At the Seattle Weekly’s blog, Seattle rocker John Roderick has a “music” post about how much he dislikes Sound Transit. These days it feels like you can’t read a blog without reading something bad about light rail in this region, and even musicians in bands I like are no exception. Anyway, Roderick is way off on a few points:
First, in comparing Portland and Seattle, Roderick says it’s “paternalism” that Sound Transit decided to put link in its own riight-of-way down MLK. He says “unavoidably paternalistic message is that Seattle drivers are too incompetent, stupid or blind to navigate around a gigantic train that runs every fifteen minutes without being crushed beneath its wheels”. Uh, no. The message I received was that Sound Transit didn’t want to put cars right on the place that the train runs every six minutes, because they didn’t want to slow the train down. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard the argument against grade-separation.
Next, Mr Roderick says that the Capitol Hill tunnel project for U-Link “is a design which emphasizes everything that is exactly the opposite of what light-rail is good for… An elegant and effective form of public transit is destined to be an unloved and underused white elephant. If the light rail instead ran down Eastlake Way to the University district it could be built for a hundredth the cost, serve thousands more people, and be built in a tenth the time” There’s no way they could build a light rail line down Eastlike for $10 mn, even the SLU car cost $50 mn. And there’s no way it would serve more people: 40,000 people live with walking distance of the Capitol Hill station, and twice that many more live within a bike ride. Eastlake, on the otherhand, has just 6,000 people live in Eastlake, with few plans to build more housing. And there’s no way an at-grade light rail could connect the U-District and Capitol Hill in just three minutes.
I guess I shouldn’t fault a rockstar for not knowing about transit, but then again…