East Link

There’s no doubt that the debate revolving around East Link has yielded a number of lies.  Most are complete nonsense, but there are few that can spread dangerous misinformation.  I want to direct your attention to a letter from Bill Hirt, an anti-Link critic who has had a compulsive passion for writing an extraordinary amount of letters to local papers.  From the Seattle Times:

The Council majority could simply refuse to grant those permits, stopping the light rail in its “tracks.” Stopping East Link would undoubtedly please Bellevue residents, the majority of whom voted against its funding in 2008.

More below the jump.

The portions in bold are what I believe to be blatant lies.  To address the first lie, I should point out RCW 36.70A.200 under Washington State Law, which stipulates the following:

No local comprehensive plan or development regulation may preclude the siting of essential public facilities.

The section specifically mentions a “development regulation” meaning to include the issuing of municipal permits, coincidentally the ones that Bill Hirt believes that the City of Bellevue can withhold.  Furthermore, said “essential public facilities” include regional transportation systems that can be defined by a number of things, of which “high capacity transportation systems” are a part of under RCW 47.06.140.

If you’re still unconvinced, consider RCW 81.104.015, where the State defines “high capacity transportation systems” as including “rail fixed guideway systems” that are hereby defined as a “light, heavy, or rapid rail system.”  Last I checked, Link Light Rail fits the bill perfectly.

Second, I want to direct your attention to this chloropleth heat map (PDF) that contains the Prop. 1 election results from 2008 by precinct.  If you can’t tell, all of the Bellevue precincts that lie along the East Link route approved ST2 with a majority vote but for two that happen to contain Surrey Downs, the epicenter of the pro-B7 (now anti-East Link) movement.  Oh, and the 41st & 418th legislative districts like light rail too (PDF).

I rest my case.

94 Replies to “A Few Lies out of Many”

  1. Well, mathematically, two Bellevue precincts can vote heavily No while the rest vote yes, and still lead to a majority No vote. Do you have the vote totals?

    1. That’s been covered before.

      Your hypothetical didn’t happen.

      48th 57.30 Medina, DT Kirkland, Redmond, North Bellevue, East Bellevue
      41st 56.57 South & West Bellevue (incl. DT), Newcastle

      1. Brent’s said that the precinct margin could “still lead to a majority No vote”. That didn’t happen.

        The district margin was large enough that Surrey Downs isn’t large enough to have voted 100% against and influenced the overall outcome.

      2. That link provides a map with percentage ranges, but not vote totals. The maps demonstrate that it is highly like ST2 had majority support in Bellevue. In order to prove that ST2 had majority support, cold, hard numbers are in order. Does anyone have them readily available?

    2. That can only occur if those two precincts have dramatically more people which doesn’t really happen. Precincts usually have on a rough scale the same number of people. The denser an area the more precincts.

  2. It’s good to call a “lie” what it is. Refreshing. Keep up the good work. It’s surprising how one dishonest – but articulate – crank can gin up so much opposition on an issue based on falsehoods.

    1. Lie?

      You want to talk LIES?

      Let’s talk $1.8 Billion, 25 miles, to be completed “for certain” “light” (heavy on the wallet) rail by 2006.

      Only Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Obama are in the same league for lies as ST.

      1. *sigh*

        Looks like another of Kemper’s bashers is trolling (this time using a Latin name, to seem impressive!). Don’t feed the troll and he’ll go away.

        Do we really need to re-hash these tired old arguments again? Sound Move didn’t promise any set dollar amount for the system. Likewise it didn’t promise a set number of miles of track (or stations, for that matter). Moreover it merely suggested the LRT system could be up and running by 2006.

        Everyone knows those things . . . they were reported at the time in the PI and the Times.

  3. It is provocative, well written, well researched posts like Sherwin’s that make me proud to be a lurker on this blog.

    1. 2000 Census Population of Bellevue: 109,569
      2000 Census Population of Redmond: 45,256

      Both cities have grown a bit since then, but I suspect you’ll want to serve Bellevue – Just pave (sorry, build rail) over Kevin Wallace’s properties if they get in the way.

      1. We can leave room, foundations, etc. for future stations when Bellevue comes around to it senses and puts Kemper on the ice-flow.

  4. City of Bellevue Election Results for Prop 1 in 2008:

    Registered Voters: 67,248
    Total Votes Cast: 56,996
    Approved: 28,901
    Rejected: 22,887
    Left Blank: 5205
    Over Voted: 3

    Yeahs over Nays (ignores Left Blank, Over Voted and No Ballot Submitted):

    Approved: 55.81%
    Rejected: 44.19%

    Percentage of Total Votes Cast:

    Approved: 50.71%
    Rejected: 40.16%
    Left Blank: 9.13%
    Over Voted: 0.01%

    Percentage of Registered Voters:

    Approved: 42.98%
    Rejected: 34.03%
    Left Blank: 7.74%
    Over Voted: 0.00%
    No Ballot Submitted: 15.25%

    Source: King County E-Canvass for November 4, 2008 General Election

    I suppose that it is possible to say that majority of registered voters did not affirmatively vote to approve Prop 1, but we don’t decide elections that way. We decide by Yeahs over Nays (the first set reported), which has Prop 1 winning by a landslide (anything more than a 10-point split is a landslide). Even taking the more conservative percentage of votes cast number, Prop 1 still received a majority.

    1. I challenge you to find even a handful of people who know exactly what “Proposition One” entails and what the real cost to their household might be over the decades.

      Yeah, you can pull a fast one on the public, and claim victory, but one hopes that justice may prevail and the crooks will get routed and run out of town.

      1. Who’s claiming victory? Someone made a claim that wasn’t true, and they’re being called on it.

      2. The fact that you have to resort to “But, they didn’t know what they were voting for” says all anyone needs to know about the strength of your argument.

        Prop 1 was covered extensively on the news and editorial pages of both the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I, not to mention the local network affiliates and numerous smaller local papers and web sites such as STB, Publicola, and CrossCut. And of course the text was reprinted in full on the ballot.

        The people are getting rail because the people want rail. Get over it.

  5. It’s astounding the wing-nuts even can feed themselves . . ..

    You would think everyone would know it doesn’t matter how any one subarea voted that counts. We’re all in this together as a region, people. Look, the overall community wants the light rail, and the whines and bleats from a few aren’t going to change that.

    Just like the Times to run a letter from an anti-transit type that could mislead people though. Journalistic integrity? Not there anyway.

    1. What disturbs me about you people is that you are so harsh about even a single voice questioning your gleaming view of the future.

      From what I can tell, there is a core of people who have a very vested economic interest in seeing these high density corridors rip through middle class neighborhoods and they will do, say, or ram anything through in order to get their way.

      Acting as their lapdogs are the yelpers here who must downs shout even the most reasonable question.

      That alone should drive any and all taxpayers to suspicion about the Transit Syndicate and its reckless ways.

      1. You people…funny. Generalize much? However, let me remind you, you are visiting a site ABOUT TRANSIT. Go to a site about baking cakes and I’ll bet everyone makes like cake is the best dessert in the world.

        I say let it drive the taxpayers to suspicion if it should, you know, democratic-like. That’s all it takes. Proof of point, the monorail. How many votes happened which passed before a single vote killed it? Not sure how the transit nerds rolled over anyone in that debate. I’m trying to figure out what you are arguing about though. There was a statement made, there are numbers showing that a false statement, case closed. What’s the deal?

        And oh yeah, the transit folks may have their lapdogs and “yelpers”, but if you deny the other side has theirs too well then I’m not sure what debate you’ve been watching. I’m also guessing 99% of Bellevue residents don’t even know this site exists, so I’m not so sure what you are worried about either.

      2. John, I have no vested interest in building high density corridors but that I like to live in them.

      3. I don’t think the people are harsh here, just a but jaded by the level of lies and insults that have been used by the anti-transit lobby. You do have to admit your first comment was off-topic about the issue presented inthe first blog post.

      4. Would that be a lie like “light” rail completed “for certain” by 2006?

        Or the lie that it will only cost $1.8 Billion for all 25 miles?

        The kettle is glow-in-the-sun blinding WHITE compared to the blackness that stains the heart of the pot called ST and its backers!

      5. What disturbs me about you people, Mr. Bailo, is that you are so harsh about even a single voice questioning your gleaming view of the present.

  6. Is it not true that Bellevue City Council has the say on how the route is situated?

    If it is true that local ordinances cannot supersede the overriding public infrastructure, then why does it have say over a Sound Transit that was given the authority to decide?

    If it not true, then it would seem the same logic would allow the Council to also make any route impossible.

    1. The Bellevue City Council can only make recommendations to Sound Transit regarding routing. Nothing more.

      1. Their opinion is merely advisory. The reason we cover[ed] it is because much of their opinions were actually used to change the routing of the route. For example, Bellevue strongly prefers a tunnel and the ST Board is going along with them even though it is more costly and risky.

        With the South Bellevue route, however, it’s clear that the council has a slim majority in favor of routing away from the South Bellevue Park & Ride, and the regional ST Board has a responsibility to route in a way that’s best for the region and not just a handful of homeowners.

      2. I wouldn’t say it doesn’t matter. First, the ST board is composed of politicians too, and wants to be seen as being responsive to municipal concerns. Second, there’s always a different between a friendly city council and a hostile one, even if it can’t completely derail the project.

      3. Even more to the point, Martin:

        1) ST will need support from Bellevue voters for ST3 and other future initiatives;
        2) ST doesn’t want voters in communities that would be served by ST3 to feel a “yes” vote leaves them at the mercy of a regional agency that is insensitive to local concerns and recommendations; and
        3) the board is composed of a number of mayors and councilmembers that have every incentive imaginable for establishing a good working relationship between the board and local governments before high-capacity transit comes to their hometowns.

      4. No, John, I am not saying that their opinion doesn’t matter. I’m stating the simple fact that as a matter of law their opinion is advisory.

      5. So we shouldn’t have covered the actions of the Bellevue City Council? Political synergy is pretty important to getting this job done, whatever route the council likes.

    2. Answers to your questions:

      1. The BCC can say all it wants about the route. None of that would bind ST though. Duh.

      2. The whole point is ST’s projects can not be held up by ordinances some city or town might pass. Again, the BCC has no say in how ST sites its infrastructure – that’s due to STATE law.

      3. You mention “logic”, but it seems to escape you. For the third time, the Bellevue City Council has no right to preempt ST’s choice of a route.

      That’s three strikes, John – you’re OUT.

  7. Ask Tukwilla how successful they were in stopping the Link coming through their city. Remember they wanted it to stop at South Center.

  8. Nice site. Seems well grounded in facts and quite knowledgeable.
    Re cities’ authority to block essential facilities –
    ‘Tis true that Tukwila did not prevail in the alignment battle. However, it cost ST (and the taxpayers) millions of dollars by fighting every step of the way to ultimate resolution, delaying the connection to the airport, and squeezing ST for tons of “mitigation” dollars that arguably were far above and beyond what was appropriate. Similarly, the City of Seattle was able to extract a huge mitigation payment for the Rainier Valley segment, not through any legal right to stop the project but through the politics and horse-trading and foot-dragging and time-costing resistance that are the arrows in a municipal gov’t’s quiver. One of the reasons (among many) that ST was spending well beyond budget in its first 10 years was because of these local gov’ts and their ability to influence the agency’s progress.

    1. I would say that reason is a couple of orders of magnitude – actually, three – smaller than construction costs inflating with the cost of materials and labor during the real estate boom.

    2. The fact that “light” rail is prohibitively expensive in every and all West Coast cities, returning pennies for every dollar invested, doesn’t matter? Of course it does.

      Rail, like the toga, had its day.

      1. How much have the freeways returned compared to how much has been invested in them? I didn’t think either of the rail or freeway investments were planned to be money making operations, but I’d love to hear your side of the story.

        I also think that the US rail industry (and Warren Buffet via his investment in BNSF) might quibble with your point comparing rail to the toga.

      2. Many freeways have actually returned negative *value* for money invested; blighting neighborhoods while increasing pollution.

        Light rail has at least returned positive *value* in all West Coast cities if you bother to add up externalities. Whether it’s *enough* value is debatable in each case, but what’s the alternative to rail?

        Certainly not the failed pouring of asphalt on roads. So I assume you will advocate strongly for an end to all road “improvements”.

  9. Speaking of lies….

    So, the law refers to “high capacity transportation systems.”

    According to the article linked to below, the definition of “high capacity transit systems” is a system with a capacity of at least 5,000 pphpd:

    http://www.advancedtransit.net/atrawiki/index.php?title=PPHPD

    “The most common definition of High Capacity transit is a PPHPD of 5000 or more.”

    East Link, according to Sound Transit, will run 4-car trains over the I-90 bridge every 9 minutes during peak hours in 2030. This gives East Link a capacity of only about 3,653 passengers per hour per direction in 2030 (6.6666 trains X 4 cars/train X 137 passengers/car). That is NOT a “high capacity” transit system, according to the 5,000 pphpd definition.

    Perhaps this is why ST is so insistent on exaggerating the capacity of its light rail cars. They have to exaggerate the actual capacity of Link light rail cars to reach a theoretical capacity of 5,000 pphpd on East Link.

      1. Really. So capacity is not measured by pphpd? That is interesting. I’m sure you will be happy to explain that for us.

      2. They don’t care what it costs, either in real money or the cost to human life.

        These rail zealots hate the freedoms that you and I enjoy. Only when we are all forced to surrender our basic freedoms, including the freedoms to live where we want and travel how we desire, will they be marginally happy.

        It is the same hatred that dictatorships always feel towards others.

      3. The freedom to travel without being chained to a gas pump, or a 4000 pound piece of steel is a freedom that I enjoy.

        Your never-ending thirst for gas is supporting some of the worst dictatorships the world has known, not to mention funding terrorists and fanning the flames of US hatred the world over.

        Your name is a tautology, by the way. “True truth?” Is that like “truthiness?”

      4. @vere_veritas How will a light-rail line affect your, or anyone else’s, ability to drive your car? How will it affect your freedom? If anything, this gives the people freedom to drive without a car and to be able to do other tasks while commuting to their destination. It [public transportation] allows people to go out and get completely shit-faced and not have to worry about how to get home. It offers a cheap alternative to those who do not find a car necessary to get from point A to point B. Hell, it offers those who want to drive, but want to avoid traffic hell, to get to their destinations.

        No one is pointing a gun to your head and forcing you to use public transportation. If you don’t want to use it, fine! Why take away someone else’s freedom to not use a car because it doesn’t fit in your automobile utopia?

      5. @vere_veritas,

        If Chicago didn’t have such a fantastic Public Transit (bus&Rail) system, I would not be able to live at Lake Point Tower and go to school at IIT. The commute would be utterly unaffordable in a car for me, a Student. Not everyone can afford a car, so to millions of people, public transit IS their freedom. Look at the world through someone else’s point of view once in a while! in Chicago 1 million people per day (2 million boardings, assume 2-way commute) use the bus and “EL” system, in Seattle, ~ 250,000 (500,000 boardings… I think) people per day use the system I believe, NYC, 2 million, etc. Public transit gives people who aren’t YOU Freedom. Without it we’d have to walk or something, and be limited to a 2 mile radius of our homes.

      6. Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Giving productive people multiple transportation choices is forcing them to… wait, what?

        In your world, there would only be one choice – driving. Spot projecting your own dictatorish tendancies.

      7. These car zealots hate the freedom we rail users enjoy. They just don’t care about the real cost to human life (from pollution, global warming, car accidents); or the cost to human happiness (from freeway blight), or even the drainage. It just doesn’t matter what facts you give them, they want to pour more asphalt and belch out more tailpipe emissions and make more roadkill.

      1. And I counted 86 on my car headed toward the stadium after the gam was over at 1720 today – who cares?

      2. How many of them were going to the M’s game which started at 7:10 that evening? Before and after special events, it is acknowledged that trains and buses will fill to over the official “capacity”. I have seen around 120 people board one articulated bus leaving Husky Stadium after a football game. That does not mean that the “capacity” of an articulated bus is 120. Does it?

        Where did you post the picture?

        How did you count them? Did you walk through the entire car, counting each passenger, with 82 people standing in the aisles?

      3. Capacity is measured by the number of seats plus the remaining standing areas divided by two standing passengers per square meter. This gives about 135 for Link light rail cars. That is the official capacity which transit experts use as the upper limit to how many passengers a light rail car system can average per car over an entire hour during the peak hour.

        Capacity is not measured by how many people Zed claims to have seen on one Link car at one point in time, even though he seems to believe that is how capactiy should be measured.

      4. “How did you count them? Did you walk through the entire car, counting each passenger, with 82 people standing in the aisles?”

        Yep. The trains are so spacious it was easy.

      5. LOL

        I give Zed points for being funny.

        That does not change the fact that the accepted capacity for Link light rail cars is 137, though.

      6. Except for the fact that ST is running so far below projections it’s pathetic.

        Averaging 16,000 on a 107,000 projection is pisspoor indeed.

      7. They projected 26,000 for the initial segment in 2010. Last month the average was 23,400 with a high of 28,800.

      8. ST used 2.4 standing passengers per square meter to come up with 148 as the capacity for Link cars. The accepted standard for light rail is 2 standing passengers per square meter — not 2.4. So, ST’s claim of capacity of 148 per light rail car is false, as usual.

        Tha actual capacity of Link light rail cars is 137, using the accepted N. American standard of 2 standing passengers per square meter.

        You can make all the noise you want, Zed, but you can’t change the facts.

      9. You’re using a grossly inexact method. Pray tell where you got the exact amount of floorspace for Link light rail? Pray tell why you believe the *layout* of that floorspace is not relevant to the standing density (hint: it is).

        The fact is that standing capacity is not perfectly determinable by a one-size-fits-all formula based on square meters. As usual, you’re just makin’ stuff up.

    1. The definition of high capacity transit system that’s relevant in this context is not what someone who may or may not be knowledgeable on the topic decided to post in Wikipedia. It’s actually a term defined by statutory law (Revised Code of Washington), as follows:

      “ST2 Background-Definitions and Criteria
      High Capacity Transit System
      RCW 81.104.015 Definition

      “High-capacity transportation system” means a system of public transportation services within an urbanized region operating principally on exclusive rights of way, and the supporting services and facilities necessary to implement such a system, including interim express services and high occupancy vehicle lanes, which taken as a whole, provides a substantially higher level of passenger capacity, speed, and service frequency than traditional public transportation systems operating principally in general purpose roadways.”

      1. The distinction made in the RCW statute is between the capacity of “operating principally on exclusive rights of way” versus “operating principally in general purpose roadways.”

      2. East Link obviously does NOT provide “a substantially higher level of passenger capacity, speed and service frequency than traditional public transportation systems operating principally in general purpose roadways.”

        Right now, in peak hours, there are about 50 buses per hour crossing the I-90 bridge in each direction.

        That is a capacity of about 4,500 passengers per hour per direction, just in those busese. Those buses also have a far higher frequency than once every 9 minutes, which is the planned frequency of East Link. And the speed of those buses is similar to what Link will achieve across the bridge.

        I don’t see how you could possibly consider East Link a “high capacity transportation system” using that definition, either. It certainly does not meet the criteria of “higher level of passenger capacity” or “service frequency” than buses.

      3. Your argument rests on the predication that they can’t run more than 6 trains per hour in each direction, which, of course, isn’t true. The initial demand may only require that many trains per hour, but that has nothing to do with the capacity of the system or the ability to run more frequent trains. Why would you want to pay 40 bus drivers when 6 train operators can move the same number of people anyways?

        Your simple capacity calculation also fails to account for passenger turnover at stations.

      4. “Why would you want to pay 40 bus drivers when 6 train operators can move the same number of people anyways?”

        Because we’re really nice? :)

        A customer in the tunnel this morning asked me where to catch the bus to the airport. I told her she needed to take light rail to which she responded, “Oh, but I really like riding with you guys!”. I guess I could have told her to take the 124 and transfer to the 174 :)

      5. Link trains cost more per boarding to operate than ST Express buses. The cost of Link operators is just a tiny fraction of the total operating cost for Link trains, so that is not much of a factor.

        Why would you want to spend billions of dollars to put light rail over the I-90 bridge, when we already have more passenger capacity with the existing buses? Just a waste of tax dollars.

        Doesn’t matter how many trains they COULD run over the i-90 bridge. The point is that the system ST is planning, and which is funded, is very LOW CAPACITY. They certainly COULD run a lot more than 50 buses per hour oer the I-90 bridge, also, right?

        Passenger turnover at stations is irrelevant. That is never considered in discussing capacity of transit systems. Even ST uses pphpd for capacity. Everyone does. Buses also have “turnover at stations (stops).” What does that have to do with anything?

      6. “Link trains cost more per boarding to operate than ST Express buses.”

        The operational expenses aren’t calculated on a “per boarding” basis. The cost will depend on the vehicle hours needed to provide a train every ten minutes, minus the revenue from fares. Using current vehicle-hour cost figures, if they run 12 trains per hour on East Link over 20 hours the cost per boarding will be around $2.00, which is a lot less than ST Express.

        The 2010 Sound Transit Service Implementation Plan shows that by 2014 the cost per boarding for Central Link will be half that of ST Express. You only get to use the “Link trains cost more per boarding to operate than ST Express buses” for another year, max.

      7. As well as the fact that you continue to be a [ad-hominem], Norman, you might want to note that Link functionally replaces non-express bus routes as well as express ones. Then look up the cost per passenger-mile again.

      8. Per Norman: “Right now, in peak hours, there are about 50 buses per hour crossing the I-90 bridge in each direction.”

        Wrong. You didn’t even try to look up a fact there.

        As far as I could tell from ST and metro bus routes, ST runs only two bus lines across the I-90: the 550 (Bellevue) and 554 (Issaquah) express. The 550 runs about 4x/hour at peak, and the 554 runs 2x/hour.

        There are also a few metro bus local circulator routes that stop on Mercer, including 201-205 and 211-216. These all have frequencies no greater than 1x/hour. Also, the 204 simply circulates on Mercer Is, and doesn’t even cross the I-90.

        So, total is maybe about a dozen hourly operated by Metro and ST per direction on I-90 at peak times.

      9. I have counted them myself, standing at the viewpoint. Other people on this blog have listed all the routes which cross the I-90 floating bridge from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.

        There are 50 buses per hour. Do you homework.

      10. As much as Norman’s facts and figures drive me crazy, I don’t think he’s too far off here. Off the top of my head, during peak the following routes go across I90:

        111, 114, 202, 205, 210, 211, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 225, 229, 550, 554

        I’m missing a few, probably school trippers, but you get the idea.

        Most of those are peak-only in *one* direction but there are reverse trips on the 212, not to mention dead-heading buses although I don’t believe those count here. When you remember that the 212, 550, and 554 are every 7-10 minutes during rush hour, you easily can get in the range of 50.

        I’m giving up on arguing with Norman on details like this as it’s pointless. Right or wrong, a clear majority of voters voted for Light rail across I-90. Unless something *really* huge changes in terms of finances or engineering, I don’t foresee that we’re going to all of a sudden build a BRT-based system instead. Norman should realize that and move on with his life.

      11. Only the 212/229 and 550 routes even approach a definition of frequent service – the rest are once hour (554 twice/hour). Of frequent service routes over the I-90, it’s still only about a dozen per hour at peak.

        Regardless, the definition includes capacity, speed and service frequency of exclusive ROW versus shared ROW. You can’t just pick and choose capacity and ignore the other factors of the definition.

        I ride the 550 on occasion, and the ~45 minute ride from Bellevue to International District Station is anything but fast, and makes the term “express” relative at best. The East Link when built shouldn’t have trouble beating that.

      12. VeloBusDriver, you forgot route 218, peak only with about 10 min. headways.

        Steve, the 554 runs at 15 minute headways between the peaks, although it only runs about every 30 minutes during peak times.

      13. The I-90 bridge is not exclusive ROW for buses. Lots of other vehicles are in the same lanes as the buses use across the bridge and east of the bridge.

        There is a bus crossing the I-90 bridge about every minute and 10 seconds between 4:30 and 5:00 pm on weekdays.

        Link will run trains over the I-90 bridge only once every 10 minutes to start, then only once every 9 minutes by 2030.

        Obviously, the current bus system (bus “system” includes ALL the various bus routes which cross the floating bridge — not just one of those routes) using the I-90 bridge is far more frequent, and has much higher capacity than East Link will have.

  10. Say Norman,

    Maybe you should read the rest of your link. It makes your post look rather…..silly.

      1. Norman, I should introduce you to Malcolm Johnston. You both get off on the reality is what I say it is meme.

  11. I would suggest that this community should respond on the Times website in mass reiterating Sherwin’s points.

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