Pretty good stuff:

Sound Transit’s proposed $22 billion light rail expansion plan could cut car and truck travel as much as 30 percent, reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly 100,000 tons a year and save consumers $41 million annually in reduced fuel costs if voters approve the plan and commuters switch to transit, according to a new study.

Check out the new-look Yes campaign website,, it looks really great.

23 Replies to “P-I: Light Rail May Cut Traffic By 30%”

    1. The old map was a guess – it wasn’t accurate at all, it was just ‘where we clicked when we drew it’.

  1. I think the old map was slightly better – presented coverage better. And the old map at least had a name for that town up on the top end of the map. I do like the illustrations on the new map, however.

    1. Thanks for mentioning Everett being not labeled! That might be fixed already, we haven’t got the newest version of the map up.

  2. I know what prop 1 provides and find the map too cluttered and difficult to understand. The map is very important to effectively communicate what taxpayers are getting for their money. A lot of websites have rotating graphics on their opening page ( for example) – how about rotating maps, one showing the light rail extension (first map that appears after loading the page), one with bus service, one with the Sounder map, one with the streetcar? Then arrow keys so you can click forward and backward through the maps.

    Putting them all on the same map is just too confusing. Also, Sounder map, light rail, street car all require a different scale of map. Plus, this would allow the graphic to be smaller and fit on my screen – right now I can’t view the whole map on my laptop screen.

    I think the rest is good, especially the graphic with trains and Mount Rainier, like those old travel posters that have come back in popularity recently.

  3. Anyone have the sense what the polling likes for the vote right now? I have this horrible suspicsion that its going to fail, given more conservative voters coming to the polls ( Rossi’s numbers for instance have gone up since the Palin announcement ).

    1. Remember that it’s not statewide. It’s urban. A lot of those Palin voters aren’t coming from Puget Sound.

      1. Well, its the majority of three counties, some of which is still rural and suburban. I am just curious though, if there is some polling yet out there

  4. Isn’t there a little voice in the back of your brain that wonders whether this is a credible headline?

    Transit carries about 4% of regional trips now. If 30% of car trips disappeared, and were on transit instead, transit would need to carry about eight times the number of trips carried today. You would be crazy to be looking at less than heavy rail with ten-car trains. There would need to be about 30-40 new rail and bus operating bases built.

    The real story has to be that trips are reduced *compared to something else* that isn’t described in the article. There’s no way the ST2 plan will reduce car trips by 30%. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad investment, just that the P-I editorial writer made a mistake.

    1. Rob, what’s interesting here is that you’re missing exactly the same thing as on the other thread. Trip length. It won’t cut 30% of the number of trips – it’ll cut 30% of the miles. Most of our trips are really tiny, a couple of miles at the median, and the trips ST is taking are the longest ones. ST’s current average trip length is some 16 miles – there are a lot of people traveling 50 or 60 miles in a single trip, especially on Sounder. Link in ST2 will be very similar.

      It won’t actually make that reduction through transit alone, either – it’ll do it because the dense development that transit brings reduces the trips taken by the people who live there just by virtue of the walkability of density. Those big new condo buildings in downtown don’t generally support car trips, they support transit, bicycle, and foot trips. Those can’t happen without upzoning, and that upzoning is dependent upon transit availability.

    2. Hey Rob: Isn’t it nice to be told “you don’t get it” by a 26-year old? Alas, hyping phantom statistics is what youth is all about. (And I’ll bet he attained a magnum cum laude. Grade inflation must have really gotten out of hand after we left school….)

  5. Ben,

    The headline is not credible due to latent demand for any lane space freed up by a shift to transit. The only ways to reduce traffic congestion are dynamic tolling or an economic recession or large gas price increases.

    The opportunities for dense development along the proposed Link LRT line are limited. the north Seattle and southeast Seattle station are well-positioned to develope. but the Shoreline and South Snohomish County station areas are in the freeway envelope and are unlikely to become dense pedestrian places as they will always be car places with traffic drawn to the interchanges. the South King County station developement will be limited by low ridership.

    The most positive aspect of pedestrian oriented development on transit lines is the larger number of walk trips.

    1. You’re right about the problem with locations shown for Link light rail stations north of Northgate — along the freeway serving park-and-ride lots and transfer stations, instead of over on 99 where they could serve as nuclei for future urban centers.

      Fortunately, those freeway locations are not yet set in stone. Let’s get some regional leadership going to press Shoreline and Lynnwood to allow Sound Transit to put these stations where they will serve a land use function, a community-building function, instead of just a commute function.

      In 2001, Sound Transit caved in to Tukwila in its short-term thinking and agreed to a rail alignment along freeways with only one station in the City of Tukwila. When local citizens now ask why the odd alignment and no stations for a five-mile stretch, the only thing that can be said is to ask city officials.

      Let’s not repeat the Tukwila mistake.

      1. Transit Guy, go look at the Tukwila alignment. There’s a good place for a station either as a transfer point at Boeing Access Road, or as a center of new development down closer to the river, before hitting 599. If there were ever a plan to build more densely there, a station could be added – just like we’re doing with Sounder.

    2. Given that we’ve got large gas price increases, a recession, and we’re later going to have tolling… I’m not sure what you think we’re missing!

      I understand latent demand fairly well, but this study did take into account higher fuel prices. The long term effects of $4 gas are significant – people are burning through savings with today’s fuel prices, and that can’t keep on forever. Especially not with house prices decreasing.

  6. Eddie, Rob, re-read the headline. It says “may”.

    Now read the report. It lists all kinds of stuff that can boost ridership and/or reduce VMT. Taxing parking. Taxing fuel. Zoning for more denisty around stations. Pricing insurance based on mileage and trip type. And yes, tolling.

    The point is, the system puts sufficient capacity, speed and reliability in place to provide a credible alternative to driving fopr most people, so that such policies could be implemented with lower risk of inciting rebellion.

    ST2 is the catalyst that makes the rest possible. Without it, there is no incentive for policy makers to take any risks with their car-loving constituents.

      1. From what I hear the problem was that the rail through that area was single-tracked, making a head-on collision way easier. It’s a good thing Sounder is mostly double-tracked.

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