Joe O’Sullivan, at The Seattle Times, on the state’s first carbon cap-and-trade system:

SB 5126 creates a system to cap carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and sets specific limits for individual businesses, according to a news statement. Those businesses would have to then purchase credits for allowed emissions.

Businesses emitting fewer greenhouse gases than the credits allotted them could then sell their credits to businesses that aren’t reducing emissions as quickly, according to the statement. The overall pool of carbon credits are to be gradually reduced by 2050, in order to hit a goal of net-zero emissions.

The money collected by the state would go toward, among other things, projects intended to reduce emissions from transportation and increase resiliency to climate change.

That can presumably include transit projects, though the word “transit” doesn’t appear in the legislative analysis. The Senate’s cap-and-trade proposal beat out the House’s proposed carbon tax.

34 Replies to “Legislature passes a carbon cap”

  1. The key provision seems to be the requirement for a new transportation package by 2023:

    “The bill contains a provision that the policy would only take effect as scheduled in 2023 if the Legislature passes a new statewide transportation-spending package by then.

    That transportation package would have to include an increase in the gas tax “of at least five cents per gallon,” according to a legislative analysis of SB 5126.”

  2. Note the political logrolling parallel. In about 2002, the SMP enabling legislation was tied to a highway package. In 2007, ST2 was tied to the RTID; it failed. In 2008, ST2 passed by itself. In 2009, the deep bore agreement between the three executives included a one-percent MVET for Transit; it was dropped. In 2015, the highways were funded; ST3 was allowed to go to the ballot, CT was allowed to go to the ballot; Metro got nothing. Today, the carbon cap is contingent on a statewide transportation package.

    1. 2002: It did?
      2007: Highways don’t rule.
      2009: Shows the legislature’s priorities.
      2015: Yes.

      This one seems not as bad as 2009 and 2015. I don’t understand why it’s contingent on a state transporation package, maybe it’s because there’s nothing to spend the taxes on otherwise. or to make it more likely one passes (since some people are animated about that). I assume that if there’s no transportation package by 2022 the cap-and-trade would go into effect whenever there is one rather than just expiring.

  3. I would just highlight that none of the transportation dollars raised by 5126 can be spent on any 18th amendment-eligible purpose, so this represents an enormous increase in the state’s spending capacity on transit (or other non-18th amendment modes like walking and biking).

    From the final bill report:

    Carbon Emissions Reduction Account. The CER Account is created in the state treasury and is subject to appropriation. Expenditures from the account may only be used for transportation carbon emissions reducing purposes and may not be used for 18th amendment purposes, other than as specified for the account, including investments in alternatives and reductions to single occupancy passenger vehicle use through alternative fuel infrastructure and incentives, and emission reduction programs for freight, ferries, and port activities.

  4. Great, aiming for net zero emissions 20 years after we have to cease emitting carbon to not lock in enough warming to kill hundreds of millions, if not our entire species.

    Great job, legislature. Great job.

  5. I think the first focus for 5126 is electrifying the ferry fleet, at least according to Inslee. Perhaps some of the funds could go towards electrifying Metro buses, and transit buses statewide, a cost that otherwise reduces frequency and coverage.

    Another focus is to install more electric charging stations, especially in multi-family housing, certainly if the goal is to switch to EV’s by 2030. Microsoft, one of the prime sponsors for East Link is building a 3 million sf underground parking garage with charging stations, which tells me Microsoft sees the future as EV’s, not transit (this project was certainly permitted pre-pandemic and WFH).

    My guess is some or most of the money will also go towards addressing the $3.5 billion cost of meeting the court ordered culvert repair, which is part of the transportation budget and critical to water quality and salmon, and a cost the legislature has been looking to cover for some time. Unless that is an 18th Amendment expenditure. But one way or the other the state transportation budget has to pay the $3.5 billion repair bill.

    The issue with excluding “18th Amendment” uses — even if for EV’s — is transit uses roads and bridges too (and much is not electric), and those expenses don’t go away. No matter what, Seattle has over $1 billion in delayed bridge repair and replacement costs, whether that funding comes from the $20 tab fee or some other source — ideally the state except it now can’t under 5126 (for 2021 the council has allocated $14 million for bridges, up from a little over $6 million/year in previous budgets, which equals an entire year of the new $20 increase in the tab fee ($7.2 million)).

    Tolling large projects like 520 and the new tunnel has some benefits (unless you are poor), but it often displaces traffic to other routes, such as I-90 or surface streets through Seattle, including along the waterfront which is counter-productive to the whole point of replacing the viaduct. I was actually a proponent of tolling I-90 so I-90 did not get the alternative bridge travel when 520 was tolled, and that tolling cost is going up due to low revenues. What I can tell you is suddenly tolling roads or bridges that were not tolled before causes a firestorm, and puts the enormous subsidies for transit (especially now with ST “extending” ST 3 projects but not the taxes) directly into the spotlight. Unfortunately for transit advocates ST is their baby.

    I think it was AJ who had a very interesting post the other day with a link to transit ridership that exposed a myth I often see on this blog: that commuters make up a very small percentage of transit riders. They make up a majority of riders according to AJ’s link. They take transit because it is expensive to park in urban cores (including the 20% tax), and traffic congestion.

    The reason transit ridership is low on the eastside during non-peak times is because there is little traffic congestion, and so most drive, especially with free parking. People still go places, just not by transit. It is the commuter rider ST is worried about losing in its new funding forecasts, both because some will work from home, and more will drive post-pandemic if congestion allows it and total trip time including the annoyance of a transfer from bus to light rail is the same or worse than before light rail.

    If the goal is to replace gas cars and trucks with EV’s that will be a huge task but doable over a long time if there are enough subsidies, especially for the poor, and businesses that mostly use trucks. It will take an enormous subsidy to help the poor convert to EV’s. If the goal — as too often it is — is to eliminate the car, that is never going to happen, and Seattle at 460,000 cars has at least one car for every adult resident. People love to claim “cars don’t scale”. Yes, they apparently do, which is why most eastside houses have three car garages and it is hard to sell a house with a two car garage.

    Whether it is the Columbia River bridge or West Seattle Bridge or 520 or I-90 these arterials are fundamental to the region’s prosperity, and somehow have to be maintained, and sometimes replaced. Like I posted the other day, it is pointless to argue about how to divide the $20 car tab fee when the state auditor has told Seattle it needs to spend between $34 million and $102 million each year to address its bridge backlog, and the $20 tab fee brings in $7.2 million/year.

    1. “Perhaps some of the funds could go towards electrifying Metro buses”

      That would be great. Metro’s plan to electrify its fleet now is crowding out frequency improvements. A state contribution for electrification would make it so Metro doesn’t have to choose between the two.

      And I think it’s wrong to make bus electrification the top priority. Every new bus rider is a reduction in carbon emissions even if the buses are diesel. And more frequency and coverage would bring more new riders.

      However, from what I’ve read, the grant merely increases the transit grant fund. The grants will probably go to their traditional purposes: specific routes or capital improvements, and rural service.

      “a myth I often see on this blog: that commuters make up a very small percentage of transit riders”

      Commuting is a small percent of the total number of *trips* people make. People often don’t realize it because they don’t count up all their trips to the store, library, gym, doctor, pharmacy, park, museum, club, other people’s houses, etc. So the natural expectation is that work/non-work trips would be the same proportion on transit as in cars. But it’s not like that because there’s so much more ttransit service peak hours, and a lack of transit off-peak. Remember our Ballard to Capitol Hill traveler and out Issaquah to Bellevue-or-Seattle traveler? Both corridors have more frequency and expresses peak hours. Issaquah is severely lacking off-peak, and the 271 is especially slow and meandering. People won’t put up with that so they drive off-peak. And many suburbanites are accustomed to using transit only for work or only to downtowns/stadiums, and drive otherwise. We need to get to a point that off-peak transit is as frequent and convenient as in other countries, then the ridership curve will look more like the total trip curve.

      “The reason transit ridership is low on the eastside during non-peak times is because there is little traffic congestion, and so most drive, especially with free parking.”

      That works if you have a car, want to drive, and want to spend $10K a year in car maintenance and fuel. It throws everyone else under the bus.

    2. The Link Daniel referenced:
      Table 3-3
      3 hour PM peak is >40% of daily bus ridership. Add in the morning peak and peak ridership is a clear majority of all transit trips across all agencies and all modes. The better* an agency is at serving all-day trips the less peak oriented it is, but the peak still remains the peak. (*some of this quality of transit service, but some of it is exogenous; as Daniel notes, the daily cost of parking is shown to be a key driver of modal splits)

      Good transit requires good all day frequency; people won’t depend on a bus/train/ferry to get to work if they can only ride it during a brief window.
      Good all day frequency then unlocks non-work ridership, but a good, all-day transit system will still skew towards commute trips. This skew is even more pronounced on a VMT or passenger-mile basis; while work trips are a small fraction of total regional trips each day, they are a large majority of daily VMTs.

      Here a great meditation on this topic:

      1. Specifically, good all-day transit means 15 minutes minimum. Practically everywhere in the world has a swell of ridership peak hours. But they also have frequent midday, evening, and weekend service, and their ridership then is high as we would call it.If you want people to use car less and think of transit first, then you need full-time frequent transit. If you have a good baseline of service, then you can add runs during demand surges, and maybe peak service will be every 2 minutes or every 5 minutes. But you need to have a good baseline, between all the urban villages.

  6. I am not sure how much bus ridership would increase on the eastside if off-peak frequency were increased. Ross has posted a number of links showing total riders per bus is pretty low on the eastside during most intra-eastside trips off-peak. If frequency were the issue I would expect the buses that do run off-peak would be more full.

    I still subscribe to the approach where you increase frequency where ridership is already strong and buses full (which is often where folks have to take transit), and if really full look at rail, rather than spending the money for more frequency hoping a low ridership bus route will become a moderate ridership route that will someday support light rail, especially on the eastside which begins with a car preference.

    I doubt most residents in a place like Issaquah don’t own a car, or are “thrown under the bus” due to lack of bus frequency during non-peak hours. The eastside generally begins with low ridership, but also low population densities. If Metro’s budget is limited, off-peak frequency on the eastside would not be my first priority, especially if equity was a factor. If I didn’t own a car I don’t think the eastside would be my first choice for housing, especially since housing costs can be higher.

    For the same reason, I think if the Issaquah to South Kirkland Line were “extended” it wouldn’t cause a lot of teeth gnashing on the eastside because the potential ridership is probably very low, and because it really was a political decision when most thought the eastside subarea had too much money (which may still be true). Putting station logistics and where to run the line aside, I can see a purpose to running rail to West Seattle and Ballard, if the money was there. Of course, a better question is where would you put the station in Issaquah? Talk about a spread out city with huge parking lots.

    1. More frequency does increase ridership. But, the effect is delayed, not immediate. It will take time for people to even know about the frequency increase and more time for people to consider it when making decisions on where to live.

      You also need routes that connect major activity centers in something resembling a straight line. Routes that zigzag all over the place, like the 249, will always have terrible ridership, no matter how often they run, while routes like the 250, connecting Bellevue->Kirkland->Redmond have more potential. Between Kirkland and Redmond, the 250 is especially fast and, if you’re able to time it right, the bus can actually rival the speed of an Uber. This is the kind of corridor-oriented service the eastside needs more of.

      1. Yeah, the relationship between ridership and frequency is well documented. It increases in areas with low ridership or high ridership. It is just that in areas where there is low ridership, you get fewer additional riders. This means that running buses in those areas is less cost effective.

        There are other factors, but I don’t think they are well documented. Theoretically, longer trips depend less on frequency. A train trip to Portland, for example, is going to see an increase in ridership if it goes from one hour to every half hour. But it won’t be a huge increase. Likewise, rush hour commuters — especially those farther away — are more likely to time their trip, and be less responsive to frequency. But again, so far as I know, there isn’t a lot of science to back that up; it is probably better to just assume that any increase in frequency will lead to an increase in ridership.

        The 249 is (or was) a weird route. It feels like bits and pieces of the system that got left out, and are cobbled together. The southern end is pure coverage. This is an extremely low density area, covered more efficiently with a live loop. Then it transitions to medium density, sharing the road with the 550 to the BTC. This is why it is no great loss for that section (either it is low density coverage, or it is redundant).

        But of course, it keeps going. It works its way back to Bellevue Way, passing by skyscrapers and apartment buildings until it connects to South Kirkland Park and Ride. This area really should have much more frequent coverage (right now it has none, creating a significant coverage hole).

        Then it makes a big turn, and goes back to acting like a coverage route between Redmond and South Kirkland. This area has more density, but still not a lot. It goes back and forth looking for places to serve, not quite sure where to go. To be fair, it does manage to make important connections. It is possible they could do better (and find a combination that is straighter) but without extra money, it may be hard to do. That is the nature of coverage routes.

        The big change I would make is swap the Medina section of the 271 with this route. Run the 271 up Bellevue Way, making for a shorter (if not faster) trip from Bellevue to the UW, while going by a lot more people. The connection between Bellevue Way and the 255 would occur at Yarrow Point (not a huge backtrack). The connection between Bellevue Way and the 250 would involve backtracking to BTC, or walking about five minutes (this walk could be reduced with some minor modifications). The better frequency would more than make up for the inconvenience of either transfer.

        At that point, the 249 takes over Medina coverage (making it a pure coverage route) and should run a lot less often than other routes. I would boost the frequency of the 225, for example (which runs by the Lake Washington Institute of Technology and connects Totem Lake with Overlake) long before I bumped the frequency of the 249.

      2. “The 249 is (or was) a weird route. It feels like bits and pieces of the system that got left out, and are cobbled together.”

        it feels like that because that’s what it is. Metro has taken to balancing ridership on the two halves of a route, such as when the 1/36 was reconnected as 1/14 and the 47 tail was split off. This balances the frequency needs across the route. A counter example is the 62, where Metro created a route with an underperforming eastern third. It’s hoping that connecting 65th to a crosstown route and with the anticipated ridership boost of Roosevelt Station, will increase the ridership on 65th.

        Routes like the 249 are what happens when Metro consolidates parts of several routes; in this case RapidRide B and the 250. All the left-behind tails get strung together into a coverage route. Again it balances ridership across the entire route. It’s functionally several concatenated routes that are interlined for operational efficiency. More people probably take it a short distance to Bellevue TC or Overlake than from one far segment to another.

        Having the north Bellevue Way route take over Medina to Yarrow Point Station is an interesting idea. But politically difficult. Metro has talked about maybe moving the 271 to Bellevue Way or 405, but it seems to have backed off on it in Metro Connects.

      3. “Having the north Bellevue Way route take over Medina to Yarrow Point Station”

        Wait a minute; that wouldn’t work; 84th and Bellevue Way are parallel. So the 249 — I’m guessing what it looks like since the map isn’t online while it’s suspended — would follow the current 271’s routing from Bellevue TC to Yarrow Point. I guess that would work, since there’s probably more demand from Medina to downtown Bellevue than to Overlake. Again, it would mean overriding Medina’s objections to keeping a one-seat ride to the U-District, and Medina has political clout.

  7. I do not like Carbon caps. They get gamed. Industry “A” is always whining that industries “B” and “C” are no more important than “A” is, but get special treatment. So “A” gets its allocation “adjusted”. Then “B” gets its nose out of joint and demands an equal adjustment. Rinse and repeat.

    Just put an effyouseeking tax per ton on the extractors and on the “importers” to the state and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t decide on a set “schedule” in advance. Just adjust it every year to meet the reductions necessary to meet the eventual goal, according to how well the state did the previous one.

    The least important uses of Carbon will be excised first while the really central or difficult-to-transition ones will just cost more for everyone, regardless of how rich, how poor, how dark, how light, and the country in which someone was born.

    If you want to stick it to rich people and give poor folks a break on their employment taxes with some of the revenues — you’ll find no objection here — have the stones to do it.

    For the rest of the “equity”, the “solidarity”, the million and one reasons that planning can do a better job, “Cry me a river.” If you want less of something, put a tax on it.

    I’m a Dem, but the Dem Senate is being chicken manure about this.

    1. And that bleating near the end about the

      kind of loopholes that could allow polluters to continue emitting greenhouse gases in neighborhoods that are disproportionately made up of people of color

      is just pathetic. Yes, particulate matter is certainly a concern, but that can and should be addressed with specific legislation. Greenhouse gases are not site-specific in their effects. Even a giant belching coal-fired power plant doesn’t raise the ambient CO2 around it by more than a tenth of a percent or two.

      Nobody is going to suffocate from point source GHG emissions. Even of methane.

    2. I am no expert on global warming, and I agree with Tom that a straight carbon tax on ALL emissions (including transit and government vehicles, without all the special interest carve outs like in I-1631, although that will raise fares or require greater subsidies) is the most economically neutral and best method, but experts much more knowledgeable than I am believe the European cap and trade system has been one effective tool.

      The other irony is President Biden claims the U.S. has lowered emissions more than any other country over the last 10 years (12%), except most of that decline was from replacing coal with natural gas, so to attack natural gas (especially for export) is counterproductive.

      If you truly believe CO2 is an existential emergency (and few issues have been so coopted by advocates for other issues from race to transit), with a 2030 deadline, then the new breed of nuclear power plants are something you should support (since generation of electricity is the number one source for CO2) and the conversion to EV’s since transportation is the second largest source of CO2. After that is methane from cows and farming.

      If the argument is everyone must move into a dense urban unit and ride their bike everywhere (with infants and kids on back), or give up meat or not fly anywhere, or immediately ban non-electrical transit or convert although that reduces frequency for the same poor supposedly impacted by CO2, or ban any petroleum based product, that will never happen, and so there is too much resistance to lowering CO2. It is like the difference between telling citizens to wear a mask and social distance forever, or coming up with an effective vaccine that is free.

      If the entire planet must go to zero CO2 emissions (even net) by 2030 or the planet is doomed, then we are doomed. Politicians and corporations like Amazon (the number one polluter) have forever been picking target dates 20 and 30 years into the future (the new date is 2050, up from 2030) when they are out of office with unreachable goals. If they were serious, the goals would be 3% reduction in 2022, 5% in 2024, 7% in 2025 etc. Look at uber blue Washington State: the only time we have come close to meeting our 2005 CO2 goals was in 2012, during the height of the recession, and in 2020, and I-1631 was effectively a slush fund. If you want lower emissions nothing beats a deep recession.

      In the end what the U.S. does to lower its CO2 really won’t matter because China, India and the third world will dwarf our emissions, and any cuts we make. Our real goal is to come up with inexpensive and efficient alternatives for the generation of electricity and transportation that people who can’t read and have very little money for Tesla’s can figure how to use, and afford, and most importantly prefer, like an EV car if the price is the same.

      My concern is the U.S. will develop tools like nuclear plants and Tesla’s that work for it but not the rest of the world (not unlike building 90 miles of light rail but neglecting bus transportation, or converting all Metro buses to electric by 2026 but then cutting service 25% to afford electrification), and any reductions the U.S. makes will be irrelevant compared to increasing emissions from third world countries who need first to eat, then to lower emissions.

    3. I used to prefer carbon taxes because I was afraid companies could game the cap-and-trade system.

      Vancouver’s carbon tax is an especially good model: the revenue is refunded to the public so it’s a net transfer from high-carbon users to low-carbon users. It’s like the public getting its share of a natural resource, the way the Alaska oil dividend is structured. Libertarian economists have suggested this as a way to handle environmental externalities: make polluters compensate the public for degrading the environment, and make pollution-derived goods more expensive than environmentally-friendly goods.

      However, I read a counterargument that cap-and-trade addresses the problem directly: it declares how much carbon risk we’ll tolerate and gradually whittles it down. The problem with a carbon tax is it doesn’t directly regulate carbon emissions but only what they cost. It’s hard to predict what rate will have the ideal amount of deterrence. And rich people are less affected than poor people. Often the tax is so small compared to rich people’s and companies’ assets that it’s no deterrent at all. In contrast, cap-and-trade allows a certain amount of statewide emissions and bans any beyond that.

      And in all the years cap-and-trade has been in effect in various jurisdictions, I’ve never seen any reports of companies gaming it the way Amazon games the US tax code to avoid paying any taxes. They can manipulate the lawmakers to write exemptions into the law, but they don’t seem to be able to spike the permit-trading system if they’re subject to it.

      I assume the initial allocations in cap-and-trade are allocated evenly or based on their existing percentage of statewide carbon use, but I don’t know much about it. I haven’t heard that that’s a problem in existing cap-and-trade systems. The first year’s carbon limit will be lenient, possibly no reduction at all, to give companies time to get used to the system and plan their carbon future. Then it would gradually get tighter in the following years.

      1. “manipulate the lawmakers to write exemptions into the law” pretty much exactly describes Amazon’s approach to the corporate income tax. Carbon tax has a lower risk of regulatory capture only if it is a more simple & transparent tax. If a carbon tax is structured to be as opaque and bureaucratic as a cap & trade system, it will have the same risk of regulatory capture.

        Initial allocations in cap-and-trade are allocated based on politics, with politically favored polluters given large shares of the permits. This was a major issue with the EU roll-out, though as the overall number of permits has dwindled I think this has been less of an issue. If all companies have to bid for permits, then it functions as a tax, but if existing firms are given an initial allotment for free, that’s a transfer of wealth from the market to existing polluters.

        “Often the tax is so small compared to rich people’s and companies’ assets that it’s no deterrent at all. In contrast, cap-and-trade allows a certain amount of statewide emissions and bans any beyond that.” I think that’s a distinction without a difference. If total cap is set such that the cost of the permit is small, then it is a minimal deterrent; if a carbon tax is set very high, it has the same deterrent as a scarce permit in a cap and trade system. The mechanisms are different it what they target for equilibrium (cost of a ton of C02 or total CO2 emitted), but the behavioral economics of paying $X/ton of CO2 emitted should be the same.

      2. If a carbon tax is structured to be as opaque and bureaucratic as a cap & trade system, it will have the same risk of regulatory capture.

        AJ, you are exactly right about this, and that is why I believe that a Carbon tax should only be levied on the producers of the Carbon-bearing fuels, NOT on the point-source emitters.

        As I mentioned below, this is hard to control in methane-emitting animal husbandry. But that is an smaller problem to solve than “fairly” taxing point-source emitters.

    4. A carbon tax has to be levied on all producers, which I admit is difficult to do with livestock-sourced methane. Perhaps it’s levied so much per head per month for each breed of each species raised.

      But other than that wrinkle it is much easier to administer. Inputs can be taxed rather than activities, and there are a lot fewer Carbon input streams than the plethora of activities they power.

    5. Daniel, a proprr Carbon tax is not levied on emitters, it is levied on the local producers and importers of Carbon fuels or Carbon-generated electricity.

      Good God man, taxing the emitters is a bureaucratic nightmare. The only hard thing about taxing the producers is animal husbandry.

    6. And, yes I agree about the new smaller nuclear plants. They still have the waste issues, though. That should be included in thevdisdtrtibuted cost of the electricity.

      Most of the hyper-toxic Plutonium will probably be burned in breeders, though.

  8. The planetary budget of remaining CO2 emissions (as in total, not annual) to keep from increasing global temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius will be spent by 2030, not 2050.

    If we here in Washington can’t get our net CO2 emissions down to zero in that time, I doubt most other places with less access to resources will be able to do it. Heck, we’ll still probably be stuck with the same state senators insisting on this carbon-indulgences-trading hocus pocus, as they prioritize campaign fundraising over saving life on Earth.

    Releasing a bunch of CH4 into the atmosphere would only make things worse, BTW. Every cent spent on natural gas infrastructure is money not being spent on halting global heating.

    Yes, we have to do a heckuva lot of reforestation. The ban on new gas car sales is great but will happen too late. The bicycle and pedestrian master plans will still be the stepchildren in the city’s budget even by then. Bridges meant mostly for cars may have to get replaced by bridges mostly for moving people as they reach the end of their reigns of carbon pollution.

    While freight is part of the equation, the whole operation of shipping stuff around the globe, and having armed escort ships, is using up a chunk of the biosphere’s remaining CO2 emissions budget. Buy local, please. (And if your grocery store doesn’t label items as local, ask them to start doing so.)

    1. Very well said. Thank you. Humanity won’t cease to exist if we break through 2° C, and probably not even 3°. But population will be brutally reducfed, and it would be a very different and tragically poorer world in which to live.

  9. I understand that transit can be considered a “business” — but it doesn’t actually “generate trips.” It only is a mode that carries trips that would probably be demanded if the and it was there or not.

    I get how some trips are “induced” — but lots of those are really longer-distance trips or auto-chosen trips and not actually new trips on the system. People have to work, shop, interact with family and friends, keep appointments of many types and recreate — and the carbon footprint mostly changes when different ways/ modes of trip making or different lengths of trip making are involved.

    The caps should be applied by land use — not mode — and thus transit operations facilities only seem right for a cap and trade. In most cases, transit is instead a way for sites to reduce their footprints and have commodity value that businesses can Invest in. It’s more like being the currency than it is being like a currency holder.

    1. Everybody has an optimal amount of trips: the number that allows them to fulfill their goals. Transportation is a kind of friction: it limits which trips are feasible or tolerable. Hopefully the friction is low so that they can do almost all of their trips. Driving generally has less friction than transit because you don’t have to wait, you can go door to door, and the government has invested in a lot of car infrastructure. On the other hand parking is sometimes scarce, transit sometimes has traffic-bypassing priority, sometimes it’s full-time frequent, and you don’t have to worry about collisions or other drivers. We should make transit’s friction as low as feasible so that the most people will use it, and the widest cross-section of people/destinations will use it.

    2. I get how some trips are “induced”

      Yeah, its both. Imagine you have a class at North Seattle College and Seattle Central on the same day. This is a trip you are going to take, no matter how long it takes. Maybe you drive now, or slog your way with some awkward combination of infrequent buses. Six months from now, you just take Link.

      On the other hand, assume you live close to Northgate. When Link opens, you decide, spontaneously, to head to Capitol Hill. These sorts of trips happen all the time in a big city, with a good public transportation system. I’ve taken that type of trip a lot (and avoided them when they just don’t work).

      I would call the latter an induced trip. The former, on the other hand, is just mode switching (if you used to drive) or just improved transit (if that’s what you always did). Trips within a city are always a mix. Sometimes drivers avoid areas because of traffic of parking. Obviously others feel like it is just the price you have to pay. The same is true of transit.

      1. I think when most people first spontaneously that they want to make a trip, they first decide to do it before choosing a destination at some level. A spontaneous trip to Capitol Hill is always an option — but if that trip isn’t convenient , most people will decide to simply go somewhere more convenience by rather than not make any trip at all.

        Conversely, if a trip maker is going to Capitol Hill to get to a specific destination or for a specific purpose (a meal, meeting friends, shopping somewhere unique), then the journey time and mode are what gets chosen next. Still, that trip also isn’t induced.

        Great rail transit wonderfully expands choices for people. While a few of these trips are induced, most are going to be basically decision changes in mode or destination (or time of day).

        I’ll be curious if Green Lake will see an uptake in activity once Link opens. I’d be curious about how much Link has added activity at Pike Place Market or Capitol Hill because it seems to have increased activity to those destinations. For example, Capitol Hill had dozens of new restaurants after Link opened — both to serve an increasing nearby population as well as a new way to get there from other places.

      2. A spontaneous trip to Capitol Hill is always an option — but if that trip isn’t convenient , most people will decide to simply go somewhere more convenience by rather than not make any trip at all.

        Right; but that often means just staying in their neighborhood. Is walking to a neighborhood restaurant a trip? I guess. But if you count vehicle trips it isn’t. At some point, it becomes an argument over semantics. More people will visit Capitol Hill because it a lot more convenient. Fewer people will drive to … I don’t know, the top of Queen Anne. That is both a mode switch and a destination switch. Is the latter induced demand? Does it matter?

        It is not just trains that do this, nor is it just good transit that does this. Bike lanes do this as well. Lots of people visit Fremont by bike simply because they want to bike somewhere, and it works well for that. Maybe those people would bike somewhere else, or maybe they would just decide not to bike anywhere that day (since they got tired of always biking to the same places).

      3. I’ll be curious if Green Lake will see an uptake in activity once Link opens. I’d be curious about how much Link has added activity at Pike Place Market or Capitol Hill because it seems to have increased activity to those destinations.

        I would expect them all to go up, but I would also expect it will be difficult to tell. These are places that are very busy, with lots of people in the neighborhood, as well as people who take buses (and people who will continue to drive). I think the number of people at Pike Place (already really high) will increase substantially as development on the waterfront continues. It should be spectacular.

      4. Trips to Roosevelt will definitely go up, since it’s so time-consuming to get to Roosevelt now if you’re not on the 45, 62, or 67. Greenlake maybe not as much because it’s a longer walk so the effect is more muted. Magnuson Park and NE 65th will probably go up more significantly because the current network is still a deterrent to using transit, even though it’s better than it was before the 62. Currently if you’re at Magnuson Park and take the 62 to Roosevelt, then what? Stay on it 40 minutes more to get downtown, cursing at its slow middle along the way. Transfer to a not particularly fast 67. These are not very attractive options, whereas Link at Roosevelt will be very attractive.

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