Last week, when Sound Transit and SDOT presented the options for Downtown to Ballard, only one option truly fits into a vision of a completely connected city; a city where transit is just as good as owning a car, if not better; a sustainable, resilient, forward-thinking city. That option is D – the subway option. Today is the last day to get your comments in supporting it.
It serves the most people, both today and tomorrow.
When Seattle adopted its urban village strategy, it committed to growing in urban centers and urban villages. Because Fremont and Ballard are both hub urban villages rather than just residential urban villages, they’re expected to grow faster than the rest of the city’s urban villages already. The subway option is the only option that serves every urban village between downtown and Ballard – and the only grade separated option that serves both the Ballard and Fremont hubs.
Rewarding neighborhoods that have accepted growth in urban villages also tells people across the city that they, too, have a path to getting transit. Providing this positive feedback will help engage people in planning for growth so that their neighborhood comes next!
Making the higher investment in a core line today also means that when we add on to both ends, we make transit competitive for many more trips. Whatever route the line takes northward, the more urban village nodes it connects them to, the more people will choose to use it. The fact that it does so at such high speed also means even the stations built farther away will have more impact. Remember, this isn’t just about Ballard – it’s about going a lot farther.
It’s exciting and commands attention – what we’ll need to win.
Remember 2011’s Proposition 1? It failed – not because it wasn’t full of good stuff, not because of any cost or benefit, but because it had no major project to make people excited. What people are voting for has a far greater impact on their vote than how much it costs.
This doesn’t just matter for the vote itself – when more people see themselves using a system, more demand funding for it in Olympia, more people volunteer for the campaign, and more people get engaged to fight for the next extension. And that gives us another reason the subway option is by far the best choice:
It puts transit on the offensive in Olympia.
Our region has twice voted decisively to spend many billions of local dollars on transit, and we asked for nothing from the state transportation budget. Municipalities don’t step up like that to fund highway projects, they ask the state to do it for them. Rather than fund Sound Transit 3 by ourselves, we should demand a state match for transit projects, just like most states provide to their transit systems – and with the Metro hostage well on its way to being rescued, we may soon have the leverage to win state funding.
Every transit agency in the state benefits from this frame – Vancouver needs light rail, even Spokane has considered a streetcar, and we desperately need a real statewide passenger rail network as an alternative to continued highway expansion. As Greyhound reduces services, intercity connections outside the Amtrak Cascades corridor are becoming an ever-higher priority as well, and local bus networks are all underfunded.
It supports West Seattle, and the rest of the city and region.
Planning from the end of this line to West Seattle and Burien is currently under way, along with many other corridors (see page 11), and we’ll likely see options for those corridors come out in the next few months. Picking the subway option for Ballard now will result in the highest ridership for any continuation of the line to West Seattle, making rail to West Seattle more competitive and likely to be funded in ST3.
Overall, the more transit we have planned and prepared to fund in Puget Sound, the stronger our ask in Olympia, and the higher the compromise position will be for the authority and funding we need. WSDOT does this well – they put projects on the map years ahead of time, building support and a sense of inevitability that helps them get funded. Sound Transit will only benefit from doing the same, so let’s help them. Please support the subway option – option D – in Sound Transit’s online tool.