Via Streetsblog, here’s a CNN news clip on transit cuts being faced in St. Louis.

Okay, that’s admittedly a bit melodramatic, but it does illustrate some of the real-world effects of cutting transit service. St. Louis’s METRO is looking at about a 15% service cut. King Country Metro was looking at some larger, somewhere around 20%. Thankfully, the property tax authority that Olympia gave the county for transit should plug about a third of the hole, but still 13% cuts in service are not going to be pretty. At least Olympia helped, Missouri’s state government refused to move at all on transit funds.

15 Replies to “Transit Cuts Coast-to-Coast”

    1. Yeah, that comment was the worst. We have the costliest light rail system because it is (going to be) a lot better than most other light rail systems…because we have tunnels.

      The critics will attack it no matter what. If it is grade-separated then “It’s light rail, it shouldn’t cost so much! Build it at grade.” If it is at grade, then “It’s not grade separated, it’s not any better than a bus!” I guess the easiest way to bash something is to exalt some alternative as being superior to whatever is actually being built. It’s like all the people who come out of the woodwork praising BRT, only when a rail line is being proposed.

    2. If anyone wasn’t anticipating that they’d turn this into a Seattle vs. the Puget Sound thing…

      Basically, “this is so expensive” dashed with a bit of “this is all for Seattle!!!”, purposely ignoring subarea equity and the buses and Sounder and Tacoma Link.

    3. I’m just now starting to understand the true scope of that article’s stupidity. How is 1996 ‘a quarter century’ ago? Unbelievable.

      1. Yes, but we voted for Eastlink in 2008. By no means has it taken a quarter century to ‘reach the suburbs’. In 1996 we voted for Sounder trains, Express busses, Tacoma Link, and Central Link, all of which were done long before a quarter century.

      2. And in 2000 Central Link was going to be open in 2006. Apply that same 6 month slide for every year scheduled (East Link is still in the preliminary design phase comparable to Central Link cira 2000) and the real opening date will be more like 2027. Irregardless, what the article said was that from 1996 (the inception of Link) it’s taken a quarter century to hopefully reach the eastside suburbs. It never said 1996 was a quarter century ago. That’s why it’s folly to stop at Bellevue or even Overlake (Bellevue East). By contrast, extending to downtown Redmond opens up far more of the eastside and (with Redmond’s proposed Leary Way station location) is a natural gateway to relatively cheap and easy politically expansion to the north.

    4. Microsoft’s position is right on the mark. This is East Link, not the Bellevue Subway. The decision on the ST preferred route is due this month. Bellevue has advanced exactly zero dollars in funds to help pay for the most expensive option there is. Further, Bellevue has done nothing over the last building boom to plan for transit routing through the city. In fact they’ve done the exact opposite. Look at some of the initial proposals from ST and the RTC. You’ll see a picture of Bellevue circa 1995 that has only a couple of highrise buildings and endless possibilities for ROW. Bellevue City Coucil has all the buzz words like TOD and workability but they have no record of ever supporting any of it. They’ll laugh all the way to the bank if this tunnel gets support and keep spending money on more overpasses.

      To put it in perspective it would be like deciding to push on at all cost with the First Hill tunnel and stop the line at Mount Baker. That’s about how much rail everyone in the eastside subarea equity region will end up with if all of the money goes to Bellevue. Stopping at Overlake is absurd. It provides only for those living in downtown Bellevue a means to get to Microsoft (an easy bike ride) or to jobs in downtown Seattle. Likewise for Microsoft it’s a single direction served that will be worse in the long run because of the crush of non Microsoft employees trying to access Overlake from all points north and east.

      Bellevue wants to build a waterfront bungalow and leave the kids (Redmond, Bothell, Woodinville, Sammamish, East King County) out in the cold. What’s needed is a good solid four bedroom house. The gingerbread can come later.

      1. But Microsoft’s argument is a red herring. ST doesn’t have the budget to build a tunnel in Bellevue. ST has made it clear that if Bellevue wants a tunnel they have to come up with the money themselves. Not building a tunnel in Bellevue will not make money magically appear to fund an extension to Redmond. If you look at the ST2 plan you will see that the planned terminus is Overlake and if extra money can be found the line could be extended to Redmond. Maybe Microsoft and Redmond should start looking for ways to fund the extension instead of playing dirty politics with Bellevue.

      2. A tunnel is too expensive but grade separation is a must. That means elevated. Putting it on the surface in Bellevue will just repeat the Rainier Valley mistake, and will look foolish when the like is extended to Redmond. (Do you want to spend an hour going from Redmond to Sea-Tac or Redmond to Northgate? It’ll take longer than that if the Bellevue segment has traffic crossings.)

      3. What ST “can afford” isn’t really clear but with the current revenue forcast it’s a pretty fair guess that tunneling under Bellevue would break the bank. I guess we’ll all know more in a couple of weeks when the ST board delivers it’s preferred route. Bellevue City Council has never gone on record with any offer of funding. They presented their preferred tunnel alternative with hand out begging and no alternative alignment. Mayor Nickels mention of behind the scenes talks with Bellevue regarding funding was interesting. I’d love to know who they think they’re going to soak for the extra cash. I’m sure Kemper Freeman Jr. will be first in line with his checkbook out :-P A sales tax is out so I guess that leaves hiding it in the myriad of special fees on the property tax statement. I’d love to see a deal struck along the lines of the First Hill streetcar where Bellevue gets funding priority for connection to a real transit center east of I-405. Elevated could work through downtown. That’s probably the most likely outcome but we start a whole round of wrangling over the alignment.

        Part of the early published reports from ST was the necessity of establishing the eastside maintenance facility. Bellevue (no surprise) proposed the highest cost alternative because it helps develop the Bel-Red corridor and generate a big pile of cash for the city. The other alternates for a MF along segment D were nixed by Bellevue. That’s another reason the line needs to go to Marymoor which is the only location left on the table (as well as being the best).

  1. St. Louis is getting a little hope, actually – the Missouri House just passed a measure that includes $12m for Metro operations (far short of the $35m Metro requested) from Missouri’s stimulus money. It goes to the Senate now, and I believe next Friday is the absolute deadline for this legislative session. So the service cuts went into effect March 30, and here now that it is May the Missouri state government is considering doing something to restore – temporarily – some of the service that was cut.

    I say temporarily because there has been no discussion at the state level of providing a permanent funding boost to Metro. Currently it is funded via St. Louis County and City of St. Louis sales taxes. As you know, with falling economies, sales fall and revenue from sales tax falls too, while more and more people turn to transit for low-cost transportation. This problem is exacerbating the problem Metro already had with funding.

    We read your blog with envy about new light rail opening. The way things stand in Missouri right now, it will be at least a decade before that could ever happen again here.

  2. You guys are crazy sometimes… The article is fact-based and on target up until that single line. In fact, the first four paragraphs track with what Nickels said last night.

    And that line, while certainly opinionated, isn’t exactly incorrect. It also sounds to me less like a reporter line, and more like an unattributed quote.

    Why not e-mail Mike and ask him where the line came from, instead of criticizing what is an otherwise good piece on the issue?

    How about thanking Mike for providing coverage on a transit issue that needs more attention from the public?

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