Martin regrets that circumstances forced him to use a microphone that makes listening to him even more unpleasant than usual.

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57 Replies to “Podcast: Developer Taxes and the Minimum Wage”

  1. Eliminating Sub-Area Equity does have winners and losers. The people in Snohomish and Pierce Counties win, and the people in King County lose. Seattle needs more than just WS->Ballard, and can pay for it and should.
    If everyone else want to finish their major projects we should expand the package, not take transit money from the communities that need it most (and are generating it).

    1. Worst problem is not either “Subarea Equity” or “Separate Agencies” per se. It’s the pig-stupid unwillingness of either the elected representatives running these entities to voluntarily cooperate to run a regional system. And ditto to the fortieth power for the voters who elect them.

      Always hate the term “Lack of Leadership”, as if we’re talking about a bulk-goods problem at the Co-op. “We’re sorry, but our leadership-nut vendor no longer returns our phone calls”.

      Despite entertainment’s usual take on leadership that it’s either in the brave heart of a single person, or seized from a country with the government of modern Denmark by a savage tyrant until ONE MAN, etc.-the position is almost always demanded by the population to be led.

      Often, including Denmark a mere 400 years ago, the worse the situation, the more savage the leadership the people demand. Vlad Dracula is still revered as a national hero by the locals precisely because of all the worse-than-vampire things he did to protect his people from his multi-dozen imitators.

      And it doesn’t have to be a MAN. In the northern British Isles, Queen Boudicca took the title away from Dracula, literally ripping to shreds people who really did have it coming.

      Subarea fairness and interagency effectiveness will both come on scene when voters from Everett to SR101- the exact length of the weeklong traffic jam called I-5- quit considering a working decision the worst form of tyranny.

      However, my own worst transit-political worry right now is going into coming years with Sound Transit run by an acting Chief Executive Officer. Speaking of which, at his worst- can anybody think of any current public speaker they’d rather listen to than Martin?

      Mark Dublin

    2. Your statement that “the people of King County lose” is completely unsupported. Some possible package configurations would move money out of King County, others would do the reverse.

      1. You may be right, but there’s currently no evidence either way.

        What we do have right now is a number of mayors saying things like “Seattle has their light rail, now its our turn.”

        Which makes people like me think the suburban cities will push to have no more ST money spent in Seattle, using the end of subarea equity against us.

        Logically I know they wouldn’t be able to pass a ballot measure with no more light rail in Seattle (where most of the political support comes from) but that doesn’t assuage the fear that they might do it anyway.

      2. I know I’m preaching to the choir here on this blog, but the idea of “turns” only makes any sense if you weight them by population numbers. Seattle has 650,000 people. Everett has 100,000. So, from this simplistic reasoning, Seattle deserves to get six rail corridors before Everett gets any.

        (A more advanced system would also weight based on transit ridership and where people go. A lot of those 100,000 people in Everett will probably end up riding a line in Seattle; hardly any of those 600,000 people in Seattle will go up north to ride the Everett line.)

      3. Why do you think that a suburban dominated board with a stated manifest destiny that no longer involves Seattle would bend over backwards to add lines in Seattle at the expense of that destiny.

        In my view, the only way to get great transit in Seattle is to go bigger. Complete the spine, AND add 3+ lines in Seattle and 1 on the Eastside.

      4. @Jon – because you have to win an election, and one way to do that is by appeasing transit- and tax-happy Seattle.

      5. Any proposal to take the money out of king county can’t be supported. Seattle needs the transit way more than Snohomish county does. It’s too bad sounder north isn’t very good, because that would work better than far-flung freeway light rail would.

        I started looking into VTA in the South Bay, and there the densities are actually higher than Lynnwood or Everrett and no one rides the light rail: 62 stations in an area with close to 2 million people and 35,000 riders. Any line north of Seattle would almost certainly get less than that.

    3. My bet is you would only be able to borrow off East and South King. I think there is a major disconnect between what the politicians want and what the voters want. The .5% sales tax increase does not look good for Snohomish or Pierce County. Sure the Eastside gets 405 BRT and Redmond Link, but how much will be used outside their subarea?

      East King would likely be able to find better connecting service through subarea equity. South King then looks like the only suitor to borrow against and Everett Link does not benefit them. For East King, Everett Link does not have as much of a benefit. Sure you can get rid of subarea equity and benefit North King but then you will face more ire from voters north. Many will look at the .5% extra sales tax add on top of Community Transit and if will become much harder to sell. Many will look at that as sending dollars to Seattle. The other side is sure you can complete the spine, but if ridership fails to materialize, this looks like a boondoggle to many and then forget another package anytime soon.

  2. Just finished the cast on my commute in to work. I enjoyed the discussion and hope you consider putting it on iTunes for easy access.

    Martin, I agree with you that subarea equity ought to be eliminated, but totally disagree with you that NKC money should go to other subareas. If anything, it should be the *other way*. In NYC, the people of Albany and Binghamton pay in part for MTA subways. I wasn’t blown away by your argument that it’s a net good for Seattleites that a Lynnwooder(?) gives up her car to get into work but the opposite isn’t true. I’d argue the converse: it’s more beneficial for the Seattleite to be able to get around Seattle without a car than for the Lynnwood resident to have to drive into work, because the former increases more people’s mobility in life as well as gets more cars off the road.

    We’re going to build a subway, and get Tacoma to pay for it!

    1. As much as subarea equity has some problems, I think it’s one of those things that are a reasonable compromise. Some people will say N Seattle should pay for Lynnwood improvements, and conversely, others will say Lynnwooder should pay for N Seattle. Ultimately, subarea equity puts a reasonable framework on the ground that is generally acceptable and ensures that nobody is truly screwed. It may result in slightly-less-than-optimal decisions, but in the long run I think everyone getting a equal-ish slice of pie will keep subareas engaged and willing to continue improving.

    2. I tried to make this clear, but the net impact of the package I sketched out was a transfer into North King.

      1. Any one of us could sketch out a package that disregards subarea equity and transfers money into North King, but would the ST board do that? Or is subarea equity, politically, the only reason we can even consider projects within North King that are unlikely to extend to other subareas?

    3. I wasn’t blown away by your argument that it’s a net good for Seattleites that a Lynnwooder(?) gives up her car to get into work but the opposite isn’t true.

      I have no idea why you think I asserted that the opposite isn’t true. The point is that everyone benefits when we build transit anywhere. Equally important, the notion of splitting up by sales tax revenue is imperfect at best.

      1. Isn’t that what you said, though? Maybe I’m misremembering what you said. I’ll have to re-listen to the podcast later.

  3. My concern is, if they complete the spine in ST3, will there be any incentive or requirement that the sub-areas pitch in for Seattle projects in future ST#s? In order to get Spine II (Burien to Bothel with a traversal from Ballard to Childrens) completed they should only add a few stations for Tacoma and Boeing for now and then use the extra money on Spine II (maybe a Beckenbach-Rado Integral symbol is a better picture than a spine). They need to keep all areas vested.

    1. I suspect that once the big spine project is done, the legislative attitude to further go-it-alone projects will be more relaxed.

    2. I share that concern that once the spine gets built, the support won’t be there to extend Sounder and taxation authority to at the least Olympia and perhaps Marysville….

      Plus what the heavens is being done to aggressively accelerate building ST2 & likely ST3 projects? It is taking way too long to get the transit net we need today. Way. Too. Long.

      Potential podcast topics?

      1. LA is using the possibility of attaining the Olympics as a reason to accelerate some of their lines. Maybe it will take Seattle hosting another worlds fair to make any progress.

        “Metropolitan Transportation Authority formally asked to join a Federal Transit Administration pilot program that could accelerate construction on a subway to the Westside and a rail connection to Los Angeles International Airport.””

      2. Les, I don’t think such a sporting spectacle would be best for Seattle because of the glut of stadiums that would have to be built as well. As far as a World’s Fair, not so sure that’s even going on anymore.

      3. @les, @Joe AvgeekJoe Kunzler

        Not a fan of sports personally, but if we wanted to host a game of some sort and use it as a reason to build more rail it seems like a Superbowl or World Cup would be a bit more realistic and fitting with the local fan bases.

      4. “I share that concern that once the spine gets built, the support won’t be there to extend Sounder and taxation authority to at the least Olympia and perhaps Marysville….”

        Whose support? The legislature’s? The existing ST subareas? The new subareas? Is it even a good idea to extend the ST district? I would much rather extend Sounder by a bilateral arrangement paid for by Thurston/Olympia and north Snohomish for that specific service, than to expand the ST district. Expanding the ST district would just bring in more exurban anti-transit anti-tax voters who don’t think Seattle needs any more lines. The ST district is already warped because the Pierce subarea has more exurban land than the other subareas do (compare Bonney Lake and Orting and DuPont which are in, to Covington and Marysville and Snohomish (city) which are out).

    3. My personal thoughts on how you make sure that there is an ST4 in Snoco.
      Keep ST3 to Everett, do not go to Boeing. SR99 is preferred path.
      Do not extend it to Everett CC
      Add a Y in the tracks branching towards Airport way.
      Add a Y in the tracks at about the Sno/King county line poiting to Edmonds.
      These two Y’s are the promises to Snoco that there will be an ST4.

      In ST4 take the Southern Y, and route it to the Aurora Village Transit Center, and then into Edmonds,
      take the Northern Y and route it along Airport way to PainField, Boeing, and then down in to Mukilteo.
      Extend the spine to Everett CC.
      At this point, you can now also pull Sounder North, and either redistribute it’s equipment south, or expand the district, and run service from the north and/or east of Everett.

      1. If you add too many branch lines, we become like DART or BART with many trunks and then reduce frequency of the core line. I think you are better off seeing what happens with limited stop buses from those areas like with Swift 2 and a 113x concept that connects the Edmonds ferry and Aurora Transit Village with Mountlake Terrace. 185th probably would take too long but I do not like having to backtrack from Mountlake Terrace.

      2. Except that the frequency of the “core line” is only reduced past the branch. That’s a somewhat-legitimate concern south of Lynnwood, but once you get to Airport Road, you’re close enough to the end that it doesn’t really matter.

        But even if you insist on preserving three-minute frequency for Marysville and Smokey Point, we could still run shuttle trains to Edmonds and Mukilteo.

      3. I’d run Edmonds to Mukilteo as a line, interlined with the main line. If the main can handle it, you’d end up with 3 lines on the main line between the county line, and Airport Rd, the Edmonds – Mukilteo line also may not need to run at full frequency (at least in the beginning), however it’d be nice if it could be timed to the ferry schedule with an extended layover at either end.

        If the main line can not handle 3 lines, you turn one of the lines on the mainline around before the county line, and let the other run through, picking up the Edmonds – Mukilteo line.

      4. I believe you will need core frequency to Lynnwood at a bare minimum given the shear number of buses. The travel time will become very competitive with vehicle travel in the corridor and for buses that get off at Stewart and you head south, it is likely going to win most of the time. All it takes is one snarl up somewhere in the system and boom. I think the bus connections will be more filled.

        Branching a Y off at Airport Road, sure but I don’t think Edmonds has the demand even with the ferry to Kingston. Most on that route are not walk-ons and for many it is a bit of a drive to Kingston. Is there enough service demand at Edmonds without the ferry traffic to suggest an LRT route? I don’t think so. I don’t have the feeling Edmonds wants to densify anytime soon.

        Again, before LRT, get some improved bus service then proper BRT then LRT.


  4. Remember that as is often the case with neighborhoods and regions, Ballard used to be a neighboring city of Seattle. And back East, thirteen little republics most of whom hated each other are now geographically a solid, rough little old neighborhood of a huge municipality sadly boring by comparison.

    Like the one that will in less time than anybody thinks be complaining that while Central Puget Sound is a quaint old place, it really should pay for its own fifth dual-power subway. However, one little-noticed I-5 exit tells the real story.

    Remember that the first Star Wars begins with “long ago and far away” disclaimer. If a funding cut for the Cascadians forces someone to drive down I-5 to see the new streetcar bridge, go into a tavern in Vader and remind the locals that a local boy will someday carry a lot of political clout.

    A working kid named for the giant metropolis where he was born, a thousand years after it became the capitol of the Republic of North Former-Yellowstone-Volcano Crater. Your bar-buddies’ reply will be about the same as if you’d said the same thing about Seattle in Ballard- not very long ago or far away.

    Meantime: The force, Operator. Use the….HEY, FIVE MILES AN HOUR THROUGH THAT SPECIAL WORK!!!!!


  5. Technical minutia:

    – If you play the podcast and then post a comment, this causes a page reload, which stops the podcast! Re-doing the whole comment system over this probably wouldn’t work, so maybe a link to play the podcast in a new tab would be a good idea?

    – What are you doing with compression and equalization? It seems like it could be better for noisy environments.

    1. Thanks; I will see what I can do to get it into a new window. Hopefully iTunes will approve it so there will be some other way to listen as well.

      Re: compression. I’m using some but could probably stand to use some more.

      1. Frank, please put on iTunes. STB needs a podcast really bad.

        Also you should have a account like Canadaland for people like I who crave a weekly podcast on Puget Sound transit issues and would pay for it. Heck also add an option to sponsor a show on a Puget Sound transit topic (e.g. Island Transit, TOD, legislative preview, ST3, county connectivity, Sounder [train] viability, Community Transit Prop 1).

  6. It’s fairly inevitable that we are going to get very loosey-goosey about subarea equity this time, although I predict the political imperative will be to cover it up with ‘loans’ and other devices that make it hard to track the money flows. I doubt we’ll ever see a good accounting, for instance, of how I-405 BRT breaks out even though it stretches far across three subareas. It’ll be dressed up to look like an East King project even if it extends to Burien and Lynnwood.

    All of the Eastside projects, once one excludes the Issaquah-Kirkland rail which is not happening in ST3, won’t get close to exhausting that area’s revenues. Some may go to North King, which is frankly fine with me for all the reasons Martin stated. One region and all that. Some might even go to South King, and there would be a social justice argument for that if they weren’t so determined to blow it all on freeway rail stations. Much more will go to Snohomish, which is less compelling for all the familiar reasons. But Snohomish’ sense of entitlement has already overcome any argument for better transit outcomes, and they’ll get what they want or blow up the process. We’re really only quibbling over Paine Field now.

    ST4 is 12 or 16 years away, and there may be better regional leadership by then. But my best guess is that this is the end of the road for the RTA as currently drawn. What’s in it for Snohomish and Pierce if they get what they want this time? Particularly for Snohomish if the ask is that they repay that ‘loan’ to Everett rail. So I think those areas will be happy to exit.

    Technically, the easiest way to draw a reduced RTA is to either follow the King County lines, or make it Seattle only. Current political boundaries, in other words. But different cities will have different preference. I’d guess that Seattle pols will start the push, then Bellevue and Redmond will opt in. And we’ll see who else gets on board.

    1. If ST3 includes “loans” to Pierce and Snohomish, then ST4 will never happen. There are so many possible failure points on the road to ST4, and having Pierce and Snohomish Reps, Senators, and Board Members either opposed or disinterested would surely be enough to kill it. We almost didn’t get ST3, and that was with the whole party whipping. If ST4 is something that only Seattle and Bellevue really want, there is no way it gets out of Olympia.

    2. Serious question, Dan, and everybody else in the whole subarea discussion:

      How is it that the whole public-transit-by-private-automobile culture solved this exact problem very shortly after its inception- and transit is still either struggling with the problem, or has given up on it?

      Many, if not far and away most of us, do not want to see a single city or county line. Ever. We work live one place and work what in New England would be two States away. And often either change work places frequently, by choice, or earn our living either virtually or portably.

      And no matter how intellectually pro-transit, gut-level adding the word “camp” to the concept of concentration.

      We transit-rebuilders are either cursed or privileged to live in a time when our life’s work is to bring about a life-and-death necessary for living patterns to change. Like falling versus climbing, sprawling is easier than concentrating.

      But now that in places like western Pierce and Snohomish Counties, for every additional car, mobility itself gets worse, the smart money is now driving poorer people out of more city homes than suburban ones. What “social engineering” can’t do, “The (infallible) Market” is doing just fine.

      By the crappy, speculative way so many beauty- destroying houses were built, none of them will take an hour to bulldoze, to be returned to woods and fields surrounding well-gated rural South Lake Unions named “Redwood Glade Estates.” With, unfortunately, gates.

      The really hard work will be to give the un-rich the chance to get out of the obsolete suburbs they’re now being forced into, tacky houses and all, so that they can have a good life that doesn’t need gates. Except the ones that, like Michael Moore did, get put up so rich people have to answer questions to get out their gates.

      Time and the full force of selfishness are with us. The hard part will be a third force balancing the second force. By comparison with which bullet trains will be a snap.

      Mark Dublin

      1. When someone from Issaquah drives to Seattle every day, they make use of roads paid for by Seattle. Their property taxes go to their local roads, but not to Seattle.

        So I am unconvinced that sub area equity has been solved in the road world.

      2. The borderless feeling of road networks has a lot to do with the inherent nature of travel by personal vehicles, where when you cross a border you maintain continuity by your own vehicle. But this is not the whole story — cycling networks most places don’t feel so borderless! So there’s another standard, that people actually care: national and state governments care enough to set standards for road networks and local governments care enough to build complete road networks to these standards.

        If I drive from your place in Oly to mine in Seattle I’ll use state roads with Federal and state designations and local roads built with state, county, and city funding. I’ll switch between them seamlessly.

        If I ride my bike from your place in Oly to mine in Seattle I’ll do similar things, but I’ll do it mostly on roads planned, built, and funded without a thought to cycling. Despite the continuity of my personal vehicle conditions will vary randomly as I travel, often not at significant political borders but at random project boundaries and places where leaders thought they really needed them FULL BORE CAR PIPES.

        Greater Nürnberg, Germany, has a nicely integrated and complete transit system. There are others in the world; this is one I’ve used. If I make a similar journey on their system I’ll have to transfer at least twice, as I do here. But trains run regularly on regional lines, frequent local buses connect the stations to local destinations, and if I arrive in the big city yet a few miles from a popular destination I can catch the subway there. I could make most trips faster by car, and certain ones much faster, but I’m rarely held up for an unreasonable amount of time by transfers.

        The pain of transit here is often more like the pain of cycling here than the pain of transit in better systems. Borders and transfers are the inherent pain of real-world (i.e. non-PRT) transit systems, but that’s not the pain here. The pain here is that a lot of our local buses aren’t frequent, most of the city lacks subway lines, and regional long-distance routes do not run regularly — it’s that all our systems are incomplete. Seamlessness, borderlessness, and integration are secondary concerns. Great transit systems have been built and operated with giant agency seams, and convenient transit trips made across those seams, throughout the history of urban transportation.

    3. “Some might even go to South King, and there would be a social justice argument for that if they weren’t so determined to blow it all on freeway rail stations.”

      South King is not united on that. Kent wants Link on 99. Des Moines and Federal Way want Link on I-5. ST chose to favor Federal Way. We don’t know what Burien, Renton, Tukwila, or Auburn think about one alignment vs the other.

  7. And if the South Lake Union description doesn’t suggest it: not only with streetcars, but connected by BART-squared rail transit whose stations don’t need turnstiles, because the other gates already keep off of transit everybody who can’t afford to be gated in with it.

    Same will also go for the station restaurants and espresso places, which by ordinance will be required to have names that are only one word.


  8. TL/DL. Too Long so I Didn’t Listen. I’m not going to spend 30 minutes listening to something I could read in 2 minutes. Please think about your readers’ time (and note that we are *readers*…)

    1. Careful, Roger. For vast majority of human history, you would have been pelted with rotten bananas and probably bitten by the early-human next to you, and chased out of the cave or off the tree to be eaten by a leopard if you didn’t want to listen to the story.

      Even if its content was thirty thousand repetitions of the term “ook.” I also know for a fact that everybody working in the office of every transit agency in the world has to use years of their valuable time reading and responding to even more instances of that term, except mostly in the passive voice.

      Not: “Somebody really ooked the whole thing up”, but “ooks were made.” Also, and tell me ST management hasn’t considered this, you could be sitting on a stool crunching numbers with a large goose feather missing a “delete” key.

      But in the flash in the pan of time after fully-opposed thumbs led to texting there’s a solution. Thanks to earplugs it’s now possible to literally spend the rest of you life reading and creating text, immune to audio annoyances no matter how many times the driver hits the horn button while screaming into Othello with the track brakes welded to the rails.

      Thereby restoring nature’s eons-proven tool for repairing and improving the human race. An element which really would make the paleo diet work. Now that she had to use up all the pterodactyl genes for pigeons, as she perched in the roof at Tukwila International, Nature realized that Kinki Sharyos now worked much better.

      And now, Martin, back to you. How ’bout those Mariners!



    2. If it’s not important enough to spend a few minutes transcribing, then it’s not important enough for me to spend 30 minutes listening. Nothing personal; I feel the same way about all net content from folks who would rather jaw then type.

    3. I can’t get dinner ready while reading stuff. I can’t always get Internet access to read web sites on the bus. This, I can download and listen to anyplace.

      Mostly I agree that written material is good. This works for some stuff.

    4. I have said that anything critical needs to be in text, and the podcasts need to be optional extras. The podcast is just background information: Martin discussing his opinions at length while Frank asks questions. Some of us want to listen to that. It would take a lot more than ten minutes to transcribe a 45-minute discussion, and it would be an extremely long article. I listen to it while I’m making dinner and washing dishes, so it takes no extra time.

    5. Hi RDPence, thanks for the feedback. It’s as useful to know who doesn’t find this interesting, as who does. That said I think you underestimate the time necessary to put together a decent written post.

      I do think that the Podcast is most useful to hardcore fans and people with a space in the day where listening is better than reading.

  9. Regarding RapidRide and taking two road lanes like LTD did: LTD only took one road lane in many places. Once you have the ability to be separate from traffic, you can have reliable schedules that allow single lanes that operate in both directions, if the conditions and budget dictate.

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