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I asked the McGinn campaign whether his support for transit service till 3 am would be funded by the City, or merely a case of him advocating with Metro and Sound Transit.  Here’s what he said:

Both Metro/Sound Transit and city funds are needed to improve late night transit service.  Clearly the city cannot afford to go it alone, nor are excess Metro or Sound Transit resources available in this economic climate.  I would seek to leverage these limited dollars by first offering them as matching funds for affected businesses that contribute toward late night service.  I would also work with Metro on scheduling existing service.

As the the economy improves, it will be easier to fund additional service.  My main point is that we cannot have arbitrary service schedule cutoffs when we know there is demand.  Even if we can only start with limited weekend frequencies immediately after clubs and bars close, we will be making our streets safer and our communities more livable.

He also mentioned giving the best casino bonuses. As a followup, I asked if the business contribution would be negotiated with neighborhood business associations or directly with businesses, where there would presumably be a free rider problem:

We need to engage both.  There appears to be a pretty strong awareness of the problem, so it might not be as big of a problem as you might think getting businesses to do their part, but we can’t expect them to shoulder the whole load, either.

A great start for internet blackjack. The Mallahan campaign did not take an invitation to state their position on this issue.

10 Replies to “Followup on Nightlife and Transit”

  1. They did something like this in LA with the Red Line to Hollywood. You guys should look into how that was arranged with respect to getting the money from businesses.

  2. I wish the phrase “I will work with….” would be banned from politics forever. Any statement that begins that way should probably be ignored.

      1. Ok, touche! I apologize for the full-on post length tirade, but here I go!

        I admittedly commented too fast and too broadly. What I was trying to say was that this happens A LOT – a politician says that they “will work with” [place party here] to get [place item here] done. This is a quick and easy way to give an un-trackable promise to voters and to borrow the credibility of others. This is particularly true of transit. This is also particularly true of Seattle.

        A 14 year old running for class president could promise their classmates that they promise to work with Metro to co-ordinate schedules of route serving their school. That promise does not put that 14 year old on Metro’s planning staff nor does it give that 14 year old a seat on the Regional Transit Committee. I would even go so far as to make the case that the 14 year old would get even more leeway with a committee of elected officials that want to look good to their constituencies than another politician (full disclosure: I was once a 14 year old class president that got Metro – the OLD Metro – to change it’s schedule).

        To be even more specific (and I would welcome any correction if I am wrong), it is not as simple as Seattle handing Metro a wad of cash with instructions on how to use it. The last time I checked, Metro will implement a “transit now” improvement only as a matching grant that is considered competitively. Again, I could be hugely wrong, but so far as I know Metro does not have any other avenue for a city to purchase service.

        In any case, I would just like to make the case that anyone can promise anything and that this is much easier to do on behalf of agencies you have no control over. McGinn could quite possibly be the best candidate, but I guarantee you that my vote will not be made over vague promises that are contingent on swaying agencies that the candidate has no sway with. Ditto on nixing the Alaskan way tunnel for that matter.

        A more constructive platform (that I once futilely suggested to all the candidates) was doing the hard work that it would require to wrench ourselves (in Seattle) away from all of this altogether and create a new transit agency for the city. The goals, dreams, aspirations, and even metrics of city v. suburb are becoming so strongly polarized that love it or hate it, city and county will almost certainly divorce at some point. Sammamish is dead-set on running empty shuttles at midnight at the expense of a few additional runs on Seattle’s routes that pass people by. That’s regionalism at work for you. In the age of ORCA, having smaller agencies within the region might be an attainable and worthwhile goal.

        To bring it all back to where it all started = I do like McGinn, but he is entirely average in that he promises to control agencies he cannot. In my opinion, a braver, more informed option would be to come out fighting for transit in Seattle. Rather, we get promises “to work with” agencies that are not doing such a great job to begin with.

      2. The situation with the Mayor of Seattle and Metro is a bit different than that of a high school student body president. For one thing the Mayor has a seat at the table with the PSRC and almost certainly will be appointed to the ST board which means he has a say in regional planning and transportation. Furthermore with the bridging the gap levy the City is already paying for a bunch of extra Metro service hours for Seattle. Also consider the City can do things like create transit lanes, install bus bulbs, or implement transit signal priority to improve Metro service.

        At least according to the way Metro charges service hours to sub-areas the West sub-area (Seattle and Shoreline) actually receive a slight subsidy from the suburbs. Now if you charge all of the service hours for every route that leaves the West sub-area to the East or South sub-areas the taxes collected vs service hours provided might end up being a wash. So if Seattle was to “pull out” of Metro once the duplicated overhead was factored in Seattle would actually have less money to spend on service hours.

        Other than scrapping 20/40/40 the two best ideas I’ve heard for solving the political problems with Metro are either to put them back into their own independent transit agency or to figure out some way of merging them with Sound Transit. As for the latter I don’t think Sound Transit wants the headache as they are more focused on building Link and Sounder than dealing with bus service.

  3. Personially, I’d like to see transit head into Seattle at an earlier time. I cannot get off my graveyard shift to days because day shift starta at 5:30. No buses or link goes to Seattle early enough.

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