An Intercity Transit bus at Olympia Transit Center

Voters in the Intercity Transit district, which roughly covers the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm, will soon decide on Proposition 1, a ballot measure that would increase sales taxes by 0.4 percent in order to fund transit services. Intercity Transit currently levies a 0.8 percent sales tax, which makes up 79 percent of annual revenue.

The sales tax increase would raise about $16-$20 million annually and would be used to patch operational costs that were originally paid for using ever-shrinking federal grants (which makes up 8 percent of the agency’s annual budget). It would also be used to launch new services, including routes to underserved areas, improved frequencies, expanded evening and weekend service, and perhaps lead to a bus rapid transit system.

Intercity Transit has been drafting its long-range plan, entitled IT Road Trip, for two years and has solicited feedback from riders and local organizations. A recent survey of PTBA residents showed widespread support for public transit service and a majority of respondents supported a sales tax increase to fund new transit services.

This year, the state legislature approved an exception to the PTBA’s 0.9 percent sales tax allowance, allowing the agency to increase its sales tax to 1.2 percent if approved by voters. This would put it level with Community Transit, which had its own exception approved by the legislature ahead of a successful ballot campaign to fund new services.

If the sales tax increase is approved, Intercity Transit plans to implement longer operating hours beginning next year, then move to improving frequency and service to northeastern Lacey in 2020 after the I-5/Marvin Road interchange is rebuilt by WSDOT (and turned into this monstrosity). In 2021, Night Owl service would begin on weekends and use on-demand shuttles to connect Downtown Olympia to three nearby areas. In 2022, commuter services to Tacoma would become more frequent and a new express route from Lacey to Yelm would debut. By 2026, the agency hopes to build its first bus rapid transit line, replacing popular and already near-frequent routes on Martin Way between Downtown Olympia and Lacey.

If the sales tax increase is rejected and another funding source is not found, Intercity Transit states that about 15 percent of existing service would be eliminated in 2019. Under one option, the agency would eliminate all weekend service to preserve existing weekday service. Another option would see the deletion of various routes, including the popular DASH downtown shuttle, and a reduction in inter-city commuter service to Tacoma (which would be outright eliminated on weekends).

The “yes” campaign, led by Thurston for Better Transit, has racked up endorsements from the 22nd district’s representatives and senator, The Olympian newspaper, and city councilmembers in each of the four major cities within the PTBA.

So far, there has been no sign of an organized “no” campaign, but an against statement was submitted to the local voter’s pamphlet and can be summed up as being singularly focused on taxes and even throwing in a mention of Sound Transit (which, as a non-PTBA, has nothing to do with the issue).

59 Replies to “Intercity Transit Pins Its Hopes and Dreams on Prop. 1”

  1. You think the diverging diamond interchange is a monstrosity?

    “The DDI will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians with a barrier-protected multi-use lane that will be located in the middle of the overpass.”

    Isn’t that a good thing? While pedestrians do have to always cross a street, they only have to cross one lane direction at a time, and they don’t have to wait at a light.

      1. Brent, anybody connected with Alcoholics Anonymous will tell you that there is really no such thing as a recovered engineer. It’s a heroic struggle from day to day.

        And the condition is extremely hard to identify by well-intentioned specialists too young to know what a slide rule looks like, so unable to confiscate yours before you invent another dual power Breda.

        But saddest of all, the engineers most in need of intervention have given themselves a lifetime contract for the freeway construction on the south side of I-5 that looks like something the Giant Tabby Cat From Hell created from the legendary Concrete Yarn Ball.

        Even scarier: Really is true that Mt. Rainier releases electronic waves that can interfere with marine navigation. So name of a nearby BN railroad section could be ominous. Was “Vader” where the Dark Lord came from…or is it named after him?

        Or is Time is tied together at both ends like the rubber-band that ends the Universe with a single giant spitball?

        However, script-editor’s name is easy to decipher. Who alone in all of Disneyland could’ve written the mighty proclamation that prevented a whole galactic temporal vortex loop: “Tith ith a complete pile of Siittthhhh!” Anybody remember if Daffy was a mallard or a merganser?


      2. I really think there is little (if any) substance to “recovering engineer”‘s critiques. Really all he was doing was essentially mocking the existence of the sidewalk at all. He starts off before even getting to the diverging diamond by saying “who would even walk here?” which is not even a real argument. We’re not even at the DDI yet. Sure not a lot of people will cross a freeway in a suburban area but that’s kind of how it works. Freeways are not known to be very pedestrian-friendly, but for the people who do cross, if we can build safety for them into the system then that’s a win.

        Then he proceeds to mock the guy talking about the “decorative bricks” which yeah, that’s a silly thing to say, but mocking it is not an argument for the usability of the interchange. Then he plays Star Wars music crossing the actual freeway, to suggest that walking in the median between directions of traffic is scary or something. I’m watching this thinking “whatever man, it’s a freeway crossing. The point of a DDI is not magic, it’s still a freeway crossing, but it’s designed to be safer and more convenient. It is not possible to design a freeway crossing the way you want.”

    1. The new design will require pedestrians to cross 3 lanes at a time. The existing layout requires them to cross 6. It also combines the two narrow sidewalks on each side into a single much wider one in the middle. In this case, I’d consider it a significant improvement.

      1. I agree. I get what the “recovering engineer” is getting it — by no means is this actually a great place for pedestrians. They may oversell it in that regard. But unless they somehow reduce the number of cars significantly (which is unlikely to happen) this is a significant improvement for pedestrians.

      2. The really big story is that planners are now in a huge jam because over the decades traffic planning has been poorly done, and now all the solutions tend to be either super expensive or no longer possible because of development. The Five conflict between what I believe is called the Capital Connector and 101 is a huge problem that never should have happened that degrades my life many days. Likewise the overloading of the Cooper Point/Black Lake intersection and the overloading of the Martin/Marvin intersection as well as the overloading of this Bridge over five just north of there also was the direct result of poor planning. Maybe this new bridge design will work to some benefit, not that I trust these people a lick anymore, but the reality is that there are no other options that have any chance of getting funded because all of the rest of the ideas are way too expensive.

      3. I read the WSDOT presentation on the DDI. I will cautiously side with the camp that the DDI is an improvement for pedestrians in the area over what was there before, in large part, due to the fact that the previous environment looks so terrible, the bar for “improvement” is pretty low.

        Advantages of the new configuration over the old configuration include:
        1) The conflict from right-turning cars getting onto the freeway looks less scary, since turning drivers are facing directly directly at you, when you cross, rather than having to depend on them to look right. Also, the street crossing at that point is much narrow – just one lane, rather than an entire street.
        2) The median sidewalk looks to be bother wider and better separated from the car traffic than the previous configuration (skinny sidewalks on both sides, separated from the roadway by nothing more than a small curb).
        3) After crossing the freeway, you can choose either side of the arterial to walk on, without having to wait for yet another light to cross it.

        Of course, the devil here is going to be in the details, particularly, the signal timing. Getting between the sidewalk and median, on the side with the exit ramp, requires navigating two signals with a short island between them. One of the signals (the one with ramp) looks like it’s used only for pedestrian crossing. If the light can be made to change immediately after hitting the beg button, it would help things tremendously. On the other hand, if the intention is for pedestrians to be stuck waiting 2-3 minutes at each signal, that’s time that adds up fast. It would mean a combined total of 10 minutes to cross the highway, just waiting at stoplights, without even counting the time it takes to physically move the several hundred feet of distance. I can easily envision the combination of short crossing distances with walk signals that take forever to appear, inducing people to jaywalk.

  2. I went through and checked out the linked materials about the referendum.

    Sadly, I have to say I’m disappointed that this hasn’t been made convincing.

    1. I cannot find a go-to map and chart combining all of the benefits or system goals with the funding. A certain percentage of voters are more map and chart driven and won’t read the text – especially when details are on multiple PDF pages.

    2. All of the benefits are described in generic terms. There aren’t even one or two major promises that are clearly made that might excite an undecided voter.

    3. The impacts of a failure are not clearly explained in ways that might concern an undecided voter.

    This campaign effort is nowhere near the hopeful regional vision of ST3 or the specific goals listed in Move Seattle. Those more upfront themes do sway undecided voters.

    I’m not saying to vote no. Transit operating funds are important to support! I’m only saying that it’s not very compelling to an undecided voter there.

    1. I was wondering what the off-peak and weekend service connecting Pierce County and Olympia would be. It’s been on-again, off-again over the past decade.

      IT is not in any position to offer a “regional vision” like ST3; its mandate is to benefit the residents of its Thurston County tax district. Presumably they want a non-driving option to Tacoma and Seattle, and they want tourist dollars from King and Pierce County, and Evergreen students need to get home to their families on break, and the state wants residents to visit their legislative representatives and participate in democracy. All that argues for efficient timed transfers at Lakewood, and reverse-peak, weekend, and evening service. Beyond that there’s not much “regional” IT can do. A Sounder extension would be so far beyond its 0.4% increase that it would require separate legislation. Since there is no “regional” entity including both the Sound Transit district and Thurston County, it would require the legislature to take the lead on this. Mr Dublin is on it I think.

      1. Oh I think that a rail service actually into Olympia is needed and this vote can’t find that. I dream of how an EBART train could run along I-5 and into Olympia, even if has to be single-tracked innplaces.

        On the other hand, this vote could have funded a guaranteed minimum number of future weekday bus trips to Tacoma Dome Station or maybe an express bus guaranteed to wait at most or every Cascades Amtrak train arrival. Those kinds of lower-cost service goals would seem to be more compelling for an undecided voter.

    2. I hear what you’re saying. I had that same overall impression when I was being asked, as a SW SnoCo resident, to increase funding for Community Transit when their measure was on the ballot back in 2015. (Ultimately I swallowed the good with the bad and cast a yes vote.) I’m sure that the increase in the local sales tax rate is a real concern for the voters within the Thurston County district, just as it was for the residents up here in my area. Since we are also in the Sound Transit district, we now pay 2.4% in sales tax for transit-dedicated funding, or almost a quarter of our aggregate rate. I can assure you that there is no appetite at this time around here for any additional transit-funding measures. With that said, I am satisfied overall with the improvements in service that CT has been and will be implementing as a result of the additional funding they now get.

      1. Correction: That should read 2.6% in my comment above (1.2% for Community Transit and 1.4% for Sound Transit).

  3. Love the tittle…that really sums things up…..after two years of work this is the best they could do as they stick their hands out for a 50% increase in the tax rate? This is lack of effort, I am a no, the days of easy money because we citizens are just begging to be taxed more as those who run the systems turn in poor quality work are over so far as I am concerned.

      1. When the vast majority of bus systems and bus routes all across America are losing value to the society as citizens stop using them my preference would be that Intercity Transit not ask for a higher tax rate absent a really good reason, which they have failed to provide.

        A 50% increase without a great argument is a hard no.

      2. The vast majority of bus systems and bus routes all across America are losing riders precisely because they’ve been neglected and underinvested in and don’t go where the people need to go when they need to go. NYC subway trains were refurbished in the 1990s and ridership went up; in the past decade they were neglected and ridership is going down again. Everywhere you see this trend: improving transit service attracts more riders, and worsening transit service loses riders. Metro’s ridership is increasing both because of population growth and because of the additional service provided by Prop 1 and RapidRide.

        Your argument would hold weight if you listed a series of improvements you would support. Otherwise it sounds like the general anti-tax mantra: “No increase with a plan, no increase without it.” If this plan fails, it’s possible there will be a better one next year, but it’s likely there will be none for five, ten, or twenty years. The last time Metro had a countywide tax proposal was in 2012 if I recall.

        There must be a more detailed outline of changes somewhere, probably in the agency’s motion for the referendum. Because it would have to budget how many hours can buy how much service and what level of service it expects to reach, otherwise it’s a meaningless vacuum and not how bureaucracies tend to work, or at least not how King County works. The information may be available if you ask the right person; it may not be published simply because they didn’t think anybody’d be interested. The more suburban the jurisdiction, the less interested people are in these things, and the less they’d miss such a list. Or maybe the agency doesn’t want to paint itself in a corner by being too specific and then finding out the hours would be better spent on other corridors or at other times. The Seattle Monorail initiatives were arguably too specific: they listed the exact streets and station locations and left no room for subesquent engineering studies to argue that other alternatives would be better: any changes would require a revote.

        On the other hand, Seattle’s Prop 1 came with no specific routes, just a bunch of hours that the city would distribute. But that wasn’t the agency itself; that was a city buying additional hours, so it’s not the same thing.

        The thing is, the tax rate is not the only factor. The public’s mobility and access to places is a factor too. If you think the money will just go down a black hole and not provide thousands of more bus hours on the main corridors, that doesn’t sound likely.

      3. @Mike Orr
        “The more suburban the jurisdiction, the less interested people are in these things, and the less they’d miss such a list.”

        You make this assertion based on what exactly?

        Also, as a NY transplant myself I can tell you that your comments about the city’s subway system are simply unfounded. Periodic ridership declines over the last forty years or so have had to do with economic conditions more than anything else. The Rudin Center (for Transportation) at NYU published a paper just last year looking at the subway system ridership from 1975-2015. I don’t have a direct link to it but I’m sure a quick Google search will do the trick.

      4. “The more suburban the jurisdiction, the less interested people are in these things, and the less they’d miss such a list.”

        “You make this assertion based on what exactly?”

        All the suburbs in Pugetopolis and most of them the same age around the country. Yes, downtown Belleuve has a few 40-story buildings, and the Spring District is bigger than anything being built in Seattle, but its downtown is not as big or dense as downtown Seattle, none of its neighborhoods are as dense or walkable as southwest Capitol Hill or the U-District. And the smaller you get, the less they’re willing to do anything. Des Moines and Renton aren’t accepting much growth, and Mercer Island, Beaux Arts, Yarrow Point, and Pacific are accepting practically none.

        “Periodic ridership declines over the last forty years or so have had to do with economic conditions more than anything else.”

        So New York’s economy the past eight years has been depressed?

      5. @Mike Orr
        “The information may be available if you ask the right person; it may not be published simply because they didn’t think anybody’d be interested. The more suburban the jurisdiction, the less interested people are in these things, and the less they’d miss such a list.”

        Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. This was the assertion you made that I was asking about.

        Your reply about the NYC subway system misses the point as well. Ridership declines historically have been tied more to economic conditions (as the paper I suggested you read illustrates). As recently as 2015, the system was continuing to see ridership growth, thereby negating your brief retort above. This isn’t meant to suggest that the subway system currently doesn’t face some major challenges, particularly in light of the marked decline in ridership seen in the last couple of years. There are apparently a number of factors for this new trend, as this NYT article (see link below) attempts to elucidate upon.

        FWIW. I enjoy reading your comments and insights (i.e., your perspective as a native of this area, like my spouse, as well as someone who apparently lives without a vehicle, like I did in NY and my first 15 years in Seattle) and, in general, I find myself in agreement with many of your positions. At times though, you speak in these sweeping generalizations that, frankly, just serve to weaken your overall argument.

      6. “Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. This was the assertion you made that I was asking about.”

        I can’t answer the question because I don’t have the information, and it’s not my county so I’m not going to go digging it up. You’re the one who’s concerned about it and stated it as a reason for voting against the proposal. I’m just suggesting the most fruitful step one might take if one wanted the answer, and something that would help other voters in the area. And something IT should have done in the first place. But that’s not a uniquely IT problem, it’s a general problem in a lot of agencies and cities. One thing STB has done is organized a critical mass of transit fans who previously thought they were the only one (like myself), and this concerned citizen base regularly demands this kind of technical information from the agencies and cities, so now they’re more likely to provide it without us having to ask. That may be something that hasn’t caught on in Olympia yet.

        Thanks for your supportive comments.

      7. I don’t live in NYC so I only see what’s there when I visit and my friends say and I read in the news. What I’ve read is that in both the NYC subway, DC Metro, and BART, they neglected maintenance and now trains and infrastructure are falling apart, and that’s driving people away. New York’s transit hit bottom in the 70s and they refurbished it in the 90s and ridership went up, but now it’s decaying again and ridership is going down. Is that not correct? I’ve heard similar things about many bus agencies across the country: they’re not investing in service that meets the needs of middle-class/choice riders, and they’re letting their existing service deteriorate and cutting it, and that’s having a direct negative impact on ridership. That’s what I was talking about.

      8. @Mike Orr

        Now you just seemed confused….

        “I can’t answer the question because I don’t have the information, and it’s not my county so I’m not going to go digging it up. You’re the one who’s concerned about it and stated it as a reason for voting against the proposal.”

        You apparently are mixing up comments and commenters because I have no dog in this race. You made an assertion about suburbanites being less interested in obtaining information from their local jurisdictions about proposed plans (transit, development, zoning, etc.). Apparently you are unable or unwilling to back up that assertion.

        “Is that not correct?”

        In a word, no. That’s a total oversimplification of the current situation, as explained in the NYT piece, and inaccurate historically as well. (I could go decade by decade to illustrate why that is if you wish to get into the weeds, but I think the NYU paper does a pretty good job of going through all of this. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.)

  4. According to Intercity Transit themselves interest in their system is declining, so we are supposed to invest 50% more money into it? And notice too with the way they have organized their budget how hard it is too see how much money they are sinking into administration costs, which I would bet a dozen donuts has over the years been increasing substantially above inflation..As ridership sinks.

    1. I’d assume that its administrative costs and effectiveness would be the same proportion they are now. How well has Intercity Transit performed the past decade or two with the money it has?

      1. Well you know it looks to me like they are being deliberately not transparent on how much they are spending on overhead, which usually means nothing good. Another thing I notice is that they spend gobs of money on capital improvements to include nifty new and I’ll bet another dozen donuts that they are relatively expensive buses…certainly they are bright on trends…. and yet they still are losing the interest of the people. Maybe the Yelp reviews talking about rule breaking surly bus drivers is a clue?

        Who says 50% more money thrown at them would change anything?

        Let’s see if they can manage what they have now better and then we wait a few years to see how this whole Uber/et al thing goes….there are people who say that these car services will solve the problem…let’s give that idea a roll…. everybody I know who wants a lift takes Uber.

        This is a really dumb time to plow a lot of money into a bus system, we can always invest later when those asking for our money can come up with a better argument. And when we know how car sharing changes our cities.

        There are smart ways to work and dumb ways to work…we need to get smarter.

      2. Without a drastic reduction in costs, Uber and Lyft is not a meaningful option for trips as long as Olympia->Tacoma. The fare is close to $60, each way.

        It’s easy to feel good, how by voting the thing down, you’re taking a stand for more efficient government, but in the meantime, what are people supposed to do who can’t afford $120/round trip, and don’t have 2+ hours to wait for a bus to show up.

        And, in almost any bus system, the amount of actual service you could buy by eliminating administrative overhead is very small. Even if you could find a couple upper-level managers making $300,000/year and cut their salary in half, that’s still only enough money saved to run 2,000 bus hours – enough to cover just one bus (not one route – one bus), running an additional 5.47 hours/day (Monday-Sunday). Over an entire city, even the size of Olympia, the impact one bus running an additional 5.47 hours/day is negligible.

        And cutting things that look like administration, at first glance, can and will have actual impacts on service. For instance, it might mean that when there’s a construction reroute, people don’t know what’s happening until their bus doesn’t show up. It might mean that problems with buses and bus stops don’t get repaired as quickly. It might mean buses break down more often because the agency has fewer mechanics, or it could mean that bus trips get routinely canceled when a driver calls in sick, because the agency has no money to hire a backup – or no HR staff to process driver applications. It might mean bus stop signs showing outdated route numbers and schedules, that never seem to get fixed. It might mean bugs in the agency website that never get fixed. The list goes on and on.

      3. Not to mention Uber’s entire business plan is driving competitors out of business, rolling out driverless cars, dropping their drivers, and dramatically raising prices. Lyft is slightly less nakedly brazen about it, but isn’t far off.

        And no competition won’t keep their prices down, neither company has made a profit. Can’t undercut without a profit margin when you’re already barely paying drivers and your overhead is advertising and app development/maintenance..

      4. “Well you know it looks to me like they are being deliberately not transparent on how much they are spending on overhead, which usually means nothing good. Another thing I notice is that they spend gobs of money on capital improvements to include nifty new and I’ll bet another dozen donuts that they are relatively expensive buses…certainly they are bright on trends…. and yet they still are losing the interest of the people.”

        I can’t tell whether this is referring to the current service or the new proposal. I was asking about the current service and the past decade. I don’t live in Thurston County so I won’t have a vote and know little about the area; that’s why I’m asking.

        So what has IT done the past decade? What “nifty new donuts” if any has it built, how has it neglected basic bus service, and how high is its administrative overhead? What I see in IT is a surprisingly high daytime frequency (15 minutes) in the Evergreen-downtown corridor, including weekends and night owl, compared to similarly-sized cities. Pierce and Snohomish Counties have nothing like it. And while I lament the off-peak connection to Tacoma/Lakewood that I would use to get there, at least it exists.

        “Maybe the Yelp reviews talking about rule breaking surly bus drivers is a clue?”

        I’m not going to read Yelp and search for “Intercity Transit” on it (or all the other transit agencies in the state to keep up on them), and even if I did I wouldn’t know whether the Yelp reviews are representative or a few biased people.

        If you put all your hopes on carsharing and autonomous cars, you may end up with nothing. Nothing you can afford to ride, and more congestion.

      5. While the Olympia-Tacoma service is of most interest to us in King County, let’s remember that it’s a small percent of IT’s proper focus, and the primary issue is the service within Thurston County. The Uber argument still holds, because just as people can’t afford $120 to Tacoma and back once a week or more, they also can’t afford $20 for every trip to the grocery store or library or church or wherever else they go.

    2. “Another thing I notice is that they spend gobs of money on capital improvements”

      Transit ridership is down because of lack of investment into transit, especially bus service. Several studies have shown that:

      One of the best ways to improve bus service is spending money on capital improvements to speed it up:

      Spending money on stuff like stop consolidation and bus lanes means you can run more buses at faster speeds with the same operating budget.

      And like asdf2 says above, admin costs are such a small proportion of the budget that cutting it does little to nothing to save on money to be used for bus service. We need more money for bus service in Thurston County, period. There’s no way around that, especially with climate change as a serious threat here right now.

      And like people have talked about above, Uber is no solution, especially when it actually increases traffic:

      Driverless cars won’t help:

      In addition, if we have driverless cars, that means buses can be driverless as well. Which means that the fact that transit is superior to driving in many ways is still true, since both of their costs are dropping.

    3. In the 1960s, cities in Europe were faced with the same congestion and expensive road project issues we have here.

      Starting around that time (some credit the Munich Olympics and the realization they could not function with road capacity alone with that event with really getting the ball rolling) a number of places in Europe decided to invest in improving their transit systems so they could be made far more useful, and to thus reduce the amount of money spent on massive highway projects.

      Those places that have invested money (and it should be noted, time and effort and intelligence as well) into their systems are doing quite well. Those places that have made no improvements continue to lose riders to the auto and have increasing traffic issues as a result.

      Right now, the entire set of peninsulas north of I-5 between Nisqually and Budd Inlet is being converted into huge tracts of housing. You either have to figure out how to serve that with transit now or suffer unending congestion until a far more expensive solution is developed sometime in the future.

  5. Thanks for reminding me of my responsibilities, Mike. Over these years, have talked to many locals about the general idea of regionalizing Thurston County, or at least Olympia, into ST.

    When I was ethnoeconometrically cleansed out of Ballard, Seattle was still easy reach via IT 600 series and ST Sounder or 574 express. But last couple years, same forces that chased me out of Ballard did same for buses between my door and Tacoma. I won’t spend my life among The Travelling Trapped.

    From first time I rode it thirty years ago, Intercity Transit is in the top echelon worldwide. Buses always clean. Never saw a sharpie-print of graffiti. Equipment in excellent condition. And wonderful are of their passengers. Driver will never put a bus in motion until everybody is seated.

    But on all levels, same forces that cause transit its worst delays and complications also motivate and finance improvements. Blanket statement right now is that IT needs more transit lanes and signal priority than it does new buses.

    With exact same backdrop as in both Downtown Seattle and Lynnwood. Energized sprawl alongside ever stronger demand for transit, and same conflicts between. But I think there’s one thing special about Thurston right now, especially the Olympia area:

    Deciding constituency already consists of former Sound Transit passengers who still work in Seattle, with more arriving by the day. With transit the thing many miss most about their non-voluntary move. Also a new generation of college age people, including people who miss Seattle, and locals who’d love to be able to get to games and musical events faster.

    Sound Transit figures powerfully in the developing picture. It’s a ten minute ride from Dupont to present Amtrak station at Lacey, 20 minute express bus ride from Transit Center. And as I-5 loses travel time by the day, there’ll be a very strong demand for anything “Freeway Free.” Working tracks are already there.
    Worst difficulty will probably be the necessary amount of parking.

    Also, the residential expansion can also give me a test for what I’ve been advocating- Transit Oriented Development that’ll outflank present cars-only approach. At full sprawl-speed, should be possible for partnerships (key GOOD word, isn’t it) to root Karlsruhe (somebody else link it) ahead of its predecessors. Again, since it can be resprawled at a profit if it doesn’t pan(tograph) out

    But I can see a move powerful as it is fast and easy: At least once and hour, ST Express to Sea-Tac Airport. Stops maybe Lakewood for Sounder connection, and Tacoma Dome, followed by non-stop ride to the Airport.

    Am told that major problem could be division of work between IT and Pierce County drivers. Maybe use a mix of IT, Pierce, and King County. This isn’t a project killer.

    Even less to lose by a year’s trial. Also, worth it to give legislators same free passes as students, contingent on proof that they’re really learning something. To me, really a nothingtolose. Because I can really see this as a very strong first move.

    Above it all, I think we need to look at Thurston as first battle on the frontline in a whole next phase of every ST- to come, for many years. It’s where the action will be- extending the Greater Puget Sound Region to Portland in the south, New Westminster north, and Aberdeen west.

    Also will prove my car is for scouting, not treason. I’ve been looking at the scene first hand for about five years. Will start keeping STB briefed.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Curious, Steve. Anybody who thinks that dirty old buses are just as useful as new clean and well-maintained… spend a day riding Intercity Transit and another one running more a more fiscally conscious fleet, and decide which one you’d pick if you needed it to get to work every day.

      But doubt your address will assure that your negative vote is going to do any damage. So you’d better not vote in this election, or election-purifier Mike Pence will tell Jenny Durkan to call up her inner Federal Prosecutor from the depths below First Avenue and pay your train fare to Angle Lake next full moon.

      It was people lying about their residence that cost Donald Trump the right to lose an election, which would have given him the right to blame Hillary Clinton for destroying the United States. Idea she won the popular vote is just sad, unfair, and fake.


      1. Are you talking me? I am having a hard time figuring the lay of the land here, I normally post on discussion forums, this is weird.

        Here is the thing about Olympia generally…things have been headed south for awhile….things are starting to look way too much like the worst of the 1970’s with all the anger and the drugs and the vast numbers of people not caring about rules and public spaces or treating each other right…..grimy and not safe is the motif

        People dont generally want to get on a bus in that environment if they can help it.

        The bus being new and “environmentally friendly” wont change this.

        So maybe I dont want to buy it.

        We have to be realistic.

        And Prioritize.

      2. Last I was in Olympia I did notice that someone was creating a bit too much wake by the Yacht Club and making the big, expensive boats bounce around a lot, so I suppose they could use a bit more enforcement there to reduce dangerous behavior.

        Shouldn’t that be done by a private entity though?

      3. “ST Express to Sea-Tac Airport.”

        Interesting idea, and it would be a straightforward extension of the 574. It shouldn’t be too controversial in theory; IT or the state would just have to come up with the funding. The biggest user complaint would probably be the overhead of detouring to the out-of-the-way Federal Way Transit Center and 272nd Station. But maybe with Link they could be dropped? Especially if another route could like Federal Way to Tacoma Dome and Tacoma. Oh, but Link will do that in 2030, at least the Tacoma Dome part.

        “Stops maybe Lakewood for Sounder connection, and Tacoma Dome, followed by non-stop ride to the Airport.”

        The three biggest destinations from Thurston County are probably the airport, Seattle, and Bellevue/Redmond, so that would make sense. That would skip Federal Way but I don’t see that as a major loss. Although Federal Way would, thinking about the future shoppers and workers coming to it.

        “I am having a hard time figuring the lay of the land here,”

        Mark can be hard to understand with his numerous analogies. Sometimes he says something profound; other times he can be safely ignored.

        “I normally post on discussion forums”

        Are they really that different? In any case, just being yourself and saying what you think is fine. Sometimes somebody will ask you a question; think of it like an open letter and a public reply.

      4. @Steve Cobb

        That’s what happens when you don’t help the homeless all get actual, safe homes. Do Housing First like Utah did and the problem fixes itself. Also, Seattle has a huge homeless problem, yet bus ridership is way up:

        Also, climate change is now. There’s no if or buts about being environmentally friendly- you have to to live.

      5. That might be what you get if you don’t help the homeless, but it also doesn’t at all resemble the downtown Olympia that I visit regularly.

        The (really good) public market is so popular that parking around it is limited to 2 hours. The same goes for the parking lot at Marathon Park. Large condominium buildings have been built right next to the port. Most of the restaurants are really busy on any given evening, and the two children’s museums draw huge numbers of families.

        Once in a while, there is a homeless looking guy that uses the public restroom by the Yacht Club. After a Saturday of wandering around on forest trails I can hardly be accused of looking or smelling the best either, so I have no idea what the guy’s actual living conditions are.

        The only part of Olympia that is terrible is the traffic. It’s loud, far too fast moving for a busy downtown area, and dangerous. The only way that particular problem is going to be solved is by getting a better transit system, and attracting enough drivers out of their cars that there is less traffic.

    2. With as poorly as Seattle is run and with as according to me at least how poorly ST is run and with as many problems are Seattle has we of Thurston County are going to get asked to hook our wagon to yours you say?

      Expect a Hard No.

      1. If you feel that way, no argument or counter-evidence will convince you otherwise. But I’ll just say that as a 29-year Metro rider who has never had a car, it gets me around and mostly works. The frequent Link and RapidRide service is a lot more useful than what we had before. The Prop 1 funding (similar to IT’s proposal) filled in 15-minute evening frequency on several neighborhood routes, giving full-time frequent service to all urban villages and most parts of the city. Yes, the UW Station escalators are a notorious scandal, and some bus routes are often late, but that’s because of traffic and the city’s unwillingness to make transit lanes or BAT lanes in more than a few places. Which is exactly what IT proposes to address in one corridor, the Marvin BRT. Something to watch for in that is whether it really gets full transit/BAT lanes like South King County and Shoreline and Snohomish County (RapidRide A, E, and Swift), or whether it gets only a few blocks of transit/BAT lanes (the E and C in Seattle, and none on the D).

      2. Seattle bus ridership is way up, so it’s clearly run better then a lot of other bus systems out there:

        ST has problems, but it’s not that bad:

        It literally operates one of the largest commuter bus systems in the U.S!

        And presumably, ST in Thurston County would just run routes to connect to Seattle and Tacoma, plus Sounder if the funding for that is available. So, it wouldn’t have any negative impacts at all.

  6. Interesting how those who want to see Intercity “use its money more wisely” and “need a more specific plan” can’t come up with a single bus route they want to cut back or any other plan other than arm waving.

      1. Unfortunately, people can’t try to be inclusive if you don’t give them anything to work with. If you want a plan to have IT use money better, lay out a specific plan with specific details, like possible hus routings with service hours. If you just say “things are bad”, that gives us nothing to work with.

      2. And this whole “government is evil” thing is what we have been hearing from Republicans since Reagan’s “Government is the Problem” speech.

        Over the 38 years since, I can point to nothing off hand that has been made better by turning it over to the private sector to run.

        I’m not saying we should become communist or something, but there are services where the private sector hasn’t proven particularly effective at reducing costs.

        If anything, my argument with Intercity Transit is they rely too much on the private sector. Every service change I have suggested to them has been responded to by a statement that basically says “if there were a demand for such a service then the private sector would already be doing it.”

  7. Steve, reason you’re getting this many comments, or any at all, pretty good indication that all of us have spent a hard night making sure you’re getting a lot more inclusion than your manners deserve.
    Add the number of positive ideas you show up with, and be glad this isn’t an emergency meeting of any work crew around Aberdeen.

    One serious thing you can do, starting tomorrow morning. Find your State legislator’s office, “call him out” in front of TV cameras that since he doesn’t want his office, you’ll take it off his hands next election.

    And win or lose, start straightening up all these screw-ups with your own work gloves on. Because under our country’s form of Government, this isn’t just your privilege. It’s your job to fix.

    Mark Dublin

    1. My manners are fine, it is my ideas that are “Outside of the bounds”, which is a real problem if I am right, as I often am.

      1. People here have been engaging on this post on good faith. But this appears to be the only post here that you have posted on, and instead of details on how bus service can be improved, there aren’t any real ideas being posted here by you besides vague waving of arms, so they’re de facto out of bounds anywhere.

        And almost everyone is wrong a lot of the time.

  8. If it would be vaguely possible to talk about Intercity Transit and the wisdom of giving them all these extra money to play with just at this time after watching Seattle and Sound Transit and WDOT and Amtrak and pretty much government all over (Ya I know the claim is that Amtrak is not government, screw that, you got lied to) fail us and all to often fail at basic competence and honesty that would be great.

    Thank you.
    I do appreciate this place as I have been lurking lately and I especially like that there are quite a few people around here who understand how screwed up and non functioning both the city of Seattle and Sound Transit are.

    I always like finding people who have some smarts and who pay attention and who tell truth.

    There are not enough of us.

    1. The news you receive in Olympia may have given a misleading picture of the state of Metro, ST, and Amtrak Cascades. As I said above, they mostly work, and they get hundreds of thousands of people around every day. The news focuses on the negatives, and we talk about the negatives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of positives or that the transit systems are non-functioning. Click on “Useful Links” and then “(Unofficial) Frequent Transit Map” (or < for a direct link to the map, which was made by one of our members). That’s all the “good” service we currently have in Seattle. It works 90% of the time, although some corridors aren’t as punctual as that.

      STB should have an article about everything that is working right in Pugetopolis transit, or is at least partially meeting its goals. Both for people who can’t experience it firsthand, and as a reminder to the rest of us.

    2. Besides what Mike Orr said, Seattle and Metro are working fine, on the transit system at least:

      ST is doing okay at least:

      Bus ridership is skyrocketing. That means things transit wise are becoming *unscrewed* instead of screwed. Note that even more skeptical people here like Tlsgwm agree that we need to keep or increase the level of funding for transit, they just disagree with how it’s being spent. The “quite a few people here” don’t agree with you that transit should be defunded (“losing value to the society”). They want more of it.

      Also, it’s interesting to note how you don’t respond to the people here who post facts and studies to show how buses and transit can really be improved massively. Instead, there’s just vague hand-waving.

      1. Also, note how Tlsgwm (as shown by the interesting discussion between him and Mike Orr above) and other people, instead of vague hand-waving, actually propose alternative plans and ideas. If you could actually only post constructive stuff like the highway discussion above, that’s great!

    3. Government works in Europe. So why can’t it work here?

      “There are good, viable models of transit systems that already exist in cities that look a lot like U.S ones. They are successful both at attracting riders and at being financially viable, from places that have more in common with American cities than one might expect.”

      A lot of Europe is more like the U.S then a lot of people think, as detailed in the article. Yet they manage to make transit, and government in general, work better then in the U.S. And it’s not tax cutting that’s doing it- Europe has far higher taxes then the U.S, and far bigger government!

      The IGM Economic Experts Panel assembles a large group of economists from all over the political spectrum. 79% of them (a vast majority) agree that we need more funding for infrastructure:

      Yes, sometimes bad things happen in government, But economists agree that we’re still better off with the extra spending, and leaving it to the private sector does not prevent waste, inefficiency, or market failures:

      “Past evidence suggests that there will be waste and corruption (a lot of corruption!). But this does not imply that average NPV is negative.”

      ” Both public and private sector investments are risky. Some infrastructure projects will fail even when most have high social returns.”

      “The same [inefficiency] is true of many investments in the private sector. Hard to imagine the government having a better record than the private sector.”

      ” Same is true for private sector!” (in response to the question ” Past experience of public spending and political economy suggests that if the government spent more on roads, railways, bridges and airports, many of the projects would have low or negative returns.”)

      But in Europe and the rest of the world, government runs things a lot better:

      Despite having less government and less regulations then Europe, the U.S pays a lot more for infrastructure per mile.

      It’s not unions that are doing it; Europe is unionized like heck.

      Land costs aren’t it either:

      The U.S being too spread out doesn’t explain why other spread out countries like Canada and Australia don’t have the high costs we do.

      Environmental protection doesn’t explain it because Europe and a lot of other countries have stricter regulations then we do.

      “That suggests that U.S. costs are high due to general inefficiency — inefficient project management, an inefficient government contracting process, and inefficient regulation… For example, construction seems to take a lot longer in the U.S. than in other countries. In China, a 30-story building can be completed in only 15 days. In Japan, giant sinkholes get fully repaired in one week.”

      It looks like the U.S simply (both in the private and public sectors) sucks at construction.

      It’s not government that’s getting in the way, it’s just that our private construction sector in general is inefficient. Instead of railing against government, which can only work slowly to improve things, why not help them by studying U.S construction and pointing out flaws in how companies and contractors do things?

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