Newish commenter “phantom” captures the angst of Ron Sims’s decline:

I am mostly just disappointed in Executive Sims. He was one of the few politicians I felt was driven by conscience, and I have always been supportive of his initatives.

That includes the 2006 vote for Transit Now. During the campaign, it was emphasized that buses could be brought online in terms of months, not years (a dig at light rail construction times). So, the measure passes, and we find out that RapidRide won’t see the light of day in Ballard or on Aurora until 2013. That’s seven years out from 2006. Central Link is being built in six, groundbreaking in 2003 and completion in 2009. All we’ve seen is a few busses added to sparsely populated locations in outlying King County, and a few off-peak trips added to the 8 and 44.

Now, we’re finding that gas prices are eating up the funding for even that.

Sims’ last minute meddling in ST2.1 to funnel money into Metro Transit is disappointing, especially considering he sits on the board and could have voiced these opinions as 2.1 was being crafted over the last several months. He should have spent the spring lobbying the state Legislature if Metro Transit was having budget issues.

I wonder if Sims will even run for re-election next year. He seems a bit disengaged from all of this debate, except now to say at the very last minute, “more money for local bus systems instead.”

My opinion is that we’ve put off building a real mass transit system for 40 years, and now we’re suffering the consequences. Gas prices suck, busses in Seattle are standing-room only, we all sit in wretched traffic and there really is no immediate short-term relief. We need to bite the bullet, account for our lackadaisical transit planning, and get this thing passed. In our current system, we will have to suffer through it for a few years, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel (pardon the pun). Central Link opens next year. Hopefully, we will have a federal government and executive administration more friendly to funding transit, and perhaps a state Government that will re-think how we do transportation around here (regressive sales tax funding, tolls, etc).

I’m not ready to say that Transit Now was a bad measure to vote for, but I’ve been groping to express similar thoughts for a while.  Bravo, “phantom.”

9 Replies to “Comment of the Day”

  1. Transit Now would have found and likely did find the support of every blogger here, no doubt. The very unfortunate thing is that anti-transit people can point to Transit Now as “another case” of transit wasting money. In reality, no one could have guessed that increase in gas prices. Thank goodness for Transit Now, because otherwise we’d almost certainly be seeing service cuts shortly.

    I am disappointed with Sims, too. I supported his primary bid for governor and had admired him for a while. However, I just can’t understand what motivated him to one day, nearly out of the blue, turn against ST expansion (beyond Northgate). It was shocking to hear him come out against prop. 1 last year, mostly arguing against light rail.

    However, to Sims’ credit he has been excellent at advocating for and running his bus agency. I will consider alternatives to Sims next year because I don’t like his position on light rail, but he runs the system that gets me to work every day.

    1. I don’t know– I’ve gotten grossly inadequate service on the 2, the 8 and the 3. I walk home now because I can’t stomach the thought that it takes anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes to go 3 miles.

      I am not giving him credit for providing something so essential, especially given his fondness for providing the unessential out in far east King, running empty buses and eating up service hours.

      1. Yeah, 20/40/40 was basically insane.

        I voted for Transit Now, but I didn’t really ‘support’ it – certainly not like I do light rail – as there was never an explanation of exactly what improvements would occur. The documents say “more” service, and talk about several things that are essentially gimmicks.

      2. The problem here is that people think bus service can be released immediately and thus they believe that approving bus service improvements will cause them to go into effect immediately.

        Unfortunately, like we’ll see with the ST Express next year, when you push too much new bus service out the door and purchase too many new coaches too quickly, you end up causing space and storage issues which are completely independent of how much money you have if you don’t have the time to build a place to put these extra coaches.

        Or, like Sims, you could promise something and have its costs completely eaten up by fuel prices.

      3. It’s not really a “people think” issue, it’s a “Transit Now actually claimed immediate service” issue.

        Sound Transit actually does have the capacity at bases to bring on half of their new service next year. That’s something they discussed at the board meeting yesterday – so you will see improvements. They’ve been limited lately by service hour funding much less than the availability of equipment.

        The rest will be dependent upon capacity increases at bases that are already planned. Remember, all this was planned out last year – the agency’s just had an extra year to put the dominoes in a row for making things happen after this vote.

      4. Well, given the nature of Transit Now!, it’s pretty much been codified as a set of regional talking points. And yeah, looking more into it, it did apparently imply immediate relief which it did not provide.

        It’s interesting to note that Sound Transit will move as many people as Metro with a lower associated cost. My rationale behind that is that Transit Now! seems heavily dependent upon partnerships to carry up the costs of certain routes. Further to that, it also seems that the intent of Transit Now! was not to boost ridership but increase convenience and comfort.

        That the three (ridership, convenience and comfort) have no acknowledged relation in Transit Now! is somewhat telling to me. It’s stating that the intent of Transit Now! was to increase the cost-per-rider of the service.


  2. The last minute money grab attempt by Executive Sims reminds me of Dino Rossi’s transportation “plan”, which is to divert East Link funds into 405 expansion. Pols need to stop looking towards Sound Transit as some sort of regional bank, where they think they can just withdraw funds for their own transportation desires.

    Last thought on Transit Now: as I remember it there were two main promises/objectives. The first was to increase Metro service by 20 percent over a ten year period (probably not going to happen). The second was to add 50k riders over that same period (achieved in two years, in spite of themselves).

  3. Speaking of comments of the day, has anyone been reading the “sound off” comments on the PI article today? It really doesn’t come as any surprise that tA LOT of people are already against this package. I can’t seem to figure out what these people would want as an alternative- more buses? One commenter pointed out that the way to go would be to add more freeways with more lanes and fails to understand that more driving and cars on the road breeds more congestion.

    It is so interesting that a lot of these people believe that continued investment in buses and freeways are viable solutions to this region’s congestion, even though these are the policies we have been investing in for the last four decades and we aren’t moving towrads solving these problems as a result. I guess I can’t blame these people, there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation floating around about tranis-related issues.

    To me, investing in mass transit shouldn’t be such a polarizing issue for a metropolitain area with our population. This should really be a no-brainer, but many people insist that more buses and larger freeways are the way to go.

    We need to invest in a system now if we are ever going to expect to meet the needs of an ever-growing region.

    1. don’t read those comments. it is bad for your health. all the comments come from folks that are angry and want to gripe about whatever under the sun that doesn’t involve freedom and more money in their pockets. just as most of the folks commenting here don’t represent the average person in the region, they don’t either.

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