A bipartisan group of Senators yesterday announced that they had reached agreement on most elements of a transportation package that included authorization for Sound Transit 3. The authorized tax levels were lower than the Sound Transit request, which limits the potential size of the package and increases the reliance on sales tax. However, the agreement would still allow the agency to proceed with a package roughly the size of Sound Transit 2 (ST2).

The Senate agreement would permit up to $11 billion in tax revenue over 15 years. There is some confusion resulting from there being two different $15 billion sums in the discussion. The original Sound Transit request is for $15 billion, would provides room for the Board to explore which tax types are least unpopular and find the optimal package size.

The second $15 billion is a potential overall capital project package size, which ST staff used in an exercise and Martin speculatively mapped to projects. Staff picked this number because it was the same size as ST2 and therefore considered politically practical, but the ST board has not decided on the package’s size. Due to bond financing, a $15 billion package requires about $9 billion in taxing authority.

In other words, the lower authorization restricts Sound Transit’s options. If enacted into law, the agreement means that ST3 would be largely supported by an increase in the sales tax, with smaller increases in the MVET and property tax, and there would be much less scope to go beyond the size of ST2.

The agreement was announced at a press conference by Senator Curtis King (Transportation Committee Chairman, R-Yakima). Also participating were Senators Joe Fain (R-Auburn), Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) and Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens). In the last legislative session, the Senate failed to put forward any proposal for a transportation package, so this agreement is perceived as making it more likely that a package will pass this year.

The agreement authorizes a 0.5% sales tax, 0.3% motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), and 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax increase for Sound Transit. Sound Transit has requested higher levels for both the MVET (a re-authorization to increase the current 0.3% to 0.8% and extend it beyond 2028), and a property tax of up to 25 cents per $1,000 property value. But both Senate Democrats at the press conference were quick to explain that they would seek a larger authorization. The House bill also permits higher revenues.

Press questions focused on whether this agreement would get the support of the broader Senate. Many Republicans are opposed to tax increases, while Democrats are unhappy about changes affecting sales tax revenues from transportation projects and changes to labor rules. When asked about Sound Transit, Senator Liias pointed out that “those of us in the Puget Sound would say we need to make more progress on Sound Transit 3”, but described the agreement as a “good launching point.” Senator Hobbs emphasized there would be “continuing discussions on the size of those authorizations”.

Senator Fain was explicit in linking Sound Transit’s authorization to highway funding:

In order to get, you got to give. There’s a recognition that Sound Transit 3 is very important to our Democratic colleagues, just like finishing some of these incredibly important mega-projects are important to some of the commuters in our districts. So we’re comfortable giving the voters in the ST area an opportunity to vote on whether they want to increase their transit service as part of this larger statewide package.

On the direct spending side, Governor Inslee seeks $12.1 billion over 12 years. The Senate agreement replaces this with a spending plan for $14.9 billion over 16 years, so the spend rate is somewhat slower. The largest part of the funding would come from an 11.7 cent gas tax increase to be phased over three years beginning this summer, along with increases in vehicle weight fees and other fees. $950 million could come from state sales tax transfers, which will place corresponding pressure on other parts of the budget, although the Senators had not yet reached agreement on the sales tax issues. Unlike the transit authorization, there would be no public vote on enacting the gas tax.

The program includes $14.9 billion in expenditures through 2031. The largest items are $8.2 billion in highway improvements, $1.2 billion in preservation programs, $328 million for ferries, and a grab bag of smaller programs along with $2.5 billion in debt service.

Important highway projects in the Puget Sound region include widening I-405 from Bellevue to Renton to accommodate HOT lanes ($1.2 billion), completing the west end of the SR 520 bridge ($1.6 billion), the SR 167/SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway ($1.9 billion), and widening the highway by JBLM ($450m).

Non-highway elements of local interest include funding for expanded BRT service in Snohomish County, and authorization for Community Transit to raise their sales tax.

Governor Inslee’s preferred program is funded by carbon fees on heavy polluters. This agreement rejects that approach. No carbon revenues are included, and the bill would redirect $750m in transit and multimodal funds to the Motor Vehicle fund (to be used for highway purposes) if a carbon tax or stricter fuel economy standards are introduced.

The next step is a hearing in the Transportation Committee on Wednesday February 18.

67 Replies to “Senators Agree to Transportation Package with ST3 Authorization”

  1. …are important to some of the commuters in our districts.

    They still don’t get the idea that people use transit for trips other than going to work.

    1. Glenn,

      To Republicans the protoplasmic life forms which use transit for any purpose other than commuting to and from work are not “people”.

      1. The current generation maybe.

        Back in the 1980s the Free Congress Foundation was a supporter of improved transit, and published The New Electric Railway Journal.

    2. @Glenn: In that particular quote Fain was talking about the freeway “megaprojects”, many of which can only be said to be “needed” in any sense of the word during commute hours. And many of which can only be said to be “needed” by people driving through a place, not actually doing anything there.

      @Joe: This sort of thing goes way beyond marketing.

    1. I liked your editorial, but I think it is worse than that. I am really disappointed with this proposal. This is everything that Republicans, and a lot of Democrats say they are against, but it moving forward in the name of “bipartisanship”. I understand that much of the problem is Inslee. He wants to have it both ways. Somehow he wants to push for greenhouse gas reduction, while simultaneously proposing a bloated roads budget. This is just bad.

      I really hope folks from both sides of the aisle can come up with a counter proposal. If Republicans are willing to work with left wing Democrats, they can. That is, if Republicans who want smaller government are willing to shrink this proposal, and not just vote against it, while waving the “I tried to stop it” banner.

      My counter proposal would be roughly half this size, but not have the 167 and 509 work. Pull those out and you save a lot of gas tax money, but still finish the projects that need finishing (like 520). Most Republicans should support this, because it means a smaller gas tax (under a dime) and most Democrats would support it because it means less sprawl. The 167 and 509 projects are terrible, and will only increase sprawl to areas like Puyallup. This in turn, will only add more traffic to I-5, meaning that at some point folks will want to add another lane or two to that eventually. That is hardly maintenance, as Senator Fain suggested. Speaking of which, it is funny how these Republicans aren’t so keen on fiscal responsibility if it means that a project can be built in their neighborhood.

      The hypocrisy on this proposal is staggering. We don’t get to vote on this roads proposal (the tax is simply increased) but the legislature makes us vote on transit. Oh, and we are limited in how much we can spend on the proposal, and we are limited on which taxes can be used. Then he has the audacity to say we need a trade. That is ridiculous. What’s next? They will pass a tax increase to fund a monument to stupidity, but then allow us to raise a sales tax to pay for basic education? This is just shameful.

      1. RossB;

        Generally I agree with you. If I were a Republican legislator and could somehow survive the far-right primary challenger…. and then get those who backed him/her to back me….

        a) I’d be asking Sound Transit what they have thought of to reduce costs
        b) I’d be asking what will be done to upgrade transit service to go concurrently with the roads construction in Pierce County.
        c) I’d be asking how can this possibly be perceived or accepted as fair that roads advocates get to skip an election but transit taxes have to face the voters.
        d) I’d be demanding real metrics on congestion relief.
        e) I’d be demanding answers on transit grants and how to make them work better.
        f) I’d slide in a study for charging for parking at park & rides.

    2. “In order to get, you got to give”

      Except that if the vote for ST 3 fails, you’ve still given, but gotten absolutely nothing back in return. Meanwhile, Republicans outside the Puget Sound area “get”, but give up nothing, whether ST 3 passes or not. This seems quite one-sided.

  2. Serious question: Anybody have a plan for $12 Billion they’d like to share?

    Are there ways to cut costs and streamline permitting to get most of what $16 billion was thought to require with $12 billion?

    1. How about: Complete the spine, as that’s obviously the most important thing, and tell Ballard and West Seattle to take a (literal) hike. Then Seattle can fail to vote for it, and we can get busy on a local property-tax based initiative and fund our own Ballard spur.

      1. You have to have projects in Seattle because there will be a pool of money and because the voters are likely to reject a suburban only measure.

        Note that given bond financing the overall package size is about $15 billion plus whatever can be had in Federal grants. There is also the (as yet) untapped monorail tax authority for projects in the City of Seattle. I believe this is good for roughly $2 billion in actual revenue. It should allow a somewhat larger project assuming bond financing and federal grants.

        So really there could be enough money to build all the things (Ballard-Downtown option D, Ballard-UW, 2nd DSTT, and silver level BRT for West Seattle) in North King.

    2. You’re looking at probably a 25-30% reduction in available funding depending on the subarea (due to the YOE dollars thing). There would be literally no way to complete the light rail “spine” in ST3 except for the downtown Redmond extension. In North King, all of the Ballard-Downtown options become unaffordable without significant grant funding. In short, a reduction in the funding level like that requires a fundamental re-thinking of the scope of ST3.

      This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it forces greater attention onto the cost-benefit analysis of different alternatives. For example, since you literally can’t afford to get to Everett with Link under any scenario, you’re back to the drawing board for Snohomish County. Do you do a minor extension of Link to Ash Way and BRT from there? Do you go for full-on BRT from Lynnwood? Do you throw major capital $$ at Sounder North to fix the slide issues? It would all have to be on the table.

      Similarly for North King, if the politics mandates something for West Seattle, you’re looking at doing Ballard-UW to have enough left over for major BRT improvements to West Seattle ala what RossB has suggested.

      And for South King and Pierce, there’s not even enough money to reach Federal Way TC with Link, so maybe an incremental extension (again) to Kent-Des Moines Road or S 272nd St along with some Sounder improvements, and Pierce invests in Sounder.

      1. Given that Ballard spur plus BRT to West Seattle is actually what I think *should* happen, I hope Jason’s right. :)

        But, eager to read what Martin has tomorrow.

      2. Martin,

        Fair enough. I’m doing the (round) numbers in my head so I’ll be the first to acknowledge I could be mistaken. Looking forward to your post tomorrow.

      3. When we talk about “BRT improvements” for West Seattle, what are we talking about specifically? More Rapid Ride buses with the aim of reduced headways is really just the status quo sop as long as those buses use the same surfaces as cars—the cars that queue up, that stall, and get into accidents. If we’re about real BRT of bus only pathways above or alongside those cars, then we’re doing something.

      4. We’re talking about an “open BRT” at a significantly higher level. Two or three people have sketched preliminary ideas. Add transit lanes for the C, 120, 21, 55, and any other routes from downtown. Not only on the West Seattle Freeway but also on the neigborhood parts of the routes. Opinions vary on how extensive the transit lanes should be. 100% of the routes’ streets may be too much, but at least wherever there are bottlenecks. One person said both ways on the bridge are needed; another said just one way (eastbound?). Beyond that you could have ST taking over some routes, more frequency, off-board payment, better shelters, etc.

        ST has BRT alternatives in its West Seattle study but they’re not as extensive as this. Partly because ST was studying going all the way to Burien and Renton rather than just West Seattle. I think it’s likely the White Center – Burien segment will be left out of this round (insufficient cost/benefit ratio). In that case it breaks down naturally to two separate projects in different subareas (downtown – White Center, and Burien – Renton). The Burien – Renton part might be left out too, leaving the focus on West Seattle.

      5. Bus lanes to West Seattle on the West Seattle Bridge would be very expensive if they to be truly dedicated bus lanes. Untangling the weaves at the Delridge ramp and at 99, maybe 1st if you go that far, would be a major undertaking. A new, separate bridge for transit would start to look simpler and possibly a better value.

      6. There is no way a set of dedicated ramps is even in the same ballpark as a new mile-long bridge and miles of subway tunnels.

        Don’t be ridiculous, people.

      7. “Do you throw major capital $$ at Sounder North to fix the slide issues? It would all have to be on the table.

        Have you found any data that shows (even an estimate) of how much mitigation money is needed to fix the slide problem?

        From looking at WSDOT’s Landslide Mitigation Action Plan, I can identify where BNSF has spent $10 million, and WSDOT has provided $6.3 million of the $16 million of Federal money. WSDOT states that $304,000 of state funds have been used.

        For what ST paid for the rights for Sounder North, it really shouldn’t be up to them to provide more.

        Knowing what needs to be spent, and what projects are still awaiting funding would give a clearer picture.

        The State of Washington has a stake in this, and given 1 lane of at-grade freeway is around $20 million / mile, further contribution from Olympia doesn’t seem out of the question to gain some mode-equity.

      8. And for the record, the westbound W.S. bridge is clogged precisely never, because all of the outbound clogs and capacity-inhibitors come before you get to it.

        It’s the exact opposite eastbound, where the bottlenecks inbound beyond the bridge are the precise reason fully-prioritized ROW is so vital.

    3. Snohomish is easy because there’s a natural fallback: Link to Ash Way. Pierce is difficult because Link to Fife doesn’t make sense: there’s no regional P&R or mall or concentration of people there. East King can just take Redmond: they aren’t sure which other projects they want or how much they want them anyway.

      As for North King, $15 billion wasn’t going to be enough for full light rail to Ballard and West Seattle and DSTT2 anyway, much less those plus the Ballard-UW line. So those were always going to have to be a compromise, and it mostly depends on whether West Seattle’s insistence on light rail carries the day, or whether ST proposes and argues for a robust BRT alternative. That then leaves the decision of whether the other project is Ballard-downtown, Ballard-UW, or DSTT2 (in decreasing order of ST’s apparent interest). I’m not as concerned which of those it is, because any of those would make northwest Seattle more accessible compared to doing nothing. (Although I prefer Ballard-UW and DSTT2.)

      1. I agree completely with all of points.

        I think politically, the combination of DSTT2 + Ballard-UW + West Seattle Freeway improvements shouldn’t be that hard of a sell. For the money, I think it would improve the lives of more people than just about any combination we could build (especially if DSTT2 includes a stop at lower Queen Anne — and it should).

        Ballard to the UW is much cheaper than other (grade separated) rail projects. Since Ballard to the UW rail isn’t seen in the same light as Ballard to downtown rail, folks in West Seattle won’t be eager to say “Hey, how come they got the top half of the monorail (or the left top half of the ‘X’) and we didn’t”. I think instead the sentiment would be “Oh, they built something cheaper” (even though, in my opinion, it is more effective at any price). At the same time, it does mean that West Seattle could eventually get light rail (a DSTT2 would be essential for that). Meanwhile, folks in Ballard that want to get to Queen Anne or Belltown would have a much faster alternative, and if they want to get downtown they can go via the UW or just take the bus. For those who want to go to the UW (or those along the corridor connected by buses) it changes their world in ways not seen since we built the first bus tunnel (if not more). It would mean that riding the subway is faster than driving any time of day (even if you are three stops away from your destination). We can’t say that about very much of our system.

        DSTT2 helps West Seattle as much as it helps anyone else (if not more). Now someone from Alki or Delridge can quickly get downtown (or Queen Anne or Ballard or anywhere Link goes) faster than if we built a West Seattle light rail line. It would be much faster than if we only built light rail from part of West Seattle to downtown (without a tunnel as some have suggested). Meanwhile, Queen Anne gets a stop, and upper Queen Anne has to transfer, but the trip would be much, much faster that in is today (and with buses traveling frequently in the new tunnel, the transfer would be a minor inconvenience). All in all, I think a proposal like this would be quite popular throughout the city.

        But like you said, the folks that are least likely to get excited are probably those in South King and Pierce County. I think lots of extra bus service may be the way to go as far as that is concerned. I’m sure if you did a bunch of research, you could find dozens of relatively cheap road projects that could dramatically improve bus service. I’m not sure if Sound Transit is capable of doing that type of research, though.

    4. It won’t spend $1 billion I hope, but at some point the Link freeway station at / near 520 would be nice. Once the MOHAI building is no more and construction is done there might be some good redevelopment potential. A station for both bus transfers and such development might work out nicely.

      1. The MOHAI site will be WSDOT right of way as long as rain falls from the sky. It will be used for stormwater treatment.

  3. Can you help explain what this all means? Does the authorization for $11 billion in revenue mean that the ST3 capital package can be no more than $11 billion, or with the bonds could it still get to $15 billion?

    Also, what does “continuing discussions on the size of those authorizations” mean? How feasible is it that the $11 billion number will increase.

    Finally, if ST3 is limited to $11 billion, what are the implications for what it will get us? Will a grade-separate Ballard line still be possible?

    1. Can you help explain what this all means? Does the authorization for $11 billion in revenue mean that the ST3 capital package can be no more than $11 billion, or with the bonds could it still get to $15 billion?

      The latter. I suggest you try re-reading the first few paragraphs again.

      Also, what does “continuing discussions on the size of those authorizations” mean? How feasible is it that the $11 billion number will increase.

      The package hasn’t passed the Senate, nor have House and Senate versions been reconciled in conference. There is plenty of scope for continued discussion.

      Finally, if ST3 is limited to $11 billion, what are the implications for what it will get us? Will a grade-separate Ballard line still be possible?


      1. The second paragraph is ambiguous, because it doesn’t clarify whether “revenue” includes bond revenue or just tax revenue. Jenks was right to be confused.

    2. I think “continuing discussions” means the Senate proposal will now go to the House for a counter-proposal. I’m relieved to see the Republicans are willing to vote for something, as our transportation system is broken. Hopefully House negotiators can leverage this into the starting point for negotiations toward a bigger authority for ST3.

      As a liberal Democrat, I’m actually okay with some of the Republican’s bargaining demands. Although I wouldn’t want to see existing sales taxes on transportation re-directed away from the general fund (because the state is already billions of dollars short on funding basic services), I would support a plan where sales taxes on new revenue are devoted back into transportation.

      1. Yes, there’s no need to panic yet. This is essentially a bargaining chip: they know it will be weakened when it’s reconciled with the House bill. By saying $11 billion they have a chance to whittle it down to $14 billion or $13 billion. Or if they can’t do that, they’ll call it their “concession” and say they shouldn’t have to make any other concessions.

        It’s possible that they don’t believe it will stick anyway. It sounds completely symbolic and arbitrary: why $11 billion instead of -$13 billion or $9 billion? The $16 billion has a basis in reality: it’s what ST thinks it needs for an appropriate round of projects. What reality is the $11 billion based on? Which 1/3 of the transit projects don’t they like? Are they moving the $4 billion on the roads side, and if so which roads? Or is it just because of “tax cuts”? Will taxpayers really feel a difference with slightly less transit taxes and complete roads taxes? I don’t believe most senators care how many miles of light rail ST builds, so it’s not about whether it gets to Tacoma and Everett or only partway. They just want to tell their constituents they cut a government agency’s request. (And of course, transit riders don’t exist and don’t contribute to the state’s economy, so slashing the request has no significant impact.)

  4. Another increase of 0.5% in the sales tax pushes the total to 10% in King County, and even more than that in Seattle. Voters do have their limits, and this transit voter’s limit is No Double-Digit Sales Taxes.

      1. Retail sales taxes are THE most regressive. They are what puts WA at the bottom of the list on states with the most unfair tax structures. And now we want to make that even worse?

        There is nothing magic about the number of digits per se, but we need to put a stop somewhere, sometime — or else my grandchildren will be paying that 18 percent someone mentioned. But it won’t be with my approval.

    1. Yes but you are one person, and there are maybe ten others with the same opinion. People don’t like high taxes but it’s a continuum, not a hard cutoff. 9.8% is unpleasant, 10.2% is slightly worse, but it’s not as bad as the 18% VATs in Europe. And people are also weighing it against other factors, such as the availability of transit, or E-911 service, or maintaining school buildings. So they may dislike higher rates, but they aren’t going to say “I’ll go without better transit or E-911 to keep the rate below 10%.” And they’re glad they aren’t paying income tax too.

      1. Those 18% VATs (which usually cover food at some rate) do pay for some nice things, like affordable or free national health insurance, generous parental leave, heavily subsidized university tuition, much better public transit, better unemployment insurance, and other social programs.

      2. Nobody is arguing against the principle of higher taxes, we’re arguing against raising the worst tax of all! Don’t try to manipulate that argument into something it isn’t. There are lots of other less regressive taxes that I would be happy to pay; the MVET for example.

      3. Yep, tax rates are a continuum, and most people will draw a line somewhere. And I draw mine at 10% sales tax.

        And not drawing a line anywhere? That strikes me like the frog in the pan of water. Raise the temperature slowly enough and the frog doesn’t know when he’s cooked. And it’s too late to jump out.

      4. You’re not paying income tax. So 5% of the sales tax is paying for things that income tax would have paid for in other states.

    2. It would take a lot for ME to support any sales tax beyond 10% because 10% is what I use mentally to calculate the sales tax in this state and make a small amount of change back.

      1. I tip about 10-15 percent or to round up to the next dollar, whatever’s more. Mostly at coffee shops….

      2. 10% is convenient for tipping. Multiply the tax amount by 1.5 or 2.0 and there’s your tip.
        Doesn’t work though if some items on the bill are taxed and others aren’t.

  5. Couple of comments to add to the reporting.

    I think we’ve learned that the $15 billion/15 years ST3 budget was initially less a hard number than we’d previously supposed, but it is maybe now morphing into a hard cap. $11 billion in 15-year tax revenues maps to somewhere in the $17 billion ballpark of expenditures with bond financing, so not a lot of headroom.

    Politically, I’m unpersuaded that Sound Transit ever intended to go much beyond $15 billion. Once a number is floated, however hypothetically, it’s hard to go to a much higher number. So I see this as (a) the GOP putting a leash on Sound Transit by removing the option to go higher, and (b) the GOP taking a stance on which particular taxes are acceptable.

    On the latter, an increase in the MVET was perhaps always going to be a heavy lift with voters, so maybe that’s not such a great loss. But restricting how much revenue can come from the property tax means sales tax rates over 10% in many places in King County. It’s more symbolic than real, but crossing that threshold might have political significance at the margin.

    On the planning side, this must remove some flexibility. There doesn’t look to be anything like a consensus around the project list in several subareas. If the preferred project list ends up just a little over the cap, we need to be wary that the political compromises don’t make for something that is incoherent transit policy.

    But overall, I see this as a good news story. It’s not the package most of us would have chosen, but we do look to be in a better place than a month ago when we didn’t know if the Senate would even have a proposal to vote on. There’s now a plan on the table that gives us most of what we wanted from transit, and we’re now arguing details. The roads package is bloated, but it was always thus. And some of the roads expenditures are important for transit too. Think the HOT lanes on I-405, and the west end of 520.

    1. ST intended the $15 billion request to cover comfortably what it wanted, because it knew the legislature would not go higher than the request. It would either equal it or go lower. I think ST expected it might get $10 billion or might get $15 billion, but either of those is better than zero. As for the GOP being more concerned about the tax mechanisms than the total amount, that’s possible but they haven’t said so yet. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? Would taxpayers notice they avoided a certain tax mechanism if they don’t draw attention to it?

  6. Joe Fain is going to be key in getting the ST3 package up to $15 billion. It’s not going to be someone from rural Yakima who doesn’t really sympathize with the strong need for a robust rail network. It should be encouraged everyone e-mail Fain, even if he’s not in your district. Growing up, I remember him from various sport events, as he went to rival Mt. Rainier High School in Des Moines. He always seemed like a standup guy, and reflecting back, I’m not at all surprised he went into politics. He seems to be pretty moderate compared to the rest of his flock – he was one of few GOP’ers who voted for marriage equality, for example. In the future, I could see him running for statewide office. As someone who is far to the left, I plan on writing him a letter explaining how I’m impressed with his ability to legislate from the middle. For me, if he can get ST3 back to $15B, I could see him as a palatable GOP candidate for governor for many Seattleites. And as we all know, Seattle and the more dense suburbs of King County, really determine the outcome of statewide elections. I don’t want to be 100 or six feet under when Seattle finally has a mature rail system – Fain needs to realize a healthy ST3 benefits him not only politically in the long-term, but the economic health of the entire region.

    1. Fair enough. Maybe he is a stand up guy. But from where I sit (in the cheap seats) I’m not so sure. The road package benefits his district. A scaled down version of the roads package would surely cut back on the 167 and 509 project, but keep some projects (like completing 520) on track. The extended 167 means that folks in Auburn won’t have to contend with people from Puyallup clogging the road (they will go the other direction to I-5). So I guess I can’t get too excited about the guy, and think it really is sad that the Republican party has come to this. A guy who is even half way reasonable is considered a maverick. Where are the fiscal conservatives in a party that stresses fiscal conservatism when it comes to this bloated roads budget? I don’t see them. They only talk about fiscal conservatism when it comes to allowing other areas to tax themselves (with a vote of the people). Why not put the roads project up for a vote of the people?

      I know the focus is on what they will allow the tax payers of this region to vote for — wait, that isn’t quite correct — what they will limit the board (made up of elected representatives) to approve and present to the voting public, but the roads package itself stinks. It has roads that we simply don’t need to build. The so called Puget Sound Gateway project (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Gateway/) is at best a giveaway to the trucking industry and at worst just another sprawl inducing highway (that will make other traffic much worse). If a guy like Fain steps up and asks for a scaled down roads package along with letting the board set its own limit to present to the voters for approval, then I’ll tip my hat. But until then, I can only mourn the loss of what was once a reasonable political party.

    2. I think some of us need to be backing Joe Fain up more. A lot more.

      It’s important we get Republicans on board w/ mass transit.

      It’s also important we get the backs of the few moderate Republicans left. Unless you want a lot more Lizzy Scotts…………..

    3. Senator Fain’s brother Dick is the morning co-host on one of the local sports radio stations (KJR 950). Sports fans (me among them) seem rather enamored of the ease of getting to and from the downtown stadiums (and next year, Husky Stadium) via Link and occasionally Sounder. I believe I’ve heard Dick mention the ease for fans of getting to events via Sound Transit once or twice, and looking forward to the ability for fans to go to UW games on the train. He certainly hasn’t said anything opposed to that use of our ST system that I’ve heard.

      I don’t know exactly how best to use him to get our message across to Sen. Fain, but Dick might be somewhat of a bully pulpit for that particular use of transit and its expansion. Sometimes you have to relate things to people’s sacred cows, and the obvious popularity of ST’s trains for sports fans might be one of those ways to communicate their value to the senator.

  7. http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Electric-Railway-Journal-1993-Spring-1993-LA-Red-line-Seattle-PCC-truck-Sib-/390999126220?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5b095d30cc

    You just took the Wikileaks prize away from Julian Assange, Glenn, but it was inevitable that the world would find out the ghastly ideological truth.

    The Spring 1993 issue of the New Electric Railway Journal carried an article by me and Jeff Doppmann basically saying everything about the DSTT we’ve been repeating for the last 22 years.

    “TNERJ”, the best transit publication in the entire history of the subject, was published by Paul Weyrich, who thought that Louis the Sixteenth deserved to have his head cut off for being a Communist.

    However, it was precisely his anti-wasteful-bureaucrat thinking that also made him the world’s greatest light rail proponent ever.

    His position was that in general, for most urban and suburban rail uses, heavy rail was deliberately overblown, overcomplicated and almost as Government-bloated and subsidized as the highway industry.

    Likely the main reason he also considered our trolleybus-to-joint ops transit approach an example of the way innovative transit should develop. Same as a certain pair of co-authors have always done.

    Too bad most of Metro Transit and many in Sound Transit have passive aggressively been praying under their breath for a quarter century that train one would arrive in less than 19 years. And are now demanding automated subways and robot pseudo cabs with pink mustaches.

    Pretty much like you can always expect from liberals, especially in Seattle.

    There will be Judgment, though. When we are finally re-united with our late publisher, we’ll spend Eternity driving Access vans full of Republican lawmakers to Second Amendment events where Hell’s own drill sergeants will make them clean latrines forever if there’s a speck of dust in their Constitutionally-allowed rifle barrels.

    Due to budget cuts, same vehicle and assignment has to torment both political sides.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Paul Weyrich was an unusual conservative in that he was a big fan of rail transport, both urban and intercity.

    2. Apologies for mistake in both confirmed fact and manners learned in fourth grade.

      Authorship should have been “Jeff Doppmann and me.” Every technical point in the world of transit…Jeff is right.


  8. Getting very tired of current political nomenclature. To me, idea that “liberal” and “conservative” are opposites is same as telling me I can’t be generous and careful at the same time.

    Haven’t read much by or about Paul Weyrich. The transit veterans who wrote for him never mentioned either his politics or Ayn Rand’s.

    I think he had fun playing what a Conservative really used to be during the Enlightenment-dungeons, machinery being heresy, Divine Right of Kings, government by congenital idiots and all.

    But like everybody in industry from the Age of Reason on, interest in anything mechanical at all would have made Weyrich solidly Liberal. Same as anyone in modern business. No matter how bad they hate taxes, no CEO boards a plane designed with a goose quill on parchment by a medieval cleric.

    For me, in the enduring sense of both words, rather than the political, street rail classes perfectly as both liberal and conservative- it’s perfectly possible for a transit mode to be both generous and careful.

    From their beginning, streetcars have been generous transit for large numbers of ordinary people. But this is a technology that has worked very successfully from horse-drawn wagons on steel wheels, to mining-evolved cable cars, to Frank Sprague’s first modern electric motors.

    Like trolley poles, rail and bus-street rail means simple equipment that hasn’t need very much change over many years. And also, skilled human drivers with a million years of human reflexes and brain power between their ears.

    Anybody actively trying to keep on furthering machinery with such deep roots counts as extremely conservative in the strongest sense. Regardless of whose political rhetoric he can stand less.

    Mark Dublin

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