Capitol Interior (wikimedia)

Eli Sanders interviewed Rep. Reuven Carlyle in the Slog, assessing blame for Metro’s predicament and suggesting a way forward:

Until a statewide package passes, Carlyle said, “I think the pain points are going to increase everywhere. Pierce County is feeling it. King County is now feeling it. What is the argument against a statewide transportation plan, other than that taxes are a bummer?”…

[Murray can lead] by loudly connecting the dots for Seattleites who want action to save Metro, telling them exactly who to send money to in order to flip the handful of state senate seats that Democrats need in order to get Metro the money it needs.

Although I wouldn’t expect a Democratic legislator to say anything else, this comment is both misleading and self-serving.

The Republicans have run the Senate for less than 18 months. Metro’s funding crisis is in its sixth year. The Democrats had about four years to find a long-term solution for Metro. Aside from the two-year $20 vehicle license fee that is about to expire, neither party in Olympia has done anything. This includes Gov. Gregoire’s immediate abandonment of her commitment to include Metro funding in the deep-bore tunnel deal, her direct veto of a $20 vehicle license fee for Metro in 2009, as well as former Senate Transportation Chair Haugen’s decision to hold off on Metro relief until it could be yoked to a massive highway expansion bill. Metro advocates would be naive to believe a Democratic majority would automatically bring new funding.

And that’s the argument against a transportation package that eludes Mr. Carlyle. Any conceivable transportation package will trade the maintenance of existing transit for a massive expansion of highway capacity. This will spew greenhouse gases, expand sprawl, and add to future highway maintenance costs. (Check out last year’s (Democratic) House proposal for an example of a terrible bill.) Chances are good that a bill will automatically authorize the highways — endless subsidy of drivers is too important to risk at the ballot box — while the transit will likely require a county vote. As we’ve seen, county votes are not necessarily a slam dunk.

This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t a handful of good legislators,* or that Republican transportation policy is, in any way, good for the future of the state. They despise taxes that discourage destructive behavior and would be perfectly happy to do nothing but build highways. However, those desires are in tension, and their control of the Senate at least thwarts the only slightly better Democratic ideas.

For many of you, there are other issues where the Senate Majority will make a big difference. But until we see a real commitment from the Democratic Caucus to focus on the road maintenance backlog rather than highway expansion, transportation is not one of them. Local battles have much more potential for good outcomes in transportation and land use, and you should focus on those.

* Liias, Fitzgibbon, and Farrell are all exceptional, but not enough to stem the tide of bad ideas in their own caucus.

82 Replies to “Both Parties to Blame for Metro’s Crisis”

  1. Thank you Martin. Very well written and I share your view the Road Bullies (MMH, Curtis King) are bipartisan.

    I feel I am an R on other issues such as education & national defense, but am pulled to the centre in part because most of my Republican Party is still stuck on roads (and opposing even common sense background checks on guns). We in the Transit Lobby should require that any road funding receive the very same treatment as transit funding.

    Furthermore, we in other counties than King that use transit – i.e. Skagit County – need to remind our legislators we use transit. Transit issues aren’t just for the Everett to Olympia megalopolis!! Bellingham, Mount Vernon/Burlington, Spokane, Oak Harbor/Coupeville and Bremerton all also need a strong, viable transit system!

    1. I agree. The sad part is I think there is a consensus amongst the general population for basic transportation that includes transit. Fund basic bus service along with road maintenance. Let the big projects, whether transit or road related go to the voters. Seattle and the surrounding areas can vote for light rail, streetcars and gondolas. The state or the counties can vote for big, expansive road projects like another bridge over the Columbia or a huge freeway to Puyallup.

    2. A chain of coordinated all-day bus routes from Seattle to Bellingham makes perfect sense… and from Seattle to Portland too for that manner… and Mt Vernon through Whidbey Island to Clinton. You’d think this is something that “local control” people could agree on. Just a few simple bus routes modeled after ST Express. Running hourly weekdays, and maybe every two or three hours Sundays and evenings.

      1. Any reason BoltBus isn’t adequately filling the need for buses Seattle-Bellingham and Seattle-Portland?

      2. BoltBus costs two or three times as much as regular transit would. And I’m mainly thinking about the cities in between.

        Does BoltBus go to Bellingham?

      3. I will only ride Greyhound if I must, with money either for a hotel stay or Amtrak as a backup. Sadly due to ‘non-compete with mass transit’ laws and a choice to stop at a major casino instead of downtown Everett, the trustworthy Bellair Airporter ( ) doesn’t work for this avgeek for my Paine Field fix on the weekends from Skagit & back.

      4. Only time I took the Belair Airporter it was over 2 hours late getting into SeaTac due to traffic congestion on I-405 (they went that way because it was supposed to be better than I-5 on that particular day).

        The times I have taken BoltBus I have found it terribly uncomfortable. I have been told that they are outfitting their northwest fleet for a bit better comfort. It’s nice to have them as an option for Portland – Seattle, but they don’t stop in Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Everett, etc. The myriad of local transit options, which sometimes are almost conveniently timed, means it is possible to travel between those smaller communities that don’t justify BoltBus service, as well as spanning longer distances.

        South of Tacoma, things are far less organized. You can get from Tacoma to Olympia on local transit, but only occasionally from Tacoma to DuPont and never DuPont to Olympia directly. The only connection between Olympia and Centralia is a planned commuter hours only connection from Twin Transit. Last I checked their planned schedule it was pretty inconvenient to try to use it for anything other than basic Olympia commuting. There is a local bus only (no express freeway operation as further north) that connects Centralia and Chehalis, which is quite slow and not something that really competes with driving. Lower Columbia Community Action Program used to run their bus / vans as far north as a shopping center in Chehalis which connected with this service, but that has stopped now. The farthest north CAP goes now is Castle Rock.

        Transit service could be vastly better on this south from Seattle corridor, but sadly there doesn’t seem to be any coordinated effort at providing the type of transit network that is available between communities north of Seattle.

      5. So the use cases are people visiting family for dinner, people going to an event somewhere, people going to a medical clinic, etc. An intercity bus that charges $15 each way and runs once or twice a day is not going to cut it. That’s why we have all-day Sound Transit to Lakewood and Everett.

        When I was visiting a friend in Germany, we decided to go to Liege one weekend to look up a girl he knew. We used our weekend train pass to the border town (Aachen) and asked about a train to the nearest Belgian city (Verviers). It was $50. We asked about alternatives. The agent pointed us to a local bus. We went to the bus stop and got a through ticket to Liege. (12 zones in their system, for something like $12.) The bus went on a hilly, windy 2-lane road for an hour to Eupen. We transferred to another bus to Verviers, and another to Liege. A three-hour trip, on hourly buses, with 5-20 minute transfers, through a countryside something like Marysville and Snohomish. We should be able to do the same. (But on I-5 and with more direct transfers.)

  2. With the overwhelming defeat of Prop 1 in all but 5 leg.districts in Seattle, it sends a message to all legislators this session that voters are being really careful with their pocketbooks. The problems with Bertha and 520 make asking for more money even more difficult for WSDOT, and now that Seattle will likely fund Ben’s property tax initiative, assuming it makes the ballot, the pressure is off putting another transit only ballot up next this fall.
    I’m reading the tea leaves as everyone ‘doing nothing this year, maybe even 2015, until Bertha gets some dirt dug, 520 gets across the water, and Link opens to UW.
    In other words,
    Let’s kick all the cans down the road again to 2016. Easy Peasy
    Now we’re 8 years into the problems, and transit continues to tread water.

    1. And speaking of Ben’s property tax initiative, I heard him this morning on the radio with Dave Ross. Well done Ben. The only thing wrong with your initiative is that it should have been run a couple of years ago. That said, this fall’s ballot should be good in terms of voter turnout for a YES vote.

  3. It is frustrating to see my Democratic representatives sit idly and not fight for Seattle’s best interest. (Chopp, Pedersen, etc.) Where were they on Prop 1? Why weren’t they fighting for Metro funding? My best guess is they know that a central Seattle district isn’t going to vote Republican, so they are basically guaranteed a seat for life. So why make an effort?

    1. Which is one of the reasons we need good third-party candidates, so voters won’t be left with only a single choice.

      1. Well, I did need a good laugh this afternoon. The only third party we ever get is some weird off-the-wall chit like the Tea Party. Never happen.

    2. Three possibilities: (1) They care about other issues more than transit. (2) They think they’re making a good strategic move. (3) They’re asleep. My guess is #1. So the thing to do is to make transit a top priority for them, by getting their constituents to demand it. The county/city governments are all on board: they’ve given the state a unified message. But too many constituents care more about highways and parking and low taxes than about transit, or at least the representatives presume that they do.

      The state representatives should also be leading, as in leading us to a more sustainable future, with a mixture of incentives and sticks. The cities are already on their way. Slowly perhaps, but their transit master plans show that they’re moving. The state in contrast is almost completely reactionary. It’s doing some good things, such as incrementally expanding Amtrak Cascades, and Western Governers’ University and that Western Climate Initiative…. Oh, about that climate initiative. How are we going to fulfill that if we keep building more highways?… But many of our problems stem from the state thinking like it’s still like the 1970s.

  4. Chopp is horrible on transportation. I don’t understand how a district like the 43rd keeps electing him. Even more than the Republican control of the Senate, Chopps anti-ST stance is holding back a 2016 Sound Transit 3.

      1. The guy just doesn’t get or care about urbanist issues. Especially in a place like the 43rd you would think he’d get challenged on that alone.

      1. In the 43rd? The alternative to Chopp is non-fossilized Dem or a Green/Socialist/Indy. Not a snowballs chance in hell of a Republican.

      2. It will be a cold day before a republican gets elected in Seattle any time soon.

        Since the democrats really don’t like other democrats challenging incumbents best bet is probably a socialist or green. Think someone like Sawant. Her base is mostly in the 43rd and 37th.

    1. We keep electing him because there’s never a real alternative, as the Democratic party nominates him, and the Republicans bother fielding anyone reasonable. I’d vote for a Green or Independent if I could.

      1. Chopp is really strong on low income and workforce housing, benefits, stuff like that. He’s not a new wave “urban” democrat, he’s more off an old school “social contract” democrat. Nothing wrong with that. Also, he wants new light rail stations to basically be auto-upzoned and have low income housing. Hes not anti-urban.

    2. So, the last guy we could vote for that wasn’t Frank Chopp was Gregory Gadow, who heads a pro-gay-marriage parody group that opposed the Defense of Marriage Act by trying to raise signatures for a ballot initiative that would automatically dissolve marriages that had remained childless for 3 years.
      He lost to Chopp with less than 9% of the vote. If we had a credible alternative, who was better on transportation issues, we’d vote for him/her. For now, we either vote for Chopp, or leave it blank; it really makes no difference.

  5. Excellent commentary. Sometimes it feels like Seattle (and immediate surroundings) is all alone and would benefit from autonomy. Car-based cities and towns just have different interests than an urban area. Of course, the Seattle metro area has half of the population in the state, so there must be something we can do to serve our needs. Removing road-loving representatives that we have political control over would be a great start.

    I’m strongly liberal, but would certainly consider voting for a Republican with a good understanding of environmental and urban issues if they ran against a road supporting Democrat.

    1. Many of us would vote for such a Republican if they stepped forward. Usually even if they’re good on one issue, they’re bad on too many other issues, or even just unreliable. Dino Rossi claimed in his last governorship bid that he wasn’t like east cost Republicans and wouldn’t take a sharp turn toward banning abortion or unions or suppressing voting rights or cutting transit funding. And that’s probably true. But other governors have said the same thing, and moderate people can get jerked around by their base. So it was too much of a risk for me. But if somebody turns up who has good ideas on transit, is OK on a wide enough variety of other issues, and can prove they won’t be jerked around, then I might vote for them.

      1. I think Rossi was barely a safe vote. Much more so McKenna.

        I hear ya Mike about the moderate Republicans being jerked around by the new base of the WSRP. I remember debating one of them where she – who shall go nameless – demanded I fully support McKenna’s primary opponent but refused to support McKenna without preconditions. That attitude is what cost my party 2012.

        Furthermore had Republicans not had 2004 Rossi stolen from them, suburban Republicans like Chris Vance would have had a bigger voice in the party. Instead thanks to the lack of results of moderate Republicans and the rise of & radicalization of the Tea Party, we have a crisis in the Republican commons created by a party that increasingly rejects compromise and any tax increase out of Tea Party principle.

        I also believe very fundamentally it would be good to not have a WEA bought-and-paid-for Governor once in a while… and it would be good to push for giving pro-transit legislators of BOTH parties seniority in committees regardless of where they’re from in this state.

        One last thing: Chopp has got to go. I would recommend Rep. Jeff Morris – a moderate from NW Washington State – to replace Chopp.

      2. By the way, I was Republican all my life until the early 90s when I became Libertarian. But in mid 2001 when I saw G W Bush pursue half the libertarian agenda and ignore the other half, I felt that we needed to hold back from further unraveling the existing social contract. That led to me supporting the Democrats as the strongest opposition, and eventually becoming a D. Or as a friend said at the time, “George Bush can make anyone a liberal.”

    2. Agreed. I’m strongly progressive but not particularly tied to any party. I’ve voted for Republicans who are articulate and not off the deep end (Sam Reed, for instance).

  6. I still find that many of STB readers and legislators alike fail to realize that roads have a limited life span. Maintenance of existing roadways has largely stalled or has been crimped to mediocre and useless potholing. Potholes are evidence that the roadway is failing and subgrade is exposed resulting in a costlier full-rebuild of the roadway (á la N 85th from I-5 to 15th Ave NW).

    Roadway preservation is necessary for a pallatable experience on both transit and personal vehicles. No one wants to ride a bus that is jostled about due to gnarly ruts and potholes. However, the vibe I get here is pay for transit and worry about roads later. Articulated buses do great damage to the roadways as they are often overloaded and weight per axle exceeds the requirement for semis.

    What I’m getting at is: roadway maintenance and operations isn’t sexy. It isn’t the most appealing to voters. Roadway construction costs have increased in recent years, but all I hear from local gov’s is: “we’re working to increase pothole repairs.” Widening freeways is of course not a cure-all. Sprawl already exists, so saying that it would make it worse is a misnomer. Targeted widening would best work….USDOT is looking to allow tolling on interstates to help states afford necessary maintenance.

    Trying to combat sprawl by bastardizing those in the suburbs only propagates the “city vs suburbs/rural” animosity. The urban density that many advocate is not going to solve the multi-pronged housing problem. It will only further make Seattle more unaffordable for the working-lower class. STB hates P&R, but that is what makes transit accessible to folks in lower density areas. Unlike the urban folks, us suburbanites don’t want to change buses. We like our express bus to the city and like the convenience of going to the nearby P&R to do so.

    1. From my post:
      “But until we see a real commitment from the Democratic Caucus to focus on the road maintenance backlog rather than highway expansion”

      I’m all for maintenance. But you can’t solve the maintenance problem by primarily building new projects that will require maintenance.

      1. +1

        I don’t know why this topic on the lack of maintainence doesn’t get more traction. Its absurd to keep building new roads while the old ones fall apart.

      2. You also aren’t aiding the road maintenance backlog by adding more buses to a given roadway. Additionally, while tunnelling both a highway (I’m not a fan of burying SR 99) and Link tunnel, tunnel operation costs will be in the millions. You’re talking about life support systems (including lighting, sump-pumps, ventilation fans, fire suppression and monitoring systems). These are grossly more expensive than a day lit/surface system.

      3. You also aren’t aiding the road maintenance backlog by adding more buses to a given roadway

        Nor are we aiding it by adding hundreds or thousands more cars to a given roadway. As the local population and economy grows, more trips will be made, and roads will be damaged to some degree. Buses might help that a bit, but they won’t solve the problem entirely. Where buses and trains shine is in other issues, such as congestion.

      4. I agree, Martin. I also think that while maintenance “is not sexy”, it is popular. I think there is a consensus amongst the general population for basic transportation that includes transit. Repair the roads, but don’t expand or build new ones. If you look at the last transportation package, the lion’s share of the money went to a handful of projects that have nothing to do with maintenance. Kill those projects, repair the existing roads and fund transit. While I (and many of the people on this blog) wish the state would do more (like fund expanded transit including light rail) I think that is unrealistic. I think local jurisdictions can (and will) fund that.

        It doesn’t bother me that much that we have to vote to get Sound Transit (although it bothers me that we have to get legislative approval to vote) but I think it is crazy that we can’t get basic bus service paid for. It would be as if the state didn’t fund basic education, and asked cities to pass levies. Oh, wait, they did that (repeatedly, and were sued as a result).

    2. Many folks here din’t have any problems with road maintainence. The problem is the legislature doesn’t want to maintain roads either, they want to build lots of new roads and provide very little for anything else.

      If presented with a road maintainence and transit bill, I would vote for it immediately.

      Road expansion? No thanks.

      1. I voted for a road maintenance and transit proposition just recently. Lots of people voted against.

      2. Yes, but there were a lot of other problems with that proposal (one being that road maintenance wasn’t even discussed). Another was the funding source (people hate car tabs).

      3. Ross — I don’t disagree about the tabs, but I still contend that road maintenance sunk this proposal (a $20 tab/.1 sales tax to save metro would have passed.) No one votes for it — and the same holds true with state reps. Its just not sexy and no one really cares that much when it comes time to pay.

      4. I agree KyleK, but I wonder if they were just asking for too much. They were trying to backfill the entire Metro KC shortfall, but in the meantime sales tax revenues went up a bit and Olympia scraped up some more money for the SR-99 mitigation.

        Would a .1% sales tax for transit and $40 car tabs split 50/50 for transit and roads have passed? Maybe.

    3. Charlotte,

      +1 on the roadway preservation, but a caveat on your P’n’R expresses.

      As long as you pay a fare for both directions that your Park’n’Ride express runs to give you your one-seat ride in one direction, I agree that they are necessary for suburban users to get value from transit. With all the winding arterials and culs-de-sac outside the older parts of suburban cities and towns, they are the only way to provide service at any sort of reasonable price and speed. Genuine dedicated express buses are quick, pleasant to use and give cars a reasonable run for the money on time. But they do cost a lot to operate.

      To be clear, I’m not writing here about the two-way core routes that happen to run on the freeway for a good part of their trip: 150, 177, 255, and the like. What I’m talking about are the buses that originate at a P’n’R in the morning then run non-stop to the Seattle CBD and vice versa in the evening.

      While some of these “trippers” (the term may be different now) make two or even three round trips, sone only make one. For any that make two or more runs the “backhaul” between them is almost always “Out of Service”, and for every bus that leaves the terminal there is a base deadhead back from the CBD to the base. Add that to the deadhead to the start of service point and you have a service which is “In Service” only a bit more than one-half the traveling bus hours consumed.

      In the afternoon, everything is reversed, but the same “one seat goes both directions for one fare” operation is true.

      Down here in Clark County we have some smooth and quiet hybrid express buses with reading lights and cushy seats that Aunt Patty got for us out of the ARRA (“the stimulus”). They operate from three “transit centers” (e.g. Park and Ride lots) here in Clark County to downtown Portland. They are the “bus of the future”, and to ride them we pay just short of twice what an “all-zone” C-Tran fare that leads to MAX costs.

      Most local service buses, at least those in the city, recover a reasonable portion of their operating expenses. And, after all, “leveling the peak” of traffic congestion is one of the primary jobs of transit. So, rather than charging everyone a “peak hour” surcharge, Metro should charge an “express” fare both for Park’n’Ride expresses and “BlueStreak” type in-city expresses (the “X” routes that get on a freeway or Aurora and make non-stop jaunts to the CBD after a neighborhood pickup zone) with a non-revenue backhaul.

      1. Excuse me; the first sentence of the last paragraph should read “recover a reasonable portion of their operating expenses during peak hours“.

    4. Public infrastructure projects in general tend to ignore maintenance. It is an easy line item to defer when budgets are tight. Besides a ribbon cutting for a maintenance project isn’t seen as a political photo

      As for “targeted widening” I’d be curious what you think some good potential projects are.

      For P&R lots I think you’ll find opinions mixed here. Personally, I don’t support P&R lots in urban areas and I think there should be a parking charge at popular lots for demand management. However they are necessary to make suburban transit work.

    5. We need to maintain roads, yes. We also need to prioritize roads. Let’s start with maintaining the arterials and neighborhood streets, as prop 1 and earlier measures would have done. Then move up to the highways. The 99 and 520 rebuilds were at their core maintenance (not new highways) but they got so many expensive things added on. And we all know that I-5 will have to be rebuilt through Seattle soon. There are long-term ideas such as making 405 the main freeway and putting I-5 on a road diet, but in the end we may just have to hold our noses and resurface it and renovate the viaducts. All of these would be better than extending 509 to I-5, or extending 18 to Everett, or the Cross-Base Highway… some of which were in the failed transportation bill.

      Urban transit is a basic necessity of a well-functioning city. That means comprehensive local transit and strategic rapid transit. The Link tunnels are fixing a problem that has been neglected for fifty years. It would have been much, much cheaper to build the rights of way then but we didn’t, so we have to do it now. So it’s a kind of maintenance too, and not like extending suburban highways.

  7. Well said. This is why it’s crucial we save transit ourselves, whether it’s car tabs for the county or property tax for the city: so that we can’t be extorted into supporting a nightmarish, anti-climate road expansion. We absolutely need to be in a position where Olympia needs to earn our votes on the merits if they want support for a transportation package.

  8. There has been no new highway route built in the last 2 decades despite a 40% increase in population in Western Washington.

    Instead, going back to the original light rail proposals as presented in 1993 and then to the monorail, we were promised the construction of a regional transit system to alleviate congestion.

    However, you bureaucrats pulled the old Razzle Dazzle on the voters and spent all the money to enhance the value of downtown Seattle properties.

    Where is the rail…it’s been hamstrung in downtown for 10 years!? And where are the highways that we traded for it? And why should anyone trust the ideologues in Olympia who are not making us a slave to “cost overruns” via a deal in which the state is liable, but no state vote was every held?

    As far as Mr. Carlyle goes, as a former subscriber to his Facebook Feed, he pretends to be the peacemaker, however, he pretty much said that he hates the suburbs and only likes Seattle. Why should we listen to his partisan views?

    1. Reuven Carlyle is a “former subscriber to his Facebook Feed”? Has he had a paralyzing bout of self-doubt? Is it disgust with his poor editing? Inquiring minds want to know.

      [ed note: indefinite antecedent]

      1. …as a former subscriber to his Facebook Feed, [I found that] he pretends…

        (Has this blog ever considered integrating Facebook we can edit…)

      2. Thanks John, for taking my post in good humor.

        As to your request for a Edit function YES!!!! YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!

    2. Holy smokes, John, what are you talking about?

      The rail has been hamstrung in downtown for ten years? — What kind of nonsense is that. It goes from downtown to the airport. An airport that sits in the suburbs. It is being extended further south (further into the suburbs). Meanwhile, it doesn’t even connect the two biggest urban centers in the state yet (UW and downtown). Mind boggling, really. If you asked for federal approval, or asked the average person on the street, or asked anyone who knows anything about public transportation they would say we should build rail between the UW and downtown first. Both are extremely popular, aren’t that far apart and form the economic lifeblood of the entire state. But first we needed to serve Tukwilla.

      Yes, we will get light rail to the UW soon. We will also serve a couple more Seattle neighborhoods after that. Then the train moves quickly to serve yet another set of suburbs (to the north). But wait; then we will serve the east as well. To be fair, there are some businesses over there, but South Lake Union (an area that will get nothing in the way of rail) will eventually surpass it in terms of population and employment (if it hasn’t already). Eventually, if things go well, we will serve the neighborhood of Ballard, which is bigger than Lynnwood. Yes, you read that right. We will serve a small city (Lynnwood) before we serve a more populous neighborhood (Ballard).

      I understand your philosophy John, and we all share a lot of complaints about Link. But to suggest that the light rail system is too urban focused is just ridiculous. It is the opposite, and will hurt the entire region as a result. What’s that? Won’t the commuter from Kent be able to get to Seattle? Yes, absolutely. But then what? What if his or her job is in Fremont, Ballard, Cascade, South Lake Union, Westlake, Eastlake or Lower Queen Anne? What if someone from the suburbs doesn’t attend the UW, but attends (or works at) Seattle U, South Seattle (Community) College or SPU? Take a bus, I suppose. A slow, infrequent bus. More likely, that person will just drive right past that nice, shiny park and ride in the suburbs and commute directly to work. Or they will work somewhere else.

      1. Apparently there are only two compass points on your map. North and South.

        And for those we do a Good job (not Very Good and certainly not Excellent).

        But for East and West. Fail. Repeat Grade. Summer Classes mandatory.

      2. Ross, I share many of your views in your comment. But as a tourist, as somebody who wants light rail to somehow pay for itself it was vital that a downtown-to-airport link be made. Why do I, normally traveling on a budget and solo, want to sit in a bus or hail a relatively expensive taxi to intercept a downtown light rail line? Instead we now have light rail from SeaTac to downtown to within 2 years the UofW/Hotel Deca. We will also have light rail from SeaTac to Bellevue via the International District station in a few years, another good deal.

        Otherwise I agree. For instance, Ballard shouldn’t be shafted in this for some suburb.

    3. There has been no new highway route built in the last 2 decades despite a 40% increase in population in Western Washington.

      No, but what you have had is some significant capacity increases on the highways that already are there, because that is where the traffic is. Just in the last 10 years, there have been a huge string of expansion projects along Interstate 5 between Seattle and Portland. There are nice signs telling everyone who drives past them how much the project is costing. The huge projects at Centralia and the I-5 I-205 tangle north of Vancouver are still ongoing, and will be for some years.

      So, you are getting your new roads in expansion of existing ones.

      1. Some highways had a lane added — and at the same time they had a lane stolen for HOV/HOT.

        Zero gain.

        And again. No new highway routes built. None. ZERO. Despite a near doubling of population. Completely ludicrous. And the parts of this region were all the growth happened (the Eastern suburbs) benefited not at all from either heavy or light rail.

        Far from voting more money for the current office holders, we need to reduce their funding to the bare minimum until the planners hightail it back to California. They can afford boondoggles there. We can’t. We have to make every dollar count.

      2. Lanes that are added for an HOV lane are not ‘stolen’; they add capacity, or they would if folks would just find someone else to share the car with them. Now I might agree about stolen HOT lanes. Those could be HOV lanes that would actually add capacity to the roads.

        And there are lots of road expansion projects that add lanes which do not add HOV lanes. How about SR-18? How about the I-5 expansion between Maytown and Grand Mound?

      3. I’d like to see an elevated freeway built on top or parallel to i5 from Everett to Tacoma. If a freeway could be built with eight to ten lanes in each direction, it could do wonders for traffic reduction in the sound

      4. John, if you ever actually rode the freeway express buses you love to tout so much, you would understand very well that addition of an HOV lane is a huge gain.

        Without HOV lanes there would be absolutely no financially realistic way to run the vast majority of Sound Transit’s bus network at peak hour.

    4. The expansion of residential land has been a lot larger than the 40% population increase, and that is the problem. If we had built everything as small-lot walkable streetcar suburbs, the distances would be shorter and the demand for highways would be less.

      1. Sounds good to me. That’s what I want. Not sure how you “vote” on it. I wouldn’t mind seeing a bunch of Snohomish 5-bedroom places turned into 2-bedroom homes or townhomes even and transit added. I would densify the suburbs before densifying Seattle.

        It would fall into my incessant plaint to “Build More Seattle”.

  9. Marko Liias, State Senator from Snohomish County – good man. So is 1st District Representative Luis Moscoso. I first met Luis around 30 years ago when I was a regular CT 870 passenger of his between Edmonds and U-District.

    Both are Democrats. However, 30 years ago, Republicans like Seattle attorney Jim Ellis- the founder of the original Metro Transit, and Governor Dan Evans served the people, the reputation of Government, and transit very well.

    Not kidding about need for “Democrats for Improved Republicans.” It’s a fair argument, especially since I watched that repulsive turn hit our country’s politics, that after 1968, the Republican Party was taken over the very worst of the Southern Democrats. Whose former close association should still shame the Democrats.


    But worst effect-however forgivable- over last 46 years has been reduction of Democrats’ main message to: “What choice you got? Vote Republican?” If a Republican win meant a term of Dan Evans, Democrats could use the break to watch the replays and sharpen their game, so no fatal risk in some guts. Two good questions now.

    Political diagnosis? Ideological paralysis: skin condition. Real disease? Across party lines, present governing generation is operating on basic ideas that have been out of date for forty years. Especially on everything public and in particular transportation. Cure? Nature’s own: Somebody else will turn 18 this year. Good timing to take control of both major parties at the grass roots an form a couple of new ones for 2016.

    Good example? Good initiative, Ben.


    1. Even some leftists are pleading for a responsible conservative opposition to emerge, because they realize that one-party dominance or one-idea dominance is not a healthy thing.

  10. Democratic politicians in Olympia are terrified of getting blamed for raising taxes. They will do absolutely anything to avoid it. Eviscerate the schools, let roads crumble, starve children – literally anything. Even most of the legislators that represent Seattle subscribe to this.

    One of the tactics they use to avoid getting blamed for a tax increase is to have a tax raise go to a public vote, relying on outsized support in Seattle. But they always make sure to leverage Seattle pro-tax votes for spending outside Seattle. This was an election in an off year, in April no less – the professional politicians knew this could fail. They sabotaged everything else until King County could be forced into the same boat as Pierce and Snohomish, with massive transit cuts.

    They don’t want King County to get anything without helping out Pierce and Snohomish. Don’t expect a Seattle-only transit bailout to happen. There will be sabotage from Olympia. Hell, now that Murray has deposed the best mayor for transit any American city has ever had, there will be sabotage from the city government itself. I would expect instead that they will fold King, Pierce and Snohomish (and maybe Kitsap and Thurston) transit into Sound Transit. Murray has, in fact, been pushing this idea for years.

    Oh, and then when things like this happen, they can spew this bullshit about electing Democrats helping Seattle. When has the Democratic Party in Olympia done anything significant for Seattle, instead of against it? Carlyle must either be delusional, or think everyone else in Seattle is delusional. Suburban Democrats love to fuck over Seattle.

    1. “Democratic politicians in Olympia are terrified of getting blamed for raising taxes.”

      This. People don’t understand that the Eymanites here and the national conservative trend since 1980 have not only affected the R’s, they’ve affected the D’s too. The only way to turn it around is to do what Seattle Subway has done: show that there’s a large number of voters who care more about transit than taxes. In some cases, the timid officials are right: approving a tax increase will doom their reelection chances. But in some cases it’s overgrown paranoia and obsolete assumptions, and that’s what we need to shatter.

    2. “Hell, now that Murray has deposed the best mayor for transit any American city has ever had,”

      Sh*t I must have missed the fact McSchwinn got canonized this weekend with the two popes…

    3. “I would expect instead that they will fold King, Pierce and Snohomish (and maybe Kitsap and Thurston) transit into Sound Transit. Murray has, in fact, been pushing this idea for years.”

      It would be the best thing that could happen for transit if done right.

      If done right – or at least the benefits done of bulk purchasing everything from office supplies to equipment and also labor negotiations plus end route duplication – it would take the wind out of the sails of most transit critics.

      Plus if Tacoma, Everett and Seattle are in the same boat they can’t be played off against each other or sit in apathy when one of the three’s transit is attacked. The Three Transiteers, ba-by!

    4. I would expect instead that they will fold King, Pierce and Snohomish (and maybe Kitsap and Thurston) transit into Sound Transit.

      Pierce and Snohomish are already “folded” into ST. And who “they”? If you’re talking about the legislature “they” don’t have the power to command that Kitsap and Thurston counties become part of ST. And King certainly doesn’t want poor rural counties adding more clueless board members to an already stupid governing body that lets the mayor of Sumner hold real power; as if Sumner were actually a city. The old saying, “if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem” comes to mind.

      1. I suspect he meant that King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Community Transit, and Everett Transit all get subsumed into Sound Transit so that a Single Unifying Transit Force provides service in all of those areas.

        By my way of thinking, that’s a horrible idea. Sound Transit should be left the hell alone to do what it is good at, which is providing regional transit. If anything, we need to get more regional routes onto it, like the MT 255. Electing its board would get us into an even bigger morass (does anyone pay attention to what the elected members of the Port of Seattle are doing? No? There’s your answer) with no benefit.

      2. lakecityrider, that is the idea of a Single Unifying Transit Force which I support. I do share your concern about electing the board because we could see folks put in there as figureheads for moneyed interests like transit unions, developers, road bullies, the works.

      3. It can’t happen. ST doesn’t run buses. They contract out the service to the local transit agencies. It would be unimaginable to task ST with running bus service in Seattle; there is no body of knowledge in ST. They can’t even efficiently carry out their mandated task of building regional high capacity transit. The charter that establishes their ability to tax would prohibit them from taking on this role.

    5. It may make sense in the long run to merge all the King. Pierce. and Snohomish transit agencies into one. But again it may not. In any case it should not be rushed.

      And while on the surface it looks like it’s simply folding them into Sound Transit. in reality it goes way beyond what Sound Transit is. It would be more like folding them into Metro. ST doesn’t do much operations. only planning and management. And its service area does not cover all of the others, just part of them.

      1. It’s what Sound Transit does not do. Folding all those agencies’ responsibilities into Sound Transit would fundamentally change Sound Transit and turn it into a different kind of agency, with a larger service area. It would be a bigger version of Metro.

    1. I didn’t vote for him but so far I have to say I’m impressed with Jay Inslee. Even his choice of Lynn Peterson for Secretary of Transportation which I dismissed since she isn’t an engineer I have to say I’m liking. Maybe knowing how to build bridges isn’t as important in this position as knowing how to get bridges built.

    1. Road maintenance? Yes.

      More lanes, more pavement, more freeways? Not until the HOV/HOT lanes are filled to capacity.

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