Sorry, Tacoma. You’ll be waiting a long time if Olympia and D.C. have their way. (Kaizer Rangwala – Flickr)

The news out of Washington Thursday morning was terrible for urbanists and transit advocates. President Trump’s 2018 budget request intends to pay for his priorities – increased defense spending, border wall construction, etc – partially on the backs of cities. Worse than percentage cuts to grant formulas, Trump’s budget goes further to propose wholesale federal disinvestment from transit projects. The proposed 13% cut to DOT’s discretionary budget represents a paltry $2.4B – or approximately 0.06% of a roughly $4T total – but it falls almost entirely upon cuts to Amtrak, and elimination of TIGER grants, Essential Air Service subsidies, and worst of all, New Starts and Small Starts grants for large transit projects:

…limits funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program (New Starts) to projects with existing full funding grant agreements (FFGA) only. Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.

This is a very, very big deal for Puget Sound, and especially for Sound Transit. ST2 projects such as Lynnwood and Federal Way may seem secure, but they are both at the penultimate step to construction, just short of a signed FFGA and technically still in Project Development. After years of design, environmental work, planning, and taxes paid by all of us, Trump’s proposed budget could easily pull the rug out from both the Lynnwood and Federal Way extensions. Since ST3 extensions are obviously physically dependent on ST2 completion, pulling these grants also threatens the entirety of Snohomish and Pierce County’s ST3 Link projects.  The expected loss would be $1.17 billion for Lynnwood and $500 million for Federal Way, nearly half the funding for those projects. (East Link, funded by taxes, bonds, and a low-interest TIFIA loan, is not threatened at this time.)

Sound Transit’s taxing authority and its adopted System Plan would remain, of course, and the ST Board would follow established procedure for delaying or cutting projects. From the ST3 financial plan:

For those cases in which a subarea’s actual and projected expenditures exceed its actual and projected revenues and funding sources by five percent or greater, and/or where unforeseen circumstances occur that would result in an inability to substantially complete projects within such subarea’s plan, the Board must take one or more of the following actions:

• Correct the shortfall through use of such subarea’s uncommitted funds and/or bond capacity available to the subarea

• Scale back the subarea plan or projects within the plan to match a revised budget

• Extend the time period of completion of the subarea plan

• Seek legislative authorization and voter approval for additional resources

It is important to remember that part of the Federal Way extension (to Star Lake/272nd) was already deferred this way when the 2009 recession dried up revenues, only to be later promised it would be next in line when revenues revived. A second deferral would be a devastating blow to ST’s perception in South King County, through no fault of its own. Other projects that are threatened include the Tacoma Link extension to TCC, Rapid Ride G, the Center City Connector streetcar, Community Transit’s SWIFT II, and Spokane’s Central City Line. Cities across the country would see their capital budgets gutted, and only Los Angeles would emerge relatively unscathed.

Simultaneously, Olympia continues its assault on Sound Transit for daring to successfully ask voters to enact the taxes Olympia itself authorized. The Motor Vehicle Excise Tax has admittedly led to sticker shock among mostly high-value car owners, but it is also the most progressive of the three sources authorized for ST3. The faux populism of an urban Manhattan developer-cum-President is bad enough, but Olympia Republicans – and crucially, a handful of Democratic allies – are throwing a one-two populist punch with the drive for a directly-elected board.

So 5 months after a historic yes vote on ST3, the agency is facing a three-pronged attack. First, the gutting of federal funding would slow timelines, cancel projects, and/or increase borrowing costs for Sound Transit. Second, Olympia’s proposals to modify the MVET evaluation method would reduce revenue significantly. Third, if Olympia succeeds in creating a directly elected Sound Transit Board, we will lose subject expertise in the middle of a huge capital program and create gerrymandered districts that devalue urban votes.

The result of all this would be a disaster: more adversial transit politics, higher costs, slower timelines, and increased urban-suburban divides. It would be a functional chokehold on Seattle, far and away the region’s primary job center. It would be a double injustice to the suburban poor, pushed out of the city by our unwillingness to build enough housing and stuck in traffic through our inability to build transit. It would be economic sabotage at both the federal and state level.

Please contact your Olympia representatives and let them know you want to maintain robust funding for Sound Transit. If you’d like a form to work from, TCC and other partners have developed one here.

It would also be a good time to let your federal delegation know how much you value transit funding, including Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Dave Reichert(!), Adam Smith, and Denny Heck.

75 Replies to “While Olympia Threatens ST3, Trump Threatens ST2”

  1. Build a gigabit fiber broadband network and expand telecommuting. Much better bang for the buck.

    1. You too can enjoy crappy videoconferencing equipment, awkward stares, and your toddlers constantly yelling right outside your home office! If, that is, the price of Seattle housing even allows you to afford a dwelling with a home office.

      1. Hah! This, right here. Note that I completely support building out a (city-run) fiber gigabit network, but it’s no replacement for real transit.

    2. I’ve been hearing about mass telecommuting since I was a kid. Just like nuclear fusion, it’s always just a decade away.

      1. I could say the same about a robust regional transit network for Seattle, to be fair.

    3. I enjoy physically seeing other humans and not being stuck inside 12 hours every day. Maybe you’re fine with that, but I’m not.

  2. During a couple of previous threads on the subject, I thought we were assured that the proposal to direct vote for the ST board was DOA? And, if not exactly DOA, then at least extremely comatose with no hope of recovery. It was only the revaluation scheme that was still lurking, supposedly.

  3. Reichart is so terrible, it amazes me they keep electing him. I guess he looks the part?

    What does a Tesla owner pay in car tabs now?

    1. [ah] very lucky to draw deeply flawed challengers in 06 and 08, and a nice gerrymander to protect him after 10. Hopefully, we can make Trump unpopular enough to put him at risk, and get a decent challenger, in 18. (Despite the gerrymander, Clinton won the district by 3; it’s a pre-Trump realignment gerrymander with lots of the sane, college-educated well-off white people Trump is chasing out the party

      1. Especially since it does decline pretty steeply after the third or fourth year. People who buy a new car every year or two have among the heaviest personal environmental footprints of anyone who doesn’t own a private jet.

  4. I emailed a number of the politicians on the list. So far the majority are responding that car tabs “feeling fair” outweighs any need Sound Transit has to fund the projects we voted for.

    I’m not in a good mood.

    1. Follow up questions to them: Then why did you set the ST3 funding source and depreciation that way when you could have granted ST a higher funding % and quicker depreciation?

  5. Now st3 is too painful so they want to cut the funding, to benefit those with a car. In Seattle voters, we keep raising car tabs.

    So the message is clear liberterisim isn’t what republicans want. They don’t want to understand the local communities as a state have different needs. They want dominate ever local community and wipe out any self identity.

  6. Seattle Transit Blog really needs to get behind revamping the depreciation table used for car tab calculations. This has been an ongoing issue since I-695 (in fact it was probably one of the biggest issues related to the success of that bill almost 20 years ago).

    Commenters have brought it up on this blog repeatedly and the editorial board refuses to alter their stance about it.

    If you don’t fairly calculate the values, it does give the agency a black eye regardless of how much good it’s doing otherwise.

    By the way I voted for ST3 knowing full well the calculations, that doesn’t make it any more “right” so to say to misvalue cars.

    This is basically the same governing mistake King County and the state used when the kingdome bonds were paid off. The taxes were supposed to end, not be repurposed for some other fund.

    When government repeatedly fails to keep their word, don’t be surprised when voters revolt or anti transit legislators use the propaganda opportunity to gut your project.

    1. ST3 uses the same mechanism and depreciation schedule that ST1 did. Both the funding authority rate and the depreciation schedule were set by the state.

      Claiming it was underhanded in some way is just nonsense. I’d be supporting of raising the rate and changing the depreciation schedule though… if that would make people feel better.

    2. Or we tell these legislators “if you insist on caving to a right-wing media storm, then make sure you keep ST3 whole and find new revenues to replace the ones you’re taking away.” Especially given Trump’s budget proposal.

    3. @Brian

      Thanks for your post as you stated very well the unhappiness many people have with the way the cost of license tabs are calculated. In my case I had to pay $167 more to renew my tabs this year along with a large increase in my property tax.

      I brought this up before the vote on ST3 that I was on a fixed income and that these tax increases were getting too much and was told by Zach to just move out of the city and leave it for the younger population. Now that I am expressing my viewpoint on the license tabs issue he will probable now tell me to move out of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

      But just remember Zach and the rest of you tax zealots you will all turn old sometime in the future and will be on a fixed income and then you will find out what that is like. .

      1. Many of the people you’re referring to want to increase Social Security benefits, have real universal healthcare and reasonable caps on prescription-drug prices, and close the tax loopholes for the rich that opened in the 1980s, starting with raising the income limit for Social Security taxes. They’re trying as hard as they can to do this, and it’s not happening because of opposition from other people. Failure to achieve this does not mean that our transit needs go away, or that we should do without high-capacity transit which no other industrialized country would inflict on themselves. It does mean there’s an intersection of problems between high housing costs, a regressive tax structure, and failure to provide relief to the fixed income. But other people are hurting too in this: renters who are living from paycheck to paycheck, commuters who want to live in the city but can’t, and homeless people who want a roof over their heads. Your anger should be directed to the people who are exacerbating all these, not to pitting housing against transit.

      2. What I hear in your statement is no new taxes, ever. Leaning on the “way tabs are calculated” is just another way to say this. Would you be ok with a higher tax rate but following a more realistic depreciation curve, even if the total tax burden is the same? If so, why? If not, what’s your answer to funding new infrastructure given that current tax income is inadequate to support even maintenance on existing infrastructure?

        As it stands, we are not keeping up with the maintenance of major wear items. Without additional fiscal contributions, that decay will continue. And that’s without even beginning to address the growing needs of our region.

      3. I don’t feel sorry for you, Jeff. You’re not the only one this is happening too. Everyone is squeezed by the housing crisis and need to move around. If only your generation had approved Forward Thrust, this never would have happened.

      4. Jeff, is my math wrong that $167 a year amounts to about fifty cents a day? Also, my own 71 years’ experience tells me I’d kiss the tires if my car ever allowed me only ten times that much on maintenance and insurance. Let alone fuel.

        Same with everything public I get. Whatever Metro’s Water Quality division costs, I’d prefer its services to the cheapest latrine-shovel I can find at True Value.

        Medical team tells me that physically, reflexively, and optically, my driving days won’t last the length of my life. So by the time LINK reaches Lynnwood, my only chance at freedom, productivity, and enjoyment depends on public transit I can use.

        Your real problem with transit is same as mine: nowhere near enough of it, and most of it stuck in traffic. Problems we’re not going to starve to death by withholding money. Luckily for both of us, our age gives us inordinate political power:

        Politicians are afraid of us because they know that whatever our numbers, beliefs, and priorities, we vote. Meaning that whatever’s wrong with the transit we’re getting and paying for, we’re in society’s best position to get fixed.

        Bet your party doesn’t have a Precinct Committeeman for your neighborhood.


    4. In a perfect world I would agree with you that the method of assessing the value of vehicles needs to change to be more in line with the real-world value, but the simple fact is that doing so at this point will reduce the funding available to Sound Transit and lead to delays and/or a reduction in scope for ST3. That’s not a trade most of the people who follow this blog would make, and certainly not a decision any pro-transit member of the legislature should take lightly.

      1. Taking an additional five years to get to Issaquah and Everett won’t be the end of the world. But if the Democrats in the House and then Governor Inslee fold on the “Elected Board” you can essentially kiss the entire ST3 plan good-bye. Seattle might fund its part on its own, but it would be very hard.

      2. Seattle would need separate legislative authority to raise that much taxes. Would the legislature be willing to give it that, or would it tell Seattle to go to the elected ST board and ask for what it wants, which would bring us back to where we started. (i.e., Seattle wanted ST3).

    5. ST did not make the table, the state legislature requires them to use it. It’s the state legislature’s fault for not using a newer table instead and giving ST the ability to get a higher tax rate.

      1. I am very much aware that a lot of people are having a difficult time with the rising cost of living in the Greater Seattle area. No question about that. The problem are the continual proposals to raise various taxes to support different things.

        The Mayor wants a ballot issue to raise the property tax to help the homeless, the county executive wants to raise the sales tax to support the arts. And the legislature is under a court mandate to fully support the schools which undoubtable will require some increase in taxes. So the question is how much can the people afford to pay in taxes.

        It was pointed out that the raise in my license tabs amounts to about 50 cents a day which on paper doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But when you are on a fixed income every dollar counts and when your taxes and cost of living goes up it becomes a problem. And I am not the only one.

        If you are poor it is hard to live in Seattle but for many there is some help available. But for retired people and the middle class it also hard to live in the city but because our income is above the limit for assistance we are on our own.

        For the person who blames my generation for not passing Forward Trust keep in mind that Seattle was a completely different city then it is today. Jim Ellis who was a leader on Forward Trust had a vision of Seattle in the future but many of the residents at the time just did not see that same vision. They could not see Seattle becoming the city it is today. By the way I voted in favor of Forward Trust.

        I also want state that I am not anti-transit which some people think I am. I have a senior Orca card and do ride the bus and Light Rail but I also drive my car when it is necessary to do so. My problem is with these continual proposals to raise taxes which greatly affect my budget and the ability to enjoy the retired life.

        I have said the before and I will repeat it. All of you are going to get old and be on a fixed income and find out what that is like. I just hope that you are planning now financially for your retired life because it is hard right now for me but it will be even harder in the future.

      2. McGinn said on KUOW’s Week In Review that he thinks Murray is raising taxes too blindly; i.e., not looking for something to economize. That surprised me coming from McGinn because I thought he was a liberal (i.e., supporting more city services). So if he thinks Murray is being too free-spending, that makes me wonder if maybe he is. So there may be something there. Although I wouldn’t say Murray is too free-spending on transit; we’re just correcting the underinvestment that occurred for decades. Although I don’t think the CCC should be a priority, nor keeping the First Hill streetcar. (A trolleybus replacement could fill in the mobility gap on Broadway and/or Broadway-Jackson.)

      3. Jeff, on the schools front, as the State level property taxes rise to fully fund K-12, local levies will fall. In fact, if the Republicans have their way, they’ll be banned. So your property taxes won’t rise significantly because of school funding. Seattle already spends lots and lots on them.

        Now maybe they don’t spend them wisely or well; that’s a different conversation. But the State taking over school funding is not going to mean much for urban districts.

      4. Even worse, under most of the plans I’ve seen so far the burden will fall the most on the areas of the state with the highest property values. People in some rural areas will actually see a tax cut as the local levies are voided.

        FWIW the increase people in Seattle have seen to their property taxes in recent years has been mostly due to rising property values.

        Yes a fair sized chunk of your property taxes go to fund levies, but some of those levies have been around for years (IOW they are nothing new) and many are ones regularly renewed by voters when they expire. The year over year increase due to new levies or increased levy amounts has been fairly minor.

    6. When government repeatedly fails to keep their word

      In this case, “government not keeping its word” would be ST giving money back to the owners of late model cars, and building less stuff slower. They *are* keeping they’re word, which was to raise taxes in the manner authorized by the state, to pay for the ST III package. Giving to a voluntary rebate to a subset of (relatively well-off) voters and delivering a weaker package would be breaking their word.

  7. Too bad we can’t tell Amazon and Expedia to make up for the shortfall– pay up or we go with the Ballard spur. Boeing– pay up or we go BRT to Paine Field. The most we can ask for is to tell them– hey, you free-rided off ST3– now is the time to deliver (campaign contributions to the opponents of those trying to lower car tabs (after all, we have no state income tax)) or run ads reminding folks– if we lower your tax, you’re going to pay another way (income tax, etc).

    1. How are Amazon and Expedia free-riding? There’s no guarantee we’d have gotten the Ballard Spur without them, and every indication we wouldn’t, since ST was uninterested in the Ballard Spur when Amazon was on Beacon Hill and Expedia was in Bellevue. Experdia didn’t particularly ask for a Link alignment, and ST didn’t particularly give them one, beyond a nearby station. The Interbay alignment goes back to the Long-Range Plan, it was probably chosen over a Queen Anne alignment then and now because it’s cheaper, and cheapness means ST can build more things elsewhere, like that downtown tunnel. Preference for Ballard-downtown over Ballard-UW goes back to McGinn: he was the one that championed it and got the city to give ST money to accelerate the corridor study and make it more extensive than the other corridor studies. And it goes back even further than that, to the monorail plan, and when that failed there was an expectation that Ballard and West Seattle would be next because they’re the west half of the city (the Link-less half).

      As for SLU, it has clearly become an extension of downtown and needs high-capacity transit. If Amazon weren’t in those buildings, somebody else would be and they’d need transit. The mistake was made in the 90s and early 00s, when the Link plans overlooked SLU in spite of the fact that it would clearly be zoned highrise and become part of downtown. I think that was just a failure to realize the consequences of future growth, even though looking back it’s what happened in the U-District fifty years ago and dowtown Bellevue twenty years ago.

      1. The Interbay route benefits Amazon and Expedia more than the Ballard to UW line (which was the most popular of the Ballard routings based on a ST poll). [That is why whenever board election issues come up, I raise the hypothetical of Ballard to Interbay vs. Ballard to UW. Ballard to UW was more popular, McGinn is no longer mayor, Kubly’s SDOT is radioactive politically, etc.]. If the companies don’t want it/willing to fight for it, then let’s go with the cheaper option.

        Since that won’t happen, and if I was king, I’d ask for taxes to pay for transit and McCleary placed on the companies and income taxes over $200,000 earners until both are paid off. That won’t happen either. So now we may stuck deciding which of the lines gets delayed (and it won’t be West Seattle rail).

  8. Do you think there’s a good chance Lynnwood Link’s portion will not make it onto the final budget? Because, if so, that has much greater implications for ST2 and ST3 than anything done at the state level.

    1. It’s usually best to assume something unexpected will happen. The chance is neither good nor bad until the size of the legislative factions is clear, and we see who really is wobbly about cutting things in their state. Or whether the Teflon Trump effect will manage to score a victory again as he did so many times since running for office. We really don’t know. But we should have contingency plans for the worst. And it’s entertaining to sketch out what-if scenarios.

  9. The president presents his budget to Congress but it is the legislative body that actually decides what the budget will be and what gets funded and what does not. A good number of senators and representatives have already come out against some of Trumps proposed budget cuts and that is both Democrats and Republicans. So I would not get that upset at what the president has proposed and see what happens when Congress starts tearing his budget apart.

    The budget fight will probable be nasty between the White House and Congress but in the end Congress will prevail on what they want in the budget and Trump may threatened a veto but he may not have much of choice but to sign it.

  10. I disagree with almost every one here, and it’s not because I don’t want to have transit. It’s because people are like little puppies. They need to have their noses rubbed in their own shit every so often, and this is the quintessential pile of poop to use. Why do there need to be four car trains running every ten minutes south of Sea-Tac airport? Well, south of Midway actually. Why do there need to be four car trains running north of Lynnwood? Simply put, it’s a huge waste of resources and money. It’s purely because of “subarea equity” that “The Spine” is as long as it is.

    Maybe in fifty years it will be needed but buses can DO. THE. JOB.

    The people in Pierce County voted against ST3. Well, it looks like they’re not going to get it. I feel sorry for Marilyn Strickland because she’s been a fantastic supporter of a sane Puget Sound, but she’s surrounded by thumbsuckers.

    It’s time for Mayor Murray to start talking to the people of Seattle about a City-wide LID for transit paid for by a $25 daily toll for anyone driving into the area between Royal Brougham and Aloha from the water to Broadway and another from I-5 to Lake Washington from the Ship Canal to 55th.

    Then issue one GoodToGo special tag to every address in the City of Seattle which has a registered vehicle good for one free round trip per day into either of the Toll Zones.

    Time to get down and dirty with the Goobers.

    1. “Maybe in fifty years it will be needed but buses can DO. THE. JOB.”

      You just invalidated your entire comment right there.

      1. I meant north of Lynnwood and south of Midway but was not clear. Is that what you were replying to?

    2. Richard, I think it’s a shade early to be angry about the length or headways on lines that won’t exist for a very long time. Judging by the fact that when I moved to Olympia three years ago, traffic could actually move on I-5 after 6AM. Now, hundred mile long jam is getting steadily compacted every day.

      Since existing diamond lanes between Tacoma and Downtown Seattle regularly go down along with the rest of them, only thing BUSES are going to DO is SIT IN TRAFFIC BURNING A TOXIC MIX OF DIESEL FUEL AND OPERATING HOURS. It’s a shade early to worry how many railcars we’ll need per run. But guarantee problem won’t be that we’ve got too many empty seats..

      Would give more support to the idea of a car-free Seattle CBD if I didn’t think result will be a residential and commercial transit-related gated community. Because however much East-siders hate their toll lanes, I don’t think they’d mind leaving their cars on their own side of the Lake and packing (more than four cars) of LINK trains and spending the day someplace relaxed and pretty. Also moving there.

      A place expensive enough to keep out whoever they now live in the suburbs to avoid. Tremendous unbeatable benefit to Downtown Seattle Association. When special express line connects the basement of the State Capitol with Westlake Station, legislators will also get more supportive. Not saying I could stand it, anymore than I could afford to get in. Sometimes Life is a Female Dog.

      Leading to important animal-training point. Dogs of all ages and genders are enthusiastically fond of the business card system nature gave them. In STB context, your puppy will instantly start wagging his tail and sharing the contact info you’ve placed on his nose with everybody in the room. For him, point of the lesson is how important career contacts are.

      Also. from very recent experience, including yesterday, I think suburban Pierce County is well on its way to being forced onto reserved right of way public transit for usual reason: Mountains to Sound, literally, suburban traffic is now making ever-larger roads and arterials motionless. Next transit election, Refugees Wrought By Real Estate in Seattle will be in a lot better mood to pay for Transportation Whose Wheels Actually Roll.


    3. Not only will the lines not exist for a long time, ST won’t start spending money on them for a long time, because it has a lot of other higher-priority projects to finish first, and it won’t have serious spending money for those projects until ST2 is finished in 2023. Planning may start earlier but planning costs only a tenth of construction so it’s nothing to worry about. So if Tacoma, Everett, and you forgot Issaquah are as useless as you say, there’s plenty of time for a vote in the 2020s to modify the scope of ST3. The projects are conveniently scheduled priority order (although Ballard is held back by DSTT2 which it depends on), so if you lop off everything after 2035 (Ballard), you’d eliminate Everett (2036), Du Pont Sounder (2036), Tacoma 19th Ave (2039), and Issaquah Link (2041). You wouldn’t manage to kill Tacoma Dome (2022), but that’s partly because Pierce has already saved up a lot of money for it. You’d only be able to kill them if, in fact, the subareas don’t want them, or change their minds about them in the 2020s. The thing to do would be to organize a large public voice to ST advocating for downscaling ST3, and to elect officials in the counties and cities that want to downscale it, then they could do something. In the meantime the problems Mark Dublin cited won’t go away, so they’ll probably make people warm up to ST3 over time, the way a lot of people in Rainier Valley didn’t like Link initially but have gradually found it useful.

      1. If WashDOT can be pursuaded to allow shoulder running for buses from the Nisqually bridge up to the weigh station and add a bus lane through it to the Center Boulevard off ramp, buses should be able to serve Thurston County very well. Of course, that depends on Sounder running all day, but as you suggested recently, Mike, running some sort of two-car Sprinter trains to TDS reasonably frequently throughout the day and into the evening, with an overlay of peak hour locomotive hauled trains to Seattle would be a great substitute for Sounder to Olympia (“STO”).

        STO would be inefficient, slow and wasteful because you are NOT going to get the Lacey right of way back. There is a boulevard with traffic circles lying on it.

    4. For the record Mark, how do you rate the Tacoma Dome extension and Du Pont Sounder extension? How much benefit will they have for you, and transit riders who live in the south end but not right near the stations?

    5. Why do people have to be offensive and belittling to others who hold different opinions than theirs? I know my comment is OT, and will and should be removed, but I just had to ask.

      1. Nora, then I’ll answer, since you asked. Most of the people who talk about transit on any other website make it clear that they would be happy as clams if every transit rider were D.E.A.D. I’m sick of them and if there’s any way they can be made to suffer for their selfishness, I’m for it.

  11. Time for Sound Transit to take on it’s responsibility and deliver the goods. They need to be accountable for their actions and decisions. Blaming Trump for any funding shortfalls is pure BS. Secure your funding before starting your projects. I would not get a mortgage based on future potential salary raises. ST cannot be trusted. ST is planning on building the most expensive light rail system in he country which will also be the lest effective. No one would plan out a new light rail system in the Puget Sound like ST did. Pure nonsense. Their past will be their future: Delays, cost overruns, change of scope, broken promises, ….

    1. How would you want ST to have further secured its funding? They got it every bit as secure as is possible without a constitutional amendment: the legislation was passed, and they completed an estimated timeline based on some federal funding and said things would be extended if no federal funding was secured. Meanwhile, since their reorganization in the 1990’s, they’ve been bringing things in on time.

    2. Well, I’ve opposing the 2nd Av Tunnel and the 1st Av Connector;
      I prefer the 4th/5th Av Couplet streetcar line.
      I believe the Link system is complete with its current spine.
      I can prove it. Answer: Makes too much sense.
      Don’t even plan to build the 2nd Subway, okay?
      And consider electrifying 4th and 5th Avenues.
      “Nah, we wanna put rails on the hilly bikeway.
      An if traffic backs up, and people gotta pass ‘tween ’em,
      too bad,” says your DOT profeshunulls, Seattlers.

      1. There is not going to be a “2nd AV Tunnel”. If there is a tunnel for the Green Line, it will be under Fifth through the financial district transitioning to Sixth at Westlake. Or, it may deviate up to Eighth to serve First Hill if Martin and many others can convince ST and the City of Seattle that it is a better idea.

        The likelihood, though, is that without Seattle paying for the tunnel itself, there will be no Green Line tunnel. The Republicans smell blood and want to screw the City any way they can.

  12. If we have really entered the world where any federal transit grant is contingent upon Democratic control of Congress and the White House for the entire period between when the grant application is sent in and when construction is complete, then why bother even applying? Even if you get something, you still have to have local money set aside in case a new administration later decides to revoke it.

  13. “Priorities – increased defense spending, border wall construction, etc
    (don’t forget detention centers and private prison facilities and staff) –
    on the backs of cities ”
    (and/or in their pockets spent on luxuries, expensive pleasures). [edit]


    by 2018 if not SOONER, (emphasis on sooner).

    1. Impeachment of Donald Trump certainly would help our Nation’s public image among foreigners. However, it would do nothing to stop the WingNuts in Congress from doing stupid things like gutting transit and social programs. Mike Pence is a veteran of the “The Government Spends Too Much” caucus in the House. He’s actually less likely than Trump to support cities. After all, Trump grew up and is heavily invested in cities.

  14. I wonder if we can pass a levy to make up for the shortfall…

    I would also like to see Sound Transit commit to choosing delays rather than cuts. Though there is a need for rail sooner rather than later, it’s important to recognize that these trains could be running for 100+ years easily.

    If some part get pushed back a few years, that’s unfortunate. If we sacrifice the quality of the lines, do more at grade segments, etc, then we will permanently be left with a transit system that doesn’t perform well. This whole plan is about making a long term investment in the city, so I hope sound transit thinks long term.

  15. The President can merely just propose a budget, Congress doesn’t have to follow it, and make their own budget which he has to follow whether he agrees with it or not. The budget will likely be very different by the time it gets through congress. So I wouldn’t be sweating bullets just yet.

    1. No, but the congress (at least the house) is well to the right of the President. So unless the Senate can slow down the process, a “nothing for transit” budget seems quite plausible.

      1. but the congress (at least the house) is well to the right of the President.

        This is, in some ways, not wrong, but highly misleading. The presidency is relatively free of collective action problems. Congress is more than the ideological sum of its parts; it’s also a bunch of people who understand that their constituents love *both* rhetorical attacks on big government and government programs that benefit them locally. So lots of deal-making and logrolling ensues, and the results are usually less slash-and-burn-y than the sum total of the ideological commitments of the caucus would suggest.

        I think Transit grants are vulnerable, but that’s because of the relative lack of Republicans who benefit from them, not because of the distribution of ideological views in Ryan’s caucus.

  16. I’d support ST2 or ST3 fully if ST a) got their Sounder trains consistently on time per the published time tables. b) operated more Sounder connector buses in Pierce County to improve and shorten the end-to-end commutes for the majority of its users that are 1 to 2 hours long.

    Pierce Co rejected ST3, it does almost nothing for us, and the currently service level is subpar.

  17. Regarding ST2:

    Anybody traveling to / from Seattle during rush hours knows I5 is a packed log jam every work day.ST2 will help reduce the load off an overwhelmed I5. If you look at the rush hour busses they are also packed every day. We need the additional transit capacity in our area and it will even benefit people who prefer driving because it will reduce congestion.

    Companies in the area are committed to supporting mass transit. Companies of a significant size in Seattle are required to provide a transit pass to their employees.Ridership will be high during commuting hours. People will prefer letting their company help support their work and mass transit situation. Furthermore they will be relieved of the driving chore, and have a chance to do something more productive like reading.

    Regarding ST3:

    If we could have a toll on I5 only when *AT CAPACITY* seems like it would be a more appropriate approach to reducing rush hour traffic and fixing the cost to those responsible for congestion. I can understand people upset at taxes who don’t use the system ( retired, people who work in the burbs )

    1. ” I can understand people upset at taxes who don’t use the system ( retired, people who work in the burbs )”

      You understand that this exactly describes what happens with the gas tax?
      The latest increase passed by the legislature is funding capacity increases on I-405, SR-167, SR-509, etc. benefiting commuters on these specific corridors only?

      No vote… no ‘calculator’ for the public to use to determine the value of the projects.

      What I can’t understand is why the driving public doesn’t question this.

      Never mind, we don’t vote on mega-road projects, only transit.

  18. A few thoughts:

    First, whatever happens, the station at NE 130th should be part of Lynnwood Link. The argument used before (that it would mess up the grant money) is now gone. No one cares whether it was part of the original promise or not. There is simply no reason to skip such an important station, and then stop everything and built it back in ten years later.

    Second, ST2 projects are higher priority than ST3. Money can be shifted around, but it isn’t clear how quickly or between subareas. Could Seattle, for example, loan money to Snohomish County to finish Lynnwood Link before it breaks ground on West Seattle rail? Personally I would do that, just because it is way more important (to Seattle). It would be silly to build the 522 BRT before Link gets to 145th.

    Speaking of which, could Lynnwood Link be shortened to Mountlake Terrace, and if so, would that save any money? You already have the infrastructure in place (bus lanes connecting to it) so it makes for a good terminus for a few years (if not forever), but I have no idea if that would save much money.

    For Seattle, if they lose even part of the money for the streetcars, they should just abandon them. Put the money into bus service. If need be, try and pass another levy for BRT, but there is no way folks are going to pony up money for streetcar service.

    If Community Transit loses out on Swift money, they should appeal to the state. We aren’t talking about much money here, and it should be part of the transportation budget. Folks don’t want to lose suburban votes, so unlike Seattle projects, there is real clout here (not unlike the ridiculous freeway projects that will serve the south sound).

    1. I agree with a lot of your proposals, but let me quibble some about Lynnwood Link. If North King lends money to Snohomish, it’d be for that comparatively-small portion between 185th St and Lynnwood – and I think Snohomish should have enough to pay for that. If not, they can cancel North Sounder. But if there’s something I’m forgetting, sure, go ahead and make the loan. Or get East King to pay back the stolen Rainier Ave money and make it from there, as long as Mercer Island doesn’t eat up all East King’s money in litigation.

      However, Montlake Terrace won’t work as a terminus: there’re bus lanes, sure, but there’s no bus exit. The buses would have to continue south to get stuck in general-purpose traffic anyway. To get all those savings, you need to continue to the southbound HOV exit lane at Lynnwood TC.

      1. Thank you, William. Your observation about Mountlake Terrace is spot on. You can’t even use the bus station as a transfer facility, because it’s too close to 244th/205th for buses to turn back there. They’d have to turn around at 175th, crossing the general purpose lanes both directions. It would be a scheduling nightmare.

        Lynnwood is the obvious terminus for North Link because Northgate is so hard to reach by bus.

    2. “the station at NE 130th should be part of Lynnwood Link. The argument used before (that it would mess up the grant money) is now gone.”

      That’s true. The cost of the station is peanuts compared to the cost of the other lines; it wouldn’t slow them down much. The bigger problem is the short amount of time before Lynnwood station starts: the station still needs to go through design and EIS. It wasn’t studied in the Lynnwood Link EIS; it was just glanced at to determine it could be an option.

      “ST2 projects are higher priority than ST3.”

      ST would probably backfill projects, on the basis of first scheduled, first served.

      “Could Seattle, for example, loan money to Snohomish County to finish Lynnwood Link before it breaks ground on West Seattle rail? Personally I would do that, just because it is way more important (to Seattle).”

      The West Seattle money is not here yet; it’s coming in the 2020s. In order to do this, North King would have to postpone something in ST2, but what is there left besides North Link?

      “If Community Transit loses out on Swift money, they should appeal to the state.”

      The state wants Swift 2; it gave CT a grant for it because it helps the state’s negotiating position with Boeing. CT should tell the state, “Hey, you need to fund more of this Swift line you want, otherwise it’s not going to happen.”

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