You’ve got to give us a why, Bill!

He wants to disband Sound Transit, and he’s not the only person who wants that.

Disband Sound Transit. One less duplicative bureaucracy to fund and maintain. Finish King County’s light rail — since so much money has been sunk into it already we might as well go ahead and finish the thing, then operate it as a laboratory and concrete example of what not to do next time, should the region ever venture into rail again. Then turn it over to Metro. Give the Tacoma light rail segment to Pierce Transit.

Turn the Sounder commuter trains — which always made far more sense than light rail since the rights of way already exist and they move people between towns, a major source of congestion — over to Amtrak and/or the Washington State Department of Transportation (Amtrak already provides contract commuter service in California, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut, contracts with the state of Washington for support of the Cascades service and provides maintenance services for Sounder). And turn express-bus service over to Metro, Pierce Transit and Community Transit, which should have been running it anyway.

It’s a list of action items without any reason. Why does he want to disband Sound Transit? Because it’s duplicative? What is agency is it duplicating exactly? Because “Metro, Pierce Transit and Community Transit” should have been running it anyway?

He ends with ‘Ban from regional transportation planning anyone who has uttered, or even thought, the phrase, “We’ve got to get people out of their cars.”‘ Yikes.

There’s nothing of substance here, but it’s worth noting that Virgin is not alone in his thinking, and we need to be vigilent against those trying to destroy our transit agencies.

Bill Virgin = Comic Relief

After reading this P-I Columnist thoughts on Prop 1, I think I honestly needed my ribs to be replaced from laughing so hard. First of all, I do admire him for some suggestions, such as replacing the 520 and Alaskan Way Viaduct but then he goes on to say to Disband Sound Transit and letting the regional transit agencies take over…. Sure, that’ll be fine in dandy to replace 500+ Sound Transit buses, give Sounder over to Amtrak and/or BNSF or another private venture and give Link over to King County.

If it wasn’t for Sound Transit, there would not be this additional transportation infrastructure that we now have thanks to Sound Transit because King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish Counties couldn’t get off their asses to develop an extensive transportation plan.

We now have an agency that while not near the size of King County Metro Transit but is already at 35+ million passengers in it’s short life span. I don’t see Sound Transit going anywhere anytime soon and with their recent credit approvals. We need to stop looking at Sound Transit who said one thing in 1996 and changed it in 2001 because of increased costs because every other country happens to be developing at a faster rate that the United States is….It is not Sound Transit’s fault for raising fuel costs, concrete costs, steel costs.

If anything, all of our networks need to be under ONE name instead of 4 different agencies (Community, King, Pierce, ST) I would personally would not mind the new Puget Pass/Orca Pass to include the Washington State Ferry System (foot and passenger) on top of all of our other systems. I also wouldn’t mind the Monorail under King County Metro but that would never happen.

So yes, we have a lot of ideas, plans, thoughts, how we would love to get rid of Sound Transit but without ST, we wouldn’t be where we are at today without them and for that, can not thank this agency enough. Central Link Light-Rail is coming to Seattle in 2009, South Lake Union Streetcar in December, Community Transit’s Swift BRT in 2009 and King County Metro’s RapidRide BRT in 2010 and the 2003 Legislative Transportation Funding Package, Nickel fund, and the 2005 Transportation Partnership Funding Package are well under way all over our State to get our roads improved and in a State of Good Repair.

Give it time for everything to come together and you’ll see that our tax money is going to something good but you all need to realize that it takes time to build up the funds to get our roads repaved, repaired, to get our transportation in a condition that meets our needs, and most importantly, keeps our strong employers in our region. Without a effective transportation system, Seattle and the Puget Sound region will fail to be a world leader in trade and our economy.

Carless Road Trips!

This week’s Seattle Weekly has a great article about carless road trips. It has a bunch of nuggets like this (well the monorail would have been nice):

Contrary to what those monorail morons wanted you to believe, getting out to West Seattle couldn’t be easier, on the back of the mighty Metro 54. Hop on it downtown, and it’ll whisk you over the freeway and down the length of Fauntleroy Way. At about the 30-minute mark, you’ll hop off at Lincoln Park, one of Seattle’s best—and not all that heavily used by those outside the neighborhood. Its 135 acres includes five miles of trails, including a stunner that goes all along the point under a canopy of trees; it’s one of the best Puget Sound walks you’re going to find. At the tip of the point is the park’s most famous amenity: an Olympic-size, heated, outdoor, salt-water pool that’s open summer-only. The 54 runs twice an hour on weekends.

When I was a kid, my siblings and I used to bus out to Discovery Park. I think it was the 31 we took with a bit of a walk in at the end. The other option was the 33, I think, from Downtown. When I was in college, we used to go to Vancouver on Amtrak, Greyhound and Quickshuttle. We always had a blast. Have any of you guys done a successful carless road trip?

Richardson is Pro-Transit

This post over at NPI’s blog about New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson’s stop in Seattle has this nice nugget:

Transportation policy came up later during our discussion, and as Richardson began talking about mass transit, I asked him whether he would be willing to help out the Puget Sound with federal money for Link light rail.

Q: Would your administration grant a lot of money to metropolitan areas to build new and expand existing electric transit systems?

A: Yes! There is a highway bill that a President has. It’s the biggest pork in any bill. And it’s billions of dollars. When I was in Congress, it was $120 billion. We did it every three years. It’s gone up. And that’s money that goes straight to states. I would be a partner. I would say to Seattle: we will have some joint bonding. We will put in a certain amount if you do this and you build smart growth communities, [implement] sensible land use policies, and you commit to light rail instead of just expanding existing highways.

Richardson also pledged to keep Amtrak going and concluded by saying that he would be “a President with a national transportation policy: focused on light rail, bullet trains, more efficient transportation.”

Richardson’s answers on transportation left me satisfied but wondering about the other candidates. Transportation is not an important issue nationally – presidential candidates don’t spend much time talking about it – but it is a huge issue at the state level, and particularly here in Washington, where our infrastructure is aging and in need of new investment.

His point is pretty well thought-out. The joint-bonding would help speed up development since we know that all Sound Transit needs to complete its project faster is more of its money upfront. It can only issue five-year bonds, which means that it can only spend five years’ worth of income at a time. If the feds would joint issue the bonds, the bonds could be for 30 years with a much lower interest rate which would dramatically speed up the projects and actually make them cheaper.