Candidates (left to right): Brianna Thomas, Nikkita Oliver, and Sara Nelson.


With ST3 realignment looming, BRT and Center City Connector projects at stake, and an entire post-pandemic transit recovery to manage, NEW Seattle leadership from upcoming 2021 Mayoral and City Council elections MUST deliver on critical transit investments for us to reach our 2030 climate change benchmarks, escape traffic misery, and equitably serve all people.

In response, Seattle Subway is co-hosting two virtual rapid transit forums with Seattle Transit Blog. Our second forum will be for the Position 9 City Council race, to understand the stances of candidates for citywide council position 9 on a wide range of mass transit-related issues:

🚃 Seattle Subway Position 9 Forum, moderated by Michelle Baruchman

TONIGHT, Wednesday, July 7, 2021
The forum begins at 7:00pm and as late as 7:15pm due to the candidates having an earlier commitment
The forum ends by 8:15pm

REGISTER for Zoom information:

See you at the (virtual) forum!

17 Replies to “Position 9 City Council Forum Tonight”

  1. Can Ms Baruchmann focus on questions that discover how deep the candidates’ understanding of how transit — and transportation more broadly — works and how it directly affects everyone in the City.

    Come with rude interruptions ready to deploy when the candidates veer off into pie-in-the-sky platitudes. Most especially DON’T try to get the candidates to endorse YOUR pie-in-the-sky platitudes.

    Focus on what might actually fit within an optimistic but possible budget.

  2. Based on the MASS Coalition forum a couple weeks ago, none of the candidates appear to have much direct interest in transit issues. Regardless, I am interested to see if or how the candidates will now attempt to differentiate themselves from each other since they otherwise seem to have very similar, if shallow, platforms regarding transit and land use issues.

    However, Nikkita Oliver’s willingness to discuss their harrowing experience of starting to ride on our disjointed bike lane network last summer strikes me as meaning that they would actually support reinforcing the priorities of the bike master plan – same with them being willing to admit they primarily drive around the city. Sara Nelson and Brianna Thomas’ adherence to typical progressive transit principles and tag lines wasn’t very interesting, but maybe those two will try harder to explain their beliefs tonight, if the questions give them that opportunity.

    1. This forum was bogus. There are something like 6 candidates in this race. I met and grilled candidate Xtian Gunther about his positions on public transport. He came across as knowledgable, passionate and dedicated to stepping up and speeding up Seattle’s commitments to better train and other transportation investments. He was pushing road tolling and a new city authority to build out a complete system like that touted by Seattle Subway. Yet, he didn’t even get to participate? And where was Corey Eichner, another candidate for this race. Seattle Subway would do well to include those voices that reflect their goals.

      I shake my head. This city is so walled off politically, with the same types of political lefties fighting for the same social issues that never focus on how we get around.

  3. From last night. Thomas rides transit; she likes the C Line. She mentioned Route 116 without acknowledging that it has been suspended for more than a year. Oliver drives. She exaggerated the difficulty of using transit between the Rainier Valley and the Central Area; routes 7 and 9 intersect with Link and routes 8 and 48 at Mt. Baker; waits on routes 7, 8, and 48 and Link are relatively short, though ST could reduce those of Link. Thomas said she helped on the STBD sales tax rate negotiations; the compromise .15 rate is better than the .1 rate proposed by the mayor, but clearly the voters would have approved .2 cents. Nelson and Thomas get the free v. frequent transit tradeoff. Nelson worked for Conlin when he was Transportation Chair.

    1. Do you live in the RV? I do — and Taylor is right! Route 9 has mostly been downgraded and is currently not running. I’m not sure if Route 7x will come back either. Routes 8 and 48 run through mostly residential districts and neither go to First Hill hospitals or the Pike-Pine area; a rider has to either transfer downtown or make a double transfer.

      To that point, I am surprised that no question was asked about what a difference Judkins Park will make and how they will respond to its opening during the winner’s upcoming term.

      1. Wait Al, are you saying it is hard to get from Rainier Valley to the C. D.? I don’t see that at all. The 8 runs every 12 minutes, while the 48 runs every 10 minutes*. Those cover the main corridors in the Central Area. The 7 runs every 10 minutes, covering the main corridor in Rainier Valley. You also have Link running every 10 minutes, and the 106 running every 15. It is probably one of the best combinations out there, in that it is relatively frequent and direct.

        It is only on the edges where things get tricky. Getting to Seward Park is more difficult — but relatively few people live there. Same with Leschi. More people live in Madrona, but still not that many. Meanwhile, on the west side of the C. D. (Capitol Hill and First Hill) you can connect to the streetcar or the 60. It might not be a straight shot, but it will get you there without a huge detour.

        There is a bit of a hole in Cherry Hill, but that is very difficult to serve with a north-south line. The long-range plan suggest running the 48 all the way to Rainier Beach (and making it RapidRide). That would pretty much solve that problem, as riders would have a one seat ride along that corridor, and then a two-seat ride to other places. But then folks in Rainier Valley would lose their one-seat ride to downtown, and I doubt that would be popular.

        * These are middle of the day times before the pandemic. There have been cutbacks, but that is a general issue that has nothing to do with connecting those two neighborhoods.

      2. We’d need more specifics on what they mean by inadequate Rainier Valley service. It may be sensible things or it may be redundant or impractical things. Some people want one and others want the other. We’d have to determine which way the candidate is, and whether they’d have a generally sensible approach to transit issues both inside and outside Rainier Valley. I couldn’t tell from their short answers, and the format didn’t allow them to elaborate or prompt them to answer these questions. They also have limited knowledge of transit. I need to adjust my expectations to determine which of these candidates, all of whom have a limited knowledge of transit, would take the best approach with the knowledge they have.

        Regarding Rainier Valley, it sounds like Al S and maybe Taylor want a Broadway-Rainier route. The 60 connects First Hill to Beacon Hill, but there’s no comparable all-day route between First Hill and Rainier Avenue. The 9 local used to do that but it’s been gone for years. The pre-covid 9X had a few midday runs but less than half-hourly. The question is whether this one-seat ride is necessary or justified alongside the existing 7, 7, 48, and 60, 107. Arguments for include the size of First Hill and Rainier Valley, and equity issues. Arguments against are that it’s another one-seat ride on top of several, and that the alternative is to transfer at 12th & Jackson.

        Judkins Park Station will improve mobility in several ways, because both the 7 and 48 stop next to it, and the 106, and the 8 is five flat blocks away. The 7 and 48 will probably remain on those routes. The 8 and 106 may be restructured. Metro’s 2025 plan suggests replacing that part of the 106 with an MLK-Boren route (RB-SLU). That would get Rainier Valley to First Hill, but not exactly Rainier Ave to Broadway, Is it close enough? That part of the 8 is deleted: there’s nothing on MLK between Mt Baker Station and Madison Street. Metro’s 2040 plan reinstates north MLK service with a Mt Baker-MLK & Madison route. I’m skeptical about that because who would want to ride two miles and be dumped at MLK & Madison, with nothing in between except Grocery Outlet and the Jackson-MLK-23rd cluster? How do the rest of y’all feel about these routes. What would Taylor, Oliver, and the other candidate think of them?

        Another issue the candidates were muddled about is the CCC. One of them said we need the CCC to connect the Central District to Broadway. The First Hill streetcar already does that! The CCC would be further west and is irrelevant to that trip pair. Or were they talking about extending the streetcar north to Broadway & Roy? That’s a separate proposal and not in the CCC plan. And the city has mothballed it. It mothballed it because Broadway merchants were skeptical of the streetcar’s impacts on GP/parking lanes and construction disruption, and didn’t want to pay LID taxes for it. So what is it the candidates want? And please, don’t throw money at the CCC when Seattle has so many more urgent corridor needs, both in the CD and Rainier Valley and in the rest of the city. Improve those and then we can come back to the CCC or First Avenue service more generally.

      3. RossB, while it’s true someone living in the CD can get to attractions on Rainier easily, Rainier Valley residents cannot get to attractions in the CD unless except those on 23rd. Swedish Cherry Hill, Harborview, Swedish First Hill and Virginia Mason all require either transferring Downtown or a double transfer (on a longish sloped walk) or running across Jackson Street to hop the crawling FHSC.

        I’m sorry that you can’t understand the difference. These are the nearby major medical centers for a very large portion of Seattle . Back when the 8 or 48 went down MLK and the 9 was running, it was quite different. Metro service to the hospitals for SE Seattle residents is significantly worse than it was in 2014.

      4. @Al — The point is, MLK and 23rd are the heart of the Central District. If you ask most people where Harborview is, they will say “First Hill”, not “the C. D.”. If you ask them where Garfield is, it is the opposite. So if someone says “It is hard to get to the C. D. from Rainier Valley by bus”, my reaction would be the same as Eddie’s, which is to reply “What??? What part of Rainier Valley and the C. D. are you talking about?”.

        Oh, and if you do want to get to Harborview, Swedish or Virginia Mason (i. e. First Hill) you transfer to the 60. That is a simple transfer, with the buses pretty much going the way you would if you were driving. It is only Cherry Hill that is isolated, but that is a teeny, tiny part of the Central Area. It is like complaining that you can’t get from Interbay to Ballard because you can’t get to the Goodwill on 65th and 8th without transferring twice. Yes, it is called Goodwill Ballard, but it certainly isn’t the heart of Ballard, and it certainly isn’t where most people want to go. With all due respect to Cherry Hill, the reason it doesn’t have great transit is because it isn’t a major destination and it isn’t on the way. It doesn’t lend itself to good north-south bus service, which limits the options for serving it. You could solve the problem by replacing the 7 with an extended 48, but again, most people would complain about having to take two buses to get downtown from Rainier Valley.

        If you want to argue that the city needs a lot more money so that they can build a much better bus network, join the club. But I certainly wouldn’t start with that connection as an example (how about Alki to the C. D., or Bitter Lake to Lake City).

      5. Having the 106 continue straight to First Hill and SLU instead of duplicating the 7 to downtown seems reasonable. Having a whole separate route down Rainier, all the way from My. Baker to Rainier Beach, just to provide a one seat rides to hospitals, less so. It would inevitably be paid for by the 7 itself running less frequently.

        Hospitals are good destinations to serve, but a hospital is not downtown, and we shouldn’t sacrifice frequency and span of service for more common trips, just to provide a one seat ride to a hospital from a few more neighborhoods.

      6. So why do Shoreline, Wedgewood and Federal Way get direct buses to First Hill and Cherry Hill but not SE Seattle?

      7. So why do Shoreline, Wedgwood and Federal Way get direct buses to First Hill and Cherry Hill but not SE Seattle?

        Those are peak-only express buses that are running alongside other peak-hour express buses to other parts of downtown. The peak-hour express buses reach capacity at that time. They run very frequently — not to make service better, but to deal with crowding. At that point, sending the bus somewhere else doesn’t really cost you anything.

        The 7 doesn’t operate that way. The 7 is an urban bus. Despite being one of the highest ridership buses in the system, and performing really well in all of the metrics (all day long) it does not have that many buses during peak. Before the pandemic, at most it ran every 8 minutes. Ridership is way more spread out.

        Which gets me to the 9. It is more or less the bus you want. But it only runs peak direction (albeit with a bigger range than most) and it performs well below any bus in the area. Thus it is much harder to justify. It is nice for the folks who take it, but it pulls service from the 7, which could be running more often, every part of the day.

        Money is the issue. It is pretty easy to imagine the 48 being extended to Rainier Beach. It is also easy to imagine it running opposite the 7. This means that the combined frequency on (most of) Rainier Avenue would be 5 minutes during the day, and 7.5 minutes at night. But where is the money going to come from? You could run both buses less often (e. g. 15 minutes all day long) but that would mean a degradation for most of the riders.

        As asdf2 said, it is quite reasonable to send the 106 up to First Hill. This could be part of a new Boren bus to South Lake Union. That would still cost money (since the 106 doesn’t run through downtown) but not that much.

        You could just keep the 106 as is, and run a new bus from South Lake Union to Mount Baker via Boren. That would cost even more. But it would still be cheaper than running that bus down Rainier Avenue, as I think you are suggesting.

        More than anything, it isn’t clear what you are proposing, or how we would pay for it. Do you want a reverse split on Rainier Avenue, with one bus going to downtown, and the other going somewhere up the hill? If so, where, and how often? Or are you suggesting we have only one bus on Rainier Avenue south of Mount Baker, and that bus *doesn’t* go downtown? Or do you want another poorly performing, peak-only bus to First Hill?

        None of these are crazy ideas. Other than the reverse split, they have been considered by Metro. But all of them have trade-offs. Frankly, none of them seem like essential problems that need fixing. A two seat ride from Rainier Avenue to Boren, Broadway or 23rd seems quite reasonable to me. It is only if you want to go half-way in between 23rd and Broadway (e. g. Cherry Hill) that it means a slight detour (to downtown) and there aren’t huge numbers of people who are doing that. If you run the 106 to Boren, then it is is only the folks from south of there (on Rainier Avenue, not close to MLK) headed to those places that are hurt by this relatively small detour.

        In contrast, what if you are trying to go along that part of the hill? What if you are trying to get from Swedish Cherry Hill to Kaiser (formally Group Health)? You are screwed, even if you “fixed” the other problem with one of those buses. The best you can do is run a bus on 14th, which is still a few blocks west of ideal. Again, that’s not a crazy idea (I’ve proposed it) but it is definitely a stretch. It wouldn’t have a huge amount of ridership, and we don’t have a lot of money for routes like that.

        Which is really the core issue with transit in Seattle. We simply aren’t spending enough on the buses, while we spend way too much on the trains. I can understand a politician ignoring the latter (and only focusing on the former) but they don’t seem to be doing even that. I’m a big fan of revenue-neutral restructures, but that isn’t the biggest need in the area. More service is.

  4. I felt to me like these candidates should be running for Mayor and the Mayoral candidates should be running for this seat. All of these candidates were generally willing to look at both sides of an issue practically — as opposed to the mayoral candidates who seem lots more intent on blindly promoting their “lane”. A goods example was the free fare question.

  5. Oh dear, Durkan is talking about an initial Link phase Alaska Junction – Smith Cove, with Ballard after that. Why is the less-dense half first? Why should the Duwamish River crossing be before the Ship Canal Crossing? Is it all about the West Seattle Bridge and West Seattle privilege? The West Seattle Bridge will be repaired long before this segment opens, so should we be basing Link decisions on short-term bridge issues?

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