There is no doubt that the most important election concerning transit this year is between Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison for King County Executive. The Executive runs Metro transit, nominates 10 of the 18 Sound Transit boardmembers, and signs off on land use policies throughout the county.
Constantine serves on the Sound Transit board and chairs the Regional Transit Committee. His master’s degree in urban planning bolsters his wonky side — he noted at our last meet-up that “infrastructure creates demand,” a fact that escapes most politicos. Constantine is a great advocate for our two largest transit agencies and will be an effective leader. We have endorsed Constantine for Executive, and we urge those who want a better future for our region’s transit to donate to his campaign. But this election is notable not just for Constantine’s impressive credentials, but also his opponent’s reckless misunderstanding of transportation and transit issues. Susan Hutchison is wrong on transit.
Read on after the jump…
Susan Hutchison is wrong on light rail:
- Hutchison mocked our light rail line by saying that the train “takes longer to get to the airport than a cab.” But it’s also about $40 cheaper. The “than-a-cab” metric is not how serious transportation policies are formed.
- Hutchison thinks East Link should go over the new SR-520 instead of I-90, a horrible idea from an engineering and capacity perspective that would make East Link costlier and delay it by many years — if the line could ever be finished.
- Hutchison defended a lawsuit that would block construction of East Link overruling a vote conducted just last November.
- Hutchison believes light rail should have went to Bellevue first — fair enough. But The Stranger points out since she wants the new 520 span to handle light rail, we’d be waiting on our first trains for a decade or more.
- Hutchison promoted and endorsed a backwards, highway-loving Washington Policy Center report which claimed that increasing general purpose highway capacity “will help move the most people at the least cost and least impact on the environment” but derided rail investment as “ineffective.” The report suggested a vote to cancel light rail construction years before it was finished.
- Hutchison has little knowledge of our light rail, but constantly attacks the line. In one display, she spoke of visiting the Mount Baker light rail station on opening day and noted, “The buses have not been integrated to serve our light-rail terminals.” Publicola reports that Metro’s General Manager, Kevin Desmond, pointed out his agency “built a big, nice transit center right across the street” from the station. That transit center was under construction when she made her remarks — a candidate should know that.
- Hutchison has support from notable anti-light rail figures such as Kemper Freeman, Bruce McCaw, Michael Ennis, and Bruce Agnew. That should scare us.
She is wrong on buses:
- Hutchison doesn’t understand the 40-40-20 bus service allocation formula that favors new service allocation out of the Seattle. She thinks even more service should go to “the outskirts of the county,” where bus service is the least cost-effective as well as the least environmentally efficient.
- Hutchison believes the $213 million Metro deficit can be seriously addressed through cracking down on fare evaders. How much do those evaders cost the county? Around $2.7 million — or 1% of the deficit. It’s not even clear that Metro could recover the cost of increased enforcement in a crackdown.
- Hutchison didn’t respond to the Transit Riders Union questionnaire, while nearly all other local candidates did. Her lack of engagement is revealing.
She is wrong on transit. For a woman who is running for a position so important to transit and land use, Hutchison maintains too many backward views. She is too critical of our light rail system and its planned expansion to the Eastside, and she doesn’t appear to have a handle on the serious issues facing Metro.
Vote Dow Constantine for County Executive.
Read about all of our endorsements with our endorsement cheat sheet.