As expected, our endorsement of Greg Nickels generated a lot of good discussion. Reasonable transit advocates can disagree on the best pick for Mayor, and they certainly have.

The only thing I’d like to add is to correct a false impression. Some people believe that the credit everyone gives to Nickels for getting light rail built is basically a function of him endorsing a few measures and being in the vicinity when the key decisions were made.   In fact, it’s much more significant than that.

Back in July 2008, we covered extensively the battle to get ST2 back to the ballot.  It basically came down to a number of fence sitters waiting for all the other fence-sitters to commit.  The key swing vote was Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, who was holding out for rail to cross the county line, which required North King funds that Seattle would probably prefer to spend elsewhere.  Crosscut did some excellent reporting at the time about the key deal between Nickels and Reardon that got it done.  The tone of the piece is also a useful reminder of an atmosphere where further ST expansion seemed much less inevitable than it does today.

The other crucial Nickels contribution that year was in the conduct of the campaign itself.  In contrast to the big-money Roads and Transit campaign of 2007, donors were stingy in 2008.  Several STBers participated heavily in the 2008 yes campaign, and those that were there know that several Nickels staffers were given leave to run the campaign and do most of the work for it.

And of course, as late as November 1, 2008, the polling was pretty ambiguous as to whether or not Prop 1 was going to pass.  Prop 1 was far from a slam dunk, and Team Nickels is what got it on the ballot and put it over the top.

63 Replies to “Nickels and Sound Transit 2”

  1. Hmm. I’ve probably given Nickels a shorter stick than he deserved here. There’s still something about him fighting so hard for a regional transit system while hanging a city transit system out to dry that doesn’t sit quite right with me (Link and SMP, respectively). Yeah, I’m aware that that’s probably mostly an emotional argument. But it sticks with me.

    1. That’s very inaccurate on the SMP. Nickels was a huge Monorail supporter at first. It was only the ship was clearly sinking and everyone else jumped off (if you remember, the last vote failed) when Nickels jumped, too.

      1. Everyone hung the Monorail out to dry. The Stranger hated its financing plan, the city council unanimously withdrew support, and voters voted 65-35 against keeping the plan alive.

      2. Yep, you can’t blame the monorail failure on Nickels — that clearly was the result of mismanagement on the part of the SMP and some pretty unrealistic overselling by the proponents. Nickels was a monorail supporter – he only changed his position when it was clear that the project had become a disaster and he really had to draw a line.

        And, if you remember correctly, he didn’t kill it (he didn’t have that power anyhow), he just told the SMP that they either 1) had to kill it themselves, or 2) had to put a reasonable plan back in front of the voters. The SMP eventually selected option 2 and the voters killed the project by a 2 to 1 margin.

        And I do give Nickels a lot of credit for ST2. He was out there pushing for the 2008 revote, and he also worked hard to develop a compromise plan that the 3 counties could agree on.

        I don’t think ST2 would have happened without Nickels.

      3. Nickels didn’t kill the monorail, he just told the SMP that they had to get real about their financing and what it could actually build.

    2. The monorail never would have happened in the first place if Nickels’ own people hadn’t run a very effective and professional campaign. If you recall correctly, that measure passed by only 800 votes.

      By the time Nickels pulled the plug on his support for the flailing, and poorly run project (several months after the SPMA leadership jumped ship) ALL other supporters on the city council had bailed out, too. Even Nick Licata, the biggest Monorail cheerleader on the council.

      Emotional arguments are fine. Just don’t let your emotions confuse the facts of the matter.

      1. Look, I’m not gonna retrench all this. You guys have argued this ad infinitum. I just firmly believe that if Nickels had given the SMP the kind of support that he gave LINK when it ran into troubled waters, the project would’ve survived. *shrug* Just the way I feel.

      2. If things were different then they would have been different, but you can’t ignore that the SMP made it pretty hard for the mayor or the city council to give it support. And if the monorail project were less dysfunctional, it could have stood on its own two feet or at least gotten some political support.

        Regarding the future: I think the quickest way to get rail along that corridor is to support the agency that builds rail in region.

      3. I don’t disagree with anything you say. There’s just this thing nagging at me that says “If a city-run project fails because of poor management . . . how is that not some sort of reflection on the city management?” I can’t remember if I’d always felt this way, but recently I’ve felt like having the SMP as a separate, independent body that doesn’t report to the Mayor’s office and was not the responsibility of said office was probably a poor idea. (I feel that same way about the school system.) At the very least, people would know who to blame. As it stands now, years later, looks like we *still* don’t know how to allocate the responsibility.

        Anyway, thanks for pickin’ at scabs with me, guys. I’ll shut up about it now.

      4. Ah, but the monorail was not a “city” project and was not under “city management.” The SMP was a complete independent government completely separate and outside of city control.

        That’s why the only hammer the Mayor could eventually use was withholding city permits — and even that one isn’t a 100% sure deal, although it sure does make things difficult and messy.

        Na, you can’t blame Nickels for any part of the SMP meltdown — you have to blame the SMP and the people that sold the city an unrealistic and poorly vetted plan.

      5. wait, Nickels has his man over on the board. He knew what was going on. ST needed the tax base that the monorail had, so it had to go. Plus Joel Horn, aka snake oil salesman horn, didn’t help.

        But it was a failure of leadership to recognize that both systems could exist and are needed. And who leads the city? The Mayor..

      6. ST needed the tax base that the monorail had, so it had to go

        Interesting theory, but if it’s a conspiracy it’s a very patient one. ST isn’t drawing any more MVET than they did from Sound Move in 1996, and doesn’t have any public plans to do so.

      7. Gary, one of the huge failings of the SMP was being too wedded to a particular mode. If SMP had been willing to implement Link-compatible light rail, rapid streetcar, or even BRT it might still be around today.

        Yes, better transit is needed both to Uptown/Ballard and West Seattle. Preferably transit that is either grade separated or at least doesn’t share ROW with cars (say like at-grade Link on MLK). But SMP wasn’t about better transit, it was about building a monorail.

        As for your conspiracy theory, I think that is a bit of a stretch especially since the Legislature didn’t extend the same tax authority to Sound Transit or Metro.

      8. I figure the monorail dream was killed from the inside. ETC was conducting route studies, and their ultimate picks through town, Seattle Center and Interbay weren’t the best options.

        The Waterfront was the best route option post Nisqually, but by then ETC had promised the voters a timely project that couldn’t wait for decisions about the AWV. (Delay tactic stratejury) The East Queen Anne route along Westlake to SPU and then a shallow, short tunnel under the canal, with surface stations on each side, was a far more productive and less expensive route. It was a shame the way Seattle Center would’ve been bulldozed.

        It’s still possible to build a decent monorail expansion. But everytime I bring up the extensively planned “Circulator Monorail” proposal, whole gangs of know-it-all clowns shout me down, “Yeah yeah, whatever, sure. Don’t listen to this guy. He’s insane. It’s over, go home.”

        The Circulator Monorail was estimated to cost $500 million and yet it’s ridership was more than the Greenline. Same technology. Expansion would’ve eventually built north through Ballard to Northgate and south through West Seattle to Seatac Airfield. These expansions too are still possible. Oh well. I tried my best. Spent thousands of dollars and countless hours over years on the proposal. Seattlers are so smart, they don’t have to listen to anyone but other people they know for sure are as smart as them, for sure, man.

      9. The waterfront isn’t the right routing through downtown, it is far from most of the jobs and separated by a rather steep hill from the rest of downtown. Not serving Uptown while passing by the Seattle Center would have been rather dumb. Perhaps additional ridership from SPU and Fremont would have made up for the lost ridership from Uptown but the extra length of the line and additional stations would have added cost. A tunnel under the ship canal would have been far more expensive than the bridge the SMP was proposing.

      10. TFTR, chris. The Waterfront was a popular choice. It had the best views of course, the important station at Coleman Dock of course, and it could have combined construction with rebuilding the AWV. 2nd Ave is in an area already well-served with transit.

        Transit systems must integrate. There’s no avoiding it. The Waterfront route cold serve downtown and the South Lake Union route could serve Seattle Center with necessary, convenient and desirable transfer systems.

        A tunnel under the canal was less expensive. It had to go down only about 60′ whereas the bridge had to be 110′ high and much longer. Right of Way aquisition was less expensive because it required less property condemnation.

        Transit systems must integrate. There’s no avoiding it. The Waterfront route cold serve downtown and the South Lake Union route could serve Seattle Center with convenient and desirable transfer systems.

        The monorail design I submitted to Sound Transit, ETC and SMP during 2001-2003 was a set of single-track circulators. They served the Waterfront, Pike Place Market,, Belltown, Denny Triangle,, Sports Arenas, International District,, First and Capitol Hills,, 4th Ave at the Library and Westlake Mall,, Convention Place Station. Both circulators converged at Seattle Center. Double-track regional monorail lines entered this pair of sigle-track circulator lines and travelled through. I started with one circulator line estimated to cost $500 million. The 2nd circulator monorail line was equal in length but had 3 less stations. It too was estimated around $500 million. Together, these 2 monorail circulator lines had about double the ridership of the Greenline, for half the cost.

      11. The waterfront would be a goofy place to put a regional or even citywide fixed gideway transit system. Just because a corridor already has a lot of buses doesn’t necessarily make it “well served” if those buses are sitting in traffic. Furthermore areas well served by transit are well served because that is where the transit riders are. The Snoqualmie Valley isn’t well served by transit, that doesn’t mean we should be building a high capacity line between Monroe and North Bend any time soon.

        Mind you I still advocate for a waterfront streetcar because I believe it would be a nice amenity and connect the waterfront, to the rest of downtown and other transit. But just because there is a freeway and busy arterial there doesn’t make it a good place for transit lines serving other parts of the city or region.

        You may be right a tunnel under the ship canal might have been less expensive than a bridge but that is hard to know without a decent analysis of both alternatives.

        I suspect if Link ever goes to either Ballard or West Seattle the alignment will be very similar to the Green Line.

  2. but he was intentionally favoring light rail and screwing the monorail, which would have been actual urban transit instead of a suburb shuttle.

    1. Review monorail history. No way Nickels could’ve saved it. Project board and management wanted to keep the monorail as far away from City government as possible, and they succeeded. By influencing the State Legislature, they set up a board structure that gave the monorail board itself authority to appoint or approve all members, except for two who were elected by Seattle voters.

      Net result was an insular group in charge, who felt no need to cultivate political support among other city electeds, or from Seattle communities for that matter. When their grossly bad management (a whole book in itself; somebody should write it) drove the project into the wall, there was nobody around who cared to pick up the pieces.

    2. The SMP screwed itself. Why do all the latent monorail supporters have such a hard time understanding that? Please look into the history of it before assigning blame to Nickels. Try Googling “Joel Horn” or “seattle monorail capacity” The monorail you dream about is not the monorail that would have been built, and there is nothing the mayor could have done to change that.

      1. I don’t disagree with what’s written above… but it’s important to point out that blame can be spread around to quote a number of people.

        It is entirely fair to say that the Mayor holds responsibility. He could have saved the SMP just like he fought to save Link. I also hold him responsible for the $11B financing plan being put together in the first place. Or letting people in the media talk about that financing plan at all. He would never let us discuss the cost of the Bored Tunnel proposal with the financing plan wrapped into it, which certainly brings the cost up to hundreds of millions more.

        And, as one of the latent monorail supporters who everyone seems to think is still “bitter” about the loss, I’m just more concerned with correcting the record wherever possible since I spent 5 years of my life working on the cause, inside and outside.

        Mourning the political loss is bad enough, and I’d be quite happy if it didn’t come up in conversations all the time; but I certainly don’t need to let folks distort the history of what went on either.

      2. again more garbage. I wish the writers on this board would learn the facts about the monorail project before they trash it. There are many lessons that are worth learning about that project.

      3. Sorry, but just asserting something doesn’t make it true.

        The Mayor was completely on the outside of the monorail project during the period when the SMP management was running the project into the ground. He didn’t have “his man” over on the board, the SMP was a completely independent government outside of city control – and the SMP did everything in its power to be totally separate and not seek nor accept any advice from outside sources. It was a little bit of arrogance that led to complete failure.

        The real tragedy of the monorail debacle is that that taxing authority was pretty much Seattle’s one chance to build mass transit on our own. I wouldn’t expect the state to give us that opportunity ever again.

      4. The real tragedy of the monorail debacle is that that taxing authority was pretty much Seattle’s one chance to build mass transit on our own. I wouldn’t expect the state to give us that opportunity ever again.

        Just imagine what the SMP taxes could be paying for in the way of streetcars, Link expansion to Ballard or West Seattle, ETB expansion, BRT, or even just regular bus service expansion.

        Hopefully the legislature can be convinced to allow a local option MVET for transit.

      5. *SIGH*

        I wish people would keep their mouths shut if they don’t know what they are talking about…

        The reason the $11B financing plan existed is because some folks — like the Mayor — demanded to see a “worst case scenario” plan; as in, if all the cost overruns occur, and no other support is given, and there’s no sales tax forgiveness, ad infinitum.

        Or I could cite as an example the reason for there being only one bidder instead of the three we originally expected. It wasn’t because of some “flaw” in the project, or some poor planning. The project was vetted by world experts on such things. We only had one bidder because local politicians — like the Mayor — required any bidders to also put up a $200 million bond to remove all columns and station parts in the event the project could not be fully financed. Bombardier refused to submit a bid unless that requirement was removed because it tied up too much money and put them at too much risk over issues beyond their control.

        I ask again, could you imagine if shit like that applied to the Tunnel proposal? Or to Link? Who do you think would have built light rail if they had to put up a bond to remove all the tracks from the streets if it ran out of money? And do you think Link would be here after ST’s financial problems if they had not been allowed to basically just continue collecting taxes and delay construction?

        It’s really not a crazy conspiracy theory when folks say that local electeds drove a stake through the heart of the monorail. We have never treated any other public project in that fashion, and we’d all better hope no one ever treats any future streetcar or light rail expansions in the same way!

      6. It’s really not a crazy conspiracy theory when folks say that local electeds drove a stake through the heart of the monorail. We have never treated any other public project in that fashion, and we’d all better hope no one ever treats any future streetcar or light rail expansions in the same way!

        I’ll grant you there were a number of local electeds and movers and shakers who were trying to kill the monorail from before the first initiative qualified for the ballot until the plug was finally pulled.

        The fact that many who were promoters of the monorail or who served on the board had set up a false Monorail vs. light rail fight didn’t help the monorail win many friends in high places.

        Still I’d hold Ron Sims, various members of the city council, or some influential property owners more responsible for killing the monorail than Nickels. Sure he didn’t give it the level of support he gave Sound Transit when it went through crisis, but since the SMP wasn’t really his baby (in the sense ST and Link are), why should he?

        The ETC/SMP and it’s board had some big self-inflicted problems as well. One of them being they drove off political support that would have been helpful later when the project hit the rocks.

        That said, the best thing to do at this point regarding the monorail is to learn the lessons it can teach and move on.

      7. I wish people would keep their mouths shut if they don’t know what they are talking about…

        Besides the fact that you seem to misunderstand the nature of internet comment threads, incorrect comments are a wonderful opportunity to correct the record.

        Better that incorrect perceptions be brought into the open and corrected than allowed to fester in darkness. I’m ignorant enough of the monorail that I’ll probably never post on it, and I learned a lot from your reply.

      8. Actually, the $11B plan wasn’t a worst case figure, there was a $14B figure out there too, but it didn’t receive as much press.

        Things had to work reasonably well for the $11B figure to hold true — that was the problem. And even then, that $11B only bought a stripped down system on the technical design side (people tend to remember the junk bond financing plan, but the SMP cut just as many corners on design too).

  3. That “suburban shuttle” argument is extremely weak, too.

    As if all transportation needs end at the city boundary. Seattle makes up 1/6th the region’s population. It is dependent on the awful ‘burbs the same way they are dependent on us.

    If the hardcore monorail supporters weren’t so dead-set obsessed with ONE boutique transit technology, and had actually considered light rail in the late ’90s, we very well may be riding rails to Ballard and West Seattle today. Not only did the hardcore monorail activists avoid any kind of mode analysis: they did everything they could to also kill Link light rail in favor of their own inflexible, low capacity technology.

    Yeah – there was a lot of nostalgia, spirit and emotion behind the monorail movement. Unfortunately, grassroots feel-good drum circles, artists, self-appointed activists and fire dances don’t build transportation infrastructure.

    1. This is a great example, above. We liked light rail just fine. The monorail was not some secret plan to kill off LINK. Certainly not amongst the people actually planning it.

      There was no obsession with ONE technology. And there was plenty of mode analysis, route study, ridership study, etc. In fact, it was all online for 2 1/2 years because I posted much of it.

      And silly me for thinking that grassroots politics and citizen-supported initiatives should be something to support. Much better to let politicians make secret deals and spring projects onto taxpayers that benefit the rich and powerful instead!

      1. Well, the citizen-initiative transit system got canceled and the politician-backed transit system got built. We can either grumble that things should be different, or we should adjust our tactics and learn from experience. This blog is an example of a grassroots machinery trying to influence land use and transportation discussions but I think all of us bloggers feel that the reality is that we need buy-in from leaders and not just from a majority of voters at a particular moment to get substantial things built.

        Edit: Which isn’t to say the SMP should have known better or something. Just saying…

      2. exactly one of the lessons to be learned. You need a politician leading and the grass roots votes. That’s an Obama lesson right there.

  4. “Unfortunately, grassroots feel-good drum circles, artists, self-appointed activists and fire dances don’t build transportation infrastructure.” Hah! One of the best comments I’ve read on STB, HAC, and Publicola recently. Thanks for the chuckle.

  5. I weigh Seattle’s light rail expansion between two factors: urban vs suburban. The tunnel north, even as far as Northgate is urban. The extension south to Federal Way, the line east through Bellevue, and the underdog spur to Southcenter possibly as far as Renton and the Lake Washington RR line are suburban.

    Seattle’s worst traffic is generated in the suburbs, not in the inner-city which the tunnel north will mostly serve and on the whole is already well-served with transit.

    In order to reduce this traffic, development must occur in suburban areas, not inner-city. Therefore, for a fraction of the cost of the tunnel, the other extensions much more potential to direct regional growth, serve more people, and do more to reduce traffic congestion. Thus, I do not give light rail supporters intent on the tunnel north being the first expansion much credit for doing the right thing. In other words, Nickels was serving powerful political interests, rather than the most Seattlers.

    Too bad so few Seattlers understand regional planning. “Save the world! Don’t use plastic bags! Also light rail is good, like, ya know? It’s like totally awesome!”

    1. Perhaps I don’t understand regional planning, but I do understand ridership estimates, and the tunnel from Westlake to Northgate is the one of the highest-ridership proposed segments in the nation.

      And I’m not sure how you serve Lynnwood without going through Seattle.

      1. Sorry, Martin. Tunnel north ridership is a rigged estimate. It’s taken from existing bus riders, NOT new riders. Mostly, it’s bus riders taking Link instead, which isn’t a bad thing, but it affects the cost/benefit analysis. I’d put the tunnel off and concentrate on the other extensions. Of course, if you’ve set your mind on riding Link, it works for you. But overall, the more productive investment are the other extensions. A temporary BRT system north from Convention Place Station would suffice in the meantime. Greg Nickels operates a political machine that convinces people to go along with his agenda. I feel sorry for Seattle and Seattlers.

      2. It’s a done deal. We’re building lines in the city and the suburbs, and are able to serve both new and existing transit users, so what is your point?

        And it’s Seattleites, not Seattlers and we don’t care if you feel sorry for us.

      3. Uh Zed, the first light rail expansion is to Husky Stadium. That will take 8 years. Another 3-4 years is necessary to get it to Northgate where it must extend to begin serving a sufficient number of riders to justify capital expense and operation. Until then, it’s serving an exclusive demographic of students, faculty and occassional sports fanatics.

        I find the expression “done deal” offensive. You don’t want a done deal when you’ve still got options. Done deals aren’t always good deals.

      4. University Link is under construction, how much more “done” does it need to be? And no, it’s not an expansion, it’s part of the original alignment approved by the voters in 1996 and financed by Sound Move. What do you have against serving transit riders in the city and in the suburbs? It is possible to serve both with the same line you know. Do the 70,000 people who will use the Capitol Hill and University stations not count because they aren’t all “new” transit riders?

      5. Huh? FTA New Starts criteria heavily favors new riders and U-Link got one of the highest ratings ever for a New Starts project. Hardly a “waste”.

        I suspect you’ve never tried to ride a bus to/from the U-district, Northgate, Shorline, or Snohomish County during rush hour or you wouldn’t question why U-Link and North Link are essential. Even the suburban corridor up I-5 to Everett has the highest estimated ridership of any suburban extension of Link. Far more than any Southern segments past the airport. Besides extending from Northgate should be relatively cheap until Link gets to Everett as the planned route is in the I-5 ROW with a mix of at-grade, elevated, and open cut.

        Add to that the huge travel time savings from Broadway by not having to pass through the mess that is West Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine, and the Downtown retail district and you have a winner.

        There are some good TOD opportunities in the Capitol Hill station area (especially the station site itself), the Brooklyn station (note all of the parking lots and auto dealerships to the NW), Roosevelt (Sisley properties and QFC site), and Northgate (the entire Urban Center, but especially the parking lots near the station).

      6. The tunnel north also has the best economics. The capital cost is high, but so is ridership. The resultant cost/passenger mile is very good.

        There is a reason that the Feds gave this project their top rating.

    2. Art, you probably have a point that building light rail and encouraging TOD in suburban areas as soon as possible could better direct regional growth, but the investment doesn’t look safe if it doesn’t serve existing job centers like U-Link and North Link do. That safety in ridership numbers got us federal support and will allow Metro to repurpose bus hours to cast a much wider feeder net than all those pseudo-BRT 71/72/73/74 service hours.

      1. Also… I’m curious if you know of anywhere that first built rail in the suburbs (or even as part of greenfield development) in the past 50 years or so? It would be interesting to read about.

      2. Portland’s first line ran to the suburbs of Parkrose and Gresham. It’s second line ran west to Beaverton, Aloha and Hillsboro. The airport spur line was added next after 11 years.

        My premise is still basic. Suburban areas need development to reduce the very need for cross-county commuting and general travel more than inner-city districts like Capitol Hill and UW.

        My next premise is more complicated. Transit lines must integrate. Shifting bus riders to rail is not the same as ‘new’ transit riders. Yet, this is how the ridership figures for Link to UW are estimated. The most central location for a light rail north are the Express Lanes of I-5, which was their original intent. Transfers to better serve UW, Wallingford, Fremont, Ballard would work better from I-5.

      3. “The most central location for a light rail north are the Express Lanes of I-5, which was their original intent.”

        The State DOT will fight to keep them for auto traffic just like the current issues with East Link taking the I-90 Express Lanes. You’ll have to start the EIS process from scratch as the alignment would have completely changed. That alone will add years to the timeline before any construction can begin. The Record of Decision for North has already been issued. We can’t afford any more delay.

        “Transfers to better serve UW, Wallingford, Fremont, Ballard would work better from I-5.”

        As a UW student I strongly disagree. Basically you want the station to be placed in the freeway median far from where the people, jobs, and activities actually are. That’s a poor location for a transit station in a dense area. A station on I-5 is not within walking distance of the UW campus, UW Medical Center, Husky Stadium, and the Ave shopping district. That’s where all the ridership is and where all the current buses run. Transfers to the 44 for Wallingford and Ballard can be done a few blocks east of I-5 on NE 45th at the Brooklyn Station in the heart of the Ave.

      4. The express lanes were never intended for conversion to rail, and putting the line north there would be loser. In exchange for reduced freeway capacity you would get a rail line were the bulk of your potential ridership would be forced to transfer — not to mention reduced TOD potential. You’d end up with much reduced ridership.

        The current route for U-Link is far superior — and it’s a done deal as construction is already underway.

      5. Not to mention the pseudo-BRT 41. Which like the 71/72/73/74 is often standing room only especially during peak hours, operates on BRT or rail like service frequencies, and has service reliability severely impacted by freeway and surface street congestion.

        In fact I think a case can be made for splitting the 41 into a Northgate/Downtown shuttle and a Northgate/Lake City shuttle today. They could be re-combined into a single route evenings and weekends just like is done with the 43/44.

        As for growth and TOD the big win is channeling as much of the regional growth as possible into areas of existing density. In other words focusing it into Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Everett. While promoting density near transit in the suburbs is a good thing in general it isn’t as big a win environmentally, energy wise, or for transit as growth in and near the urban cores.

      6. Chris, here’s a point you must consider about channelling growth. You’re wrong. Density withoug (economic) diversity backfires. Seattle has too much density compared to the suburbs.

        Think of it this way: Light rail should generate ridership in both directions. If Seattle increases density, ridership will be heavy in the direction toward Seattle in the morning commute hours, but little ridership the other direction except in the afternoon commute. When regional growth directs density to both ends of a light rail line, this balances ridership, not too much in the commute hours, not too little during other hours and in reverse-commute direction. It also reduces the very need for long-distance commuting.

        Just building density where it already exists (inner-city Seattle) will only increase the demand to travel downtown and all through the metropolitan area. Think about it.

      7. Mmmmkay, don’t forget there are a fair number of jobs in the U-District, Northgate and Capitol Hill. In fact those areas along with Downtown (counting SLU and SODO as extensions of Downtown) and First Hill are some of the few where large amounts of new office space can be constructed in the city. Lets not forget the major hospital near one of the stations, nor the retail at Northgate, in the U-District, on Capitol Hill, or in Roosevelt.

        Also you’re forgetting the large number of “suburban” riders Northgate will serve and that going North from there along I-5 has far better ridership than most of the other suburban lines.

        True transit lines that connect activity centers together tend to have the best ridership, but you are distorting that into something that just doesn’t make any sense.

    3. “Thus, I do not give light rail supporters intent on the tunnel north being the first expansion much credit for doing the right thing. In other words, Nickels was serving powerful political interests, rather than the most Seattlers.”

      Wrong. U-Link is not the first extension, it was part of the initial light rail line approved by the voters in 1996, 5 years before Nickels was mayor.

  6. seems like a Nickels analysis should have both greater depth and history than just ST2. Nickels has been on the Board longer than any one else. He was finance chair when a County Councilmember. in addition, as Mayor, he has made several significant and helpful decisions for transit.

    so, Nickels should share credit for the improved management since 2001 and the troubled management before 2001.

    Nickels should share credit for the assembly of the successful 1996 and 2008 ballot measures and the failed ballot measure in 2007.

    Nickels was largely responsible for ST Route 570. What was it? A rump remains in the tail of Route 560. He should share credit for the whole history of decisions: south-first in 2001; the Tukwila alignment in the freeway envelopes; the First Hill station (whoops); north Sounder; East Link (some like it; some do not).

    while Mayor, he put together the Bridging the Gap measure, got transit priority on 3rd Avenue, and leveraged city funds in the Transit Now partnership program. buses flow faster on Aurora Avenue North and in Interbay due to his decisions. He led to the Seattle Streetcar SLU Line (some love it; some find it very disappointing and wasteful).

    how about the many year trial of the Elliott Bay water taxi?

    1. eddiew,

      I believe, you’re largely correct, but we addressed his larger transit record in the endorsement. The point of the post is what’s in the title, nothing more.

      Nickels’ guest post series a couple of months ago also covered a lot of his pre-ST2 record. I didn’t feel a need to re-hash that.

  7. History is written by the winners. That doesn’t mean it’s correct. The reason Nickels must take substantial blame for the failure of SMP is the timing of his last decision: he forced the vote early, making it essentially impossible for SMP to address problems. Instead, he forced an early vote, and we lost an opportunity to use the already-purchased route. Yes, I’ll hold that against him, even as I’m grateful for his ST support.

  8. I don’t know if I’ll be frequenting this site much more. I try to present my perspective reasonably but don’t run into many who see things as I do. This I take as an assett because my perspective seems to at least have the potential to broaden the discussion. There are all sorts of positions to take within our divisive political spectrum and even within likemind organizations who advocate for transit.

    The Greenline Monorail was not the best route, not even close in terms of ridership, nevermind its high cost. Seattle politics are completely divisive. This doesn’t seem to me to be a situation that occurs as much spontaneously as intentionally. I figure Seattle City Hall needs a clean sweep.

    1. People might be more inclined to listen to you if you didn’t start the conversation by insulting everyone in the city.

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