”>Peter Rogoff (3742144876)

ST announced yesterday that CEO Peter Rogoff “did not foresee remaining in his role” and will step down in the middle of next year. PubliCola reports that Executive Constantine, Councilmember Balducci, and Mayor Durkan had all expressed concerns about his performance.

Important things can happen in the remaining months. However, friends of Sound Transit will likely remember his tenure, dating to 2015, as presenting high highs and low lows. Hired from the Federal Transit Administration, he was advertised as the key to winning Federal grants. It’s hard to measure that promise against the counterfactual of someone else running things.

The ST CEO does not have the freedom to advance their own vision for regional transit. Yet Mr. Rogoff ran a process that produced a successful ST3 ballot measure and kept ST2 construction firmly on track. At the next tier of initiatives, he took enough interest in rider experience to start steering the agency from its singular focus on pouring concrete, with a new committee focused on the subject and an attempt to tackle the ongoing escalator fiasco. He also resisted the drive to abolish fare enforcement in last year’s anti-police moment, resulting in the “fare ambassador” compromise.

However, the same process that built a electorally optimized ST3 also did not produce a realizable plan, recalling the bad old days of Sound Transit 1. Partly a result of real estate inflation, partly of cities ignoring his pleas to eliminate alternatives early, and partly of poor communication inside the agency, forcing elected officials to make tough decisions usually leads to career trouble.

Rogoff also generated unnecessary bad press. Accused of inappropriate behavior, ST hired an expensive executive coach ($) to revise his interpersonal style. The Board was willing to indulge these shortcomings until the main projects went awry, and someone had to take the blame.

The next CEO will come at an interesting time. ST2 will be essentially complete, but ST3 will require attention to get cost and schedule under control.

86 Replies to “Rogoff out in mid-2022”

  1. From a good governance p.o.v., one hopes that ~9 months of lead time means that ST will have a new CEO ready to go right away, and won’t have to suffer through the uncertainty and instability of an Interim CEO.

  2. Ya. I was a bit surprised to hear this as I expected Rogoff to stay on through at least 2022, if for no other reason than institutional inertia.

    But my understanding is that Dear Old Rogoff had made some offhand comments about wanting to step down in 2022, so the powers that be just grabbed the moment to escort him out the door. Probably a win-win for all involved.

    And the ongoing problems with escalators had nothing to do with it – that is mainly a Metro DSTT issue. Nor his decision to include the underperforming BAR and 130th St Stations in ST3 as a way of buying off a few shrill politicians. That is now water under the bridge.

    Let’s hope they find Earl 2.0!!

    One week till NG Link opens!

    1. Escalators breaking down frequently, and the design flaw of not having redundant escalators accessible to each other between levels at UW Station, is not a Metro/DSTT problem. That design flaw might not be on Rogoff, but he was in charge when the design flaw got fixed so riders now have a choice of escalators.

      There was a similar change order at U-District Station that we will get to check out on October 2. Good on whoever under Rogoff’s change of command came up with that change order!

      I hope as stations get older, the board does not start blaming previous board decisions, rather than entropy. Old escalators get replaced from time to time. Who knew? At least ST has a culture of budgeting for, and performing, maintenance to extend the life of capital assets, which preceded Rogoff, has continued under him, and will hopefully continue.

      Constantine, for his part, has done a great job of having Transit Act as One. The timing of giving Rogoff notice right before a surprisingly strong re-election battle, I think, speaks for itself. It would be awesome to have more such contests between/among such outstanding candidates.

      But if the voters decide they want Nguyen as Executive badly enough to retire Constantine from politics, I think Constantine would be an outstanding candidate for CEO of Sound Transit. And Nguyen would be a fine future Board Chair, if he sticks around long enough as Executive.

      Something tells me Rogoff has no future in politics, at least on the inside. Consulting/lobbying, that’s another matter.

      1. Ah, let’s start with some facts. Yes, the escalators at UWS were breaking down, and yes there was not an easily accessible stair option, but the escalators at UWS are now at 99% availability. And I believe there is a stair option too, I just haven’t used it because the escalators work 99% of the time!

        So, ya, Rogoff was given a mess, but at least he fixed that part of it. But the DSTT? ST doesn’t even own it yet! And Metro is very clear in admitting that they short changed maintenance to keep buses rolling.

        But I’m no fan of Rogoff. He rolled over way too quickly on ST3 when he agreed to add in the worthless stations at BAR and 130th for political reasons. And then he didn’t have the guts to delete them when the budget turned to crap. For that I will never forgive him.

        But hey, ONE MORE WEEK to NG Link opening!!!!

      2. “ST doesn’t even own it yet!”

        The transfer was finalized when buses were kicked out of the tunnel. ST inherited escalator maintenance and is now responsible for it.

        The fact that King County, which formerly owned the tunnel, didn’t replace the escalators at their end of life when it was about to hand over the tunnel to ST, can be interpreted in two different ways. Either the county should have replaced the escalators since it used them up, or it was wise with taxpayer funds in not spending capital money on an asset that was of decreasing benefit to it, and ST might want to redesign the stations anyway and put in different escalators.

      3. @Mike O.

        The transfer deal was finalized a long time ago but it still hasn’t occurred, and ST is just now taking over escalator maintenance. Metro has been dragging their feet.

        And it doesn’t matter if the tax dollars are Metro’s or ST’s, they are still tax dollars and Metro has an obligation to spend them wisely.

        Just running an asset into the ground and wasting the associated tax dollars (regardless of who ends up picking up the tab) because you are miffed at being forced to transfer the asset is bad governance.

        But hey, regardless of how much money is wasted in the DSTT transfer fiasco, once ST has full control and gets their maintenance program running, I am sure these problems will be resolved. Only then will the DSTT begin to live up to its full potential.

      4. “The transfer deal was finalized a long time ago but it still hasn’t occurred, and ST is just now taking over escalator maintenance. Metro has been dragging their feet.”

        Sound Transit took possession of the escalators and elevators last January. Sound Transit has not completed the ownership transfer of the rest of the tunnel because the transfer deal has not been finalized.

      5. I’m no fan of Rogoff. He rolled over way too quickly on ST3 when he agreed to add in the worthless stations at BAR and 130th for political reasons. And then he didn’t have the guts to delete them when the budget turned to crap.

        You’ll never forgive him for listening to Metro planners, and adding a station that will completely transform transit in the north end. Ah, OK. Maybe you wanted him to push for more park and ride lots, or lines to Issaquah?

      6. @Rossb,

        Ah, no, those stations exist despite the data on their projected future performance. They are political stations and not data driven stations. They exist because the framers of ST3 put political expediency over system efficiency.

        And ST should never listen to the Metro planners. There is a reason this region is so behind on transit. It has a lot to do with the fact that we doubled down on bus only service. And it has a lot to do with the fact that we entrusted that service to Metro.

        The formation of ST was intended to be a step beyond what Metro had demonstrated they were capable of, and so far it has been that. One has to look no further than the DSTT fiasco to understand that reality.

        But hey, one week to NG Link opening! The biggest advance in northend transit since……. Well….. I can’t think of a bigger event for northend transit. Can’t wait.

      7. ST should never listen to the Metro planners

        Wow. I like to think that anti-intellectual claptrap like this is only found on right-wing radio. I guess times have changed. It seems crazy to have to state the obvious, but here goes: Listen to the experts. You don’t have to agree with them all the time, but you should listen to them. If you disagree, come up with a sensible argument for why you think their reasoning is flawed. Oh, and don’t eat the paste.

        You obviously don’t understand how transit works, and repeated attempts to explain even the most basic concepts have failed, miserably. I think it would be easier to teach long division to a chicken.

        But I do think a little primer is in order for those who visit the site and are new to the ideas. The profession that Lazarus suggested we ignore is called network planning ( here is a good overview of it). Jarrett Walker is the most famous network planner, as well as a consultant and writer. The key to the profession is right there in the name: network. It isn’t about a particular line or stop, it is about the entire network. If you read Walker’s book, or any of his essays, you are bound to see him repeatedly reference the word “network”. For example, in this excellent essay he writes:

        [Frequency] makes connections easy, which makes it possible for a pile of transit lines to become a network. In transit, this is huge. A transit line without good connections is useful for traveling in one dimension, along that line. A network of frequent lines makes it easy to travel in two dimensions – all over the city, or at least all over the part of it that supports frequent service. This network effect massively expands the usefulness of every line in the network, thus increasing each line’s ridership potential.

        Clearly, the network is important to transit professionals (but apparently not to Lazarus). This begs the question: Why is 130th station important to Metro planners? How would it improve the network?

        For that, you will have to dig into the weeds a little bit. Look at a map of Seattle, or better yet, a transit map: Notice how the buses from Bitter Lake and Lake City go to Northgate. With the Link station at Northgate (and only Northgate) there is no reasonable alternative to running the buses to Northgate. But it comes at a cost. It is very time consuming to run buses to Northgate. This in turn hurts frequency, which in turns hurts the network, as Walker explained earlier.

        This is why, for example, Bitter Lake will be connected to Link via a bus that takes about a half hour for the journey, and runs every half hour, despite the two communities being less than two miles apart (as the crow flies). This means that Bitter Lake is cutoff from the north end of the light rail network. It gets worse. Traveling between Bitter Lake and Lake City takes 45 minutes, for a trip that would take 10 by car ( Metro could run buses between the two destinations, but that would mean less frequency on the other routes (including those that feed Link), which would mean … well, you get it.

        Now imagine there is a station at NE 130th. Metro would just extend the 75, like so: Notice how both Bitter Lake and Lake City have a much faster connection to Link. Notice how travel from Bitter Lake to Lake City is much faster. For no additional spending on the buses, dozens of trips are much faster. Metro actually saves money by altering the route in that way (since getting to Northgate is so time consuming). This means that the buses are faster and more frequent, with more direct connections to popular destinations, Link, and other buses. It enables, in short, a dramatic improvement in the network.

        Is it worth the money? Absolutely. It is unlikely that any stop north of Northgate (except maybe Lynnwood) will improve transit mobility as much as that stop. Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about a multi-billion dollar extension, but simply a new station.

      8. I’ve attempted several different variations to avoid the E going out to my friend’s place in Shoreline. A couple of those involved transfers at Northgate.

        I can confirm the amount of time getting into and out of that place by most routes consumes quite a lot of time.

      9. @Rossb,

        You don’t listen to supposed experts who have a track record of getting things wrong almost every time. That is a recipe for failure.

      10. @Rossb,

        You don’t listen to supposed experts who have a track record of getting things wrong almost every time. That is a recipe for failure.

        Remember what I wrote:

        Listen to the experts. You don’t have to agree with them all the time, but you should listen to them. If you disagree, come up with a sensible argument for why you think their reasoning is flawed.

        You still haven’t come up with a sensible argument for why the people who know more about transit than you should be ignored. It is not like they are taking a radical position. Any transit planner would feel the same way. Hell, anyone who knows the area would feel the same way. Are you simply going to make nonsensical attacks on an agency (e. g. Metro planners somehow failed to build a subway line) or are you going to give us a reason why you think everyone else is wrong about 130th?

    2. How can stations that haven’t even been built yet underperform? What nonsense.

      You seem to be oblivious as to why the man was kicked out. From PublicCola:

      Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff … is reportedly facing internal criticism from Sound Transit board members who have felt blindsided by revelations over the past year and a half that the Sound Transit 3 program … will cost far more than originally estimated.

      Board members have raised concerns in the past about Rogoff’s on-the-job behavior, including alleged inappropriate behavior toward female employees and an abrasive communications style, and the board agreed in 2018 to pay for a $550-an-hour coach to improve his approach to leading the agency. What’s in question now, though, is his job performance.

      A new report on the agency’s cost estimating practices, which the board received earlier this month, hints at some board members’ concerns. The report, by Denver-based Triunity Inc, concludes that under Rogoff’s leadership, Sound Transit has been slow to make crucial decisions that could reduce costs (such as choosing a preferred alignment for light rail expansion), that “siloed” divisions within the agency failed to talk to each other while developing alignment alternatives, and that staffers are reluctant to share concerns with the board because of Sound Transit’s culture of keeping bad news under wraps.

  3. Before we replace Rogoff, I hope the Board does take several weeks to do some soul searching. What’s most important to have in this job? Rail operations management? Construction contracts management? Grant lobbying? A convincing public advocate for transit? Long range planning or forecasting? Cash flow management? There are many skills that could be useful — and the Board needs to look at the skill sets needed for all of the top executive decisions and determine which one fits which role.

    The major wish I have is for ST to hire someone with lots of rail operations experience elsewhere — along with experience managing major capital construction and perhaps even systems planning. We are so close to the ST2 system that remaining major decisions moving forward should be made with an eye to what daily use will be.

    Honestly, most Board members have never lived — much less managed — an extensive light rail system. I understand the power of familiarity that results in internal promotions — but as typical Link ridership triples in the next three years, Link will be viewed less like a ribbon-cutting photo opp and more like an operation dealing with more mundane issues like station maintenance, employee interactions with the public, driver oversight, periodic accidents and shutdowns, the occasional scandal inside staff and other issues that come with having more Link stations open than planned (an inverse of today).

    1. Sounds like if an internal candidate for CEO can’t be found, then ST Board should ask Kevin Desmond to take over. I’m just worried who and how many people will be poached outta TransLink as a result…

      1. He hasn’t been with TransLink for some time now. “Kevin Desmond is Principal + National Director, Transit and Rail” at Sam Schwartz. I assume he’s working out of their Seattle Office. His Linkedin page says he’s in Tacoma. ST & Metro could certainly tap into his expertise through consulting contracts.

        The ST CEO needs to be finacially savey (because the Board isn’t) and an effective herder of politicats because that’s what the Board is. I don’t understand why “transit advocates” are so opposed to electing board members. Then you can vote solely on a persons transit qualifications instead of, “yeah, they suck as a ST board member but when I voted for them insert position it wasn’t an ST board position.” There’s only a few positions that aren’t on rotation. One is the WSDOT director which is appointed by the Governor.

        Or, better than the current system make them all apointments. Pierce Co. appoints one, Tacoma appoints one, Snohomish appoints one, Everett appoints one, King Co. appoints 2, Bellevue/Kirkland/Redmond appoints one, Kent/Renton/Federal Way appoints one, the State appoints one. You make these paid positions instead of extra work for free or worse, a campaign platform. And yes, this shrinks the board by half. Why do we need twice as many people on the ST board as are on the US Supreme Court? With 9 there would be a lot less cat fights.

      2. Thank you Bernie.

        1) As to Kevin Desmond, well he’s been gone from TransLink less than Ric Illgenfritz was gone from ST before going to Community Transit.

        2) For the Sound Transit Board, I would prefer that was elected and perhaps fewer seats. BART’s is elected and doing quite well. There are some very good people who should be on that board who aren’t and the thought of one person appointing a majority is not ok.

        For Community Transit in Snohomish County – especially once Everett mergers; I would prefer either a Mayor’s Council of all the county’s mayors like w/ TransLink, the County Council run it or the County Council appoint representative community members. In that order. King County Metro is run by the King County Council, so there is that beautiful accountability model to run with.

        For most other transits, considering the facts that ‘Big Money’ is here to stay and I’ve seen good progressive candidates impacted by that and + the decline in professional media I’m wary of small transits having elected boards. The risk of a small transit board being afraid to ever ask for more revenue to grow with their transit district, among other potential consequences, is just too high. Plus let’s be honest – when you’re running down-ballot in a local election you’re competing with campaigns for other offices for a small # of potential donors, most of whom are of modest means.

        Sorry for the long-winded answer. This is an issue I’ve evolved on.

      3. Joe
        My time in Denver with RTD, I can say that elected boards are honestly a bad idea from my view due to how I felt that the directly elected board doesn’t really exist to serve the people who genuinely rely on it like I (disabled person) and low wage workers/families and very much a big focus on commuters based on my experience from their twice yearly bus restructure open house Along with a general attitude of not caring about passenger problems like the smart card being practically useless, shelter, protection from the cold, safe bus stops for winter, and ADA access to light rail being bad.

      4. @Zach, Your concerns are among the very problems we have with the current board. I have no problem with the members being appointed. If they do a good job they get reappointed which could fix the revolving board issue currently baked in. Basically the politicians that are now required to serve as board members would turn this into a paid staff position. This would largely eliminate the largely political statements that the board meetings devolve into. It would allow the appointment of someone that actually knows something. For example the King County Executive could appoint the Metro General Manger or the Deputy General Manager. Both are working on transit issues full time and know both the wonky issues and how to work with the King County Council.

    2. Desmond is one well-known good transit manager, who reformed Metro’s earlier practices. Would he want the job? Would anyone want it given the state ST is in? The situation now is not like 2000 when there was just one obvious project to build, and most of the reforms were financial (making the budget realistic and extending the timeline). Now on top of that there’s a lot of unbuilt projects, some of questionable value and mainly political for the subareas, and ST is making bad decisions on station locations, maybe worse than its previous bad station decisions (although that’s debatable). So turning it around may not be easy or possible, and that might dog the next CEO’s reputation.

  4. I find it weird how little the CEO of a public agency with a multi-billion dollar budget makes. $379,000 is a pretty good salary, but in the private sector, if you are in charge of a billion dollar budget, you are likely making millions.

    1. I was surprised at his large severance. I don’t get $18,000 for career transition when my services are no longer required. I get nothing.

      1. That’s just over 2 weeks pay so actually kind of stingy for any government job. My bet is he already has a line on a job in the Biden administration.

  5. A few thoughts:

    1) Very nicely written Martin. As usual, but it was key STB got the balance right.

    2) Yes, it was time for Peter Rogoff to be released. Like a certain beloved corner of a certain beloved football team, CEO Rogoff’s abrasive personality at gracious best got to the point where the wrong Boardmember was.. sanded to a point where she went to Publicola and the rest is history.

    3) Happy to have lent public comment to further along this release. It was hard to give, but necessary. We transit advocates need the rank and file Sound Transit staff to believe in themselves and be in service to the truth. The work Sound Transit does is noble work, but engineering + political work that cannot continue in good faith without absolute adherence and sharing of truth. A Captain Picard speech about truth comes to mind.

    4) We transit advocates also need the Sound Transit Board to govern, and collectively the Board did govern this year. Saving realignment from becoming a nightmare. Then releasing Rogoff.

    5) For CEO: I don’t want Earl, v 2.0 and I certainly don’t want another Rogoff. Sound Transit should promote from within.

      1. I don’t think Rogoff’s alleged sins were civil court related, but were part of the larger problem. Maybe because I have a hot tempered relative who I idolized and I tried to be like him until it got me into too much trouble. The issue for me in the end was the inability of staff to get to the Board, like Rogoff was controlling the font of information too much.

        I believe Rogoff’s personality quirks let Rogoff and Sound Transit down as much as Rogoff’s political knowledge got ST3 to a point where one day we’ll see the projects completed. If it’s any comfort, I too have personality quirks that have failed me.

  6. I do hope that the board focuses on what skill set the next CEO needs to have, rather than making this primarily a diversity and political correctness hire. As large and political as the board is, that is a risk. And it does seem like Rogoff is being let go in part because he didn’t kowtow to the political correctness the board wanted.

  7. I can’t imagine who would want the job.

    Seattle will demand a second transit tunnel underneath most of the downtown, West Seattle and Ballard will want tunnels and underground stations like IDS to Northgate, my guess is an operational levy will be necessary based on future ridership and farebox recovery, ST 4 looks like it is out of the question, if Seattle passes its own HB1304 type levy groups like Seattle Subway will want to be included and they have totally unrealistic goals and the understanding of the costs of the projects they want, and the deficit to complete ST 3 will be close to the original $11.5 billion estimate because the cost of the ROW’s and construction will increase as fast as the revenues from the five year extension.

    So either the next CEO passes a very large ST 4 levy, or Seattle passes an inadequate HB1304 levy which comes with a bunch of transit amateurs with unrealistic dreams, an operations levy passes unless 100% of commuters return and even then ridership estimates pre-pandemic were exaggerated, and/or fares increase dramatically, or WSBLE and Ballard get bus service and DSTT2 is scrapped and rail only runs through DSTT1 although the Board in the realignment promised the citizens and transit nuts the moon.

    For $380,000/year. No thanks.

    1. Seattle will demand a second transit tunnel underneath most of the downtown…

      Is the passage of ST3 a figment of my imagination? Was this second transit tunnel under downtown being part of ST3 also a figment of my imagination?

    2. Hi Daniel, you daily assert that DSTT2 is unaffordable. Is this assertion based on anything at all? Have you reviewed the financial plan and discovered something the CFO and her staff and the auditors all missed? Have you some tunnel engineering expertise that was not available to Triunity?

      1. Quick answer to your first question: “No, nothing at all, except my hope to humiliate Seattle and those who live there.”

  8. Good riddance. His contract should not have been renewed a few years back when the board was made aware of his professional misconduct in the workplace.

  9. The comment section has always portrayed ST as completely powerless. “ST acquiesces to Tukwila. Won’t build light rail to Southcenter. ST acquiesces to Kemper Freeman. Won’t build light rail near his mall. ST acquiesces to Seattle councilperson. Will build 130th infill station. ST acquiesces to Bellevue. Won’t build station next to city hall.” Etc., etc. It sounds like it doesn’t matter who runs ST.

  10. It’s a really tough job being a GM. As Rogoff demonstrated, the same aggressiveness that makes a GM successful getting something funded and built, is exactly the opposite of the nurturing personality Seattleites like in their bosses. People who have lived in the northeast, like me, shake our heads at how difficult that is in Seattle. Transit employees in Boston and New York are much more used to it and expect it.

    It’s also really tough for a transit Board to find a good GM. Of ST’s last 3 CEOs, which one had the most directly related transit building experience? Not Rogoff or Earl. The Board should remember, or ask, how that worked out, and have some humility when they think they are going to find the world’s best CEO. There’s a lot of luck involved.

    The Seattle Times article made a lot of noise about the Triunity cost report. That’s all a smokescreen, but I suppose it could be a handy tool for someone who wants Rogoff gone or who wants to make trouble for ST. Some of the Triunity recommendations looked sensible, but they were all nibbling around the margins. Real estate is the 800 lb gorilla. To see the best crystal ball for people who invest billions in anticipation of real estate prices, take a look at the price of any REIT index. Doubled since the ST3 System Plan came out, then cut in half at the start of COVID, now more than fully recovered.

    But the uncertainty is even worse than that. Infrastructure investment induces land use and travel demand, and the anticipation of that demand increases real estate prices. We all understand it qualitatively, but it is maddeningly difficult to forecast on such a local scale. The newspaper’s implication that Rogoff’s leaving had something to do with costs seems cheap and lazy.

    1. One of the more important findings of the Triunity reporting was that hardly any of the cost overruns revealed in WSBLE this year are due to real estate inflation. After all, real estate inflation wasn’t some news that nobody discovered until this January. The major errors were all in the cost estimating process in 2015-2016, with the largest part being an undercount of how much real estate they would need.

      1. I wonder how much was on purpose, or at the very least, how often they were encouraged to underestimate the costs. If folks knew the real costs — and the timeline — it is possible that voters would have rejected it.

        Isn’t there a limit to how much they can propose spending at once? Would this have failed to qualify if the estimates were accurate?

      2. If folks knew the real costs — and the timeline — it is possible that voters would have rejected it.

        Exactly what I’ve been trying to say for years. It’s all about politics. You say/do whatever is necessary to get the ballot du jour measure passed and then sweep under the rug the reality and move on to getting the next infusion of cash. That’s how ST exists.

      3. Dan, they would significantly less real estate if they did two things.

        1) Allow sharper curves within a half-block of stations. The trains are already running relatively less quickly to enter the station or are accelerating to leave it. Adding twenty seconds to the approach/departure to save several hundred million by not elevating or digging is a good trade-off.

        2) Allow at-grade “terminal” stations in both “Downtown” Ballard and at Alaska Junction. Trains mostly sit at terminals.

      4. A good CEO will listen to the engineers when someone gives advice like this.

        Too many mass-casualty derailings have been caused by politicians settling for sharp turns, with the faulty assumption that the conductors would always know to slow down approaching the sharp curve.

      5. “ 2) Allow at-grade “terminal” stations in both “Downtown” Ballard and at Alaska Junction. Trains mostly sit at terminals.”

        I tend to agree on this point! It saves a rider time to make an elevation change — made worse by the default “no down escalators” designs.

        I’m still flummoxed why we should pay hundreds of millions more for an end of line station in a tunnel in West Seattle. It’s much costlier than building an infill station — and the last station is practically within walking distance of the next one. And don’t say it’s because buses meet there; buses can usually easily be rerouted. Rather than wipe out blocks let’s just buy out the north side of Oregon Street for surface tracks and dead-end them at California. Oh, either bring back the Pigeon Point tunnel and/or take part of the golf course for a station site. Why do we prefer to demolish hundreds of homes to protect a few golf course holes on public land that the general public can’t use anyway?

      6. “the faulty assumption that the conductors would always know to slow down”
        Does Link employ some sort of PTC system?

      7. Link needs looser curves, not sharper. The reason Link is limited to 55 mph are the tightness of the curves, the steepness of the inclines, and minimum-spec trains. ST mumbled in the run-up to ST3 that it would look at higher specs for extensions and ways to retrofit the existing sections (e.g., Rainier Beach to TIB), but hasn’t followed up on it that I’ve heard. If it’s going to run trains thirty miles to Everett and Tacoma Dome, competing against a 65 mph freeway, it needs faster trains. It’s even more laughable that ST initially thought Link could be surface from International District all the way to Tacoma Dome, which is what led to the 55 mph spec.

      8. Brent, so you’d just as soon that the trains enter stations at speed, then? That happens too, occasionally, and for exactly the same reasons you listed.

        I specifically said “allow lower speed curves close to the stations“. Read the entire post instead of letting your prejudice against me warp your judgment. I’m not advocating for random sharp curves in the middle of the countryside, like at Mounts Road.

        And, Mike, I’m very surprised that you didn’t get that what I said only applies to the immediate location of a station. Given the context of the ARTICLE, it’s pretty obvious that’s what the comment was about.

        Certainly, on long stretches between suburban stations 65 would be lots better than 55. But even out in the ‘burbs there will be a few pretty tight curves, like the one planned for 128th in Snohomish County. But it’s adjacent to the station, so no problem.

      9. 1) Allow sharper curves within a half-block of stations. The trains are already running relatively less quickly to enter the station or are accelerating to leave it. Adding twenty seconds to the approach/departure to save several hundred million by not elevating or digging is a good trade-off.

        2) Allow at-grade “terminal” stations in both “Downtown” Ballard and at Alaska Junction. Trains mostly sit at terminals.

        I agree on both points. The latter would actually improve the travel time for riders (less time spent getting up to the platform).

  11. Call up Andy Byford and throw money at him. Can’t get better than someone so good at his job that Andrew Cuomo had to force him out as a threat to the throne.

  12. Why no mention of the 2017 Amtrak derailment in Dupont on the Sound Transit-built bypass?
    That also happened under Rogoff’s watch.

    For those who may have forgotten, the NTSB final report (RAR 19-01) found the agency to be partially responsible for the accident.

    Perhaps the Triunity report is strike three for the CEO.

    1. I believe that a more seasoned rail transit GM would have made sure that the Cascades opening had better prep. I got the feeling that Rogoff generally didn’t like to direct advice and didn’t have the direct experience to spot a problem in the field.. He felt like a guy who merely just wanted everything to be calm as he took orders from his Board members.

  13. Good point tisgwm, the derailment was pretty close to criminal.

    Rogoff had become expendable. Unfortunately he was a tyrant, not unlike Cuomo, and these tyrants never realize there will come a time you will need some favors, and some help and love, except everyone you have dealt with wants to plunge the dagger in like Murder On The Orient Express. There are no tears on Mercer Island.

    Rogoff was right: the only way to keep the Ponzi scheme going was ST 4, and some discretion, but his mistake is he should have understood that before ST 3, which he had to do to complete ST 2. Rogoff would be the last person on earth I would want selling ST 4.

    The next CEO has two tasks, one pleasant and one very unpleasant:

    The pleasant task is opening East Link and Federal Way Link, and then Lynnwood Link and Redmond Link. All the Board members will be there for those ribbon cuttings.

    The very unpleasant task is explaining to Seattle, West Seattle and Ballard that the realignment does work, and makes sense, if DSTT2 is not built, and WSBLE either uses DSTT1 or buses.

    No qualified CEO in the U.S. would accept a job that pays $384,000/year and begins with digging a very deep tunnel under 5th Ave. — for $2.2 billion no less.

    Since this a very sad and bewildering day for Tom Terrific indeed, I will throw him a bone and point out the next CEO better take Tom’s advice and find a way to make DSTT1 work for West Seattle and Ballard, even if the four other subareas still have to contribute $275 million to extend the tunnel to SLU, and maybe a little bit farther. After all, N. King Co. paid a ton for light rail to nowhere to complete the spine (except East King Co.).

    The DEIS will begin after the West Seattle Bridge reopens, which will help because it will convince the residents and businesses that car capacity is the number one factor for their mobility, businesses, and lives, and light rail vs buses is insignificant.

    What I would do is put in the DEIS a bridge to Ballard and West Seattle that combines light rail and cars, and so cuts car capacity by 1/2, and another proposal that uses expresses buses on the same bridge and cuts car capacity by zero. You can bet which bridge West Seattle will choose, which won’t be lost on Ballard.

    Then find the money to complete Link to Everett and Tacoma, and an operations levy, and an operations levy for Metro so folks can get to Link, and the CEO is done.

    1. Not sad at all; I don’t give a rip about Rogoff being fired. It seems like he’s just an unpleasant grant writer with power issues.

      I would point out, though, that about ten days ago you wrote a veritable paean to Peter Rogoff (SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 AT 10:57 AM). And as usual you’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth about The Spine. Half the time you snuggle up to “the old heads” on the blog and scorn the Everett and Tacoma extensions, rightly. Wink-wink, nudge, nudge.

      But when it suits your central objective to disparage all things Seattle, you rah-rah about “Completing The Spine” as if its costs will bankrupt Seattle, like here. News Flash: North King construction on The Spine is somewhere over 95% complete, and they’re still largelyspending ST2 funds. The ST3 “advances” are a relatively minor part of Lynnwood Link construction, certainly less than the proportion of Lynnwood Link in Snohomish County.

      Second News Flash: if there is no DSTT2, the other subareas will owe North King for all ST3 tax revenues raised in North King after 2022 except the couple of hundred million for 130th and Graham Street.

      Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Merciless Island Landowner. Ask not for whom the tax man cometh, he comes for thee.

    2. Not to mention that adding Link to a replacement West Seattle Bridge would vastly inflate the cost. The gradient would have to be about half as steep as that of the exisiting bridge, forcing the approaches to be about twice as long.

      Engineering, it’s a “mathy” thing.

  14. Perhaps I am unique, but what most disappoints me about ST management is that they seem to care so little for current riders. They have a monument focus. They spend very little to improve existing routes; they are not as frequent as they could or should be; they do not have very long spans of service; and, they do not have proof of payment fare collection for faster service. The emphasis is always the shiny future and not current service. If routes 512, 545, 550, 574, and 594 serve corridors that justify Link in the future, why do not deserve better bus service today? Does the monument focus stem from the board structure and its spine worship or does is it also related to management. I am pretty sure the first leader, Tom Matoff, would have cared about service.

    1. This bothers me too. It may seem hard to remember now, but when Sound Transit 2 passed in 2008, immediate improvements to ST Express kicked in shortly thereafter. Since then, much of the ST2 service improvements got suspended in the delayed revenue fallout from the Great Recession, and some of it still hasn’t come back.

      When ST3 came, Sound Transit seems to have nearly completely lost interest in their bus service. At best, they see it as just temporary service until future Link lines get built, not worth spending much money on, with the I-405 and SR-522 corridors being the sole exceptions.

  15. Throwing this out to the horde who are familiar with transit agencies– is Sound Transit considered the NY Jets (i.e, a bunch of bumbling idiots) the of transit agencies, competent albeit flawed technocrats, or cream of the crop?

    (Given Seattle’s transit compared to say, Vancouver, BC or Washington, DC, I’d say they’re the Jets, but I’ll listen to the future Jarett Walkers out there)

    1. I don’t know enough about the Jets previous failures, but my guess is it is a reasonable analogy. The biggest problem with ST is that they are spending money on the wrong things. Lots of money.

      In some cases, they really couldn’t screw it up too badly. U-District to downtown is bound to be a success. Before they built the line there, I believe it was the highest density corridor without rail. They had the good sense to avoid the freeway, so there is a tremendous amount of time saved. Even with the lack of stations, it will provide a dramatic improvement in transit mobility.

      They could have done better (with stations at places like First Hill) but the real failings is how they are spending money after that. To quote this analysis of U. S. light rail systems:

      In Seattle, finally, Sound Transit has proposed extending the light rail line south from its current terminus at SeaTac airport to the suburb of Federal Way, 20 miles from downtown. The extension lacks the virtues that made the existing Seattle light rail network relatively successful. The planned 7.8-mile, $3.16 billion light rail line—at $400 million per mile, an inordinate construction cost for an above ground line—will run alongside Interstate 5 through low-density residential and retail areas with poor pedestrian accessibility.

      This is Federal Way, an expansion that looks brilliant compared to much of ST3. The problem, in short, is how the agency is setup, and what their goals were.

      You would expect a transit agency to be focused on improving transit mobility. There are a lot of ways to measure this ( but it should still be focused on allowing people to get from place to place. Building rail, therefore, is a means to an end.

      But that is not how ST functions. Since their inception, they have been fixated on building “the spine” — a light rail line from Everett to Tacoma. Just about any transit expert would tell you it is a bad idea, but that misses the point. It is putting the cart before the horse. There is no evidence that building the spine is the best way to improve transit mobility in the region. It is simply an idea that occurred to someone, and they went with it.

      Other design issues followed a similar pattern. West Seattle Link is being built just because someone thought it was be a good idea. Same with Issaquah to South Kirkland. Not a shred of evidence that it is the best way to improve mobility. Based on their own studies, Ballard to UW was a better value than Ballard to downtown. That didn’t matter. They picked the other one.

      In my opinion, they were doomed the day they decided to form the agency. There is value in having an agency responsible for improving transit across county/agency lines. But that doesn’t mean they should be responsible for spending most of the transit money in the region. That should have simply gone to Metro. As with TransLink (which runs SkyTrain and the region’s buses) the agency would be able to build what is the best value. They would design the system so that buses and trains are integrated. There would be more transparency in the planning process — if West Seattle was suddenly on top, you would have to provide evidence for why.

      Sound Transit does things in a backwards fashion. They think of new rail lines, and then work to justify them. If the agency was acting sensibly, they would do the opposite. Look at the system from a network perspective, and see what makes the most sense. In most parts of what is a relatively low density region, that means more buses. For a handful of very popular, but very slow corridors, that means rail.

      1. This is a very good post Ross on the systemic flaws.

        For me, the major mistake —that you raise — is the crazy idea three huge counties — with King Co. alone nearly double the size of Rhode Island — would ever have the population density to support the costs of light rail, or the risk of spending tens of billions of dollars on an estimation where folks would want to live in the future (which I know for sure is not next to an interstate). The PSRC was complicit in this.

        Did Urbanists really believe Angle Lake or Federal Way or Redmond or Lynnwood would become dense enough to support the capital and operational costs of light rail when Everett, Tacoma and Redmond are not and never will be?

        Although I doubt it will ever happen, the only way this huge expenditure of public funds makes any kind of sense is if Tom Terrific is correct and climate change spares the PNW and 20 million people move here. In the next 20 years. And want to live along an interstate when more and more can work from home while others need tools and trucks to work. A great irony is the huge number of pick up trucks at ST worksites.

        Everett, Tacoma and even Bellevue don’t have the density and transit ridership to support the costs of light rail. Obviously neither do the areas in between. West Seattle to Ballard makes transit sense, but not with zillion dollars tunnels, underground stations, light rail and bridges. $12 billion for WSBLE — based on current cost estimations — only makes sense if you are not the one paying, and there are no other social needs.

        Now ST and the PSRC are reduced to upzoning and multi-family housing along I-5 or 520 to scratch together a few low income transit riders who don’t need tools for work (Urbanists simply don’t understand tools) who live in these in between areas BECAUSE they don’t want to live in a small multi-family unit along a freeway (because Urbanists also don’t understand kids).

        If someone had drawn a line around the dense areas of Seattle and said put light rail and subways here with lots of stations and real density an very good bus feeder service and huge park and rides along the perimeter I could understand that. Further urbanize what is urban for those who want urban. Still I don’t think light rail from Bellevue to Seattle would make sense because there is too much nothing in between, and bus access was very good and could access the heart of Bellevue.

        I personally think spending $131 billion to replace buses with light rail is just so greedy, and about the least progressive act of all. I don’t mind spending the $131 billion on social needs, but not light rail designed to serve the middle and upper middle class mostly white rider, and work commuter who will be the very first to abandon transit if given the chance, something the PSRC is powerless to stop.

      2. I didn’t say “20 million” would move here, though it’s not impossible. I said population would essentially double, perhaps TO 15 to 20 million. To fit as many new people as live in the Puget Sound Lowland into the same space will require lots more multi-family housing, and transporting them will require putting them on trains and buses of some sort simply because there are no more potential highway corridors left to exploit, and most legacy roadways outside the city cores are too constricted to be widened significantly.

        The point is that water is running out in Southern and Central California and in “Aridzona” and even a major commitment to desalination and air conditioning can’t save a region of 25 million people with no reliable riverine sources and a completely occupied coastline.

        Desalination facilities either require huge energy inputs or gigantic structures for passive solar distillation. It’s just a lot cheaper for people to move to places with more reliable water sources.

        The people who will be forced out will have recently suffered an enormous reduction in their personal wealth as they leave homes that will have been worth a million dollars or more in then-recent memory, but have become hard to give away.

        They won’t be searching for a three-acre lot in Sammamish.

        So far as your idea of drawing a circle around central Seattle and putting the rail lines there, of course that would have been the wise thing to have done. But the rest of the State didn’t want Seattle to be in as dominant a position economically as that path would have brought about. Instead, it created an agency dominated by suburban communities so that the resulting system adds to sprawl rather than enabling genuine density in the city.

        And, of course, the voters turned down the 80%-Federally funded 1972 plan that would have produced that version of Seattle.

    2. RossB, I agree that “wishes” have more guided the Link building program (as opposed to logic) and that’s especially true with ST3. In fact, ST3 was based on corridors defined in ST2 that were not as productive to build in the first place.

      I step back and ponder how the boundaries of the ST taxing district were designed from the start for serving and eventually building light rail for the spine, and the subarea bean-counting was adopted to set that in motion too. The East King subarea was added to tie in the activity there. There is little explanation as to why Maple Valley and North Bend are “out” and Lakewood and Mulkiteo are “in” unless the spine was the objective all along.

      The West Seattle and Ballard connections have also been wishes for decades. I don’t think I ever ran across a study that sincerely asked “Should RapidRide D or E corridor get light rail first?” RapidRide E has more riders today, implying that we should put Aurora ahead of Ballard.

      Finally, let’s be clear that the ST concept is an interpretation made mostly by people who are not seasoned rail riders sold to an electorate who also are mostly not seasoned rail riders. Why do we prefer funding 50 parking garage spaces over down escalators? Why are station layouts and circulation not more widely debated? Why are tracks built as if overcrowding and service disruptions won’t happen? Why can we see have grandstanding about serving a few thousand of riders at a new station at hundreds of millions of dollars, but not grandstanding to serve tens of thousands of transferring riders with great transfer platforms and paths?

      Just like a high schooler’s interpretation of college life and objectives change once they become college freshmen, I think that light rail politics will look different by 2025 as Link triples its 2019 daily boardings and service.

      I think it would be very interesting to convene a panel of seasoned rail riders and transit management to grade what ST is doing. Even with more strategic advice, I’m not sure that our local elected officials would take it to heart though. Many seem a bit too arrogant to listen to seasoned rail riders over the typical whiny neighborhood groups, backroom corporate interests and myopic advocates for other things who all impose their singular non-analytical visions on others.

      1. I agree with most of what you wrote. I have to quibble with this, however:

        The West Seattle and Ballard connections have also been wishes for decades. I don’t think I ever ran across a study that sincerely asked “Should RapidRide D or E corridor get light rail first?” RapidRide E has more riders today, implying that we should put Aurora ahead of Ballard.

        Actually that’s not true. In terms of Ridership per mile, the D outperforms the E. The only reason the E gets more riders is because it is exceptionally long. If the D was extended, it would pass the E.

        Of our most popular buses, this is the ridership, distance, and ridership per mile:

        3/4 — 11,100 6 miles 1850
        D — 14,300 8 miles 1787
        44 — 8,800 5 miles 1760
        70 — 8,300 5 miles 1660
        7 — 10,800 7 miles 1542
        E — 17,300 12 miles 1441
        8 — 8,600 6 miles 1433
        C — 12,100 9 miles 1344
        40 — 12,000 11 miles 1090

        The numbers are rough, since the distance measurements were rough. The 3/4 is especially problematic. The main thing is, the E is not special. There are other bus routes that perform as well, if not better in terms of ridership per mile, making them better candidates (based on existing ridership) for rail conversion.

        It is also fast. That is one of the big considerations when it comes to a corridor. With better speed comes an increase in ridership. But if a route is already pretty fast (and the E is one of our fastest routes) then it isn’t likely to get a lot more riders if it is converted to rail.

        The mileage of a route is merely a proxy for cost. But there are a lot of other issues. If you can take advantage of surface running, the costs can go way down. Same with cut and cover. The E, for example, requires a huge bridge, followed by elevated rail for at least part (if not most) of the route. In contrast, it is possible you could run cut and cover for the 7, followed by surface, and it would be the best value.

        It is also important to consider the whole network. Northgate Link will enable very fast trips from Northgate to Capitol Hill. These weren’t reflected well in the old bus numbers, as it was dependent on a transfer. Same goes with a Ballard to UW line. If you are trying to get to the UW from Greenwood or Crown Hill, you take the 45. You never take a north-south bus, followed by the 44. Even if you just miss the 45, you wait for the next one. Even if you have to walk five blocks north, and a southbound 5 or D is right there, you wait for the 45. This would change if there was a Ballard to UW subway.

        As I’ve written before, West Seattle Link fails in all respects. Ridership per mile is not especially great. It isn’t much faster than a bus (for any stop). It doesn’t add much to the network. Even the choice of mode was arbitrarily. There was no serious study of BRT for the corridor, even though it would be cheaper, and improve transit times for a lot more people. Everything about putting West Seattle first was arbitrary.

      2. P.S. I have no idea why The Urbanist labels that map “1985 System”. It is the official 1972 Forward Thrust plan map. By 1985 the DSTT was under construction on a different alignment.

  16. I wonder how much the “realignment” process was to blame. It flailed for several months without guidance. It ignored studying value engineering trade offs that could have reduced costs and instead merely extended scheduled opening dates. It raised issues in 2020 that should have been identified in 2018 before WSBLE got sent to EIS status.

    That said, I think the Board wanted an executive that they could control. The problem is that many Board members don’t fully understand the nuances of running an operation and building a system. So they chose Rogoff — and discovered what happens when someone in that role is too obedient to their whims and too quiet to excite anyone.

  17. At this time next week I’ll be riding NG Link and checking out all the new stations. I’m not sure how much credit Rogoff gets for delivering the project as well as he has, but there is one person who deserves much credit and thanks for NG Link.

    Thank you Greg Nickels for ST2! I thought you were crazy to go to the ballot with ST2 so soon after the failure of R+T (RAT!), but you were right. And in less than one week we all get to see the benefit.

    I hope you get a seat on the early press ride.

    Where have all our effective leaders gone?

    1. ^^ This ^^

      Of course, I could always say that he followed the advice I gave in my column in the All Aboard Washington (formerly the Washington Association of Rail Passengers) newsletter – The View Down the Tracks.

      I said pretty much the same thing, months before he did.

      (Of course, I (my family) also take credit for the Rangers winning The Cup in 1994)

      1. After R+T got slapped down so hard at the ballot box, the obvious thing for a politician to do would have been to go to ground and avoid the topic all-together.

        Nickels didn’t do that. Not only was he not afraid to resurrect the issue immediately after defeat, but he was able to persuade the rest of the establishment to come along with him. Those are two distinctly different things that made a huge difference in getting ST2 to the ballot in 2008.

        I’d buy him a beer, but I’m sure I won’t get the opportunity. So I’ll just raise a glass to him on Saturday “somewhere along the line.”

        Thanks where thanks are due.

    2. Where have all our effective leaders gone?

      A couple of them are running against each other for County Executive.

      Another lost her second mayoral primary, but it is hard to argue that she had much of a plan after getting ST3 authorized by the Legislature.

      One of my state representatives had something to do with getting some key climate legislation passed this year.

      We also have a certain city council member who is up for re-election, who has pushed hard for eliminating parking minima and exclusionary zoning. For Transit to be successful, someone has to get land use modernized. Still, the State of California just wiped out single-family-only zoning while we can’t seem to get past the processitis here.

      Some city councilmembers are quite *effective* at deploying processitis in defense of the status quo. I wish they would cut it out.

      1. “the State of California just wiped out single-family-only zoning”

        It finally succeeded? Good news. So where are we at? Minneapols and Portland are allowing missing-middle housing in all previoously single-family areas?

    3. Nickels may deserve some credit for the rapid turnaround from the 2007 forced marriage of RTID and ST2, but he also shares the blame for the flawed composition of the ST2 projects: East Link was a battle; the south line is in the freeway envelope; and, Lynnwood Link is in the freeway envelope and has a station in an interchange, NE 145th Street. ST did not really study Link in the SR-99 corridor with fast bus on I-5. If we doing I-5, the better station combination would have been NE 130th and 155th street to avoid congested interchanges. Freeways are to pedestrians as dams are to fish. Each ballot measure has stretched its fiscal envelope and been delayed. in 1999 to 2001, Nickels had a lot to do with the south-first decision that ended up with lower ridership and placing tremendous pressure on the transit capacity of downtown Seattle.

      1. The East Link battle was because of the Bellevue City Council, Kemper Freeman, Surrey Downs NIMBYs, one guy who threatened to sue ST if it went east-west across the Mercer Slough other than underground, and other Bellevue activists. The south alignment was only decided a few years ago; the 99 alternatives were alive until then. The reason it’s on I-5 is deferring to Federal Way and Des Moines instead of Kent. Lynnwood Link’s alignment was mostly because of Snohomish County politicians, the entire board’s belief that I-5 would have lower capital costs, and an interpretation of a study that Aurora’s travel time would be 4 minutes longer and that’s enough to lose more riders in Lynnwood than it would gain on Aurora. None of those are specifically Nickels’ fault, and some of them occurred after he left.

      2. the modeled slower SR-99 Link running time between NTC and Lynnwood was due to the ST pathway via Mountlake Terrace. If it had been straight on SR-99, it would have been faster and served more transit compatible land use. The Mountlake Terrace center bus station already existed. ST did not study two lines, one bus and one Link; they had a one-track mind. These should have been network questions, not spine questions. Yes, MT and Shoreline and Federal Way got what they asked for. But now Shoreline is looking for the lemonade recipe to deal with the NE 145th Street interchange: how to get riders to it and how to BRT through traffic. They made it harder on themselves.

      3. Didn’t Shoreline South become named as bring at 148th rather than 145th?

        At least 185th is not an interchange.

        The Aurora advantage would have been because more activity is there (retail, apartments, etc). The road itself is not that much narrower than I-5 is.

        I’m not bothered so much by KDM and Federal Way stations. They are offset a bit from the freeway, as is Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood Center. It’s 272nd and Shoreline South that are the ones that I feel are in more terrible locations for walking to a Link train.

      4. The Aurora Ave. alignment had the Interurban ROW available. It was just a matter of how to get from Northgate to Aurora
        That ROW runs all the way to Lynnwood. The tightest constraints were just north of the county line, through the Lake Ballinger area.

      5. “It was just a matter of how to get from Northgate to Aurora.”

        It would have been underground to around 120th & Aurora if I remember.

      6. Man. All this talk of 99 vs I-5 and where Link should have gone and this and that and…….you guys still don’t see it? You don’t get it?

        Here it is. While some on this blog have been struggling to learn the rules of checkers, Greg Nickels has actually been playing a masterful game of three dimensional chess!

        Think of it:

        Greg knew that bus Ops in the DSTT were a disaster. He was right!

        Greg knew that buses would get kicked out of the DSTT and that it would become a 100% LR facility. They have! Welcome the DSLRT1!

        Greg knew that the DSLRT1 would support 2 lines and only 2 lines. It does!

        Greg knew that transit sentiment regionally would shift away from buses and towards LR. It has!

        Greg knew that we would pass a ST3 ballot measure. We did!

        Greg knew that ST3 would fund a new DSLRT2. It does!

        Greg knew that the DSLRT2 would support 2 LR lines. It will!

        Greg knew that LR 3 Line would go from WS to Ballard via the DSLRT2. That’s the plan!

        So…….knowing all that. Where do you route LR Line 1 north of UWS? Drumroll…..

        It’s obvious. You route LR 1 Line up I-5.


        Because LR 4 Line will branch off the DSLRT2 somewhere in Belltown and go straight up……Hwy 99.

        Basically Greg is protecting a LR 4 Line routing up Aurora. Checkmate. He is way ahead of mere mortals.

        That said, he didn’t anticipate the pandemic and what it would do to ST3 budgets and schedules. For that error he deserves 1 demerit.

      7. At least we now know Lazarus is a pseudonym for Greg Nickels, risen from the dead.

        Did Greg foresee the realignment and need to raise an additional 35 billion, assuming DSTT2 costs $2.2 billion and West Seattle and Ballard accept surface lines and stations?

        If I were Greg Nickels I am not sure I would want my legacy to depend on ST 3. I thought the progressive knock on Nickels was he was too business oriented and not progressives enough.

      8. Basically Greg is protecting a LR 4 Line routing up Aurora.

        So build a really expensive line north of the county, with miles of poorly placed freeway stations, so that we can waste money on a train over the Aurora Bridge. Yeah, brilliant.

        Greg knew that transit sentiment regionally would shift away from buses and towards LR. It has!

        Bullshit. The vast majority of transit riders take the bus. They will always take the bus. Even in Vancouver — a city that will always have a better rail system than us — more people take the bus than the train. We will never be New York City (where more people take the train instead of the bus).

        Good God, people, we need to get real. Despite what Seattle Subway thinks, we will never have a system that looks like that, because we will never be able to afford it. Even Vancouver BC — a city that has repeatedly done things better than us — can’t afford that. They aren’t planning on building a network with trains going everywhere, replacing the buses. They are simply trying to plug up the few holes in their system (UBC/Broadway). Even when that happens, and they are basically done, Vancouver will still have more bus riders than train riders (they will just have a much, much better system then we will ever have).

        Proposing an Aurora light rail shows a profound misunderstanding of transit fundamentals. It would be extremely expensive. It would not be much faster for the average rider than a bus. We don’t need the extra capacity. It isn’t even our busiest corridor (in riders per mile) despite being extremely fast. In every respect it is a bad idea. Suggesting it is the future of transit on the corridor simply makes it harder to make the improvements that need to be made on the mode that riders will use on that corridor: a bus.

      9. @DT,

        Ah, but ST3 went to the ballot in 2016 and Nickels wasn’t even in office then. So even though he foresaw ST3, and set the table for what would be in it, he can’t be held accountable. He has clean hands. It is more of that three dimensional chess that he has been playing.


        I know you love buses, but it really is time to move beyond these counterproductive mode wars you seem to want to wage all the time.

        My comment was about the “sentiment” of the voters turning in favor of rail. I made no comments whatsoever about ridership on LR overtaking bus ridership. Bus ridership will always be high because only buses can operate in low density, long/thin route situations where the expense of rail is not justified. And because buses will move increasingly into the role of feeders to LR. Just witness what is happening with NG Link.

        As per the 4 Line on Aurora. Again, I made no comments whatsoever about LR going “over” the Aurora bridge. That is not Nickels’ plan.

        Additionally, your cost assumptions about LR on Aurora are just fantasy and not based in facts and data. Over time, rail systems are typically cheaper than bus systems because of he higher O&M costs of buses. The exact crossover is system dependent, but the reality still holds.

        But please don’t feel threatened by the rise of rail in the PS Region. Even though people love the system and want more of it, it will always be just a peice of the puzzle. There will always be a place for your buses. Just not as the prime mover in some high ridership cooridors, and not in places like the DSLRT1 and DSLRT2 tunnels.

        One mode complements the other. It’s ok.

      10. I know you love buses, but it really is time to move beyond these counterproductive mode wars you seem to want to wage all the time.

        You are so full of shit. You constantly attack Metro, while praising ST, and then have the audacity to suggest that I’m starting a mode war. You are the one that ignores the fact that both buses and trains have to work together. You completely ignore that basic concept, which is why your tiny little head can’t grasp how important the NE 130th station is.

        You make thinly veiled attacks on the bus system, and then cowardly try to roll them back:

        My comment was about the “sentiment” of the voters turning in favor of rail.

        It is still bullshit. The last vote involving bus service passed with 80% in Seattle. ST3 passed with 70% in Seattle.

        Bus ridership will always be high because only buses can operate in low density, long/thin route situations where the expense of rail is not justified.

        Yes, like Aurora! Holy shit, dude, you just described the E.

        And no, running rail doesn’t suddenly make it cheaper to operate. This is a common myth perpetuated by people who don’t understand the concept. It actually costs more to run a train than run a bus ( The only way you save money is if you run the train less often (because you can carry more riders). That just won’t happen with Aurora. You aren’t going to get a huge increase in ridership by switching to rail, because it won’t be that much faster. That’s because Aurora is still pretty damn fast. As a result, the buses — which are not crowded while running every ten minutes — would be replaced by trains running every ten minutes. There would be no savings at all.

        Meanwhile, you gloss over the extremely high capital costs. Even if you did save money, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the capital costs. You could pay to run buses every 5 minutes on Aurora for 100 years and it still would be less than building rail, let alone building and running it. Hell, you could pay for it in perpetuity — the interest alone is more expensive.

        Your whole premise is ridiculous. You think Nickels is some master transit planner, who knew exactly what we needed, and was playing the long game. Then how the hell did we fail to build a station at First Hill? Why are there so few stations in general (no Campus Parkway station, or 55th, etc.)? Why isn’t there a split — or the opportunity for one — at the UW? This transit mastermind failed to build the type of system that every transit expert in the world knows is better, yet somehow managed to sacrifice ridership on the main line (by building freeway station after freeway station) so that we could eventually build an extremely expensive Aurora line that only marginally improves travel time?

        It is absurd. Nickels had more important things to worry about (like getting elected — something he struggled with). Like all politicians, he had a far more important job — his career. He knew more about running a city (or a county) than all of us on this blog put together. But like almost all the politicians, he didn’t know shit about transit. He didn’t have time to research even the basics. Nor is it likely that he talked with Metro, or out of town transit consultants and based his decisions on that. He was just another guy who made the same sort of decisions as everyone else.

        Some of them were bound to succeed. Even ST couldn’t fuck up U-District to downtown. But a lot of the decisions were based on ignorance; multiple stations by the freeway, lack of urban stations, missed connections. Nickels didn’t plan all this out, we are simply bumbling our way through it.

      11. @Rossb,

        As my dear old mom used to say, “if you have to resort to profanity and name calling then you have lost the argument.” And she was right.

        I stand by everything I said, because I know what I am talking about.

        Ya, I don’t adhere to Metro Bus Orthodoxy, and for that I often get branded around here as a heretic and paraded in front of the Inquisition, but the Enlightenment didn’t come easy, but come it did. And “Transit Dies in Darkness”.

        The world is changing. Buses are out of the DSLRT and will never be going back, Metro is being forced to pivot to more of a supporting role to LR, and LR extensions a plenty are going to open over the next 3 years. The transit world of 2024 will not be the transit world of 1980. Sorry to pop your bubble.

        And Greg Nickels deserves a lot of credit for that, along with a long and distinguished list of other notables in the local area, Jim Ellis obviously included. I was honored to meet him during the pre-opening inaugural ride for the press of the original segment of Central Link. An amazing man.

        But I will give you credit for one thing though, you have found and posted the most obscure and meaningless reference I have ever seen used on any site just about anywhere. Really?

        We are supposed to trust a website dedicated to entertainment and hobbies as a definitive voice on LR costs? And the author apparently is a bus scheduler with a law degree he apparently isn’t using and undergrad degrees in psychology and English? And part of his argument for why LR is supposedly more expensive is because LRV’s need to be parked in a garage whereas buses can be parked in existing bus depots?

        [ot, ah]. Not worth serious consideration.

        This is exactly why ST needs to hold steady and listen to established LR experts – both in house and outside experts. Listening to supposed experts like the one you quote is a recipe for total disaster.

        End thread for me. I’m going to end the nonsense for this one.

  18. I personally wonder about the decision by ST with Rogoff as head to rebrand the 1 Line in the future and remove eight existing stations from that line, plus more to be finished soon in South King County. If not Rogoff’s idea, it at least had his acquiescence.

    Which will certainly create more confusion and cost that is hardly necessary for the system.

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