Photo by Zach Shaner
The path to the future isn’t always as straight as we’d like. Photo by Zach Shaner

Early yesterday morning both houses of the legislature passed a transportation package that among many things included the full $15 billion in funding authority Sound Transit requested. While I agree with many of the complaints with the package, overall I think it is a win for the region.

  1. Sound Transit wanted $15 billion in authority, Sound Transit got $15 billion in authority. This is the last bad deal we’ll have to take to build High Capacity Transit.
  2. Transit investments are needed today. Every year we wait to build more rail is another year stuck in traffic. Plus, expansion is most efficient when Sound Transit has a stream of projects so that it doesn’t need to waste time and money on short term increases in staffing. Sound Transit 2 planning is finishing up, meaning that putting off the next measure to 2020 would force Sound Transit to downsize, and then rebuild, their planning department. That means that delaying a vote four years would delay project completion by six or seven.
  3. The worst parts of the compromise are policies that can be corrected when we obtain a more supportive legislature in the future. The best parts of the compromise are rails that will be permanent. Some of our green friends are saying that we should have waited until we had the votes to pass a clean transportation bill, without things like the carbon-standard poison pill or all the highway money. But by the time we have the progressive majority needed to pass an ideologically pure bill, that majority can instead correct the poison pill and other flaws in the compromise. Either way, there is no need to delay the transit investments the region so desperately needs.
  4. Even without a carbon standard, the gas tax increase is GOOD for the environment. Washington will now be tied for the 3rd highest gas tax in the country. In a recent poll, rising fuel costs were the largest motivator to increased transit use apart from HCT access. Even if the tax revenue were just collected and set on fire, that would still help shift drivers onto transit. As it is, we get a couple decent projects such as south 405 HOV lanes and 520 west out of it.
  5. Increasing the number of people who can commute by rail, today, is the best way to increase support for rail in the future. We can’t obtain more progressive outcomes by halting transit expansion (as rejecting the compromise would do). To get a more progressive legislature we need to increase the number of dense, walkable legislative districts with voters that demand more transit. Dense populations are progressive populations. To create a more progressive future, we need to start building transit now.  Each expansion of our rail system will have more supporters than the last. Once we shift the balance of power back to the urban core, then we can push an ideologically pure progressive agenda. Until then we will have to compromise. That’s the reality we live in. If we wait until we have a progressive majority before we agree to expand transit, then we’ll get neither.

The vote is over. Overall I think the compromise was worth it, but even if you disagree, let’s agree to work for more progressive outcomes in future sessions. It is critical that we all work together to make sure that the 2016 Sound Transit ballot measure is the best it can possibly be. Our local politicians made the deals necessary to put ST3 on the ballot next year, and for that I am thankful. Let’s work to make sure the compromises are worth it.

148 Replies to “In Defense of the Transportation Package”

  1. 1. This is not necessarily the last bad deal. We’ll need to build more rail in the future – look at all the badly-needed corridors (Greenwood? Denny?) that ST isn’t even considering. It’s possible that we’ll get better deals then, but not something we can count on.

    2. Given the horrible results coming out of ST’s planning department, it’s very possible that having to lay them off will be a good thing.

    3. Nonetheless, it’s very possible that good urban rail plus bad suburban highways could still be a net gain. Of course, that assumes good urban rail will be on the table. That’s still to be shown.

      1. Hmmm while I’d like to see more urban proposals, I suspect it’s the suburban Board members driving the agenda.

      2. It’s not just that. It is simply bad proposals. For example, someone needs to explain to Dow Constantine why West Seattle light rail or completing the spine are not good ideas. Explain why Ballard to UW is a good idea. These concepts aren’t obvious. It is very tempting to look at a map and thing “Hey, let’s connect that spot to that spot” without thinking about the fact that people have to get to those two spots. It is very easy to think that light rail to Tacoma would be awesome. But it isn’t if commuter rail or a bus or even a high speed ferry* would be faster. The West Seattle situation is even less obvious, but we have to look at alternatives, and look at how it would work for people throughout West Seattle (not just the handful by the stations). Once you do that, BRT just looks better (and you save money to boot).

        * It is only about thirty miles by sea which means that the Victoria Clipper (which cruises at 35 MPH) would get to Seattle faster than Link.

      3. James,

        Why would the suburban board members have “veto power” over the station placements for a subway entirely within the Seattle City Limits (e.g. Ballard-UW). Now they might band together and kick it out of the package, but why would the Seattle representatives let them dictate the station placements.

        No, I don’t think they did. The ST planning department did it.

    1. 3. I will be especially disappointed if we made all these compromises (although I’m having a hard time determining exactly what the Republican State Senate gave up for the “compromise”) and the final ST3 ballot measure isn’t worth supporting. Then we’ll end up with years of bad transportation policy and a transit initiative that is unsupported by the most transit-friendly voters.

      1. I’m having a hard time determining exactly what the Republican State Senate gave up for the “compromise”


        I never thought we could elect a more damagingly feckless Democrat than Gregoire, but yeesh. Why do we bother having an executive at all?

      2. d.p.,

        Let’s be blunt here – there are some Republicans who wanted to say NO to ALL of this.

        NO to ST3
        NO to Community Transit
        NO to 520
        NO to a gas tax

        So let’s remember in the minds of some that matter – read not my mind – this is a compromise.

      3. Getting the funding authority was the compromise. The dems wanted something the reps could prevent. The dems had to negotiate to get this bill out. A “all the things I want and none of what you want” bill will never come out of oly

      4. We didn’t “get” anything.

        We got the “right” of self-taxation, as long as a non-negligible portion of said self-taxation is sent back to Olympia in a manner that more closely resembles tribute than it does any legitimate or equitable taxation purpose.

        They “got” the right to continue fucking us and stealing from us, in perpetuity, with no protest whatsoever from the Democratic governor, and no hope of evolution toward more equitable revenue mechanisms or funding practices used productively the world over.

        Where is the “compromise”?

      5. It’s called “hardball”, Jon, and Republicans have gotten used to winning at it. Start from a position of “your rural road subsidies will end and your constituents can go fuck themselves.” Fight fire with fire.

        Or, you know, continue to pretend that bending over is a quality bargaining position, and get this.

      6. Let’s be blunt here – there are some Republicans who wanted to say NO to ALL of this.

        NO to ST3
        NO to Community Transit
        NO to 520
        NO to a gas tax

        Then how is this a compromise with that group? How is this a compromise with any fiscal conservative? A compromise would have been a much smaller package, with a smaller ST3 authority. Instead they got the full package (with all of the stupid roads) and the gas tax and the authority. This really isn’t a compromise. It is pork filled a budget. The fiscal conservatives got rolled. The environmentalists got rolled. The suburban swing district representatives got the pork they wanted (e. g. 167/509) and they rolled everyone else. The Democrats were too afraid of pissing those guys off, so they went with what they wanted. They didn’t have the guts (or creativity) to come up with a “maintenance and finish what we started” budget, so they went with the old stand buy — buying votes. This is not a compromise between two opposing sides, this is just both sides getting played.

      7. RossB, you might be onto something. I can’t say too much yet but yeah, I think some votes were bought oh north of Mukilteo. That’s all I can say for now without proof.

      8. I find the notion of taxing transit to fund highways outrageous, especially when it’s effective impact is to take public tax dollars from one metropolis and ship it elsewhere to the rest of the state.

        Next thing, the state will start charging King County Metro fuel taxes – and also sales taxes on bus fares. Who knows what they’ll come up with when ST 4 needs to go on the ballot 20 years from now.

        And, if ST goes to voters with a complete-the-spine proposal, and it fails miserably – what have we transit advocates actually gotten for all this nonsense. The answer is absolutely nothing.

        And I don’t see a future legislature with a democratic majority undoing the $500 million tribute. They’ll have already planned the state budget and the WSDOT budget to expect it, and there will be no better way to get the money from somewhere else.

      9. asdf, my understanding buddy is Rep. Farrell in return for opposing the referendum clause is throwing more money at public education.

        The one successful amendment came from Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle. The origin of Farrell’s amendment is complicated, but it related to the use of transportation construction projects’ sales tax money and Sound Transit projects. The amendment guarantees that $500 million related to $15 billion in Sound Transit tax authorizations will be spent on educational improvements only within King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, whose taxpayers finance Sound Transit. That $500 million also will not be allowed to go toward the state’s overall court-required efforts to improve teacher-student ratios in Grades K-3.


        That’s not being a friend of transit, but a… I need to choose my words carefully per STB comment policy… educational industrial complex purchased legislator.

      10. Let’s be blunt here – there are some Republicans who wanted to say NO to ALL of this.

        NO to ST3
        NO to Community Transit
        NO to 520
        NO to a gas tax

        My God! I’m a Republican!

        Well, I would have supported raising the gas tax in order to reduce driving and provide some funds for road maintenance.

      11. Joe,

        Oh, of course I want CT to be successful, so I suppose I should have said both. But, like ST itself, they’re going to be saving mega bucks! on bus hours for UW- and downtown Seattle-bound buses when Link to Lynnwood opens. Mega Bucks; probably more as percentage of budget than any other operator. So if they want to make a big expansion of local service they only have to wait a few years.

        But honestly, is congestion anywhere in Snohomish County other than I-5 in the peak direction an issue? Will people actually ride the increased services that this .3% will fund — assuming it passes, a pretty optimistic position I’d guess? Other than high school students, of course.

        Just to be clear, I have no issue with high school kids riding the bus. In fact, it’s a great training for a conscious low-carbon life. That said, suburban kids riding around after school does not a ridership make.

      12. There you go again Anandakos writing talking points for my opponents….

        Community Transit with one tenth will fund Swift 2 & Seaway Station at Boeing, with one tenth fund new routes such as Seaway-Future of Flight-Mukilteo Multimodal and many more, and with one tenth keep transit schedules going. It’s the black & white measure to solve a lot of transit mobility & network growth needs in Snohomish County.

        Also frankly you just think we can’t recruit more people to ride the bus. Well then, why are you here if you’re going to poo-poo transit as cool and encourage more ridership?

        Good comments, BTW, on the Double Talls. I do think Double Talls would be great for the Stanwood-to-Seattle and the Mukilteo-to-UW routes. Ditto some Island Transit & Skagit Transit routes if somehow the supply was more than Community Transit demand.

      13. asdf,

        If ST3 fails, there won’t be a half billion dollars in “tribute”.

      14. Anandakos – as to the tribute to the educational industrial complex thanks to their purchased legislator – I hear ya, I hear ya. Those greedy WEA people always wanting more, more and more. Heck if we give them 66% of the state budget, they’ll want 75%.

        All you road people angry about voter-approved funding for transit… go chew on the educational industrial complex.

      15. Joe,

        I agree that those are certainly projects I’d choose given what relatively little I know about the dense points in Snohomish County. And I do appreciate the one bus I do ride, the 130 between AVillage and the ferry to Kingston.

        Be of good cheer. Even if your sales tax increase fails at the polls — and it probably will if you want to know the truth, just like KC Prop 1 failed rather badly in similar suburbs — CT will have a tsunami of saved bus hours in 2019 or so. They’ll be able to run whatever the heck buses they want to.

      16. We got the “right” of self-taxation

        You’ll have that when you tax your own property for things you want.

        Much like Mayor Murray just did with a billion dollar levy in Seattle.

        Then you’ll turn from income thieves to honest and upright citizens who only spend what they afford.

        And given the large increases in property costs over the last 2 decades, driven entirely by the productive people, you can afford quite a bit.

      17. “The suburban swing district representatives got the pork they wanted (e. g. 167/509) and they rolled everyone else. ”

        These guys are the problem. You can work with genuinue fiscal conservatives (a rare breed). You can’t work with “I get the services, you pay for it” suburban looter types.

      18. On, “These guys are the problem. You can work with genuinue fiscal conservatives (a rare breed). You can’t work with “I get the services, you pay for it” suburban looter types.”

        +1, I agree.

        So sick of those people.

  2. As ever, “rails” are a means, not an end.

    This is a bad deal in pursuit of explicitly poor outcomes. Your “path to the future” is apparently paved with grift and explicitly ill intentions.

  3. The worst parts of the compromise are policies that can be corrected when we obtain a more supportive legislature in the future.

    This nearly never happens.

    1. If that’s so, we’d also have to give up hope of ever getting a better deal on ST funding.

      1. If we can’t get a more supportive legislature to make some specific changes to law, then that group would not be able to pass a massive transit only funding bill.

      2. I agree with that, I just don’t agree with the idea that the worst parts are reversible. By far the worst parts are the 167 and 509 freeways. Once we break down, it is highly unlikely someone will kill it.

      3. I disagree. I think once you make a law, changing it is really difficult. However, passing a new law is not the same thing as modifying an existing one.

      4. What other policies? When ST4 comes up, there will be other roads with other priorities and supporters, maybe none of them as well-supported as 167, 509, and the Spokane freeway. There will be a different revenue picture, etc. My understanding of the ST tax was a last-minute patch for this budget, a hack to afford exempting WSDOT from more sales taxes.

  4. Vancouver-area transit measure just went down in a landslide. And that one did fund at least a smattering of well-designed projects of unequivocal necessity, as well as further reinforcing existing robust and correctly-scaled anywhere-to-anywhere service across the metorpolitan region.

    But the measure was poorly marketed, and shackled to an agency seen (unfairly) as less-than-concerned with fiduciary responsibility or wise operational decision-making.

    What do you expect to happen in a region with a fraction of the transit modeshare, accumulating sales-tax-levy fatigue, and an agency that really doesn’t give a shit about good projects or responsible financial stewardship?

    1. And that is what we face in 2016. I do not think it will be a walk in the park and this next measure needs to fund the essentials. I would say get the small stuff done with South Sounder station access, 8 car platforms, and look for all day service/ full electric. Next, Link to Redmond and Federal Way.

      I would not settle for anything other than fully grade separated rail. I do not care if elevated or tunneled, it just needs to be separated.

      1. All day service is enormously expensive. It would require constructing a third track on the BNSF right of way south of Black River Junction or double tracking the UP with permanent subsidies of the necessary trackage rights fees or Warren will just say “No”.

      2. Which is a good thing that should be done. It’s no more expensive than Link to Tacoma, and much more useful.

      3. Anadakos, for the cost per mile, it would be more effective. Correcting curves along the alignment and there are plenty of places to easily quad track. Grade separation would help with growing freight demand, less horns through communities would be great. I am hoping that passenger rail would be at 6 trains per hour per direction during peak, 4 Sounder, 2 Amtrak Cascades with typical 3 trains per hour since those slots would be valuable. This would benefit the suburbs in a big way. With every 30 minute service to Seattle and all you would need is good bus connections with Sounder and there would be no need to bring a car from Tacoma for the day. Reduce the burdens on I-5 and eliminate the need for expansion.

      4. Dan,

        Well, given the retrograde refusal by Federal Way to build “string of pearls” TOD along SR99, I’d have to agree that Sounder is a better investment for far south King County. And especially for Tacoma.

        But, that said, I do believe you are vastly underestimating the cost of third-main-tracking Warren’s model railroad or doubling Uncle Pete. There is no enough room for a third track through Kent between James and Meeker, at least, not without rebuilding the existing (and pretty new) station and probably demolishing a building or two to the south of it a couple of blocks. South of Meeker the ROW widens enough to add a track. You have to replace the Green River bridge and add a track at South 266th. Fortunately it looks like the 277th bridge, because it has a diverging spur, is wide enough to accommodate a third track unmodified, though the spur would have to be reconfigured a bit.

        In Auburn 15th Street looks fine, but at the station you have the same problem: got to nuke one side of a nice new facility.

        North of Kent there’s a switching lead on the east side of the main, but enough room on the west for the track. Fortunately all the new overpasses were clearly designed with expansion for the railroad in mind. The spans are long.

        South of Auburn there aren’t any significant overpasses except the 410 and 512. So I guess it wouldn’t be a billion. But with the difficulties building a new track on an existing main line and the station rebuilds, it would be close.

        But then there are the “slot” fees. Warren will still want them, even with the extra track.

      5. Not sure if Kent has enough room, although I always thought the platforms were far enough apart for a 3rd main track. Auburn has a asphalt platform extension that is suppose to be able to be removed to place a 3rd main track through. Puyallup, and sumner stations would need some major work, plus the bridge over the Puyallup river. Also you still wi have to deal with TR junction which is a single track to the lake view sub

      6. Doubling the UP is pretty easy; lots of spare right-of-way along there.

        It would probably require a complicated land deal. The UP line is an isolate, disconnected from the UP network. The deal would probably require that the state buy the UP line, upgrade it, then swap it to BNSF for the Cascades line, while leaving UP with sufficient slots.

        Expensive but worth it.

    2. One of the lessons we are going to have to learn from this is that you can’t just throw money into a YES campaign and win.

      You’ve got to win the earned media battle.

      What’s that?

      Earned media is, “Earned media often refers specifically to publicity gained through editorial influence, whereas social media refers to publicity gained through grassroots action, particularly on the Internet. The media may include any mass media outlets, such as newspaper, television, radio, and the Internet, and may include a variety of formats, such as news articles or shows, letters to the editor, editorials, and polls on television and the Internet. Critically, earned media cannot be bought or owned, it can only be gained organically, hence the term ‘earned’.” Thank you WikiPedia.

      Jordan Bateman clearly won the earned media battle on a very small budget. The anti-Initiative 884 folks here did the same 11 years ago.

      To win, we must win the earned media battle. Period.

      1. To do my part, just sent in a letter to the Mukilteo Beacon. Being some editors don’t like letters to the editor submissions republished on the internet – I have to wait but basically I expect you STB regulars to help with the earned media for BOTH Sound Transit & Community Transit.

    3. I agree. I also think, unlike a few years ago, the fundamentals for a successful Sound Transit package are very weak. There are a number of reasons for this:

      1) Extending the spine is popular amongst some politicians, but I don’t believe many riders favor it. There just aren’t that many people in Everett, relative to the rest of the county and it is just too slow from Tacoma.

      2) West Seattle rail is very expensive and very unproductive (less so than BRT) but has been the focus of efforts for a long time. If Sound Transit proposes something for West Seattle, then it pretty much breaks the bank; if they don’t, then they piss off West Seattle voters.

      Sound Transit could, theoretically, come up with a package consisting of lots of bus service (and Sounder service) for the suburbs, along with a bit of light rail (e. g. Redmond). They could build really good BRT for West Seattle (including new ramps and lanes for the bridge, the WSTT as well as surface improvements) and Ballard to UW light rail. That could be a winner (in my opinion) but even that requires an education effort (as discussed here —

      It just isn’t as easy as before. Building East Link was obvious (and had huge support on both sides of the lake). Extending Link to Northgate is obvious. Going all the way to Lynnwood is excessive, but still quite reasonable (Northgate would have been a terrible terminus, so it needed to go farther north — and it wasn’t that expensive). This is the opposite. These plans take a lot more care (e. g. there is no obvious light rail plan for the east side). The likelihood that hard core transit supporters (like me) will vote against it is actually pretty high — which is a really bad sign. It could happen but it will be very hard.

      1. I expect ST3 to pass and if it is going to do so, it needs to have those popular projects in it. Rail to Everett, rail to Tacoma, rail to downtown Redmond, rail to Ballard AND West Seattle. Otherwise it tanks. Don’t underestimate just how spectacularly bad traffic in the Puget Sound region is right now. Voters want more rail as part of the solution.

        When people in a particular place say they want rail, it’s usually a good idea to give it to them.

      2. Funding is no object! Rail to everywhere! Who cares if no one’s on it! Whee!!!!

      3. Voters want a solution. Most of them probably assume this means more highways. Some of them assume this means rail. All of them will be pissed about wasting money on empty trains, which does not bode well for funding the (still) necessary HCT projects that rail to nowhere or additional highways didn’t solve. (Well, I suppose the pave-the-earth-moar-highways people won’t be pissed).

        Where does that leave us going forward? The piggy bank is not bottomless.

      4. From my observations, the idea of light rail to Tacoma sells really well to both Politicians and generally the public. I’m not totally sold on the practicality of it however, as my estimated running time is about 1:15 from Downtown Tacoma to Downtown Seattle (~20 min TDS-FWTC, 18 min FWTC-SEA, 40 min SEA-Westlake), and about 1hr on the bus (assuming no major disasters on the freeway) This time can vary based on overall distance of trip however. One question I have, is will the 57x and 59x series of routes be eliminated in favor of light rail, and will their operating funds get diverted for operations of Light Rail, or into other bus services? I also have to wonder how the public will like taking the slightly slower light rail service, vs. the non-stopish bus.

        Finally, as I have said before the urban areas may support this, but it really doesn’t throw many carrots to the suburbs, which still have a lot of pull. for East Pierce, it has some minor things but nothing like All-Day sounder service. Considering Pierce County’s recent experience with areas who are transit-underserved (and under utilized) pulling out of the PTBA, I have to wonder if there will be a coo and suburban areas like Orting and Bonney lake leaving after deciding they don’t want to pay for Light Rail to Tacoma, which is something they would hardly use.

      5. “will the 57x and 59x series of routes be eliminated in favor of light rail”?

        ST hasn’t said, and I told them in my feedback that this is a material issue for Link in Tacoma. This would be the first time that a light rail extension is more than ten minutes slower than the buses it’s replacing. I suspect the peak-hour buses would remain and the off-peak ones would go away. But ST needs to clarify this.

    4. I expect it to pass. I think you focus so much on details you sometimes don’t see the forest through the trees. People here really really want a way out of traffic. Like crazy. It the number one issue.

      1. They’ve voted against Sound Transit before (and traffic was horrible then). Oh, I know, it wasn’t a general election year. Details don’t matter in a general election year, and the left always wins.

        Sorry, I think details are important and this is a good example. Would anyone here vote for this turkey? I’m not including the Sound Transit authority — I’m just talking about the roads. Would you vote for it? It does complete 520 and adds some new HOV lanes. But still, I would vote against it.

        On the other hand, if they dropped 167 and 509, I would vote for it. There are plenty of other crappy things in there, but *that* is a decent compromise. I think a lot of people feel that way. Details matter.

      2. That election you made up isn’t happening though. People will be voting for more Sound Transit rail or not. The roads are happening regardless. Voting No on ST will not defund the roads.

        I know the details matter a ton to you. But you are not some average person. And I’ve read your theory about this election, and I don’t think it is sound. The demographics matter more than the details, and these details arent even that bad. And in the meantime, we can try to shift them better and better.

        In my mind, with a vote a sure thing now, everyone should be focused on getting ST to build the best possible package.

      3. Yeah, as we heard over and over again in the Seattle Subway booth at the Pride Festival last Saturday, people are hungry for big, bold grade-separated transit going to places they want to go.

      4. You Seattle Subway guys still don’t get it. You go to Farmers’ Markets and Big Gay Urban Youthful Demographic events, and you proudly display your wildly overextended maps, and you handwave about pesky details like access and multimodal integration, and you ignore that the literal-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-per-person-stretched-out-over-40-years-of-debt funding measure about which you’re crowing won’t even build the tiniest fraction of your fantasy napkin…

        And then you come back and tell us that the general population, region-wide, is just chomping at the bit to send their taxes into the stratosphere for this.

        Checking your own confirmation biases really is the vital first step to effective advocacy. And you simply don’t show the slightest interest in doing that.

      5. People in this city are hungry for transportation solutions. You’ll see this November where an overwhelming majority of Seattleites vote for the Move Seattle measure, despite the staggering cost and the thousands of dollars stretched out over many years.

        If the measure does not pass, I will definitely change my view on the hunger for transit around Seattle, and I hope you will if the opposite happens.

      6. I would take your viewpoint more seriously if it had constructive elements. I know there are system design aspects that are sub-par. What are you going to DO? If the answer is “not much”, then I think the constant cynicism is pretty tedious.
        Did you see the EMC poll? Did you see the ST poll? People here care about this stuff.

      7. Of course they are are hungry for transit and you bet your ass they will vote for the Move Seattle package. That is because the package is a reasonable one. Really, what is your objection — I would love to hear it. I really don’t have any, even though I would probably come up with a different set of plans. The difference is so minor — details, as they say — that it doesn’t matter.

        But just consider this proposal for Seattle (to say nothing of the region):

        1) West Seattle light rail to the junction.
        2) Streetcar to Ballard (via Westlake).

        Do you still think that will pass? This is not a made up, crazy idea, but well within the range of Sound Transit’s proposals. It makes sense really, if you assume that you need rail to both West Seattle and Ballard. You can’t afford grade separated to both (too expensive) and streetcars just won’t work to West Seattle (too steep) so there you have it. The streetcar will carry lots of people, too (great people per mile metrics).

        So, again, do you think that will pass? Are people that desperate? I don’t think so.

        So yeah, I will be focused on getting Sound Transit to pass the best possible package. But I am under no illusion that it will be easy.

      8. [my code’s compiling so it’s ok that i’m responding at work!]


        I think in that case it depends on what we transit activists and urbanists do. I’d imagine such a pathetic package would lose our support and we’d all recommend no votes on the package. This in turn would probably turn the public into no votes [like the 2014 monorail proposal].

        In a world where no activists existed, I’d imagine the public would vote for that proposal. The evidence I have for this is how many people came up to our booth and asked about not only the light rail station, but the delayed streetcar. Further, according to a poll I saw a bit ago, traffic is the #1 concern to Puget Sound citizens.

      9. Yeah, any links to the methodology of that poll? There were none in the original post.

        70% approval of “that sounds vaguely awesome, plus you haven’t mentioned the funding mechanism” does not really tell us much. Especially if we have no idea who was asked.

        I’ll believe the hype when I see it.

      10. DP
        I dont know off the top of my head. Why do you look into it? Remember, I brought it up in response to your criticism of my supposed confirmation bias. Are you sure you dont have a bias?

      11. And for something that looks like a thin piece of metal with a modestly sharp leading edge, tapered from the centerline and attached to a long pole to be called anything but a spade if it doesn’t fit with your worldview.

        The poll is there. It was done professionally. If you want to beef with them, check it out. But if you want to ignore it completely dont tell me that *I’m* the one whose bias is showing.

      12. Meh. There is a known — and enormous — discrepancy between the vague endorsement of an ideal, and the willingness to support a specific ballot measure with the costs and limitations explicitly delineated. A poll on the latter could be presumed trustworthy and relevant, if conducted with any reasonable methodology.

        But citing the above STB article to prove this $15 billion is a shoo-in is some confirmation bias-ing.

      13. Zach,

        And I’m hungry for a free-range, grass-fed, organic Rib Steak, but I just don’t want to pay $18/pound for the privilege. While people in Seattle will probably happily accept the increased taxes, folks in South King west of the I-5 might break weakly “Yes”, but those east of the freeway will be a solid “No”. Ditto much of East King. There’s no way ST is going to propose Kirkland-Eastgate and absolutely none that they will propose Kirkland-Issaquah. I-405 BRT is mostly for people in South King and Snohomish; it won’t benefit folks in East King much at all, since they’ll have to change twice to go to Seattle or the airport from almost anywhere other than right along I-405 where few people actually live. Redmond will be excited about the extension, so they’ll vote “Yes” and Bellevue still believes that the Spring District is going to be sooooooommmmmme honkin big success. But everyone else will be a firm “No”.

        So it’ll probably come down to SnoHoCo. The folks from Lynnwood south already gots them a train, so will they vote for Everett to get it? Probably not if truth be told.

    5. Vancouver has had grade separated transit since 86. All of the high productivity corridors except Broadway/UBC are done. The possibility of an NDP government at a federal level is real and would mean a much better deal for the province on major infrastructure projects in the near future. I’d have voted no.

      Here, we’re not even barely started on our high productivity corridors. People aren’t blasé about rail yet. And Congress isn’t going to be offering a better deal anytime soon.

      1. All the high productivity corridors* are done in the suburbs, though, and Sound Transit is ignoring high productivity corridors in Seattle while it focuses on low productivity corridors (e. g. ignoring a Metro 8 subway while it focuses on West Seattle light rail).

        *I’m saying that “high productivity corridor” means the same as “makes sense for light rail”. Things get more complicated when we discuss other transit options (like BRT). I’m all for West Seattle BRT (much better and much cheaper) but not West Seattle light rail.

      2. As a West Seattleite, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the productivity of a West Seattle light rail line. Well designed bus transfers at Delridge, the triangle and the junction will produce an excellent transit experience and allow metro to refocus hours on underserved areas (admiral, arbor heights, etc).

        I can tell you that as a political matter, West Seattle has been promised rail since the SMP fiasco, and anything less is DOA with most people here. We essentially live on an island. Yes, the freeway bridge is usually great and a few ramps could improve the experience. But one load of fish spills up there and we are up sh*t creek. Adding a new bridge is key.

      3. What would you consider as a well-designed transfer, and how much time would it save the average rider?

      4. Get off the local bus on Delridge, 35th, Fauntleroy, or California and be within a few steps of a single elevator or escalator ride to the platform. Automated trains, since there’s no reason to build Ballard – W.S. as anything but fully grade separated. Lets you run reasonable headways all day and all night with driver labor cost issues out of the picture. Tunnel to tunnel connections at ID and Westlake stations.

        Given that there’s an immense amount of metro hours being wasted slogging through downtown and sodo, this would allow for a much greater span and scope of service and better headways for the rest of West Seattle. So, for the average resident, things get better.

      5. Whoops. Sorry. Best Sound Transit ever intends to do on the west side is ten minutes at peak, worse at other times.

        Thanks. That’ll be $15 billion. Your ride just got worse, and West Seattle still drives everywhere.

        Thank you, please come again!

      6. Also, your island is painfully suburban, and your existing (fixable) transit isn’t 1/5 as slow as the many places that have twice the population density and none of your remoteness.

        You made your bed, and I don’t give a shit what you feel “promised”. Ineffective transit is not worth billions.

      7. No offense d. p., but why even go there. Seriously — we all know it and it is a reasonable complaint, but that misses the point. West Seattle won the lottery. They didn’t deserve to win it, but they won it. So now, what is the best billion dollar (or four billion dollar) package we can deliver to West Seattle:


        Sorry, but nothing else comes close. I am a bit tired of having this argument because no one comes up with a counter argument. No one explains to me why someone in Alki or Delridge would prefer to get off the bus, take an elevator, and then wait for five minutes instead of just having the bus get to downtown five minutes (and an elevator ride) faster!

        Really, Ron, explain it to me. Tell me, as a passenger why I would want to get off my ass and get on an elevator (along with a bus load of people), wait five minutes and ride the train instead of just riding the bus as it gets on the freeway and goes 60 MPH. You are talking about around 2/3 or your ridership, so this is important. Please tell me.

        Is this just a sacrifice those riders have to make? Are we willing to spend an extra 3 or 4 billion dollars so that a handful of people in one part of West Seattle can get a lovely ride, while everyone else on the peninsula gets screwed? Is it? If so, I don’t think it will be that popular.

        It’s just simple geography and economics. If we had ten billion to spend on West Seattle then we would three converging light rail lines and it would be spectacular. But we don’t. We can only afford one, and one will extremely expensive. One won’t serve a majority of the people in West Seattle. It can’t. This makes it different than other rail lines, and uniquely inappropriate for light rail at the same time it is uniquely appropriate for BRT. Spend a billion or so on real BRT ( and West Seattle has transit that is the envy of most of the city. Spend twice that amount on light rail and it doesn’t even have a station. Spend four times that amount and it still isn’t as good as BRT.

      8. Because the bridge is a single point of failure. There will never be a solution to the northbound I-5 backup it feeds into, so congestion is a given. There’s anyways someone blocking the bus lane with a last minute lane change. On the one day a week SPD is enforcing the lane, it causes worse congestion. The loop ramp is a nightmare every morning, and the Seneca ramp isn’t great either. Once every month or so there’s a fish truck jackknife or a car fire that shuts everything down in gridlock.

        Basically, the introduction of half-assed BRT that coincided with the semi permanent construction bottleneck on 99 has absolutely poisoned the well for any bus based solution out here. Conditions are getting slightly better with the prop 1 improvements, but the C line has been a rolling circle of overcrowded hell during rush hours for years. BRT is thus a dirty word. You’d have better luck trying to sell a gondola out here.

      9. Ron,

        You certainly have a point. RapidRide has been a crowded and ill-kept disappointment for people expecting the “rail-like” experience that BRT advocates always trumpet.

        But Ross also has a point. If I lived along Admiral Way I would very much not appreciate always having to transfer at Delridge and Spokane, which as he points out is right at the beginning of what could be the bus’s “express” section.

        Since traffic on the West Seattle high bridge is quite directional, perhaps something like the express lanes could alleviate the bus congestion you’re describing. Right now the eastbound bus lane ends at the Delridge on-ramp and doesn’t begin again until most of the way across the span. It’s regularly violated and does not put the buses on SR99 effectively.

        What would be the reaction by West Seattle residents to an “ST3” proposal which included a new one lane and a shoulder span just to the south of the existing high bridge? Surely that could be completed for less than a billion dollars and could be built with conversion to a possible future rail line in mind (curvature and gradient limits). A driving lane plus a generous shoulder would be wide enough to accommodate two tracks.

        Do you think that West Seattle residents might agree to that?

        And as an aside, why did you mention I-5 congestion and the Seneca off-ramp? I don’t believe any West Seattle express buses go that way. They use SR99.

      10. +1 on the West Seattle bridge. When the West Seattle bridge goes down 80% of the capacity into or out of the is lost. More if you consider the efficiency of a highway over a surface street. Not to say it doesn’t exist but off the top of my head I am finding it hard to think of another area of the city of comparable population or size that becomes as isolated with the loss of a single street/route. Ross, BRT to West Seattle would be great but a new route is needed and by virtue of that your capex just went through the roof.

        Makes you wish the low bridge had been rebuilt with four lanes just like the old draw bridge. :-)

      11. There is no part of this city that does not devolve into a nightmare when its primary arterial is interrupted, including any of the bridges that cross the Ship Canal (none of which boast all-hour bus lanes to insulate transit from more routine traffic backups).

        You cannot plan for 100% infrastructural redundancy in all places. You must work to insulate transit in order to keep it reliable for the 99.99% of the time that the primary infrastructure is open.

        Really good BRT is achievable on the existing bridge; the vast majority of the lane space already exists, and just needs to be managed better, with new ramps and flyovers added in just a few key places.

        The notion that a $3 billion new bridge of any mode should be required for that other 0.01% of the time — especially to the one corner of the city that already boasts dedicated 55mph infrastructure built for its exclusive benefit today* — is just plain ludicrous!

        *(the West Seattle Bridge being the only piece of Forward Thrust ever built. Yes, your bridge was part of a master transit plan, and was always intended to host BRT rather than rail… true story!)

    6. The transit referendum results in Vancouver are a shame – hopefully they’ll find other means to fund a Broadway subway, which is absolutely a well-designed project on a corridor that is screaming for rail.

    7. Interesting news coverage.

      “I think this is a slippery slope for us here in British Columbia. Our tradition and the British parliamentary tradition is that governments make decisions and if the public doesn’t like the decision, you throw them out,”

      “It becomes even dicier when the government picks and chooses what issues it brings to the public. There was no referendum when it came to deciding to replace the Massey Tunnel, which connects Richmond and Delta under the Fraser River, with a bridge, a project that is estimated to cost about $3 billion.”

      Nobody saying we don’t need transit, or we should build roads instead, or taxes should be frozen at the current level and not allowed to rise without a 2/3 majority. The biggest issue was skytrain vs light rail, with light rail being the low-cost option.

      The electoral map is also interesting. Western Vancouver and the northern suburbs voted for it, eastern Vancouver voted against, and the southeast suburbs voted heavily against. This coincides with Vancouver’s “driving belt”, the area with the most driving and single-family houses. Although it’s also the area with the lowest housing prices (in a place where that means there not as quite mind-splittingly insane) so people may have felt they can’t afford it. Still, the map looks remarkably like Pierce Transit’s votes. Which suggests that maybe there should be a transit benefit district excluding them, the way Pierce Transit shrunk its service area.

  5. I disagree with your third point. The worst part of this is the 509/167 freeway, that dominates the package. Take that out and I would vote for this without hesitation. As you said, “To get a more progressive legislature we need to increase the number of dense, walkable legislative districts with voters that demand more transit”. Right. And this will do the opposite. This make living in Puyallup or Edgewood (look it up) or North Des Moines sound downright appealing. Wait until they sell the houses (“Quick access to the freeway”). These are not transit voters (as you say so yourself).

    Meanwhile, as to your last point, we are urbanizing very fast anyway. Seattle is growing way faster than its neighbors*, despite the transit short comings. I’m sure good mass transit helps, but it isn’t essential. Ballard is booming despite poor transit; Greater South Lake Union (from Cascade to Lower Queen Anne) is booming despite no investment in transit; Lake City transit hasn’t gotten any better and it is booming. Meanwhile, Rainier Valley, the neighborhood with the biggest investment in transit, is about the same. I think Rainier Beach is a wonderful area and I would build huge buildings there if I was a developer, but somehow the light rail hasn’t made it happen.

    This deal has guaranteed investments in sprawl encouraging infrastructure. We might — might — get something similar from Sound Transit. Even if we do, much of ST3 is going to include investments that encourage sprawl (just drive ten minutes, then catch the train, then ride it for a half hour). If you really are thinking about the long term demographics, then I think this package, overall, is a loser. As I said, Seattle is growing like crazy, despite the fact that we have so little right now in terms of mass transit. Pretty soon we are going to build a lot (Northgate to downtown). If we do nothing, and just let the transit situation play itself out for the next few years, Seattle will continue to grow much faster than its neighbors.

    I think the only solid argument is that we need light rail investment right away and this is the only way to get it. Fair enough. But let’s not pretend that this was OK. We just took one on the chin. To think one of the greenest men in Congress was partly the architect of this is just baffling. I love the governor, but he totally screwed this up. Rookie mistake, I guess. He essentially lead with a compromise package (including 167/509) which was stupid. He should have started with a much smaller package (including the global warming thing) that focused on maintenance and “finishing what we started” (which means 520). The Republicans would have stripped the global warming thing, added the rest of the crap, and we would have a much smaller roads package. But I suppose he is trying to get the support of those suburban voters — you know, the ones we think will suddenly become unnecessary in a few years. Its roads and transit all over again only this time we don’t get to vote on the roads part.

    * If you add up the growth in Issaquah, Sammamish, Bellevue, Redmond, Auburn, Renton, Kirkland, Kent, Federal Way, Burien, Shoreline and Lakewood it still doesn’t equal that of Seattle. This chart here ( is accurate, but misleading. It makes it look like the other areas are adding almost as many people as Seattle. They aren’t. When you plug in the actual number of people who have moved to the area (city population X growth) then almost half of the growth on that chart was in Seattle. By removing Everett and Tacoma from the list of cities, my statement above is accurate.

    1. Both of these are more about freight than commuters but one is far better than the other. Split it apart and look at each on it’s own.

      509 is unlikely to change commute patterns much and has always been about access to the airport and freight mobility to from the Port of Seattle and SODO. It goes through an area which will be well served by Link through Angle Lake and Rapid Ride. Densification will be restricted in that area likely forever due to the airport.

      167 is indeed much less desirable but is still primarily about access to the warehouses in the Valley. It does however have many more unfortunate side effects in likely encouraging sprawl to the east as you noted.

  6. I am heavily disappointed with this package and I am a bit worried on where we are going.

    I am seeing Seattle Subway has updated the map to include Paine Field. The fact of the matter is, transit ridership in industrial districts is very shift oriented. It is not an all day demand destination and I feel the diversion will put Everett-Seattle above an hour by light rail. I think that time needs to be as close to under an hour as possible.

    I also do not agree with extending light rail all the way to Tacoma, I think a better investment for sub-area equity is looking toward higher speed trackage capable of 125 mph with electric rolling stock. The hope is to reduce the time from Tacoma-Seattle from the current 1 hour down to 45 minutes. This would bring Lakewood down to 1 hour and Olympia could be 90 minutes.

    There are definitely priorities for ST 3
    1) Begin Ballard-West Seattle with a new transit tunnel and hopefully reach the tips of Ballard and West Seattle.
    a) I would be concerned with a new transit tunnel that does not have platforms high enough for off the shelf metros let alone 3rd rail. The Sound Transit LRV design while typical for America I feel isn’t the right kind of vehicle for high capacity transit. I would rather use vehicles like on the Canada Line with plenty of seating and standing room with level floors throughout and a space for bikes and bulky bags.
    2) Redmond extension of East Link, already planned, it’s needed, just do it.
    3) Federal Way extension of Central Link
    4) All Day Sounder Service with station improvements for 8 cars and look for higher frequency.
    5) 405 BRT. With the express toll lanes fully funded, that would help in having transit moving along the corridor.

    1. I am seeing Seattle Subway has updated the map to include Paine Field. The fact of the matter is, transit ridership in industrial districts is very shift oriented. It is not an all day demand destination and I feel the diversion will put Everett-Seattle above an hour by light rail. I think that time needs to be as close to under an hour as possible.

      That line up Everett even looks ridiculous on a map:

      A compromise to get that long, useless line first is just not worth it at all.

      1. I notice also Kirkland-Issaquah as a separate line. That would be a good route to start at BRT potentially once the 405 HOT lanes are online but I would hold off on rail planning for now.

      2. Well, I notice that Seattle Subway has faced reality and admitted that serving TIBS with the Yellow Line is not possible geometrically. So there’s the little problem now that folks using the Red Line who want to go south of the airport will have to transfer first to Link at TIBS and then to the Yellow Line just one station down the line. A “better Red Line” would turn at the Yellow and go into the Airport via its trackage, then reverse and follow the Link trackage back to TIBS.

        How one does that quickly is certainly a question. It might require a single-track elevated loop just south of 188th.

        The other option of course is to build a X-shaped second station just west of SR99 for the Red and Yellow line transfer.

        But the thing is that the Yellow Line won’t ever be built. If there’s ever a “Duwamish Bypass” it will diverge just west of the crossing over I-5 at BAR and run up the west side of Boeing Field to the Maintenance Facility where there’s a flying junction it could use to get back on the Link tracks.

        So far as having the “deep South” trains use the bypass and locals continue on the MLK trackage, that’s excellent. I would run the MLK trains down to Highline CC, though.

      3. I agree Andrew, which I think is why the map is better than most. It is roughly at scale (I believe). Seen in that light, it does seem silly. It shows how far away Everett is. In the middle of the day (when there is no traffic) no one will take the train from Everett to Seattle. They’ll drive to Lynnwood or just to their destination Hell, a car pool to Lynnwood even during rush hour is probably faster. Basically, the plan is to build a regional light rail line for a city of around 100,000 people. Yeah, that makes sense. I’m sure Yakima wants to build a light rail line pretty soon as well.

    2. This Paine Field fan supports better buses and a charter bus service linking to a different light rail alignment.

      But I gotta tell you straight-up I know one advocate of the Paine Field alignment will be writing here sometime over the summer. Unlike me, he’s unquestionably in your corner transit advocates!

      Stay tuned for hot summer nights in the STB comment threads!!!

    3. Using LINK for a regional system is actually really silly. Personally, we should have built at BARTD or WMATA type subway system, and Light Rail for local service (like Central LINK is now) branching off of it. It sounds like the decision has been made and we are stuck with it. Anyone rode MAX to the end of the line? Remember how painful it is? Better get used to it, although instead of sleepy suburbs we will have high density urban areas on either end of a painfully slow ride without much Capasity to Seattle…

      1. There is a bit of a difference though between MAX and Link:

        The longest MAX line ends 15 miles from downtown Portland. Every current MAX station that I can think of, except the Johnson Creek Road Home Depot station, intersects a bus route of some sort or other, so that MAX forms a busy core service that would be difficult to serve with buses due to the number of passengers. 1/3 of TriMet passengers are counted as MAX passengers, but since a transfer counts as at least one MAX passenger and at least one bus passenger, at the very least MAX helps at least half of TriMet riders get where they are going.

        If MAX were built to the length of Seattle to Everett, it would go to Woodburn, which is almost in Salem, with the distance between Woodburn and Wilsonville mostly farmland and one or two small communities of several hundred people.

        If Link were built the way MAX is, it certainly would never go past Lynnnwood, and would have a dozen stations, with each of those served by at least one bus route, and at least one station every 2 miles or so served by a frequent service bus route. It would be slower than Link, but King County Metro wouldn’t have so many highly overcrowded buses and service hours for those buses could be put somewhere other than trying to provide high capacity service in a vehicle not well suited to that task.

        Sure, it is different type of line for a different type of service.

        Except: MAX and Link have cars designed to operate at the same maximum speed.

  7. I completely disagree with the idea that you can get progressive outcomes by admitting to conservatives that you will ALWAYS give in, and give in a ton.

    If a bully comes to you and says “I’ll let you ride the bus, but you have to give me $3” what is to say he’ll stop asking for $3 in the future. ESPECIALLY, after you’ve given him the money.

    1. They aren’t bullies, they are negotiators. They have power, the dems have power, they both us it to gain leverage. This package doesn’t happen without the republicans, so they get to make some demands. It’s just politics.

      1. The Dems have power, they just don’t use it. They got played. They thought the only way to get anything done was to cater to the handful of suburban districts that want crap. They simply should have proposed a much smaller budget.

  8. On number 4…is a gas tax good for the environment if almost all of the revenue from that tax is to build new highways and encourage more sprawl and driving?

    A carbon tax or cap and trade system was geared at using any associated revenue to decrease regressive taxes (former) and invest in carbon alternatives such as transit (latter). It seems like either option would have been a much better outcome and are now pretty much impossible due to the carbon policy poison pill. Hopefully the state supreme court will strike that one down but a once uphill battle on carbon policy has now become a mountain climb.

    1. The one thing that we can hope for from the Eastern Washington crowd is that the fruit growers are freaking out about the lack of irrigation water. If this keeps up for a couple more years they’ll fold on the global warming thing and be prepared to face the consequences of thirty years of delay.

      Whether it will fix things is touch and go.

    2. Or have a revenue-neutral the carbon tax that refunds the proceeds to residents.

  9. Has anybody here forgotten that we also got Community Transit authority out of this deal?

    To the Future of Flight, it’s an old dream repowered with bigger, better, brighter, louder engines.

    To so many in Snohomish County dreaming Double Tall dreams, it’s great news.

    To so many stuck in congestion, here comes an option.


    1. Um, Joe, “Double Tall dreams” are not consistent with further Link extensions. Link will make most of the Double Tall runs redundant.

      1. Yes, they’re fun to ride! And they are super-efficient for P’n’R to CBD express runs; they’re ordinary bus length and have none of the driving complexities of an articulated.

        But they’re not very useful for multi-stop “local” — or even BRT — runs because of the steps.

      2. I’ve ridden them frequently. Except at the rush hour when there’s no choice, the upper deck is populated by a few tourists who love the view and canoodling teenagers. Even when the lower deck is squeezed SRO (there are few seats there).

        So, “No, of course London shouldn’t get rid of them; they use less road space to haul large loads.” And “speed” is nothing more than a dream in London’s wandering streets, so their more ponderous turns are not an issue.

        But “capacity” on Snohomish County local routes is not an issue, so why buy buses whose main feature is “capacity” but which cost much more per coach because there’s only one provider?

      3. Anandakos, you win this argument. Yeah, the Double Talls I take from the bottom of a Mukilteo hill to the Mukilteo ferry terminal do empty out.

        They’ll definitely be useful though on the Everett-Seattle & Everett-Bellevue trunk lines of Sound Transit.

  10. This is worth it.

    Better than that. It’s exciting. We got funding for a SUBWAY!

    There are by totally lame parts of this, but it came from olympia, so what can you expect? We will just have to keep fighting those progressive battles. This was a big win.

    1. Next up: Will Sound Transit actually propose a SUBWAY, or will it merely be an express line to the far banks of the Duwamish River?

      Next up: What about funding for the many other SUBWAY lines we badly need?

      1. Item 1- Lets make sure they do. Don’t know where the defeatism is coming from. We just won the first and maybe hardest battle.
        Item 2- We can’t build future lines without winning funding. Funding today and funding tomorrow. We are on the right path to get those lines.

        I am so excited to get to fight these upcoming battles. They are worth fighting, and we have got a good shot.

    2. No, we got the right to vote on a subway run by an organization that seems clueless when it comes to the important parts of a subway (like serving urban areas or integrating well with buses). We did get a bit of money for ferries and a tiny amount for transit and reasonable road projects, but mostly we got crap.

      1. Sorry but what?

        How else is a subway going to get built?
        I know you have beef with ST and how they do things. I do too sometimes. But they are going to be the only ones to build a subway in Seattle for the foreseeable future, so if that is what you want, yesterday was a huge win. HUGE WIN!

      2. As ever, rails are a means, not an end.

        It matters where the subway goes.

        You’d think this would be obvious to transportation advocates, but alas…

      3. I order to get the rails to go to the right places, we need to at least have the money for the rails.

        You don’t like Sound Transit. I get it. But you aren’t going to ever build a subway without them. Show up and talk to them about your concerns. There is a chance they might listen.

      4. Test it out! It’ll accomplish at least as much as being a voice of defeatism on the internet.

      5. I’ve tested it out.

        Truly, Sound Transit is not interested in best practices.

        If Seattle Subway’s rank and file remains interested only in ERMAHGERDSUBWAY!!!!!!1! foaming, then it increasingly seems you all won’t be of use to this city either.

        I remain unconvinced that watching a bad measure fail and restructuring from the ground up is not our best hope for eventual success.

      6. Waiting for the system to fall apart, then start over, and maybe it will be better is not a plan, and won’t fix problems. That’s the plan of every stoner anarchist ever. This city needs to move forward on building grade separated transit and this bill was a huge step towards that goal.

        If you can’t agree that funding for a subway is a good thing, I just don’t think we have the same values.

      7. I’m saying don’t party yet. Seriously — don’t say “We got funding for a SUBWAY!” because it simply isn’t true.

        “I just spent a thousand bucks and now I have a chance to win a CAR!” is not the same as “I spent a thousand dollars and got a brand new CAR!”.

      8. I think the point is not that we need to build grade separated transit, but build grade separated transit that solves transportation problems. Over-spending (or over-committing limited taxation authority) on projects that provide only at best a modicum of dubious utility does NOT accomplish this. Sound Transit’s planning efforts and completed (or nearly completed) projects have thus far indicated that they care not one whit about building transit projects that address actual ridership needs.

        See: anti-urban stop-spacing on the only line with density justifying construction (U-Link); missing obvious stations; MASSIVE station footprints displacing TOD potential development, that is hostile to people using the system to boot; thinking a mixed-traffic streetcar is a meaningful subsititute for an inability to solve an engineering problem; mis-prioritization of projects; et c., et c.

        As a transit advocate, and soon-to-be carless resident of the city, I cannot hold my breath forever for grade separated transit. That there are obvious projects that have been proposed and discussed that would SOLVE transit PROBLEMS in the city and region, and that Sound Transit does not seem interested in building these projects, AND that this lack of interest in sound planning will defer BILLIONS of tax dollars for DECADES to build shit we don’t need that people won’t use, is a FANTASTIC reason to withold my vote, NOT to hold my nose.

      9. The stop spacing comment is totally on base, but the stations are not huge and deep because “Sound Transit”. They are at those depths due to two factors, utility locations and grade restrictions for the trains.

      10. What Trivialex said.

        “Funding*” to build crap is a not a good thing, and not a value in which you should take such pride.

        *(not actually funding)

      11. I suppose I was thinking mezzanines (SeaTac,TIBS, Husky Stadium) and entrance portals (Capitol Hill, Roosevelt), but I suppose the real offenders are from days gone by in the bus tunnel.

        My frustration with the stations I actually use (SeaTac, DSTT, Columbia City, Mt. Baker) likely colors my impression of STs design ethos. Having used systems elsewhere (London, Boston, LA), it’s hard to feel like ST is getting things ‘right’, despite ‘constraints’.

        Conceding that the true offenders was KC Metro does reveal an interesting additional point. That poorly designed legacy infrastructure has knock-on effects for future projects, regardless of lessons learned or otherwise. See: Capitol Hill link station location (due to missing First Hill station) and the resultant clusterfuck of trying to do the bus restructure.

        See also: Me walking from 12th and Columbia to Broadway and Roy because there is no bus service or link service, because slow streetcar.

      12. the stations are not huge and deep because “Sound Transit”. They are at those depths due to two factors, utility locations and grade restrictions for the trains.

        TIBS. Mt. Baker. Sea-Tac. Those are all three story monstrosities (TIBS and Sea-Tac almost four because the Mezzanines have fifteen-foot ceilings) and emphatically not “deep”.

        Somebody at ST has a serious Edifice Complex.

      13. Anandakos – I agree that Sound Transit is building too much into stations and too little into more transit network. Some of these stations are just built to be frickin’ cathedrals like the one in Tukwila.

        My mantra on transit is cliche but direct: SPREAD. THE. NET.

      14. TIB is the flip side of deep. I asked an ST rep why the station is so high, and he said there were few options that would clear the height of the surrounding highway overpasses without too much incline.

        The original ST proposal was a surface line on 154th and Intl Blvd. That wouldn’t have had high stations. But Tukwila put its foot down about redeveloping Intl Blvd again after it had just been beautified recently.

  11. I’m tempted to again echo the chorus of doubt about ST and whether they will put together a decent ST3 package. But I want to ask about something else instead, and that is the horrible airport connection between the station and the terminal.

    Of course they should have just run the train to the front of the garage, but too late for that now. As I understand it, at one point there were plans to put moving walkways in, but it never got done because of cost. How much could that possible cost? (Does anyone know?) I can’t imagine it would be that much. Ideally, the Port should pay for it, but I’d rather ST do it than it never get done. It seems like that would be a pretty popular project too.

    So is there any chance of this ever happening, either as part of ST3 or some other avenue?

    1. Good question. I’d like a moving walkway too from the light rail to the main airport terminal.

      I’d also like an aircraft spotter area at the terminal as I’m transit dependent, but I digress.

    2. The port’s eventual plans seem to include extending the automated people mover to the rental car facility. Presumably a direct connection to the light rail station would be included as an intermediate stop. Until then I’d expect to hoof it.

      1. Moving sidewalks are a lot more expensive than one might think, not just to install, but also to maintain.

        If the moving sidewalk were to cost as much as, say, a 130th St. Station or the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge, either one of the two would be a much better use for the money.

    3. It’s more important to have that walkway enclosed in a climate-controlled corridor, and THEN install a moving walkway.

  12. They really need to add another lane or HOV lane on 167 between summer and auburn.

    But so happy ST3 will be up soon!!!! I’m also wondering if this would be the last vote. However, future votes could be electrifying sounder and making it all day.

    Of course seattle will need their own separate packages to pass seattle only grade separated rail.

    1. It’s important to note that authority lasts forever, even though Sound Transit only uses 20 years or so for bonds for each set of projects. Once the construction is done they will collect just enough for Operations and Maintenance, with the rest of the tax going away. So we could definitely have more votes, but we won’t need to go back to Olympia. We’ve now got enough authority that between using the authority already granted, but not used in ST2 and ST3 and then using the authority freed up from finishing Sound Move and ST2 projects we’ll be good.

      1. Well, I suppose it could have worse, then. They could have voted to give Sound Transit a one-off authority to pass ST 3 in 2016 and forced them to get down on their knees all over again if the vote failed. And, the way things are looking, it may actually take a failed vote in 2016 to get the ST board focused on projects other than completing the spine.

      2. Thanks Matthew. I was just concerned that with all these suburban rail lines getting finished – once they are all done, I’m wondering if the suburbs will stop supporting ST expansion. Assuming Seattle will want more rail lines for themselves in the future – they will need to probably have their own vote and then contract the design/build to ST in order to integrate everything.

      3. If the authority for the additional taxes is permanent, then the right thing to do is NOT to reduce taxes when the bonds are paid off but rather to build extensions and improvements on an ad hoc basis when funds become available. Think Angle Lake to Midway; it looked like it was toast after the 2008 implosion, but then the economy picked up much more rapidly than expected after such a crash and money became available to complete the ST2 project list.

        Personally, I think that’s the way to go now. Finish ST2 to Lynnwood and Overlake then start using the “proceeds” from the bus hours freed up first to extend to Redmond and then start on Ballard-UW. It doesn’t matter if it has to be built a station at a time (from the east end, of course, so it’s useful). Each station would intercept one or two buses from the north and provide a new area of North Seattle with rapid links to the main stem and other neighborhoods. It’s not out of the question to have it be at-grade west of about Sixth NW on NW 45th and then on Leary in the middle to Mary then up to Market that way. From the looks of things, NW 45th west of Sixth NW may have been a streetcar turn around loop for the old Sixth Avenue cars. It’s wide enough to have a driving lane on each side of the trackway if no parking is allowed. And of course, there are no houses along there; it’s currently industrial.

        Eventually if it became part of an extended route the Ballard tail could be elevated, but it’s likely that surface at this end would be adequate for a long time.

        This routing (instead of swinging north from 45th/46th and Fremont would allow a station at 45th and Leary which has pretty poor quality housing today and loads of potential for redevelopment. It’s also a very short walk to the mega-Fred Meyer.

        Yes, it would take a relatively long while to do such “pay as you go” projects, but in the meantime the City could do things to make transit within its limits more efficient. Paint more Red Lanes; replace light controllers on bus routes with priority-granting cabinets; and do more road diets with stop-in-lane bulbs for minor arterials.

        But maybe the first thing to think about when the surface streets get too crowded is to force transfers from southend peak hour buses at IDS. It’s likely to be South Kingers and Pierceites that kill ST3 so caveat voter. “Elections have consequences.”

      4. First of all, that is an outstanding point, Matthew. I think this is one of the stronger points in support of this package. It may have been obvious to you, but it sure wasn’t to me. One of my fears with this legislation is that ST3 would fail, and we would be stuck with nothing but roads. But if Sound Transit can make multiple attempts at the ballot, then I don’t think this will be the case. Eventually I think it is likely they can come up with a proposal that everyone will like.

        Of course, it also makes it more likely that the first proposal will fail. If Sound Transit proposes something I consider to be a waste, then I have a tough decision to make. The argument for supporting it is that it is better than nothing, and the sooner it gets built the better. The argument against it is that they will come up with something better next time. But no one can argue that I should support this because it is our “last chance”, and that failure means going back to the legislature. It would simply mean another vote. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, and hopefully Sound Transit can come up with a good set of proposals, but it is nice to know that things aren’t as limited as I feared.

        @Anandakos — I like that philosophy, but I’m not thrilled with that project. I think the UW to Ballard light rail line needs to be a lot more like Vancouver BC rail — small and frequent. I don’t think four car trains are even necessary if we can get headways really low (e. g. four minutes). Transfers are key with this route. The vast majority of riders will connect via a bus (or the line will be a failure). It is almost impossible for a regular bus to time a train, which is why this needs to be frequent. A surface running will never be that frequent. You can’t stop 15th (a major north-south route) every four minutes. MLK Way has much smaller, much more minor cross streets, and I believe the limit on it (imposed by the city) is seven minutes. This isn’t good enough, in my opinion. Not because it couldn’t handle the capacity, but because it wouldn’t be frequent enough.

        But I wouldn’t hesitate to build smaller stations for now, with the ability to expand later. If a train runs every four minutes, then I don’t think it has to be that long. Eventually it might be, but not for twenty years. I have no idea if this is feasible or even saves much money, but I think it is worth considering.

      5. JK,

        I was just concerned that with all these suburban rail lines getting finished – once they are all done, I’m wondering if the suburbs will stop supporting ST expansion.

        Well, yes, that’s exactly what will happen. The fact that ST has permanent tax authority won’t change that. The one good thing is that as business and population in Seattle grow North King’s contribution to overall ST funding streams will become a greater and greater portion of the whole. There will come a time when the ST Board will have to come up with some creative way to rebate the proceeds from the outer areas where the taxes raised can’t be effectively spent on “regional” transit in order for North King to build the infrastructure it needs.

        Now that could be obviated by the legislature’s willingness to allow the various sub-areas to tax themselves differently, but while in theory nice, there would be manifold complexities making it work. Some sort of funding for local bus services in the sparser areas might squeeze past a court case.


        Good point on blocking 15th (and Leary for that matter at the turns off and on it). Maybe dips at those points like MAX getting under the Morrison Bridge might work? It would also make the stations more protected, like Sunset.

        But overall I much prefer coming out of the hill around 45th rather than Market. The tunnel would be considerably shorter and the area between Sixth NW and 45th and the Ship Canal could be a bonanze for desirable TOD. The area around Eighth and Market would not serve as well. It’s up a little and nice enough that people would resist too much density there. The renters and small businesses around Fred Meyer would have considerably less clout.

      6. And I completely agree that Ballard-UW should be shorter trains more frequently, because of the need to accommodate transfers from the north-south lines.

Comments are closed.