Based on this overheated rhetoric, you’ve got to hand it to Snohomish County leaders for petty sub-regionalism.
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and Edmonds City Councilwoman Deanna Dawson, who both serve on the transit board, said they oppose the 12-year plan, partly because it doesn’t bring light rail to Snohomish County.
“I will vote no on it,” Reardon said. “I will actively campaign against it.“
I don’t blame them for wanting to get light rail to their county as quickly as possible; indeed, in their place I would insist on a longer plan. Maybe Reardon is just bluffing, but I’m not sure how actively working to defeat a smaller plan gets the train up there any sooner. At best, it kicks the can down the road a few years, so that it’ll cost more to get the same service later; at worst, a second defeat for Sound Transit leads to reorganization, years to decades of navel-gazing, and not much done, ever.
Reardon and Dawson said they won’t support the 15-year plan, either, unless it brings light rail to Lynnwood, quickly creates a better bus service for Snohomish County and assures local taxes will be used for local projects. Snohomish County residents need transit options, Dawson said.
Of course, informed readers know that sub-area equity requires that taxes collected in a sub-area are used on projects that directly benefit that sub-area. What I take this to mean is that they will not interpret any project in King County as benefiting Snohomish County residents, which is incredibly obtuse. At its most extreme, this can be read as a rejection of the practice of borrowing from Snohomish County funds to build in King County, which is the only sensible way I can think of to build a capital-intensive line that starts in King and goes to Snohomish.
“I’ve grown tired of waiting,” Reardon said. “It’s moving too slow.”
Ah, the constant refrain of those who wish to slow down light rail.
Sound Transit Board member Paul Roberts, an Everett City Councilman, said he opposes the two plans.
They don’t bring light rail to Everett, the largest city in Snohomish County with the county’s largest employer — the Boeing manufacturing plant, Roberts said. They don’t aim to provide much-needed bus service for people over the next few years.
This statement is disconnected from any actual feasible plan. Assuming Roberts isn’t talking about the Everett Streetcar, there just isn’t the money to get anywhere near Everett. If he wants more bus service, perhaps he can talk to his colleagues Reardon and Lawson and drop the light rail demands to pay for buses. If he wants to get the train all the way up there, I guess he’d prefer to sit around and wait for the legislature to go up to authorize another .5% or so, so we can pass a massive tax measure later. Yeah, that’d be much better than getting started now.
What I fear is that the statements of these three politicians both reflect and enable the attitude of the voters: get more rail, faster, for less money. If they’re waiting for that plan, they’ll be waiting a long time. See you on the bus in 2025!
In retrospect, it was a mistake to include parts of Snohomish County in the Sound Transit district. Their tax base is tiny, so it’s hard to deliver anything capital-intensive. Unlike Pierce County, their leaders unwilling to recognize that improvements in Seattle — where many of their residents work — are of benefit to them. Because of that attitude and sub-area equity, they don’t contribute anything and instead drag the agency down by creating planning problems and providing lots of tax-averse voters. At the same time, BNSF has been a much worse partner on the North Sounder than South, limiting service. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we can do about that now.
People that want to get Sounder out to Marysville or Arlington, take note.
Although I don’t think this rhetoric at all helpful, if it’s an accurate reflection of voter sentiment that a 15-year plan that gets to Lynnwood will do better at the ballot box, then by all means, let’s do the 15-year plan. I’m still curious what’s been cut to shorten the completion time from Proposition 1 by 5 years while still getting to Lynnwood. Bus service? Sounder? Parking spaces? A different definition of “Lynnwood”?