a service that you happen to use and like?”

        Ah, yeah. I thought this blog represented transit all along the Puget Sound. Last I checked, Island County was certainly within Puget Sound. Skagit, Whatcom and Snohomish are also on it.

        BTW, last I checked Mount Vernon, Burlington, Anacortes, Oak Harbor and Bellingham plus obviously Everett are urban. Geeze…

        “Despite knowing that the political party to which your representatives belong — and to which you also describe — continues to use urban areas’ ability to improve transit even with our own money as a political bargaining chip? Progressives and urban representatives are routinely forced to sacrifice from our own political priorities in exchange for a self-taxing power that should be a given.”

        I do agree that the gamesmanship over letting local governments… locally govern needs to cease. Your help in helping save the County Connectors is a step towards that end.

        “And you expect us to go to bat to keep direct-subsidizing you? We already built you an empty platform in Stanwood; isn’t that enough?”

        I didn’t want the damn platform. It was one of the reasons why many of us STB readers wanted MMH gone. At least State Senator Bailey is more responsible w/ taxdollars.

        BTW, Skagit + Whatcom + Snohomish Counties also pay the state’s way. Island County only takes 0.10 subsidy of services for each dollar paid in taxes and they do things in a frugal way + help provide for the nation’s defense.

      • d.p. says

        Unfortunately, you don’t seem to have comprehended the problem in equating a direct subsidy for something you like with a begrudging acceptance of transit’s existence in places where it is arguably exponentially more vital, or in continuing to suggest that we should continue to give handouts to Republicans on the off chance that they magically stop holding urban needs hostage, something they have expressed precisely zero interest in doing.

        Zero. That really is the number of the day. Again, zero is what the state offers anyone else when it comes to transit. How would us going to bat for your pet service have anything but zero impact on that situation?

        By the way, cities a mile in diameter and with little density really don’t have urban-transit needs, and though they may have suburban-access and regional-coverage needs, those things are inherently much different. Perhaps all should receive some level of state support, but that’s not even remotely what you are endorsing or making hay about here.

      • asdf says

        “us urbanites don’t have terribly much reason to care”

        The county connector benefits not just people in Island and Skagit County visiting Seattle, it also benefits people in Seattle visiting Island and Skagit counties.

        Yes, I do not expect to use this service much and, yes, to date I have no used it yet (although I want to!). However, $6 million is such a drop in the bucket compared to the budget of the entire state for 2 years that the amount of property and sales taxes I pay to fund this service is really tiny – tiny enough that even though I only expect to use it very rarely, I still consider myself to be getting my money’s worth.

        Also, services like these not only take cars off the road out in rural areas, they take cars off the road in urban areas as well because if transit doesn’t serve the end of your trip, you are left with no choice but to drive the entire trip. Again, I agree the benefit to residents of Seattle is small. However, the cost to residents of Seattle is also very small, so I consider the benefits reasonably in line with the costs. I am sorry if d.p. thinks otherwise.

      • David L says

        For the most part, I want to subsidize bare-bones coverage service at minimal cost, just like this… everywhere.

        But I have to admit that d.p. has one very, very valid point in all of the snark, and it’s this:

        Despite knowing that the political party to which your representatives belong — and to which you also describe — continues to use urban areas’ ability to improve transit even with our own money as a political bargaining chip? Progressives and urban representatives are routinely forced to sacrifice from our own political priorities in exchange for a self-taxing power that should be a given.

        I’m having an increasingly hard time getting past this for any reason.

        Thus I feel the minimum exchange needed for my support of this is support from the representatives in your areas, who thus far have mostly not been willing to provide it, for providing my area — without any cost — the tools it needs to save and improve its extremely heavily used urban transit network.

      • says

        asdf, thanks for your support. I don’t see much acknowledgement of my points from d.p. while just today I asked my State Rep. to allow locals to vote for more transit.

        In d.p.’s world I guess we’d punish thousands of innocent people like I and arguably some of the same moderate Republicans who support transit because of the antics of a few. Very unbecoming since it was Seattle Transit Blog who helped knock off Mary Margaret Haugen, who as acknowledged here several times started this grant. d.p.: Nobody is saying other areas shouldn’t have state transit support, period.

      • says

        David L;

        I agree there is a conversation around local funding options for transit to be had. We cannot be denying local areas – whether they be urban, suburban or rural – the ability to raise local revenue, it’s not appropriate in the Eyman Era.

        However, taking thousands of transit riders hostage is not the way to go about it. We have enough problems as-is just getting on local media radar screens up here in NW Washington State.

        Should we NW WA ST transit users make clear to state legislators to let local options go through to local voters in the name of the same collaboration I expect from STB readers who demanded MMH go? Yes. But beyond that, don’t expect much. Some of these legislators just automatically get reelected so they play to their base.

      • Jim Cusick says

        @d.p.

        “Joe, I’m sorry that came off as even more snarky than I intended. I have an even lower tolerance for political cognitive dissonance than usual today, but my purpose wasn’t (solely) to be a jerk.”

        You’re gettin’ soft on us, d.p.

      • d.p. says

        I have no reason to wish to see this service disappear. But if it has become such a robust and indispensable option for the North Sound counties, then I truly hope Mr. Kunzler and other Connector partisans aren’t allowing their county councilors to put all their hopes in the state-subsidy basket.

        Because there really is no more inherent reason that you should be able to travel 30 miles along I-5 for $0-$2 on the state’s dime than there is for the state to be flat-out building Seattle it’s desperately-needed subway.

        In this situation, the Tri-County Connector is the proverbial “bridge to nowhere” — which, incidentally, would have carried roughly as many people per day!

        If the state subsidy fails to be renewed — and BTW, no one has mentioned anywhere in this thread that the preponderance of the evidence suggests the subsidy will be renewed — and the counties have explored no backup funding sources, you will have only your local authorities to blame.

      • Brent says

        “…Seattle it’s desperately-needed subway…”

        Not to veer off-topic, but bookmark this one when next d.p. dumps on the subway. If d.p. had spoken more positively about the subway, he’d have an argument here. Instead, his remarks have about as much validity as some “advocates” for BRT who only pop up to support BRT when trains are under discussion.

        Those of us who actually support the subway, and riders of rural connector routes, have common cause. We depend on these routes to get around the region. The rural connectors are an essential key to building a pro-transit majority in the legislature.

      • David L says

        Joe, I know I’m expressing my sentiment above more out of frustration and anger than reason. But you complain that sentiments like mine are holding thousands of transit riders hostage — what is going on with rural Republican legislators is that they are holding hundreds of thousands of transit riders (and potential transit riders, if we could only pay for and build the needed infrastructure) hostage.

        Yes, I support the subsidies for the Connector and similar service, and I hope they’re not lost. But I hope you can understand why I have a hard time going to the mat for interests in the same areas that consistently block funding for Seattle transit purely out of spite, despite the fact that it wouldn’t cost them a dime.

      • says

        Brent;

        As to,

        “Those of us who actually support the subway, and riders of rural connector routes, have common cause. We depend on these routes to get around the region. The rural connectors are an essential key to building a pro-transit majority in the legislature.”

        I think you get it. The us versus them really has to stop d.p. It’s not helping the situation and as these tired, old 1990s-era Republicans retire out we at the very least need pro-transit Republicans (like Kathy Lambert & Dave Hayes & me) to replace these guys. Thanks.

      • d.p. says

        Brent,

        If you are somehow under the impression that I don’t believe Seattle is desperately in need of working mass transit, then you haven’t been paying attention. Stretched thin and politically timid, Metro is not cutting it in the city and never will.

        What I don’t support is drawing lines on a map that stretch dozens of miles and would cost $30 billion to ever build, then telling people at farmers markets that this all can be theirs if only they hit a like button on Facebook, and calling that a rational expectation.

        I also can’t blindly support a joint study that seems to make it dangerously feasible for ST to wiggle out of urban obligations by throwing its weight behind streetcars. Because streetcars are not the working mass transit we desperately need.

        I also don’t support subway lines with miles between the stations, making them useless for 95% of in-city trips. Because duh!

        And Joe,

        Is this entire obsession of yours much ado about nothing?
        http://m.goskagit.com/news/transit-funding-not-in-danger/article_0fd6859c-7166-11e2-bf60-0019bb2963f4.html

        State funding for regional connector buses is not in danger, House Transportation Committee chair Rep. Judy Clibborn said Thursday…

        Former Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for 2013-15 included funding for the Tri-County Connector buses. “If it is (in that budget), we would not be inclined to take it out.”

        It still would be wise for you to encourage the three counties to concoct a back-up funding plan, but it looks like your pet subsidy will be sticking around indefinitely. Good for you.

        Funny, but I don’t recall you making this much of a fuss when transit-dependent Snohomans actually did lose their ability to go anywhere on Sundays, or about the Tacomans who may be about to.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        D.p.,

        Few if any people are asking you to “blindly” support anything. In fact, I’d love it if you showed up to meeting and wrote your electeds to say you’re excited about the Interbay and Ballard-UW corridor studies, and that the streetcar is not an adequate substitute for either. I’d love it because I agree with it.

        But that’s not your schtick, at least not here. Light rail to anywhere but Ballard is a crime against humanity. Too bad that those segments are the ones that will allow Ballard Link to actually pass! But of course you can’t bring yourself to say anything good about the fact that ST is taking the first step to build almost precisely what you’ve been arguing for.

        People who are more enraged that others might get something than excited about what they might get will wreck our chances of getting anything.

      • Mike Orr says

        We need to focus on what we ultimately want, and how much one change contributes to or detracts from it. What we need is BOTH frequent urban transit and basic rural transit. The Tri-County Connector sounds like a model of integration that should be replicated across the state, not killed. Killing it is like killing Amtrak’s national service: it would be very difficult to revive later. The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to the city’s needs.

        The people who are saying we can’t afford it or it’s city transit vs rural transit are presenting a false choice. Don’t fall for it. If it comes down to a final vote and there are only two alternatives feasable, the Connector or a RapidRide line, we’ll have to choose the urban one, but that’s just a tactical move and shouldn’t become our philosophy.

        If you really think we should build out urban transit before considering any support for rural tansit, that means the rural areas will have to wait forty years before getting anything.

      • says

        dip, then Mike Orr

        d.p.:

        a) The county connectors do not work on Sundays, just so you know.

        b) Didn’t House Transportation Committee chair Rep. Judy Clibborn just warn this thing is going to go the full legislative season and folks this is far from over?

        c) For the record: At no time have I stood up and called for any wheeled transit to be removed from anybody, just not a big fan of the Sounder North boondoggle of a “pet subsidy” son.

        Mike Orr:

        Awesome comment!

        We need to focus on what we ultimately want, and how much one change contributes to or detracts from it. What we need is BOTH frequent urban transit and basic rural transit. The Tri-County Connector sounds like a model of integration that should be replicated across the state, not killed. Killing it is like killing Amtrak’s national service: it would be very difficult to revive later. The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to the city’s needs.

        Exactly and it’s not a pet subsidy, it’s a lifeline to many. Same as many Metro runs, let’s work together going forward. I’ve learned a lot from all the comments, including yours & d.p.’s.

        The people who are saying we can’t afford it or it’s city transit vs rural transit are presenting a false choice. Don’t fall for it.

        Thanks much.

        If you really think we should build out urban transit before considering any support for rural tansit, that means the rural areas will have to wait forty years before getting anything.

        Exactly and the consequences of that tone, that tenor are being felt because of Republicans with short vision and simple agendas representing districts underserved by transit.

        The Tri-County Connector & the Everett Connectors are models to this state. Let’s work to turn that $6 mil this biennium into $12 mil next biennium with the other $6 mil going to pilot projects across our beautiful state.

      • d.p. says

        That is NOT the “tone” and “tenor”.

        Avgeek, all signs point to the Connector funding being in the Transportation Budget by default, and facing no opposition. It never hurts to remind electeds that you value it, but it truly seems you’re freaking our for nothing. It sounds like the Connector is a good service, and I’m glad it exists.

        BUT…

        The fact that we have an 84-comment thread in which you have never even considered the possibility that your three counties should have a backup funding plan — instead of shifting ALL onus for the service to the statewide taxpayer and seemingly allowing it to disappear if the funding environment changes — is a problem.

        You can’t gloss over the fact that you are demanding SPECIAL TREATMENT: your transit service is paid for by the state, and the vast majority gets no such benefit.

        The idea that I’m the bad guy for pointing this out is absurd on its face. Would this blog have offered a guest post to the “Subsidize the 42″

      • d.p. says

        people? Would the blog have invited “Never Ever Revise The 2 Bus” crazies to write a post on why the rest of King County should subsidize their bus being stuck in traffic, just because they happened to like it that way?

        I don’t really see how your “Save The Connector Subsidy (And Don’t Even Consider The Possibility Of Funding It The Way Your Own Representitives Force The Rest Of Us To Do)” crusade is really any different.

      • says

        d.p.;

        I don’t see how we’d raise $3 million a year amongst four counties (Snohomish, Island, Skagit and Whatcom) and then figure out how to divide it fairly on such short notice between 8 March and 30 June. This is a regional issue requiring a state solution and more services back to those counties such as Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and arguably by logical extension King who pay the state’s way and need the transit connectors.

        I am all for more county connectors. So should you.

        I am also all for telling Sen. Curtis King from Yakima that if he doesn’t like local taxes for transit don’t expect much money for Eastern Washington because our needs need to be met. After all, we do pay his bills!

        Thanks for your fine debate participation. Give it a rest.

      • d.p. says

        “I don’t see how we’d [raise/apportion] $3 million…”

        Well, you’d have to, if you wanted to keep te service and the state weren’t acting as your personal guardian angel. Just like the Sound Transit district has had to (and that hasn’t been easy either).

        You’ve posted a YouTube video of yourself testifying in front of the Island County Council. All they told you was to lean on your state reps, because they weren’t otherwise interested. That’s called PASSING THE BUCK. And it’s something that folks aligned with your party do as a matter of course.

        YOU need to explain why we should be magnanimous enough to save your bus. The state hasn’t saved Pierce, Snohomish, or King from massive actual or potential cuts.

        “Our local reps don’t care / can’t apportion / suck at math” is NOT a special enough circumstance. You NEED to wrestle with these questions if you want to make a valid case in forums such as this one!

      • Bernie says

        Martin once again distils it down:
        <blockquoteL
        Light rail to anywhere but Ballard is a crime against humanity.

        If you moved to Freelard then what the hell did you expect d.p? I’m in Bridle Trails and it takes just as long to get to DT Seattle. But since I chose to live in an outlying neighborhood I’m not expecting everything should revolve around that choice.

      • says

        d.p.;

        The YouTube video: http://youtu.be/Le8db-oVyy8

        Aah, Island County like Seattle cannot just magically raise the revenue between 8 March and 30 June. This is because of the Curtis Kings of the State Senate.

        As to,

        YOU need to explain why we should be magnanimous enough to save your bus. The state hasn’t saved Pierce, Snohomish, or King from massive actual or potential cuts.

        Well sir, did or did not the state government give Metro of King County the ability to pass a temporary congestion relief charge?

        Let me also say that perhaps a North West Transit Agency is in the future. It is something I would support, namely merging the county-level transit agencies of Island, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom Counties into one agency that would collaborate w/ Sound Transit & Everett Transit. Sadly sir, we just don’t have the time to get that kind of agency started.

        Killing the Tri-County Connectors by either spreading the money pot or out & outright will strand me from opportunities as well as many other citizens and also further the divide between the Seattle megalopolis and the rest of the state. That rest of the state has transit needs of its own, Mister.

        Oh and BTW, I hate rubbing this in your faces STB so this is for d.p.’s consumption to think about tonight: Seattle Transit Blog knocked off our region’s porky, old advocate off of the State Senate to promote a more Seattle megalopolis-friendly Senate Transportation Commmittee chairwoman. There is now a political pricetag to that, namely the Tri-County Connectors that are at risk. It’s not a guarantee, but personally I feel with many state legislators & transportation committee staffers & transit advocates reading this blog I’ve done a lot of good. We could just have a template to promote transit service out of this crisis… d.p. whining be damned to hell. FULL SPEED AHEAD!

      • says

        @Bernie: I, too, think Bridle Trails is essentially comparable to Ballard in terms of transportation needs, potential impact of transit expansion, and generally as an example of walkable urbanism; I am, however, a centaur.

      • d.p. says

        I agree with the centaur! We should ignore all questions of population distribution, land use, wise return on investments, and cause-and-effect in general. Rational analysis and basic geometry are tools of the Man!

        While we’re at it, Centaur, why are horses not allowed on our buses. At least we could have horse trailers behind or horseracks mounted on the front! Think of the additional range that it would give our transit system! Think of the appeal to the John Wayne commuter demographic!

        Everybody’s with me on this, right? Because being pro-transit means never acknowledging bad or unsustainable ideas, right?

        Listen, even Martin knows he’s being glib when he claims I’m only about “light rail to Ballard”. I simply think that if Seattle ever wants to be a workably non-car-oriented city, then the city proper needs to stop getting shafted with transit that ignores all-hour cross-city mobility needs. Ballard happens to be the best single example of a dramatic urban growth environment with grossly inadequate transit pushing most back into their cars. I don’t quite understand the deference given to West Seattle, which is fairly hostile to urban forms; it offends me that West Seattle already has better transit than most of Capitol Hill and all of the Central District ever will! On the other hand, a West Seattle rail line is exponentially more useful than some glorified fringe-commuter spindle to Issaquah.

        It simply makes no sense to chase the BART or Denver model, as so much of our “pro-transit” politics gleefully does. Those systems are FAILURES, spending gigantic sums only to carry close to zero riders outside rush hour (and comparatively few even at peak). Those systems have had precisely zero effect on regional car ownership or land-use patterns, except perhaps to actually ENCOURAGE more sprawl at their fringes. They are objectively awful! Being pro-transit requires being smart about transit, not being blindly enthusiastic.

        Well sir, did or did not the state government give Metro of King County the ability to pass a temporary congestion relief charge?

        They didn’t give us one single dime of direct funding!!! And they didn’t lift a finger to save Sundays in Snohomish or to prevent an apocalypse in Pierce.

        Guess what, Joe? Your counties already have untapped self-taxing authority that your local pols could use to pay for services like this if they gave a damn. Which they don’t. So whine to them, not us.

        That you would even dare compare additional self-taxing authorization with the handout you receive is outrageous, and it shows that you’re just as much of an opportunistic leech as the Republicans you vote for.

        And yet again, your handout is already expected in the 2013 budget by default. And had been since before you started throwing public fits about maintaining it. You’ve done nothing but prove your own delusion and hypocrisy.

      • d.p. says

        Did not the state government give…the ability to pass…

        Really, Joe, the fact that you can even say this with a straight face is a problem. Self-taxing authority is not a gift. It’s shouldn’t have to be “given”.

        Only in our insanely backassward political environment, facilitated and perpetuated by your party, is such self-funding authority a political chip.

        Until you can get it through your head that this is not valid politics, I don’t think that anyone on this blog should be going to bat to directly give you money for your transit service.

        Fair is fair.

      • says

        Oh am I going to have fun with this…

        They didn’t give us one single dime of direct funding!!!

        Well the last I checked we’re talking about inter-county not internal county transit.

        And they didn’t lift a finger to save Sundays in Snohomish

        To a lot of people who use the tri-county connectors & the Everett Connector we sure would like Sunday use too.

        or to prevent an apocalypse in Pierce.

        a) I personally have been inconvenienced by the Pierce Transit “apocalypse” when I went to the 2012 July 4 Freedom Fair airshow. To hear it got worse because of voters’ bad choices upsets me, but at least the voters got to decide.

        b) It isn’t the role of 39 counties to bail out 1 county’s bad decision-making. Sorry, as a computer geek, I wish it was possible.

        Guess what, Joe? Your counties already have untapped self-taxing authority that your local pols could use to pay for services like this if they gave a damn. Which they don’t.

        Prove it or go away please. You’ve sufficiently isolated yourself from most of the STB commentors.

        That you would even dare compare additional self-taxing authorization with the handout you receive is outrageous, and it shows that you’re just as much of an opportunistic leech as the Republicans you vote for.

        a) Calling a disabled man who can’t drive an “opportunistic leech” is the lowest of the low.
        b) You really don’t want to go there, re handouts.

        And yet again, your handout is already expected in the 2013 budget by default. And had been since before you started throwing public fits about maintaining it. You’ve done nothing but prove your own delusion and hypocrisy.

        I happen to have contacts on the Island Transit staff – much less this bloghead – who would disagree with you. Furthermore, one of the reasons why I sound the alarm is to start building a broader coalition for transit with this blog as the hub not just the rest of the state versus the Seattle megalopolis.

        To you, I should feel guilty for speaking out. Happily for me, I have plaudits from fellow transit users who feel differently and it’s much appreciated.

        Then there’s this from you:

        Really, Joe, the fact that you can even say this with a straight face is a problem. Self-taxing authority is not a gift. It’s shouldn’t have to be “given”.

        Only in our insanely backassward political environment, facilitated and perpetuated by your party, is such self-funding authority a political chip.

        Until you can get it through your head that this is not valid politics, I don’t think that anyone on this blog should be going to bat to directly give you money for your transit service.

        I would prefer pushing taxation power to voters instead of through legislators or local governments, but that’s me. Furthermore, have I or have I not registered my opposition to the behaviour of some in my own party?

        d.p., you are becoming a bully. Please stop.

      • d.p. says

        Joe, I do feel bad that this has gotten so heated and so personal.

        For the record, I want you to know that the Tri-County Connector sounds like a good service, well-designed and implemented at the appropriate level to meet your area’s needs. Though I may never use it, and though I may question the wisdom of charging only $2 (full, non-disabled fare) for a trip all the way from Bellingham to Mt. Vernon or $0 for a long-distance trip on or off Whidbey, I nevertheless support its continuation. In fact, I support the direct funding it receives from the state, just as you do.

        Unlike you, however, my reason for supporting direct funding is that I believe the state has a responsibility to partake in direct funding for many sorts of transportation needs, including and especially those in Seattle, the most transit-requiring location in the state.

        My position is fundamentally consistent. Unfortunately, since you have advocated and voted for representatives hell-bent on maintaining low and regressive taxation, forcing highways down the city’s throat, denying Seattle self-determination at every turn, callously allowing urban transportation to be brought to the brink, and beating up on the city to score political points as a matter of course — all while asking us to fund every penny of your pet transit line — your position is fundamentally contradictory.

        And that is why I am frustrated here.

        One autobiographical note: As it happens, I spent most of my 20s with a permanently disabled person. This is relevant because:
        1) I do in fact understand the many hidden “disability taxes” that make living and functioning and getting around with a disability an inherently expensive proposition. I am sensitive to that, and I believe that reasonable accommodation and government programs to absorb some of these costs should be forthcoming.
        2) playing the “disability card” like you tried to do — claiming that having a disability makes your logical flaws immune to criticism, or gives you immunity to selfishly demand direct subsidies for yourself and self-funding-only-or-tough-luck for everyone else (including the disabled elsewhere) without being called out on it — does not go over well with me.
        3) again, how can you possibly endorse the GOP, which goes out of its way to slash Medicare access and benefits for those with disabilities, to make ADA remedies as difficult as possible to access and discrimination as difficult as possible to bring a lawsuit over, to make life for the less mobile as difficult and impoverished as it can be? How is that possibly your political party?

        So those are my thoughts and my cards, there on the table. I support both the existence and the direct funding of the connector, but your willingness to demand its continuation for yourself while failing to even express interest in similar benefits for the non-rural has obviously chafed me raw.

        As for the back-up funding options:
        I happen to have contacts on the Island Transit staff who would disagree with you.

        Really? Then you should really ask them why they’ve punted this responsibility entirely to the state at large.

        Unless the transportation benefit districts in each of those three counties have already reached the state maximum sales-tax collection of .9% (and I’m pretty sure they haven’t), then a local funding back-up is hypothetically available. Again, you can’t claim special circumstances when your elected officials are clearly just passing the buck.

        I’m sorry you thought I was just trying to be mean, but the truth is that it is beneath the mission of this blog to allow discourse that seeks to perpetuate a very destructive relationship between between those in rural areas, in the GOP, and in Olympia who actively seek benefits for themselves while working to deny transit improvement in the real cities.

      • says

        d.p.

        As to:

        Joe, I do feel bad that this has gotten so heated and so personal.

        For the record, I want you to know that the Tri-County Connector sounds like a good service, well-designed and implemented at the appropriate level to meet your area’s needs. Though I may never use it, and though I may question the wisdom of charging only $2 (full, non-disabled fare) for a trip all the way from Bellingham to Mt. Vernon or $0 for a long-distance trip on or off Whidbey, I nevertheless support its continuation. In fact, I support the direct funding it receives from the state, just as you do.

        Unlike you, however, my reason for supporting direct funding is that I believe the state has a responsibility to partake in direct funding for many sorts of transportation needs, including and especially those in Seattle, the most transit-requiring location in the state.

        Actually I appreciate your apology. I feel bad as well.

        As I learn more about transit issues, the more I support direct state funding of transit. It’s not fair for Eastern Washington state legislators and (for likely only a short time longer) my 39th District state legislators to stand there and deny the Seattle Megalopolis the right to govern itself when those same state legislators and I supposedly believe in local government… those same state legislators go to the mattresses for Skagitonian local government concerns like keeping a juvenile jail out of my hometown of Sedro-Woolley… I can go on. We owe all 39 counties intellectual integrity!!!

        My position is fundamentally consistent. Unfortunately, since you have advocated and voted for representatives hell-bent on maintaining low and regressive taxation, forcing highways down the city’s throat, denying Seattle self-determination at every turn, callously allowing urban transportation to be brought to the brink, and beating up on the city to score political points as a matter of course — all while asking us to fund every penny of your pet transit line — your position is fundamentally contradictory.

        I support representatives who believe in low taxes; who unlike you apparently understand that Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Everett and Oak Harbor are unquestionably cities. I also unlike my state Rep. Dan Kristainsen who I will never ask a STB endorsement for unless he has a dramatic change of heart believe standing in the way of local government taxation powers is the very same Big Government Bullying (TM) we Republicans supposedly opppose. See, I am intellectually consistent unlike fellow GOPers.

        how can you possibly endorse the GOP, which goes out of its way to slash Medicare access and benefits for those with disabilities, to make ADA remedies as difficult as possible to access and discrimination as difficult as possible to bring a lawsuit over, to make life for the less mobile as difficult and impoverished as it can be? How is that possibly your political party?

        I’m attempting to remind my pro-free enterprise, pro-national defense party of those very same problems. Better to be a voice within for reform rather than ‘brace for impact’ when the more radical within my party like Curtis King run the place.

        I support both the existence and the direct funding of the connector, but your willingness to demand its continuation for yourself while failing to even express interest in similar benefits for the non-rural has obviously chafed me raw.

        I’m sorry you thought I was just trying to be mean, but the truth is that it is beneath the mission of this blog to allow discourse that seeks to perpetuate a very destructive relationship between between those in rural areas, in the GOP, and in Olympia who actively seek benefits for themselves while working to deny transit improvement in the real cities.

        I think the way you say stuff turns people off. But as I’ve said before we need to grow the pro-transit coalition in this state and wake the hell up those fellas in my party who are behind the times. Otherwise we’re doomed to obstructionist opposition and obstructionist governing, with the inability to push free market ideology + Washington Policy Center ideas forward.

        Bottom line: We can’t write off the Seattle megalopolis nor the other cities of this great state with the kind of dramatic cuts to transit in the works in both Seattle and Oak Harbor. I think you want me to agree: We can and we must take this as an opportunity to grow the transit coalition in this state, this time instead of endorsing courageous Republicans coming up to 2010s standards by rather growing transit awareness in the Northwest Washington State region. I want to see that happen.

      • d.p. says

        I’m sorry, too, partly because I see that we could go in circles and never make much progress in understanding each other.

        But lower taxes = no services, Joe. That’s simply a fact. And if you wish to see state funding dedicated to things you care about, you cannot continue to support those who will prioritize low/regressive taxes above all else.

        And that’s not even addressing the problems of claiming “small government” but actually just supporting/favoring your friends and contributors, or the fact that “free enterprise” is often GOP speak for “screw the poor and the disabled”.

        It should also be noted that very small cities — cities you could walk across in 20 minutes — simply do not have any need for urban transit services. They may have a need for commuter/intercity/rural-connector/lifeline service, but those things are inherently different. Part of my frustration here has been your unwillingness to recognize that different regions call for different transportation solutions, and that those solutions are not created equal (although all of them require money).

        It should be noted, though, that Bellingham and Everett have managed, through public votes and local-government actions, to retain certain services that were endangered, and have done so despite the state government having done nothing to bail them out. It is worth reminding your own local politicians of such successes.

      • says

        Okay d.p.

        As to:

        It should also be noted that very small cities — cities you could walk across in 20 minutes — simply do not have any need for urban transit services. They may have a need for commuter/intercity/rural-connector/lifeline service, but those things are inherently different. Part of my frustration here has been your unwillingness to recognize that different regions call for different transportation solutions, and that those solutions are not created equal (although all of them require money).

        It should be noted, though, that Bellingham and Everett have managed, through public votes and local-government actions, to retain certain services that were endangered, and have done so despite the state government having done nothing to bail them out. It is worth reminding your own local politicians of such successes.

        a) I can’t even walk across Sedro-Woolley in 20 minutes. Try 60 minutes. Oak Harbor, Burlington, Mt. Vernon – try 120 minutes at least.

        b) “Part of my frustration here has been your unwillingness to recognize that different regions call for different transportation solutions, and that those solutions are not created equal (although all of them require money).” I don’t think you understand that I support those efforts, I just think we need to prioritize the revenue we have at a state level and let local governments govern – even if that means letting them raise taxes.

        c) I just might remind the local pols that in the long run we need to quit bowing down to OWE-M-PIA blowhards…

    • J. Reddoch says

      Other public transit lines funded by the State:

      Dungeness Line (Port Angeles-Seattle)
      Grape Line (Pasco-Walla Walla)
      Apple Line (Omak-Ellensburg)
      Gold Line (Colville-Spokane)
      Some fifth line to be named later, but was probably put on hold indefinitely due to budget issues

      I think the State has done an adequate job in providing for rural mobility. Granted these lines don’t have the frequency or the low fares that the County Connector services have. But to say the County Connector is the only service funded by the State, I think, is a bit of an inaccuracy.

      • Brent says

        How about bringing back the Ellensburg-Yakima service? That should pique Co-Chair Curtis King’s interest.

      • J. Reddoch says

        Brent,
        That service still exists and could be yet another State funded service. There are eight round trips between Ellensburg and Yakima plus two round trips on Greyhound.

      • says

        The lines you listed are in a different category from the Connectors. They are rural intercity grant funded, with a match from Greyhound.

        The fifth line was to be Yakima-Pasco, I believe. That was placed on the inactive list because the Community Connector (Yakima-Prosser) serves the market adequately.

        BTW, Yakima-Ellensburg is in the same category as the Connectors.

      • Mike Orr says

        The Color/Fruit/Seafood Lines are also several times more expensive than regular buses.

      • Mike Orr says

        Well, a cheap localish bus would go from North Bend or Issaquah TC, not from Seattle. No need to duplicate ST Express.

    • says

      David L

      As to:

      Yes, I support the subsidies for the Connector and similar service, and I hope they’re not lost. But I hope you can understand why I have a hard time going to the mat for interests in the same areas that consistently block funding for Seattle transit purely out of spite, despite the fact that it wouldn’t cost them a dime.

      Thank you and frankly, I share your anger. By working with me this time, we can build a strong coalition for transit over many legislative sessions to come. We can send a message that a debt of honour now would exist between NW WA ST & the Seattle megalopolis where we in Northwest Washington State need to help the Seattle megalopolis. We need that strong coalition to put in if not Democrats (ugh but worth considering) at least moderate to libertarian Republicans (I consider me more of the latter than the former) who will respect local government & local communities instead of the draconian bunch that won’t let voters decide, work with Democrats to opaque the government and pit urban vs. rural, region against region, and so on.

      • David L says

        Joe, thank you for your clarity. As a Democrat, I welcome any and all coalition-building efforts involving Republicans who support local control over local transit systems, and I’m happy to do everything I can to support the local priorities of folks from the areas who are willing to work together.

    • d.p. says

      I agree with the centaur! We should ignore all questions of population distribution, land use, wise return on investments, and cause-and-effect in general. Rational analysis and basic geometry are tools of the Man!

      While we’re at it, Centaur, why are horses not allowed on our buses. At least we could have horse trailers behind or horseracks mounted on the front! Think of the additional range that it would give our transit system! Think of the appeal to the John Wayne commuter demographic!

      Everybody’s with me on this, right? Because being pro-transit means never acknowledging bad or unsustainable ideas, right?

      Listen, even Martin knows he’s being glib when he claims I’m only about “light rail to Ballard”. I simply think that if Seattle ever wants to be a workably non-car-oriented city, then the city proper needs to stop getting shafted with transit that ignores all-hour cross-city mobility needs. Ballard happens to be the best single example of a dramatic urban growth environment with grossly inadequate transit pushing most back into their cars. I don’t quite understand the deference given to West Seattle, which is fairly hostile to urban forms; it offends me that West Seattle already has better transit than most of Capitol Hill and all of the Central District ever will! On the other hand, a West Seattle rail line is exponentially more useful than some glorified fringe-commuter spindle to Issaquah.

      It simply makes no sense to chase the BART or Denver model, as so much of our “pro-transit” politics gleefully does. Those systems are FAILURES, spending gigantic sums only to carry close to zero riders outside rush hour (and comparatively few even at peak). Those systems have had precisely zero effect on regional car ownership or land-use patterns, except perhaps to actually ENCOURAGE more sprawl at their fringes. They are objectively awful! Being pro-transit requires being smart about transit, not being blindly enthusiastic.

      Well sir, did or did not the state government give Metro of King County the ability to pass a temporary congestion relief charge?

      They didn’t give us one single dime of direct funding!!! And they didn’t lift a finger to save Sundays in Snohomish or to prevent an apocalypse in Pierce.

      Guess what, Joe? Your counties already have untapped self-taxing authority that your local pols could use to pay for services like this if they gave a damn. Which they don’t. So whine to them, not us.

      That you would even dare compare additional self-taxing authorization with the handout you receive is outrageous, and it shows that you’re just as much of an opportunistic leech as the Republicans you vote for.

      And yet again, your handout is already expected in the 2013 budget by default. And had been since before you started throwing public fits about maintaining it. You’ve done nothing but prove your own delusion and hypocrisy.

      • says

        Oh am I going to have fun with this…

        They didn’t give us one single dime of direct funding!!!

        Well the last I checked we’re talking about inter-county not internal county transit.

        And they didn’t lift a finger to save Sundays in Snohomish

        To a lot of people who use the tri-county connectors & the Everett Connector we sure would like Sunday use too.

        or to prevent an apocalypse in Pierce.

        a) I personally have been inconvenienced by the Pierce Transit “apocalypse” when I went to the 2012 July 4 Freedom Fair airshow. To hear it got worse because of voters’ bad choices upsets me, but at least the voters got to decide.

        b) It isn’t the role of 39 counties to bail out 1 county’s bad decision-making. Sorry, as a computer geek, I wish it was possible.

        Guess what, Joe? Your counties already have untapped self-taxing authority that your local pols could use to pay for services like this if they gave a damn. Which they don’t.

        Prove it or go away please. You’ve sufficiently isolated yourself from most of the STB commentors.

        That you would even dare compare additional self-taxing authorization with the handout you receive is outrageous, and it shows that you’re just as much of an opportunistic leech as the Republicans you vote for.

        a) Calling a disabled man who can’t drive an “opportunistic leech” is the lowest of the low.
        b) You really don’t want to go there, re handouts.

        And yet again, your handout is already expected in the 2013 budget by default. And had been since before you started throwing public fits about maintaining it. You’ve done nothing but prove your own delusion and hypocrisy.

        I happen to have contacts on the Island Transit staff – much less this bloghead – who would disagree with you. Furthermore, one of the reasons why I sound the alarm is to start building a broader coalition for transit with this blog as the hub not just the rest of the state versus the Seattle megalopolis.

        To you, I should feel guilty for speaking out. Happily for me, I have plaudits from fellow transit users who feel differently and it’s much appreciated.

      • Nathanael says

        dp: “It simply makes no sense to chase the BART or Denver model, as so much of our “pro-transit” politics gleefully does. Those systems are FAILURES,…”

        While I agree that it makes no sense to chase the BART or Denver model, the Denver model is certainly not a failure *for Denver*.

        There is one big difference between Seattle and Denver: Denver is flat and land is cheap. Because Denver is flat and land is cheap, Denver *will* sprawl faster and further than Seattle even *if* you try to densify it with proper urban rail. Denver has to account for that when providing service — and Denver was starting from a background of massive sprawl, much like Dallas or Houston.

        Seattle is geographically constrained, which gives a natural encouragement to build upward and build dense. Seattle also has not sprawled nearly as much as Denver *prior* to the start of urban rail construction in Seattle. Seattle can do better than Denver; it has better “fundamentals”. Therefore it should not chase the Denver model.

        But could Denver do better than it is doing? Well, Denver could have a Colfax streetcar. But apart from that? Probably not.

      • d.p. says

        Nathanael,

        The fact remains that Denver has built out three or four light rail lines, spent billions of dollars, and gotten weirdly prideful about their shiny new system… but when all is said and done, fewer than 35,000 round trips occur on it on a given weekday.

        And is it any wonder, when they’re literally running one-seat rides from here to here?

        And no matter how much sprawl Denver has already encouraged, what is the possible excuse for building an extension to the extension to here that is already happening at this very moment?

        You are correct that Denver possesses precious few corridors of real urbanity. One is Colfax. Another is Broadway/South Broadway.

        But instead of serving any part of that latter corridor in any way, Denver Light Rail zips by to the west in a freight corridor, stopping only at an impossible-to-find platform behind a K-Mart before zipping another 2 miles express to the next impossible-to-find stop.

        The future eastward/airport corridor does no better for Colfax.

        Again, Denver is awfully proud of their shiny trains, but pretty much nobody uses them!

        Denver isn’t just awful as a model for Seattle. It’s awful as a model for Denver!!

      • Nathanael says

        “And no matter how much sprawl Denver has already encouraged, what is the possible excuse for building an extension to the extension to here that is already happening at this very moment?”

        Bluntly, this is due to Denver’s equivalent of “subarea equity”. The idea that you have to put something in each municipality’s area. In Denver, it’s purely political rather than legal.

        In fact, the proposed southern extensions of the already-too-damn-long Southeast and Southwest lines have been definitively put on the back burner (possibly forever), when it was realized that those regions were not yelling politically any more. The northern regions are yelling.

    • Nathanael says

      “How many states contribute $0 to its urban transit services, again? Only two? Including us?”

      I think it’s more than that. This seems to be hard to research. Does Alaska or Wyoming contribute anything? How about Kansas? Which other state are you thinking of?

      • d.p. says

        This fact was quoted to me by a reputable source on this blog. The information predated 2008, however, and it would not surprise me if the number of non-transit-funding state governments has increased since the Great Recession and the Tea Party takeovers in many states.

        The other pre-2008 state with an entrenched political culture so anti-urban that it could not recognize the slightest value in supporting urban transit movements was Arizona.

  6. Jim Cusick says

    Hey, I’m on it for you Mr. Kunzler,
    I’ll be sending it out shortly….

    Let me see… how should I start?

    I know… “Wakey… Wakey… Wakey!!…”

    ;-)

  7. Hoss Cartwright says

    I am all for saving these bus routes as long as they take the scenic route. Chuckanut Drive should be mandatory between Bellingham and the Skagit Valley. See Mark Dublin for details. ROFL

  8. Dana Weber says

    This would be a travesty if these were routes were cancelled. I am an every day commuter of the 80X from Mount Vernon to Bellingham and it is standing room only quite often. In fact, sometimes WTA provides a 2nd bus on the way back from Bellingham to Mount Vernon in the PM it gets so full.

    This is a much needed service for commuters, students, general travelers and so much more.

    I mean I could drive, but a) this is a big money saver, and b) I am keeping my car off the road.

    BTW, If they keep this around, can someone tell Skagit Transit to pave the road to Alger P&R?? The pot holes are ridiculous!!

  9. Brent says

    I’ve long dreamt of having continuous bus service from the Canadian border down to Olympia, instead of a six-seat ride. What would it take to at least have a one-seat ride from Bellingham to Everett?

    I see buses serving the I-5 corridor as clearly serving a highway purpose. Why can’t gas tax fund a state transit agency?

    • says

      Great questions Brent.

      I’d love to see a state transit agency set it up so there was a two-seat ride from Bellingham to Olympia and back. Ditto from Vancouver, WA to Seattle.

      With the kind of backwards thinking of too many, not going to happen though. Small steps like the Tri-County Connectors & the Everett Connector are the beginning so let’s fund them and support other regions that need ‘em.

      • Nathanael says

        “I’d love to see a state transit agency”

        As long as it’s better run than New Jersey Transit. NJ is the only state with a statewide unified transit agency. It’s a decent idea, but it’s been suffering from bad management, and also from disdain by the governor and legislature.

      • says

        Thanks Nathanael, I do agree that good management is key.

        Look at Pierce Transit vs. Skagit Transit.

        PT has had questions about its ability to manage taxpayer funds to the point where taxpayers have refused to tax themselves more and Transitgeddon is inbound.

        SKAT on the other hand hasn’t had to make cuts during the Great Recession and is growing w/ a 2008-approved sales tax increase.

        Knowing you’d likely ask…

        Metro, I would argue is leaning more towards SKAT-quality the problem is Metro has to do great deeds with limited resources and most of the 38 other counties represented by backwards state legislators of both parties ganging up on it.

        Sound Transit, I would argue could be improved on by allowing for more flexibility in spreading out resources instead of “Save Our $ounder North” – aka “Save Our Bus”. But I do feel Sound Transit has overall evolved into a beacon to the rest of the state as much as the Northwest Washington State Tri-County Connectors.

        Community Transit, I don’t know enough and the fact they don’t serve the Future of Flight Museum nor Flying Heritage Collection (yes, I know “serve me, me, ME”) makes me ignore them entirely. I am an avgeek, after all.

    • J. Reddoch says

      You have two options now providing a one-seat ride between Bellingham and Everett: Amtrak and Greyhound. In fact, one of the Amtrak trips continues beyond Olympia to Portland. Bellingham to Portland with a one-seat ride.

    • asdf says

      There are some commercial bus lines connecting Seattle to areas up north such as Anacortes, Burlington, Bellingham, and Whidbey Island. The trouble is they are all oriented towards people living up there getting to the airport, rather than people here getting to up there.

      For instance, if the bus to Anacortes, which makes several trips daily, had a stop at, say, Everett, that could connect with Sound Transit, I might consider using it for a day trip some day. But if I’m expected to take a 2-hour detour to Sea-Tac airport, on top of a round trip fare that is not that much cheaper than a rental car, I will probably just say screw it and drive.

      • says

        Well put asdf. The airport shuttles are nice for an avgeek like me but the general public not so much. Especially as Bellingham International Airport has zero public transit service – I guess the private transit sector had something to say about that.

      • asdf says

        As far as the private sector is concerned, the behavior does makes sense. Private companies do not represent the public – they exist to make a profit and that means operating the simplest type of service that can charge the highest fares, while still filling up the bus.

        Airport passengers are naturally willing to pay higher fares than general passengers, hence the service focuses exclusively on airport passengers and makes zero effort to attract anyone who isn’t going to or from the airport.

  10. says

    Since we’ve discussed this so much here, let me post an update I found out about from checking the STB twitter page. Reading THIS about State Sen. Curtis King’s strategery about local tax votes – namely to deny ‘em to guarantee a state tax package passes makes me think…

    Well State Senator King, you want a statewide tax package plus reforms. Sure. Let’s then make sure X% of the tax revenue actually stays in the counties that raise the revenue instead of end up on the east side of the Cascades. That means more funding for transit & ferry needs, State Senator King.

    I’m sure his response will show his plan as more strategery than strategy. Time to play chess, not catch-up folks.

    • David L says

      I’ll play chess after I turn back to my normal color from the pretty purple shade I turned after reading that article.

      Shorter Curtis King: The voters of Puget Sound don’t have any idea what they want. I do.

      • Nathanael says

        Sounds to me like this “creature of a bygone era” ended up with power due to the seniority system in the state legislature.

        (I see no value to the senority system in the legislature.)

      • says

        Nathanael;

        Nor do I. Bring in term limits.

        It’s time to replace the heap of State Senate deadwood with something to be proud of. I know Rodney Tom is doing what he can, but he’s just one opportunistic maverick.

      • Nathanael says

        I don’t like term limits because they get rid of decent people.

        But there’s no reason why “being there longer” should get you more privileges. How about having actual campaigns for the committee chairmanships?

      • says

        Nathaniel, we have that to some extent in Congress.

        I just prefer term limits because that prevents a group of people from hording all the power. You go in, you do your service, you’re done – that simple.

  11. asdf says

    Assuming the county connector does continue, is there any hope of getting the Saturday schedule adjusted to align better with Amtrak. It has always bugged me that the morning bus from Mt. Vernon to Deception Pass leaves at 9:15, just 6 minutes before the northbound Amtrak pulls in at 9:21, with the next bus not leaving Mt. Vernon until two hours later.

    I realize that a service like this will never be frequent, but can we please coordinate the schedules so that connections to other services do not involve 2-hour waits?

    • J. Reddoch says

      asdf: What connections would you be losing if the adjustment was made? Does the bus connect with anything in Oak Harbor or near Anacortes that would be missed if the bus left Mount Vernon six minutes later?

  12. mic says

    Sorry to weigh in so late, but the issue of rural road funding and rural transit funding are quite similar.
    Without some level of state acknowledgment that providing both road and transit support, local governments will not, can not, provide these amenities that both rural and urban citizens use.
    It’s what links regions together.
    I’m not sure what the subsidy level should or could be, but certainly between 0-100 is an opening bid.
    When I was on the WSDOT Long Range Public Transportation Plan Advisory Cmmte some years ago, it was a given the state had a clear role to play in supporting intercity transit, just as it does in inter city rail – and yes, intercity roads.

    • says

      Mic, making the 100th comment in reply, no need to apologize.

      I agree: We need the state to play a bigger role in intercity transit, not smaller to appease both the Curtis Kings & some commentators down here. After all, I’m sure the folks of Burlington, Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, Oak Harbor (a Navy community, BTW), Sedro-Woolley and most definitely Bellingham & Everett feel they are in a urban city.



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