Martin and I discuss Kevin Desmond’s new gig at TransLink, the firing of Lynn Peterson at WSDOT, and whether it’s possible to put more buses on the freeways. Oh, and then I encourage all the kids to get off my lawn.

12 Replies to “Podcast #10: Agency Leaders and Incentives”

  1. Speaking personally, if Frank in a bathrobe yelling at kids to get off his lawn doesn’t demand a video version of the podcast, I don’t know what does. ;)

  2. Podcast Summary Challenge, Part 1 (00:00-15:00)
    …. In which Mike summarizes the podcast, and times how long it takes to do.

    Frank interviews Martin as usual…. Super bowl.and drinks… Kevin Desmond retrospective… his tenure started with initiative 695 (which gutted transit funding statewide) and ended with the recession cuts and rebound… Future of Metro… long-range plan draft expected in a couple months… as rail gets more built out what should Metro’s role become in the city and suburbs?… Martin philosophizes that the explosion of bus ridership in the suburbs may take a long time even with frequent transit (e.g., Spring District non-drivers)…

  3. Got to say I’m proud of our boys for not bringing in Luke Burbank to host the show. Though wonder if we couldn’t somehow get Larry King.

    Also why anybody would particularly mind having kids on the lawn.
    What’s a lawn doing here anyway? Those things don’t even grow west of Kansas. Grow a woods.

    But really think some video wouldn’t be too hard, just to illustrate the discussion. Links might be easy way to do it. Just key them to pop up on these screens.

    You know the old saying about comparative international currency rates for pictures and words.

    Mark

  4. Podcast Summary, Part 2 (15:00-30:00)

    Frank: Metro is partly becoming the contractor for decisions made elsewhere, as in Seattle’s streetcars and Prop 1 service enhancements and RapidRide+ corridors…. Martin: the upcoming challenge in the suburbs may be to wean people off park n rides: what will it take to get them onto feeders and local buses (if they’re not deep in a cul-de-sac far from any possible bus stop)… Martin: ST3 voters care about whether something is useful or not for people like them, not the precise ridership or cost, but could I take it when I go to Seattle or a ballgame or the airport or wherever… What skills a new general manager will need…

    The Friday Night Massacre putsch of Lynn Peterson over tolling on 405 — the tolling they voted for… (to avoid people listening in vain for it: the word “putsch” is not in the podcast)… Other WSDOT faults… Widening one part of a highway creates a bottleneck adjacent to it… Frank: it could be a grim future if WSDOT gets gun-shy of doing any more congestion pricing or transit priority or tolls… Martin: the whole debate in Olympia revolves around SOV drivers in the free lanes, as if bus riders/carpools/toll payers are irrelevant nonentites… (the word “nonentites” is not in the podcast)…

  5. Podcast Summary, Part 3 (30:00-41:00)

    Frank: How many bus riders and toll payers are there in the toll lanes? Somebody find out… WSDOT doesn’t market transit alternatives to the tolls (“These buses go from here to here at these times”, but then WSDOT’s job is not transit because that’s not considered a state function)… Martin: this shows why a large light rail package makes sense because the state is unwilling to keep the HOV lanes uncongested for BRT… Martin: the rhetoric is that the tolls are a statist revenue grab, which shows a complete lack of understanding of what congestion pricing is for… (I can’t explain it as well as he does, but) “If you take the congestion revenue and set it on fire it would still benefit the economy, or you can put it into something useful like education, but of course we’re just going to sink it into highway expansion.”… Martin: The next WSDOT director will know that the last WSDOT director got fired for implementing congestion tolling… Frank: congestion pricing is about the best thing WSDOT has done in 25 years… Martin: No, the best thing is Amtrak Cascades…

    Frank: What is WSDOT’s future? How effectively will it manage Puget Sound transportation? Most of our needs will be transit, but WSDOT will be gun-shy about doing much for transit… Martin: But the I-5 rebuild is coming up , if we want to rebuild it… Frank: do we want a transportation uber-agency for cars/transit/freight?… Martin: maybe gas tax money should go to the regions to make their own highway decisions (akin to how Sound Transit raises its own revenue)… Martin: Would an uber-agency mean that increasing Sunday frequency on the 8 depends on voters in Spanaway?…. Martin: Pugetopolis’ voters and a local highway agency would be more sympathetic to transit than statewide decision-makers or voters… Frank: WSDOT has a Christmas-tree approach to projects, incorporating what all stakeholders want, but that makes it bigger (one stakeholder wants more lanes, but then others say it’s too wide now so it needs a lid, and it just gets bigger and more complicated..)… Frank: but they never step back and ask if they could move people any other way than building more road

  6. Podcast Summary, Part 4 (42:00-1:03:54)

    Martin is getting pessimistic about BRT being feasable due to the state’s unwillingness to keep the HOV lanes clear for buses… The argument that BRT is cheaper than light rail doesn’t work if BRT doesn’t have adequate lanes… The decision is in the hands of the median Washington voter”who lives in Snohomish, I guess, or Redmond Ridge. I guarantee it’s not Wedgwood.”…

    Martin: There’s a lot of political reality behind the push for the Spine that Seattle critics don’t get… Employers in all the cities consider light rail to the airport very important for attracting employees… Martin: has heard but not confirmed that Russel Investments left Tacoma because it didn’t have rail to the airport… He suspects there’s interest in making Paine Field a passenger airport, which would make the Paine Field detour make more sense, although passenger service seems unlikely due to NIMBYs… ST seems to think voters are more likely to support light rail than buses… Partly because they’ve seen how badly buses work now, when a truck turns over and blocks the road for an hour…

    Frank: It’s interesting how rail to the airport has become so important, because a 5-line rail plan in 1985 didn’t (Mike: are you sure that wasn’t the 1972 plan? It went southeast from Seattle to Renton, because SeaTac and Southcenter weren’t significant then.)… Frank: probably because of airline deregulation that made it cheaper to fly…. Frank: Chicago has an El line to the airport but is now considering a privately-funded Heathrow Express type train to the airport for $40 a ticket… Martin: Tacoma wants light rail for itself and for the airport, and the fact that it connects to Seattle albeit slowly is a secondary bonus…

    Frank: If Seattle keeps doing a terrible job of upzoning it’s just going to get more expensive… Frank: Tacoma in 20-30 years will be where Oakland, California, is now, the place where middle-class people who can’t afford to live in San Francisco live… Martin: People creating a sorta hip place when they can’t live in the really hip place…

    Martin: J,D, Salinger (?) wrote an essay about how when people talk about how wonderful Seattle is they talk about the natural environment; “nobody talks about the buildings”, whereas in New York they talk about the skyline and the theater, “maybe a sign that we’re not a real city”… Martin: South Lake Union is pretty nice now, the narrow streets are the closest to Paris we have… Frank: At least Tacoma wants to build a rail infrastructure rather than a freeway infrastructure…

    Martin: getting more pessimistic about affordable housing in Seattle due to the attempts to water down HALA both in single-family areas and now in urban villages… Upzones are for the middle class who don’t qualify for subsidized housing… Frank: the housing market is somewhat OK for single people but not for families who need 2-3 bedrooms…

    Frank: The 7-bedroom house next to his will always contain Seattle U students to the end of time because families aren’t so large any more. He went outside to shoo them from his lawn because their noise was disrupting his baby. And people think STB writers are all single twentysomethings.

    Martin will be at the U-Link meetup now but Frank won’t.

    And the timing is in. Summarizing a 1 hour podcast took 2 hours 16 minutes. A word-for-word transcript would take at least twice as long.

    1. And probably 5 hours if voice recognition were used and you had to go back and correct all the errors.

  7. OK, Mike, now we know the secret: You wrote the script for the whole podcast! But all three of you should get the coveted Diamond Vacuum Tube award for taking radio into a time period which in fifteen minutes will be remembered as The Golden Days of Pod.

    However, the tradition does have some unbreakable conventions. Starting with, you need to have- or imitate- an announcer who speaks in what was called “Pear-Shaped Tones.” Meaning you know the guy has slicked down hair, a pencil thin mustache, and a mike with a huge metal ring around it.

    Though instead of Lassie barking, you’ll need to do LINK, (two and three cars), Sounder with a Mechanical Issue, Rapid Ride as opposed to BRT, a +2 vs. a +3 HOV lane, Congestion Pricing as both a concept and a reality, and Sprawl and Transit Oriented Development, both going on at the same time.

    And you also decide which one of you gets to be Kemper Freeman- just use you imagination to do a radio villain. Though no matter how hard you try, you can’t overact the present majority of the State Senate.

    But also, even without the dramatic background music- they had to use a pipe-organ because synthesizer wouldn’t have been invented ’til after the Korean War- anybody with any sense of railroad history will know that the Hero (doesn’t Jay Inslee look like one? You guys can flip a coin) will have plenty of time to cut Lynn Peterson loose from the railroad track.

    Because not even Snidely Whiplash can get a train into Downtown Olympia before it rusts to the rails. Also because the Republicans will be frantically fighting over who gets to be Snidely Whiplash. Mike, write some sound effects for this scene. You’ll win a ride on the Burlington Zephyr. Mandatory “Tune in Next Week!” Bet me we won’t!

    Mark

  8. Martin,

    You said approximately that if commercial service came to Paine Field that would make it more worthwhile to make the Link deviation. Why? Are you basically in the “no one will ride from Everett to King County” camp? And if you are, why do you support extending Link anywhere beyond Lynnwood TC except possibly Alderwood Mall and/or 164th? Buses on the wide boulevards of Snohomish County should be adequate for fifty years at least.

    I know, I know, the politics.

  9. Martin, Frank;

    Great podcast. Really appreciate it, especially the comments about Spine Destiny.

    I really think you two are bang-on regarding the abysmal state of WSDOT. I’ll stop there.

    Gents, if I make a suggestion: If you charged say $200 or $250 to sponsor a podcast, you could make money and have a guest host. It’s no secret I want to jam with you guys…

    Cheers;

    Joe Kunzler

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