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Transit train wreck: Revealing bus-route ridership

We've got buses going everywhere, and guess which routes are logging the biggest increases in ridership? Not the route that would become light rail to the Eastside suburbs. Part 2 of 3
Click to enlarge. (Sound Transit)

Click to enlarge. (Sound Transit) None


Second of three parts
Part 1: Ridership today and the suggested Sound Transit sales tax increase.
Part 2: Real riders speak, and Sound Transit's model isn't what they want to buy.
Part 3: The must-do agenda for transit and smart growth.


Sound Transit wants to hear from people about a plan for a 30 percent to 40 percent (depending on where you live) increase in the sales tax slice devoted to transit. The plan would put billions of dollars into the lap of the board of directors to spend on capital projects for Sound Transit's 10 percent share of the region's transit service. The big investments would be 18 miles of light rail extensions, serving just a few communities, and station improvements and beefed up frequency on the Sounder commuter rail train through Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila, from Tacoma to Seattle.

Riders could first use the big projects in 2020. Ten years later, by 2030, 22 years from now, the new projects would have produced a gain in daily ridership, according to Sound Transit, equal to about 20 percent of today's daily regional transit ridership, although many of those riders would just be shifting their transit trip to a rail car from a bus.

Meanwhile, the rest of the regional transit system — 90 percent of today's current ridership — operated by King County Metro, Community Transit in Snohomish County, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, and Washington State Ferries, already with hundreds of thousands of daily boardings, is bursting at the seams with near double-digit annual ridership gains pressed on existing services by gas-price woes to which no end is in sight and, at least for now, traffic congestion.

What's right with this Sound Transit plan?

Not much. Because it would fail to leverage much of Sound Transit's huge proposed tax-funded spending in the markets where transit growth is happening today and where the most important opportunities and needs for transit improvements and growth are presented tomorrow.

The best proof of the plan's failings lies in little-noticed but critically important details of Sound Transit's reports on its own growth spurt in transit ridership. And looking at the evidence from the other parts of the regional system and other places around the country just underscores the flaws in Sound Transit's approach.

The big route connecting Bellevue and Seattle isn't where the riders are

You can start right at the top by laying Sound Transit's own ridership reports against the plan's main event: $2.1 billion in spending to serve Bellevue-Seattle customers (with Mercer Island riders to boot) with a light rail extension between downtown Seattle and Bellevue and Overlake.

This light rail line would replace the Queen Elizabeth II of Sound Transit's regional express bus system, the Route 550 express bus. Today, the 550 makes more than 60 trips each way every day, every few minutes during rush hour. It has been Sound Transit's biggest express bus route, and with travel times just about the same as light rail, it defines the case for Sound Transit's approach of building out an east-west light rail main line. It would connect up with Central Link light rail, which runs north-south, basically paralleling Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle on which construction is moving ahead to a hoped-for mid-2009 opening.

But there's a stark message drowned out in Sound Transit's crowing over an overall 2007 to 2008 jump of 16 percent in overall ridership.

Which Sound Transit express bus route in that period produced growth less than half the rate [PDF] of the Sound Transit system average? Hint: it's the same route that shows lower daily boardings today than in 2001.

Yes, it's Route 550 between Bellevue and Seattle on the I-90 bridge, drifting for years between 5,000 and 6,000 daily boardings and, even with infusion of a few new riders this year, not yet recovering the peak ridership level of 2001.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 1:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Old MacDonald: Old MacDonald has some illogically premises. According to Grandpa MacDonald, everyone who will join sound transit between 2020 and 2030 will come from buses.

BUT OMG WE SHOULDN'T BUILD AN EXPANSION BECAUSE OUR BUSES ARE CROWDED!

Why are our bus-based transit systems in so much trouble? Gas prices are high. So let's DEFINITELY not build an electric rail system run on green-hydro power. That would be completely crazy in a world with high gas prices.

And transit ridership is pushing our existing bus systems to their breaking points, but let's not build a higher capacity system, because unlike buses, light rail NEVER EVER EVER has higher than projected ridership.

MacDonald goes on to tell us how we have not developed a hub-and-spoke model? Really? Why then are 85% of workers in our region in just six work areas (Downtown Seattle, First Hill/Capitol Hill, University District, Bellevue, Redmond and Tacoma)? Serving those areas is just the worst idea ever, because all future job growth is going to be in Carnation. Especially now that gas is $4.30. Right? Right? Because the Sounder is a sprawl route...

MacDonald is all over the place, and like the rest of the geezers who write at oldfart, I mean crosscut, is stuck in a 20th century mindset. Let us make our decisions, we've seen your 20th century "wisdom" of sprawl, highways and unfilled dreams of ever-lasting prosperity. We've also seen the rest of the world catch up or surpass us as they have built rail transit and dense communities. Well the future isn't yours, gentlemen, it belongs with the young.
daimajin

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 6:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Same Old, Same Old: MacDonald produces nothing new. He repeats the same tired rhetoric, with updated data, we've heard from Walking Will Knedlick, Jim Horn and Emory Bundy and concludes: more buses are better than rail.

MacDonald writes as though he's holding a grudge. The overall feeling I get is that he hates Sound Transit as well as light rail and he's on a mission to prove that he's right.

There is another side to the story. I hope we hear it soon.

While MacDonald clearly opposes Sound Transit and light rail, so far he fails to offer an adequate alternative to cure all he finds ailing.

How long have we been waiting for all these buses he seems to want, and all the new pavement they'll need to keep moving as slow as all the rest of the peak traffic?
Tarl

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:17 a.m. Inappropriate

Doesn't $4.50/gallon Gas Change All Bets?: It strikes me that Sound Transit's studies and projections and Doug MacDonald's arguments as well, based as they are on historical growth rates and patterns, are no longer valid because of the much higher gasoline prices we are experiencing and are likely to live with for a long time.

One question that I have always had is why would ST or Metro continue to offer Bus transit on routes served, or that will be served, by light rail or heavy rail? If the I-90 to Bellevue/Overlake Light Rail line were to be built, why should there be any bus service over 520 or I-90? For example, shouldn't bus service from Juanita be restricted to feeder lines to the Bellevue Light Rail station? What would happen to ridership and the economics of Light Rail under those conditions, assuming $4.50-$10 gas?

I realize that transit is not supposed to be subsidizing sprawl, but we must have affordable housing available for our community to function and that means a subsidy in this day and age. The subsidy will be either a massive expansion of HOV roads if BRT is to work, continued expensive Sounder/Light Rail expansion, or very expensive housing subsidies in Seattle, Bellevue and other employment centers. The costs in dollars and environmental damage of our options are not clear to me, and I don't believe they are clear to our policy and decision makers either.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Where is Governance Reform: Doug's detailed analyses are excellent as one would expect with the naked Emperor of Sound Transit fully exposed. I hope part three deals with the 800 pound gorilla: reforming the way these huge decisions are made. John Stanton and others have been breaking picks trying to get these reforms through Olympian labyrinths, so far without success. That the ST board would by itself make the decisions he criticizes if extra tax voted illustrates the problem.

ctb

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

The ad hominems: Maggi Fimia, Ron Sims and now Dan. But the light rail fans only want to attack the messengers as old white men.

They say Dan has no new arguments but they have never refuted the arguments in the past.

They criticize the critics for having a 20th century mindset yet promote a 19th century technology.

They say the reponse to full buses now is to build rail that will be available in 10 to 20 years, if they make their schedule.

They say the way to build density is to take people quickly out of town to park and ride lots.

But mostly they attack those that don't buy in.

They are the ad homimens
jps

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

By riding the bus, I sew the seeds of my own destruction, I guess: Who knew that by riding the bus as my primary form of transportation I would be enabling "the bus is good enough for ye" types like MacDonald? So, because buses are full, we should not build rail... That's a strange conclusion to come to.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 10:29 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: The ad hominems: It's the exceptions that prove the rule.

"19th Century technology"??? What about the diesel engined bus? Pretty sure that 19th century too.

Do you think, perhaps, that the rail technology of today might be ever so slightly more advanced than the technology of the 1880's? Gosh, I think so.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 10:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Lying with statistics: It's hard to see amid all the spin, but buried in this article is the apparent fact that the 550 route that is supposedly the wrong route has the most ridership of any of the routes listed. Growth of ridership is higher elsewhere, but it would make sense that an agency that has added more service to previously underserved areas would see higher growth in exactly those areas, rather than on a route that has been well-served (in bus terms, anyway) for years.

The only route that comes close in overall ridership is the 545 route on 520 (it has "all BUT" overtaken the 550), which means that even with huge growth it's still got less ridership. The implication is that 520 would be a better route for light rail. This ignores the fact that a 520 train would overburden the university to DSTT tunnel if it continued on into the city, creating massive inefficiencies while the southbound portion of the tunnel would remain underused. Or, the 520 train could terminate or head north from Montlake, necessitating a transfer for all the Eastsiders getting to their jobs in Seattle. And on the east side of the line, the train would have to loop south to Bellevue and north again, or use an inefficient spur, both of which reduce ridership. The planned I-90 alignment captures more riders, including all of the same riders in Bellevue and Redmond that you'd get with a 520 line, and it avoids the engineering and network capacity challenges of the 520 line.

What these growing ridership numbers do suggest is that the I-90 line is only a start, and that a 405 light rail system from Lynnwood through Bothell and Kirkland and Bellevue to Renton is a major priority for the next major expansion. The ridership numbers and lack of tunneling for a 405 alignment would enable it to join with the Central Line at Lynnwood and Tukwila without overburdening capacity. A spur to Issaquah from Bellevue would allow for more frequent cross-lake headways without overburdening capacity. After those projects, a 520 line makes sense, but not as a way to get downtown. Instead, it would be a east-west cross-town route for North Seattle and the northern Eastside, running from Ballard to Fremont to the U-District and then on to Kirkland and Redmond. You'd still have major engineering challenges at the Montlake station because a surface train on 520 would have to connect somehow to the relatively deep station. It's also true that with most of the Bellevue and Redmond riders served by the I-90 route that the additional ridership captured from such an east-west line would not justify a route on 520 in the short term. But in the long run, after I-90 and 405 alignments are fully built out, 520 light rail will probably be necessary. It's just not anywhere near our first priority. Our first priority is clearly the line identified by Sound Transit, the regional agency. It's not surprising if a bit disappointed to realize that someone with experience in a statewide agency that mostly builds highways doesn't understand (or doesn't care about) the regional transit needs of Seattle and Greater King County. I hope this is just ignorance on the former Secretary's part, though I fear this might just be cynical posturing for the roads lobby.
cascadian

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

It's not either/or: This is not an either/or argument.

MacDonald touted his newly-acquired lifestyle as a bus-rider yesterday, and it shows that he's just now starting to think about transit in a way that he's probably never thought before. And, apparently, he likes his new toy but doesn't seem to see much beyond that.

We need grade-separated backbones to our transit system. It's easy to snipe at decisions on where to locate routes; I'm confident that when the freeway system was built, there were those who felt that the pavement should have been poured elsewhere. But, we have to make decisions, and it's hard to argue that routes between Seattle and the Eastside are not a priority. Nobody thinks that we shouldn't build the other routes, but we have to start somewhere.

MacDonald seems to be looking at this in the short-term, with one foot placed firmly in the past, while gingerly dipping his toe into the stream of the future. That thinking will not serve us well in this new global world. Fly into any modern city in this global world and transportation backbones are a vital part of that system.

Yes, we need more bus service. But, yes, we also need fixed, grade-separated backbones that connect vital hubs.

I'll agree that these systems are coming online too slowly, that we need to add more funding, and fast, to keep pace with the manner in which the region and the world are growing.
Timothy

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:22 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: It's not either/or: Go to any city and find in-city transit as the transit backbone. Regional rail is mostly a remnant from pre ICE times.

W@HA - no, ICE buses were not around until the 20th C.

We made huge errors by building freeways through the center of cities. Those that argued against massive city freeways were right. Thank the protesters that went against the planners and stopped the RH Thompson.
jps

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:31 a.m. Inappropriate

DA!: The lack of low and middle income housing in our urban centers is driving sprawl. And that sprawl will contine as long as people need an affordable roof over their heads and a safe place to raise their families. So get real! Hardly ANY affordable market rate housing has been build in Seattle as opposed to a massive amount of expensive housing. That won't change now, or ever, since the City has been out flanked by developers who maximize their profits by only building high income residences. And, the City stills issues demolition permint for existing affordable housing and condo conversions. Put that all together and you get sprawl.

So, the mission of mass transit should be to get as many sprawlites onto buses as soon as possible. Intercepting them close to home can be accomplished by more buses, more places, more often (ten minute headways). NOT rail!

Talk about 19th and 20th century thinking, let's get into this 21st century.
Women are over 50% of the workforce and commuters. Our federal Highways were never designed to accomodate that addition to the commuting public. In less that two decade, the driving public doubled. The duel income family is now a norm and each has multiple autos. One car per person is what we are really experiencing, not one person per car. The only place where increaed ridership is occuring is where that convenient bus service already exists. It needs to be expanded. As was proposed in the original RTP plan, we need $1 billion for a massive bus fleet expansion. And the longer we ewait the longer it will take to get them, due to the massive demand for buses in the world.

Doug is on the right (or wrong) track. But, let's not close our minds to our growth and needs. Every income level will go where that can, just like water seeking it's own level. With the great majority of growth in jobs and housing being outside of Seattle, it may be time to just settle with the fact that Seattle is becoming a wealthy suburb for the rest of the region, and our pattern of human settlement is turing into clusters rather than urban and suburban centers.
As Bellevue experienced, it no longer wants to be identified as a suburb of Seattle.
Wake up Sound transit. You need to abandon your "one track" mindset. Get on board!

Art

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

South Sound transit: Pierce Transit Route 1 is indeed a useful and well-used bus route -- but it's very slow. It needs its own right-of-way, either as BRT or as a street car.

As a frequent Sounder Train user who rides a bike from near downtown Tacoma, I'm not inducing sprawl, and neither are a lot of other passengers. But if you got rid of the Sounder and replaced it with BRT from Tacoma to Seattle that had exclusive right-of-way on I-5 and ran every 5 minutes, I wouldn't complain.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 12:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Brevity?: Oh...and btw, has anyone at Crosscut heard that brevity is an artform? This piece could have been edited down to a more manageable size without losing the arguments. Distill, people. This is the web you're publishing on.

Timothy

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 1:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Being the first and out-of-control costs.: Has any transit agency ever run light rail--or any other kind of rail--over a floating bridge? If not (which I think is the answer), do we in this metropolitan area want to be the ones to fund this? I cannot believe that any cost estimates for doing this have any basis in reality.

I know buses are not sexy, but given our geography, they are the most cost-effective answer for us. Let's find a way to put a lot of lipstick on that bus pig!!!
m-t-e

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 1:23 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Doesn't $4.50/gallon Gas Change All Bets?: I agree with giving this quiet mind an Editor's Pick
The first step to breakthroughs? A quiet mind.
afreeman

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 1:31 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Being the first and out-of-control costs.: Or change the wheels on the toy trolleys.

afreeman

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 3:49 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Brevity?: Brevity is a fine thing, and I'm sure Doug could have taken an 800-word op-ed to the dailies and one of them would have run it. That's fine for casual readers, but we're trying to do something a little different, like dare to go into detail you won't find anywhere else, detail that can be verified and nit-picked and chewed on.

Our readers range from the county executive to the cranky citizen-watchdog, and we presume they're all smart enough to handle lengthy writing once in a while when the subject is important and complicated.

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 5:53 p.m. Inappropriate

election Sound Transit Board, BRT and Metro on time Schedule: 1. governance Sound Transit Board - Maggie Fimia Past King Co. council member raised the issue of governance of ST... When I appeared at a public hearing of ST she explained they only way to remove ST board members is recall from there elected position. In other words stuck in concrete! Grandpa McDonald was one of those board members. We have 100 transit agencies rather than 3 for King, Snohomish and Pierce county transportation. 20% overhead costs that could go into operations.



Transit Center Transfers - Riverside County metro has transit centers where 8 bus routes connect at a transit center and buses are not allowed to leave until all routes transfer... Metro, ST,pierce co and community transit have no links you get off one bus and see the ass end of your transfer bus leaving and know you have a 15-20-30 minute wait for the next bus! How many routes are 1 hour min. time v driving by care in 10- 15 minute drive????

Duplicate routes - The SLUT is two blocks from UW routes, 100,000 hours % $150 per hours of operation = $15 million The paul Allen subsidy program...
We had to cut $15 million in bus operations to poor neighborhoods and tax subsidy to create the Nichol Express (Slut)


3rd Avenue Seattle Bus Jam - During Sports palace events METRO bus routes are 1 hour late because buses are blocking two lanes of traffic. The drivers are blaming auto traffic when it is the bus drivers blocking themselves. I have watched drivers change lanes 10 feet from a bus stop and block both lanes of traffic on 3rd avenue ... time SPD start ticketing bus drivers for blocking traffic ...maybe we need to change transit traffic laws in the RCW....

ST Rail - the 1940's Rail Laws give a federal easement to federal rail roads of 120' right of ways... time the federal government reform rail R/W ... we gave the rail roads an easment... now ST is rebuilding the R/W for $1 Billion for BN and then limit the route to 6 trains per day...what is the total operation/Capital cost of ST Seattle -Everett route cost per person over 10 years? The same applies to Bill Gates subsidy of ST 550 route... Grandpa Mcdonald fails to calculate the operation and capital cost per passanger of his expansion plans.



U of W Study - The U of W shows we can cut congession if we only required major corporations transfer there employees to local offices i. e. banks, insurance companies, coffee companies, local and state gov etc.

Consolidation Transportation Agencies - cut 100 transportation agencies to 3

Impact Fees - Developers should be paying impact fees for the 4,000 people per month relocating to WA for technology jobs. Why should we pay for transportation impacts thru sales tax instead of impact fees... land costs have increased 500% in the last 20 years, Houses have gone from $17K in 1975 to $1 Million value in our region... Charge and real impact fee...

Smith Tower - The Samis Foundation remodled and updated the Smith Tower in 2000... they spent $150 per Sq foot used as first class office space. A developer bought the building for $250 per sq foot to convert the building to condos and sell at $1,000 per SQ FT... no impact fees pay for power, sewer,water, drainage, school etc. This incudes capital costs and operation of these services... The existing taxpayers are charged increased rates to pay for these increases instead of the devloper....Puget Sound Regional Gov estimates $400 Billion in cost ... let the immigrants pay for there own impacts like other states do... There are $56 billion in tax credits to business acording to WA dept of Revenue... Xmas trees, health care and real estate agents are exempt from state taxes...


Uncle Mc Donald, time to make developers accountable and the Building Industry Assoc of WA...

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Railing at reality: It is truly simple to have buses not be caught in congestion.
40 years ago this was not the case, but today we've got a lot of examples of freeway HOT lanes.
Combine these with arterial bus-only lanes.
Problem solved.
dfp

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 7:34 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: ailing at reality: The other day I was driving on 405 south, then turning south onto I5. I was in the carpool lane. To go from it to the southbound I5 carpool lanes, you have to cross two lanes on 405, then switch back into the carpool lanes on I5. This is bound to slow down buses in rush hour (I was not in rush hour). I wonder how much it would cost to build a dedicated ramp from 405 carpool lane to I5 carpool lane?

Now, if the lane is a HOT ramp, there's another source of funding to pay for it.

This is not a perfect solution. Another fully dedicated lane would be quite nice to have. But, we don't live in a perfect world.
sjenner

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 9:28 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Brevity?: Are the headlines and the summaries that appears below them Crosscut's? Or MacDonald's? There seems to be a lot of repetition going on here.

Tarl

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Planning Growth or Throwing Marshmallows to Hungry Developers: This article was rather shrill which makes me question whether I'm being misled. Upon reflection, the arguments seem pretty flawed. The Puget Sound region has been designed around highways, strip malls, and the whims of developers. This leads to higher growth in traffic and indeed transit ridership around and between the areas that have seen the most development. I wouldn't expect the observed historical growth in Transit ridership to have any correlation with the desired direction of growth patters as defined by a well design urban or regional plan. So in essence, my response to the shrill cries over observed transit growth patters is.... "So What?"

Dougga

Posted Tue, Jun 24, 11:55 p.m. Inappropriate

Finding One's Modal Compass: It makes me tired and sad to read the mode warriors' angry character assassinations of people who disagree with them about which transit mode is the best. (There is no excuse for the comments above that suggest one's age disqualifies one's opinion or colors one's judgment - those comments should not be welcome here.)

We will need all of the modes to get a good transit system. We live in a *huge* sprawling region. If we started building today at full speed, dedicating all of our resources to rail capital construction, we would still not provide rail in all the places one might think it's needed by the time our children's children are born. We aren't going to have as much money as we'd like for transportation or for other pressing public sector needs, including schools and social services which compete for our money. We're not in a position to hold out for a mercedes benz public transit system. Under every rail scenario, the majority of people will still need to have buses, so it's silly to argue about their inferiority. We're going to need good bus service regardless.

That's not an indictment of rail either. Rail is undoubtedly a part of the transit system we need. The better argument would be over where investments in very high-cost rail construction will add enough added value to be worth the cost and the wait. Even to rail proponents (and I count myself sometimes as one) there are good reasons to question whether long distance commuting is where rail adds the most value over a bus solution - especially when most transit trips are local, and most local streets will never provide a fast transit option. But whenever rail investments are made, it's important to weigh the opportunity cost of the bus service that won't be provided in the interim as well .

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 8:52 a.m. Inappropriate

Is the State about building highways or is this just about King Co?: A quote from the editor's picks:

"It's not surprising if a bit disappointed to realize that someone with experience in a statewide agency that mostly builds highways doesn't understand (or doesn't care about) the regional transit needs of Seattle and Greater King County. I hope this is just ignorance on the former Secretary's part, though I fear this might just be cynical posturing for the roads lobby."

I think the person that was highlighted by the editor brings valid points to the discussion. The above quote I pulled from that post caught my attention.

Can anyone tell me when the last substantial Highway or Freeway was built? I don't know when the last highway was built in the State of Washington and certainly we have not built any more freeways. We have done a lot of paving wouldn't you agree?

Only in the past few years we in Snohomish County are finally starting to see relief from the state to fix the congestion we face and we are a county that has projections of growth that exceed our neighbors to the north and south.

Part of the expansion includes lanes (I know that is a dirty word) but it would allow us to expand transit opportunities. Thankfully the Port of Seattle prevented Ron Sims from pulling up rail so we in Snohomish can plan for an eastside rail corridor from a park and ride that will go from our area to Woodinville/Bothell, Kirkland, Bellevue, Renton and perhaps even connect eventually to South Center and SeaTac but we can't doing anything until the highways that moves people, goods and services are improved and I'm sorry that includes increasing lanes.

I am always baffled that one position has to be at the sacrifice of the other. To say lanes are bad or building new roads where needed is just wrong is just bizarre to me.

My other observation is the editor's pick also focused the conversation on areas that are important to that region. I am good with that however we have been on the sideline for a 100 years (literally) waiting for King Co to get squared away and they never do.

For example, building a convention center over the freeway? Waiting until hell freezes over to rebuild the viaduct? I was working downtown Seattle in the 80's when the roads were dug up because they were building the two mile tunnel and the justification for such an expense? Take the buses off the surface street so vehicles could free flow downtown. Where are they now? Ask the downtown folks how well it worked.

My point is there are many needs many places and the solution is out there but not exclusive to one way. You cannot have rail exclusively and you just can't be building roads exclusively but you need both.

Sound Transit to me is a train wreck (no pun intended) not because they exclusively represent alternatives to car travel but they are willing to spend money knowing it will not meet the goal it is designed to meet. That my friend IS a problem.

The quality of life is on the line right now and we the people cannot be digging in our heals for our one "pet" ideal for the sake of the ideal you must see the problem for what it is and take our limited resources and plan and in the end everyone will get what they want. Common sense does work we just need to use it.
KW

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 1:21 p.m. Inappropriate

Puts the Pieces Together: I have been a critic of Sound Transit largely because, a) I don't see how we can possibly build a complete, 150 mile or so light rail system, no matter how sexy it may seem, at well in excess of $300 million a mile -- we just don't have the money -- and because, b) with the now-proven HOT technology on freeways we can easily insure regional transit mobility throughout the entire metro Puget Sound when combined with arterial bus-only lanes. This was not the case in the Jim Ellis era. But time, and technology, marches on.

However, one reservation I have concerning some of my fellow critics is that they don't see the land-use / transit connection, which is the subject of this last article. So-called Transit Oriented Development (walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods) is essential for a whole host of reasons, not the least being amenity value. And with Bus Rapid Transit (on freeway HOT and arterial bus-only lanes) we can have TOD in hundreds of neighborhoods rather than the handful possible under Sound Transit's light rail fever-dream.

Even if you prefer light rail to BRT (an understandable preference), it is necessary to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. MacDonald's article has done just that. Good job. And let's hope the fever breaks soon.
dfp

Posted Wed, Jun 25, 1:45 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Puts the Pieces Together: note: This post belongs with the third MacDonald article. DFP

dfp

Posted Fri, Jul 11, 5:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Towards a solution: McDonald has it right - he's got a better hand on the details and the big picture than most of us.

This is a complicated question and the need for civic education on the subject should be apparent for anyone who follows the various arguments. Il-informed comments do not help the process and education extending to those who have the time to learn, whether it be retired, business leaders, or full time 'liberal arts' students is needed.

Crosscut's in-depth coverage is a start, but the conversation needs much more time. Perhaps we should get Berger or Brewster on the UW board - and citizen 'scholarships' for Crosscut readers???

BTW - I've been out of town, commenting on this some two weeks after publication.

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