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The case for more rail transit

The region has tried a largely bus solution for 40 years, and by now the capacity flaws are apparent. If we are really serious about building density, we need to lay more rails.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). (<a href='http://www.flickr.com/people/lwy/'>L.W. Yang</a> / Creative Commons)

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). (L.W. Yang / Creative Commons) None


On a February day 40 years ago, just over 50 percent of metro-Seattle voters approved of Proposition 1. That was a plan to build 47 miles of electric rapid transit, with fast trains as often as every four minutes connecting every major hub in our region. Thanks to U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson, D-Wash., a two-thirds federal contribution was secured and the region would only have paid $385 million, about $2.4 billion in 2008 dollars. The system would have opened in 1985 and been paid off last year.

At the time, though, a bond issue required 60 percent of the vote, so even with a majority, nothing could be built. The money earmarked for Seattle went instead to Atlanta. The long wait for rail began, and the case against it continues to be urged, more strongly than ever.

The anti-rail camp has all along used fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Detractors in 1968 called rail "inflexible" and labeled San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) plan "controversial." State Sen. Sam Guess, R-Spokane, promised a transit study committee for a bus alternative, but since a bus alternative would have meant giving up already full highway lanes, the bus plan floundered. With federal incentives spurring explosive suburban growth, the new American dream was in full swing, and those lanes were for Fords and Chevys.

The flexibility argument — that buses could follow shifting concentrations of passengers, unlike fixed rail — was always a straw man. (In practice, flexibility turns out to mean politically alterable, resulting mostly in slow, winding bus routes.) But nobody really thought our urban centers would pack up and move, requiring bus routes to follow them. Seattle's 1989 CAP initiative, limiting the height of Seattle office towers, did push some new construction to Bellevue. But even the iconic Smith Tower, completed in 1914 and long dwarfed by its Seattle neighbors, still has more stories than any of Bellevue's office towers. As highway money has dried up and oil prices have skyrocketed, development has shifted back to the city core.

Cities follow transportation. The ability to trade, in goods and ideas, is the primary driver of human development. Paris and London sit on rivers, Chicago on a lakeshore, Seattle alongside a storm-protected harbor. Fundamentally, cities develop to take in raw materials of every kind, then to add value by combining them into more specialized goods. Originally this meant iron ore, coal, and wood shaped into products and buildings. Now it also means software, genetic sequences, and circuitry.

These businesses and ideas don't occur in a vacuum. These ideas are brewed by discussions with the friend you run into at the coffee stand down the street. Every urban area's success is reliant upon its ability to foment face-to-face crossings between inventors and implementers, and these crossings happen proportionally to how dense and walkable our urban centers are.

Federal highway investment and other factors have long worked to shift these businesses from accessible but expensive downtown office buildings to widely spaced office parks. The diversity of experience in life and work was put in jeopardy and with it the United States' dominant role in innovation. Our urban vitality has been choked out by a lack of concentration.

We need to reverse this trend.

One key answer is rail transit. Forty years later, BART isn't so "controversial" after all, nor is Portland's MAX. Even here at home, our fledgling Sounder commuter rail will pull in well over 2 million passenger boardings in 2008. Rail isn't subject to the unreliability of highway congestion. People use it and people who want it demand new space to live and work near stations. Sound Transit's Link light rail is spurring thousands of new condos atop retail for the Rainier Valley, replacing vacant lots with dense development that offers a sure commute. The Sounder, with only commuter service during rush hours, is spurring development in Kent, where local government embraced it. Bellevue is already gearing up to develop near light rail a decade from now.

Buses have a key role as feeder services and in linking many smaller nodes. But they don't have the same concentrating effects, and so they alone cannot help us out of the pit we've dug with years of dispersed growth. We've proven that right here. While bus advocates won their battle in 1968, Seattle has created a system that may have saved some money but suffers from the unreliability of sharing lanes with traffic. We've had 40 years of trying to build a reliable bus-only transit system, only to bump into the political realities that prevent transit-only lanes or downtown roadways reserved for buses. Our transit system has fallen far behind our peers.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Sound Transit - an Example of the Corruption of Corporate America under Boomer Leadership: It isn't for me to say whether the Puget Sound should've invested in Light Rail 40 years ago. The fact is that the public expressed its will and the decision was made, period.

That 40 year period has also marked the zenith of the profitability, and usefulness, of the U.S. Corporate model. Sound Transit, and its two corporate counsel law firms, Preston Gates and Ellis/Foster Pepper Sheffelman illustrate those ills - as well as make a very strong case for the overreaching unprofitable Sound Transit organization.

PGE was lead counsel in the days leading up to the successful passage of the first funding package still in place (supported by this author, with the note that full promises have not been delivered). That firm no longer exists, probably thanks to the Abramoff scandal, though the matter has never been properly adjudicated.

Foster Pepper Sheffelman was selected as co-counsel in the early operating days and now rules that roost. Though different they are merely a reinvention of the same cycle of abuse practiced by PGE and its associates. The post monorail Prop 1 submittal is proof of that - and there is certainly more.

And unfortunately, so is the monopolistic Microsoft Corporation, irregardless of how much 'legal' justification they can muster.

Yet still the corrupt Bill Gates Sr brings in buco bucks for the UW - certainly respect for business in academia is an important subject, but using corporate welfare generated proceeds is NOT the same thing. A better measure than the defense of those who once made profits is the defense of those who have that potential in the future.

And, that, mon frere, is no different than academic freedom, no?

There is much to be done in America these days, including the paying off of the U.S. Debt from pockets of those that have put those funds in their pockets.

A good place to start though might well be the insistence that the Sound Transit Team, including management employees, counsel, and contracting companies, finish off the project as originally voted on AT THEIR EXPENSE.

Douglas Tooley
My Blog

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 9:51 a.m. Inappropriate

You make no sense...: There are four or five different comments in there about totally different things.

Regardless, I just want to point out that the majority of voters approved of Forward Thrust. We just had a rule that was later disposed of - as people have access to more and more information, they are paralyzed by indecision and tend to vote nearly at random.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Great Piece.: Ben,
Thanks for this insight into the principles that made adding more transit rail such a great idea 40 years ago, when the price of gas was 35 cents/gallon, and an absolute necessity today. Keep up the great work!
-KG
KerryG

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:34 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Sound Transit - an Example of the Corruption of Corporate America under Boomer Leadership: Doug Tooley: tilting at baby boomer and corporation windmills. I thought the subject was transportation? You're right, Doug. You've correctly identified the societal nitch responsible for all of your perceived problems. Now is your chance to convince 300 million people of your fringe views.

Crosscut should keep a permanent thread going for every disgruntled axe-grinder out in Internet Land. Mr. Tooley can host it.

This notion that ST should stop expanding its express bus, commuter rail and light rail expansion plans so we can all sit around and wait for another guilty subset to finish a public project he's already not paying for.

Which is a little weird.

If we had followed similar bizzarro advice for incredibly-overbudget and decades - delayed freeway projects, that huge I-5 upgrade in Doug's back yard never would have happened. But since the grudge experts could care less about progress (intellectual gridlock results in actual gridlock) it could be Mr. Tooley prefers the old dangerous and gridlocked version.

Great thing about the internets: you can be stuck-in-the-mud, and STILL share your stunted 'vision' with the rest of the world.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 11:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Car Bus: The ultimate dream transit system is the Car Bus, transporting 32 (occupied)electric microcars at 80-mph on a dedicated HVO (former HOV) lane; eventually updating to smooth, silent 125-mph maglev. Stations are located above the freeway every 5-miles.

Within ~10 years, the 8-foot long microcar (like Smart) will become the most popular commuting vehicle in the world.

Such a silver-bullet cure for freeway congestion was first studied under the New Transportation System Research Act, passed by the US Congress in 1968.

Its time has finally come, forced by congestion, dependence on foreign oil, and global warming.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Buses can't meet the need: Thank God we are finally getting an actual debate at Crosscut instead of just the unrebutted delusional and tendentious arguments by Ted VanDyk and Doug MacDonald.

Ben Schiendelman is absolutely right: Buses work only if you create new right-of-way, either by imposing tolling or use restrictions on existing lanes or by building new corridors. Otherwise, you have buses mired in congestion.

As David Brewster illustrated recently in his description of what is going on in Berkeley, it is nigh impossible politically to create free-flowing conditions for buses using existing roadways. You're either displacing cars or parking spaces and upsetting local businesses and residents. You will be hearing from Tim Eyman.

To create new and protected right-of-way is expensive, which is why light rail is expensive. If you're going to spend that money, then it only makes sense to put rail rather than buses in the right-of-way, because its operational costs are less and its capacity higher. If you don't spend the money for new right-of-way, you end up with congestion.

Buses are great and we need more of them, but they alone cannot meet the future transportation needs of Puget Sound.
hoohah

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:14 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Buses are most assuredly not the sole solution to our transportation problems. But regarding rights-of-way, I seem to remember proposals for running light rail literally down the I-5 corridor. Weren't our interstates designed to be able to accommodate rail? That's a lot of already-acquired, very expensive land. Much as I like the I-5 Colonnade off Lakeview Boulevard, I wouldn't have cried if it had turned into a transit station instead.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks, Crosscut, for finally including a pro-transit writer: I really have nothing to add to Ben Schiendelmann's article, except to say that I'm appreciative to read a pro-transit, pro-rail perspective here.

cascadian

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:26 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Where would you put I-5 rail through downtown? The entire right-of-way is in use and there's no room to expand. Also, most of the population in the city and elsewhere isn't right on the freeway, so you lose ridership with that aligngment as well as opportunities for transit-oriented development.

Furthermore, we already have a Central Link under construction, with University Link planning well underway. The proposed plans for Sound Transit rail north of Northgate, as I understand it, do use the I-5 right-of-way. South of downtown the proposed route parallels I-5, but again for solid ridership reasons. Where it is a good idea, I-5 right-of-way is being used.
cascadian

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Car Bus: Systems like that are so far from feasible it's not even funny.

Freeway stations kill transit oriented development with noise and with elimination of the closest locations. Small vehicles hamstring capacity lower than even streetcars. The right of way costs the same as a bullet train, but carries a tenth the passengers. Stations have to have turnouts that scale with the number of users, dramatically increasing right of way costs - every car needs space to slow down and stop somewhat separately than others, meaning station footprints are huge for any high density destination - right where your real estate costs are highest. Maintenance is vastly higher, because you have far, far more motors per unit ridership.

Pod transit is ridiculous at best. When you start doing cost per passenger estimates, you quickly find out that it'd be cheaper to buy everyone flying cars.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 12:58 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: We can use some highway right of way, but the big stations need to be separate from the highway infrastructure - you want to keep from having the highway in the walkable space around stations, as that's space that can't construct dense development.

Sound Transit has been planning to have stations mostly a block or two off the highway, but angling back toward highway right of way to be most cost efficient between stops. It's okay as long as you're not right in the center, which they aren't doing.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Perhaps somewhat unproductively, I was speculating on why we didn't do things that way in the past. Certainly it is too late now to realign Central Link (and boy, do I hate that name). And yes, Downtown is a special case; it's a bottleneck created by freeway designers who figured everyone would be getting off there rather than cruising right on through.

It does look like you're right--North Link does follow I-5 north of Lake City Way.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:12 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: Ben Shiendelman writes: "the majority of voters approved of Forward Thrust. We just had a rule that was later disposed of "


I presume you're referring to the super-majority voter approval requirement the two Forward Thrust proposals failed to achieve. (Also, please note that the second forward Thrust vote even failed to achieve a majority. By the time that second vote came around in May 1970, the region's economic outlook had turned bleak with cancellation of the U.S.'s supersonic transport development program. Signs famously asked the "last person leaving Seattle to turn out the lights".)

Well Ben, you're mistaken that the super-majority rule was "disposed of". Indeed, the super-majority requirement still exists for bond measures, which is what Forward Thrust was.

What distinguishes ST's rail financing from that of Forward Thrust is 1) ST uses sales and MVET taxes as their funding base (Forward Thrust was a property tax-backed bond measure); and 2) on the ST ballot, voters were not asked to approve *bonds* (which would have required a supermajority), but instead were asked simply to provide the authority for higher sales and MVET taxes. (ST would then use this revenue stream to pledge toward repayment of bonds ST's Board would later issue.)

Authorizing these new taxes for ST only required a simple majority vote (which ST obtained their second time around in 1996.) No "rule" was "disposed of". ST's legal advisors simply crafted a way to tap taxpayer's pockets for a big rail plan that didn't face the higher super-majority hurdle bond approvals needed.

----

Ben Shiendelman also writes: "the [Forward Thrust] system would have opened in 1985 and been paid off last year."


"Paid off last year" is also incorrect. If you researched the Forward Thrust ballot measures (e.g. Feb 13, 1968's Proposition 1, Metro Public Transportation Bonds), you will find that it authorized bonds of forty-year maturities to be issued for a seventeen year period.

Here's that ballot title: "Shall Metro perform the function of metropolitan public transportation, adopt & carry out the Comprehensive Transportation Plan and issue, over 17 years, General Obligation bonds maturing within 40 years of issue, payable from annual property tax levies?"

This means the Forward Thrust rail project would have issued bonds through 1985 -- and those bonds wouldn't be paid off until 2025. That's some seventeen years still in the future, not last year.

----

Ben Shiendelman writes more: "One key answer is rail transit. Forty years later, BART isn't so "controversial" after all"


Yet even rail-friendly Berkeley urban planning professor Robert Cervero acknowledges that more that thirty years of careful studies of BART's performance reveals that, with the lone exception of SF's downtown business district (to which BART feeds most of its riders), BART displayed no significant influence in changing the pattern of development in the Bay Area.

So that's at odds with your claim that BART isn't so 'controversial' after all. BART's not controversial only if you choose to ignore the work of the researchers most familiar with BART.

As a result of rail focusing its impact principally on downtown, the end result is an implicit subsidy to downtown property owners, whose land and (new) office buildings gain added accessibility to the region's employment base, from which they can obtain higher streams of rental income. The added revenue stream enjoyed by those properties is immediately capitalized into higher property values. Those enhanced property values flow directly onto the private owner's balance sheet, as a (significantly) more valuable asset.

{cont

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:12 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: {continued}

The only cost, to the property owner, associated with the benefit bestowed upon them is a slightly higher (~1.2% of the added value) annual property tax. That's a pretty low cost of capital, eh? (That's even better that what the Federal Reserve is granting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)



This implicit subsidy to owners of new downtown office buildings approximates $100,000 or more per workspace cubicle. Nice subsidy, eh?



(P.S. That subsidy figure reflects application of the region's standard GMA-based impact fee formula. But the trouble is, the City of Seattle -in its infinite wisdom- doesn't levy impact fees on new downtown development that requires the provision of added taxpayer-financed transportation capacity. Hmmm.....)



----



Finally, Ben Shiendelman writes "Sound Transit's Link light rail is spurring thousands of new condos atop retail for the Rainier Valley, replacing vacant lots with dense development"



But you overlook a key inducement for that development, Ben. You didn't mention the 10-year property tax exemption provided by the City of Seattle for new multi-family residential construction, subject to affordability conditions, in eleven "targeted" Seattle neighborhoods most of which, like the Rainier Valley, are located along the proposed light rail line.



So it's an open question just how much this development reflects "demand" factors (i.e. people really clamoring to live in a transit village) or reflects "supply" factors (i.e. developers constructing housing that enjoys significant tax forgiveness, tax savings that don't have to be passed along to buyers.)



I'll let you muse on the answer to that one.



----



In closing, I'm reminded of that apocryphal line re: Lincoln's assassination. "Other than these errors, Ben, how'd you enjoy the play?"

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:14 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: blukoff: the idea of running rail in the median of the interstate goes back to the 1950's.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Urban myths abound: Ben Schiendelman says:
"Fundamentally, cities develop to take in raw materials of every kind, then to add value by combining them into more specialized goods. Originally this meant iron ore, coal, and wood shaped into products and buildings. Now it also means software, genetic sequences, and circuitry.
These businesses and ideas don't occur in a vacuum. These ideas are brewed by discussions with the friend you run into at the coffee stand down the street. Every urban area's success is reliant upon its ability to foment face-to-face crossings between inventors and implementers, and these crossings happen proportionally to how dense and walkable our urban centers are."
Comment:
It's a little hard to believe that our economic future really depends on random encounters between people with ideas and those with the capital to bring ideas to the marketplace. Is this the way Mr. Schiendelman's software industry conducts it's business? Or do people use business connections (which could be facilitated by any number of online networks) to make the deals involving "software, genetic sequences, and circuitry"?
There may be reasons for density and "walkable" urban centers, but it's hard to believe that land use patterns play more than a minor role in the "success" of a modern urban region.
Let's have a rational public debate on the relative merits (costs vs. benefits) of alternative transportation plans, and leave the mythology to the academicians to sort through and perhaps discover their origins and why they persist.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:33 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: dn, we really do understand the sociology behind innovation. It's that exposure to fresh ideas that turns creativity into products - exposure that happens where you see more on your way to work than the bumper stickers in front of you.

Online interaction has a fundamental anonymity, even in business interactions, that filters ideas that don't already conform with the readers' prior opinions. That's a lot of why we see trolling - something that doesn't typically happen in face to face situations, especially in public. As social animals, much of our interaction relies on empathy - our reactions to ideas in person are largely dependent on our physical reaction to the person we're talking to.

There are great books on these subjects that could help you learn about the work that's been done in this area. Because I'm telling you on the internet, it's extremely unlikely that you'll attach any value to my opinion (which, ironically, helps prove my point), but other people reading might gain some insights.

I recommend, for understanding innovation, Jane Jacobs' "The Economy of Cities". And for the cognitive linguistics behind how we portray ideas to each other, George Lakoff's "The Political Mind", which is about politics, but also explains some of the brain function behind face to face interaction that doesn't occur here.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:37 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Indeed, and you'll note that it's fallen prey to the fallacy of believing that as we haven't done it, it must "still need to be tried" - when even in the 1950s, basic ridership estimates showed that even tunneling everywhere is more cost effective per rider.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:37 p.m. Inappropriate

Manhattanization: Ben Schiendelman's review of history reminds me that the word "Manhattanization" was used in the campaign against the King County Forward Thrust subway plan of 1968.

Some people don't want Seattle to densify to the levels found in Manhattan and Hong Kong, densities that would justify subway lines, costing a BART-level $500 million per mile in present day Seattle. Others do.

The choice between station-oriented high-density with trains, and a lower corridor-oriented densification served by frequently running buses throughout the entire region is a genuine political choice, highlighted in Doug MacDonald's three part series. Saying we need both ignores the reality that laying subway and elevated RR track sucks up too much money to expand the bus system.

For example, building the Initial Segment of light rail southward from Seattle CBD was revealed by the alternatives analysis to be the rejection of buying over 200 more hybrid-electric tunnel buses instead of 31 rail cars, in case you've wondered why so few buses are running in the downtown Seattle bus tunnel, and why buses are so crowded now.

(Saying trains cost less to operate in the long-run because they have fewer drivers than buses is a myth that ignores the totality of contributing cost factors, including capital depreciation and replacement, not to mention the cost of exclusive right-of-way maintenance to which non-transit makes no contribution.)

The choice we face in the next big regional transit tax vote (2008 or 2010) is somewhat constrained by the fact that Sound Transit, City of Seattle, and University of Washington have already decided to spend the existing tax rate to open up construction sites of three to five acres for cut and cover subway stations and tunnel muck removal starting next autumn. One will be next to Husky Stadium on University property, and one on top of Capitol Hill at Broadway and Denny.

Detail: When complete in about 8 years, there will be no parking for train customers at either station.

Detail: Neither of our next two subway stations is being designed as a major transit hub where train riders will arrive by bus. These train stations are for people coming from or going to the neighborhood of the station.

Same with the next two stations northward from Husky Stadium in the U District and the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Northgate station area will have parking for train users, but the Seattle Times has reported that Northgate is not planned to be a transit hub for the majority of buses coming southward from Snohomish County.

Why? Load balancing. The trains aren't expected to hold enough people boarding down the line to allow that. Nor will the trains be big enough to let bus riders coming across the Lake on SR 520 get on them at Husky Stadium.

Manhattanization?

No, of course not. More like fouled up beyond all recognition. We are getting NYC-priced subway but not Manhattan densities and not the long NYC-style subway trains.

Link Light Rail is more a status symbol of urban greatness, which we are now seeing leaders in Snohomish County, Bellevue, South King County, and Tacoma want to be part of as they ponder how much of a tax hike Sound Transit can get away with this fall.

The subway system of 1968-70 didn't happen. But we'll soon have a train to the airport for those who want a scenic, art-enhanced train ride to the airport slower than the existing well used Route 194 Metrobus. Our workhorse bus system is already one of the most well-used in the nation. There are all sorts of ways to make it run better and carry more people, if we curtail Sound Transit's limited rail network and focus transit spending on a constantly-improving bus network that goes everywhere people want to go.
jniles

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:45 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: 1) It wasn't a supermajority, it was 60%. Because of changes in the FTA grant process, we'd only require 50% today, as Forward Thrust would have been created as a transit agency. The fact that it wasn't at the time was an artifact of the environment it was created in, not any fundamental. Today it would simply have been part of Metro or Sound Transit.

2) The editor here added "paid off last year", it was not in the draft I submitted, and I regret having not caught that when I reviewed the piece. As inflation today is far higher than the bond rate would have been in 1985, we actually would be receiving a discount. Cool!

3) Your benchmarks for BART are only valid if you compare them to a no-build alternative. You can make whatever statements you want if you don't look at the costs and benefits of the alternatives. You do understand that those trips could not take place on existing SF highways, and that the SF highways necessary for those extra 300,000+ weekday trips would cost an order of magnitude more than BART did? Of course rail focuses its impact primarily on downtown, that's the most efficient place to put jobs. The efficiency gain of a dense job center is proportional to the increase in value - that's where the value comes from! Pretty basic microeconomics here.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:48 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: Myth? I think the concept of cities as engines for economic development and their relation to interoffice communication is well-documented and so widely understood as to be common sense. Let's go right to Wikipedia, if you're looking for sources (for example, see the Glaeser reference for benefits of proximity).

From a real-world perspective, at my previous job I drove to Seattle from Bellevue about twice a week to meet with clients and associates. Now that I work in Seattle I'm constantly coordinating with clients and associates, since it's a quick walk down the street. I don't know about most jobs, but in mine a sit-down meeting can replace days of phone calls and e-mails.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:50 p.m. Inappropriate

light rail, trolleys, and buses, Oh my!: Excellent article. I just wanted to say I love light rail, trolleys, AND buses! Maybe we could fund with an initiative for really high car licensing fees.

joshuadf

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:50 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: Speaking of Lakoff, I highly recommend two of his earlier books, Metaphors We Live By and Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. And of course I second your recommendation of Jacobs.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: 4) Your questions regarding supply and demand overlook the actual reason for a lack of development in these areas in the past. I mentioned CAP in the article - and there have been 30-65 foot height limits through much of Seattle, with single use zoning, for decades. Whether or not the rail causes the development itself directly isn't at issue. What the rail's doing is offering enough transportation capacity that the city can raise zoned density without gridlocking the transportation network.

This piece is about political realities. Just like trying to get buses their own right of way, there's been nothing we could do to get zoned density increased in Seattle until we started building rail.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 2:13 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: Ben is quite right that face-to-face interaction is important to economic and social health. I'm famililar with some of the literature on this point, and I respect Ben's observations on this topic even though we have never interacted face to face.

However, Central Puget Sound region doesn't need Sound Transit's contemplated urban passenger rail network and the associated sales tax rates to foster face-to-face interaction among citizens doing great things.

Can anybody show otherwise?

Here I would invoke the dead weight of higher taxes on economic productivity caused by mobility systems that cost too much and deliver too little compared to available alternatives, which supports dn's point.

Further, a minor point, when it comes to face-to-face social interaction aboard transit, my experience worldwide riding buses and trains since high school in many locations, is that there is more serendipitous social interaction on urban buses than on urban trains. I can't explain this.
jniles

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 2:21 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: Mister Niles! So glad to have you here.

You must not have read the piece, though. When you talk about buses being a political choice, you're conveniently missing the fact that 40 years of work has not gotten us those frequently running buses. The reality of the situation is that they cannot be done - you're presenting a false choice.

What's especially interesting here is that you move right from advocating "fast" buses (which can only happen, as we've seen for the last four decades, in their own right of way), and then you claim that rail has right of way costs that buses don't. I'm afraid you can't have your cake and eat it too on this one - if you have fast buses, you have to replace asphalt.

And that's where that capital depreciation comes into play! Asphalt and concrete are more expensive to maintain and require complete closure for replacement. Rail can be replaced in segments overnight during normal hours of closure, and at much lower cost, especially as the steel is often more expensive when you take it out of service as when you originally installed it! As rail vehicles can last fifty or seventy years to buses' ten to fifteen, buses also have much faster depreciation.

The rest of your argument is riddled with misleading information - like your 200 buses instead of 31 light rail cars? Our 31 light rail cars will serve more people, because they spend more of their time full and don't have to go out of service to be refueled (one train can work from morning until night, instead of two or more buses for the same daily job).

You seem very mixed up - on one hand, you're arguing that you don't want us to "Manhattanize", and on the other, you're arguing that we aren't building subway with the capacity of a Manhattan line! It must be difficult to argue against something from both sides - it seems almost designed to make it impossible to serve your desires. Perhaps it is!

In reality, our line has 120 meter platforms - longer than the Paris metro's 70-80 meter platforms on most lines, but not as long as the platforms of the NYC subway (which come in at least three varieties, ranging from 170 to 220 meters).

It's hard to make cost comparisons. Don't be fooled by simple comparisons of dollar values, as they are rarely even remotely close to accurate. The newest system in the country, just due to inflation (which is different in labor, administration, materials, disposal, fuel...), will always appear the most expensive. What's most useful, really, is to compare the cost to the equivalent service in another system. Our roads are well over capacity, with serious service degradation on our major highways - so the comparisons are between no-build, highway expansion, mass transit of different types. We've done those comparisons, and mass transit costs the least (by far) for each trip it serves, and has the shortest payback time in the economic growth it allows.

Or were you against economic growth? It's hard to tell, when your position changes during the argument...

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 2:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Prove it: Mr. Schiendelman:
If random encounters (say at the corner Tulley's) between innovators and investers are significant drivers of urban economic success, then someone should have documented this amazing way to build our economy. And we should use the evidence to design our land use code and transportation plans. So beyond rhetoric, where is your proof? Give me data, quotations, a page number or at least a chapter, not a whole book. If you can't deliver, you're simply blowing smoke, which we have too much of already.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 2:45 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: To those reading, I'd like to point out one little error that sinks Niles' whole piece (and I'm sorry about this, Mr. Niles - but it has been pointed out to you before, and you should know better by now).

Right at the end there, he claims that it can carry more people without Sound Transit. In actuality, building ST2 will make Link and Sounder together carry more passenger miles than every one of the three counties' bus systems combined - for about the same total tax rate.

Metro, currently, collects .9% sales tax in King County - almost all of which is used for operating and maintenance costs. Sound Transit would collect the same with ST2 - but as most of it would be for capital projects, not for operating costs, we'd be able to use those same dollars to expand the system again - only .2% or .3% are necessary to operate the system in the long run. Metro just raised bus fares, and they're about to again, just to keep the same service running! Their taxes are paying for less every year. With light rail, as our local energy costs aren't dependent on the cost of oil, our cost to operate will be flat - and better yet, it will go to local workers, rather than to other countries!

So no, we can't do better with buses. Would you rather pay more per passenger mile for unreliable service? I'd rather pay less for permanent, on time service in our core corridors where our buses, as Mr. Niles already points out, are "well used" (meaning packed beyond capacity). It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:02 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Prove it: I'm blowing smoke because you can't read the book I've already pointed you to? In person, would you have simply stood there until I produced a book? No, I'd bring it to you tomorrow. Online, you can make the barrier to an idea as high as you like.

As for your current demand, page 122, chapter four, "How Cities Start Growing".

Here's the New York Times review of the book, which touches on Jacobs' basic points about old work and new work, and how new work (innovation) occurs:
NYTimes review (PDF)

There are more recent studies on innovation and its relation to density:
Creative Class: "Urban Density: Creativity and Innovation (PDF)"

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:16 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: Since when is there a question that rails can support more density than buses? Proof is in the pudding, my friend - the political realities are clear. South Lake Union development is happening post-streetcar. The changes that are allowing that development came hand in hand with a rail line. If you want to try to disconnect those things, show me where that kind of quick growth has occurred without transit.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:30 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Urban myths abound: Thanks, I own Metaphors We Live By (and several other Jacobs books). My fiancee is a linguist - she studies polysemy and category shifts, and may have the other title.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:34 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: .
hoohah exclaims: "Buses work only if you create new right-of-way"

Well, I guess that depends on what the meaning of 'work' is. Care to share that with the rest of us? Or is that simply a bumper sticker slogan?

Don't ST's buses carry ~90% or more of ST's daily ridership? What new right-of-way do they use?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Sound Transit - an Example of the Corruption of Corporate America under Boomer Leadership: The law is the law, for everybody, no?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:42 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
Huh? 1989's CAP and 30-65 foot height limits were the reason for lack of development in the Rainier Valley? Ri-i-i-ght, uh-huh. I'll give you two more guesses.

Your reply nonetheless serves to illustrate what your advocacy of rail aims at: increased density. (Which you may achieve now that the price of the alternative, single-family housing, has gotten so high.) But is increased density what people prefer? I'd suggest the escalation of single-family homes indicates otherwise.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:44 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Right of way is important for bus transit to succeed - that's why Bob White successfully argued for HOV exit ramps - a very expensive section of ROW, but one that makes the ENTIRE network more efficient.

One crucial difference between buses and light rail is that buses don't need dedicated right of way everywhere they operate. As such busways can connect high density areas and lower density areas can be served by regular roads - all with a single, incremental, technology.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:49 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Sound Transit - an Example of the Corruption of Corporate America under Boomer Leadership: What a ridiculous statement. Is the local bonding law now the same as it was in 1968? Yes. Did we need 60% for Sound Transit? For Transit Now? For the monorail votes? No. So why are you having such trouble with this? Forward Thrust was preferred by voters. Had an RTA existed at the time to administer the project, rather than being put on the same ballot (Proposition 2), we'd have mass transit right now.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 3:59 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: You do understand that if there's a zoning restriction of 30 feet, you can't build higher than 30 feet? I'm not sure that's a guess - it's more of a statute.

Did you actually read the article? Of course I advocate higher density - but only in the core, where it makes sense because it stimulates economic growth. The point is to channel our new development into the downtown core - so that suburban homeowners don't have to fight developers. Right now we have parking lots covering whole blocks in downtown Seattle, and in order to support building on them, we need better transportation.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 4:04 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Right of way is important for any transit to succeed.

The only places where one can't give buses dedicated right of way are the places where it's most needed. HOV lanes are great, but they make up a small portion of the total time of a trip. I take the 545 to work every day, for instance, and it takes as little as 15 minutes to get from work to downtown, but often 30 minutes just to get through the city - where there's no chance for dedicated right of way.

The crucial difference is not a matter of need - both systems see exactly the same benefit from dedicated right of way - but buses simply can't get it. That's what we've now seen for forty years - and we now need that dedicated right of way, so we are turning to rail, where we can obviously get it.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 4:06 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
1) 60% *is* a super-majority. A majority is 50% +1. Any higher hurdle constitutes a super-majority.


2) Jim Ellis last year made the unsupported claim in the press that the Forward Thrust bonds would have been paid off last year. His memory likely was flagging and maybe your editor remembered that factoid. Unfortunately it wasn't true.


3) No, the BART studies found, among other things, that the pattern of development along their rail corridors was not appreciably different (no more dense, etc.) than that found along the Bay Area's other transportation corridors (which is to say its interstate corridors). But SF's downtown *was* a big winner.


Ooooh -- you say downtown is "the most efficient place to put jobs". Now that's juicy. Will you please elaborate? Efficient for whom? The worker, the employer, the building owner, the government, the taxpayer/society? Is there /should there be only one 'downtown' in any region? Does it hold that it is always efficient to pump people into any and all jobs downtown, regardless of the distance needed to travel?

These are the *big* important questions looming over/behind the transportation issue. (And perhaps I should ask you to define efficiency, because that proved a pretty elusive concept in ST's EA for Initial Segment.)

If "the efficiency gain of a dense job center is proportional to the increase in values", then should we or should we not ask those who receive that gain to finance the improvement enabling that efficiency? Or might they not go for that idea because those efficiencies -however proportional to the increase in value they may be- are insufficient to justify investment of their own dollars?


P.S. You say "South Lake Union development is happening post-streetcar", I say it would have happened without the streetcar. I believe you are asking us to fall for the 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' fallacy of logic.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 4:08 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Sound Transit's daily ridership is currently about 40,000 for ST Express, and 10,000 for Sounder. In the first few years of Link operation, we'll see 30,000 daily, making rail ridership half of daily riders. When University Link opens, rail ridership will be more than double ST bus ridership.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 4:41 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: 1) Great response, there! I like how you won the semantics (you're quite right, a supermajority doesn't mean 2/3), and ignored the fact that today, that vote would have approved a system.

2) I guess you didn't read my response - I didn't write that originally, and while I take responsibility for not noticing it in the piece returned to me with edits, it is certainly untrue. However, $385 million in bonds for infrastructure now worth several billion is pretty clearly, in hindsight, the best infrastructure deal this city would ever have had.

3) You completely ignored the pertinent issue. How much would it have cost to move the people using BART today with highways? $50 billion? Remember that just expanding I-405 on the eastside is an $11 billion project to add some 50,000 people per day in capacity. How much would it cost in SF to add 300,000 in daily capacity?

So, what BART study are you talking about? Was it "BART at 20", the 1995 study showing that BART station walkable radii had increased in density by 30% with trend lines showing another 30% in the next 20 years? Or was it MTA's 2006 study showing that where density increased, as many as 50% of walkable radius residents used BART for daily commute trips (downtown excluded)? You also missed the 87c per trip the city of San Francisco pays to BART, offsetting the "benefit to the city" that you seem to have such a problem with.

There are no big questions about density and efficiency. If two people live next door to each other, they use less power line, water line, sewer line, and road as if they live a block apart. Unless you have magical infrastructure that doesn't scale in cost as it scales in size, that holds true.

What model would you propose we use to distribute costs to those who gain? That sounds like the same model as tolling every road. Answer your own question - why don't we do that? Hint: It's the same reason buses haven't gotten their own right of way. Individual car users like the subsidy they get, and don't want to vote to give it up.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 4:47 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: Also, if you're unaware, Sound Transit has paid for HOV lanes and transit direct access ramps in a few dozen locations around the district. Have a look at the ramps at Bellevue Transit Center, or Eastgate, or up in Lynnwood or Everett.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 5:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Good try: Tom Heller: "BART studies found, among other things, that the pattern of development along their rail corridors was not appreciably different (no more dense, etc.) than that found along the Bay Area's other transportation corridors (which is to say its interstate corridors)."

I wonder if Tom has even looked at a map of BART. Go ahead, take a look.
Of course the areas around most BART stations are no different than that of the Bay Area's highway corridors...where do you think the BART is?
The area in which you mention the exception for BART impacting densities, downtown SF, is the only area where BART does not run along a highway corridor. Good try though. What was your internet search: "BART+'no impact'+densities"?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 7:49 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: John Niles and Tom Heller - both long-time mass transit critics - provide the prime example for why BRT is a joke. Both proclaim their support for Bus Rapid Transit, but their commitment is a mile wide and an inch deep. Discovery Institute and Washington Policy Center Think Tanker Niles has stated he opposed construction of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Heller has stated his opposition to HOV lanes or bus-only lanes for a re-built 520 bridge.

You can tell both of these guys are dedicated to getting those buses un-stuck from traffic.

Furthermore, Libertarian Heller opposes density in urban areas. Which explains why he's always fighting shadows. Niles is also dubious of urban densities - but he may wish to check in with spritual leader Kemper Freeman, who is busy building the next Miracle Mile. At least Heller put his money where his mouth is, and shipped off to Indiana five years ago. Niles has decided to stick around, and keep rolling that boulder up the hill.

Hey, John: rather than hosting yet another hybrid automobile conference, how's about producing a real BRT plan, and pitching it the same way the Discovery Institute has been selling foot ferries, monorail and other weird ideas. Walk the talk for once.

If BRT is so cheap, easy and fast, how is it we never see an actual plan produced?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Round 3: Mr. Schiendelman:

Thanks for the references. I reviewed the last reference first, all 40 pages, since it was the most recent (2007) and it summarizes previous studies and hypotheses, including those of Jane Jacobs, who you also cited.

You need to carefully read this reference and compare it to what you wrote above: "...ideas are brewed by discussions with the friend you run into at the coffee stand down the street. Every urban area's success is reliant upon its ability to foment face-to-face crossings between inventors and implementers, and these crossings happen proportionally to how dense and walkable our urban centers are."

The problem with your reference is that it finds a statistical correlation between the density of creative workers in an urban region and their market productivity (measured by the number of patents). It extols face-to-face meetings and suggests they occur more frequently at higher urban densities. However, it provides no data or analysis to support this contention. And nowhere in the reference does it refer to meetings that result from "running" into someone at a coffee stand. It also doesn't provide any correlation with walkability, however you choose to define it.

But let's assume for sake of argument that face-to-face meetings for entrepreneurial purposes do occur more frequently when there is a greater density of creative people. Some might say this is a no-brainer. Face-to-face meetings can be easily arranged at the convenience of one or more innovators and investors (e.g. the creative denizens at Microsoft could discuss merger with their counterparts at Yahoo on their turf or neutral turf). This result is obviously achievable without attention to the patterns of land use and transportation.

My guess is that most meetings between innovators, other innovators, and investors are arranged, and do not result from the right people simply crossing paths as they walk about their neighborhood work environment (which would be hard to do in the cloistered Microsoft environment). They occur at venues and times agreed to by the participants. And to get to the meeting the participants may drive, carpool, ride public transit, bike, or walk. Can I prove it? No. But the proof is clearly within the realm of empirical analysis.

So I repeat, where is your proof that density and walkability create urban success? If you can't provide it, then you need to revise your premise. Tell people that you are also guessing. Why? Too much public policy is built on tenuous extrapolation of expert analysis that some people cherry-pick to suit their biases.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:03 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I read your response. And you remain incorrect asserting "that vote [1968's 51%] would have approved a system." The super-majority would STILL apply today for the financing method proposed (bonds).

You seem to be suffering from some fundamental misunderstanding/ misperception on this point. You wrote: "Because of changes in the FTA grant process, we'd only require 50% today, as Forward Thrust would have been created as a transit agency."

No, the "50% today" hurdle has NOTHING to do with any change in the FTA grant process. It has simply to do with the ballot measures not asking voters to directly approve the sale of bonds. Period. End of sentence. End of paragraph. End of story.

Super-majority votes come into play only when voters are asked to *directly* approve bonds, traditionally property-tax backed bonds like those of Forward Thrust. The RTA folks side-stepped this requirement (they had learned a lesson from Forward Thrust that they needed a lower hurdle if they were going to succeed) when they set up an RTA simply by asking voters to approve the local taxes -- the subsequent power to sell bonds was embedded in the RTA's enabling act. Thus, ST's bond issues do not require voter approval of any kind, especially not a super-majority vote.

----

The BART studies are voluminous -and I'm far from an expert in them- but even Robert Cervero (and other well-regarded University of California transportation researchers) has acknowledged BART's impact on the spatial distribution of activity in the Bay Area over the past 30+ years was insignificant.

You can pose the question, well what would those BART riders do if BART didn't exist? Could highways handle the trips they make?

I don't know. It's a hypothetical. Whatever answer you or I would give would be immaterial. BART exists. It is what it is. To speculate what the Bay Area would be without it is beyond my expertise -- and way beyond my interest.

Besides, a 30% increase in density within "walkable radii" from a station sure doesn't say much. I remember watching a slide presentation at a People for Modern Transit gathering in Bellevue back a few years. Ron Sheck (now at WSDOT) showed his collection of pictures of urban rail systems he'd visited.

Sheck's slide of a BART station area was laughable. Yes, you could see ~5 story office buildings from the station platform, but you'd have to wade through acres upon acres of cars to get there!! (It was 'walkable' like hiking to Husky Stadium for a Saturday football game. It's not something you'd want to do every workday. I'm confident the vast majority of the employees in those buildings drove to the office. Maybe a small handful who traveled out from SF took BART.)

Was this "concentrated density" at the station? A big flat NO. A 30% increase from NOTHING is still pretty close to NOTHING. I'm confident Bob Cervero would concur.

----

The big questions about density and efficiency are not merely whether the public will personally buy into it (i.e. clamoring to live above or near a transit station), although that's a big enough question to be sure. But a big question is also who should pay for the public infrastructure needed to support that density? Should a quite sizable outlay of public dollars bestow -at no cost- significant increased value on a small handful of property owners, while serving (i.e. transporting) a similarly thin slice of all those whose taxes pay into it? And, perhaps the most metaphysical question of all, who should be empowered to decide what is the proper balance & spatial distribution of your desired goals, efficiency and density, on the land we occupy?

{cont}

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:04 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: {cont}

Your illustration that with density, there may be a lower per capita demand for infrastructure is not sufficient reason to require al l members of society be subjected to your preferred levels of "efficiency" and "density". You should put that question to the people and see how they allocate their own dollars in a free market.

Maybe they would prefer a little more elbow-room than you would be willing to allocate to them, even though it may require a bit longer power line, water line, sewer line, etc. If they want it, can afford it, and are willing to pay for it, what's wrong with letting them have that extra elbow-room? Or do you find repulsive the prospect of people in a free society choosing their own living styles?

To your question, one model I would propose to distribute costs to those who gain is that established in the Growth Management Act: impact fees on new development that requires added public infrastructure to serve. Just like new suburban subdivisions require new school capacity and are subjected to impact fees, new downtown office buildings that require new transportation capacity should also have impact fees applied to them. Impact fees are a simple method of recognizing the economics of serving new development and apportioning the costs to those who benefit. What's wrong with that?

P.S. Exactly what is the subsidy you claim individual car users get? I'm baffled by this urban myth. Please explain.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:15 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: .
I'm not a critic, Mr. MadisonAve -- just someone who applies a different standard than do you.

If you wish to prove that there is an inescapable need for bus-only or HOV lanes on a new, expanded 520, then I'll listen to you. But please present some proof. Assertions just don't fly.

I'm not against density, but I want the economics of land use to be visible, not hidden. Or might you have a problem with that? Do you own property downtown?

Like I said above, I'm just someone who applies a different standard than you (assuming you have any standards at all.)

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:17 p.m. Inappropriate

Energy stability and reliability: One of many good points, Ben.

Soon Metro's fares will be higher than Sound Transit's bus service. If they don't raise fares, it'll eat into the Transit Now money that was supposed to be used to expand bus service.

If something like an oil shock does happen again, the few services that would be left running would be the electrified transit system running on mostly locally produced clean energy. Even if oil does go down in price, which I think would not, the market for it has become highly volatile such that it would make it difficult to forecast costs used to justify a sustainable expansion of our bus system.
oranviri

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:18 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Good try: .
I don't need to do an internet search, Wes. I've got over thirty years of accumulated experience and study in this and related areas. And I've talked in person with Bob Cervero a couple of times in the past four years. How 'bout you?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:23 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: ound 3: .
"Too much public policy is built on tenuous extrapolation of expert analysis that some people cherry-pick to suit their biases."


Beautifully said, dn!!

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 8:37 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
Ben Sheidelman writes: "just expanding I-405 on the eastside is an $11 billion project to add some 50,000 people per day in capacity"


I guess you didn't read my rejoinder to this erroneous interpretation the other day when you posted this same misinformation in the PI Soundoff the other day. Perhaps you should pay a visit to http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/soundoff /comment.asp?articleID=370371 and learn something.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 9:29 p.m. Inappropriate

WA Subsidies: Puget Sound Regional Gov - Estimates $400 Billion in costs of Water,power,sewer,transit, roads, education etc

Government Subsidies in WA - $56 Billion in tax subsidies to WA business !

Population growth - 1 million new immigrants to WA the past 20 years 1.7 million new immigrants by 2040

Bill new growth to new immigrants - We do not charge developers and new imigrants the cost of new schools, water, power, etc. other states charge impact fees

Income tax - Billionaires move to WA because we have no income tax on investment income. WA has 10% less taxes than CA.

Life Cycle Costs - We do not calculate Life Cycle costs for job creation ...capital costs and maint and operation (M&A;)

Local Neighborhood jobs - If corporations in our region transfered employees to the office nearest there home we could cut commute costs and impacts by 25% according to the U of W.

Impact fees - charge developers and employers total impact fees and eliminate tax subsides in urban areas, Corporations would relocate to regional cities like aberdeen, bellingham, moses lake, yakima, tri cites ...without additional impact fees we have within 1 hour drive of seattle. Same jobs, less taxes and less impact costs of $400 Billion on WA taxpayers..

The only cost, to the property owner, associated with the benefit bestowed upon them is a slightly higher (~1.2% of the added value) annual property tax. That's a pretty low cost of capital, eh? (That's even better that what the Federal Reserve is granting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)



This implicit subsidy to owners of new downtown office buildings approximates $100,000 or more per workspace cubicle. Nice subsidy, eh?



(P.S. That subsidy figure reflects application of the region's standard GMA-based impact fee formula. But the trouble is, the City of Seattle -in its infinite wisdom- doesn't levy impact fees on new downtown development that requires the provision of added taxpayer-financed transportation capacity. Hmmm.....)

Move 50,000 jobs to eastside.... Bill Gates built his own BRT system last year... at no cost to the taxpayer... The discounted cost we give employers for monthly bus passes increases the 25% cost to the average rider.

Remember that just expanding I-405 on the eastside is an $11 billion project to add some 50,000 people per day in capacity.

so what is the life cycle cost of BRT? sounder Train, Metro Buses = cost per passenger per year based upon capital coast and M & A????

Employer Impact Fees - The $100,000 subsidy is only for Transit lets calculate the total Employer impact fee and subsidy = $56 Billion in tax cuts, transportation etc.

Developer Impact fees - Land cost in King County has gone up 500% to 5,000% in the last 25 years depending on location and density zoning...
Bio tech corporations get tax subsidies for real estate development and job creation then reorganize and eliminate the jobs create a tax lien upon the corporation with exemption from bankrupsy. The state legislature refuses to audit tax subsidy give aways...

native people of WA managed our enviroment in a balanced ecology for 10,000 years... the last 150 years have created huge impacts our grandchildren will have to pay ... thanks to Chamber of Commerce, BIAW and speculators... give power back to the people to balance growth and cut tax impacts as well as rebalace them to all taxpayers not an exemption for millionairs and billionairs...

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:46 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Good try: Ooh, an argument from authority! Keep the fallacies coming, they're not convincing anyone.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:48 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: ound 3: dn, I bent over backward to give you direct evidence. The fact that you aren't reading is helping prove my point - people don't learn from online conversations, they learn from face to face.

Innovation doesn't happen when Microsoft brings people together. It happens in garages, on napkins, across kitchen tables - Microsoft just buys the companies later, at this point. This is covered in urban planning texts across the board - it's telling that you haven't got any inkling of these concepts.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:53 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: Tom Heller, you've had forty years to present a standard or a plan. During that time, the FTA was created to identify projects, vet them, and bring them forward for federal funding to reward good planning. Our generally anti-transit federal government is handing us $1.3 billion for Link light rail so far, because we've met substantial requirements for demonstrating that light rail is cost effective.

I really don't care what someone on an internet forum has as a "standard". I care about the standards we're already meeting that are paying for our construction. It's up to you whether you want to get on board, but don't pretend for a moment that you have a plan.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:56 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: "The page you have requested was not found. The link is either incorrect or the page no longer exists."

You seriously argue that adding 2 lanes each way to 405 is cost effective compared to light rail?

Look, I'm not interested in responding again to your twisted arguments. Simply the fact that you cling to this idea that Forward Thrust improvements couldn't possibly be presented the same way as Sound Transit 2 makes the rest of your argument appear uninformed and baseless.

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 10:58 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: WA Subsidies: Quinault Bob, I don't understand you at all. I think perhaps you might want to stick with one argument so you can appear more rational?

Posted Tue, Jul 15, 11:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Your creds: Tom: I'm glad we have such experienced folks running about.

What of your discussion of BART? Did you look at the map? Have you gotten off the BART at Fruitvale station? Any station? Have your creds even been on the BART?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 12:13 a.m. Inappropriate

Tired old car warriors: John Niles and Tom Heller are two gentlemen wed to the automobile age. Each typically tries to throw up a smokescreen with a fake promise of BRT, misleading statistics and their own "experts", and then a healthy dose of conspiracy theories about Sound Transit controlling the debate.

But they never offer a real plan. Because they can't. Reality suggests we can't build our way out of congestion--especially with another two million people moving here in the next 20-30 years. Cars are big, an average of 15 feet long and 5 feet wide. You must build parking lots and garages, new freeway lanes at costs similar to the $11 BILLION cost of 405 which will deliver NO long term congestion relief, new engorged arterials, and so much more. It is a given that a car-centric system will result is sprawl simply because of the physical space needed for the auto infrastructure.

Unmentioned on this comment string is the effect on our environment. Running an equivalent bus system on diesel instead of rail's electricity and rail's far greater carrying capacity is both bad for our planet and for our pocketbook.

We need to build rail to both move people and to influence where we want density to occur. Here is the way it works, Mr. Heller...Government (the people) decides to invest in rail and picks a corridor. Developers take note that a permanent transportation corridor is being built. Being the smart and rich guys that they are they quickly figure out thousands of people will get off at each station and that they might be hungry or need household goods or want to live nearby. Each of the 39 cities in King County is suffering from declining tax revenues from both the economy and the effects of multiple initiatives from Heller/Niles buddy Tim Eyman. So cities rezone around station areas to increase revenue. Developers build to match zoning. Despite Tom Heller's barrage of hooey, this is not rocket science. Developers don't build around bus lines because there is little capital investment so there is little permanence.

It is fine with me if you two car lovers choose to live an auto livestyle and hop in the Chrysler to get where you need to go. But as we move forward we need to choose between investing in an automobile culture or beginning to become a transit culture. Mature cities do this. European cities are far denser and more transit dependant because they needed to be. New York and the East Coast are 100 years ahead of West Coast cities and they have gravitated towards density and mass transit. Our state spends pennies on transit and billions on roads each year. We need to change the balance of what we spend on roads versus transit.

Mr. Niles and Mr. Heller may not ride transit or even like it, but the point is that many of us do. And many of us would love to live near a light rail station in a walkable, compact neighborhood. These crazy car-loving guys remind me of the gentleman who fought the municipal pool for ten years in this classic Onion article:

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39453

It is long past time to build serious mass transit in this region. Don't be fooled by the selfish arguments of road warriors like John Niles and Tom Heller.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 1:04 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Prove it: DN: not that you care for an honest answer to your dishonest question. But,
just in case: check in with Dallas.

You need to leave your basement more than once per decade.

Really.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 1:16 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Good try: Tom Heller talks a good game, but he's stuck in the year 2001. Obsessive axe-grinders always get stuck in the same old mud. Year after year.

So, even tho the Same Old Tom Heller moved to Indiana years ago, his grudge is still firmly implanted here. Lucky us.

PS- Heller's tenure at WSDOT wasn't too impressive. The years after his fabulous Republican Party lost control were even worse. Why do you think he's still chasing all these ghosts?

Never trust the word of a braggart. That's what my grandfather always told me.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 1:29 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: TiptoeTommy: here's how to get Intelligently Designed John Niles to shut his yapper: ask him (or his right wing friends at Kempet Development Co) to design a BRT plan. The've wasted the better part of $10 million on all kinds of stupid, redundant ineffectual stuff. This should be a no-brainer, right??

Wrong. The number one rule of BRT Club: don't talk about BRT Club.

False prophets always do their best to hide the fact they're lying to you.

That counts for something, right? A preferred talent at the end if the "W" era.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 1:36 a.m. Inappropriate

Choice: I'd be happy to have the additional transportation option.

Some people prefer to live in suburbs and drive to work. Environmental concerns aside, I can't fault anyone for doing so, if that's their wish.

However, auto-centric transportation policies lead to development patterns that all but require car ownership. If you elect to take the bus, count on spending three times as long to get where you're going--assuming the bus even goes where you want at the time you want. Buses are only an attractive option for the people who don't use them. (I know very few people who take the bus to work, and we're right downtown.)

I'd like the option of being able to get around reasonably efficiently without having to own a car. A good rail rapid transit system is a step in the right direction.

Density is, of course, closely related to viability of mass transit, so I can make a similar argument there. It's a huge country--there will always be room for more suburbs. But for those of us who prefer to live close to downtown, the only way to grow is up. If the city can't scale to hold more people, the law of supply and demand dictates that rents and real estate prices will rise to levels that only the most wealthy can afford. (We've certainly seen that trend in Seattle recently, with rents rising faster than the overall rate of inflation.)

I'd like the option of being able to live reasonably close to downtown without a six-figure salary. Since efficient mass transit supports the development of more housing (you can only fit so many vehicles downtown), rail may provide a benefit there as well.

I'm definitely in favor of more light rail. If anything, it should go further (and there should be a second downtown line), but you have to start somewhere.
david2

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 5:28 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Your creds: .
No, you've got experienced folks who have fled from the lunacy. And still-wet-behind-the-ear-children running the asylum. Not a good prospect at all.

And no, I haven't been to Fruitvale (and I'll admit it's been quite awhile since I visited BART). But Wiki tells me it took BART/MCTD over thirty years to convert its large surrounding parking lot into a "transit village". And apparently that this conversion is serving as a model by which to make similar changes in other BART station areas.

If BART went without Transit-Oriented Development for its first three decades of existence, wouldn't that support the BART studies that concluded the system had no significant influence on the spatial distribution of growth nor the nature of the Bay Area's development? I don't see how the transformation of Fruitvale in the past four years undermines my credibility.

BTW, do you know the first TOD project in Seattle? It was the Target/Best Buy store on Northgate Way. Exactly how it qualified as TOD is beyond me, since the Northgate Transit Center (and the planned light rail station) is SEVEN BLOCKS to the south and FOUR BLOCKS to the west --oh, that's right, I guess that's hikable). The only transit serving that building's immediate vicinity is a bus stop for ONE Metro route out of the SIXTEEN that run to the Transit Center.

Have you examined similar transit realities on the ground? Or do you simply mouth platitudes? If the latter, you'd qualify for the Research & Policy Analyst position with the WA State Senate Democratic Caucus being listed in the right column of this page. Might want to put your name in.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 5:44 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: .
tiptoe: before you continue your prattle about Niles and myself, why don't you back up your allegations with actual evidence -- words one or both of us have offered? Where have we said anything that suggests we're anti-transit and exclusively in favor of more automobiles? Until you find some incriminating evidence to support your hypothesis, your credibility is nil.

Besides, your argument that developers don't build around bus lines doesn't hold water. Bus lines are on *roads*. Virtually all development I know of -including downtown Seattle- have *roads* to and by them. Ergo, your conclusion is disproven. QED

What you see with rail is a clustering of development near its stations because rail, unlike roads, only offers access/egress at select few locations. There's nothing 'magical' about that clustering; it makes economic sense because consideration of "walkable radii" are at play.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "needed to be" when you say European cities are far denser and more transit dependant (sic)? A little explanation would be in order; there is a reason (albeit not a very current reason) for this.

Finally, I'd advise you to keep your ad hominem attacks to yourself.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 5:51 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: .
"Buses are only an attractive option for the people who don't use them. (I know very few people who take the bus to work, and we're right downtown.)"

The first sentence is clearly illogical. How can an attractive option not be used by the people to whom it is attractive?

The second sentence is an unsurprising observation: many people who live within walking distance of their workplace typically find walking is quicker than waiting for and riding the bus. It's cheaper and healthier, too. So what were you trying to prove?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:25 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
Ben Scheidelman sez: "As inflation today is far higher than the bond rate would have been in 1985, we actually would be receiving a discount. Cool!"

Huh? That's just another incorrect statement. The market rate on 20-year municipal bonds in 1985 hovered around 9%. Even counting the recent spike in gas prices, today's inflation ISN'T "far higher" than that. (But then again, maybe you're talking about inflation in construction projects.)

According to the Federal Reserve's data base (http://federalreserve.gov /releases/h15/data/Monthly/H15_SL_Y20.txt), the market rate for 20-year muni's has exceeded the borrowing rate for all of ST's bond issues to date for the entire period from 1969 through 2001.

So, contrary to your claim, Forward Thrust's bonds would have been more expensive, not less. Cool, eh?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:37 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: The nice thing about subarea equity - the requirement that Sound Transit spend the revenue from each of their five subareas to benefit the area where it was collected - is that we will get a second line in Seattle in ST3. Seattle is most of the "North King" subarea (there's also east and south), and the money there is being spent this time getting farther north. Next package, assuming we help this one pass, Sound Transit will be using the North King money to build a second line in the city - there's nothing else that money could go to.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:40 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: Tom, perhaps you should bow out of the conversation as we're having it and just listen for a while?

The statement you're replying to wasn't "attractive option (full stop)." It was "attractive option (for the people who don't use them)". This is evident wherever we build rail in the US - corridors where bus service garnered limited ridership suddenly see people entirely new to transit. Buses are viewed differently from rail by potential users, and ignoring that simply ignores reality.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 8:50 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I think it's fun how your claims are dwindling down to just one...

From your link, the majority of the Forward Thrust bonds would have been issued at a 5-6% interest rate, well under the 10-15% construction inflation (the only inflation that matters for construction costs...) we've been seeing in the last few years.

Looks like even your last gasp is dreadfully wrong! It must be a little embarrassing for you... perhaps next time you might do better if you asked questions, rather than making wildly inaccurate claims?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 9:25 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
So, too, are all ST's bonds at or under 5%. If you then want to claim that borrowing at 5% to incur costs today that are escalating at 10-15% constitutes a bargain ("discount"), then be my guest.

The interest rate at which you borrow is unrelated to the cost -or even the quality or effectiveness- of the project, jerk (sorry, but you've earned that appellation). Even SMP learned that.

The same goes for mortgages -- interest rates around 6% says nothing of the expected direction or rate of movement in housing prices. If you wish to claim there's a relationship, give treasury Secretary Henry Paulson a call -- he's got a big problem on his hands. Perhaps you can convince him that mortgage interest rates should be -10-15%. Yeah, sure.

So, let's recap:

- you don't understand the term 'supermajority';
- you're unaware that state law, not FTA rules, govern voter approval hurdles;
- you claim that CAP and zoning height limits are why development in the Rainier Valley lagged for decades;
- you don't acknowledge that property tax exemptions for multi-family residential development played a significant role in changing the face of the Valley;
- you advance one goal (density) as if it's a universally-accepted norm that everyone should be obligated to adhere to;
- to achieve that goal, you're willing to bestow through light rail a $100,000+ per workspace (cubicle) subsidy upon owners of downtown property, including new downtown office buildings;
- you don't embrace impact fees, an essential aim of the Growth Management Act intended to get growth to pay for itself' (indeed, you likely revere their absence in the transportation realm);
- you advance unsubstantiated claims that downtown is the most efficient place for jobs and that road users are subsidized;
- you aren't aware of a principal conclusion of 30 years of BART studies;
- you cite a 30% density increase near BART stations as world-changing;
- you grossly mischaracterize the capacity of the 405 widening project; and
- you conflate borrowing costs with project inflation.


That tallies to thirteen errors in your submission on this thread alone. I'll give you an "A". (Grade-inflation, you know. Plus, I don't want to hurt your self-esteem.)

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 9:39 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: Tom, I haven't heard you deny anything tiptoe's said about you.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 9:44 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: //How can an attractive option not be used by the people to whom it is attractive? // Quick question. You clearly find busses attractive. Do you typically commute via bus?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: Slightly off-topic, but I've seen you post the $100,000+ subsidy per cubicle in about every comment you've made on this side. Care to cite a reference for that one?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:07 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
"...the 87c per trip the city of San Francisco pays to BART, offsetting the "benefit to the city" that you seem to have such a problem with."


I know nothing of that. I'm curious as to its history and purpose. Has this been around from the line's inception?

Does that payment come from the pockets of downtown property owners whose holdings (buildings) reap the benefit of BART? Or does it come from general taxes? (Or, even more pertinent to this thread, is Seattle planning to follow SF's lead?)

Is the payment intended to cover some of the O&M; costs associated with downtown-destined commuters? If so, how much of that cost does it really cover?

Inquiring people want to know...

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:10 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: Usually those who theorize buses are as good as rail are those who are not actually transit users. I stand by my comment.

As for development along bus lines and roads--of course development occurs along roads. But it is inefficient, car-driven development with all the concurrent parking needs. Rail investments specifically drive investment in station areas. Bus lines never stimulate development. The road they travel on and the zoning in that area do.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:32 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Buses can't meet the need: "Buses work only if you create new right-of-way," is the shorthand for this longer statement: "To rely on bus rapid transit for regional transportation in the future will require new right-of-way. Absent new right-of-way as Puget Sound's population mushrooms, buses will be stuck in traffic even more than they are today. The transit, thus, is not 'rapid,' i.e., doesn't work."

As I indicated in my comments earlier, there are more ways to create new right-of-way than just building new freeway lanes, but there is no way that transit can be "rapid" on existing roadways as currently managed as population grows at the expected rate.
hoohah

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:47 a.m. Inappropriate

Theory and "Studies" vs Results: Long, interesting discussion. And typical, endless, Seattle process.

Don't results count anymore?

Do you folks ever, like, travel? Have you ever actually used MBTA trains? The "A" Train? The METRO in D C ? The Paris METRO? BART?

Or better yet, light rail in Portland? The SKY TRAIN in BC ?

I've ridden them all. During both the am and pm peak commute. They all WORK just dandy. On BART, you pass miles of automobiles stuck in traffic - along with the buses. It's great fun.

And in Vancouver and New Westminster, anyone with eyes can see that land use patterns have changed to reflect proximity to rail stations.

Bus Rapid Transit only works OFF PEAK. Or where you have dedicated lanes.

What we have is an an AM and PM PEAK problem. Yes, you can price for PEAK.
( Congestion pricing).But the tax-paying public takes a dim view of a transportation system based on who can afford a BMW and special tolls

So, calculate the cost of say, one more dedicated lane on I-5 IN EACH DIRECTION. When you you get done with the EIS - in say twenty years - compare these costs to the costs of light rail.

There is no perfect solution. There is no cheap solution. We picked the low hanging fruit years ago.

A back-bone Light Rail system, generally following I-5, eventually linking Tacoma and Everett, supplemented by buses (and we do need more buses, sooner) is probably the best we can do.

Alternatively, you can keep doing the nothing the Region is so good at doing.
Comfortable seats and a good CD changer will help pass the time in traffic.

Ross Kane Warm Beach
Ross

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 12:24 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
oops, I blew that. Should read "inquiring minds want to know."

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 12:28 p.m. Inappropriate

OK... lets test a few theories locally....: I am curious as to how everyone on this comment board, as well as the author would review the impact of "light rail" as it has been shown locally here in two examples.

Example One:

The Currently inactive Benson Streetcar Line. Sadly, the city has this on hold after the Pioneer Square Garage partnering with Private Enterpise fell thorugh, and awaiting action on the Viaduct.

Mr. B himself wrote the article found on History Link.Org
"...The Seattle Waterfront Streetcar began operation on May 29, 1982, and ranks as one of the United States' first experiments in creating and operating a "vintage rail" system. Initially intended to link visitor attractions along Seattle's central waterfront, the original 1.6-mile (2.6 kilometers) line was extended by four-tenths of a mile (640 meters) in 1990 and integrated into a comprehensive downtown transit system whose central feature is a new cross-town transit tunnel.
It required eight years to move the Waterfront Streetcar from a deceptively simple idea to an operating system. Along the way, the Waterfront Streetcar concept encountered a daunting succession of political, bureaucratic, financial, and engineering obstacles, and its development costs ballooned from a few hundred thousand dollars to nearly $10 million for the extended system.
Despite this, the Streetcar has become a popular fixture and currently serves some 200,000 riders annually. Many Seattle citizens would sooner chop down the Space Needle than scrap the Streetcars. "

Did it spur development as touted by proponents along the line? Has the Temporary "Waterfront BUS Trolley" done better at creating growth? (It would be interesting to compare ridership. The Original was fee based, the bus replacement is FREE.)

Was / Is that growth and investment BECAUSE of the line, or occouring anyway due to the growth of tourism along the waterfront?

I was stunned to get a response from city hall that the Benson Trolley will REMAIN off line for at least 10 years awaiting the Viaduct replacement / remodel... The Benson Trolley should be the very next trolley project before we dive into four other lines. We spent years and a LOT of tax money to get it up and running. Extending tracks NORTH would serve the NEW CRUISE SHIP PIERS at 90/91 (15,000 to 20,000 folks each weekend from May to September).

The last car barn was basicly a temporary structure. Rather than wait to see the fate of the Viaduct, we could extending the tracks NORTH to Pier 90/91 through Myrtle Edwards Park, on the far EAST side of the Park. I would then ask the PORT to pick up the cost for a TEMPORARY Trolley barn on port property adjacent to Piers 90/91, perhaps even on city land, or city park land UNDER or adjacent to the Magnolia Viaduct.

This would keep the north end of the line operational, and possibly up and functional by the 2009 Cruise Season. It would be a Place Holder for further extension south. It would serve the folks at the AMGIN offices and offices on lower Queen Anne year round regardless of the status of the Viaduct. As the viaduct issues solidfy, the line could go all the way to Jackson, or just to Pier 52 to tie to the ferry dock, or even just to pier 66. But it would serve as a functional money maker from the get go.

The hardest part would be to wrap around the the west end of the Olympic Sculpture Park Rail overpass... but could be done by squeezing rails (trolley cannot pass if a train is rolling) or by running adjacent to the sidewalk...

For all the money and time we as taxpayers have placed on the infrastructure of 6 cars and their refurbishment, THIS should come first. Five years ago Amgin and the Port were willing to help cover costs, too...

Example TWO continued next comment...

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Proof of Idea... perhaps... Part two.: Example TWO:
The Monorail. 45 MILLION riders later, this infrastructure still awaits it's orig inal option of being extended JUST TO THE SOUTH END OF TOWN. Did this unique light rail system help drive development around either end, or was it installed just to serve development that was already in place?

I never asked for it to run from Ballard to Alki - but I HAVE asked why it has NEVER been Extended SOUTH over to Second Avenue for a Market / SAM station. (perhaps as part of a condo complex, or sue of the current vacant lot) then down to our stadiums.

OUR THREE BIGGEST ATTRACTIONS COULD all connected by a vehicle already paid for, and on its own easement, above the vehicle traffic. Want to get fancy? Loop one end of the west track around the stadiums, and attach it to the east track. Build a station above Edgar M. Way, with ramps to both stadiums.

At the north end, repeat that concept of linking the east track around around the Seattle Center to better serve its 74 acres. Perhaps a station on Mercer between ACT and McCaw Hall and the theatres. Loop it around the Key Arena and attach to the west track.

If we think we have the money to build three or four streetcar new systems, we certainly must have the money to extend the monorail to fulfill its original goal.

For those who think the monorail was a big prop or toy, I would like to point out it has carried more people than Amtrak or our ferry system each carries in a year. Just a mile and a half and more than 45 MILLION Passengers. On its own grade, it never is caught in traffic below. That is the key reason 45 million chose the monorail over more than a dozen bus line options they COULD have taken. Seperated Grade. Key words.

FOR the price of a few streetcar lines, we could UN-pinch the monorail, serve Pike Place, SAM and Benaroya Hall, and our billion dollars of investment in Stadiums -- efficiently serving the three most attended places in town with a system that NEVER gets caught in street traffic, and featuring lots of nearby parking.

I would ask the city to please consider extending the Monorail, and the Benson Streetcar Line north to Piers 90-91 and South to the Stadiums as top priority before we add other lines and use them to show the advantages of a Seperated Grade Transportation option.

Sadly, the new light rail line tried to please too many masters. It is NOT a seperated grade for it's entire length, nor is it a mulitple stop streetcar (we are not allowed to say Trolley, right?). For all the speed it COULD offer, the new run up Rainier Valley is still at the mercy of cross street traffic. One good fender bender on the tracks with a train will show WHY Skytrain has seperated grades...

As to all the developement along the Valley... That in my mind is still chicken and egg. I am not fully convinced it would not have occoured, nor at that speed if it were NOT for Sound Transit. There are very few undervalued areas left in Seattle to Develop. Mean home price of $435,000 will do a LOT to spur development in undervalued areas. Many changes along Rainer Ave were already in transition before we even voted. Not saying I don't believe it, but AM saying it is questionable as which came first.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary states, "Causality (but not causation) denotes a necessary relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the direct consequence (result) of the first."

In this case, the arguements are causal vs. conditional.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 1:21 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Your creds: Tom: I've got a job, thanks. What about you? From what I've reluctantly read of yours, mouthing platitudes sounds right up your alley. Should be better than your current title "volunteer for groups that oppose Sound Transit's light rail project". Is that your creds?
Anywho, back to what we were talking about.

I assume that the lack of TOD up until recently has been due to the reluctance of jurisdictions to upzone factoring in public transit as an alternative to roads, which reduces the impact on road level of service. As far as I am aware, the models used to calculate road level of service had not reflected less demand upon roads due to available public transit until recent. I think the bumps are still being smoothed out with them to reflect adjacency to rail offering a higher reduction in road demand than a bus stop, which would allow further upzones.

Sorry, I'm not so familiar with the Best Buy/Target "TOD" as I stay as far away from Northgate as possible due to unwillingness to sit in ridiculous traffic and walk through seas of parking lots. I'm not so sure what Northgate mall has to do with TOD anyway. Lack of interest to pursue the topic perhaps.

As far as examining transit realities, I can't help but do so. Besides relying upon Metro/ST when my travel distance is beyond walking, my vacations usually land me somewhere rich in transit, which I diligently take part in experiencing. Using transit to get to your destinations really helps one understand how the system actually works. How 'bout you? I haven't heard you respond to tommie and Matt's questions regarding your bus usage. Or do you just call yourself an expert in this field because you sit behind the computer and read about it all day and bug Cevero with your mindnumbing comments just so you can post on the internet that you have talked to him?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 2:02 p.m. Inappropriate

BRT plans: Given the constraint that too much of overall regional transit funding is going to Sound Transit for its urban railroad network planning and construction, I've been satisfied for some time that that the ongoing bus improvement planning efforts of King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit, and Pierce Transit are quite good. All of these agencies are looking at how to improve service using BRT techniques, including Swift on SR 99 in Snohomish County, and RapidRide on several routes in King County.

City of Seattle's efforts to support better bus service are also impressive.

This and other such work would be better without the distraction and resource suck of light rail, street railways, and (as turned out in practice) the Seattle Green Line Monorail.

In addition, transportation planner Jim MacIsaac wrote a fine sketch plan for BRT on behalf of Eastside Transportation Association that has been circulated widely.

Also, State of Washington paid a consultant for a published sketch plan for BRT in the I-405 corridor. Sound Transit signed off on a Record of Decision that found through analysis that bus transit is optimal for the Eastside, including across Lake Washington. Cross-Lake light rail was a last minute drop in, post analysis.

And former SecDOT MacDonald laid out some specifics for bus improvement in his recent Crosscut series.

Even the bus improvement efforts funded by Sound Transit have been admirable over the past twelve years, as some have pointed out here.

My views change on some issues over time. Unlike the implication of "Madison Avenue," that's a good thing.

For example, I was not in favor of building the Seattle bus tunnel during the 80s because I thought the surface streets of downtown could be conditioned for fast bus movement. I had a well-justified fear back then that the "Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel" would become a driver of subway ambitions, which indeed is the case as the region closes in on Federal support for the last new urban subway in America.

Phony, non-operating rails were quickly installed in the bus tunnel in the final stages of construction to make it look like a series of subway stations. The whole notion of mixing buses and trains together in the DSTT is a dog's breakfast of telematic control problems documented in the present day in Federal monitoring reports of ST that I am reading every month. Right now I fear "joint operations" might not work well, but hey, it may work great, and if it does, I'll celebrate it at the time.

As a result of a series of research efforts, I hold the view now that bus service and associated rights of way can be incrementally and constantly improved with a variety of features associated with BRT, rather than necessarily focusing on a series of gold-plated BRT lines that try to imitate what light rail does.

The idea that the alternative to the Seattle Link Subway running from Husky Stadium to Broadway/Denny on Capitol Hill to the Paramount Theater ought to be a dedicated busway following the same route is absurd. I've never advocated that, but my fellow citizens who love that subway keep implying this busway is the alternative. It isn't.

And it appears Husky Link is going to be funded and built, whether or not there is a Prop 1 Do-Over vote this fall, and whether or not the Do-Over wins or loses. The money to build this subway is already on hand with existing taxes and a $750 million Federal grant. Sound Transit has recently adjusted the construction schedule to avoid interfering with the 2009 Husky football schedule. The design is locked down, despite what the SR 520 mediation hopes for in the way of a convenient interface to bus service to/from the Eastside.
jniles

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 2:10 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Your creds: I actually like the Target/Best Buy/Joe's complex and have taken the 66/67 buses there regularly from the U-District in the past 5 years I've lived in Seattle without owning a car. We also typically hit Red Robin or the food court on the way home. Having 4 stories with an enclosed parking garage is a lot better than the typical suburban Target with a sea of parking. Of course it would (will?) be better with a Light Rail station.

joshuadf

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 2:33 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: Ben, Tom isn't into listening. By reading his comments, you can tell Heller is driven by an intense personal grudge, as he has his fragile ego all tied up in things. Not a good way to learn or challenge oneself.

You can literally go through the entire list of anti-transit activists in this town, and find a story of personal or professional failure behind almost all of them. Why every crank in Seattle settled on transportation as a pet issue mystifies me a bit. But there is some connection between the anti-social and the automobile.

With a car, you can take your isolation chamber with you. Trains: all that social and community interaction with you. And why do you think many of these transit opponents also complain about dense, urban living?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 2:50 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Theory and "Studies" vs Results: Ross Kane asks, "Have you ever actually used MBTA trains? The "A" Train? The METRO in D C ? The Paris METRO? BART? Or better yet, light rail in Portland? The SKY TRAIN in BC ?"

Yes, yes, and yes. Like Ross, I've ridden them all, every single one he names, and many other urban trains, including in London, Rome, Singapore, Brisbane, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, San Jose, Houston, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, and a few more I'm forgetting. I recommend every one of them. They are fun. You didn't have to pay for building it. You get to meet interesting people up close, sometimes real close. You don't have to figure out a less easy to understand bus system.

In Singapore I was fined by the transit police for "joy riding" (getting on and off at the same station within the space of two hours), but I digress.

Tourists like trains. I presume tourists will like our forthcoming light rail when they arrive at SeaTac. I bet tourists like the Tacoma Link street railway since it provides a free ride from free parking to the excellent museums in that city.

I also ride buses in the places I visit. In Paris I liked that the route of the bus is painted on the side of the bus. In Austin I liked the weekday all day pass for a dollar!

The public transportation issue for Puget Sound taxpayers is what works for the most people for all trips to all places all the time at a reasonable public life-cycle cost, not just building what tourists like.

After sampling Central Link to and from the Airport when it begins running in 2010 (no chance of 2009, trust me on that), I suspect this regular air traveler will go back to the 194 bus, which is scheduled to run faster than light rail, and gets me closer to the bus I need to go the rest of the way home.

Nationwide, statistics show that most of the riders of rail to the airport are airport workers, not travelers.

The SeaTac Airport workers who live in the Rainier Valley will finally have a straight transit shot to the airport when the train opens. Good for them, they deserve that.

What kind of public policy kept King County Metro from running a bus straight down MLK Jr. Way to the Airport for the decades preceding the opening of Airport Link?

From the Metro Trip Planner, 60 seconds ago:

Itinerary #1
Walk 0.1 mile E from S HENDERSON ST & MARTIN L KING JR WAY S to
Depart Renton Ave S & S Henderson St At 02:35 PM On Route MT 42 Downtown Seattle
Continues as MT 26
Arrive 4th Ave S & S Jackson St Island At 03:07 PM
Walk 0.1 mile S to
Depart Intl District Statio & Tunnel Sta.-BAY C At 03:20 PM On Route MT 194 SeaTac Airport
Arrive SeaTac Airport AcRd & Terminal - BAY 2 At 03:44 PM

The construction of Airport Link was justified by comparing the direct light rail journey to the airport with the time it takes to ride a bus downtown from Rainier Valley to catch another bus to the airport. What was the justification for that policy?

But I digress, Airport Link is a done deal.

Many of us think that nice Airport train ought to be done and operating before Sound Transit asks to double its taxes.
jniles

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 4:18 p.m. Inappropriate

SF Bay Area: Part 1: The story and comments are quite interesting. The story takes a very different approach than Mr McDonald's perspective. Maybe next Crosscut can run an actual rebuttal of Mr McDonald's numbers and data.

Mr McDonald's points not responded to include his assertion that the use of Sounder is just encouraging sprawl, in some cases from people who don't even pay the taxes supporting the service (the "country mice"), his points about how bus use is growing more rapidly than the increase in rail use even in cities like Denver, his comments on the decades it will take for any impact on commuter ridership etc from ST 2, and much more.

I lived for a few years in the SF Bay Area and want to comment on the article and comments related to it.

First, I think the Bay Area does have a lot of interesting lessons for us. One is: when housing nearby is unaffordable, people will commute really, really long distances. Silicon Valley was able to grow jobs without growing housing because of commuters from the East Bay, from the Central Valley (Modesto, Stockton, etc) and from Santa Cruz and points south. I don't think it serves as a model of what we want our region to be like. We don't want our children and grandkids to have to commute from Dupont to Bellevue because Dupont is the last place left with affordable housing in the PSRC planning area.

Second, it is very interesting BART is cited as an example. At a Sound Transit open house a few years ago, the info displays listed SF Muni, but not BART. I asked the Sound Transit staff why not, and they said it was because Muni was more comparable to LINK, and that BART was "heavy rail." BART was fully grade separated, could handle more people per station and per car, etc.

Yet, BART for all its attributes, has had a very hard time with its finances, and also it has been very hard to get tax increases for extensions to the BART lines. And when the line to SF Airport was finally opened a few years ago, the traffic numbers were far below projections.

So, if we want to use BART as a positive example, can we also have a candid discussion about what hasn't gone well with it? To some in this forum, the answer seems to be no, we can't have that candid discussion. When a respondent brings up problems, they get attacked. And I think it is unprecedented for an author to ask someone raising questions to go away.

Third, there was a question about 87 cent subsidies that BART receives from San Francisco. I found this:

http://www.rescuemuni.org/2006budget.html

excerpt:

Currently, Muni Fast Passes are good on BART for trips that begin and end within San Francisco; Muni reimburses BART 87 cents for each Fast Pass ride. Ending this practice would save Muni about $9 million per year, but that would be offset in two ways: first, some Fast Pass users would stop buying passes and pay BART directly for their ride; second, Muni might have to provide new service, particularly in the Mission corridor, to people who switched from BART to Muni. Currently, the marginal cost of new Muni service is well above 87 cents per ride. Rescue Muni opposes ending Fast Pass use on BART, and believes the current policy is good for Muni riders (because it provides them more choices), for Muni (because it's a relatively inexpensive way to provide service), and for BART (because many commuters ride trains that are less than full, allowing BART to collect revenue without the cost of additional service).

Now, this is somewhat different than what is stated in the comments above:

"You also missed the 87c per trip the city of San Francisco pays to BART, offsetting the "benefit to the city" that you seem to have such a problem with."


It appears Muni pays 87 cents only if a Muni Fast Pass user starts and ends their trip in SF itself on BART.
sjenner

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 4:35 p.m. Inappropriate

Bay Area part 2 - closing comments: Fourth, one of the key motivators in the article seems to be "Density is good. It leads to encounters of creative class people, who interact and create economic wealth." The assumption seems to be BART drives density.

Yet, San Francisco struggles with the same issue as the city of Seattle: is there a point at which increased density degrades the experience of the city itself? If we tore down Pioneer Square and replaced it with high rises, turned the Pike Place market location into condos after all, put a high rise condo on the ferry dock, and turned SODO's industrial land into a residential village, we would indeed have "density" near the rail stations. In the same way, San Francisco could tear down Chinatown, North Beach, the South of Market neighborhood, etc. But there is a point at which density degrades the experiences of the city in the first place.

Fifth, there were very few numbers in the story. I don't think anyone living in the Bay Area would brag about their traffic and about the huge amount of affordable housing near BART stops. So what system and at what cost would be needed to actually reduce congestion? The Rescue Muni site indicates that even when there's a well-established rail system in a city, there are ongoing financial challenges:
www.rescuemuni.org/category/rescue-muni-policy/

At least the voters of SF can vote on reforms. Too bad we can't.

Closing Comment

Every region is different. What works in one area may not be cost effective elsewhere.

1. Can we all agree that Seattle and vicinity has some really challenging terrain to work with?

Putting a tunnel under shallow SF Bay for BART appears to have been a piece of cake compared to putting a tunnel under Lake Washington, which is several hundred feet deeper, for example. There are some unknowns about putting a train on a floating bridge. We can whine all we want about how voters in 1968 should have done something, and how it would all be paid for (a claim I think that has been effectively rebutted in one of the comments above), but one wonders: would the train track or tunnel built 30- 35 years ago have survived the 2001 earthquake? Or the sinking of the Mercer Island Bridge? Would it need replacing at some point in the next 10 years, the way Evergreen Point Bridge and the Viaduct are reaching the end of their lives after 45 -50 years? One wonders what the true cost of the 1968 system would have been, not just the projections from 1968 project proponents.

2. Can we all agree that light rail increases property value near stations? If you own property near a station, you win big. If you are able to walk to a station, you win big.

Beyond this group, the benefits become much more nebulous. It appears to me there either needs to be a quantum increase in density near the stations, or huge park and rides, or a very major investment in local connector bus service, in order to really make a difference on air quality, GHG, etc. I don't think we have the full picture on the costs of making these items happen.

3. Can we all agree we face some very bumpy times ahead? A commenter above seemed to be cheerful about the prospect of future oil increases, because it would vindicate an electrically-powered system like light rail. Well, sorry, but Sounder currently runs on oil, and rail construction costs are very much impacted by energy prices. So if oil goes up, and construction costs go up too, then what? Will that make the commenter happy?

I think if the Sound Transit board does go ahead with a ballot measure, they need to be very specific about the assumptions for costs, the assumptions for cost recovery from operations, and what gives if there are shortfalls because of increased costs or lowered revenue. And, I think voters should have an opportunity if projections are wrong.
sjenner

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:04 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
It's my own calculation, employing the very same impact fee methodology & assumptions underlying school impact fees under GMA. I produced that number about seven years ago, pouring ST's financial plan into the spreadsheet I modified, from specific application to school fees (I formerly consulted in this area and 'automated' my analyses) to one fitted to transportation. (It was a pretty easy modification.)

I designed it to produce a 'rounded' number for illustration purposes, but the steps meticulously follow the settled methodology employed for school districts around the Puget Sound region and elsewhere. It (the methodology) was devised by the mid-1990's and I believe first adopted by ordinance in King County.

I think it provides a helpful measure of the economics of adding transportation capacity (in this instance ST's rail-dominated programs) that's designed principally to deliver commuters/workers to downtown.

Without this kind of approach, those economics are pretty well-concealed behind per rider costs, etc. But the riders aren't so much the beneficiary of these projects, the property owners are. The gain in accessibility they obtain from the largess of the region's taxpayers is capitalized into a higher value for their holdings. This impact-fee method reveals the scale of that gain, stated in a handy unit cost.

Thanks for asking....

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:19 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Manhattanization: .
BenSchneidelman sneers: "I really don't care what someone on an internet forum has as a "standard"."

Then why would you expect me -or anyone- to acknowledge yours? Nice attitude.

P.S. Forty years ago, I was in high school. Outside of Chicago. So that makes me responsible for the failure of Forward Thrust or any alternative you would endorse in the interim?

P.P.S. I think you'll find the FTA goes back more than forty years, to 1965. The Urban Mass Transportation Act was passed by Congress in 1964, authorizing federal support to cities to help finance the costs of constructing urban mass transit projects. Under UMTA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided up to $2 federal match for every $1 from local funds. Included among the provisions of the act were relocation assistance and labor protection standards (known as "13(c)" requirements) that satisfy labor interests sufficiently to enable passage of the bill, Public Law 88-365.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:28 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Good try: .
Sounds like you're doing the bragging for me, Mad. I offered some credentials and you shlt on them. Nice. Why don't you toss yours into the mix and allow me to comment on their relevance to the issue? Or are you afraid you'd be identified? (It's so comfortable to hide behind a screen name.)

When did you write a successful state budget for a minority party? I believe it's only been done once in the 100+ years of the state of Washington. And I was there. Where were you?

(As regards my no longer residing in Washington, I finally discovered the best view of the state was in my rearview mirror.)

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:37 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Your creds: .
"How 'bout you? I haven't heard you respond to tommie and Matt's questions regarding your bus usage. Or do you just call yourself an expert in this field because you sit behind the computer and read about it all day"

I haven't seen their questions.

I shy from calling myself an expert (where did I make that claim?), but I will aver that I know more than the average bear. I was raised within a stone's throw of freight and commuter rail lines into Chicago. (I know, I sometimes would test my arm.) I studied transportation and regional economics, among other disciplines in undergraduate and graduate years.

And you?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:45 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: .
All he's said is I'm wedded to the automobile age and throw up smokescreens, misleading statistics and conspiracy theories.

I'm not responsible for his perceptions.

OK, OK if you insist -- I plead guilty to being an Enemy of the State. Should I throw myself on the mercy of the Court and claim I've stopped beating my wife, too?

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 7:57 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
remove the space between soundoff and /comment and you'll get there. (Crosscut prohibits long words.)

Where do I say Forward Thrust couldn't be presented (what's that mean?) the same way as ST2?

Define cost-effective and we can take a shot at comparing light rail to 405.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 8:44 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: .
That comment was illogical. And it still is. Parsing it won't make it otherwise.

--
"Buses are viewed differently from rail by potential users, and ignoring that simply ignores reality."

So, Daniel McFadden's Nobel Prize in Economics was fraudulent? Buses and rail are different modes, but potential users choose between them in a manner that weighs their relative service characteristics (frequency, walk distance, fare, etc). Rail is not superior to bus for all riders nor all trip destinations. Indeed, rail can't even get to many destinations. But buses running on roads can.

Sit down with Scott Rutherford for more on this subject. You might also seek out his Jan 10, 2003 presentation at Portland State University's Center for Transportation Studies on BRT.
http://www.cts.pdx.edu/seminars.htm Scroll down to ARCHIVE: Winter 2003 Transportation Seminars Series for Jan 10th

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 8:46 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: .
I walk. I live in a downtown district.

Posted Wed, Jul 16, 11:20 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: BRT plans: John, I'm amused at your -- "I hold the view now that bus service and associated rights of way can be incrementally and constantly improved with a variety of features associated with BRT," Have you read Tim Eyman's I-985 which is likely to be on the ballot this November? He limits HOV lanes (and by his definitions that would include bus lanes) to weekday peak-hours only -- 6 - 9 a.m. and 3 - 6 p.m.

I don't know what dreamworld Eyman lives in, where heavy traffic is limited to 30 hours a week, but it's nothing I'm familiar with. All the rest of the week's congested hours, HOV lanes go away and buses get stuck in traffic. And SOVs will also be filling those expensive center-line HOV ramps that Sound Transit built, not to mention the SODO Busway. Hell, I'd expect Eyman would even demand to drive his SOV through the downtown bus tunnel.

Your BRT dream is a house of cards -- it's limited to the next crazy-ass initiative campaign that Eyman or son-of-Eyman dreams up. But they can't screw like that with rails, can they?

Let me ask you again, John Niles (since you've ignored my challenge twice before) -- do you support or oppose I-985? Yes or No? It's really a simple question.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 8:08 a.m. Inappropriate

nibbles: Lake Washington is 200' deep.

The I-90 bridge will need to be replaced by 2065 when its useful life is over. Light rail will also need to be replaced at that time.

By not building heavy rail we have lower capacity and larger bore tunnels. ST says 520 can't have rail because the spine doesn't have enough capacity.

Building LINK is not transit but rather commuter rail. Doug M is correct that the LINK plan, hatched in the evil 50s, will support sprawl and not true urban density.

Seattle has a higher transit share in journey to work than any "light rail city".

Atlanta has way worse traffic and lower transit ridership.
jps

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 8:57 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: So this number you keep using is your own unpublished calculation? I'm sorry, but whether or not you've used school district methodology it just fails the sniff test.

Not to mention the huge assumption that such a system only benefits commuters. I won't need to use it for commuting, but will be happy to pay my share because of the benefits it will bring. If only there were a way to see if a majority of the voters agree with me...

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 8:58 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: Then you must understand how someone can find busses attractive but not use them.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 11:31 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: .
No, it makes me understand that some can personally find buses of no or little utility. But that doesn't mean buses are of no value to others or can't meet the needs of a larger cross-section of the commuting public than can a single rail line shuttling between points A and B.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 11:43 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
As my own calculation, it is private and doesn't need to be published. (Although maybe you'll want to subpeona me.)

But you didn't read my post well enough, Matt. I didn't say "such a system only benefits commuters" (even though it's principally designed for the use of commuters).

Indeed, the objective of my analysis was to quantify the taxpayer-financed benefit that flows to downtown property owners, probably few of which commute daily into downtown. (For instance, Equity Office Properties is HQ'd in Chicago.)

So you missed my point. Try again. It's only $1 for three shots.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 1:05 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: And you've missed mine. Private, unreviewed, unpublished calculations are worthless and distracting. I've got secret numbers proving that light rail will cure cancer.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 1:08 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Tired old car warriors: My point is that you jumped straight to asking for references proving what you said, without telling anyone what exactly you disagree with.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 1:13 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Choice: Therefore the claim that [those that find bus options attractive are usually not the ones riding the bus] not only is logically possible, but applies to you.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 4:02 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
Yeah, that sounds about right for you. Fact is fact, truth is truth - whether you know of it or not. Trees that fall in the forest DO make a noise.

Your thoughts are private, unreviewed and unpublished. That doesn't make them "worthless".

I answered the question you posed. Sorry you can't find it on the internet through Google or Wikipedia. You'll have to work this one out for yourself -- I'm not gonna let you download it. Certainly not for free. But if you'd care to pay something toward the private tuition I paid to allow me the skills to develop that number, I'll listen. Until then, I hold the copyright to the calculations. Respect it.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 4:56 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I'm ok with you not publishing your calculations. But to use it as a fact, while elsewhere asking others to prove every assertion is more than a little inconsistant.

Posted Thu, Jul 17, 4:56 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I'm ok with you not publishing your calculations. But to use it as a fact, while elsewhere asking others to prove every assertion is more than a little inconsistant.

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 5:54 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Sound Transit - an Example of the Corruption of Corporate America under Boomer Leadership: Proponents of public projects can take a holier than thou attitude - the public interest is something that needs to be debated. When you throw people in jail who are responsible participants in that debate you onlh 'convict; yourself.

Your statements in support of these practices makes you a co-conspirator, subject to arrest and being treated as a sex predator convict for the remainder of your days.

The law is the law, and if you don't want to be held to that standard perhaps you should defend those that have, even if they disagree with you.

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 7:20 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: In regards to your comment regarding subsidies to individual car users, you might find interesting the information at this site:

www.keeptexasmoving.org/index.php/
news/Do_Roads_Pay_for_Themselves%3F

(sorry, Crosscut wouldn't allow the full link because it exceeded their 60 character limit, you'll have to double copy & paste).

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (not a hotbed of liberalism and transit) NO non-toll road EVER pays for itself in gas taxes and fees. Which means every individual car uses receives subsidies for EVERY trip they take in their cars. I found interesting the example sited that would require every vehicle using a proposed road to pay a gas tax of $2.22/gallon to pay the actual cost of the road.
swtmix

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 7:46 a.m. Inappropriate

Subsidies to individual car users: In regards to subsidies to individual car users, you might find interesting the information at this site:

www.keeptexasmoving.org/index.php/
news/Do_Roads_Pay_for_Themselves%3F

(sorry, Crosscut wouldn't allow the full link because it exceeded their 60 character limit, you'll have to double copy & paste).

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (not a hotbed of liberalism and transit) NO non-toll road EVER pays for itself in gas taxes and fees. In fact, factoring maintenance and rehabilitation, no road is EVER paid for. Which means every individual car uses receives subsidies for EVERY trip they take in their cars. I found interesting the example sited that would require every vehicle using a proposed road to pay a gas tax of $2.22/gallon to pay the actual cost of the road.
swtmix

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

more Double Checking: I re-read the article again and have a few more comments.

First, let's look at this introduction again:

"The region has tried a largely bus solution for 40 years, and by now the capacity flaws are apparent. If we are really serious about building density, we need to lay more rails."

Question: how do you define capacity flaws? How much density do you think is appropriate, and how much increase of density is this over current levels?

What other outcomes do you want to see, how do you measure them and what are the outcomes we can expect from investing in Sound Transit 2? Also, what would it take to double or triple the level of those outcomes- what would need to happen?

Second, let's look at this comment:

"The anti-rail camp has all along used fear, uncertainty, and doubt."


Question: has the campaign by pro-rail advocates been 100% pure, or have they also used fear, uncertainty and doubt too?

Third, there's a mention of State Sen Sam Guess. It seems this is an attempt to slam bus planning. But who are some local people who have been involved in bus planning? What was the history of others who have put forth plans? And for that matter, do they think bus planning has been done as effectively as possible?

Next, I want to comment on the redeployment of jobs outside of city centers. "But nobody really thought our urban centers would pack up and move, requiring bus routes to follow them. Seattle's 1989 CAP initiative, limiting the height of Seattle office towers, did push some new construction to Bellevue. But even the iconic Smith Tower, completed in 1914 and long dwarfed by its Seattle neighbors, still has more stories than any of Bellevue's office towers."

I agree that no one in the 1970s thought Bellevue would have a bunch of high rises. But, our urban centers did move. And the customer demand did follow. And so did the buses.

(And by the way, the Smith Tower is 462 ft and has 27 stories. This is now lower than several towers in Bellevue. Lincoln Tower one is 450 feet, but they fit 42 stories into their structure. Wikipedia lists 2 other towers of 28 and 27 stories as well.

Just wanted to correct what could be interpreted as FUD).

The urban development was commented on previously. But you mention this:

"Federal highway investment and other factors have long worked to shift these businesses from accessible but expensive downtown office buildings to widely spaced office parks."

Yes, there have been many factors. You hint at one of them: the cost factor. Simply put, it was cheaper for Microsoft to build where it did, in Overlake, than to build a whole bunch of high rises in downtown Seattle. Indeed, with the CAP you mention, they literally could not have grown in downtown.

There seem to be many other points that would merit closer examination. For example, while MAX is accepted in Portland, it has certainly been controversial to expand it both in Oregon and across the Columbia River. Ditto for higher taxes to fund BART extensions.

To close, I get the sense that "density" is the driving force for light rail. Not reductions in Green House Gases. Not percentage of trips that use transit as opposed to Single Occupancy Vehicles. Not social justice of making sure people who live in affordable housing have a way to get to work. Just density.

I raise the questions again I raised at the start:

What other outcomes do you want to see, how do you measure them and what are the outcomes we can expect from investing in Sound Transit 2? Also, what would it take to double or triple the level of those outcomes- what would need to happen?
sjenner

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 2:45 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
I'd use the word 'disingenuous', not 'inconsistant' (sic). But that would assume that what you claim, i.e. that I've asked others to prove their assertions, is correct.

I don't recall that I have done as you say. My posts have mostly offered facts that disprove the assertions of others; they weren't requests or demands that they prove what they've claimed. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. (In a couple of others, I've asked posters to define their terms.)

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 3:19 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
That's an interesting piece, but still leaves me puzzled since user fees (gas & vehicle (tire) excise taxes) constitute the sources of ALL state and federal dollars for highway budgets. (In Texas, for whatever reason, it looks like the schools even walk off with 25% of those collections.)

Here's the puzzle: In the aggregate (across the entire Texas road system, not simply on a road-for-road basis), if those user fees didn't generate enough dollars to build the present roads, then how did those roads ever get built? Did the DOT borrow tons of money and create some huge, as-yet unfunded overhang of future debt payments? (I don't know, but that would seem to be the only possible answer to the puzzle, but I suspect the situation I surmise is not correct.)

The historic financing of highways, reliant as it is upon user fees (i.e gas taxes), naturally leads to situations where some roads don't "pay their own way". But that result doesn't mean such situations are wrong or unreasonable, given the social & economic benefit enabled by an integrated system of transportation.

For example, county roads don't pay their way, but they feed commerce to arterial roads & highways. And that commerce enables benefits like jobs, paychecks, profits and property taxes that support local communities where that commerce (agriculture or industry) occurs. Without that county road, those jobs, paychecks, profits and property taxes simply wouldn't be possible. "Subsidizing" those roads thus can yield more economic gain than the cost of the subsidy. And thus that subsidy is justified (although it doesn't mean the DOT receives enough revenue to keep on doing what it's been doing. The DOT doesn't get a share of those benefits).

I wouldn't want each and every link in a transportation network to have to justify itself by revenues that can be attributed to it. Not even the telephone company enforces such a standard, since communication is such a basic good in society.

Thanks for bringing that piece to my attention. I did find it interesting - and reflects a similar measure (ROANA: "Return on Average Net Assets") used in leading-edge for-profit companies I've seen lately.

I suspect DOTs throughout the states are experimenting with metrics that describe the 'return' of the discrete elements that constitute their systems. Metrics which might offer some guide in how to most effectively allocate their limited or scarce fiscal resources between O&M; and discrete large capital projects. (I suspect TxDOT may also be angling for either a boost in their gas tax, the removal of schools from the pot or some new revenue source, like tolling and/or leasing major roads to private investors. There's a big movement now underway in D.C. to open the door to private financing to replace the need for further hikes in state and federal gas taxes.)

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 3:27 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Subsidies to individual car users: .
You posted this twice. I replied to the earlier post -- see above.

Posted Fri, Jul 18, 6:39 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I tend to doubt that user fees (gas & vehicle (tire) excise taxes) constitute the sources of ALL state and federal dollars for highway budgets. While I haven't done much research on it, I do know that the city I live in has in its budget funds for road building and maintenance and these funds do not come from user fees, they come from the general budget. The same with the county I live in. If I was to investigate the state budget I tend to think (again I can't state it for a fact) that I would find the funding for many highway projects come from general and bonding funds, not user and gas fees and taxes.

I would find it doubtful that you've never had a vote on city, county or state initiatives to fund road building, like last year's Roads and Transit or the $40 billion transportation initiative this fall on the California ballot. The funds to pay back these bonds quite often come from general tax revenues, not user fees and taxes. And even if they are backed by specified user fees, they are almost always backed by the government issuing them, which means if the specified fees aren't enough to pay back the bonds, the local or state government will cover the payments (again, from general funds). And many (if not most) of the billions of dollars in federal transportation earmarks come from the general Federal budget, not the Transportation funds (the joys of pork barrel spending).

I agree with you that I wouldn't want each and every link in a transportation network to have to justify itself by revenues that can be attributed to it. But if you don't require it of roads, why require it of transit? Why the double standard?

And as for putting the question to the people and see how they allocate their own dollars in a free market, unfortunately we don't have a free market for transportation in this country. Most of the right of way the railroads use was given to them by the Federal Government in the 19th century. Governments use Eminent Domain to obtain land for road projects (they can even do this for privately owned toll roads). Government funds then pay for these road projects. Governments build and maintain ports (Port of Seattle anyone?). Governments build and maintain airports (ever heard of SeaTac?) and the Feds pay for the Traffic Control System. And I haven't been able to find any reference to a vote being taken before I-5 was built to find out if the people wanted it or not, or I-405 or any other freeway in the area. Or am I not googling the question correctly?

By the way, regarding your analogy with the phone company, back when there was still a Ma Bell, the quid pro quo with the Government was "We'll let you (the phone company) be a monopoly and use public right of way for your phone lines at little or no cost but you must serve EVERYONE in your service area, even if you lose money on some of them". In fact, one of the fees on your phone bill is the Universal Service Charge which reimburses phone companies for the money they lose serving rural customers.
swtmix

Posted Sat, Jul 19, 6:01 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
I was correct in saying that state and federal highway budgets consist of gas tax and related excise taxes. There's some slight variation in how these are assessed in the various states (e.g. I believe truck firms in Oregon prepare & file a weight-distance report and pay a 'use tax' in lieu of paying the tax at the pump), but the unifying general principle is that state road budgets are funded from the users. (BTW: bonding isn't a different source -- look at how the bonds are paid off, typically from gas taxes.)

Now, when it comes to *local* streets (city and county), that's a different matter than state and federal highways. Local roadways, including their maintenance, are reliant upon local tax revenues, most typically property taxes. You may wish to think of this as an exception to the 'user-paid' situation of state and federal roads, but it's really not quite so. Since the value of land is improved by gaining access to the road system, using taxes derived from the value of a parcel of property for the purpose of the local road network is, roughly speaking, a user tax.

I'm unaware that the Congressional earmarks are from general federal funds. When the sh1t hit the fan about earmarking (when the "bridge to nowhere" was exposed), the focus was on how many (thousands) earmarks were found in the *Transportation* appropriations bill. That bill disposes of transportation-related dollars, which I believe are principally user fees.

You may be surprised to learn that federal transit grants, like those multiple hundred billion ones provided to ST, come from the gas tax receipts that flow into the federal Highway Trust Fund. That fund has a Mass Transit Account which receives 2.9 cents of the federal 18.4 cent gas tax, about one-sixth of the gas taxes the feds collect. The last 0.9 cent of that amount came from when the 4.3 cent/gallon gas tax increase, enacted by the Clinton administration in 1993 (where that tax hike was used for balancing the federal budget, not transportation), was redirected from the fed's general fund back to the Highway Trust fund four years later.

As for your perception that there's a double standard between roads and transit 'paying their way', that's a misperception. Nobody, except fools, expects transit to pay for itself. You will find comments in blogs along that line, but there's a pretty well-settled understanding in our society that public transit requires subsidies. However, that doesn't equate to a "transit at all costs" regardless of the cost per rider, share of the population supported by those subsidies, or opportunity cost (inability to address other worthy projects) that the 'transit uber alles' crowd seems to believe they're entitled to out of their neighbor's pocket.

I believe Air Traffic Control, airports and those other examples you cite are generally funded from revenues collected from system users. Certainly the federal grants come from things like ticket taxes; the local matching dollars may not always be (but that's a local decision). Like all other airports, SeaTac gets gate fees, landing fees, etc. from the carriers who consider this a cost of business and incorporate these costs into their ticket prices. The PoS undoubtedly programs those revenues into their capital projects. Same with car park revenues. All these are USER FEES. It's as close to a market as possible.

Posted Sat, Jul 19, 9:33 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
sorry, make that "multiple hundred MILLION ones provided to ST", not billion...

Those grants will nevertheless *sum* to over a billion.

Posted Sat, Jul 19, 5:47 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: I read your comments and I am more than willing to admit that your may be right. My question is, when you say that state and federal highway budgets consist of gas tax and related excise taxes is this coming from actual knowledge and verifiable and easily referenced sources or is this coming from from "well, of course everyone knows that all of the money for state and federal highway budgets come from gas and vehicle excise taxes". Can you with certainty state that the State of Washington collected X dollars in gas tax and related excise taxes in Fiscal Year 2006 and that is what was spent? As I said, I'm more than willing to admit you are right but I haven't been able to locate any figures.

My gut feeling is that there is a lot of subsidizing from other areas of the budget (both State and Federal) for road construction and maintenance. Things like "we're going to build a freeway on this right of way in 5 years but we'll buy the land now using money from this area of the budget instead of charging it to the WSDOT budget since we're not actually BUILDING the road yet, they're budget is tight anyway and if we move the money from HERE no one will really notice anyway" or "to build this road we're going to have replace the wetlands that will be destroyed during construction but since we'll be creating NEW wetlands we'll charge THAT to the Department of Natural Resources budget since it's wetlands, which is obviously falls under their juristiction". Given how politics tends to work I think there's a lot more of this type of thing going on than people think. If some area of the Government or a powerful politician wants a road or in interchange or a bridge built, they're not going to let the fact that there's not enough money in the WSDOT budget or available from the Feds stop them; they'll find the money SOMEPLACE.

I've always thought it would be interesting to pass laws saying that the ONLY money that could be spent on roads HAD to come from road related taxes, including land purchases, construction, maintenance, repair and replacement; the same with Ports and Airports. That is, a direct link would have to be established between money collected and money spent. I think to maintain the level of current spending gas taxes, port fees and air ticket surcharges would probably end up doubling or tripling. Unfortunately, I doubt that will ever happen.
swtmix

Posted Sat, Jul 19, 5:56 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: And as far as your comments regarding my "perception that there's a double standard between roads and transit 'paying their way'" I don't really think it is a "misperception". If you were to take the rest of your comment:

However, that doesn't equate to a "transit at all costs" regardless of the cost per rider, share of the population supported by those subsidies, or opportunity cost (inability to address other worthy projects) that the 'transit uber alles' crowd seems to believe they're entitled to out of their neighbor's pocket.

and replace "transit" with "roads" and "doesn't" with "does" you would be describing the last 50 years of American transportation policy quite accurately.
swtmix

Posted Sun, Jul 20, 5:24 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
OK, this is a more substantive point, one that leads to further horizons.

But let me first assure you that, with respect to the earlier question about whether all transportation outlays are paid for by users, my knowledge and certainty arises from having worked in the field for quite some time (albeit now awhile ago), specifically in the finance area. More recently (although also some time ago) I had a hand in writing a general state budget and can attest there was only a smidgen of $ provided to the DOT, for what purpose I no longer recall. Certainly nothing significant, nor under-handed.

BTW: you should know that Washington state adopts three separate budgets: 1) a general fund budget (for K-12, DSHS, DNR, Colleges/Universities, etc.); 2) a transportation budget (principally for WSDOT, but also any agency that receives transportation tax dollars such as the agency that distributes some of the state's gas tax to counties and I believe cities); 3) a capital budget (for state buildings, including campuses, and other major capital outlays *other than* transportation.)

A handful of states, like New Jersey, don't segregate transportation dollars from their general fund budgets. It's all one big budget, lending itself to the kind of stealing from one pot to feed another that you suspect. I think NJ has big budget problems, some possibly a result of such past behavior. I do know that NJ has mused about leasing its tollroad(s) to a private investor, the upfront lease could produce ~$20 billion, which the NJ legislature likely would use to cover their budget difficulties.

I can't cite the current WSDOT budget, but my specific knowledge there isn't particularly important. I'm sure it can be found on the web, though understanding the Sources of its funds may require a glossary of terms. But you will be very hard-pressed to find any "outside" slush-fund money from non-transportation related activities.

Now (finally) to your challenge that the last 50 years of American transportation policy is "roads at all costs". This almost seems to be a generational thing (I suspect you're under 40, if not well under 40.) But more accurately I think its a misunderstanding of the purpose, benefit and effect of transportation. Indeed, I think you may be mistaking land use policy for transportation policy.

A rebellion against the predominant mode, the personal auto, reflects an understandable concern with the rather visible outcome of lots of people preferring and relying upon the auto to conduct their daily business.

But keep in mind that personal mobility (freedom to travel when & where one desires) is an unqualified *good* in society. Sure, substituting another mode (say LRT) for auto seems to offer efficiencies and some escape from the visible symptoms, congestion, excessive neighborhood traffic and pollution, we associate with the automobile. Others will point to the purported efficiencies of density as justification to seek alternatives to personal mobility.

American transportation policy has not been "roads at all costs", but rather to serve land, to enable land to become more productive (allow its "highest and best use"). That's just a statement, not an endorsement of the practice in all its expressions. There is nothing inherently wrong in serving land and affording personal mobility.

BUT...one can raise questions as to whether the patterns of land use lend themselves to an attractive society. But there's no reason to suspect that one UNIFORM pattern (density, jobs-housing proximity, affordability) provides "the answer". Indeed, there CAN BE no one answer in a diverse market-driven free society.

{cont}

Posted Sun, Jul 20, 5:30 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
{cont}

But there *can* be standards applied when public $ are involved. Suggesting that new individual roads should "pay their way" would be a rough attempt to impose a standard. I have no problem with applying standards, as the simple effort of developing and applying a standard serves the purpose of exposing, among other aspects, the economics at play when major transportation investments are being contemplated. (This is why I offered elsewhere in this thread that ST's rail-based programs constitute a $100,000 per cubicle subsidy to new downtown office buildings. In my thinking, that is the outcome of a transportation policy that too-liberally serves land - or more specifically, serves the *owners* of that land.)

Once the economics are exposed (for roads or for transit), we as citizens can make more informed decisions on how to best spend our limited transportation tax dollars -- and, implicitly, our land use practices. Absent this exposure, we're reduced to arguing factoids and 'preferences' (often hidden prejudices), disguised behind patriotic-like calls to "world class city" greatness, etc.

I would rehash my views re: the potential for Northgate becoming a full-service (office, retail, housing) downtown-like district for a wide swath of north Seattle and the lower tier of Snohomish County, but my word limit is approaching (Ed: I guess I passed it). I will merely suggest that developing Northgate along these lines (rather than simply a 'port' with a huge parking structure through which thousands pass enroute to downtown via LRT) is a more economical (mostly just needs private $) and thus more efficient solution to the visible problems associated with auto culture.

Posted Sun, Jul 20, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: My comments on on "roads at all costs" actually came from looking at Boston's Big Dig. In looking at the original construction of I-95 through Boston I was amazed at the 10s (if not 100s of thousands of people considering the density of the neighborhoods it was built through) who were arbitrarily displaced by its construction. I use that term because the attitude of the transportation planners seemed to be "we're building this freeway, this is where we're building it and there's nothing you can do to stop it". And they succeeded in destroying neighborhoods that had existed for decades. This led me to the construction of I-75 in Detroit which destroyed the Black Bottom neighborhood, a vibrant, middle class African American neighborhood from who's destruction Detroit's black community has never recovered from. There are cases like this in just about every urban area in the country.

The attitude of most Transportation Departments for the last 50 years has had very little to do with land use planning or best/highest use and more with "what's the most efficient way to move vehicles (not people) from point A to point B". It is why freeways are built, it is why streets are made one way. Not for land use planning but to move VEHICLES. For example, if you were to make every one way street downtown a two way street, what would happen? Would it make for a more pleasant environment for pedestrians? Probably, since you wouldn't have streams of cars zooming past you at 35-40 miles an hour. Would it be quieter? Probably, since slower vehicles tend to make less noise. But it would increase travel time for VEHICLES, which is why transportation planners would fight it tooth and nail. Their jobs, as they see it (on the whole), it to move VEHICLES in the fastest and most efficient means possible. Not worry about land use or highest and best use and not worry about the pedestrian.

If you look at most suburban arterials, they tend to be 4, 6 or 8 lanes wide. Are there provisions for pedestrians to easily cross them? On the whole, no. In fact, many (if not most) don't even have sidewalks! Again, they are designed to move VEHICLES (not people) in the quickest and most efficient means possible.

Yes, personal mobility (freedom to travel when & where one desires) is an unqualified *good* in society. However, our current society seems designed around the concept of vehicular mobility and not personal mobility. As a personal example, I recently had to take my car in for some work. The mechanic is about 2/3 mile from my house so I could drop it off and walk back home instead of waiting there for several hours. And there are NO sidewalks between the two locations, even though part of the route is along a major artery. And in suburbia, this is the rule and not the exception.

Yes, you could say that there is a "rebellion" against the predominant mode, the personal auto in many places, I somewhat disagree with your term "preferred" means of transportation. It is not that it is preferred but in our society in most cases it is the "only" means of transportation available to them. I lived in the DC area for a while and I took Metro just about everywhere, it was fast, convenient and reliable. I would love to be able to take transit to work but there is no easy for me to do so, even though I live 1/4 mile from a major artery and work 1/2 mile from two major arteries. So I have no choice but to use a car.
swtmix

Posted Sun, Jul 20, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: Over the last 50 years could transit lines have been built in conjunction with the freeways and arterials that were built in our urban and suburban areas? Of course they could have and just imagine what things would be like if that had been done. But they weren't. And this is a result of the "roads at any cost" attitude of transportation planners over the last 50 years that you claim isn't true. Because over the last 50 years, except in certain limited cases, that is ALL that was built. Roads.

And yes, it would be nice if citizens could make more informed decisions on how to best spend our limited transportation tax dollars. But that almost never happens. I haven't been able to find any references to a vote asking "should I-5 be built, yes or no?". Should I-405 be built? Or I-90? A vote only seems to come up when transit is involved. Yes, there have been votes on fund to expand EXISTING highways, but I still don't recall any on building new highways or arterials. Can you point out for me any votes on the initial BUILDING of any of the mail traffic arteries in the area?
swtmix

Posted Sun, Jul 20, 11:31 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: .
Yes, indeed I can point to such votes (tho' they took place well before I arrived in Seattle).

"In a February (1972) referendum prompted by litigation over its design,
Seattle voters reject the proposed Bay Freeway, an elevated
highway over Mercer Street between I-5 and the Seattle Center.
In a separate referendum, Seattle voters also terminate the R.H.
Thomson Expressway plan once and for all and abandon the city's
$11.1 million street improvement bond authorization approved by
a public vote in 1960."

Re: that public vote in 1960,
"Seattle voters approve an omnibus highway bond issue for $11.1
million anticipated to serve as local match to 90% federal funding.
Proceeds of the bonds are to be allocated for an "Empire
Expressway" (later the R. H. Thomson Expressway), four ramps to
the Alaskan Way viaduct in downtown Seattle, extension of the
Spokane Street viaduct to Harbor Island, and an expressway along
Shilshole Avenue. A separate, $1.9 million bond measure for an
elevated roadway along Mercer Street (the "Bay Freeway") also
receives voter approval. Twelve years later in 1972, Seattle voters
overwhelmingly decide to terminate the R.H. Thomson
expressway plan, abandon the $11.1 million bond authorization
and to not construct the Bay Freeway between Aurora and
Interstate 5 (giving birth to the modern-day "Mercer Mess".)"

Source: "A Citizen's Guide to Transportation in the Puget Sound
Region: A Timeline of Events Shaping Where We Are Today"
2004, unpublished, Thomas Heller)

I can't speak to votes for I-5 or 405, although the I-5 corridor had received a *lot* of attention by the state legislature for several years. In 1953, the state legislature authorized the Washington State Toll Bridge Authority to "study and, if feasible, after approval by the state highway commission, to locate, construct, finance and operate as a toll road, until paid for, an express highway from the vicinity of Tacoma through Seattle to the vicinity of Everett.

Two years earlier, the legislature authorized $66 million in highway
construction bonds, including $49 million to accelerate
reconstruction of Primary State Highway No. 1 from the Oregon
border to the Canadian border and $4 million for a 4-lane
highway at Snoqualmie Pass (SB 156, c. 121 L. 51). The same bill contained a
section, vetoed by Governor Langlie, directing the toll bridge
authority to complete surveys and plans for a toll tunnel through
the Cascade mountains between the vicinities of Cliffdel and
Greenwater and to proceed with construction "as soon as
finances become available.

So, not all roads proposed get built. I suspect that I-5 and 405 were considered the region's piece of a national interstate system -perhaps viewed as an obligation- designed (and financed) largely via federal direction. I-5 is, in many ways, a conversion of an older state highway corridor.

P.S. Moving vehicles shouldn't be considered the inverse of -or at odds with- moving people. Besides, I'd rather give people the ability to move *themselves*. Private vehicles permit this.

P.P.S. to your query about building transit in freeway medians, the region's earliest rail transit proposals (after the streetcar era ended in the late 1930's) indeed were aimed to occupy the median of what was to become I-5. Seattle's Transit Commission lobbied for this. (Unsuccessfully, it appears.)

Posted Mon, Jul 21, 9:32 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: You make no sense...: //But that would assume that what you claim, i.e. that I've asked others to prove their assertions, is correct.//

Um, let's just look at comments in this thread...

Manhattanization:
//If you wish to prove that there is an inescapable need for bus-only or HOV lanes on a new, expanded 520, then I'll listen to you. But please present some proof. Assertions just don't fly.//

Tired old car warriors:
//tiptoe: before you continue your prattle about Niles and myself, why don't you back up your allegations with actual evidence//

You make no sense:
//Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.//

Posted Fri, Jan 20, 12:05 p.m. Inappropriate

http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/Linkpassengercount.htm

On the first Seattle light rail segment -- from downtown to the Airport -- Sound Transit has conceded as of October 2011 that the ridership forecast promised to the Federal funding agency to gain a $500 million grant is not achievable for the present line and its stations. This is confirmed now by the lower than planned ridership for all of 2011.

The 32,600 daily weekday average forecast in 2008 to be achieved by 2010 has yet to be achieved on any day through the end of 2011. The daily weekday average in 2011 was 23,535.

jniles

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