Avgeek Joe/Flickr

For at least five years, the primary objective of City and County transportation lobbying effort has been new revenue authority for Metro, generally understood to be some form of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). County leaders held back on “Plan B,” a flat vehicle fee via a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), until the last possible moment prior to cuts, partly because progressive voters would view a tax proportional to the value of the vehicle as fairer.

In hindsight, that was a mistake. An April election has an unfavorable electorate. Again, this is 20/20 hindsight — I thought saving Metro had a decent chance this year — but after the 2013 legislative session accomplished nothing, they should have immediately planned a November 2013 ballot measure via TBD. April’s result suggests that replacing a flat fee with an MVET wouldn’t have made much of a difference in a spring tally, but higher turnout might have.

This November, Seattle voters will vote on preserving most of their own service after experiencing the first swath of cuts. Odds are very good that they vote to keep buses running. Although Mayor Murray has said all the right things about the Seattle funding being temporary until there is a regional solution, in fact the stakes for future legislative action are quite low. Winning a countywide vote is about a better election turnout, the likely end of the myth that Metro will magically avoid cuts through “efficiency”, and convincing more conservative voters. Although MVET would be great, the precise structure of the vehicle taxes is unlikely to be decisive, and in any case the highest demand jurisdiction (Seattle) will almost certainly be in reasonable shape.

That’s why Seattle and King County should reorient their priorities towards something with a higher payoff. I’m referring, of course, to Sound Transit 3. As the legislature considers a large package to address the perceived transportation problems around the state, ST3 is the only project that will truly change transportation in dense urban areas and key regional chokepoints.

Moreover, action is  urgent. There has been essentially no public discussion of the need for more authority for Sound Transit in Olympia, and there are only two more sessions before the November 2016 election. Sound Transit, wisely, strongly prefers votes in Presidential election cycles, and if we miss the 2016 opportunity it may have to wait till 2020. That would likely slide even early light rail segments to around 2034, and late ones near mid-century. If most of the people in the debate today are going to see its fruits in their working lives, it’s time for local leaders and our representatives in Olympia to not just play defense and instead focus on the right thing.

119 Replies to “It’s Time to Shift Lobbying Priorities”

  1. …and this is where I feel I differ from many on here. When will we say, “ENOUGH!”

    When my motorcycle tabs rival my truck tabs, I’m left scratching my head asking, “Why does King County levy all these fees?” Where’d the money go? The King County GOP had a valid argument!

    Oddly, I see that a huge chunk of those fees goes to ST/KCM via RTID. I’m at the point where I’d like to see KCM/ST/CT privatized.

    1. Because privatization of public services always ends up better for everyone, and not just the shareholders, right?

    2. Interesting how much people complain about the costs of transit, when highways cost astronomically more. Why don’t I hear more complaining about the $5.8 billion price tag for the 520 bridge, rather than the $2 price tag for U Link, which transports the same number of people, etc.

      1. That really is the crux of the matter. Once highway construction money dries up, how are states and cities going to fund road construction or maintenance? It’s going to be a painful revelation, but increased gas taxes and tolls will be the only way to maintain the current road system. Expansion will require even higher taxes and tolls. At that point, when the cost of driving has risen considerably, the value and efficiency of mass transit will be much clearer to suburban voters and their legislators.

      2. It’s because people rarely (if ever) bother to think/look up the costs of building a new lane on I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass ($551 million) or that shiny new bypass freeway in Spokane ($1.9 billion for the northern/cheaper half), but they immediately begin complaining while looking at the $1.9 billion price tag for University Link.

        I would want to see some anti-road ad campaigns that shove the costs of road construction right into the faces of complaining taxpayers.

      3. Chetan,

        I haven’t seen a post by you before. Welcome to the blog.

        You are absolutely correct, of course, but spending $2 billion on transit hurts the average narcissist much more than $6B on a highway. Because “gangs” and “smelly” and “I can go when I want to”.


        Your prediction is right on, but unfortunately when it comes to pass it won’t be The Reason Foundation and Cascade Policy Institute guys who’ve poured out their deceptive arguments for decades who get the blame for the sprawl costs.

      4. You can’t move freight on U-Link. Not all freight can be moved on heavy rail…and not all freight moved to I-90. According to WSDOT’s SR 520 Bridge Financing page, the 520 total project cost (including the unfunded connection to I-5) is $4.2 billion….not $6 billion. The items under active construction between I-405 and Montlake are an estimated $2.9 billion.

      5. “Once highway construction money dries up, how are states and cities going to fund road construction or maintenance?”

        It dried up long ago. At around the year 2000, Washington state switched from becoming a ‘receiver’ state of Federal funds, to a ‘donor’ state.

        During the time the state had the 2 senior senators – Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson, and Warren Magnuson, we were getting lots of road pork. Plus the last of I-90 was finished. Remember it used to touch down at Rainier Ave, and you drove to Dearborn and entered I-5 from there.

        Maintenance isn’t getting done, and when new lane construction is done it is because the job of upgrading the worn out roadbed is combined with the extra lane costs.

        The cost of the extra lanes is at the expense of upkeep on other state and local highways.

        I don’t think many people understand how ‘on the edge’ the highway system lives.
        Think WSF.

      6. Charlotte,

        If all we had to move on the Interstate highways was the 18-wheelers and their double- and triple-bottom brethren plus the traffic which is actually traveling between states, I-5 would flow at 5:00 PM on a weekday past Fort Lewis like the stretch between Highway 12 and the Cowlitz at 3 AM on Monday morning.

        Trucks break down the load-bearing layers of the structure on older, un-reconstructed freeways, but they’re too infrequent to affect the surface much. With the new slow-setting concrete engineers are predicting that trucks at current weight limits have no measurable deleterious effect on the structure of reconstructed roadways either.

        So don’t give us the “freight and switch” argument from the flacks at CPI. The reason that freeways are clogged and the surface abrades is the overwhelming volume of commuters and short distance travelers. And of course it’s those same commuters who produce the need for new lanes.

      7. Freight isn’t the reason WSDOT is adding lanes to I-405. A project where each lane-mile is roughly the same cost as a mile of LINK between Westlake and Northgate. These new lanes are clogged with traffic from the very moment they open.

        While WSDOT has given up on the idea of ever expanding I-5 through Seattle some anti-transit types like the Cascade Policy Institute think this would be a better investment than transit. Estimates for I-5 expansion through Seattle run on the order of $1 billion+ per lane-mile.

        Remember we don’t even have money for the very expensive resurfacing and bridge rehabilitation I-5 through Seattle needs sooner rather than later.

        Even if we did have the money to turn all of our highways into 22 lane Houston style monstrosities traffic congestion would only ease briefly. In areas where highway expansion is the word of the day any new freeway lanes soon clog with new traffic. The problem of induced demand is well known in traffic engineering circles.

        Even sprawling sunbelt cities are starting to realize that massive highway expansion projects are a story of diminishing returns. The sea-change in attitudes toward transit from civic leadership in recent years is amazing.

        Who would have thought that Alphretta would be clamoring loudly for a MARTA extension or that communities in Phoenix would be lining up to be next for light rail.

    3. Re: “Where’d the money go?” People might not like paying the taxes, but they really don’t have a complaint about not knowing where the money goes. If people are interested, all the agencies and governments publish public accounts.

    4. Charlotte – Motorcycle tabs resemble truck tabs by design, due to I-695 and the state legislature. Stirred up by a Tim Eyman campaign, the state legislature decided that all vehicles should cost only $30 per year to register. Sound Transit got an exception so they can charge a flat fee on top of the state fee.

      So far, ST tabs have funded Link light rail, Sounder commuter rail and ST express buses. I think we are getting plenty of value from these investments.

      Metro has been lobbying the state for years to get an MVET to shore up bus service, in which registration fees would vary with vehicle value. But the legislature has refused to act.

      1. Pedant note: Sound Transit didn’t get an exemption, it won a lawsuit that said that the state (via the voters, in this case) can’t remove taxing authority that has been used to back revenue bonds.

        I still don’t see what the uproar over “car tab fees” really is. This weekend, I gave the State of Washington and its various local entities approximately $170 to renew the registration on my two vehicles. That’s 6% of the amount I spend each year on property taxes or less than one month of car insurance. It’s also just a little more than the cost of *one* vehicle registration back in Texas.

        With the exception of sales tax–which is only 1 point higher than I used to pay before I moved here–Washingtonians have it really good for taxes and “fees.” Property taxes are less than half of most “low-tax” jurisdictions, vehicle registration fees are 15% lower (as always, your costs may vary depending on the specific type of vehicle), and…that’s about all of the taxes that most regular folks pay on a regular basis.

        Seriously, this stuff costs money and should be paid for. When the ferry system, allegedly Washington’s most visible tourist attraction, is having financial difficulties, you know we’ve screwed up somewhere along the way.

      2. …and if they want to escape sales taxes on big ticket items, there are a few that pay a visit down here to Oregon.

        One of the significant issues is the fact the gasoline tax doesn’t increase with inflation like sales tax does. If we could figure out a way to make it a % rather than a pennies per gallon fee, and make that % equal to what it was 20 years ago, then the roads would be adequately funded. That portion of property tax dedicated to roads could then be used for transit.

        Sadly, neither Washington nor Oregon has done anything about gasoline taxes since around 1993.

  2. Not to say that the present system of taxation can’t be improved. These things are always open to adjustment. But why do you think any private company could do the job either better or cheaper? Do you have any particular company in mind? And what’s its track record for performance?

    Remember also that for any private company’s first duty is to its investors. Meaning that somebody’s investors already think that any of the transit systems you mention will be worth their money. Do we have any bids yet? Or any interest at all?

    Mark Dublin

  3. Couldn’t agree more. The Seattle/King County delegation’s position should be simple. If we’re going to raise taxes for transportation, those taxes must include light rail. No light rail? No support for a transportation package.

    1. I’m not sure I would be that thrilled to vote for a roads and transit package that merely extended the Link network from Lynnwood to Everett, from Microsoft to downtown Redmond, and from Des Moines to Tacoma. If there isn’t a new line for Seattle, and retrofits to solve some of the 30-year bottlenecks (e.g. the dwell-time issues that will force 4-minute minimum headway in the DSTT, that missing vent in U-Link, funding the northgate pedestrian bridge if the City won’t, and making MLK safer for all modes), I just don’t see myself voting for highway money to add less-important extensions to the central spine that will hit the best transit nodes by 2024.

      If Republicans control one or both houses, it seems unlikely we will get anything better than roads and transit. Heck, it seems unlikely we will get anything better than new roads and some old road maintenance.

      With Democrats, it seems to depend on the Democrat who happens to be in the wrong position of leadership. Certainly, Judy Clibborn coulnd’t be as bad as Mary Margaret Haugen was, but I haven’t seen much progress come out of her committee.

      1. But what’s half a loaf when you have tens of thousands in West Seattle and Ballard and Fremont to feed?

        Anyway, some kind of starter line to West Seattle, as Seattle Subway proposed, needs to be built before it gets too expensive to build.

      2. You mean SOMEONE is getting SOMETHING. If Seattleites don’t get even a thin slice of a loaf, I don’t see where the votes would come from to extend Link to the less dense portions of the region. Some of the loaf needs to be dispersed to the areas with the largest concentration of voters.

        It would also be to suburban voters’ benefit to pay attention to the capacity limitations on Link, and start asking for a second line, so that Central Link doesn’t become a single point of failure that can leave hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded.

      3. Brent, I meant that everybody will get something. I also meant that we transit supporters would get something rather than nothing.

        I do think long term you are right Central Link “could become a single point of failure that can leave hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded.” The recent SoDo shooting & resulting chaos should have been a wake-up call.

      4. While the legislature can change the underlying law if they wish it is unlikely they will mess with sub-area equity so Sound Transit can “complete the spine” without any projects in North King.

        If Lynnwood/Everett is funded expect there to be enough money for a number of major projects in Seattle.

      5. Subways are single points of failure in every city that has them. There’s no way to compensate for a highest-capacity line except with an equal capacity line. When subways break down, cities put in bus bridges which can’t carry as many people as the subway did or as fast, and they make news announcements for people to avoid the area. If there’s enough notice, then enough people may postpone trips or go other ways that gridlock doesn’t happen (as in the recent freeway maintenance on I-90 and in Los Angeles). If there’s not enough notice, then gridlock is inevitable, as in 9/11 when pedestrians filled the entire Brooklyn Bridge to get home and cars and buses just had to sit.

        If you build 4-track lines instead of 2, then the express tracks can offer a built-in backup.

    2. Unfortunately, the city delegation is not needed to pass a statewide highway construction bill, probably on the state credit card (general revenue bonds). Not at all.

      What I don’t understand is why the rubes in the rest of the state are so against a high earner income tax as proposed by W Gates Sr a few years ago. They won’t be paying it from their trailers. It’ll be the “latte-sippers” in Seattle who will.

      Their stupidity is amazing.

      1. It has been blamed on right-wing talk radio. It’s notoriously full of lying propaganda — and it’s taken over nearly all the radio waves in a lot of rural areas. And people in rural areas often still listen to the radio, due to poor cellphone/WiFi/Internet service.

  4. The advocacy goal wasn’t “let us vote on MVET” it was “fund transit.” Sending an MVET to a vote was always a fallback position. And the “Plan B” was the fallback to the fallback.

    This proposal sets up a false choice between rail expansion and local bus service. There’s no reason why we cannot have both, or why we cannot simply roll in local bus service funding to an ST3 package.

    One of the reasons why the April measure failed was that it did not offer anything new to voters in swing districts. An ST3 measure would help with this but only in the cities getting new rail service. Adding bus service that connects to the proposed lines would help swing some more votes in our direction. How many more? Not clear, but given the opposition even ST3 alone will face, every new vote matters.

    Transit advocates need to not be too clever. Good advocacy is clear and simple. We want everyone in the region to have access to good transit. That means we want to expand our rail network and provide frequent, reliable buses to help people access that network. We expect the legislature to provide the funding we need to provide that service. The state needs to provide an MVET for local transit and ST3 authority. (We can alway amend that final line depending on what the specific ask looks like.)

    1. “One of the reasons why the April measure failed was that it did not offer anything new to voters in swing districts.” Yes!!!

      ST1 and ST2 both had ST Express elements in them. I expect no less in ST3, especially if the alternative is making every station a park & ride. The politicians from the various subareas are pretty much in charge of that. If ST Express 560 is an example, though, I have to say no to more ST Express for the north King subarea.

      Meanwhile, we *are* voting on more bus service, in November. I’m disappointed that preserving service for the fewest is the top priority for the funding, but whatever. Some of that funding will eventually make its way to the routes that need it most. I’m much more moved by the idea of saving the C, D, E, 120, 40, the *new* 73, etc, than saving the 2, 7x, or 34. (Please tell me the funding won’t be wasted on bringing back the 7x or 34.)

    2. Robert,

      Will everyone wake up and smell the coffee? No “ST3” package will pass because the suburbs already have what they really need. While the powers that be in Snohomish County appear to believe — wrongly I think — that SnoCo voters will bind themselves to an additional fifteen years’ taxes to get “Link to Everett!”, county voters in King aren’t going to do the same in order to get Link to downtown Redmond and (maybe) Federal Way. They sure don’t give a hoot about Link to Tacoma.

      They’ve already demonstrated clearly that they don’t give a rip about suburban bus service, so your idea that adding more bus service to connect to Link isn’t going to help.

      Most especially, given the rancid envy of the “libruls” in Seattle, they will probably vote “No” just to be certain that there is no Ballard-UW or Ballard-Downtown line.

      If Seattle wants grade separated rail transit other than Central and U/Northgate Link, it needs to pass a head tax on employment, a stiff per space commercial parking tax (including “free” employee parking spaces), and “curtain tolling” at the freeway exits around the CBD and U-district and dedicate the revenues from all of them to “Seattle Subway”, of course not managed by the line drawers currently in charge.

      As an additional “thank you” to suburban voters for being such mensches about helping the city out, make the taxes paid for parking and curtain tolling creditable against the city portion of Seattle’s property tax so residents effectively don’t pay them. The majority of City residents accessing the CBD and U-district ride the bus anyway.

      1. I strongly support suburban bus service, on its merits and for the politics. Without suburban bus service we consign more people to poverty and make it harder to reduce CO2 emissions and oil consumption. It’s impossible to build legislative support for transit without suburban bus service – and Seattle is simply not able to build its own transit itself.

      2. Robert,

        “Suburban bus service” lost 60 to 40 in the areas it serves! If that isn’t some sort of metric for the support it has, I can’t imagine what might be.

        What do you think “sub-area equity” effectively means? The North King Sub-Area includes Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, and …. wait for it… Seattle. Of which trio Seattle comprises well over 85% of the population.

        No, Seattle, can’t by itself pass ST3 without the other areas in the tri-county area. The legislature made certain that could not happen. But, “yes”, Seattle is able to build the transit it needs itself. It just needs to use its available taxing authorities more wisely and completely.

        I understand that the City Council is in mortal fear that everyone will up and leave if they impose an employment tax or commercial parking levies. Well, it’s just not going to happen. Businesses are moving to Seattle, not away from it. It’s where the intellectual ferment is bubbling and where the young creatives that drive modern business want to live.

        By the time they have kids and move to Rose Hill their new ideas are all used up.

      3. I hear Kent’s a good place to live if you don’t like Seattle’s taxes. Maybe the mass stampede will increase vacancies in Seattle and thus lower rents.

      4. A link extension to Everett could certainly get people who live in Everett on board, but isn’t going to do squat for people in Lynnwood or Edmonds, who would only ride the ST-2-funded section of Link anyway. Residents of those areas that work in Everett drive today and are going to keep driving post ST 3, since the distance is not long enough to be worth the overhead of driving up a multistory parking garage and waiting for the train – especially if the train on the Everett side isn’t going to serve anything beyond P&R’s and transit centers.

        Ironically, if anyone in Lynnwood is going to have a reason to vote for ST 3, it’s going to be commuters to Fremont or Ballard, who would be thrilled at the opportunity for a quick subway transfer at Brooklyn Station, rather than a slow slog on the #32 or #44 to complete the trip.

      5. asdf,

        Spot on analysis, though I’m not certain that the folks in Everett give a rip about a train to Seattle. They have one they don’t use, and what’s more they seem pretty happy with their sleepy little port.

        The ST reps from SnoCo are pretty clearly smoking some of Washington’s newly legal herbal essence. Lynnwood and done.

      6. While there are flaws with the April Prop1 measure I think people are reading way too much into the results of a special election.

        If prop 1 had been on the ballot in November 2012 or even November 2014 it would have stood a much better chance of passage.

        The lower the turnout the more conservative and anti-tax the electorate tends to be and special elections have very low turn-outs.

        Conversely Presidential election years have the highest turnouts followed by years with a Senate race on the ballot. The parties tend to run large coordinated campaigns in these years focused on GOTV in addition to the GOTV efforts of the individual campaigns.

        All that said, the messaging can’t be ignored either. Selling a shiny bag of new toys is much easier than telling people at best they will keep what they already have.

        Also remember ST3 needs 50%+1 in the entire ST taxing district, not 50%+1 in each sub-area.

  5. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think voters — suburban King County voters and beyond — would fund an accelerated ST3+ plan if it meant:

    1) Building out a pervasive, regional, rapid rail and bus transportation network.
    2) Accelerating the construction of all LINK suburban expansion
    3) Guaranteed station amenities like adequate free parking

    And so long as such an omnibus was not laden with:

    1) Taxes for local bus service
    2) Any anti-suburban ideology or agendas

    1. Realistically, the suburban politicians (particularly the ones on the ST Board) will set the suburban capital project list and any new ST bus service. My personal distaste for prioritizing parking stalls over bus service is because parking stalls don’t give me access to much of the suburbs outside the walkshed of the all-day train stations. More bus service means more suburban businesses that might get my business.

      1. I am thinking of the Kent Station model of:

        A bus hub servicing the express train
        Adequate parking
        Possibly a mall, or at least a few retail, food outlets
        Possibly some near by housing/apartments

        In addition, working with Uber, etc, to develop standby ride and ridesharing service.

      2. Somewhat surprisingly, even though I live in the city, I’ve found the parking facilities at suburban transit centers not entirely useless. For example, a lot of hiking or outdoor recreation groups meet at Issaquah Transit Center for carpooling, which, between Car2Go and the 554, can actually be reached from most of north Seattle for as little as $8/45 minutes, door to door (since this is usually early on a weekend morning, there is no traffic). This makes it possible to get out of town relatively cheaply and painlessly without the expense and hassle of car ownership.

        Now, let’s suppose that Issaquah Transit Center did not have parking. The group would likely still meet in somewhere around Issaquah, but it would be somewhere with much less transit service, or none at all. Now, joining the group would require the much larger expense of either riding Uber for 20+ miles or renting a car for the entire day.

  6. Martin, has STB spoken to Murray (who has talked about his connections with Olympia as a plus, etc) or Ron Kubly on their commitment to ST3 in 2016? (This is part of my continuing suggestion of outreach to Mayor, his SDOT person, etc.)

  7. I’m all for ST3 – but if I were a State Senator, I want to see some reforms in return.

    #1. I want Sounder North gone. Replaced with express buses. Expect a post next week when I have time to do the research to back up why.

    #2. I want a shotgun marriage of Everett Transit & Community Transit. Either that, or get the two agencies to come up with a better Paine Field service plan (for starters).

    #3. I want priority on buses to serve the hub of light rail.

    #4. I want a dialogue about further efficiencies in providing transit services.

    1. I think number 2 would not work because Everett approved a tax for Everett Transit and not Community Transit. I also think if more service goes to Paine Field Boeing should pay half for that service. If Link light rail goes to it Boeing should pay for segment that goes to them and 25% of the operation cost each year for the rest of it’s service life.

      1. Boeing isn’t asking for LINK service to Paine Field it is elected officials and civic leadership in Everett.

    2. Yes on points 1 and 2. Sounder North is a BOONDOGGLE .

      Plus I would like to see Seattle ( maybe with Shorleline/LFP ) focused work on the Northeast Quadrant. LCW is developing nicely and there was stated goals by the big land owner of the dealerships that he develop the lots into housing/retail if there was better transit service beyond express buses. I can imagine a line running from Roosevelt up LCW up through to UW Bothell potentially. BUT, instead we are focusing on the sprawly West Seattle area instead…

      1. Indeed, Groan. Any rational analysis of density patterns, destinations per mile of needed ROW, in-progress (rather than hypothetical) redevelopment, all-day transit demand, general urban integration and 3-dimensional mobility patterns — and the cumulative cost-benefit rising from all the aforementioned combined — would place Lake City Way in line for a Link spur well before any hop/skip/jump proposal to some subset of West Seattle sprawl.

        But don’t tell the STB community that I said so. It would negate their ability to impugn my rationalism by painting me as a curmudgeonly twat who advocates rail only where it would directly benefit me.

        (Full disclosure: I never really go to Lake City, and would probably never live there. I endorse the priority in spite of this. Frankly, I rarely go to the U-District either, and have long prioritized that approach for the sake of cost-benefit as well.)

      2. “It would negate their ability to impugn my rationalism by painting me as a curmudgeonly twat who advocates rail only where it would directly benefit me.”

        Don’t forget that you said you were leaving and yet repeatedly keep commenting. Another reason to impugn you.

      3. You must “impugn” a particular attribute of your target. You cannot merely impugn a human being in toto.

        How about bothering to learn a thing or two about the written language before taking exception to the rational arguments of others?

      4. My little 300 SF grass shack just closed on my tiny island retreat from Seattle Transit Blovationaries (STB).
        No congestion on the beach, taxes are zilch and I haven’t impugned anything lately – I’m in a good place d.p.
        ps, the shack down the beach just went on the market.

    3. Sounder North would make sense if they added more stops.

      Golden Gardens

      at least.

      Having direct access to downtown and the tunnel hub means that every trip doesn’t require going through all the traffic just to get to the U District buses.

      1. Sounder North doesn’t touch Ballard until it crosses over the west end of the ship canal. There wouldn’t be much point to having both those stations a half mile apart. But then, that station would be useless to commuters, who are tryind to head downtown, and would end up using up the parking that enables several times more people to access that beachfront parkland every day.

        Thanks, but no thanks.

      2. Having a stop in Golden Gardens would not be worth the investment. No one would be walking to from Ballard to Golden Gardens to get to downtown Seattle, and no one is going to walk from Golden Gardens to Ballard.

        Unless you have an existing connection to transit at that stop its not even worth considering.

        By Ballard, do you mean you want to put a stop by the locks? This is also quite far from the population center of Ballard.

      3. John,

        Who exactly is going to patronize a Golden Gardens stop on a daily basis? There’s a 150 foot high cliff separating the rail line from the million dollar houses on the bluff.

        There might be transfer opportunities for a Ballard stop at the locks, and even maybe some walk up ridership including the small area in Magnolia just to the south. But Golden Gardens? “No”, just “No”.

        Sounder North is a prisoner’s ball dragging down all other transit projects in the region because of its egregious cost per passenger and unreliability.

      4. @Anandakos

        Not to mention that it would put Ballard commuters at the mercy of the slide prone cliffs between Edmonds and Mukilteo. If there is a slide those trains stay in Everett.

        At least in Everett, you can easily hop an ST bus to get downtown instead.

      5. “dragging down all other transit projects in the region”? Only Snohomish is paying for it, and the primary casualty is that Link didn’t reach Ash Way or Everett in ST2.

      6. Not a bad suggestion, John, but I think it misses the point. Sounder North is just too slow and too infrequent along that line to be popular. There just aren’t enough people who want to spend an hour getting from Everett to Seattle. Not when buses can do the same thing, are generally faster, and serve more stops downtown. Nor are there that many people who want to visit the intermediate stops. I could easily see how the Edmonds stop would be popular for folks who want to connect to the ferry, but this runs so infrequently as to be almost useless in that regard.

        Trying to add extra stops along the way won’t make it work. For example, adding an Interbay stop has great potential. Now you could radically change the routes in the area to serve the station, instead of downtown. Magnolia buses never leave Magnolia, while buses from Queen Anne and Ballard travel more frequently, but a shorter distance. But again, that won’t work. The line doesn’t run frequently enough, nor will it, ever.

        The only way this line would work is if there are lots of people in Everett who desperately want to get to Seattle, and this is the best way to get there. There aren’t, and this isn’t, and the numbers show that. In general, that is problem with commuter rail. It only works if there are lots of people who are traveling a long distance, and are all pretty much headed to the same area. That just isn’t the case with this line.

      7. The 44 isn’t so far away from the BNSF main line through there. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a Golden Gardens station, but it shouldn’t be that hard to alter the 44 a little bit to make transfers happen. Or an improved version of the 17?

        No, it wouldn’t help downtown commuters at all, but downtown isn’t the only place people need to go.

        It is phenomenally expensive for a number of reasons, including there are no return trips so you have four one-way crews.

        It either needs to be improved or severely altered to the point of usefulness, or killed off.

      8. @John Balio

        Please clarify… I assume you aren’t suggesting that the city attempt to condemn property at the top of 80th for the purpose of building a housing complex, right?

        Are you instead suggesting that we tear down the east part of Golden Gardens park and build apartments on the cliff face?

        Seems like a non-starter to me either way.

        A new parking structure at Golden Gardens is also not a good idea as the access to that area is pretty bad (narrow windy roads) and would be largely unused by commuters.

      9. Mike,

        Snohomish County folks may be paying for it, but every other loudmouth on the right is pointing to is as the poster child for bad transit planning.

        And using it to imply that all others are equally poor.

      10. If the presence of Sounder North means ST 3 has to raise more money to get Link to Everett, that’s more potential opposition.

      11. A few people are upset at Sounder North’s operating costs. Others are glad it had low capital costs and runs the hours the freeways are full (and the only hours they’d use it). Most people have no idea how much Sounder costs, or how much Link costs or buses cos, they just want more trains in their particular area, or more highways and buses in their particular area, or are ideologically oposed to transit across the board. Even if they think they know how much trains or buses cost, they are often wildly mistaken, or don’t compare it to other things (e.g., the traffic and lost opportunities and dampened commerce if a line didn’t exist). And that’s what they vote on.

        That’s actually a fundamental problem, that many people don’t understand even basic facts about the transit systems they’re voting on. (Jarret’s book “Human Transt” is an attempt to address that.) We have to ask why is this, and who should have been educating the public on the nature, benefits, and limitations of all the transit-network alternatives. That “who” is the county and state leadership. If they had started a better information campaign three decades ago, there wouldn’t be people voting blindly on systems they don’t understand now. There’s no time like the present to start. :)

      12. Mike,

        You’re obviously a good-hearted guy with an optimistic streak. I admire that and say “thank you”.

        But also obviously don’t read the comments section of the Seattle Crimes, do you? There are a lot of seriously deranged people in America, and many of them listen to the big megaphone shouters on radio and TV paid for by cynical corporatists. The folks who used to be comfortably middle class but who’ve seen their financial futures overcast by debt and uncertainty are ripe for the lies those folks spew. If some flack from CPI tells them that “developers and liberals” are in league to take their property and guns they’ll believe it and vote accordingly.

        It’s a sad reality and a strong reason for Seattle to pull up its socks and build transit for itself. Once done it can throw it into the SoundTransit or Metro system for transfers and operational efficiency. But the city shouldn’t wait for the rubes to come to the realization that they’re spending a quarter of their income on commuting and want some transit all of a sudden.

      13. Those are usually the ones who are opposed to transit across the board, because cars are an expression of American freedom and anti-socialism and manliness. They would have voted no regardless, and want to privatize Metro too.

      14. Mike,

        That’s exactly right, and those folks voted 60-40 against the Metro taxes. There are many more voters in non-Seattle King County now than there are in the City itself. My recollection is that in Seattle the Proposition passed by about the same margin, the other way.

        So the suburbanites’ 40-60 will trump Seattle’s 60-40, and of course Pierce will be strongly against and Snohomish a wash at best.

        The tao is against regional transit at this time; fortunately for South and Central Puget Sound region, the necessary parts of the spine got built before the backlash set in.

        But some excellent quality and nice transfer facility needs to come into existence somewhere between Rainier Beach and TIB so that Metro can start saving money by not running buses from Renton, Kent and Auburn all the way to downtown Seattle.

    4. Please don’t force Everett to cut Sunday service. Stay calm, and southwest Shohomish County’s bus funding priorities will shft dramatically in 2023. I do fear a massive layoff of CT operators when that time comes, though. Shifting some of their service to coming out of Northgate Station in 2021 would soften the blow. Sideways to that, I foresee half the Link trains turning back at Stadium Station, starting with the opening of Northgate Link, at least during peak, due to using up the accessible LRV fleet until East Link opens.

    5. Eliminating Sounder North is an extremely bad idea. We should not ever advocate for the elimination of transit service. If people want to add service elsewhere, that’s fine, but cutting existing routes is a bright red line that we must never cross.

      1. As far as I can tell, ST has no intent to cut this service. I wouldn’t be against them selling the capacity to Cascades and have them run it instead though (if that is possible), especially once there is a LRT route running all the way to Everett.

      2. Robert, when it’s porky transit service for upper crust and tourists (I’m the latter) that can be replaced via cheaper means and conserve resources to serve MORE riders… I’ll cross that line.

        But not before.

      3. When you have a situation where nearly every conceivable trip on a transit line can be done faster and cheaper by some other means, then, yes, eliminating a transit service is the right call. In 2021, every single person who rides Sounder north today could get downtown faster and more cheaply with Link, combined with nonstop shuttle buses connecting Lynnwood Transit Center to each of Snohomish County’s Sounder Stations.

      4. If we didn’t live in an environment of scarce resources, I’d agree. But in the world we live in, I’m not convinced “never, ever admit you made a mistake” is a winning strategy for an agency that relies on public support.

      5. It must be getting seriously lonely on your side of the red line, Robert. Anyone want to take a final ride on the 7x or 152, in celebration of the diversion of Metro funding to better uses?

    6. Are state legislators upset over Sounder North? I would expect the loudest voices regarding Sounder North to be Snohomish County politicians that don’t want to lose their pork only fruit from Sound Transit so far as far as they’re concerned…

      1. Sounder north would do better if the end terminal was marysville or Stanwood…

        Well that and if the hillsides stopped sliding.

  8. There is a good reason that people who don’t use transit often or at all get crazy about the mvet or flat tab fee: Because when you get that notice to renew and read over the list of charges it looks like most of the money is going to transit and very little to roads. Read how the description of each fee is worded and it sounds quite unfavorable. We know in general that people are much less resistant to hidden taxes that end up included with the cost of purchases, even if those are regressive. The sales tax and gas tax are good examples. Of course, people may not want to raise them, but go to a gas station and ask people what the state gas tax is, likely you’ll have to ask a dozen or more before someone gets it right. That tab renewal form doesn’t show people all the gas tax money that goes to roads only. It also doesn’t say how much of the transit money is spent for things like HOV lanes, direct access ramps, parking lots and other vehicular infrastructure. Perhaps the easiest thing to lobby for is a more informative tab renewal document that describes how much money is collected from all sources and how it’s spent. And why are state parks the only thing we can voluntarily contribute to? Why not have options to give more money for local roads, transit, bike or pedestrian infrastructure, or service?
    Personally, I think transit will be shortchanged as long as it relies on cars for funding (other than pay-to-park in public lots). I’d like to see a state constitutional amendment that would reverse the court ruling against transportation utilities. Allow charges to be levied on property based on the service quantity and quality level at that location. A fee on property so calculated would be fair, stable, and incentivize efficient service delivery. Voters would decide what service level they can afford rather than vote on an unstable tax that may or may not provide what they want, sometimes. One of the greatest hurdles in explaining the effect of the recession on transit here was the constant sales tax rate but declining volume of sales and thus revenues. I can’t count how many times I heard someone say “why are we cutting service when I still pay the same tax?” If there were a fee on your property tax bill or electric/gas/garbage/water bill that says you owe X because the transit stops within 1 mile of your property had X trips / week with access to Y % of your county, IMHO that would be better understood and accepted.

  9. Other states have a third party agency that collects and then distributes money to transit operators and highway agencies. It provides a level of oversight that gives some taxpayers a level of comfort that their tax money is being spent wisely. This strategy has had more voter success in recent years.

    I think that we need to establish such an agency here because many in the public are going to hesitate with this operator-by-operator funding strategy — especially when the proportion of funding going to operations will rise when compared to the proportion going to new rail tracks and stations. Is the public really able to determine the “balanced” level to fund Metro, ST and local streets unless there are several if not over a dozen referenda?.

    1. Voter trust has nothing to do with this problem. ST3 with the right projects will pass easily. The problem is getting the taxing authority – which is an uphill battle for primarily ideological reasons as it, technically, should be an administrative issue for people whom it does not affect such as people who live in or represent eastern Washington districts.

      1. The people who represent Eastern Washington districts are very concerned that if they give King County, and especially Seattle, the freedom to tax themselves for what they need all they’ll see of the city is its tail lights zooming away from the rest of the state.

        The people throughout the state are gorging on the rich cream of King County’s B&O and sales tax receipts. They fund more than half the state government. Do you think that the 3000 residents of Garfield county could fund their schools, the sheriff, the local courts and build miles of improved rural roadways for the wheat trucks without King County subsidizing them?

        They could not, and they know it. And so they, and the representatives from all over rural Washington have constructed the elaborate structures by which King and Snohomish counties fund everyone else. It’s the same story as in the other Washington. The urban states massively subsidize the rural parts of the country and have since the early Twentieth Century.

        Is it “fair”? Actually, probably so. With great success comes great responsibility.

        But it would be nice if they’d pay more attention to the genuine needs of the piggy bank.

        And maybe be a wee bit more grateful.

      2. Morgan,

        Actually, lots of rural folks are amazingly Socialist at the local level. For instance, when my wife and I were returning from Montana using Highway 12 west from Lewiston, I noticed that in Pomeroy there were signs for the Garfield County Transit Agency. It’s essentially day-before dial-a-ride but only Garfield County residents may use it.

        Most rural counties have active social welfare through their churches too.

        They just don’t want to share any of their hard-earned money with tawny people or latte-sippers.

      3. Church = private charity. That’s the kind of help anti-tax people approve of. And I’m not that surprised that one rural county has dial-a-ride. They do recognize the mobility needs of their elderly and disabled. When Greyhound withdrew from Billings – Minneapolis, there was consternation that elderly people couldn’t get to their medical appointments, which can be 50, 100, or 200 miles away. The counties vowed to restore some kind of transit, and last I saw a regional Trailways company had taken over daily service. In Washington we have the Grape Line, etc, which were launched by the state with some funds from Greyhound (when Greyhond withdrew from Walla Walla). Those are more regional transit than the house-to-town-center transit you’re talking about, but they fulfill the same mobility needs and are supported by the majority in those regions.

  10. Great article, Martin, but I believe we should look at the bigger picture. There are various interest groups and coalitions that have cooperated in the past to make things happen for the state. These groups and coalitions have fractured and lost power. I think it is time to think again at what is possible, and what would be reasonably popular. I suggest the following:

    1) Fewer big highway projects for the state. No 167/509 freeway or CRC.

    2) Focus on maintenance.

    3) Keep a few smaller projects that can provide a lot of “bang for the buck”.

    4) Support projects that improve transit (like HOV lanes and ramps). Sometimes this means supporting standard, SOV projects in congested areas. For example, 145th NE and I-5 may become a key spot for transit, and could be improved considerably if they added more ramps (made it more of a cloverleaf).

    5) Allow more taxing autonomy for more regions. If we have to have subarea equity, then at least allow each area to tax at a different rate.

    6) Allow for more taxing flexibility. Gas taxes, MVET taxes, and other taxes should be in the table for transit as well as roads.

    A coalition of this nature would be a very different thing. Suburban districts would probably not get the big project they wanted, but could still get a few important projects. Meanwhile, fiscally conservative leaders could brag about the huge amount of money saved (and they would be right). If you just get rid of the CRC and 509/167 project, you are (if I’m not mistaken) reducing the overall budget by more than half.

    Meanwhile, urban representatives would actually provide something worth voting for. The standard political story for the last few years has been that Democrats want the tax and spend proposals, while Republicans don’t. Well, I seriously doubt that any Seattle representative really wants the CRC, or 167/509. They have no problem with adding HOV lanes, or the occasional extra ramp (whether for HOV or SOV) but spending billions on huge projects of dubious need are not popular, even for tax and spend Democrats.

    I have no idea if the Republicans in the state legislature would accept such a compromise. I know that the old Republicans, the ones that were the most popular (men like Evans, Pritchard, and John Miller) would support it enthusiastically. I don’t know if there are that many Republicans like that left, but it would only take a few.

      1. In the much-increased local control of taxation. Which is a good thing, I think – that way it gets regional and local transit further out of the rural areas’ control.

  11. Nice article and 100% correct — we need to focus on getting ST3 funding on the ballot. This is an uphill battle and one we need to let our legislators know is the top priority for the next session. To realistically get ST3 on the ballot in 2016, ST needs authority from the next session — the 2016 session would not allow for enough time to get a system plan in place.

    1. +2. I miss Mike McGinn’s clear focus on recognizing the huge importance of ST3 and focused message on what should be in it for Seattle.

      I’ve seen nothing from Seattle leaders recently on this.

  12. In regards to ST 3, ST needs to focus less on capital and more on operations, especially that of ST Express. One of the major turn-off’s of ST is the fact they take oh so long to build ANYTHING. Layers of public process, some self-imposed, others not, and an overall lack of working close with the communities they serve to provide effective transportation solutions. This is in part, because of their hard coded route and project plans that are not able to quickly adjust and adapt to changing needs and ridership.

    I think with ST 3, they need to push hard on operations, possibly even taking over corridors (Rapid Ride/Swift, Super Routes) from the local operators to free up scarce funds for other services. They can than build them out as necessary (Extension of Rapid Ride A to Tacoma, implementing more BRT features on the routes, transit priority projects, maybe even using clean electric trolley coaches). This will then allow the local partner agencies to re-invest those service hours elsewhere in the community. Also a wholesale expansion of ST Express routes to relieve overcrowding, and serve more destinations.
    Finally, funds to accelerate construction on LINK and finish the line before 2050, and serious discussion with BNSF to at least expand Sounder South to all-day service. Something which I think ST has discounted before even taking it to the table.
    As for the local agencies, two years ago I would have said in ten years they would be merged into a super agency. I don’t think this is the case anymore. Metro’s cash-flow situation has made it so that no one wants to be merged with them (I can see the headlines now – Tacoma money to shore up Seattle bus system, Everett money to shore up failing Seattle bus system). No one wants to be named in that train wreck. And even if financial controls were in place to keep money local, the headlines would still be the same.
    * this was evident in the Tacoma link extension process, to find the route it went through two recommendations one from a local group commissioned by ST, the other by consultants commissioned by ST. the consultant’s recommendation won, this many years after the funding had been approved by the voters.

    1. Metro isn’t the sick man of local transit. Pierce Transit and Community Transit have faced much more draconian cuts than Metro is contemplating. If anything a merger of transit agencies would simply mean King County subsidizes Pierce and Snohomish County without something like sub-area equity in place.

      Merging Metro, PT, CT, and ET with Sound transit would have to resolve different tax and pay rates between agencies. Voters and elected officials would likely demand sub-area equity to avoid cross-subsidy.

      More dangerously, there would be a great temptation to defer capital spending in order to protect local bus service. This means rail will take longer to build if it gets built at all.

      1. In case you had not noticed, both PT and CT are on the financial rebound, and are even adding service although certainly not to the pre 2008 levels. Metro on the other hand has been carrying on per normal hoping to find alternate revenue only to be facing this cliff. I think right now a smaller package that can be quickly implemented without the gobs of long term capital spending is what is needed – and has been for a while.

      2. I’ll believe CT is healthy again when they restore Sunday service.

        The cuts Metro has planned for are far less than what happened at CT and PT. The same factors allowing recovery at CT and PT may reduce the number of cuts Metro has to make.

        The simple fact that Metro has been able to stall cuts for so long and won’t have to cut as drastically is a sign of how relatively healthy Metro is.

      3. Metro Stalled cuts by draining their reserves, deferring capital expenditures, and using temporary bridge funding from license tabs. they stayed afloat until revenues improved, however they still now have to pay the piper.

        It will be interesting to see if CT adds Sunday service back. Remember, if you add fixed route local service you have to add back complimentary ADA paratransit service, which at $40+ a ride quickly eats away at your budget. I was once told that ADA paratransit service eats up 50% of your operating costs. So if you got rid of it you could probably more than double the amount of fixed route service you have on the street overnight. a unfunded mandate that ST Express does not have* to contend with.

        * FTA/ADA regulations provide that you do not have to provide paratransit service for express routes with limited stops, as I recall anyway.

      4. The state said that the “bridge funding” was just a stopgap while they worked on long-term funding. You don’t cut service in that situation, because the purpose of the bridge funding was to avoid cutting service. That’s not to absolve Metro of the sensible reorganizations it should have pushed harder for, but it explains why the service hours weren’t lowered until it was clear that the funding wouldn’t be coming. Service hours are the reason Metro exists: it’s the public benefit Metro provides. So you don’t cut service hours because the state might not do what it said it would, just like you don’t not start highway maintenance projects because the feds might not renew the highway trust fund in in the middle of the project or the federal government might shut down October 1st.

    2. That’s an interesting approach. ST’s long-range plan is a list of the the most significant travel corridors. What if ST adopted the existing trunk transit in these corridors as the “first step” toward improving them. ST Express was the first incarnation of this, as all STEX corridors are under at least long-term consideration for high-capacity transit. But if that expands, STEX is not necessarily an appropriate model for RapidRIde E, A, Swift, 120, 255, 150, etc. But maybe a better model could emerge. The complaints are that the E and 120 have too many stops, not enough transit lanes, not enough off-board payment, not enough frequency, and Metro is too timid to do even the inexpensive things. ST could address these, although it would need SDOT’s buy-in for transit lanes.

      However, this has to be weighted against the limited funding ST could raise. It’s not enough to cover all the anticipated Link lines and adopting existing routes and interim improvements to them. If ST gets full-on with incrementalism, it may never get to the Link lines or at least not till twenty years later, and we’d be stuck with a network only marginally better than the existing one.

      1. I’m afraid LINK is sucking up all the available capital funds. Not saying that we should not build light rail, just that LINK in its current form is a Cadillac. By regionalizing BRT and some existing heavy haul local lines it could free up local funds for other services. And the cost of implementation is low and can be phased for immediate results, not a project fifteen years out. Its defiantly worth serious thought.

      2. Do you really believe that BRT from downtown to the U-District is possible? I-5 and Eastlake flat-out don’t have enough capacity for transit lanes. So you’d have to build a new road, and a new Ship Canal crossing. Nobody would allow it to spoil their million-dollar view, so it would have to be underground. That ends up costing almost as much as light rail. Even if you did convert two lanes on I-5 to transit lanes, it probably wouldn’t be enough for all the U-District buses, Northgate buses, Shoreline buses, and Snohomish County buses, at least not where they all overlap.

      3. The ST2 rail lines most likely will be completed. The train as they say has left the station.

        For ST3 the problem with BRT is 3 fold:
        1. Voters are a heck of a lot more excited about rail than they are buses. Rightfully so they are skeptical buses will receive what they need to be fast and reliable.
        2. BRT simply won’t work for Ballard/Downtown and especially Ballard/UW. It probably would for West Seattle, especially with a separate Duwamish crossing. However adding such a crossing puts the cost and construction schedule in the same league as light rail.
        3. There is a huge amount of political pressure to “complete the spine” as envisioned. For Overlake to Redmond this is likely the best solution and will be relatively fast and cheap to construct as the “process” part of the job is already complete. For Lynnwood to Everett the potential ridership is high enough to justify rail. For Kent-DesMoines to Tacoma I’ll agree BRT is the best solution and rail is not really justified any further south than FWTC. Sadly political considerations mean if the money is there in ST3 it will be built over other more worthy projects.

      4. I’d pretty much agree you are right on those three things, Chris. I would add two more:

        4. ST2 had many broad-appeal destinations known for difficult parking, like U District and Downtown Bellevue. That gave the measure some general positive popularity. ST2 did such an effective job linking the broad-appeal destinations (except for the dropping of First Hill) that the only other places left are more “second tier” and thus don’t carry as much rail appeal. ST3 will need to include more improvements at broad-appeal destinations or the level of enthusiasm for the referendum will greatly suffer. Escalators? Additional connections? Transfer platform at IDC Station? Mere expansion of lines won’t sell strongly.
        5. ST3 will have to demonstrate that rail investments will somehow save money in overall regional transit operations. With all the bus transit agencies talking about fiscal problems, supporting ST3 could be more supported by the public — if it explained how it will cut costs for the bus transit operators. There doesn’t seem to be much larger political culture out there that says that ST3-funded rail service will enable bus transit operators to drop routes and service hours, saving transit subsidy money in the long run. This blog supports restructuring for bus-to-rail transfers — but I don’t see this being a centerpiece of the ST3 studies to date.

    3. Mr. Z,

      How in the world do you propose to pay for everything in your cornucopia of goodies? You want to regionalize the suburban RapidRides and Swift, plus turn some current Metro long distance lines into BRT (RR Lines G, H and I?). From this you expect the county level agencies to be able to redirect service hours to more local service.

      THEN you want to “accelerate construction on LINK and finish the line before 2050” AND “at least expand Sounder South to all-day service”. It’s not clear what “finish the line before 2050” means to you. Does that include Ballard-Downtown, Ballard-UW, the West Seattle/Burien line, an Eastside Kirkland-Eastgate line? Or only the “spine”?

      I did notice that you forgot to include a pony for every child in the ST service area,

      You did read Martin’s analysis of what proportional tax authority “Link to Everett” via the five different studied options would “give” to North, South, and East King and Pierce Sub-Areas, right? Whether you did or not let me tell or remind you that Link to Everett via Paine Field expands into a total tax bill of $27 billion, even without Sounder South or regionalization of the BRT lines.

      Over a thirty year period that amounts to over $200 per year per person in the ST taxing region.

      It. Simply. Will. Not. Happen.

      The majority of voters in the suburban regions have come to the conclusion that transit really doesn’t help congestion all that much. Now maybe the coming Metro cuts will re-educate them that while it really can’t do much in a region which has been built so completely car-centrically, it does cut the “peaks” off the peak. On the first Monday after the September shake-up at Metro things are going to be interesting.

      Now if your proposal for ST3 is just Ballard to UW Link and extensions to Redmond and Midway and BRT everywhere else I think you might find a receptive audience here. But even that relatively modest package is unlikely to pass.

      1. I’m not proposing a specific package or funding source, just offering ideas on possible options and things I would like to see. Without major new link lines (only finishing those already in the planning and design stage) I think most of these options are possible under one package.

      2. So, you are just saying “finish the spine”, because that’s all that is in the “planning and design stage”. That won’t take anywhere near 36 years. If it is ever extended beyond Lynnwood, Midway and Overlake, the relatively modest extensions will be completed far sooner than 2050.

        There are other lines which are under investigation (basically the list in my original question) but remain far from planning, much less formal design.

  13. why is extending Link between Angle Lake and Tacoma a good transit investment? does not the ST ridership estimate show it to attract relatively few riders? could the Pierce and South King funds be better spent on regional express frequency and maybe midday Sounder (DMU?)?

  14. Thank you for bringing up the importance of getting ST3 on the ballot. I would add that even without increased funding for Metro (beyond staving off cuts) we could make huge strides for transit with local initiatives and better use of existing dollars.

    Look at the U District right now- Roosevelt and 11th are about to be repaved. Will we squander this opportunity to prioritize buses, bikes and pedestrians crossing the University Bridge? We should be looking at reducing general traffic lanes and parking to ensure reliable bus access and safe crossings for everyone. This could be a low cost huge gain for transit that would come 6 years before light rail reaches Brooklyn.

    And in 7 years when light rail drops you at 43rd and Brooklyn, let’s have a world class pedestrian oriented neighborhood to walk out into. We should have minimal to no car traffic on 43rd from Brooklyn to campus and on the Ave from 45th to 42nd and we should route connecting bus service as efficiently as possible, perhaps making the previously mentioned segments transit only streets.

    These are two examples of local initiatives that dovetail with light rail expansion, can improve bus service and can be accomplished without huge outlays of new money.

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