In his 2012 budget, Mayor McGinn is proposing that $1.5 million be set aside for high capacity transit planning in the city. You can read more here about the corridors that will be studied if the funding is secured. The Mayor is asking you to perform the following steps if you support the project and want the city to perform the study (emphasis in the original):
If you want to help these projects become a reality:
1) Please attend the Tuesday, October 4th City Council budget hearing at City Hall and sign up to tell Council you support the $1.5 million for high capacity transit planning. Sign-in begins at 5pm, hearing begins at 5:30 pm.
2) Please email the City Council (addresses below) that you support the inclusion of $1.5 million for high capacity transit planning and that they should keep it in the budget.
3) If you have other lists or contacts or friends that support high capacity transit, please forward this information to them.
Emails for Councilmembers:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
My thoughts on this below the fold.
While obviously I support this funding, I think the city here missing an opportunity by not considering fully grade separated light rail. In the Transit Master Plan draft (linked above) the city identified two rail flavors and two bus flavors: Rapid Streetcar (similar to Portland Light rail or the T-Third Street Line in San Francisco), Local Streetcar (similar to the First Hill Streetcar or the SLU Streetcar), Bus Rapid Transit (something about higher capacity than Rapid Ride) and Enhanced Bus (something a bit less than Rapid Ride). All of these are an improvement on what we have now, but I wish the city would be more aggressive and at least do analysis on ridership and costs for grade-separated rail.
If the city doesn’t go after taxing authority to build grade-separated rail we are never going to get as much rail in the city as we want. Right now, only Sound Transit will have enough money to build grade-separated rail here, and they are maxed out on taxing authority – meaning no new projects for a long time. Further, they require not only the same legislative approval from the state the city would to get more taxing authority, they also require region-wide vote to approve new funding. Obviously Ballard, Fremont and Belltown have different transit needs from Orting, Dupont, Sammamish and Mill Creek, just as those places have different flood prevention needs (or whatever they do need there, I confess ignorance). It makes no sense to me that Seattle should wait to get new grade-separated transit until the entire Sound Transit District thinks it’s a good idea.
Probably it would cost more than $1.5 million to study grade-separated rail. And certainly it would cost more to build than streetcars. And maybe the legislature doesn’t want to approve it. But none of these mean the city shouldn’t at least look into it, see how much it costs and if the cost is reasonable, ask Olympia if we can do it. Then ask the voters if they want it. We know we have the desire for rail here, and if it more rail came to the ballot the citizenry in Seattle would likely approve it. So why are our elected officials so unambitious when it comes to actually doing something about it?