Welcome Seattle Times readers!

“10 lame reasons to delay mass transit” has ten pretty amusing reasons to delay a transit vote – like “you can worry more about climate change” and “standing all the way home [on the packed bus] improves your calf muscles and physical stamina.”

I have one – if we wait two more years, the people living in new development in downtown will have no way to get to work. They’ll start more small businesses!

If you’ve got more, share ’em. Also, vote on the Seattle Times poll for light rail this year!

In the meantime, we have a great transit package to pass, building light rail as well as investing immediately in increasing express bus and Sounder service. This is the best opportunity we’ve had in forty years to connect our region – Sound Transit 2 will create real regional solutions to our transportation mess. Keep checking back here for news on the package, what it will do for you, and why we need it!

68 Replies to “Nickels op-ed – any other ridiculous reasons to delay?”

  1. The Ron Sims counter-point to Mayor Nickels article is here.

    Sims argument seems to boil down to “buses are crowded now and light-rail won’t provide relief for years. Let’s fix the short-term problems first.”

    What does a pro-rail advocate say to that? I agree that light-rail is a better long-term approach to transit but what are the short term solutions going to look like? Where will they come from? Who will fund them?

    1. Look at how long it takes to get a simple addition of a few trips on a single bus route, even with all this funding he’s grabbing. To get overall relief would take years alone in the regular Metro system. He forgets, too, that Link will give an almost immediate return in service hours a year from now allowing him to increase frequency on several routes at once if he chooses.

      His sales tax increase nets an increase of exactly how many additional riders per year?

      Also look at the turnaround time on BRT. When was the process first started as approved?

      I am beginning to wonder how long he’s been working against LRT, since it was indeed his hand that gave us an almost 50% reduction in daily ridership on our starter line. If we bit the bullet and built the northern portion, what would our ridership be? This reeks of intentional sabotage.

    2. To Sims, I say: If you wanted more bus service immediately, why didn’t you offer anything for the ballot this year? ST2 will quickly increase service across the board for ST Express and Sounder as well as build light rail. It isn’t their responsibility to increase Metro service, it’s Metro’s. We voted for Transit Now a year ago – where’s that service?

      1. Not that I advocate a “put your money where your mouth is” hit piece, but that’s an excellent talking point.

      2. The reason Sims likely didn’t put something on the ballot this year is because such a suggestion is ILLEGAL. All taxing authority in this state must be authorized by the state legislature. The legislature has capped the taxing authority of King County Metro at 0.9%, which is exactly what we are changing now. Any increase in taxes for metro would first need to be approved by the state legislature. Sims and just about everyone else in King County have been asking the legislature for more taxing authority, but they have thus far been unsuccessful.

        Sound Transit, as a different agency authorized by a different RCW with a separate taxing authority still has the legal right to put a tax increase on the ballot. Sound Transit could, if it so chose, use this taxing authority to put a bus-heavy initiative on the ballot this fall, which is exactly what Sims has been advocating.

        I am not saying I agree with Sims’ position, but he has been consistent and truly believes what he is saying. I believe the cause of building a sustainable transportation system in Puget Sound will be better served if we back off the attacks and focus on the issues.

      3. Sims could have gone to the Legislature to ask for the ability for an increase. He didn’t. He didn’t come out and say he needed more money.

        ST could not have passed a bus-heavy initiative. It wouldn’t have gotten light rail to Snohomish, which would have lost us the vote in all of Snohomish and Ladenburg, and at the same time it wouldn’t have gotten to Federal Way, so it wouldn’t get von Reichbauer. Toast right there.

      4. The reason Sims didn’t go to the legislature for more taxing authority is due to two things:

        1) he just got done over-selling Transit Now, which was supposed to take care of the immediate future needs of Metro riders.

        2) Metro had “no idea” diesel prices would be flying sky-high because of economic engines in China and India revving up. King County doesn’t employ people who do economic forecasting, of course.

        The extremely high inflation costs and volitility associated with running an all-bus transit system are just now coming home to roost.

        There are non-Kool Aid drinkers inside Metro who have been sounding the alarm for some time now…but a certain politician’s stubborn ego is all consuming. Just like at the Bush White House: once the Dear Leader starts to falter, his supporters do nothing but circle the wagons.

      5. Up until a year ago, the leading economic outfits in the world weren’t predicting sky-high oil prices; they thought supply would meet demand. They were all drinking the Kool-Aid. Economic forecasting is less reliable than ridership forecasting. Look at WAMU. They employ lots economists. And they’re being burned big time, even though banking doesn’t require diesel (at least not directly).

        Most of the volatility of transit operations locally has been with the sales tax and health insurance costs. Diesel is more recent, and represents less than 10% of the budget. There are lots of diesel costs of building light rail, especially tunneling. Light rail isn’t immune from high energy costs. It’s only cheaper than bus if its capacity is well utilized. Building rail from a sales tax base means it faces the same risks of cutbacks and delay because of lack of funding (or downgraded bond ratings due to too much volatility in tax receipts).

      6. So far, Sound Transit has ensured that they can handle increases in costs. Look at the Beacon Hill tunnel. It’s done, and the reserve funds for Central Link are intact.

        Remember, energy costs drive up your goods costs as well – inflation brings up sales taxes as well. And a lot of the sales taxes are paid by businesses – they aren’t as volatile as you seem to think. Again, ST is delivering projects on time and on budget right now based on 2001 planning. They know what the trend lines look like now, and this package does assume VERY conservatively in order to be prepared for the worst.

        Also note that during all this fuel cost mess, Sound Transit’s bond ratings were UPGRADED at least twice.

    3. It’s a compelling argument and one we have to develop a good response for. Here’s my try, admittedly too long and nuanced. We need a better message here:

      Sound Transit’s plan addresses much of the short-term need by an 30% expansion in express bus service and local transit agencies should continue to expand their services that help their people move around communities. However, this isn’t a short-term problem and it cannot be fixed by a short-term solution. Our roadways are already congested: investing more in hundreds of buses to sit in that congestion is a losing proposition.

      Instead, we have to plan for the future and develop a method of transportation that is reliable, safe, and separated from traffic. The longer we wait to vote “YES!” the longer we wait for relief. We can’t begin a moment too soon.

    4. Has any one thought about protesting at an upcoming event for gregoire at golden gardens park. I of course mean protesting her transit policies. Please let me know I would love to get involved. joeg1985@gmail.com.

      PS: Sorry that this is so off topic, just really anxious to let her hear our voice.

      Thank you.

    5. Someone please tell me why after Sims announced an order for 500 new buses he is still bellyaching about buses?

      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003710441_buses17m.html

      He’s getting his buses, and his delay strategy regarding light rail will only cost those people he claims to worry about far more because of the added expense incurred by pushing everything out two more years.

      Enough! We’ve had people tell us for years that we’ll get light rail in the future. At this point I’m doubtful we’ll get it in my lifetime!

      Ron, you’ve got your buses – we want light rail, now.

  2. If we drill now and bring more oil online from ANWR and coastal areas we’ll have enough time to actually put some money wasting light rail in for people to play with.

    (Hey Gerard: Not a drop from ANWR would come online until well after ST2 was complete and operational. Oops. Try again, though! Maybe you’ll do better with your crazy predictions next time! -Ben)

    1. (psst… drilling in ANWR won’t get us oil for decades – far longer than this package will take to pass, design, build, and open)

      1. Hell yes, Matt! I went and edited van-der-crazy’s comment to add your insightful remark. :)

  3. Right.

    Ben: Owned!

    But thanks for the common info. I knew I could count on you to find a way to pump up the volume.

  4. Would it be feasible for Sound Transit to manage its construction schedule in a way that would allow new stations to come online incrementally? For example, if the light rail line to Bellevue won’t open until 2020, would it be possible to have the segment between downtown Seattle and Mercer Island open by 2016?

    1. I think they do intend some kind of incremental solution. Northgate will be open before Lynnwood opens up, for example. Same with Bellevue first, then Overlake – don’t know about Mercer Island on the way to Bellevue, though.

    2. Mercer Island vs Bellevue isn’t that feasible, no. Some of the big contracts – like systems, communications, the wiring – would cost much, much more to do piecemeal instead of a single large contract. You’d end up in a situation where you’d have to have testing staff on hand for several years instead of a few months.

      1. In that case, why does it make sense for Bellevue to open in advance of Overlake? Or Northgate in advance of Lynnwood?

      2. I believe we need an east base for rail before anything East Link can open, so you have to get *to* that base before you can start service.

        With Northgate, you can’t open incrementally because all the stations are reliant on all the tunneling north of U Link being complete. Brooklyn, Roosevelt, and Northgate stations will all be dependent upon the same tunneling work.

        I guess there are a lot of reasons.

  5. The Executive Sims op ed is logical, but it challenges the conclusion of this blogs’ hosts that “regional” Link LRT is the best transit investment. Regional LRT is the dream of the ST Board and is in their long range plan. They have studied it enough to know they cannot afford it to reach downtown Redmond or Federal Way, let alone Tacoma, and that the south and east lines would attract fairly modest ridership 22 years out. According to David Brewster, 14 or 15 of them want us to vote on it this year.

    One key rationale for delay until 2010 is that it would allow the Legislature and WSDOT to establish a tolling regime in the central Puget Sound region. In the 2008 Session, the Legislature set the general policy; the Commission would set the rates. In 2009, the Legislature will establish the pace of implementation. Expect it to be must faster than ST2 could construct Link LRT extensions. Dynamic tolling will improve transit flow on SR-520, I-90, I-405, SR-509, and I-5. Dynamic ricing could induce enough drivers to shift to other times of day or other modes to improve traffic flow.

    The best transit modes for long distance trips are bus and commuter rail. The Sound Move center access ramps should be built upon with ST2, not ignored. Link LRT is the best mode for closely spaced urban centers where bus transit goes slowly and that do not have available rights-of-way to convert to transit; this is the north line between South McClellan Street and Northgate via downtown, Capitol Hill, and the University District. A tolling regime should change the ST2 package. It would improve the flow of long distance bus routes. Tolling is probably more important for growth management, transit flow, and global warming than the current ST2 package.

    Note that ST subarea equity does not require modal equality, only that fiscal resources be spent proportionally in each subarea. Different transit modes are most cost-effective in different land use patterns.

    Sims has been a strong supporter of north Link LRT to Northgate. It is the best transit investment on the table. It is a tragedy that ST built south-first. That decision was made in 2001 when ST was in crisis. (In about 1999, Sims and Mayor Schell argued for north-first and lost in the ST board discussions).

    The current ST2 package over spends on Link LRT. The east and south extensions are not very cost-effective. The key variables are time (emphasized by the Sims op ed), rights-of-way, budget, and transit travel time in the south. ST2 ought to maximize the transit benefits (e.g., ridership and support for growth management) subject to the constraints of budget and available rights-of-way. In many areas, abandoned freight rail rights-of-way have been converted to transit (e.g., Vancouver, Sacremento, Denver, Minneapolis, Ottawa, New Jersey, St. Louis, San Diego, LA, San Jose). Our opportunity for a similar conversion is the Woodinville subdivision. ST is not ready to make that investment. PSRC, ST, and Port studies are underway. Delay to 2010 would allow that to be considered. So, this is a second rationale for delay until 2010. LRT is wonderful; it is very costly when new rights-of-way have to be constructed.

    In any net present value calculation, the early stream of benefits are most important, as they are discounted less than distant ones. Hence the support for BRT investments requiring a few years rather than Link LRT investments requiring 12 to 15 years (east and south).

    ST and Bloggers here like to compare a single LRT line with a single BRT line. But that is not an objective test. Instead, given the budget and right of constraints, the comparison ought to be between a single Link LRT line opening in 2020 v. multiple BRT lines opening in a few years and spending the same stream of funds. True, the Link line would have perfect reliability and more capacity (and more than is needed). But of what value are empty seats? Empty seats cost fiscal capacity that could attract more riders if spent elsewhere.

    East Link LRT would elevate Route 550 to LRT and would extend to Overlake. Today, there are more transit riders on I-90 whose trips would be degraded by East Link than who ride Route 550. MacDonald pointed out that ridership on those other routes is growing faster than that of Route 550. Today, there are more riders on both SR-520 (Route 545) and SR-522 (routes 522, 306, 312) than on Route 550. Why spend almost all the East subarea funds on the Route 550 corridor? How about spreading it around on several corridors and achieving a better overall network. It would not have the perfect reliability of Link, but would be better overall. The other lines could be helped by additional capital: Overlake center access, Bothell BAT lanes, etc.

    The Doug and Ben show on Crosscut was quite good. Both made many good points, but they wrote past one another. Both suport north Link to Northgate. The debate should have focused on the east and south Link extensions. The question is not LRT v. BRT, but what LRT and what BRT at what cost and in what rights-of-way.

    Sims is also uncomfortable with the heavy use of the retail sales tax for ST2. In two years, could the Legislature allow ST to use a different revenue? How about a share of toll revenues? TriMet uses an employer tax. How about a tax on all parking spaces, free and priced? How about a carbon tax weighted by miles driven? Or a sales tax on gasoline. Does use of the sales tax help with global warming; does it increase the price of a bad? ST will likely sell 30-year bonds against the sales tax revenue stream, so this is a long term decision. On this issue, ST failed to ask the Legislature for reform.

    1. Sims makes up numbers and then bases an argument on his fantasy.

      He can’t run more buses. He doesn’t have the taxing authority to do it. Sound Transit can start with buses, but they will end up in the same boat if they don’t make long-term investments.

      There really isn’t any argument there. He’s just backed himself into a corner and he wants ST to bail him out. The legislature isn’t giving Sound Transit anything – they want ST’s banked East Link cash for 520!

    2. eddiew is Jack Whisner, Metro bus planner. Not surprising he loves buses. He lives buses. But look at what he offers us:

      –The legislature will pass massive tolling on all of our roads, says eddie/jack. I am sure that will be an easy decision for elected officials. And then he believes they will give that revenue stream to transit despite the fact that the state budget simply does not invest in transit–at all, and it never has.

      –Then he offers the rosy picture of BRT. Less cost, more lines, just a couple years says he. Well actually we passed Transit Now almost two years ago. The first BRT line will be four years after that, with others rolled out over the next few years. You see, BRT isn’t that easy to build either. Especially if you want the rapid part. Metro will be taking parking, building bulbs into traffic lanes and loading buses in traffic lanes to make its version of BRT-lite work. Even then the proposed West Seattle line has already been criticized by the city as being too slow. Perhaps Metro should call it “Often Ride” rather than “Rapid Ride”. BRT is bait and switch. When folks like eddie talk about the cost they use BRT solutions that block traffic and use the existing right of way. Wait until they share the actual plans with the public. But to get any sustainable speed and reliability you need dedicated busways. And then you might as well build light rail since you will be spending the same money for dirtier, less volatile transit. Ron already told us Transit Now was the bus solution. Not to mention the fact that Seattle and other cities already push back about the number of buses on our streets.

      –Then he says, go get a new tax from the legislature! You must have a much rosier idea of the state leg than I. Perhaps you need to get out in the rest of the state a bit more.

      eddie/jack also doesn’t tell you that a package that invests in bus dollars upfront leaves you with far less sustainable transit like rail in the long run. If you invest heavily up front in buses you have high operating costs that eat up the available capital in a long range plan. So the Ron plan to drive money now to buses really robs this region of any rail future. We need rail to give people options and to influence development around the new station areas.

    3. [eddie], tolling without offering an alternative path to work is simply a tax. And good luck convincing drivers to use this tax for anything but building more roads.

  6. I’m a regular reader of this blog, and read both op-ed pieces by Ron Sims and Greg Nickels. I would say I’m on the fence about this vote, but after reading both pieces I would lean toward Ron Sims side. This is simply because Sims made some serious points and brought up some real problems, while Nickels just ridiculed and made fun of anyone that didn’t agree with him. Nickels did nothing to address the points that Sims brought up, like how this is going to lock down the available money for a project that won’t be up and running for 15 years, or how the last thing people need in this upcoming recession is more regressive sales taxes. It’s really easy to make fun of people that don’t agree with you, it’s a lot harder to actually address points made by the other side and provide reasoning to counteract their points. I feel like Ron Sims did a good job of the later, while Greg Nickels just took that easy route without really putting much thought into it.

    1. We don’t have another taxing authority, and we aren’t going to get one. If we spend more on buses now, we won’t ever get rail – which will tie up our taxes even MORE nicely, instead of giving us an eventual solution.

      And frankly, Sims is making up numbers. His cost numbers are unsupported by reality.

    2. I agree that Nickels’ op-ed piece is unconvincing compared to Sims’ piece. However, the debate about the future of our region can’t rest on the shoulders of a poorly or well written op-ed piece.

      The reality is that is a “no” vote in November is a vote for no action. There is no plan to buy more buses, there is no BRT alternative plan, there is no plan for local transit agencies to pick up the short-term slack.

      An armada of literally hundreds of new buses that get stuck in the same traffic, wait at the same intersections, take the same ridiculous amount of time to board/depart when full, and rely on the same fossil fuels that are skyrocketing in price as our current buses is a losing transportation plan. That gives more credit than reasonable to Sims, though — there is no other plan and there is no other alternative for “immediate” relief.

      That is not to say that there is no place for buses. The
      ST2 fifteen-year plan includes a large expansion in bus fleet and service to provide short-term relief while continuing to invest in long-term solutions. This is the smart, balanced way forward. Not just buses, not just rail, but the best of both modes.

  7. I lol’d at #8: “Local media need an infusion of advertising cash from a certain Eastside shopping center developer who wants another two years to tell you that freeways are still the best transportation for the region. No matter what.”

  8. Let me remind you all that there are more people riding electric, fossil-fuel transit in Seattle today than will be added by Central Link. It will take the UW Link extension in order to beat out trolley buses. 20% of Metro already is served by electric transit. If peak oil and climate change were really of interest to you, you’d be pushing for a dramatic expansion of the electric trolley bus network. Then, you would demand more transit lanes from Seattle. Yes, it is possible and a lot cheaper. Look at Eliott and 15th Avenue West. There is no new right of way and suddenly buses travel in near flow in the PM peak. The Magnolia residents complained for a few weeks but they’ve settled down. These things are shorter term and don’t require huge fossil fuel inputs into tunneling like Link does.
    Sound Transit is not intending to address congestion or peak oil or climate change. These are concerns of Ron Sims. ST simply wants to build a very long light rail system. Sims wants to toll and he wants to accelerate transit investments.

    1. We’ve had forty years to get dedicated transit lanes, and since 1968, people have said the same thing you just did, over and over. That’s plenty of time to know it’s politically impossible.

      When ST2 is built, Link won’t just carry more people than the electric trolleys. It’ll carry more passenger miles than every bus service in the region – combined.

      And instead of coming up with yet another huge multiagency plan, all you have to do is vote yes.

  9. I don’t care what side of this issue your on, you gotta love Nickels sense of humor.

    “If we wait 2 years it might include hydrogen-powered, personal hovercrafts. That’d be cool.” LOL

    Seriously, if Ron Simms is against it, that’s enough reason for me to vote for it.

    1. Ron Sims hasn’t offered us an alternative. Why would you take the advice of someone with no plan?

  10. the vast majority of the future ridership attracted to Link LRT will be in the segment between Northgate and SeaTac.

    the 1968 and 1970 Forward Thrust votes were one-county, not three-county.

    WSDOT, SDOT, and ST have made significant progress in transit rights-of-way. Of course they could do better. Complete dedication need not be the standard. Budget and right of way have to factored in.

    The SODO busway and the I-90 D-2 roadway opened in about 1991. The downtown Seattle transit tunnel opened in 1990. Center HOV lanes have been extended in both directions north of Northgate and south of South Spokane Street and on I-405. ST and WSDOT have built several center access ramps. ST has almost completed Link LRT to South 154th Street and the Tacoma line. Seattle built bus bulbs on the Ave. Seattle provides transit priority on 3rd Avenue. Seattle will have BAT lanes on Elliott and 15th avenues West. Shoreline has built BAT lanes. SR-522 has BAT lanes. Its not perfect and it is disappointing, but it is very significant. It is far more than 40 years of nothing.

    1. So you’re seriously arguing that a bus at Overlake: getting off the freeway, waiting at a light, turning, waiting at another light, turning, turning, going through a transit center loop, stopping, boarding, starting, waiting at a light, turning, waiting at a light, turning, waiting at a light, and turning
      … is even remotely comparable to a train slowing down and stopping, boarding, and then starting again?

      We’re well past that. KC Metro’s funding is capped out. It’s time to plan ahead instead of just desperately clawing for a little more money to keep the service we already have.

  11. I’ve never commented on this blog before – but I am taking the bait to share my own reason.

    In two years oil will be much higher and people will be more strapped, as will the state. So, even though transportation is a nightmare, we won’t be able to even consider something like light rail – thus it will be postponed into oblivion.

    1. The average contribution is $69 a year, or less than $6 a month. That’s something you can bank on.

      Don’t forget, either, that we’re moving into a new administration and we are at the absolute baseline of transit funding we can get. Either the federal contribution stays the same or it increases.

      Good reason to do it this year.

  12. Ron Sims is right, at the rate ST lays track we are looking at 15 more years before they come close to attacking the real ridership problem.

    Ben, talk about making numbers up: “When ST2 is built, Link won’t just carry more people than the electric trolleys. It’ll carry more passenger miles than every bus service in the region – combined.”
    That’s not even close to reality. Any reasonable look will show you that 35 miles of track has no chance of carrying as many people as the current & future bus system. Unless you are planning on pulling an LA maneuver and taking away all the outlying bus routes to fund the rail lines. And even then, LINK on I-90 displaces more passenger miles than it will carry because it removes all non Bellevue buses & HOV’s & van pools from the two dedicated lanes. The spacing between trains is farther than that of the buses, the tunnel limits capacity because it must be used for both N/S trains as well as E/W. And the platforms are limited to 4 cars. Even ST’s own numbers show this.

    The reality is that we need to build out the bus system first. It’s the least cost and most effective system we have available.

    The future will be PRT, as the right-of-way is so much less expensive.

    1. Using Sound Transit and the PSRC’s FTA-approved, extremely conservative modeling, my numbers are dead on. Remember that a good portion of Metro’s ridership is homeless guys getting on at Yesler and off at Pine. Their average trip length is only 4.7 miles – Sound Transit’s average trip length is 17 miles.

      2030:

      .7 billion annual passenger miles on Link.
      .2 billion annual passenger miles on Sounder.

      .6 billion annual passenger miles on buses. That’s all of them – ST, PT, ET, MT, CT.

      Not even Metro disputes these numbers – they use the same models!
      P.S., it’s 47 miles of track. But keep trying!

    2. ST2 will have more passenger miles, I-90 HOV lanes are being build on the exterior bridges so no capacity will be lost, the tunnel will not be a limiting factor for more than a generation after construction of ST2 finishes and every subway system in the world has tunnel capacity to worry about but manages to deal with it. We cannot solve our transportation problems with just buses that get stuck in the same traffic and use the same expensive fuel as today’s buses. We cannot solve our problems by waiting for unproven technologies to become feasible.

      We’re going to have a solution on the ballot that combines the best of both worlds: more buses immediately and more rail in the future. Short-term relief and a long-term solution.

      1. I’d just like to note that the new I-90 HOV lanes will actually increase capacity over the express lanes, since we’ll have one lane in each direction instead of two in one direction.

  13. Talking about transportation solutions in Washington state is like oral sex. Everyone talks a good story, can not get past the talking and everyone ends up frustrated.

    Adding more lanes to any road in this region is a waste of time and money because the congestion is at the interchanges. The interchanges can not accommodate the number of cars weaving to get on or off the highway. As long as the design calls for on and off ramps to share the same real estate you will have congestion.

    Want to move commuters into and out of the cities? Rail is the answer … light or heavy. Take a look at Boston, Chicago, or New York. If you remove the rail systems that serve these cities, they would be hollow shells of their current statue.

    The west grew up around the automobile and is clueless as to what an integrated transportation system looks like. Buses are cheaper? Who paid for the road they ride on? Who lost a lane to HOV use for buses? If you want to move people from their car to a bus, you need to provide the service. And the service is not just moving people into and out of Seattle.

  14. Best Reason of all: We taxpayers are going broke paying for every transit fantasy the bureaucrats can dream up.

    1. ST2 will cost you all of a tank of gas per year. Are you telling me it’s cheaper to keep driving your car, stuck in traffic?

      Penny wise, pound foolish.

  15. I lol’d at this in Sim’s piece-

    “People can’t wait that long for more transit service. As government, we need to be more responsive. We need relief in 15 months, not 15 years.”

    Yet he has NO feasible alternative to light rail and adovocates waiting AT LEAST 24 MONTHS BEFORE GOING TO THE BALLOT!!

    I find this offensive!

    1. So I guess I’m a bit confused by Dear Old Ron Sims’ position on this.

      He advocates for short term investments in more buses now as opposed to long term investments in rail, but isn’t the short term bus investment exactly what he proposed, and the voters subsequently approved, just 1.5 years ago in the form of “Transit Now”??? Isn’t “Transit Now” supposed to provide the short term immediate relief that Ron Sims is advocating for in his op-ed piece? That is exactly how he presented it before the vote. So what has changed?

      The way I see it Ron is pretty much admitting that “TN” won’t solve the problem. So if it won’t solve the problem, then why repeat the mistake and throw even more money at a failed concept?

      Don’t get me wrong, buses definitely have a significant role in the local transportation picture, but continually investing in buses and nothing else is how we got ourselves into this problem to begin with. Continually repeating the mistakes of the past isn’t going to change the outcome. It’s time to move beyond “bus-only” solutions.

      ST is building, and seeking to expand, a mixed mode approach of heavy rail, light rail, and improved bus transit. If phase II is approved over half the transit passenger miles in the PS region will be served by the rail component, and the bus component will be redeployed for improved service on thinner routes.

      Such a plan deserves our support. It’s time to move beyond the shortsightedness of the likes of Sims and K-F.

      Time to “just get-err-done”.

  16. Putting 550 on rails does nothing for the Eastside.
    Sorry, it just doesn’t.

    (That’s why we’re not putting the 550 on rails. The 550 is a subset of East Link service, but East Link trains would go not only from downtown to Bellevue, but also continue on the Bellevue side to Overlake via the Bel-Red corridor, and on the Seattle side to Northgate (and beyond) via Central Link and North Link – no transfer necessary. Service will be more frequent as well as more reliable. In addition, all those 550 service hours will go to other Sound Transit routes on the eastside, like the 545, 554, 564/565, 540, 532, and 535 -Ben)

    1. You mean besides improved capacity, efficiency, comfort and reliability for the most popular regional route?

    2. You’re right. Nobody works at Microsoft, and nobody lives and works in Bellevue downtown or in the Bel-Red corridor.

      Brad, you know perfectly well the 550 ends in downtown Bellevue, and light rail doesn’t.

    3. You’re wrong.

      LRT to Overlake via Bellevue increases service hours along that corridor — one of the most congested in the state and home of the most popular ST Express route (550). It increases reliability of cross-lake travel, adds additional capacity, and does so while cutting the route’s dependence on expensive, foreign oil.

      In addition, the reach of the rail goes long beyond where the 550 ends — and connects Downtown Bellevue and the Bel-Red corridor (as well as all of Central Link, Mercer Island, and South Bellevue) directly to Overlake and to each other.

      1. Don’t forget about the possibility of Eastside commuter rail, too. If it happens I expect that it will meet up with East Link somewhere east of 405, so the improved service hours won’t just benefit Bellevue and Overlake, but Renton, Kirkland, Snohomish, and Woodinville too.

    4. Ben, you are ridiculously interventionist – not only do you reply to brad’s comment but you stick an aside into it! His argument can be edited rather than rebutted, so let’s do that, huh?

      You are your own worst enemy in arguing for things.

  17. Am I correct in saying that basically, part of ST2 is already funded by means of the subarea equity accounts. The funds are there, just waiting to be used. So to everyone who complains about paying more, you’ve already been paying for it.

    1. Indeed – nearly $1.3 billion of East Link will be covered by the existing taxes, and portions of the other service as well.

  18. Nickels is watching too much Letterman! Among his countdown (#5) is a insult to women….”standing all the way home improves your calf muscles and physical stamina. This strength-building exercise works even better in high heels!”
    (How does the Mayor know about standing in high heels, has he worn high heels?)
    The most logical person I’ve read on this blog is John 425, he’s hit it on the head……..us taxpayers will be broke by the time they get done dreaming up how to spend our money.
    Why doesn’t anyone think about how these boondoggles effect the retired people and the family man? Does any of these people realize we are in a recession? I agree with Ron Sims, “The wrong investment at the wrong time”

    1. Susan, while I wasn’t a fan of Nickels’ article I disagree with continuing to wait. Waiting is what got us into this mess, and waiting won’t build us out of it. There’s never a good time for a tax increase, but as a region we need to redouble our efforts to provide an alternative to $70 fill-ups and hour-long commutes.

      Thanks for posting your comment, by the way!

    2. i don’t believe we are in a recession. don’t let the media scare you. they are just there to make money off of sensationalism.
      i don’t know about you, but i don’t plan to be broke anytime soon. and these “boondoggles” will never stop, you know…the road improvements i am almost positive you keep wondering about, sewer/water provision which boondoggedly keep us from pooping in holes in the ground and drinking the ground water it soaks in…imagine the costs to us taxpayers if we all developed dysentery. boondoggle!

  19. Justifying huge capital investments, based on increasing taxes, at this point in the nation’s economic history, is callous and foolish. Furthermore, saying that the high price of gasoline makes it absolutely necessary to build mass transit, completely ignores the fact that not only is a new generation of automobiles coming available in two to three years with higher mileage capability, but younger consumers are gravitating towards two-wheeled transportation – scooters, mopeds and motorcycles – in a way not seen since the second “oil crisis” of the 1970s.

    Building mass transit is less about transportation solutions than it is about creating jobs in government. And when the mayor says he can’t ride the bus because of “safety” concerns, that shows how undesirable riding the bus is for those who make high incomes. Do you really think that is going to change with the transportation module rides on steel wheels on rails, instead of rubber tires on a roadway?

    Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, rides the subway. When Mayor Nickels starts to use the bus to get to-and-from work, you’ll a reason to get people to give mass transit some consideration. Until then, the market is always going to be the better way to figure out what we need in terms of transportation. And we know what most Americans prefer – and will continue to. It is some sort of individual transportation device that allows flexibility in terms of scheduling. Think autos, trucks, motorcycles, scooter, mopeds and yes, even skateboards.

    1. Let’s have everyone buy the newest generation of vehicles or mopeds at this point in our nation’s economic history? Come on, that’s not a solution. You’re ignoring congestion and reliability: the hours people spend a day commuting that alternative energy — as great as it is — can’t fix.

      Bloomberg rarely subways to work — it’s a publicity thing. To argue about the future of mass transit in our region based on how often our mayor does publicity transit runs is some mighty questionable logic.

      Plenty of people who love their cars and the freedom that comes with it would be happy to get to work quicker and on a more reliable schedule by hopping on a train — that’s the option that light rail provides. Sure, they can drive where-ever the want when they get home — but I’m sure they’re currently not thinking very highly of their freedom when stuck in congestion on the 520 bridge that started at 3pm.

  20. I remember when Nickels was stridently pro-Monorail. Until the political wind turned, then he jumped ship. I paid an extra $175 a year for that little property windfall for the Beneroya family trust.

    So when you tell me that I will pay $69 a year extra in taxes to lay rail across a lake, north to lynnwood, and south to Federal Way, I wonder just a little bit. That is real money you are talking about spending. To Sound Transit. Which promised rail from Northgate to Downtown last time, for much less money than they spent getting from the Airport to Downtown. You are talking about digging through various strata of clays and glacial till, not granite like NYC has. Big difference. That is why ST did not go to the University in ST1. They promised to, but could not contain costs as they had projected. I know, I know, it was not their fault, and they promise to be much better this time, but that is a simple child’s ploy, that only a fool falls for a second time.

    And for all you “environmentalists” out there: how much earth will be dug, how many hours of earth moving equipment will be used, trees ripped out, concrete poured, air poisoned, etc, etc; so you can use this more “environmentally friendly” train in thirty years? And the way Microsoft has missed the internet revolution, how long until they are not such a big company in Redmond, that they need their own choo-choo? Monopolies only last so long, even in the USA.

  21. Well, now I’ve seen everything. Digging through glacial till is harder than tunneling through granite? I guess that would explain why castles were always built on rock outcroppings when possible. Or not.

    And all those trees that would be lost building light rail! 35 years ago I looked at a nice map of Seattle with copious ‘greenbelts’. When they started cutting down the greenbelt behind my house, I looked again, and noticed the fine print- proposed greenbelts.

    In reality, of course, one light rail line carries the equivalent of twelve lanes of freeway, and you don’t need to build parking lots for the cars on the twelve lanes of freeway. In the history of argument, there has never been a more clearcut decision than building light rail if you want to save trees.

    Why, of course, if someone would sell me a Honda 90 for $69 a year, I would be so there. Heck, I’m tuning up my old ten-speed now, because you’re never too old to be excruciatingly poor. But one thing you learn with aging is that the 15 years that seemed way too long when it lay in the future seems way too short when it lies in the past.

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