Comment Etiquette (III)

It’s been a couple of months, so I’ll make this request again:

Please select a nickname and type it in under the “nickname” box on our comments page. Going through a comments thread with “Anonymous” is tedious and confusing. I can distinctly recognize at least two regular commenters using the Anonymous tab, and it’s annoying.

It doesn’t require getting an account or anything. Just type in a name, like SLOG.

Example above, with the correct box indicated in red. For whatever reason, Blogger doesn’t allow you to turn off “anonymous” without doing the same for “Nickname”.

Thanks!

Sound Transit survey

Sound Transit is asking your opinion again. 0.4%, 0.5%, 12- and 20-year plans are all on the table. So are both 2008 and 2010 ballot measures.

I’m really skeptical of the actual value of these kinds of self-nominating survey responses, but I figured I’d suggest what I’d heard at the meetup, which is that the 0.4% measure go to the ballot, with an additional 0.1% measure. That maximizes our chance of getting something passed.

Of course, what’d happen is that the 0.4 would fail and the 0.1 pass, leading to more confusion.

More than anything, I just want them to propose whatever their polling tells them has the highest chance of passing. The details aren’t important, because I know that the highest priority segments are the ones that are going to be built, regardless.

ST Ridership up 15%

UPDATE: Correction Below.

Sound Transit’s Quarterly Ridership Report is up, and it’s good news. It’s brief, so go have a look. Weekday boardings are up 15% from the same time last year, which is pretty impressive given the relatively small amount of service added in that time. Some interesting nuggets:

  • South Sounder ridership is up 30%, largely because of added trips. I think this shows that ridership is a little less elastic with respect to parking at the station than some would assume. In other words, creative solutions (like satellite parking) are able to continue building ridership after the nearby lots are saturated. That isn’t to say that parking shortages aren’t a problem.
  • Sounder cost-per-boarding is down slightly to $10.79, while the express bus cost is up slightly to $6.73. Without seeing the station breakdown, that puts farebox recovery for Sounder at around 40%, about the same as ST Express and pretty good for a transit system. That includes essentially empty reverse-commute trains. As economies of scale build up on Sounder and gas prices increase, I expect the comparative numbers to improve further.
  • Tacoma Link ridership is only up 1%. It may simply not have the scope to serve many people, especially since the 594 most Express buses takes a needless detour into downtown on its way South.

Picture Credit: Seattle Times, August 14, 2007.

Transit Report Card: Washington, DC

Second in an occasional series where I wildly generalize about a transit system based on limited experience.

Segments ridden:
Red Line: Shady Grove – Union Station
Blue Line: Springfield – Stadium/Armory
Orange Line: W. Falls Church – Stadium/Armory
Yellow Line: Gallery Place – National Airport
Green Line: Gallery Place – Navy Yard
Time ridden: You name it. I grew up here, so I can’t even begin to recapitulate it.

Scope: A
There aren’t a ton of places to go in D.C. and the surrounding area that you can’t get to via Metro, but it falls a bit short of the blanket coverage you see in New York. The vast majority of the service lies inside the Beltway (analogous to I-405) which has all kinds of benefits for preventing sprawl and allowing a car-free lifestyle.

Service: A
Service is frequent except in the wee hours. Message boards tell you when the next train is coming, in pretty much every station.

Routing: B
The Red Line in Maryland follows some major arterials, rather than the nearby freeway. That isn’t the case along the Orange Line in Virginia, however. Inside the beltway, where most of the system lies, there really aren’t enough freeways to even tempt planners to route along them.

Grade/ROW: A+
As with all third-rail systems, no pedestrian or auto is ever going to get anywhere near the track.

TOD: C
Revisiting this with a newly critical eye, the TOD is kind of disappointing. The city itself is really dense, which was the case before the Metro came. Although many stations are underground and therefore impossible to evaluate without stopping there, my limited experience in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs at the ends of the line is pretty disappointing. My read is that local authorities are really starting to get it, however.

Culture: A
For many suburbanites, driving to work is unthinkable. They’re certainly not deterred by park-and-ride fees approaching $5.00 a day, on top of a fare of as much as $4.50 each way. I don’t personally know any people that work in the city anymore, but what I gather from sources like Matt Yglesias is that in the core a car-free lifestyle is increasingly viable and popular as the city emerges from epic mismanagement a couple of decades ago.

*************

If you are visiting DC for the traditional tourist itinerary, there’s no good reason to rent a car. Driving and parking are difficult in the main tourist areas. The Metro goes right to National Airport, and there is straightforward bus service if you must fly into Dulles or BWI.

I happened to be in town the very day the USDOT reversed itself and gave the go-ahead to Dulles Rail. Having spent most of that trip in the Dulles Corridor, I can say that there’s tons of high-rise office space surrounded by parking. That’s a good sign, as it indicates that there’s tons of available real estate with mild zoning restrictions. Furthermore, it’s certainly interesting to see how the attitude of federal bureaucrats can change when the system is in their direct experience, while it’s “let them take buses” out here in the stix. But let’s give Virginia’s leaders credit for persevering in the face of really negative feedback.

In terms of sheer beauty, little in the transit world really comparesto a DC Metro Station. The underground architecture, while composed mainly of concrete, is roomy and appealing. Interestingly, as far as I can tell, exactly 0.0% of the capital expenditure was devoted to public art. If it were up to me, I’d encourage all transit systems to build intrinsic beauty into their architecture, rather than add some art of controversial value to each station.

I’ll finish with a brief anecdote. I attended a game at Nationals Stadium downtown, which was built half a block from the Navy Yard station. I was impressed with WMATA’s event management, with the nearest gate to the stadium being exit-only before the game and entrance-only afterwards. Additionally, there were lots of WMATA personnel around to direct the crowds in the station and make sure that every last car was packed to the gills. It was an extremely well-organized operation, especially considering the stadium had only been open for a month.

At any rate, I soon was waiting for a transfer at L’Enfant Plaza, when I overheard this conversation:
“The next train comes in eight minutes.”
“Eight Minutes?!”

Think of the implications of that conversation:
(1) The agency is able to predict with precision the next arrival.
(2) They inform riders with a simple-to-use message board.
(3) The riders are conditioned to think that 8 minutes is an unreasonable time to wait at 10 pm.

Jealous, aren’t you?

Photo courtesy of washingtontravelcast.com

Regional Transit Map Book

Last year, I was thrilled to discover the Regional Transit Map Book, a booklet that consolidates system maps for the three counties in the ST district, and also includes easy-to-use charts showing service times for various routes.
Without a doubt, I found it to be the best portable tool for figuring out routes on the fly.

Unfortunately, it’s also hard to find. I imagine it costs a mint to print. Anyhow, I discovered yesterday that the 2008 edition is available in the downtown post office, across from Benaroya Hall.

Pick up one before it’s too late; alternatively you can get a pdf version here, but I’m all for carrying around the booklet while reducing my own printing costs.

Kudos to Sound Transit for putting this together. Together with mybus and tripplanner, I think it’s one of the big usability improvements we’ve seen in the last decade or so.

And while you’re on that website, there’s a ton of very appealing (and yet spectacularly obscure) maps and documents about road planning, getting around on Capitol Hill and the U-District, etc.

Reminder: Transit Meet-up

As requested, this post is a reminder that our transit meet-up will be Friday, May 9 at 7:30 pm.

We’ll be in the back of the Collins Pub in Pioneer Square.

If you have a bar that would like to host the transit meet-up, and are reasonably accessible by transit, we can make that happen for nothing but a few free, delicious beers.

Uh, Density?

Crosscut recently posted an essay by former WSDOT secretary Doug McDonald lamenting the fact that, seven years into our growth management plan, the core cities aren’t keeping up with the share of population growth they’re supposed to absorb, leaving the excess to places like Snoqualmie:

In King County, in the most recent years, only five percent or less of the new housing units are springing up outside the urban growth boundaries. But in Snohomish County, since 2000, the share of new housing units outside the urban growth boundaries has steadily increased. In Kitsap County, the number of new housing units outside the Urban Growth Area in recent years has bounced from year to year between 40 percent and 60 percent. In Pierce County, recent information shows that 20 percent of the new housing units are now arising outside the urban growth boundaries. Another telling indicator is that for Pierce County as a whole, growth in the unincorporated areas — some inside and some outside the urban growth boundaries — accounted for almost six out of 10 new residents in the entire county!

I assume that his data is correct, and agree that it’s a big concern. Befitting a former WSDOT (i.e., “Pavement Inc.”) chief, he completely misdiagnoses the problem:

What will be necessary to turn the tide against, well, the spread of sprawl across the region? Better urban public schools! Higher-quality and lower-cost housing in the cities, especially housing that will make all kinds of families with children eager to live in city neighborhoods! Friendlier, convenient main street shopping for shoppers of all incomes! Good streets and sidewalks, safe bike lanes, and enjoyable parks for people of all ages! For all the citizens of the entire region, these needs in the cities now are front and center as the essential, critical measures of “green.”

The underlying assumption is that we can’t find enough people to buy housing in Seattle, so we have to create more incentives for people to do so. That is, of course, nonsense: over the past decade demand has exceeded supply, and in fact developers can’t build enough units to satisfy market demand. Why is that? Because of zoning restrictions, design review boards, and NIMBYism, not because Seattle is such a rotten place to live. If you want more households in Seattle, you have to increase the number of homes, and there’s no place to put up vast new tracts of single-family housing.

Because this is Crosscut, there’s a gratuitous swipe at Light Rail:

Has anyone not yet noticed that it’s standing-room-only on principal bus routes all over the very areas where better transit services can help attract new residents? What is so hard about the obvious fact that today we must take the path of securing the Vision 2040 goals by radical, imaginative, and cost-effective improvements in bus and van services to strengthen the entire network of public transportation? Can we see the numbers, please, for our public transportation alternatives, including innovative bus and van transit services and modern park-and-ride centers, as compared to just a few light rail stops? It’s time to take action, guided by real data, to deliver transportation solutions to help hundreds of thousands of people move more easily and inexpensively everywhere in the designated growth centers.

Again, Mr. McDonald assumes that the problem is that no one wants to live in Seattle, rather than supporting transit options that support density. As we’ve reviewed time and time again, the permanence of rail attracts transit-oriented development in a way that non-capital-intensive buses never can. And since rail can carry more people than buses, the sheer number of people you can fit in a space is larger.

I’m not sure how he plans to improve bus service where articulated buses already run every 5 minutes or so during peak hours. Maybe he would take away general purpose traffic lanes on arterials, but that would be pretty unprecedented for a WSDOT guy. What he needs is a larger vehicle that can run with shorter headways, i.e., light rail. But I guess his “real data’ doesn’t support that.

Raise My Gas Prices!

Matt Yglesias has been on a great pro-transit, pro-density kick recently, and today is no exception. Here, he’s quoting Virginia Postrel:

It’s infuriating how all three presidential candidates prattle on about the need to fight global warming while also complaining about the high price of gasoline. The candidates treat CO2 emissions as a social issue like gay marriage, with no economic ramifications. In the real world, barring a massive buildup of nuclear plants, reducing carbon dioxide emissions means consuming less energy and that means raising prices a lot, either directly with a tax or indirectly with a cap-and-trade permitting system.

She’s right, of course, that there’s more than a bit of cognitive dissonance involved in simultaneously thinking that Global Warming is a Serious Problem and that gas prices are too high. I often worry that it’s because people assume that the goals can be met by just doing a few things at the margins and soaking a couple of big producers, rather than making fundamental changes to their own way of life.

In other posts, Yglesias has pointed out that the action that often has to be taken is fundamentally deregulatory: by reducing parking and zoning restrictions, you get enough dense development to meet the demand. In that spirit, I think stuff like Seattle easing the review process for developers is a good thing.

Next Transit Meet-up

Our next transit meet-up will be Friday, May 9 at 7:30pm. We’re doing something different and having it in Pioneer Square.

Collins Pub
526 2nd Ave
Seattle

We’ll be in the back of the pub, as always.

Things I don’t like about Sound Transit

I believe the STB crew to be universal in its support of the general direction and competence of Sound Transit. Since we spend almost all of our time defending it against criticism, I thought I should, in the interests of fairness, level a few criticisms of my own.

1) Stop saying LINK is “on time and on budget.” Sure, the new management has righted the ship and met its new, internal benchmarks. As someone who’s been in a lot of large organizations, I know that that’s not nothing. But it doesn’t win over any skeptics when you promise one cost and timeline when you’re going into the vote, do a faceplant soon afterward, come up with a new timeline where you have every incentive to be conservative, and then trumpet your success as if the initial promises never existed. It just adds to people’s cynicism about the process, and has probably been counterproductive politically.

2) They really, really should have grade-separated the Rainier Valley segment. Ben S. has repeatedly told me that this only costs riders two or three minutes, and I have no doubt that it’s true. Nevertheless, the whole point of rail is reliability: by running at-grade you’ve introduced the possibility of idiot drivers and pedestrians gumming up the whole system. Inattentive drivers have already seriously disrupted the SLUT on some days, and I hate to think that they could do the same for a regional backbone.

Furthermore, speed is as much about perception as the stopwatch time. Even without a disruptive emergency, a train sitting at a stoplight tells the people riding it that the train is slow. A train whizzing by cars stuck at a stoplight tells them it’s faster than driving.

Looking forward, now that we’ve built the system there are ways to minimize these problems: pedestrian overpasses, arterial underpasses, crossing gates, fencing, etc. ST and the City of Seattle should energetically look into these solutions. As a bonus, this kind of stuff is substantially cheaper than elevating or burying the line in the first place.

3) Use signal acceleration in both directions. A corollary to the other point is something else Ben S. told me: that the signal acceleration will be only used in the peak direction through the Rainier Valley. I repeat my argument from the bullet above.

4) Start Digging, Dammit. Nothing ensures completion like facts on the ground. Transit projects have their near-death experiences when they mess around for years without turning a spade of Earth. For that reason, it would have been a great idea if they’d found the money to start in on U-link before the critics have a chance to kill it, even at the cost of a few months of extra delay in Central Link, which is now a fait accompli.

*****

So that’s my wish list for what they would do/have done differently. However, like any political process, the actual ST program is a mix of various interests, so that the result is not perfect from any one person’s viewpoint.

Opposing a system because it uses the wrong kind of rail car, or because its initial segment doesn’t run from your house to your workplace, or because it’s bundled with some other stuff you don’t like, doesn’t get us any closer to having a decent rail system; those decisions were made for a reason, and you ignore those reasons at your peril.

It’s with hesitation that I open this post to comments, because it invites a scattershot of random gripes. I ask that you focus on what I’ve suggested, or look forward to tactical changes that could still be made, as I’ve done.

And if your gripe is “go to Ballard and West Seattle before anywhere else,” we’ve already had that thread, several times. I wield my “delete comments” button as necessary.

The cost of driving

Yesterday’s New York Times has a piece by Steven Dubner and Steven Leavitt (of Freakonomics fame) about the external costs of driving:

Which of these externalities is the most costly to U.S. society? According to current estimates, carbon emissions from driving impose a societal cost of about $20 billion a year. That sounds like an awful lot until you consider congestion: a Texas Transportation Institute study found that wasted fuel and lost productivity due to congestion cost us $78 billion a year. The damage to people and property from auto accidents, meanwhile, is by far the worst. In a 2006 paper, the economists Aaron Edlin and Pinar Karaca-Mandic argued that accidents impose a true unpaid cost of about $220 billion a year. (And that’s even though the accident rate has fallen significantly over the past 10 years, from 2.72 accidents per million miles driven to 1.98 per million; overall miles driven, however, keep rising.) So, with roughly three trillion miles driven each year producing more than $300 billion in externality costs, drivers should probably be taxed at least an extra 10 cents per mile if we want them to pay the full societal cost of their driving.

The piece goes on to argue for pay-as-you-drive auto insurance, which is a good idea. Had I worked on that study, I might have tried to quantify the foreign policy and defense costs of securing oil supplies, but I can imagine the methodological problems there.

At any rate, although I’ve learned to be skeptical of “cost to the economy” figures, it’s clear that there are very large implicit subsidies to driving. The difference for public transit is that the subsidies are explicit.

Via Ezra Klein.

Under Downtown

This is just me guessing, but some of our readers may be energized about rail to Ballard and West Seattle.

One thing that’s come up in comment threads is that the adding that sort of demand through downtown is going to end up requiring another right of way. The money-is-no-object desire is probably a Second Avenue tunnel, a mere block away from the DSTT to facilitate easy transfers between the two lines.

Unfortunately, I have an engineering estimate in my possession that tells me running the tunnel boring machine from the stadium to, oh, Queen Anne will cost infinity jillion dollars. So, what’s a rail fan to do?

The analysis I’ve done in this amounts to crayons on a map, but it occurs to me that we’re already going to be digging up the waterfront to replace the Viaduct and seawall with, uh, something. Nickels’ highway tunnel died a quick but painful death, but it’d be somewhat less ambitious to replace that with a rail tunnel, possibly emerging to run under the viaduct through Sodo.

Now, Sound Transit isn’t anywhere near ready to take on running light rail through there, but Mayor Streetcar could certainly figure out a way to make it a “streetcar tunnel” for a decade or two, and then switch it over to light rail in 20 years when they’re ready for it.

North of Stewart St.? South of Sodo? That’s a problem for route planners and taxpayers down the road. But the critical and expensive downtown segment would be locked in.

So we leverage the state’s expenditures for viaduct replacement, lock in construction costs now, and set ourselves up for the future (assuming we make the station platforms long enough to accommodate four cars). We’d be screwed today if they hadn’t excavated the bus tunnel in the 1980s, and perhaps it’s time to make a similar long term investment in our future.

Discuss.

New Metro signs


The photos above were posted by oranviri in the seatrans Flickr pool. I hadn’t seen these before. From a graphic design perspective, they’re certainly nicer, but I’d settle for consistently posting schedule information at stops, something that’s especially rare in the Rainier Valley.

As oranviri also points out, the “Stop No.” depicted is some sort of useless internal Metro code, rather than the mybus stop code. Bureaucracies being what they are, one hopes that the mybus people can modify their software to accept these codes, which would make bus riding a far more pleasant experience for those in the know.

In the long run, I wish Metro would post a paragraph or two at each time point explaining how to use the website and SMS service, but then again I’m not paying for the bandwidth at the mybus server.

Crosscut vs. Governance Reform

Crosscut published a piece by transit advocate Richard Borkowski last evening. In an unusual turn for Crosscut, he makes entirely practical arguments why a directly elected board not only doesn’t solve any actual problem, but in fact can make things worse. Money paragraphs:

However, there are lots of problems with this proposed cure. The districts would be huge (about 235,000 citizens in each one). Some fear that the elected directors would become like the Port of Seattle, a rubber-stamp arm of business and labor that leaves the public in the dark and draws little media or voter attention. A recent audit by the state’s auditor provided evidence of this fear with the Port of Seattle. The devastating audit was made more difficult by port employees who were uncooperative with the state auditor. The problems raised in the audit have led to an investigation by the FBI.

Sound Transit, on the other hand, has been audited on a regular basis over the 15 years of its existence. Each time, the results were a clean audit. Such an audit is a strong accountability measure that provides much clearer oversight than an election every six years, and it certainly doesn’t require a directly elected board of directors to achieve this accountability.

Good stuff.

Dino Rossi Declares War on Rail

It may surprise some readers to know that, over my voting life, I’ve been known to occasionally vote Republican in elections at various levels. I have my own bizarre cocktail of left- and right- wing views, and depending on what itch is being scratched my opinions about each candidate may be shaped without party-line considerations.

Recently, of course, local Republicans have become reactionary anti-rail, anti-transit, anti-density, pro-SOV fanatics, which is something I just can’t accommodate.

However, with our Democratic supermajority in Olympia alternating between total inaction and legislation to maim Sound Transit, and Governor Gregoire appearing to waste time on various transportation megaprojects, there was unusual space for Dino Rossi to have a message encompassing all transportation modes but promising competent execution of all of them, rather than as a pro-car or anti-car ideologue.

So I looked to Dino Rossi’s Transportation Plan with hope and anticipation. I shouldn’t have. This document was first sent to me by a Gregoire operative; when your own campaign literature is being gleefully distributed by the other side, that’s a bad sign.

It’s 21 pages of asphault-pouring goodness. Let’s break it down:

p.5: (his page numbers)

Highways are a state responsibility. It is the obligation of state government to build and maintain statewide road and freeway networks.

Transit, including buses, bus rapid transit and rail, is a critical component of our present and future transportation system.

Transit has always been planned, and managed, at the local level. The state should not meddle in local transit decisions.

Emphasis mine. It’s kind of lukewarm about transit, but not catastrophic. Do no harm: it’s a message that I wish State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-not in the Sound Transit district) would take to heart.

With you so far, Dino!

But wait, what was that on Page 4?

The Rossi plan will dedicate half of the current and future eastside subarea equity Sound Transit surplus to HOV projects on I-405 and S.R. 520. Sound Transit’s accruing eastside subarea surplus should be used for what it was intended – to finance transit related infrastructure on the eastside. This provides approximately $690 million.

Ah, so he is going to meddle in local transit decisions, dictating the mode choices to the local Sound Transit board. This measure, by the way, would wipe out any hope of rail to the Eastside in our working lives.

OK, so he just wants to enhance bus service. I’m a rail guy, but at least he wants better transit!

All the way up to p. 13:

In addition to funding these important highway projects, the Rossi plan will use common sense approaches to improve the flow of traffic and relieve congestion:

• Open HOV lanes to all traffic during non-peak hours.

But won’t that wreck the reliability of bus service? Why, it’s almost as if he wants to divert Sound Transit funds into projects that can also be used by Single Occupancy Vehicles, and doesn’t really care about the transit! Who would have thought!

But at least he doesn’t want to mess with the highly successful Sound Transit governance structure, like many Democrats do!

A Regional Transportation Accountability Board is needed to prioritize, fund and plan projects in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. The incumbent’s own bipartisan Regional Transportation Commission concluded in its report to the legislature in 2006 that the current system was broken.

A Regional Transportation Accountability Board in the Central Puget Sound region would:

• Provide a regional focus to get critical projects completed, instead of local elected officials fighting to get their pet projects done first.

• Integrate planning across various transportation modes, from highways to rail transit to buses, so they work together instead of competing.

• Be directly elected, so its board would be accountable to the people.

Key attributes of a Regional Transportation Accountability Board in Central Puget Sound include:

• Consolidates the transportation functions of the Puget Sound Regional Council with Sound Transit, RTID and local transit agencies.

• Acts as “gatekeeper” for major transportation project decisions across the four counties.

The WSDOT would remain the lead agency for all state highway projects.

Oh.

<sigh>

Vote Gregoire. Indifference to transit is better than hostility.

Meetings on Bus Changes

Metro is holding public meetings on proposed route changes to Route 157 and 161 (Kent East Hill) and the East-of-Issaquah (209, 214, 215, 922, 929) service changes. We mentioned these before here and here, and apparently comments in February have steered the decisions a bit.

Of course, they’re in the middle of the day: Wednesday, April 23, downtown Seattle, 1:00 and 1:30 pm, respectively.

Apparently, they want a park-and-ride out at Snoqualmie Ridge; that’ll give the Sierra Club a stroke.

Congestion Prices and HOT Lanes Cont’d

In my last post on congestion charging, I picked SR 167 to make a point, which was unfortunate. I was not writing about HOT lanes, which toll only a single lane and are about to actually be installed on 167. I was referring, instead, to all-lanes congestion pricing. Many people took that the wrong way, and I’m sorry.

Anyway, Mike at Carless in Seattle has done a great piece of research about who actually uses HOT lanes in California. As it turns out, poorer people are almost as likely to value their time, and cough up the dough. It certainly challenged my assumptions.

NYC Congestion Charge

Reihan Salam, one of the smartest and most entertaining young right-wingers out there, has a rant about the NY state assembly’s rejection of Congestion Charging.

His point is right, of course, that such a charge actually benefits the city’s poor and working class. In Seattle, the transit share is smaller, largely because the transit isn’t nearly as good. I’m skeptical of such charges on a road like SR 167, where many low and middle income commuters have no viable transit option.

In strictly-defined downtown Seattle, there are good peak-hour one-seat ride options from pretty much everywhere, options that can only be enhanced if congestion pricing actually reduces congestion. For that reason, I think a congestion charge for, say, the ride-free zone (but not I-5) is justifiable.

There are some legitimate reasons to do a SOV commute through downtown streets: reverse commuters from downtown to obscure points in the suburbs, and ferry users driving to points outside downtown. But the former typically isn’t a person in the economic situation that will be significantly affected by a congestion charge, and to some extent residents on the Kitsap Peninsula have to accept that living across a large body of water from your workplace entails significant complications in your commute. The somewhat rural character of the Peninsula is, after all, fundamentally maintained by the difficulty of getting anywhere from there.

Photo Credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/graphics/2007/02/17/mfprice17.jpg

The Road to West Seattle

Now that we’ve all vented our spleens about ways to get to West Seattle and Ballard, it’s worth repeating that the way to make that happen is to make sure that Sound Transit 2.1 goes as far north as possible, as quickly as possible.

It’s a mortal lock that any Sound Transit plan goes to Northgate and Bellevue. Once that’s done, there are only 2 stations left to build — the Jackson Park (costing $280-320m) and Shoreline ($311-358m) stops. After that, there’s no big-ticket item in the original ST2 plan that could credibly be assessed to the North King sub-area.

That means that any follow-on vote, possibly occurring in the next decade, really has no choice but to address the west side of the city in order to comply with sub-area equity. Unless, of course, governance reform manages to dispose of this principle just when it’s about to start benefiting Seattle.

So, oddly enough, the road to West Seattle goes through Shoreline.