Governor and challenger continue to disappoint on transit

We’ve talked about the problems with both Governor Christine Gregoire and challenger Dino Rossi’s transportation policies in the past, but things just keep getting worse.

The Seattle Times ran a story a few days back talking about how neither of them are making Sound Transit 2 a campaign issue.

The most troubling part of the article is this quote:

Meanwhile, Rossi says he considers Sound Transit a local issue: “I don’t even have an idea what they’re interested in doing.”

This shows Rossi’s lack of interest in inter-agency cooperation. Sound Transit and the WSDOT work together on many projects including HOV/transit direct access freeway ramps and the Point Defiance rail bypass. It’s also no secret that most of the state’s traffic problems are within the Sound Transit district, so it’s very disappointing that someone who wants to be governor hasn’t taken the time to educate himself.

Meanwhile over in the PI, Rossi brings up an issue we all wish was over: an 8 lane option for 520, claiming that the cost would be roughly the same (note this correction). This comes years after a state study concluded an 8 lane highway would cost much more and create too much additional traffic, further clogging I-5 and the areas surrounding each end of the bridge.

Both of these issues show once again that although Christine Gregoire is very far from perfect, Dino Rossi could do a lot more damage.

News Roundup

  • Yesterday’s Seattle Times had a front page article about the cost of gas making people think twice about living in the suburbs. We’ve covered this in the past.
  • Over this past weekend, the Times had another article about how americans are driving less and using public transit more. Includes a nice chart.
  • Yesterday’s PI had a story about streetcars. There are a few things I’d like to point out:
    • “The South Lake Union Streetcar reportedly costs $180 per hour to operate, compared with about $120 for a Metro bus.” This is an intentionally misleading figure. Trains of any kind generally have a higher capacity than a bus, encourage dense transit-oriented development, and are usually much more enjoyable to ride (no potholes in steel rails!). A streetcar will almost always have higher ridership when compared to a bus with the same service, and will always encourage more people to try transit. The measly $60 difference is insignificant.
    • “About 30 people boarded the purple streetcar between 12:30 and 1:30.” Anti-rail advocates are always quick to mention the SLUT’s “light” ridership, ignoring the fact that the South Lake Union area is under heavy redevelopment. The city’s 20 year grown target for the area is to add 8,000 new residential units, and we’re already 19% of the way there in just over three years! And don’t forget that is planning to move to the area, which will bring thousands of jobs. I also heard that on the 4th of July, every train from Westlake to SLU Park was completely packed for a good three hours.
  • The average price of gasoline is holding at $4.35 in Washington state. A $2 bus ride isn’t sounding bad at all, especially with a transfer!

Light Rail over Columbia River moves forward

A few months ago, we mentioned that that Washington and Oregon state have been considering adding Light Rail over the Columbia River as part of a project to replace the I-5 bridge.

Today the Columbia River Crossing Committee voted to recommend a replacement bridge that includes light rail between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR.

From the article:

VANCOUVER — Representatives of Oregon and Washington voted Tuesday night to recommend replacing the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River with a new bridge and a light-rail extension to Vancouver, marking a milestone in dealing with a West Coast traffic bottleneck.

Those of you who are interested can find more information about the proposed alignments here.