News Roundup: Merry Christmas

  • Dow Constantine is your new Sound Transit Board Chair, replacing Pierce County Exec Pat McCarthy. Paul Roberts (Everett) and Marilyn Strickland (Tacoma) are the new vice chairs.
  • 12,000 comments on Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan are largely supportive of further expansion.
  • Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) rank-and-file reject contract proposal ($) from Executive Constantine and endorsed by union leadership.
  • ST Board approves its 2014 budget.
  • Census suggests Seattle has the lowest proportion of “cost-burdened” renters ($) among 50 largest U.S. cities, although people displaced out of the city obviously aren’t in that statistic.
  • Car2Go raises prices to 41 cents per minute, up from 38.
  • Auburn Mayor looking for Sound Transit to solve his station access problems.
  • Video of last month’s RapidRide C robbery. Heroism caught on tape.
  • In Vancouver BC, where elites actually care about transit, proponents are horrified that needed Translink expansion could face an additional veto point via a public vote; here in Washington, only new highways are too important to risk at the ballot box, and Olympia won’t take the risk that King County might vote to maintain transit service.

This is an open thread.

Comments

  1. lakecityrider says

    Happy Christmas, folks. :) Also, thanks to the Metro, Pierce, and Community Transit drivers out and about today. As a heavy transit user, I appreciate your being out there today and every day.

    Regarding the last bullet point, how likely or possible is it that “Plan B” or even “Plan B” + “Plan C” (Seattle buying back service hours) happens? I’ve been writing representatives and cajoling people I know but has there been any movement? Would anyone care to pontificate on the reaction of, say, the state and possible prolific initiative writers if the backup plan comes to fruition? I’m a bit disappointed that the proposed transit union contract didn’t hold up since that would be a major talking point in any potential vote. Is there hope for another proposal?

  2. Urbanist [ad hom] says

    Thanks to all the folks working in the gas stations so I could fill up the Tahoe for the drive to grandma’s!

  3. says

    The difference between Vancouver and Seattle? The part of BC outside Vancouver is a barren wasteland rather than being filled up with a bunch of farms and other elements of red-state America that utterly detest Vancouver.

    • RapidRider says

      You should explore the rest of BC. It’s very beautiful, tons of farms and definitely a lot of people who don’t like Vancouver.

    • East Coast Cynic says

      And a hell of a lot more right of way transit and an NHL franchise in Vancouver:/. Maybe in about 25 years, we’ll have similar features.

  4. Mike says

    I like how in the auburn piece, Pete, uses the term ‘cities want’ this over and over vs saying how auburn wants this. A clever way of polarizing the issue and making it seem like he is speaking for all cities.

    • Mike Orr says

      It foretells a collision between those who want to expand ST-funded parking vs those who want to scale it down. Unfortunately, the side that wants more parking will probably win. I just hope that the cities will be open to a complete discussion of the issues rather than focusing narrowly on “parking mitigation”. Because every parking garage cuts into the amount of transit ST can provide.

      • J. Reddoch says

        I still think the cities should take ownership of the parking and create a little revenue stream for themselves. Let Sound Transit focus on transit.

  5. Mark Dublin says

    I wouldn’t say I’m being forced to move out of Seattle because I can’t afford the rent. It’s more like the mentality accompanying the present steadily-worsening mis-division of wealth is something that now makes the place unlivable even if rent was free.

    It’s bad enough that sole criteria for Seattle residency is being able to afford one’s living space- and subject to constant fast, inevitable change for the worse. But Seattle is turning into a place whose economy’s beneficiaries very likely do not have a single relative or acquaintance outside their financial bracket. Real definition of the term “class system”- and the danger of it.

    At least the article’s author has the decency to admit there’s something wrong with prosperity that owes its comfort to the fact that nobody with financial problems can afford to live here. Especially since this excluded category now includes just about everybody who can put a nut on a bolt without stripping the threads. I’m really looking forward to a follow-up piece.

    I don’t look at upcoming change of address as leaving Seattle.Just expanding “public comment” territory. Intercity Transit, ST Express and Sounder still keep ST board and Seattle local government meetings in easy range.

    Plan to spend future working toward incorporating both Ballard and Olympia, and transit stops in between, into a dynamic and productive industrial region whose majority can earn that a good home, and the rest of a good life, is “affordable” to everyone.

    Including a first-rate public transportation system that hardly anybody will feel compelled to use to leave.

    Mark

    • Mark Dublin says

      Also, best of all, top of Capitol dome in sight at all times from new residence, so all legislative events are five minutes’ bus ride from home. Slight correction: the element in “Olympia” that won’t let Seattle raise its own taxes is mostly composed of people who only work at their Olympia jobs half the year.

      Mark

  6. Lack Thereof says

    Census suggests Seattle has the lowest proportion of “cost-burdened” renters ($) among 50 largest U.S. cities

    Only 46.1%, hooray!

  7. MrZ says

    The member counties of the CPSRTA are a real mixed bag when it comes to transit support. There area areas of King (and to a lesser extent Snohomish county and Tacoma/urbanized West Pierce) that are supportive of transit. However, there are also areas of the CPSRTA (most likely included for MVET revenues) that are very anti-tax and mildly anti-transit, with a strong current of “Why should I pay for it when it does not directly benefit me”. And digressing a little bit, because of the very suburbanized nature of these areas where conventional and even some alternative service methods are not effective, I think that service should be P&R Express routes, with stops in key locations, setup in such a way to not provide or minimally provide expensive ADA paratransit service. This would get the most “bang for the buck” for everyone’s tax dollars. Sadly, I think it would be a hard sell and I’m not a transportation planner.

  8. mic says

    A good poster child for your case is Renton. I’ve not worked out how much the population of Renton has paid into the RTA coffers since ’96, and how much the Transit Center and a couple of STEX routes cost, but I’m sure it’s not a very good deal after 13 years.
    What’s on the horizon for Renton? Not much. Should they pat themselves on the back for being good citizens and talking one for the team, or grouse about how the RTA passed them by.

    • lakecityrider says

      You have this problem any time there is a transit agency that serves more than one political subdivision. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency has tried to answer questions like this since almost the day of its founding. Outlying suburbs watched light rail and commuter service happen to other areas of the service area. Some sat quietly, waiting on the 30-year plan to reach its fruition while others jostled for position. One of the original member cities (Addison, for anyone who wants context) still has yet to see anything beyond a handful of local bus routes and a consolidated transit center even though that city has held on to very development-valuable land for decades.

      Ultimately, joining together comes with the risk that the “greater good” will outweigh the “local good” and that somebody’s politicking will be better than yours. That’s why, in my opinion, directly electing the board of an agency like that is folly. Better to put together the people who directly represent the interests of the areas being served and who have to face their own constituents.

      • mic says

        Anytime you purchase gold plated projects for the city center elite class, while discounting many suburban cities as ‘transit trash’ you get the backlash resentment. Exacerbate the capital side spending with an unfair operating cost equation, and the riff grows deeper. Seattle pays for zero operating cost for all ST service except for half the Link cost.
        The Mayor of Auburn is rightly questioning where the ST buck stops, as the city picks up more and more ancillary costs from Sounder and STEX service.
        Meanwhile Seattle thumbs it’s nose at Auburn, and proposes more intracity tunnels and more gold plating.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Yes- when will the elites in the Rainier Valley stop pulling one over on the little people?

      • lazarus says

        Well….. either you are totally unaware of how ST functions, or you are intentionally using this blog to post mis-information. Because neither Renton nor Auburn are in Seattle’s subarea.

        I generally love how the burbs insisted on the policy of subsrea equity to keep Seattle from “stealing their money,” but now complain that they aren’t getting enough now that they realize where the real wealth is. I have exactly zero sympathy for them, and I really enjoy seeing the money being spent where it is actually raised (and needed).

      • mic says

        There are more than a few ways to ‘cook the books’ in favor of Seattle.
        Why does the Eastside pay for all the Seattlites going to work across the ridge on the 550?
        Why does Kent or Edmonds pay for all the reverse commuters, night shifters, and others on Sounder?
        Why are the only shopping malls on Link in Seattle, and nowhere else?
        I’ll stop there for now.

      • lazarus says

        Ya, sure. The books are “cooked”. Never mind the data. And of course there is some sort of conspiracy against rural and suburban malls because…….you know…..Link doesn’t go there..funny.

      • Mike Orr says

        “Why does the Eastside pay for all the Seattlites going to work across the ridge on the 550? Why does Kent or Edmonds pay for all the reverse commuters, night shifters, and others on Sounder? ”

        The same suburbs that fought for subarea equity haven’t raised this as a major concern.

        The fact remains that those suburbs wouldn’t exist if Seattle weren’t there. The vast majority of ridership is from suburban residences to Seattle businesses (for work, shopping, recreation, or school). People may never go to some other suburb, but inevitably they go to Seattle sometimes. The 550 and 545 may be more evenly two-way because of Microsoft and Google, but they’re the only ones. The few people reverse-commuting to Auburn or Kent or Edmonds are a rounding error. The 512, 554, 577, 598, and 594 are important two-way routes for access to the suburbs, but they will never have symmetrical ridership, at least not unless Tacoma and Everett double in size.

      • Aleks says

        Google is in Kirkland, so they aren’t helping much with either the 545 or 550. It’s likely that there are some Google reverse-commuters on the 540, but that bus barely has any riders to begin with.

    • aw says

      mic, you could also count Sounder service at Tukwila Station as serving Renton. Another capital project that’s on the books is some city-managed Rainier Ave. improvements.

      • mic says

        Sure you could count a handful of residents willing to backtrack to Tukwila, wait 10 minutes for a short hop to KSS. Is it a viable improvement for the city as a whole? NO, but when you’re looking for redemption, I guess anything will do.

      • aw says

        Don’t forget that Tukwila Station is also a destination, like for Boeing workers at the Longacres buildings.

      • mic says

        OK, even though the simulators are leaving town.
        How about the $7,000 per HH collected since 1996 on local taxes within the City of Renton limits?
        On 30,000 HH’s, that’s over $200,000,000 for ST. In return they got a:
        Pretty pricy Transit center (must have been the clock tower, and restroom), and the bus routes, PLUS, the really functional, vibrant heavy rail facility in Tukwila.

      • Stephen F says

        Uh….Renton has made out like a bandit. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Not to mention, so has Auburn. The ROI is vastly superior to the $$ they’re putting in.

    • Mike Orr says

      What do you want for Renton? And how would that have affected the rest of East King? Renton’s problem is that most of East King’s transit bottlenecks and ridership are around I-90 and 520, and Renton is near neither of them. But it has the 560, which goes to two of Renton’s three regional destinations, and it part-time has the 566 which goes to the third. Then there’s this Metro enhancement Renton is getting, called RapidRide F.

      Another issue with Renton is that the ridership has not stepped up. The 105, 169, 164, and 168 (west of Lake Meridian) are busy all day. The 101, 106, 107, and 105 are lightly used off peak. So if Renton wants more transit, it needs to look like it’s going to use it.

  9. Sam says

    I thought this New York Times article was very STBesque. This is my Christmas present to you.

    Headline: “In a Car-Culture Clash, It’s the Los Angeles Police vs. Pedestrians.”

    From the article: “It is not quite “Dragnet,” but the Police Department in recent weeks has issued dozens of tickets to workers, shoppers and tourists for illegally crossing the street in downtown Los Angeles. And the crackdown is raising questions about whether the authorities are taking sides with the long-dominant automobile here at the very time when a pedestrian culture is taking off, fueled by the burst of new offices, condominiums, hotels and restaurants rising in downtown Los Angeles.

    “We have to encourage this, not discourage this,” said Brigham Yen, who writes a blog on downtown development, as he stood at a bustling corner in the city’s financial district at lunchtime the other day, casting an eye around for a police officer in the shadows. “We should let pedestrians in L.A. flourish. We shouldn’t penalize it.”

    http://tinyurl.com/k5lnuvz

    PS, love the name Brigham Yen

  10. RedmondRider says

    What happened to the point to point schedules on Metro’s Trip Planner? I used to be able to be able to make custom schedules using stops that are in between regular published time points. Did this ability go away with the new Trip Planner?

  11. Sam says

    I think many of you would like The Atlantic Cities Commute section. Some of their articles:

    – Should you really feel “car culture” guilt for using Uber?

    – In Los Angeles, walking illegally is more than twice as expensive as parking illegally.

    – 11 reasons why bicycling in the U.S. is exceptionally dangerous.

    – San Antonio can’t decide if it’s building street cars or light rail.

    – Is it stealing if you charge your electric car in a public outlet?

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/

  12. Stephen F says

    The Mayor of Auburn is either woefully ill-informed, or he is being inflammatory and conflating the issues. I’m not sure what votes he’s representing here. Is he for transit? Is he anti-transit? Is he pro-development? Is he anti-development? Is he pro-taxes? Is he anti-taxes? I’m thoroughly confused. But from the article, I certainly didn’t come away with any confidence in Auburn leadership whatever the case may be.

    • Sam says

      Stephan, I’m sure ST is glad they have people like you, and others on this blog, who reflexively come to their immediate defense the moment anyone speaks unkindly toward them. But a more constructive approach would be to first understand what the mayor is saying, see if there is any validity to it, and then set about finding the best way to solve the problem. Unfortunately, his opinion piece isn’t well-written or clear. The gist of his piece, to me, is that people from outside Auburn are clogging up the streets getting to and from Auburn Station. And it sounds like he’s saying when he goes to ST and asks for help or ideas on how to fix the problem, they tell him to fuck off, it’s not their problem.

  13. Sam says

    I am self-defense and personal safety expert, and I would strongly advise against resisting a gun-weilding robber, like the one on the C-Line. If someone is pointing a gun or knife at you, whether on a bus or a city street, simply hand over your valuables. They are not worth your life. Don’t try to be a hero.

  14. Bob says

    Does anyone know if there are or were any proposals to merge all transit agencies in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties together to form one regional transit agency? It would at least be easier to do regional transit planning and benefit from scale…

    • Martin H. Duke says

      People bring them up all the time. There are several problems, but the biggest one is that Seattle’s transit fate would be decided by anti-transit exurban voters.

    • Mike Orr says

      The suburbs are starting to do better at transit master plans and (sub)urban villages. Bellevue has a good transit plan, and I think Kirkland and Shoreline and Lynnwood and Marysville are getting there, and Community Transit has a good long-range plan. As Metro reorganizes and expands in the future, it will start to reflect these plans. The great uber-agencies in Vancouver and Germany work because the agency is allowed to put resources where they’re needed: a subway here, streetcar there, BRT somewhere else, and parking spaces can’t stand in the way of transit lanes. It’s hard to see the cities and counties here giving up their parochial concerns and allowing an uber-agency to have that much authority, even if the agency were set up. And we’d still have to fund it with piecemeal sales taxes in each county, and add-on levies in Seattle, so you’d still get pretty much the same number of service hours.

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