45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bad Bus Stop”

  1. I remember when the 174 had bad stops and a really bad driver. The route had some signs go missing, were knocked down or the stop temporarily moved for consideration so a temporary sign was put up. This driver refused to stop at any of them. I called Firby. (He had a Firby on his fare box.) To him no sign meant no stop. That it was missing didn’t matter. New signs that didn’t have the numbers on them yet were not stops. Unless the stop had 174 on it he ignored it. The same was for temporary stops.

  2. Really bad news in the Seattle Times this morning regarding the Move Seattle levy. Here are some snippets from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/the-930-million-move-seattle-levy-shortfalls-are-clearer-but-the-solutions-arent/):

    SDOT bit off more than it could chew with 2015’s nine-year $930 million Move Seattle property tax levy, underestimating the cost of some projects and wildly overestimating the amount of state and federal money it could bring in to help.

    The agency acknowledged those problems in April, but they’d festered internally for about a year before that, a citizen oversight panel found, not becoming public until Mayor Jenny Durkan took office and ordered a review.

    We won’t get all the new bus upgrades the levy promised. Planned bike lanes look very iffy, too. Some street paving projects will be put off, as money is shifted toward shoring up streets with major bus routes. And design work for future bridge replacements — including the Magnolia Bridge and the Ballard Bridge — will be scaled down, as the program only has half the money it anticipated.

    But on other issues, the blame lies firmly with the agency and with those who designed the levy — former Mayor Ed Murray and former SDOT Director Scott Kubly.

    Trump administration or not, the levy designers’ assumptions for federal funding were wildly optimistic and off-base.

    Most of [the RapidRide bus routes] aren’t going to happen. More than 60 percent of the $312 million needed for the seven projects is unsecured.

    The projects most likely to happen, and the furthest along in the planning process, are routes on Madison Street and along Eastlake and Roosevelt Way (replacing Metro Route 70). Both were highly rated by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and in line for federal grants. Those grants haven’t yet materialized.

    But planned bus upgrades through Fremont (Route 40), along Rainier Avenue South (Route 7), 23rd Avenue (Route 48) and NW Market Street (Route 44) won’t be upgraded to full RapidRide status, with extended bus lanes, all-door boarding and streetside fare readers. Instead they’ll get more limited improvements as funding allows — bus lanes in select locations, bus-prioritized traffic lights and pedestrian improvements.

    1. they could start by not buying new custom buses and use the practically brand new ones they have, and do more with red paint in the street… stop with the super complex complete street rebuilds with all new traffic signals, all this also triggers all kinds of other standards for stormwater, freight, etc.

      1. If SDOT can’t complete the bus projects they promised us in Move Seattle then they shouldn’t even start. No sense doing a half arsed job and doing something that is only marginally useful and isn’t what they promised the voters.

        Instead reprogram the money to those projects that SDOT actually CAN complete as promised – protected bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, and general safety improvements.

      2. Well I’m not sold that spending all that money was going to provide anything better than what simple improvements would provide. All it was doing was adding unnecessary complexity which was ballooning costs with hyper custom buses and a design with zero flexibility.

      3. @poncho — The reason they need new special buses is because they can run in the middle of the street. Without them, the buses get stuck in traffic. I find it crazy that people constantly complain about “BRT Creep” while others argue for it.

        @Lazarus — I don’t think you get it. The previous administration lied. They can’t complete the projects they promised. That goes for *all* of the work — not just the bus plans. They can’t build the protected bike lanes, or the pedestrian improvements, or fix the bridges.
        There simply isn’t enough money. They are going to have to make compromises with all of the plans — what remains to be seen is what that will look like. As the article suggests, it is quite likely they will simply build Madison and Eastlake/Roosevelt RapidRide, and that is it. Everything else will simply have some paint, just as the 8, for example, will have some paint (https://twitter.com/seattledot/status/1033058904555630592). My guess is similar compromises will be made with bike, pedestrian and road projects.

        In the long run, hopefully they will get more money. I hope they have enough to study the other corridors, even if they don’t have enough to actually build it. That could mean that if and when the city has more money, they can build it. Assuming the Democrats get a majority in both houses in the state after November, I would ask for funding authority. Allow the city to tax itself at a higher rate (since the last proposal was way too low), even if that tax requires a vote of the people. We really aren’t talking about huge amounts of money — just more than what they asked for. The voters may be wary (given the history) but a transit only project with realistic numbers proposed by an administration that seems to know what it is doing (unlike the previous one) would probably pass.

      4. @poncho,

        Ultimately you are correct. Too much complexity drives cost and scope creep. Additionally, SDOT seems to be responding to their current technical issues by adding complexity and unnecessary bandaids. It is clearly a recipe for project disaster.

        If they can’t simplify this project and get it back on track to deliver what was promised the voters, then it is probably best to cancel it and reprogram the funds to other Move Seattle projects. At least delivering 100% on some projects will build voter trust. Delivering <50% on all projects will destroy voter trust.

      5. Why does off-board fare payment always seem to require Starfleet Docking Modules? Parking meters have solar panels. Is it not possible for ORCA II readers to be similarly solar-powered and use the cell system? Then RapideRide- routes could have off-board payment without the significant expense of new stations.

      6. Part of RapidRide is a fiber-optic cable which is used among other things for the ORCA readers and for more accurate bus location data.

      7. Mike, they don’t need fiber to carry the data load from an ORCA reader. Jeez, people stream HD movies on their phones. The cell system is thoroughly capable of handling the one-at-a-time transactions from a reader. And not to put too fine a point on it, but I implicitly threw fancy stations under the bus, so there would be no need for OBA data feed. And any way, a stop on a RapidRide- line would only have a single route’s feed in almost all instances.

        They could achieve off-board fare payment without all the bells and whistles. Open your mind to something that’s good enough if you can’t have the perfect.

      8. OK, you guys still don’t get it. Let me repeat: There isn’t enough money. Not for bike paths, not for bridges, not for buses. They simply didn’t estimate properly.

        Complexity has nothing to do with it. Sure, you could paint some sharrows and call it a day. Do you really think bikers will be happy with that? Why do you think there is this: https://goo.gl/maps/wfDyqTi7rM12? That is a heck of a lot more than paint. It is paint, along with barriers and special traffic lights that operate on their own cycle. That isn’t cheap. It is complex. But it a heck of a lot safer (and better) for people who ride bikes.

        SDOT has problems (or at least, had problems). But ambition has nothing to do with it. Building half-ass solutions that involve “a little paint” misses the point. Quite often, you can’t do it. Look how long it took just to add a little paint on a little section of Denny. No matter what you do, you have to study it, and you have to make sure that your solution isn’t worse than the original problem. Holy cow, look around at the cheap projects — the ones that lacked study and made inexpensive compromises — and you can see how terrible they are. Now look around at the really expensive ones. Let me just mention two examples.

        We failed, and failed miserably to build a decent streetcar line to First Hill. It isn’t a logical route, nor the appropriate mode, nor does it go far enough or have enough right-of-way. It is a great example of sloppy, seat of the pants “engineering”, made without the cooperation of Metro, or anyone else that knows anything about transit. The result: Crap. Sorry, but it really is crap. It is ridiculously slow to get from just about anywhere to just about anywhere. Most of the money wasn’t spent making the street wide enough to handle bikes, buses and cars. Nor was it spent on expensive studies that determined the best route. Nor did they throw a lot of money at service. No, the big money was spent on rail. Take away those costs and the project was dirt cheap — which is why the results are, well crap. It would be crap if it was a bus, but instead it is a crappy (and dangerous) streetcar.

        Now compare it to Link. For all its faults (and there are plenty) the folks in charge decided to leverage the bus tunnel, instead of running down the surface of downtown. It is pretty easy to imagine a light rail line running along MLK, then up Jackson, through downtown and on to the UW via Eastlake. That would have saved billions. Yet you would never have the kind of ridership that justifies laying the rail. Link isn’t perfect — not even close — but we should all be happy that they didn’t cheap out downtown (or skip Capitol Hill).

        Yet now — because the previous city administration was incompetent — you think we should suddenly cheap out? You think we should water down Madison BRT to be some useless variation of the 12? Holy cow, the plan is to run the buses every six minutes. What do you think will happen if the buses encounter traffic for most of the way? That’s right, bus bunching. Suddenly the value of premium service on Madison goes away, and folks are back to demanding one seat rides. Why would you accept a transfer to the BS BRT if you have to wait ten minutes for a bus during rush hour? You wouldn’t, and that would mean Metro would be doing the same thing it did after the “restructure” on Capitol Hill following the addition of CHS: almost nothing. No grid, no major increase in frequency, just the same old, same old, meaning it is fairly convenient to get downtown, but hard as hell to get anywhere else.

        Screw that. For all its faults, SDOT actually did it right. They actually focused on a major corridor — Madison — and came up with a plan that would actually result in very fast and frequent service. It would be a huge mistake to just throw that away, when there is really no long term alternative. Seriously — what do you think Madison will look like twenty years from now? Subway stops every four blocks? That’s ridiculous. The choice is either a fast bus or a slow bus. I choose the former, while I wait for the state to give us the right to make similar improvements in other parts of town.

      9. Oh, signal priority, that’s another purpose of the cable. Anyway, nobody is talking about not finishing Madison. The thing to do is find some inexpensive improvements for the other corridors can fit into the remaining budget. There were already indications that the other corridors would not be as good as Madison because the city is still unwilling to take transit priority seriously. 23rd has been downgraded. SDOT hasn’t said much about what 45th might or might not have, but the only thing it has said is it might have center lanes between I-5 and 15th. That implies it probably won’t have center lanes anywhere else. I think part of Richard’s frustration (and RossB’s) is that the city won’t even take the low-hanging fruit: many inexpensive incremental improvements are excluded because the city won’t say no to cars. Those things wouldn’t remove all the friction in the bus network but they’d remove some of it, and something is better than nothing. But no it would not make sense to stop the Madison project so that we could give at least something to all the others. Let’s have at least one first-rate accomplishment.

      10. I agree Mike. I think we will have Madison (and Roosevelt — which is more of a bike improvement, really). But I do think it is possible that we will have more BAT lanes, here and there. Those are cheap, and those can make a big difference. The mayor, and the new SDOT chief (whoever they are) would love to at least do something for routes like that, even if it is only a little bit. Like the 8, every little bit helps.

        But the big issue is that center lanes are expensive. They require special buses and new pavement (for new bus stops). Sometimes they require moving utilities and buying up property. Not quite as expensive as streetcars, and nowhere near as expensive as light rail, but still more than BAT lanes. The reason I am so passionate about Madison is not only because I think it will be extremely popular, and not only because I think it will lead to a major, beneficial bus restructure, but also because I think it could be a model for other changes. Like it or not, Seattle is a provincial town. We really don’t understand what other cities are doing (for just about anything). So if we do something really well (like build a top notch bus line) we may just “get it”, and try and spread that success to other parts of town. ST3 passed in part because the idea of getting from the UW to Capitol Hill in about five minutes blew people’s minds. I get it — it really is cool. It is a profound change in the city. But that is what a subway is supposed to do. The fact that people were shocked simply means they haven’t looked at a map, or rode many subways. I’m not saying that Madison BRT will be quite the same thing, but it will be similar. Six minute headways at noon, along with no congestion and off board payment? That is shocking for Seattle. A major breakthrough, that will hopefully spread from Lake City to White Center.

      11. I agree with the skepticism that a fiber-optic cable is really necessary for a RapidRide experience. This just smells like an assumption that is based upon 2005-era technology, since that is when RapidRide was being planned. Just because *back then*, RapidRide needed a fiber-optic cable because the cell service wasn’t reliable enough doesn’t mean that all the new RapidRide routes of the 2020’s need to fall under those same constraints.

    2. I have to give SDOT credit for putting in what seems like hundreds of pedestrian crossing improvements. Having said that, some signals often don’t interface well with nearby signals (22nd/ Union backs up onto 23rd, for example).

      I’m also seeing tons of signal system detector failures all over town. We are losing many minutes on every 7 (even at night) because Rainier Ave has so many left-turn signal phases that stay green for the maximum time when there are no cars there. Why doesn’t SDOT train SPD to call these problems in? This has been going on for months. We shouldn’t install new signals if we cannot correctly maintain the ones we have.

    3. With all the bad news coming out of SDOT and ST, is it time to be depressed yet? At least there’s Metro; I can’t think of any bad news from it other than having a ceiling on the number of drivers and bus bases it can offer now.

      1. Ya, because Metro doesn’t try to do much. It is hard to fail if you just keep doing the same things you’ve been doing for 50 years. Of course they’ve been canceling service because they can’t find anyone who actually wants to drive for them, but what is a little service cancelation between friends?

    4. Roosevelt RapidRide does not “replace Route 70”. It replaces the portion of Route 70 trips that travel between downtown and Eastlake, but ignores those that go between Eastlake and UW. For a century Eastlake has been home to workers at the University. Sure, faculty live in Montlake and Laurelhurst, but hundreds of staff and thousands of students live in the corridor. Roosevelt RR is going to make those folks walk to Roosevelt in the afternoon or evening, forcing many of them to cross relatively high-speed Eleventh NE.

      The 70 will still need to run.

      1. I really doubt it. My guess is the Roosevelt RapidRide will indeed replace the 70.

        For years folks could take one bus from various places in the U-District (and beyond) to downtown. Then all of that went away (poof). Now folks have to either schlep their way to the very inconvenient “UW” station, or catch a connecting bus. Folks from the east end of the U-District will do the same (and have a much easier time of it, relatively speaking). Buses will certainly make that connection, but most will simply walk.

      2. Having the 70 in today’s form run alongside the Roosevelt route just because it goes three blocks closer to the UW would be extremely duplicative.

        But…I think there is a case to made for having multiple routes on Eastlake if they not only do different things in the U-district, but also do different things in the SLU/downtown area. For example, if the Roosevelt RapidRide takes Fairview into downtown, maybe the new 70 could take Mercer over to Queen Anne. The two routes could complement each other and even form sort of a grid if you squint hard enough.

      3. @asdf2 — Yeah, but even then, I’m not so sure. Consider that fairly soon, Harrison will be connected over Aurora. At that point, the street should have bus lanes, and the 8 should be moved over to Harrison. The old 70 could backfill that change by running on Denny, but maybe not. Maybe the answer is just to boost service on each run, such that walking a couple blocks (or taking some other connecting bus) is no big deal. It becomes like the 43 situation. Sure, it is a good bus — it makes a connection no other bus does — but it is somewhat redundant, and we would probably be better off with more service on the other buses. For what it is worth, the Metro long range plan has only one bus along Eastlake, but several on Harrison, and a couple buses on Denny. I should be clear: one bus on Eastlake south of Harvard — they keep the 49, and expect it to become a RapidRide route (it would be modified to not serve downtown). That will be one of the many ways in which you can transfer if you don’t want to walk a few blocks (there are bound to be a lot of buses that go east-west in the U-District, and some that go down 15th or the Ave then head east past Roosevelt).

    5. Addendum. Now it makes sense for the 70 to cross SLU to Lower Queen Anne so that it’s not duplicating the RR, but the connection to UW can’t be broken.

      1. *If* the 70 continues runs, it should cross SLU to Lower Queen Anne, but it’s not clear that in a world with finite funding, doing so is higher priority than the rest of the region’s transportation needs. I disagree with the assumption that being three blocks closer to the UW is critical.

  3. Well I’m not sold that spending all that money was going to provide anything better than what simple improvements would provide.

    Seriously? You don’t think it makes any difference if a bus runs a lot faster, or a lot more often?

    1. Ross, contraflow busways keeping right-hand doors to center platform will let us use our standard fleet for time being. Signals for diagonal entry and exit don’t have to be exotic. And buses with left-hand doors will still require effective barriers between bus lanes and general traffic.

      Which-way-to-look danger? Doubt we can’t signalize to cover that. On a city arterial, standard pedestrian walk signals should see to it that transit stays clear of sidewalk from curb all the way across the busway and from curb go curb.

      Fire and rescue? Either setup, still dealing with paved lanes. But especially with Madison in mind- if physically reserved busway is trouble for emergency vehicles, doesn’t that make that particular street too narrow for center platform station at all?

      Mark

    2. Running a lot more often is not guaranteed simply by giving buses signal priority and Starfleet Docking Stations. The priority and off-board payment probably give you a 30-40 percent improvement, which is great. But it doesn’t halve head ways. It moves you in that direction, but you still have to stump up most of the money.

      And, as mentioned below, you can get the off-board payment for less by not building the Docking Stations.

      1. The Madison BRT project includes a lot of service hours. Enough — when combined with the speed improvements — to get 6 minute all day service. In contrast, the 12 runs every fifteen minutes. Going from a bus that runs every 15 minutes to a bus that runs every 6 minutes, along with an improvement of speed of around 5 of 7 minutes (based on the fact sheet) really is a big deal, in my opinion.

        Run the buses in the right lane and you haven’t necessarily saved much money. You still need to buy buses, and now they are running slower. You still need to pay for service. So now you looking at a significantly slower and less frequent system for the same amount of money. But wait, the whole goal was to save money, so that means even less service. At that point, you really haven’t made things much better at all. That just means First Hill is screwed (again).

  4. In 2015, did Seattle’s economic weather bureau see any end in sight to the blizzard of money burying the city? Which also created snowballing regional traffic blockage that probably cost the finances missing now.

    I do recall predictions about the beneficiaries’ willingness to pay the taxes their new easily-earned income justified, but Constitutional prohibitions of a State income tax happen, don’t they?

    Also recall driving home from the Westin last November 8, listening to NPR wailing about how their polls just betrayed them. Probably same firm that handled Move Seattle. Anyhow, same result for transit funding, and begging the same question.

    What do we immediately start doing with what we’ve got? Suggestion: fix the long wish-we-could-dump list of obstacles always more about will and attitude than money. Starting by immediately go for changing the “selected” to “wherever-needed” bus lanes, and add the signal preempts.

    What’s cost traffic lights go flashing yellow for every arterial between rush hours night to morning, and flashing red for cross-streets?

    Can’t a lot of that happen with equipment already in place? Saved operating time from those measures could be enough to pay for moves to increase fare revenue by raising ridership by killing fewer pedestrians.

    Prejudice from seat-behind-the-wheel time, but I think that for the money available next few years, lanes and lights will move passengers more Rapidly than streamlined Branding, which we can also add as we can afford.

    Faster fare collection? Like SF Muni, more fare readers at more doors. Every express stop Proof of Payment zone- saw that in Toronto. But mainly, ORCA cards for sale 360 degrees 24-7-365 to horizon and whole universe of Apps. Whose Possession Proves Payment system wide.

    Good first-step for today’s New World Order: can we crowd-source a lawsuit to bring that about? And from yesterday, will quest for fare-reader code save system any concealed expense by revealing? Was it Elizabeth Warren who noted that for government, sunlight is best disinfectant?

    Mark Dublin

  5. So why no SDOT director yet?

    1. Not a priority for the mayor
    2. Candidates talk with the mayor and sense a lack of support for public transportation
    3. They’ve done their due diligence and don’t want to leave their current job for the mess that SDOT has become.

    And is it all Kubly’s fault or has the lack of leadership and direction been a major contributor?

    1. 1. The short answer is yes. Head of police is way more important (obviously). There are also lots of new openings (https://thecisforcrank.com/2018/08/02/another-durkan-shakeup-adds-to-long-list-of-departments-without-permanent-directors/). My guess is the SDOT fiasco was simply the tip of the iceberg as far as the Murray administration goes. He really didn’t know what he was doing or at least, the new mayor thinks so (I happen to agree with her). So there will be a lot of changes, and that takes time. Distractions, such as the head tax and the Showbox mess don’t help. It is also possible that the interim director (Sparrman) was being seriously considered for a long term position, but then he didn’t want it (which further delayed the process). My guess we will see action on this front fairly soon.

      2. I’m not sure if she has talked with real candidates. My guess is she will form a committee, and they will look at candidates.

      3. It is quite possible that some candidates will decline, for this very reason. That is why it is important for the mayor (and others) to explain what a mess we are in. That gives the new person some cover. If you take over and everyone is just thankful that you are competent, you will be given a long leash. It is like being the new general manage for the Sacramento Kings — you can make all the trades you want and no will complain (there is nowhere to go but up).

      4. I think the previous mayor was simply not that good. To quote the report from the Seattle Times article:

      But on other issues, the blame lies firmly with the agency and with those who designed the levy — former Mayor Ed Murray and former SDOT Director Scott Kubly.

      1. Ross, I think we both share same general assessment of the situation facing the Mayor now. But looking at the full background of what she inherited, this period in History doesn’t lend itself to easy and accurate predictions.

        I truly doubt how many people in any position knew the real trajectory our economy was going to take. Including a thunderstorm of money whose value brought along some dreadful disruptions, and not in the prozac-happyJeff Bezos/Elon Musk sense.

        In addition, I’m not hearing any comprehension at all of city government’s relations with the companies who have replaced Boeing for ownership of the town. It’s time the citizens know the Mayor’s relationship with the CEO with his offices within sound of streetcar bells.

        From my sense of the Mayor herself, I don’t think there’s anything to lose, and a lot to gain by insisting in front of TV cameras that a conversation with her stay on point, with no need to disturb the Deputy Mayor at work.

        However if she says : “The last Administration handed me a mess whose nature, extent, and repair bill I’m still trying to figure out. Will let you know soon as realtor finds me a home I can afford in Centralia. But this could take awhile” take her at her word.

        The Seattle Transit Blog is far from powerless. Frank and Martin, you and your publication can give her at least several hundred thousand dollars worth of transit consulting over her whole term, free of charge. Able to present proof she can share with her “Base”- will be a howl to see their faces the first time they get called that- that if buses can’t move freely, soon not a single deluxe Tesla will be able to move at all.

        Though if you find you’re not getting through, probably no law against showing up at City Hall with about a hundred sealed empty buckets labeled red paint and announce you’ve volunteered to convert Third Avenue into a busway at no cost to the taxpayers.

        Even if it isn’t the full moon, for the first time the people of Seattle will see the Mayor’s Inner Prosecutor emerge, reaching into her suddenly black cloak past the necklace of human skulls and bringing out a clawful of one-way All Day single-ride LINK passes to Angle Lake.

        And before sunset, everybody that screwed up all that civil engineering will have bought their own handcuffs, and be begging on their knees to be deported back to their illegal great grandparents’ point of origin in Turkey, Eastern France, or Norway via Ballard. All of which have excellent streetcars.

        But seriously, it’s kind of early to declare the First Hill Streetcar a failure. In tramway years, it’s just a pup. Or cub. On any First Hilll street, a jackhammer will quickly reveal lifetime of installed grooved rail. Nothing to prevent permanent reserved lanes the whole route length. Or to speed up the inevitable and make Broadway between Jackson and Roy into a transit-pedestrian mall.

        However, history reveals one possible danger. At more than one technical college in the 1920’s, metal shop students would sneak out to a car whose driver was on restroom break and weld the wheels to the track.

        So at closest stop to Seattle Central, best to post Securitas where they can watch for nonchalant young men with straw hats, raccoon coats, and a welding torch. Knowing their “Teach” will never FAIL them for following light rail tradition.

        MD

  6. Could the Mayor be doing a longer talent search than usual? Because I can think of a reason there might be more qualified applicants than at any time in history.

    Reason is that since its inauguration, present Administration has been making anybody qualified for their job to be persona non grata. Large percentage not mercifully fired, but ordered into jobs without the dignity of being physically dirty and dangerous.

    Just leaving them permanently overqualified ’til it’s quit or kill yourself. Leaving every position either completely unfilled, or given to lobbyists from the industries the department formerly regulated. The Anarchists have a legitimate labor grievance that their seniority is in shreds.

    By past practice, destroying the Establishment has always been their work. Though It says a lot of worse than bad things about our media is that every time resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue pulls another pre-Twittered crime against humanity, newsrooms go swarming to it like maggots. Wide eyed and open-mouthed trying for a week to comprehend the motive.

    The motive is another beautifully-tailored distraction from things exactly like ridding our Government of anybody that deserves their job. Let alone crimes and misdemeanors so non-high they need the Assistant DA from Passaic New Jersey, not Robert Mueller. Coverage that started the minute somebody announced their campaign.

    So Jennie Durkan doubtless has an unprecedented field of real talent with a lot of stupidity to get even for. She deserves some time to choose.

    Mark

  7. Next month’s service change will see a few changes that will hopefully reduce some cancelled trips, and that is that part time operators will now be able to scrounge for extra work (or be called to ask they want to work extra work) 7 days a week, including on days off. Part timers will also be allowed, for the first time ever, I believe, to work weekends. This ability to scrounge/work more often is no small thing, as part time drivers number roughly 1000 employees. Full time drivers number about 1500..

  8. So what went wrong with Seattle’s transit programs? I’ve never found the complaints against Schell, Nickels, or McGinn credible: they always boiled down to “He’s too developer-friendly” (what’s wrong with that?) or demanding the impossible (predicting a snowpocolypse). The CCC is wasteful but typical; the kind of one-off thing Seattle is always doing. But the SDOT problems seem different: we haven’t had a city agency that so overpromises, ignores warnings from their colleagues, and covers it up for so long. Did Murray just try too hard to out-liberal his rivals that he forgot to pay attention to what the policies were doing? Kubly had good goals; is he just a poor executor?

  9. You know one change about planning to find projects that we could change, and this seems like common sense to me, is to not count on future federal money. Only plan on what we have. Factor in the money when it is given.

    1. I have never thought we should depend on federal money. Let the grant be extra income that offsets the total cost and allows us to pay it off early, rather than designing projects that depend on it in the budget. It’s especially silly to budget for grants we’re still competing for or haven’t applied for. Didn’t they learn as a kid that not everybody gets first place?

      One argument for depending on grants is the same as for bonding. We’ve accumulated such a huge backlog of undone maintenance that it would take too long to budget by cash in hand — we’ll all be dead before they can be completed that way, and what good is it to deprive the current generation of mobility, a basic necessity that makes the economy go round and generates wealth for everything else.

      Of course, the answer would be a state infrastructure bank that would charge lower interest than anywhere else around, and the profits would be returned to residents or recycled into other needed infrastructure. Just sayin’.

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