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.
- 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.