aaronreardon.com (he now has a goatee)

Several notable things happened at the December 10th Sound Transit Board of Directors meeting, Greg Nickels’s 378th(!) and last.  You can watch the video or check out the motions online.

  • Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon is the new Sound Transit Board Chair through the end of 2011.  Reardon has been County Executive since 2004 and may be best known to STB readers as someone who bargained hard with Nickels to get light rail to Snohomish County included in ST2.  Andrew Austin has much, much more on this.  Lakewood’s Claudia Thomas and Issaquah’s Fred Butler are the Vice Chairs.
  • The staff briefly discussed the three new, post-DEIS, downtown Bellevue options: C9T, a tunnel under 110th Ave.; C9A, a surface route on 110th; and C11A, an at-grade alignment on 108th Ave.  The cost and ridership estimates are supposed to be done by the end of January, with Board discussion in February and a decision on this segment on March 11th.  The Board allocated $15,000 for the staff to include Kevin Wallace’s 114th Avenue elevated alignment in this work.
  • The Bellevue City Council, while not changing their preferred alignment, asked the Board to study the Wallace proposal, and also asked for an one-month extension of their expiring six-month deadline to come up with a funding plan for a downtown tunnel.
  • The Seatac ceremony, according to ST CEO Joni Earl, starts around 8:45 am on December 19th.  The first train from downtown to go all the way to Seatac with passengers will arrive right around 10am.
  • Issaquah Councilmember Fred Butler sponsored an amendment to the budget directing the ST Staff to study the introduction of fares to Tacoma Link and report to the Board by June 30, 2010.  ORCA n0w provides an infrastructure that would reduce the cost of collecting fares; up to now, staff has estimated that fare collection would cost more than the revenue collected.
  • The board adopted a scope control policy which states that the primary project objectives are “cost control, ridership and operational efficiency.”  In other words, Sound Transit isn’t going to gold-plate stations just because a City asks for it, especially if it isn’t in the EIS.
  • According to Joni Earl, government agencies have right of first refusal to buy the rest of the BNSF Eastside corridor should they be put up for sale.
  • The last hour or so of the video is a tribute to Mayor Nickels, winner of the American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member for 2009.  We’ll comment more on this later, but it’s a useful reminder of everything he has done for the region, going back to 1988.

25 Replies to “Meeting Roundup: Meet Your New ST Board Chair”

  1. “The Bellevue City Council, while not changing their preferred alignment, asked the Board to study the Wallace proposal, and also asked for an one-month extension of their expiring six-month deadline to come up with a funding plan for a downtown tunnel.”

    I repeat myself from an earlier post: As a Bellevue resident, I support a tax increase to pay for a tunnel with easy access to Bellevue Transit Center

      1. They should consider building the tunnel now and delaying the cross lake portions – an amalgamation of the Downtown Seattle (joint use tunnel) and Tacoma (functional, non-connected Link) strategies.

    1. That 1988 effort of Nickels was news to me, certainly something worth taking credit for.

      I was a frequent attendee of JRPC and RTA meetings in the days leading up to the final passage of ST1, I don’t recall Nickels as being much of a participant in those early discussions at all.

      First I recall of Nickels is his leadership of the ST1 finance scandal that scapegoated former director Bob White and brought in Bob Drewel’s assistant, Joni Earl, as director. IMO, this was not something to be proud of – really just a very sophisticated spin on a major cost overrun/fraud perpetrated on the citizens by parties other than Mr. White. All in all, a very symbolic event for his entire reign.

      (Disclaimer – my involvement was less in these days for reasons that would bias me, there is certainly more to this story than I tell – a story that might well be worth investigating still.)

      1. IIRC Reardon defeated the Seattle Chamber’s other bully boy, Bob Drewel for reasons that included the political dynamics of Sound Transit. I haven’t followed Reardon’s career closely enough to predict what he will now do, but on a foundational basis I’d give a lot more credibility to the words ‘reform’ coming out of his mouth than Nickels.

        Of course by now the odds are, no scepticism required, that he has become part of the machine. That said the Seattle machine is weaker these days and it is **possible** that the regional reps will balance the power in some small constructive ways.

  2. Why is the councilman from Issaquah recommending actions for Tacoma Link, a service some 40 miles from the councilman’s jurisdiction? There are several things wrong with adding fares to Tacoma Link now:

    – Soon (by this coming Summer), free parking in downtown Tacoma will be eliminated. (Huzzah!) Fewer cars downtown, and those who must drive will park in the Tacoma Dome garage and ride T-Link into town. Add a fare to the ride, and you’re right back where you started: people won’t see the difference between fighting for a spot in the garage and paying for street parking downtown.

    – The two major transit terminals that connect Tacoma to the rest of the world are connected by Link. Pierce Transit makes heavy use of the 10th and Commerce station; Sound Transit likes Tacoma Dome for its proximity to the Interstate. Link connects the two.

    – Tacoma’s downtown has undergone (and continues to experience) urban revitalization thanks at least in part to the Link. Free movement about downtown has been a key selling point for quite some time. It’s not as if downtown Tacoma has a ride-free bus zone.

    – It’s just not big enough. The line is only 1.2 miles in length, and was designed as a transit circulator. The neighborhoods that use it would simply go back to using cars.

    There is a catch, though: Expansion of the line into other neighborhoods or to some of Tacoma’s other transit centers would justify fare collection. However, downtown Tacoma should remain — now and in the future — a ride-free zone for the Link.

    1. downintacoma,

      I won’t address the substantive arguments in your comment, but there are no “districts” on the Sound Transit Board. Butler is the Vice Chair and part of the Finance Cmte, and has to look at cost-effectiveness everywhere in the ST district.

      1. In that case, I retract my statement about the councilman’s district and jurisdiction, with apologies. I still don’t like the proposal, but it appears to be well within the councilman’s responsibilities on the ST board. I look forward to hearing what some of the other board members have to say about it, though.

      2. This is an important topic. The free Link is much like the ride free bus zone in Downtown Seattle, and to be fair, both ought to charge, at least at some point.

        FWIW, the management principle of sub-area equity is still important and the Pierce County area already appears to have lost ground on that account in ST2. (Though I’ve yet to read a credible detailed analysis of 5 ‘district’ sub-area equity in ST2).

        That said, some other important points on this topic. Tacoma will **begin** conversion to current tech parking meters soon, it will not be a complete rollout by this summer. The current T-Dome parking garage is at capacity, more garages are planned but there is some opposition to the strategy of building parking lots sattellite to downtown (I’m working on getting the lots built in our dispersed mixed use centers.) I’ve not seen a credible use study for the T-Dome, but by observation mid-day the primary users are UW-T Students where parking is currently most limited.

        The decision for a ride free downtown Tacoma should be Pierce County’s primarily, albeit from our share of regional funds.

        FWIW, I’d like to see BRT on Pacific Avenue, perhaps as far south as Spanaway – a topic tangent to most of this thread.

    2. I agree with these statements about fares for Tacoma Link. HOWEVER:

      *Pierce Transit already runs buses (1, 41, 500, 501) drectly from downtown to TDS.
      *Sound Transit buses 590 and 594 both originate and terminate at 10th and Commerce.

      While I agree that TL has been an impetus to the improvement of Tacoma, from the standpoint mentioned above it is almost redundant. However:

      Judging by the recent trend of TOD etc etc, the line would be of geater use if it was extended. Replacing the PT1 by going to TCC along Sixth Ave would be fantastic. Dont get me wrong, I think TL is a step in the right direction. But I also feel that as soon as it started running in its current form construction should have immediately commenced to extend it into NE Tacoma, and maybe also toward Fife across the Puyallup River bridge on Eells St. (Historical note: That is why the bridge has 3 lanes, it hosted the Puget Sound Electric Railway.)

  3. He is very good, at ignoring those who disagree with him. I’ve sent him over 100 e-mails not one responce.

  4. Not at the same time. During the past few months. I’ve also done it to most of the Sound Transit Board and the King County Council. I’ve sent at least one a day to the new King County Executive for the city of Seattle. I love sending e-mails.

  5. What am i supposed to do, send one e-mail and forget it. Yes I have a goal, to stop the ending of route 194. I knew going in that this would probially be impossiable. But I have to fight. Frankley, I would not have sent so mant if he would have responed to one.

    1. Go testify, say something worth listening to, look them in the eye, and start quiet conversations with everyone else who bothers to educate themselves on the issues. Do expect to be listened to, but understand that everyone else does too and never does everyone agree 100%.

      1. The problem is 99% of the time I have something more important to do when public meetings har being held. Mostly Church and work. Since I won’t miss church for any reason and I cannot afford to take the time off I’m stuck. Also since I work nights I also miss meetings held in the afternoon. This is my only option.

  6. Maybe new chairman will help get my Lynnwood express buses on schedule. 510 Everett and 511 Lynnwood/Ash Way in the Tunnel. With a southbound I-5 express lane into the Tunnel as well. I know all the obstacles. But my clients won’t give me ’til 2023 to get to meetings on time. With or without goatee, Aaron will at least know where the 511 goes.

    1. The only way you’re going to get Lynnwood buses in the DSTT is if CT reliquishes operating responsibility to Metro. Metro operates the tunnel (ownership now is rather unclear) and only Metro drivers are allowed to operate in the tunnel. Partly political but I think a decent case can be made for safety as well; especially now that it is mixed traffic with the trains. Oh, and you’d need hybrid buses too.

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