Credit: SDOT

In 2014, Seattle residents voted 62% – 38% to raise taxes to prevent cuts to King County Metro Transit Seattle routes after a Countywide transit measure had failed just months before. A rebound in County revenues has allowed Seattle to instead use the money to add more transit service and ease overcrowding.

As the measure is set to expire at the end of 2020, Seattle is looking to partner with King County to pass a region-wide transit measure.

“Every time we add a new bus we get a bus and half worth of people that want to ride,” said Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien in an interview with the Seattle Transit Blog. “We don’t have to convince people to ride transit, we just have to deliver it and they want to use it.”

The measure generates about $50 million a year through a $60 annual vehicle license fee and 0.1% sales tax. That influx of cash pays for roughly 270,000 hours of additional bus service annually.

“When we did it the first time, a few years back, we intentionally set a relatively short-term horizon because partners throughout the County had said, ‘we know we failed in April, but please don’t foreclose Seattle joining with the rest of the County at some future date,’” O’Brien said.

And if the County does want to partner with Seattle on a future transit measure, O’Brien wants to support it.

“There are transit needs throughout the entire county, and Seattle voters are very pro-transit,” O’Brien said. “There are some very transit-dependent communities outside the city of Seattle that would really like to see more transit and they could use the help of Seattle voters to carry a county-wide initiative.”

The office of Rod Dembowski, King County County Councilmember and Chair of the Regional Transit Committee, didn’t return a request for comment.

If the County is interested in pursuing a county-wide measure, the conversation needs to begin this year, O’Brien added.

“But what we can’t do is wait until the end and have a county vote at the last minute that may not pass, and not have room for Seattle to come in and do something,” O’Brien said.

At the latest, to keep current service levels, a measure needs to pass by November 2020.

“There’s no way I can envision the city doing anything but at a minimum renewing what we are doing — we need that transit service,” O’Brien said. “If we had to cut $50 million worth of transit service out of the city it would be devastating.”


56 Replies to “Time to Start Planning for the Next Transit Measure”

  1. What about taxing businesses, based on payroll and revenues, to pay for transit this time? Businesses are the primary beneficiary of all the Rapid Ride routes — those get the workers to their desks quickly!

    1. The state won’t allow it. We have the most regressive tax structure in the country, and efforts to change it have failed. Someday, hopefully, we will change it, but don’t hold your breath.

      1. You’re right re: some new county tax, but I was referring to O’Brien’s statement that “we should at minimum renew” the the 2014 TBD funding level of Metro service. The TBD taxes could be allowed to expire on schedule, and Seattle currently has the right from the state to impose business license fees at whatever level, on selected employers, and however calculated. That’s how businesses could start paying, and the taxing would be made less regressive.

      2. In addition, no vote would be required. Seattle’s city council could let the TBD taxes expire, and impose new business license fees without submitting it to any vote. Trying to get a countywide measure in place would be a really heavy lift, O’Brien is right to signal the city will need to replace the TBD revenue stream so the city can continue to get the extra Metro bus service, and using new taxes on big businesses with lots of revenue (whose employees use the service to the benefit of those employers) would make the taxing structure households here face less regressive. Make sense?

      3. A city measure could have a clause that suspends it if the county replaces the funding.

      4. A new study points out how Seattle’s tax structure is the worst for people with little wealth — those who can least afford it pay the most money (proportionate to their incomes):

        O’Brien knows this, and he knows the city can use its business licensing authority to raise revenues from the businesses that can afford it — businesses which benefit from robust transit. He needs to get off this “more sales taxes, more car taxes” jag that he and the city/county/regional transit boards have been on for decades. We don’t need any more ballot measures for transit either — they’ve resulted in far more taxing households (mostly) for transit only than anywhere else I’m aware of.

      5. I’m not sure what type of tax you are talking about. It would be great to tax companies that are making lots of money, but that would basically be a corporate income tax. If personal income taxes are illegal, then so too are corporate income taxes.

        You could tax gross receipts, but that is very regressive. A grocery store that is barely making money gets taxed a lot more than a large law firm, which is making a ton.

        You could tax based on the number of employees, but again, that becomes very regressive. Same with increasing business fees. Whether it is a business tax or a personal tax, it is very difficult to make it progressive or even flat.

        If anything, the property tax does a better job. Yes, homeowners get hurt, because it isn’t progressive. But is at least flat, which means that companies that have a lot of property wealth pay a lot.

      6. “Whether it is a business tax or a personal tax, it is very difficult to make it progressive or even flat.”

        You should clarify what you mean here by “difficult” because the comment above just isn’t true as stated.

        Fwiw, I think the other poster was referring to a new fee structure and not imposing new business taxes.

      7. @Tisgym — Oops, I left out the phrase “in this state” (it was implied). The point is, I have yet to hear of anything that is progressive and legal (in this state). In general, I would say the best we can come up with (in this state) is the simple property tax. Yes, it only taxes one form of wealth, and it isn’t progressive, but at least it is flat. Other taxes are clearly regressive (sales tax), while others hit some businesses hard, while leaving other, more profitable businesses without much of a bill at all (B and O tax).

      8. Couldn’t you do just a flat payroll tax on large employers, the same way that large employers must sort out commuting targets and the like?

      9. It’s a head tax: a tax on the number of employees. The city has some unused tax authority there. The council is reluctant to use it because it sends the message that employees are a negative impact that must be taxed, and encourages companies to locate outside the city. Thanks to the state for putting us in this pickle. In the meantime, don’t get down on the city and transit agencies for raising sales tax: it’s the only simple mechanism the state allows, and it’s not charged on food. You have to weigh the taxes against the benefit of transit, and transit benefits the poor and makes them able to earn more.

        The available tax authorities I know of are: sales tax with vote, property tax (a limited amount, partly saved for emergencies), head tax, and monorail tax (potential $1B).

      10. That study you’re quoting trees ohio individuals. Businesses in Seattle also suffer from regressive taxes (e.g. B&O on gross receipts). Is there a study out there that identifies the effective tax rates of businesses in the state?

      11. The additional taxing authority from a “head tax” $2 per FTE) is also available to Sound Transit and that agency has also chosen to not employ it as a revenue source (pending voter approval). The state DOR produces a report that estimates what the different legislated tax authorities represent in potential revenues for these local jurisdictions. I don’t know the figures off the top of my head, but I’m sure they can be found online easily enough.

      12. @Ross B. Thanks for the clarification on your earlier comments. Yes, Washington state clearly has a very regressive tax structure. I remember a few years ago ITEP (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy) listed Washington as the most regressive state in the country. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation was heavily critical of the report in several areas, and I guess because the Tax Foundation has a pretty loud voice (and deep pockets), ITEP pushed back and published their own rebuttal to the criticisms.

        The rebuttal from last year:

      13. Seems like some folks here don’t understand the rights to tax the city has under existing state law. The city council could — on its own and without having to go to voters — impose a tax for transit, and turn the proceeds over to Metro for more bus service. That’s similar to what the TBD does, only it requires a vote and it imposes taxes that are bad for households: sales tax and a tax on cars irrespective of how/when the car is used. The new city tax on big employers would be a condition of, and pursuant to, the city’s business licensing authority (the city did this with its tax on handguns and ammo). The new big employer tax for transit would be measured as some percentage of monthly payroll, and it only would have to be paid by businesses with more than 12 employees and revenues over $3 million per year. The businesses that could afford it most easily, and with the most employees, would pay most. That’s progressive. Those businesses with the most employees benefit the most from transit, so the tax would target them (as opposed to sales taxes or annual car taxes, which bear absolutely no relation to transit use).

    2. I don’t like our regressive tax structure, either, but we absolutely should tax cars more, not less. All those cars clogging up the roads creates a huge costs to transit in terms of service hours, as well a whole host of other huge costs to pedestrians, cyclists, and the city. We don’t tax them anywhere near enough.

      When the cost of car ownership even begins to approach covering the massive externalities of car ownership, we can start to talk. At a time that we’re finally starting to see a reduction in the % of households with cars, it would be ludicrous to threaten that by turning around and subsidizing car ownership by making it cheaper.

      1. We need to make the marginal cost of driving higher. Adding more car tab fees doesn’t do that. Sure, some people will drop their cars entirely, but those who keep them have no incentive to use them less. Many urban Europeans still own cars even though gas is 2-3x more expensive, but they probably don’t drive them as much as we do.

        The legislature should enact a statewide gas tax that is 100% channeled to local governments based on population. Local governments spend a ton of property tax revenue on street/road maintenance; those funds that should really come from the gas tax.

        If your county is deep-red and doesn’t like extra taxes, then it can reduce property taxes by an equivalent amount.

      2. We need to make the marginal cost of driving higher. Adding more car tab fees doesn’t do that.

        Sure it does. People with cars tend to drive more than people who don’t. It’s crude, sure, but it gets it right at a basic level. I agree we need higher gas taxes to make the cost of each marginal trip/mile driven higher, too, but simple car ownership has social costs beyond driving–the 5-8 parking spots needed per car around the region take up a lot of valuable land.

  2. What has changed since 2014? The April 2014 county-wide vote was very decisive and split by location. Overall the measure was approved by less than 45% of the voters, but precincts in Seattle voted heavily in favor of the measure and precincts located outside Seattle voted heavily against the measure. Why risk the benefits that Seattle riders are receiving and paying for by trying to convince the suburban voters to pay for something they resoundingly rejected in 2014?

    1. correction: the measure got 46.05% approval countywide, not “less than 45%”

    2. As they get link stations they will start to see the benefits of bus connections? Maybe they need to wait a few years for the effect to sink in?

      1. I seriously doubt it. If anything, there are folks who are unrealistic when it comes to Link (once the train gets here, it will solve all my problems) along with people who are just tired of paying too much (“What, I just paid for that darn Sound Transit thing””). It should be clear that there are a lot of people who really don’t like the car tab tax, and this would increase it. To be clear, Seattle would support it, but the areas that voted against the previous measure would likely still oppose it.

      2. Also keep in mind that the transportation package passed by the state legislature back in July 2015 (yes, that one….2ESSB 5987)also included another scheduled increase in car registration fees of $10 to go into effect in July 2022.

      3. “there are folks who are unrealistic when it comes to Link (once the train gets here, it will solve all my problems) along with people who are just tired of paying too much (“What, I just paid for that darn Sound Transit thing””). It should be clear that there are a lot of people who really don’t like the car tab tax, and this would increase it.”

        Those are just some of the people. An increasing number of people are voting with their feet and packing the buses and demanding more service. Metro has repeatedly increased the E and it keeps growing. The P&Rs with good transit are full. More frequent and useful local buses would convince some people to take them to the P&R or to neighborhood centers. They can’t park at the P&R, they’re fuming about it, and some of them would be willing to take a bus to it, since they won’t get the P&Rs expanded that easily.

    3. Because the county needs better bus service too and Metro finally has a long-range plan with twenty RapidRide lines and all-day Express and frequent routes to do it. So this time there is a concrete plan with benefits for every neighborhood to fund, and it will complement the upcoming ST2/ST3 openings, and support for transit has increased since the recession-era propositions failed. It’s not a done deal that it will pass or that it will be large enough to fully fund Metro’s LRP, but it’s the best opportunity we’ve had for a long time. And O’Brien is right that we must time our work so that the county vote occurs before March 2020, to give time for a fallback Seattle measure if it fails.

      The county is also working on a roads package focusing on highways and arterials (but no new freeways), so that will be coming to a ballot near you. I had thought roads+transit would be combined but it sounds like they’ll be separate. It would be a shame to have a county roads measure but no transit measure. And we may want to think about whether they should be simultaneous, or one before the other, or what.

      KOUW’s Region of Boom did a series on Black Diamond last year, and they talked about the need to widen the highway, and how express buses wouldn’t help if they get caught in the same traffic, etc. It seems pretty safe that any new express buses would go to the future Renton TC rather than one-seat rides to downtown (especially now that Bellevue/Redmond has emerged as a major jobs/shopping center). I’m hoping that if a roads package passes and there’s no transit package, the roads package will focus on arterials that benefit Metro’s highest-priority routes, and at least do the HOV lane/signal priority work. Logically it should since these are the highest-demand corridors for both buses and cars. Especially if most of the demand for this measure is for things like the Maple Valley Highway and Kent – Des Moines Road. But there has been no explicit county promise on how much it would indirectly benefit transit.

    4. “As they get link stations they will start to see the benefits of bus connections? Maybe they need to wait a few years for the effect to sink in?”

      The suburban cities are already there. Bellevue has an excellent Transit Master Plan it’s waiting for somebody else to fund (i.e., the county). Kenmore’s and Bothell’s enthusiasm about transit and TOD has been covered in these pages. Kent is ready to go. Des Moines has been backwards on Link’s alignment but I don’t think it will turn down the possibility of feeders. Mercer Island has been clamoring for feeders. Issaquah and Federal Way have grand plans for their urban centers and I think see bus connections as an important part.

      So the large suburban governments are mostly on board. The challenge is with their voters and the smaller suburbs. South King County voters have voted no on all Metro and ST measures since I started keeping track around 2006. They inevitably say they’re working-class and poor and can’t afford more taxes, and they need the money to drive because even with the improvements there still won’t be enough transit to get around without a car. (They’re thinking of things like trips from their house to Southcenter, downtown, Redmond, big-box stores, etc.) It’s similar to the argument from Des Moines, So things may be changing but South King County voters will be the hardest to convince. Seattle is on board, and the Eastside and Northshore probably are.

      The other factor tiny cities like Algona that are almost all residential. They tend to be the least supportive of growth, and that may extend to not increasing transit although I’m not sure. Mercer Island is one of the largest almost-all-residential cities, and it has some of this. On the other hand they’ve also been vocal on feeders and express buses throughout the island, so I’m cautiously optimistic the latter will win out. But these will be the other hardest voters to convince.

    5. >> What has changed since 2014?

      The biggest change is that areas that are urban are more urban. Seattle, in absolute terms, has grown faster than every other place in the county, combined. Furthermore, the parts of Seattle that have grown the most are those that rely on transit more. Places like west Magnolia, or Sunset Hill haven’t grown at all, but places like Ballard, Greenwood and Northgate have grown a lot. The places in the suburbs that have seen significant growth are also more urban. The central part of Bellevue and Redmond for example. There is still sprawl, but not as much as the relatively urban areas.

      As Mike mentioned, this would also likely be a different type of measure. The previous proposal was seen as a means to prop up Metro. Lots of people hate Metro (and that sentiment might be the same). But propping up an agency is always met with “but why did they have the shortfall in the first place? If they only did blah, blah, blah, they wouldn’t have this problem”. It was also simply seen as retaining the status quo. As any politician knows, it is very difficult to promote maintenance (look at how Move Seattle had to emphasize the new projects, instead of where the bulk of the money is going, which is maintenance). In this case, it means extra service, which is almost always more popular (“Oh, new, shiny…”).

      Traffic is also worse. So I would expect folks to use the same page as they did with ST3, that this will somehow make traffic better (even though even transit proponents know that won’t be the case). This might get one or two people who have no interest in transit to vote for it. But more than that, it means folks who really would take the bus (because traffic sucks) are likely to vote for it.

      All of that being said, there seems to be a growing anti-tax sentiment (because taxes have actually been going up) so you really have two different dynamics. It is a mystery as to how this would play out in the county, while I feel very confident saying that any transit measure of this nature would pass easily in the city.

      1. The ST3 vote in 2016 passed by a 59-41 margin in King County. But again, Seattle voters provided a landslide of “YES” votes while the rest of the county was very evenly split. Here are some of the vote totals from election night in the suburban legislative districts:
        LD 1 (Bothell) 49-51
        LD 5 (Issaquah) 50.1-49.9
        LD 11 (Renton) 49.3-50.7
        LD 30 (Federal Way) 46.4-53.6
        LD 31 (Enumclaw) 42-58
        LD 32 (Shoreline) 60-40
        LD 33 (Kent/Des Moines) 49.8-50.2
        LD 41 (Bellevue) 48.6-51.4
        LD 45 (Kirkland) 51.4-48.6
        LD 47 (Auburn) 43-57
        LD 48 (Redmond) 52-48

        It is clear that the suburbs were very evenly split on ST3. But It’s hard to know if suburban voter sentiment has become more favorable to transit issues since ST3 passed or if the suburban voters have turned against transit issues.

    6. “What has changed since 2014?”

      Rents and prices of homes has continued to skyrocket, both within Seattle proper, and throughout the region. More people from Seattle have been priced out into suburbs, and people from King County suburbs have been priced into Pierce, Kitsap, and Snohomish Counties, or to eastern Washington. The demographics of this region have changed tremendously. I would say that today a much larger portion of places like Renton, Bothell, and Shoreline are people who voted in favor of the 2014 measure, than four years ago, many of them coming from Seattle, and that a large number of the no voters from those inner ring suburbs have moved farther away into the outer ring suburbs – increasingly into other counties. Many of the remaining “no” voters would today have their votes diluted by the transplants to King County who are often younger and more pro-transit.

      That’s what has changed. I’m willing to wager that the same vote from 2014 would pass 54-46 in today’s King County.

  3. With a bit of lead time, we need to first rethink how we oversee transportation revenue methods. We have many operators and local meausures that lead to parochialism and non-cooperation. We have obvious problems like terrible bus-rail connections and dispersed structures over things like tolling, fares and bus stop maintenance. We have measures transferring money from a revenue collector to an operator (and revenue collectors include other operators) in lump sum amounts with no performance standards or systems justification.

    It’s time for a separate, multi-modal revenue collection, systems planning and monitoring agency to put some logic and accountability in the system. This current system is awful as we rely on populist campaigns every year or two or four with no logic or oversight about how these funds get spent. There are many models of how to do this from places like California and parts of Georgia.

    There are people who do thrive in this childish, populist funding game. Let’s see that we need to quit playing games like rich kids in a playground that trade money for parking garages, rail stations and streets around on a whim.

    1. Parochialism and non-cooperation are decreasing. Metro has a pretty good LRP; the best way forward is to draw attention to its specific flaws and maybe we can change them. All the cities are excited about reorienting their transit around the upcoming light rail stations, and ST’s plans reflect their input. Station locations and transfer paths aren’t the best, and some officials are challenged in understanding how this impacts riders, but it’s a work in progress. Something is better than nothing, and those transfer stations will be something.

      So basically there are two plans now. That’s better than zero plans, as we had for many years when Metro had no LRP and ST wouldn’t commit more than a few corridors at a time.

      “We have measures transferring money from a revenue collector to an operator (and revenue collectors include other operators) in lump sum amounts with no performance standards or systems justification.”

      Almost all the Prop 1 hours went to filling in Metro’s highest priorities in Seattle. Metro’s performance metrics are both the justification and the accountability for those investments. The exceptions were miniscule: restoring the 47 was a community priority: it’s basically a coverage route in a high-density area where elderly people can’t walk up the steep hill to the 49.

      The streetcars are a basket case in terms of justification or performance or second-level operators, but we’ve already talked plenty about those.

      The balkanized sources of funding won’t go away because it would require an entire tax system overhaul, and the state is not even remotely interested in that. Given that, it’s probably better to have a few operators rather than many, so I don’t see what’s wrong with letting Metro operate everything in King County. The fact that Community Transit outsources operations to First Transit is its right to do. The fact that ST outsources to CT who forwards it to FT is hilarious, but what practical harm does it cause? (Mainly to the drivers’ paychecks if FT is non-union.)

    2. You’re missing the bigger point, Mike. You’re talking only about transit operations — and not even the significant problem of lousy bus-rail transfer points between KCM and ST.

      Why are we building a giant parking garage in South Renton (three blocks from 405 and just a mile from Tukwila Sounder Station — neither of which is proposed to have direct 405 access) out of ST3? Why is ST3 funding the amount for Madison BRT that it is, and not more and not less? When Seattle levies money on local residents, what is the objective process required to determine if it’s better spent on protected bicycle lanes, street paving or transit service — and when is appropriate to adjust those breakouts?

      It’s all about playing with public money in a non-objective, non-systemic way. There’s no logic other than “we have to give away favors to keep local elected people happy”. It makes our usually intelligent, liberal-leaning region look very childish and amateurish when it comes to deciding about public transportation investments.

      1. “what is the objective process” – there isn’t an objective process. That’s the point. Deciding between bus lanes and bike lanes (to say nothing of transit vs non transit spending) is a deeply political decision. There isn’t a “right” choice because it’s a values based decision.

        What you are complaining about, Al, is called democracy.

        When I look at institutions like the PSRC and ST, I think we do a decent job at regional planning, plus all the intercity planning that takes place at the county level. The big details are sketched out and agreed upon pretty collaboratively, from what I can tell.

      2. Yeah, you’re just describing the messy politics of multijurisdictional democracy. (And the idea there’s an “objective” process we could be using is absurd. Every transit allocation requires trading off values–speed, frequency, coverage, ridership, fairness to all taxpayers, etc etc. There’s no objective way to weight different goals.)

        There’s lots of pundit’s fallacies in this thread, and the idea that voters punish for this is one of them.

      3. @AJ @dfw — There are some decisions that are based on values, but there are objective measures that can be made. There are numerous cases where the agencies lack of cooperation and lack of study has resulted in terrible outcomes. You can look at the planning right now, and find the same thing.

        Consider the station at 145th. How much extra time will a rider spend getting to the station because it is not on 145th? How much extra money will Metro spend getting the buses there? How does that compare to a station at 145th? What about future bus lines from the west (Bitter Lake)?

        Another example is the new Westlake Station. How many people are expected to transfer there, and in what direction? How long will it take them to transfer if we build this way or that way? How much extra will that cost?

        You could, theoretically, mandate that the decisions follow a formula based on rider time saved per dollar spent. That itself would be a value judgement (maybe we care more about some riders versus others). But just studying these things, releasing them and informing the public would be a huge step in the right direction. I would feel more comfortable with the value judgements that are being made if I knew they were being made using relevant data shared between agencies and the public, instead of seat of the pants, best guesses.

    3. I talk about operations because that’s what affects me as a passenger: whether a route goes where I want to go and how often and how late. I did talk about ST-Metro transfers; that’s what I meant by “transfer paths aren’t the best”.

      I also would like to see a unified top-down transit approach like Vancouver and Germany, where transit experts decide what are all the transit needs both regional and local, and just do them with the support of the government and public and funding. But how do you get from here to there? The state isn’t fully committed to urban development and restricts what we can do. The US has a strong “local control” mindset, and every person and neighborhood and city wants a say in what the transit network is, and most of them are not transit experts and have unrealistic ideas. They don’t want to give up that power, and they have enough votes to ensure the councils and legislature don’t take it away. The problem of local control goes far beyond transit: it’s why the suburbs exist and why Mercer Island has more of a say than Ballard does. Before the mid 1950s Seattle annexed adjacent areas as they built up, but then that stopped when white flight started and the suburbs stopped wanting to be part of the city, and they demanded equal control because they were their own incorporated city.

      “There’s no logic other than “we have to give away favors to keep local elected people happy””

      It’s more than that. The elected people are the ones the voters chose, and the voters are spending their own money, so they want the say in how it gets spent. You can’t distinguish between keeping a local elected happy and keeping the voters who support that elected happy because they’re the same thing. The only exception is if there’s an elected who’s going totally off on his own. Also, the electeds generally have a better sense of what transit is needed and how important it is because they’re the ones responsible for the jurisdiction’s economy and jobs and mobility, so they can’t completely ignore facts. So they’re the ones pushing for more comprehensive transit and pushing back on the “Don’t do anything” and “No growth” and “Huge P&Rs everywhere” demands. It may look bad now but it would be worse if people like Balducci and Constantine and Dembrowski and Johnson had no influence and it was just a public free-for-all.

      1. Let’s be clear that I’m not advocating for a huge government reorganization. I’m merely advocating for an independent agency to be the recipient of voter-approved transportation funding, and control revenues and expenses on both capital and operating transportation dollars. That’s all. It’s why the Federal government created MPO’s in the first place over 50 years ago (noting that it’s not really working well without more deliberate local efforts).

        The recent streetcar operating and capital costing fiasco is yet another example of how we’re not managing and evaluating transit dollars well. The problem isn’t that we’re electing the wrong people either; it’s that we don’t have the right system in place. If any statehouse person is reading this, please consider how to reform things at the state level so we won’t keep playing this game!

  4. How about we actually come up with enough money to build all these rapid lines properly?

    We have a long list of rapid rides that need building, and not nearly enough money. Let’s actually raise the money we need instead of hoping it will drop from the sky.

    Also, if the streetcar gets cancelled, let’s talk about what our downtown mobility needs are. I wonder if’s time to revisit adding a new monorail line to downtown.

    1. The ballot measure will come with specifics on what it will fund, and since the RapidRide lines have such high visibility I expect they’ll be itemized individually. Then we’ll be able to see how many are fully funded and what gaps remain. That will tell whether the measure is a good one or not. It will also give us some idea of how much additional money we’d have to raise, and then we can tell how realistcally affordable the complete LRP would be.

    2. Agree with you about the need, Brendan. But if you’re going to demand we raise money, good idea we get some advice as to where and how.

      Also, from some experience: Before you say “Monorail”, always meaning “One Rail”, see if “Elevated” doesn’t fit better. Grade separation- but with wider mechanical variety. Among a very long list, last monorail effort’s worst flaw was letting citizen activists dictate machinery in minute detail to civil and transit engineers.

      Reason the transport world has so few monorails is that two-rail lines are so much easier to build and operate. Pic of one switch should tell the story. But go look at possible routes for your line. After a walk along Fifth from Seattle Center to Westlake. And think what life with that structure would be like.

      But for the most convincing arguments you can legitimately make- if you can’t afford streetcars along First from Pioneer Square to Pike Place Market, you can’t afford a single elevated pillar.


    1. Well, you’re up in Skagit, so I’m afraid you don’t get a vote either way. But what about if it’s a lot more?

      1. Well, Vladimir Putin’s up in St. Petersburg, isn’t he? And the “lot more” thing, doesn’t seem to be reducing either his contributions, or their results either.

        Now that district boundaries have gone the way of internet responsibility, I can get as many voting opportunities as there are people running for office whom I need to have win.

        Though after we get done discussing strategies to help him return Alaska to its Holy Motherland, and also carrying Russian semi’s on passenger hydrofoils to Tacoma, should probably ask him what an STBD is in Russian, so I can put it into Google Translate.

        Just hope another one of them hasn’t gone antibiotic resistant.


  5. Bit off topic – did any of the other Link openings other than U-Link come with bus restructures? Like the original opening of Link, Angle Lake, etc.?

    1. Do you mean, will this funding improve access to existing Link stations? I believe the goal is to implement Metro’s Long Range Plan, so you can see what Metro wants to do in every station and neighborhood. The details might change but the outline is pretty clear. The main question is whether this levy will fully fund it or cover only part of it. The LRP has been out for public feedback for a year, and reflects cities’ Transit Master Plans where they exist (Seattle and Bellevue have ones). I’m not sure if it’s been updated for the Renton TC move, which came up late in ST3’s run-up.

    2. The opening of Tukwila-International Boulevard Station came with a huge and devastating restructure, leaving entire communities without transit options. IIRC, initially every east west route between ~150th and 188th was moved N to TIBS. There’s also a major highway between TIBS and the communities S of it, making it a difficult facility for locals to use in general.

      This is a strong reason why Link doesn’t sell S of Seattle. It did literal damage to mass transit infrastructure down here for years.

    3. What trip pairs were hurt?

      Most of south King County is not affected by any reroutes between 150th and 188th, and see TIB as a place they can drive to and take Link, a completely new kind of asset. Some of them consider that asset important and worthwhile, others don’t, but somebody in Kent or east Renton or Federal Way isn’t even going to know what routes existed between 150th and 188 or whether they’ve changed.

      The RapidRide A reorganization happened around the same time as TIB, and the F reorganization followed it, and in between I think there were one or two other reorganizations. All of those affected 150th to 188th, so somebody may be complaining about TIB when it was actually one of the others.

      1. What trip pairs were hurt?

        Relatively few, since they were rerouted rather than eliminated. People were hurt. The Burien-Renton bus was moved from 170th to TIBS, then due East. This was the dominant East-West line of the region.

        From 518 to 176th, from 99 to I-5, lies the SFH community of McMicken Heights. It had literally every single east-west bus route running through it removed. Gone. Full transit desert, except for N-S routes on 99 (its far west edge) and Military Rd.

        People should come before trip pairs, should they not?

        Most of South King County was effected when TIBS was put into place. From Burien to Bellevue, residents have had to fight to get what we have now, which while an inprovement from that day is still a far cry short of what we had pre-TIBS.

        Of course Renton noticed. It directly impacted one of their most dominant routes. We have the 560 now, we didn’t then. Please stop conflating today with the opening of TIBS.

        The Rapidride A/124 split was directly due to and routed through TIBS due to Link not yet running to the airport. They couldn’t use Seatac Airport Station (which at 176th would have been ideal for the community) because it didn’t exist yet. Rerouting things like the Burien-Renton line (the 340 line had been broken into three pieces before TIBS was opened) were done to make TIBS more popular. Tukwila does not enjoy being Seattle’s parking lot. TIBS is in no way popular with the locals.

        F reorg took place much, much later. Rapidrides are alphabetically assigned, so Bellevue’s B and Aurora’s E both predate the F. Those subsequent reorganizations did eventually return poorly routed service to 176th.

      2. By trip pairs I mean people wanting to go from where to where. You can aggregate those into “a few people want to make this trip” and “a lot of people want to make that trip”. That shows what the community’s overall transit needs are. You can compare that to the actual transit service to see how well it meets the needs and whether a change is better or worse.

        Rerouting routes to TIB wasn’t “to make TIB more popular”, it was so that people could transfer to light rail. Metro may have been overly aggressive about that, like it was in Rainier Valley when it split the 48 and attached the southern MLK segment to the 8. But it was trying to avoid the problem of people sticking to inefficient one-seat rides parallel to Link.

        “Tukwila does not enjoy being Seattle’s parking lot. TIBS is in no way popular with the locals.”

        Who is parking there then? It’s for the area between Burien and Renton. People from the south were using it because Link wasn’t extended yet, but that should be gone now with Angle Lake open. “Seattle’s parking lot” implies it’s for Seattle. It’s not. It exists because people in that area and south King County generally clamored for a P&R. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it on the map: “Why are they putting a station in the middle of nowhere?” But it was for the P&R. And the purpose of the P&R is for those who park there. And those are south King County residents, especially those living between 130th and 176th.

        You seem to be projecting a specific concern about underservice in McMicken Heights and a general dislike of TIB to everyone in the area, and everyone in south King County. I have a hard time believing that’s accurate. The station and P&R wouldn’t exist except that people in south King County clamored for it. ST defers to the subarea’s boardmembers, and they defer to the cities and people in the subarea.

        What do you think of Metro’s long-range plan in McMicken Heights?

    4. IIRC, pre-Link the 48 went all the way from Golden Gardens to the Rainier Valley. I remember catching the 48 at the RV to ride Link at its opening. Month or so later during the September shake up, its southern stop became Beacon Hill.

      I can’t tell you the network re-org in general, but that particular route got chopped.

  6. Mike, I fear I will have to start a new thread as there is no “Reply” button under your last comment. Anyone know why this happens, out of curiosity?

    Pretty much every trip pair was hurt. Tukwila-Seattle took a significant time hit. As I keep trying to point out, every Burien-Renton trip was hurt, either by longer times or by having their convenient access to the route removed. The F line is slower than its predecessor. TIBS was a step backwards for the majority of lines/directions it serves. Assuming time is money, Link simply does not serve the community’s transit needs.

    Metro and ST should not be in the business of psychological manipulation of residents and citizens. If people want to stick with inefficient one seat rides, that’s their choice. Logically, it would mean Link was a failure if its ridership has to be artificially inflated by stealing riders from other routes. More people using a one seat parallel line usually means more frequency on that line, not punishing people with suboptimal design because Metro knows best. That is pure narcissistic classism.

    If people are parking at TIBS (or Angle Lake, or any P&R) when they would otherwise drive into Seattle, then that lot is in effect a parking lot for Seattle. It is offloading Seattle traffic elsewhere while simultaneously giving local transit and traffic the shaft.

    Burien and Renton already have faster ways to get to Seattle than driving/bussing to TIBS and taking Link. Burien’s got the 121, 122, and 123, and Renton’s got the 101.

    South King County did clamor for a P&R, yes. But not in a place as odd and counterintuitive as TIBS’ location.

    People from 130th through 176th may be using TIBS, but they’re not parking there. Getting dropped off…

    You know, no. I’m done with this. Y’all want to know why Link doesn’t fly in South King, but when a resident tries to tell you why you don’t care to listen. This tone deafness with an air of “We know better.” smug superiority is only going to make transit in this region worse.

    When you ask, listen. Otherwise, don’t bother asking. If it means that little to you, don’t waste our time or yours.

    1. “Mike, I fear I will have to start a new thread as there is no “Reply” button under your last comment. Anyone know why this happens, out of curiosity?”

      There’s a limit to nesting of comments. So you can reply to a new comment, and you can reply to the replies. But you can’t reply to the reply to the reply.

      If you reply to the comment Mike was responding to, it still shows up just under his.

    2. The 121/2/3 are absolutely useless for getting to Seattle if you’re not leaving between 5 and 9AM, while the F Line is all-day; not to mention Link has a lot better/easier connections once you’re in Seattle than the 120 and its express siblings give. Plus you don’t have to slog up from 1st Avenue to get to the rest of the bus network. And ultimately it’s a lot more reliable than the one seaters (I absolutely prefer F > Link > 45 to get to Green Lake over the 131/26X, for example.)

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