Sound Transit’s unscientific opinion-gathering operation is complete. As we’ve remarked before, these things skew pretty heavily towards those who are heavily invested in transit expansion, or strongly opposed to it. After all, there were 5,661 web responses, and our best estimate is that our humble blog alone has about 1,000-1,500 readers!

Still, there are a few interesting trends, and it’s interesting to see where transit-fan opinion lies on the various questions.

Slide-by-slide commentary:

  • The difference between opinion gathered on the Web and over the phone (slide 10) is easily explainable when you look at the age distribution of each (slide 7). It’s clear that transit advocacy, quite understandably, is largest among the young. With Obama running and boosting youth turnout, that’s a pretty good argument for going to the ballot in 2008.
  • The distribution of voters (slide 8) is somewhat worrisome. The large number of responses from “North King” (Seattle and Shoreline), far out of proportion to its population, shows that enthusiasm in some of the other areas is a little lukewarm.
  • Slides 12-14: everyone’s in favor of the type of service most likely to help them.
  • Slides 15 and 17, a regional breakdown of plan preference, tell an interesting story. The 12-year plan does really well in North and East King, which after all will get pretty much the same benefit in less time. The other counties really want the 20-year plan, because it’s the only way light rail gets anywhere near them.
  • Slide 18. Everybody wants 2008.

I don’t think the others contain much in the way of useful information.

Conclusions? I think it’s pretty clear they should go to the ballot in 2008, as we’ve stated before. Beyond that, things are pretty muddled. I think ST needs to do some scientific polling of the various plans, and also wargame the various lines of attack opponents will use, and figure out both their effectiveness and the effectiveness of the counterarguments.

Basically, the 20-year plan can be attacked as too big and too long, while the 12-year plan can be attacked as Seattle-centric. It’s hard to rebut the kind of provincial thinking that makes the latter an appealing point. The “too big” argument, however, could be argued more effectively than in 2007. First, express the expense in terms of cents per day per household, rather than a meaningless number of billions; secondly, explicitly compare the whole cost of ST2 with the cost of road projects like I-405 widening. The realization of Tacoma residents than they’re paying more for the mobility of Eastside drivers than they would for a regional system should be eye-opening.

Personally, I’d be happy with any of the options. It’s most important just to keep the ball moving downfield.

6 Replies to “Fanboy Poll Complete”

  1. I think the 20 year plan is the most prudent, especially if they run a clause through it to allow for an advancement of build schedules.

    The margin of loss was small enough that it can more or less be attributed to people generally not wanting roads involved and the part where Ron Sims stabbed us in the back (to our benefit, however).

    For the Light Rail portion, I think a more intelligent plan is:
    1) Allow funding for pre-existing planned-for expansions (primary East Link, North Link and S 200th extension)
    2) Pay to pre-engineer/-plan portions of the remaining 30 miles of the ST2 expansion to at LEAST 80% within a reasonable amount of time.
    3) Begin property acquisition with the option to sell at profit if an expansion is deemed unnecessary (i.e. Ballard, Issaquah, Lynnwood – Everett or Fed Way to Tacoma)
    4) Create an optional fund rather than proposing to pay for the whole expansion, just in case the feds can shoulder more in the future. Optional fund can be described as being for “capital, operational, area study, project advancement and fare subsidy and abatement purposes whenever possible”
    5) Create an “advanced transportation options” board position for the study of local rapid transit ** Dream idea of mine; someone to study cut-and-cover subways and monorail/elevated rail/people move loops within CBDs and such**

    … and all this can be described as:
    “Sound Transit 2.1 will fund rail extensions to Northgate and Lynnwood in the North, Bellevue and Redmond in the East, and Federal Way in the South. With the addition of an optional fund, we will also look into federal funding for increasing the speed of construction and possibly extending rail as far south as Tacoma and as far north as Everett. We will also use this fund to increase service to traditionally underserved areas in the Sound Transit district.”

  2. I like the 20 year plan but it’ll be hard to convince voters because the attack is “same plan from last year you voted down.”
    The 12 year .5% plan is good except Pierce and Snohomish won’t vote for it.

    So it’ll be tricky.

  3. For something as large as a 20-year plan, they should try to break down the timeline a bit. For example, under the 20 year plan, would we still get to Northgate in 12 years (or sooner)? Or would it be a “big bang”, where they wouldn’t open any new stations until November 2028?

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