The BRTs of Aurora Vill

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54 Replies to “News Roundup: Filling Up”

  1. Will 3rd Avenue in Belltown get paved this construction season?

    The road surface is in terrible condition in many sections. Many bus drivers seem to be slowing down to hit the bumps at a more manageable speed but it is still a very rough ride, especially for standees.

    SDOT’s website says the Denny-Virginia segment is in “design” status and supposed to be a 2016 project but it is already late August. Not that SDOT has ever been late on anything before…

  2. Very disappointing to see fauxgressives putting identity politics above addressing climate impacts. I’ll vote for 732, but I’m not voting for any sort of proposal that creates a racial patronage system, which appears to be what they’re aiming for.

    1. Nothing “faux” about right wing Republican politics. Whose main identity problem got solved when “Citizens United” relieved them of the need to identify either their patrons or beneficiaries

      Despite a whole national history of justification for it, might be better to replace “people of color” with “people unable to earn the income to which their own abilities, qualities, and productivity entitle them.”

      Though a working life in the coach operators’ world instead of the managers’ tells me how much race prejudice (spoken or muttered) stems from the very real ironclad position conferred by the college degree none but the rich can afford without borrowing.

      Like any other Constitutionally-forbidden Title of Nobility, carrying authority for which neither real-world skill nor ability is necessary. Ideologically, not race prejudiced. Much the opposite.

      But even without (Hell, read your history books!), fact that we buy our schools and houses with the same transaction guarantees same or worse results. People get put in jail for sending their kids to the “wrong” public school in the same city.

      So let’s stick with the question here:

      Should the environmental measures that can likely save our lives- New Orleans and Southern California good examples of results of present conditions- cost our state $800 million in public revenue?

      Or should the Republican gentleman’s constituents agree that in view of the decades of tax codes their lobbyists have negotiated for them, they can comfortably afford both their share of the climate relief- from which they’ll greatly benefit- and the rest of Washington’s operating costs?

      Starting with the Legislature’s long overdue Constitutionally demanded need to fund the education our people need to staff their own corporations and make sure the toilets of their Headquarters don’t flush into the basement.

      As a taxpayer, no way I’m going to pay to keep a whole Capitol-full of legislators in jail for contempt1


    2. “Nothing “faux” about right wing Republican politics. Whose main identity problem got solved when “Citizens United” relieved them of the need to identify either their patrons or beneficiaries”

      There are at least two right wings. The billionaire class who want to eliminate taxes and regulations, and the working class who want to restore white Christian dominance and bring back high-wage manufacturing jobs. I think it was Thomas Frank who described it, “You VOTE for jobs and morality, you RECEIVE tax cuts for the rich.” That deception is a faux promise.

    3. I am perplexed at the reasoning why the social justice groups are against this. Maybe they can unite with Republicans in being only concerned with their own pocketbook. I’m beginning to think that the Social Justice crowd is the left’s version of the religious right.


        Mike, I think it’s equally right and wrong to say that the Confederates had two armies, officers and enlisted. Both ranks despised each other, but only one group could beat, jail, and hang the other one.

        And also coined the term “white trash” before the American Revolution. About same time they realized they’d get both unpaid labor out of captured Africans, and also somebody helpless for their penniless Scots-Irish brothers to take their rage out on.

        Which still works. Even when the low-born temporarily don’t have to eat roast dog. Which in the “Jones” movie- pretty close to the book- tastes, well sort of like…dog.

        First-hand: whatever their skin color, what brings out the vehement working-people’s hate you describe is being told you’re making too little to continue your 30 year membership in Group Health since you lost the job that paid for it.

        But because by your own effort you found something hard, dirty and barely paid, you’re also told you’re making fifty dollars a month too much to get “Charity Care.” Make that stop happening, and working people in droves will admit Scripture says Jesus was a liberal.

        I’d hoped my old home State of Michigan was alone in the superior education level of its worst racists. At least an Arkansas dirt farmer on the State Hospital grounds crew would admit in private his views could be wrong.

        But Thomas Frank demands that Liberals (who call themselves “Progressives” since Rush Limbaugh scared them forty years ago) see, in their own mirrors, another kind of bigotry.

        The kind that equates workers’ who deserve a decent living, and pay higher percentage of their income in taxes, with billionaires who won’t pay their own public bills.

        And which one’s worse, Mike? The pay part or the manufacturing part?
        Since transit fares and credit default swaps are now “products”… shouldn’t same wage level go to workers whose production work can cost them a hand?

        And Brad, be honest. Is asking that the rich pay their fair share of running our State the same thing as their own refusal to do it?

        And if there really is such a thing as a Social Justice crowd (does it have Twitter?) what puts the concept on “the left” of anything? I’m still trying to decide what our State needs more. Substituting history for math on the WASL?

        Or responding to a Global economy by reviving the Industrial Workers of the World, to again demand complete workers’ control of industry. And also leaving black cats stenciled on the smoking ruins of abusive places of employment. One-word Leftist message: “Meow.”

        Mark Dublin

      2. It’s not actually very good policy. I think the opposition from mainstream Seattle liberals has more to do with timing, circumstances, and politics, but it would be more awkward for these groups to oppose it for these reasons if it was good policy.

        I also think this measure would lose without these groups’ opposition, so they could have just stayed out of it. OTOH their opposition means maybe we don’t have to count the inevitable loss as momentum against the measure we actually want.

  3. Though I’ve come around to the idea that carbon taxes aren’t good policy (allowable levels of emissions ought to be fixed according to science, with the price determined in real-time by the market, not the other way around), I’m voting for 732. Why? Because the whole progressive coalition lining up against it hasn’t put anything better on the ballot. The more votes this doomed, flawed initiative gets the more pressure is on them to actually get something done.

    Even in the unlikely event it passes the real important carbon policies are going to be decided outside of Washington State. If a bunch of states pass climate change measures then Federal and international efforts are less like new regulations and more like consolidation of regulations. There are plenty of great policy minds at the national and international level that can develop the frameworks that will actually affect our children and grandchildren; if local governments are passing stuff like 732 they’ll be pushed into getting that done sooner.

    1. Al, does science include results written by coal and oil company lobbyists? Because if not, results to date say we’re hosed.

      And what are this morning’s market figures for one big fire and one big flood, in a world-full of similar?

      Some easy research: pick an insurance company for effects on rates. Also a county or two in California, and some parishes in Louisiana.

      Also think about how much rent will rise in Seattle CBD when Third Avenue becomes beachfront.


      1. Yes, we’re probably hosed. That takes the pressure off a little bit, doesn’t it? We can’t save the world. We can’t even save our own football stadium.

  4. Darn it, Sound Transit could have done this thing right and made ST3 a scandal free proposition, but they had to screw it up, didn’t they? How pathetic would it be it the long term future of our regional transit is ruined over this.

    1. I would be surprised if this orca scandal really changes anyone’s mind. The anti transit people will cite it as one more reason why ST can’t be trusted, and the pro transit people will sigh and vote for ST3 anyway. Regardless, the vast majority of the public will probably never even hear about this, and if they do it probably won’t be at the forefront of their minds as they try to navigate the ballot it November.

      1. Others will just shrug and move on with life.

        Far more sensitive stuff than our email addresses are sold every day as a commodity among banks and health insurance providers (I’m still trying to figure out what idiot health care provider decided my decidedly older single male no children medical profile needed to be dumped into the teenage pregnancy junk mailing list that has generated quite a pile of stuff in my mailbox).

        Press delete and block and move on doesn’t work so well when it’s your real address that has been bought and sold.

        It’s not good, but there are lots bigger fish to fry.

      2. But they no camp is going to take this scandal and run with it. And for all the people who are not familiar with sound transit or are otherwise on the fence, do you think a privacy violation by Sound Transit (an email based one, nonetheless, in a political campaign dominated by email sandals!), and being told (with evidence!) that they can’t trust ST won’t have much of an effect?

        The other thing that disappoints me greatly is that Sound Transit even did this in the first place. It frustrates me that they couldn’t have just done the right thing from the beginning and not illegally shared emails, and that ST has a political ethos that doesn’t seem have a problem with corruption and mishandling customer data.

      3. The Public Records Act is written to require disclosure of public records unless they fall under a specific exemption. Therefore the default answer is to release information. The penalties for failing to comply can quickly pile up as well, and if they get sued the burden is on the agency to show an exemption applies.

        Because of the strong lean in the PRA to favor disclosure, the PRA also contains a clause making agencies immune from liability when they disclose records in error.

        ST messed up, sure, but this kind of thing is inevitable considering our public disclosure laws.

    2. It’s not a scandal until the media is outraged. Before that it’s just a mistake or lawbreaking like thousands of others that quietly go through the apology or justice process. It’s the media and public working itself into a frenzy that makes it a scandal. So calling it a scandal right out the door is a loaded term, and biased toward wanting a scandal, usually because the speaker is against the organization anyway and wants it to fail.

  5. 1. Martin, please tell us exactly what “other political ideology” you’re talking about. Like the Republicans don’t have one?

    Ever think that the taxes that we ordinary taxpayers have paid over the years to cover the ones corporations didn’t pay could be get us both climate control and $800 million dollars in revenue?.

    2. Easy cure for information misplacement. Sell me a pass and give me a receipt, paper or electronic. And leave my information my own business.

    And give fare inspectors orders that if I’ve got the pass, system’s got my money, and has no more business in my face. Interagency accounting is transit’s internal business, not the court’s. Has worked since before transit had wheels.

    3. And speaking of accounting- let’s see an honest balance sheet on what the loss of the Benson cars, and the rest of line haul transit on the Waterfront costs us, past, present, and future.

    And let’s not forget the ($) the Feds almost made us repay for wasting streetcars they helped pay for. Wish they had. Overdue reminder to Seattle that laziness, dishonesty and indecision are budget items too.

    Also, Fair and Balanced here, let’s discuss the spread-sheet on “not giving up.” One side, proud and complete intransigence, coupled with refusal to apologize for anything. Democrats, exact opposite. 40 years’ experience. Compare results.

    And thanks, Operator Rothwell. It was a privilege driving alongside you.

    Mark Dublin

  6. So almost 8 months in, Seattle Council’s resolution to deter or prevent construction from blocking sidewalks, bike lanes and traffic lanes, except for when contractors have no alternative options, appears to be a utter failure due to having no teeth.

    I’ve called on a few projects that, for no apparent reason whatsoever, have these through routes blocked off for weeks or months at a time. Each and every time, they have told me that the blockages are legitimate and when asked for a reason, basically get told (with nicer wording of course): “because fuck you, that’s why”.

    1. Ya Dexter right now by Republican and Thomas is a mess. They keep closing down the street to one lane for cars and zero lanes for bikes and no sidewalks. Sometimes it’s mid day, sometimes it’s later at night. I think the DPD screwed up by allowing two massive projects to operate on the same block along Dexter but the damage has already been done.

    2. Yes, I haven’t found a good way to review street use permits online either.

      The project at NW 70th and 15th Ave. NW is particularly galling. They have been using two lanes all day long because they went cheap and are using extending book forklifts rather than a tower crane for their material handling.

  7. Was anyone else extremely irked by the characterization of the 24 hour Pronto cost being described as a foreigner tax? It describes it as non-residents subsidizing residents when in actuality it is non-member subsidizing members, just like every other thing ever that offers paid yearly memberships.

    1. It’s a reference to Vancouver’s recent foreigners’ tax on real estate. Houses sold to non Canadian residents now have a 15% extra tax. In its first week it has caused several deals to unravel, ruined the plans of foreign tech workers who were about to take a job in Vancouver, and made a substantial reversal in house prices. It’s too soon to say whether the reversal will be sustained or what the longer-term effects will be. Some worry it could dash Vancouver’s chances of remaining a tech hub. But something had to be done about Vancouver’s skyrocketing house prices which are the highest in North America. Vancouver is the Los Angeles of Canada, meaning several factors converge to bring in a lot of foreign investment, from the mild climate to Canada’s loose immigration policy for skilled workers, to people’s tolerance of diverse cultures, to Vancouver’s walkable urbanism and pretty comprehensive transit. The foreigners’ real-estate tax has gotten interest south of the border, although I’m not sure if it would be legal here. So when the article says Pronto has a “foreigners’ tax”, it’s exaggerating the effect of daily membership rates, but it’s alluding to a major local issue that’s unfolding now in Vancouver. It’s like how in the US just after 9/11 everything was compared to terrorism, and in the run-up to the presidential election everything is viewed by how it relates to Trumpism.

      1. More intriguing is a comparison of the article to the actual Mobi price. The actual Mobi price, while it includes a few options that are more flexible than Pronto, is nearly identical to Pronto, including a larger “foreigner tax” in that the one-day pass is unlimited 30 minute rides and the annual pass is unlimited 60 minute rides.

  8. It sounds like I-732 will cut sales taxes more than it will raise the carbon tax? The linked article was a little vague.

    If that’s the case I won’t vote for it. Carbon tax revenues could also go down over time as businesses move away from generating so much carbon. That’s the whole point after all.

    I’m fine with some reduction in sales tax, but we should have a pretty big buffer where we are bringing in more money from carbon taxes than we are losing.

    1. The initiative was intended to be revenue neutral, with the revenue offsetting a sales-tax reduction and funding certain low-income energy rebates (to compensate for the tax in electricity bills). A flaw in the calculation will lead to an $800 million hole in the state budget, say some neutral observers. I believe it shouldn’t have promised a certain rate reduction; it should have just floated with the revenue raised. (And I’d really prefer sending an annual check to residents.) The “1% sales tax reduction” was probably more a slogan to get votes than the best long-term policy, and it’s sad that it will probably be a successful argument for those who vote yes, because of the public’s major misunderstanding of fiscal dynamics.

      To me this measure is, however flawed, a major step in the right direction. The legislature is fully capable of dealing with the $800 million hole, if it gets out of its polarization rut and stops treating current tax limits as sacred cows. Once some kind of carbon tax is in place, opposition to it will erode, and then we can improve the scheme. The legislature can amend initiatives after two years, so hopefully it would propose a sensible adjustment rather than gutting it. That leaves only two years where the “$800 million hole” might have the biggest impact.

      Progressive opposition to the initiative seems to be making the perfect the enemy of the good. A half step in the right direction is better than none. Carbon emissions is the biggest environmental problem the planet has, and limiting it will have the biggest impact in minimizing catastrophic destruction for poor people and saving species.

      1. It sounds like British Columbia in 2009, when the left charged out in force against the Liberal’s carbon tax, with the cry of ‘axe the gas tax’. Thankfully they were punished for such shameless opportunism.

  9. Are escalators notoriously hard to keep from breaking down? The UW station is relatively new, and yet the escalators seem to have weekly issues. I’m not complaining, just very curious about the apparent fragility of mass transit escalators.

    1. The escalators in the DSTT and at Mt Baker Station have been notoriously unreliable, but not even a quarter as bad as the ones at UW Station. The problem with the DSTT escalators is they were old and unmaintained, so eventually they broke down and were closed for months until a rehabilitation grant came through. But the UW Station escalators were only in production for two weeks before they started having massive closures, and they’ve become intermittent every week rather than a long-term closure of certain escalators until they’re repaired. That means passengers coming to UW Station don’t know which side to go to to avoid a closed escalator, because it can change from morning to afternoon.

    1. Ya it’s really disappointing how that whole project went. They spent a ton of money to determine that they can’t build a new bridge any higher because of air traffic regulations. They determined they can’t build a new bridge any lower because of ship traffic. So millions later, they determined that the existing bridge was already designed in the sweet spot and any new bridge would need to be in the exact same sweet spot to be viable.

      At that point it does make sense to just do seismic upgrades. So I’m inclined to agree with this professor’s analysis of what they should do from this point on.

      1. They found workarounds for every issue you mention. It was funded by Oregon. Clark County Republicans who didn’t want light rail (and also didn’t want to pay tolls) shut it down in the WA legislature, and then Oregon pulled the funding when WA didn’t step up to the plate.

        And it’s a damn shame that this project was set back for a decade by this short-sighted move. Seismic upgrades aren’t enough – this corridor is bursting at the seams and is a bottleneck 7-days a week that causes a ripple effect for miles in every direction. Northbound I-5 in the afternoon is gridlocked for 8+ miles and it’s due to that damn bridge.

        The project could be re-vamped with a much smaller footprint – full time HOV 3+ lanes in either direction added, as well as better merge lanes for the nearby on/off-ramps (which are also very busy). Would improve safety and transit with no SOV capacity increase, and would make a real impact on mobility in the region.

    2. I’m a bit confused. The author says we (taxpayers) should retrofit the BNSF bridge and realign the tracks in places. Since we have to pay BNSF to use their track for Amtrak and Sounder trains, isn’t this entirely BNSF’s responsibility (the owner of the track), and shouldn’t they not only cover the cost but also ensure that all their infrastructure is safe from causing damage or blockages to nearby corridors at all times?

      This is part of a larger question I have about legacy tracks. Does BNSF entirely own all of its tracks and the land beneath it, or did the federal government retain some or any rights to the land, thereby essentially ‘leasing’ the land? Said another way, is there any ongoing agreement between the government and railroad companies to the use, ownership, and repair of the tracks and land on which they rest?

      1. A million times this. I don’t understand why we have to lease the use of infrustructure we already paid to build. No wonder Buffet bought BNSF at the same time Obama announced all the ARRA funding…

      2. The federal government retains no ownership over most lines. The railroads bought land grant right of way through discounted government freight movements up to 1946.

        In the case of BNSF main line from Seattle to Everett and eastward (the old GN) that was never a land grant railroad.

        There are cases where they do retain some ownership, such as the ex Milwaukee through national forests.

      3. I’m not a railroad attorney, but usually the railroads own the land under their tracks. The actual railroad right-of-way is usually about 100′ wide, so they own much more than the actual track bed. Road crossings and other developments are usually granted by an easement negotiated between the railroad and a government agency or other property owners. In most cases the railroad was there before the roads or houses, so the railroad has final say in who can cross or infringe upon the railroad’s property.

        The federal and local governments can control speed limits for trains and enforce safety regulations, but the railroad rights-of-way are considered private property.

      4. Than why should taxpayers pay for any bridge work that carries track owned by railroads?

    3. I thought it was off because Clark County didn’t want a bridge with light rail on it.

    4. “The author says we (taxpayers) should retrofit the BNSF bridge and realign the tracks in places.”

      He probably just meant “The bridge should be renovated”, without thinking as far as BNSF’s responsibility for the bridge.

      1. He thinks keeping the bridge from collapse in a quake would be a public benefit. Not sure he knows how difficult that would be. Concrete wasn’t such a great science in 1908.

  10. From the article about ORCA data, I’m surprised to see so many transfers on the 8 along Denny/John/Thomas. I usually avoid transferring there because it’s so unreliable (and infrequent evenings/weekends), opting instead for Link or the 10/11/49 at Westlake.

    1. Just so we don’t take down the switch the Route 43 used to use turn west from 23rd, when the weather really gets nasty in a couple of months. And people from Montlake up to Thomas still need to get to the hospital.

      Or LINK has a breakdown between UW and Broadway and needs bridging. Like I said, the 43 has been brought back from the half-dead before.


  11. The Sierra Club, WCV, Climate Solutions, 350, and other groups are suddenly putting “other political ideology” ahead of climate concerns? No, of course they’re not. I-732 is a tax swap that will do little if anything to help cut carbon emissions in Washington State.

    The fact of the matter is that putting a price on carbon alone doesn’t reduce emissions. You reduce emissions by providing people ways to live and get around that don’t require lighting fossil fuel on fire. I-732 does not help achieve that goal.

    If CO2 emissions are to be cut, we have to pay particular attention to communities that cannot use a market mechanism to reduce carbon usage. That’s not some “other political ideology” – instead it’s a recognition that some of the people least able to switch away from carbon need subsidies and infrastructure to help make that switch. I-732 doesn’t provide that either. It just guts their social services and public schools.

    I’ve done quite a lot of work over the last 10 years to support real action to address climate change, including fighting off the 2010 attempt by oil companies to repeal California’s cap-and-trade system. (We beat them by 20 points.) I was not part of the group that was pushing another initiative and I do not agree with their decision to not put their own measure on the 2016 ballot. But the bigger mistake was when CarbonWA put I-732 on the ballot.

    I-732 is not the right way to address climate change. It’s going to lose anyway, and it will lose big. Once the election is over, I look forward to doing my part to support and enact a statewide plan that will actually succeed at both cutting carbon emissions and in generating public support.

    1. >> The fact of the matter is that putting a price on carbon alone doesn’t reduce emissions.

      Sure it does. People adjust. They buy cars that get better mileage. They spend more money on insulation. In this state (where our electricity largely comes from non carbon based sources) they switch to using electricity (for homes and now cars). Businesses and individuals all do this. There are even calculators to determine whether it makes sense to buy a hybrid, or a car that gets worse mileage (and guess what, the calculator uses the cost of gas as a starting point).

      There are other ways to do this, but this is the simplest. This should be self evident, but there are plenty of studies to back this up. A simple internet search (on any of these points) shows plenty of evidence to support the efficacy of a carbon tax.

      That doesn’t mean it is good politics to suggest the simplest, most effective solution to a problem. We can’t forget that most voters are idiots. Environmental organizations are afraid to be seen as “pro-tax” even though this would be revenue neutral (or even result in a tax cut if critics are correct). Propose an income tax while simultaneously reducing B & O taxes and sales taxes (both of which hit the working class hard) and see how that flies. Oh wait, we tried that, and it was rejected.

      Which is why folks tend to like cap and trade, even though (at best) it accomplishes the same thing (raises the cost of carbon based fuels). It doesn’t have the word “tax” in it, and the hope is that the idiots will vote for it (while those who want to avoid the wars, devastation and economic maladies that climate change will bring simply want to do something).

      1. Sure, a cap-and-trade scheme raises the price of carbon. But it (at best) is structured so that the the level of emissions is held at a determined level, so that we don’t have to go through the political process of adjusting the level of the tax in response to changing economic conditions.

        I don’t think we have to cover all the other infrastructure and subsidies in the same bill where emissions regulation structure is set out. But then at the state level the infrastructure and subsidies and stuff are probably more important. The state just isn’t going to pass a meaningful degree of emission regulation without at least national coordination.

      2. I’m slightly leery of cap-and-trade because it seems easier to game, through obscure complex transactions the public doesn’t realize is letting well-connected companies off. Whereas a tax is more straightforward: how much does the company owe and is it paying it? But there is an argument that cap-and-trade gets at the problem directly (carbon emissions) rather than trying to influence it indirectly (through a tax, which may or may not be effective in changing the emission level).

  12. I have been reading the New York Times daily since the age of 2 and 1/2 years old. The post pic of a Swift bus and a RapidRide bus got me to a thinkin’. Community Transit, in case you weren’t aware, gradually raised the sidewalks where the bus loads and unloads passengers at Swift stops. Metro did not do the same for RapidRide. I’m curious, what dwell time saving does Swift’s raised bus stop provide, if any? Has any study been done on it?

    “Wait a minute, Sam. What does your starting to read the New York Times as a toddler have to do with raised sidewalks?”

    Nothing. I just wanted to throw that in in case new readers weren’t aware.

    1. Good question. My guess is, nowhere near as much as Swift’s universal off-board payment. The big barrier to adopting both on Rapid Ride, IMO, is the same: the greater number of stops stemming from the lack of a local shadow route.

    2. Figure each raising and lowering of the bus takes several seconds for each wheelchair boarding. It’s enough to make a difference under some circumstances. Several seconds can mean making or stopping for the next light.

  13. Despite the construction mess, MAX was reasonably crowded today. I’m guessing this has to do with TriMet deciding “service is going to suck during this project, so we shouldn’t charge a fare.”

    It doesn’t seem to be people escaping from the heat, mostly, as people are actually getting off and going places.

    It makes me think that occasional free days are a good thing. There are definitely some new riders on the trains today.

  14. East King Park and Rides filling up.

    customers complaining that people aren’t using the parking lots to catch public transit.

    I can say from first hand experience that the Taxpayer Oriented Development at S. Kirkland is responsible for a number of the P&R stalls being used as private parking by the residents of the Velocity apartments. Enforcing a 24 hour rule does nothing since residents simply walk across the bus bays and move the cars when they take a smoke break.

    Charge for parking damn it before you come back to me crying for higher fares or new taxes!

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