This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Martin says that governance reform is a bad idea. And it is! I really thought that this issue was settled and done with, but apparently not, as Susan Hutchison is still making noises about it in her run for County Executive.
That said, there is probably a case to be made for some kind of governance reform, just not the kind advocated in the Rice-Stanton report. Rice-Stanton recommends:
- Giving Sound Transit authority over regional road mega-projects (which ought to be funded by the state and/or tolls), and
- Creating a 15-member oversight board (which would be stacked with anti-transit folks from Olympia and special-interest electeds, as Martin notes)
A better reform would involve:
- Keeping road authority where it is
- Incorporating most (if not all) of the county bus systems (Metro, Pierce, Community, etc.)*
- Making the board appointed by mayors and/or County Execs in the region
Such a system would be not unlike New York’s MTA or Philly’s SEPTA, which have regional rail responsibility but also handle transit within the city. You’d have to balance the need to serve rural communities with keeping the RTA boundary intact, but it could be made to work.
Of course, such a system would be way too powerful, too pro-transit and too pro-urban to actually get approved in Olympia. Plus, as Martin notes, Sound Transit has work to do… why mess with it? And finally, making the case for reform just adds to the pro-reform noises. I don’t want to be a useful idiot for the other side.
So, onward and upward, Sound Transit!
* Contra Hutchison, Rice-Stanton doesn’t actually recommend integrating transit agencies. It simply suggests further studying the issue.