13 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: District 4 MASS Forum”

  1. King County will be pushing hard for approval of a TBD measure next year. It may face an even tougher slog than last time, especially since 1) it can’t market the measure as it did last time (“Your bus trip might be cut if you do n’t vote yes!”), and 2) revenues from Seattle’s TBD tax hikes couldn’t be used to add the service that the measure promised to provide. How is the county going to “pitch” its TBD ask this time around?

    1. Is it time to split Metro into Seattle Transit and Metropolitan Transit again? Since the era of 40/40/20 increased Uber an service significantly, Seattle essentially funds its entire service itself, either indirectly through sales tax receipts or its own TBD.

      Removing in-city service from the County Council would (perhaps) shut the anti-city haters in the suburbs up about “your taxes giving rides to bums in Seattle”.

      Something to consider. With ORCA enabling cross-border transfers, a single agency is less important.

      1. However, something else to consider is that SDOT hasn’t covered itself with glory on its transit projects.

      2. I think Bellevue would have the most to lose with such a proposal. To be clear, the connection between Bellevue and Seattle will be handled quite well by Sound Transit. But Bellevue is an increasingly urban area contained within a huge, suburban county. If Seattle is electorally removed from that county, Bellevue sits in isolation. It can appeal to various parts of Kirkland, Redmond, Renton and Kent for support, but it sits outnumbered by the great swaths of Sammamish, Duvall and Covington that make up the county. That means that Bellevue would likely be cut off not only from the rest of the county, but largely from itself (most of the day).

        Splitting off Metro into Seattle and not-Seattle is a prescription for screwing over the latter. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.

      3. I don’t think moving Seattle to a separate agency is a good idea. That would mean inefficiencies caused by a separate fleet of buses, a separate bus base, and a separate pool of drivers. It would also mean that everyone making even a very short trip in a straight line across a city limit boundary would need to get off and change buses, simply because neither agency wants to pay for service in another agency’s territory (I suppose the peak-only express routes to downtown Seattle would be an exception because the public would demand it). We already have this problem at the boundary line between King County and Snohomish County. Let’s not make it worse by breaking up the E-line, 5, 346, and 372 (and other routes), just for the sake of jurisdictional turf.

        There is also the issue that RossB pointed out that moving Seattle to a separate agency would leave Bellevue as the most pro-transit city left, which would have to overcome opposition from the remaining cities in order to do anything. Maybe the eventual outcome is that Bellevue splits off. Then the service in what’s left becomes really terrible.

        I also don’t think a uniform tax rate across the entire county is particularly fair, since some areas do legitimately need (and are willing to pay for) much more transit than other areas. Overall, I think the model of a base level of service, plus the a Seattle-specific supplement for Seattle-specific routes makes the most sense. If Bellevue is interested in its own measure to boost service, they are free to do the same.

        I’m guessing the effort on part of Bellevue to tie the Seattle TBD to the rest of the county probably reflects the fact that Bellevue just doesn’t have the votes to get a TBD to fund transit passed on its own, so they need the “yes” votes coming from across the lake to push it over the finish line.

      4. I find the LA County model curious. There, the sales tax for transit is collected countywide, but each city decides which agency gets part of their share. That keeps operators on their toes or a city might threaten to change where their transit dollars go. Because of this, LA county has several operators — and many city-sponsored neighborhood circulator operations.

      5. You people are funny. One day you say all regional transit agencies should be taken over and run by Sound Transit, then the next day you say regional transit agencies need to be split up. Make up your mind.

        Sam. The Northwest’s Most Respected Transit Journalist.

      6. Glad to make your day, Sam.

        Tom: “Removing in-city service from the County Council would (perhaps) shut the anti-city haters in the suburbs up about “your taxes giving rides to bums in Seattle”.

        Who’s saying that? I’ve never heard that as an argument against. The motivation behind the No votes seem to be “I don’t like taxes” and “I can’t afford it.” There’s a large number of working-class people who feel like they can’t afford more taxes because they have to buy gas so they can get to work — the buses don’t go where go or it would take an hour on them. This attitude was especially prominent in south King County, which voted against both the Metro and the ST measures.

        In other areas you have to ask why people voted against Metro but for ST. The answer seems to be that what people hate the most is freeway traffic, and Link offers a way around it. Metro on the other hand is associated with frequent bus service, and they don’t see buses on arterials as a better experience than driving, and the increases proposed won’t make a sufficient difference.

        “[Bellevue] sits outnumbered by the great swaths of Sammamish, Duvall and Covington that make up the county”

        The exurbs aren’t that many people by definition, because they’re spread out thinly. It’s much more important which way Redmond, Kirkland, Renton, Kent, Auburn, and maybe Issaquah go.

        One way Metro could make a difference is by giving eastern Renton and Kent a real transit alternative that doesn’t require transferring at Renton TC or Kent Station to get anywhere significant. That’s where most of the people live, and those transfer points have little jobs/shopping around, and the transfers add 10-20 minutes to every trip. One ace in the hole is the proposed KDM-Kent-124th route, which resolves exactly this. In Renton the Rainier Beach-Renton Highlands route does. But the first RapidRide will be Renton-Kent-Auburn, and all the attention may be on it. If people think the vote is mostly about the RapidRides they may not notice the other Frequent routes that will give more of them access to significant places.

  2. 75% of Seattle’s residential land is zoned single family. In San Francisco, just 37% is zoned single family. 0% of the residential land in Manhattan is zoned single family.

  3. I’m glad to see so much discussion of pedestrian issues in this forum. It’s really important for transit; much more than bicycle issues are.

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