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    Three advocates make the case for Sound Transit expansion

    These Snohomish County political leaders favor passage of Proposition 1, the measure on the ballot this November. Their rationale: The package's light rail component represents the future of transportation; increased bus and commuter rail will alleviate overcrowding; and it's a good value.
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    Editor's Note: The authors are writing on behalf of Mass Transit Now, an organization that campaigns in favor of Proposition 1.

    In nearly every poll, voters cite transportation as the region's biggest headache. The problems are many, and the solutions are hard to make reality. But this November, residents in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties will decide on Proposition 1, a mass transit measure that will deliver real results to all of us affected by crowded buses, worsening traffic congestion, and high gas prices. Proposition 1 fulfills the goal of an integrated and regional mass transit system — and at a price that represents a true value for our investment. Instead of waiting idly (usually in traffic) for our transportation headache to fix itself, this package delivers: more buses, 36 new miles of light rail, and expanded Sounder commuter rail.

    As Sound Transit board members from Snohomish County, we examined this measure very carefully, weighing its costs and benefits to decide whether this was the right proposal at the right time. We are convinced that Proposition 1 answers the regional transit challenges that lie ahead, but we did not come to our decision on blind faith. Instead, after much work to develop a truly regional transit package and with a careful review of the skeptics' claims, we became committed supporters of Proposition 1. Our story of how we got to "yes" is relevant to voters now taking a look at what's on the November ballot.

    First: Building the regional light rail "spine." Next year, the region's first light rail line will open from Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. You can see the newly constructed guide-ways the next time you're stuck in traffic getting to the airport. To us, this is what the future of transportation looks like. Proposition 1 would expand light rail's "spine" to Bellevue and Redmond to the east, to Federal Way in the south, and Northgate and Lynnwood to the north. We fought hard to extend this line to Snohomish County, and it was critical in securing our support for the package. We strongly believe that light rail has obvious long-term benefits over buses. Light rail won't get caught in traffic because it operates in its own right-of-way; it encourages growth and compact communities; and it's cheaper to operate, with greater passenger capacity. When it's completed, the Sound Transit light rail network can carry one million passengers daily. And light rail trumps even buses when it comes to curbing greenhouse gases.

    Second: Addressing the need for increased bus service. We know that the Sound Transit light rail spine is only as good as the regional bus networks that support it. As board members, it was critical that the Proposition 1 package addressed the increased demand for bus service. The package will immediately expand express bus service on overcrowded corridors, including Interstate 5, Interstate 405, and State Route 520. While we wait for the benefits of light rail to reach Snohomish County, our citizens will be served by a 30 percent boost in express-bus capacity, including a new shuttle service that will connect the aerospace industry to the light rail spine. Proposition 1 front-loads the express bus expansions of the entire system immediately.

    Instead of being spread out over several years, Sound Transit will add 100,000 hours of new bus service next year — an overall increase of 17 percent that will help people get around the region faster, now.

    Third: Continue improvements to Sounder commuter rail. It's hard to overstate the popularity of commuter rail. In July, Sounder ridership was up a whopping 38 percent from a year earlier, in part because Sounder opened a new station in Mukilteo. These numbers re-enforce the adage: If you build it, they will come. Proposition 1 adds four new round trips a day from Seattle to Tacoma while expanding and improving Sounder commuter rail stations at Edmonds and Mukilteo. This increases passenger capacity by 65 percent to meet strong rider demand in the corridor, providing reliable and congestion-free travel rather than letting population growth continue to worsen roadway congestion.

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    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 7:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Prop 1 lets traffic congestion increase: Transit Fact of the Day #1

    Sound Transit's plan does not reduce congestion -
    In fact congestion gets much worse.

    According to Sound Transit's long range plan,and studies by the Puget Sound Regional Council, daily delay on the freeway will more than double under Sound Transit's current plans.

    Delay on our local streets will almost quadruple.

    Fact of the Day just issued by Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives (CETA)

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 7:36 a.m. Inappropriate

    Here They Go Again: Niles isn't telling the whole truth again. I suppose campaigns produce slight of hand hype by most everyone involved. It gets to the point where you can't trust the partisans on either side.

    People who present "facts" like this ought to be thinking beyond the campaign and wondering whether their sidestepping might interfere with their long term credibility.

    There is no credible transit alternative to Prop. 1 that has even a sliver of the support necessary to make it happen. People have been promoting bus based alternatives for over 20 years and have made next to no progress in building the necessary support. Maybe it is because the stuff they produce at campaign time seriously undermines their credibility.

    Should we wait some more years relying on the campaign time hucksterism of the light rail foes, or move forward with a credible plan that will provide people with more transit sooner?

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 8:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Add Up the Tax Burden, Current and Proposed!: So the writers think the cost of the Sound Transit 2 tax proposal is a great value?

    Taxpayers will surely add up:

    -all of the existing taxes that they are paying currently (Transit Now, Sound Transit, etc, etc), and

    -add in what is being proposed (in Seattle- Parks, ST2-Prop1),

    -costs that will surely rise this winter (utilities, oil heating for homes, food, possibly gas prices),

    -costs for other programs that will likely go up (education- K through 12), and

    -higher ed. for their college students,

    -costs for taking care of their parents and themselves in retirement, i.e. medical, and

    -will conclude that in the current economic climate (stock market tanking, Washington Mutual ceasing to exist- wiping out people's LIFE SAVINGS) that

    It's just NOT THE TIME for HUGE ASKS.

    The electeds need to wake up.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 9:15 a.m. Inappropriate

    Nothing but Lies from these Politicians: The authors of this piece are the twenty-first century's version of snake oil salesmen. Here's some law for everybody to keep in mind:

    - It is perfectly legal for these politicians to lie about what this ballot measure would cost.

    - It is perfectly legal for these politicians to lie about what this ballot measure would be deliver in terms of train service, and when.

    Lying about upcoming ballot measures like this one is just free speech. These politicians could not care less whether they are lying: there is no downside for them if what they say here doesn't play out in the way they've described.

    This new ST measure puts taxpaying people on the hook for all cost overruns. It calls for unlimited billions of dollars of sales tax collections, which is nothing short of an immoral way to structure a commuter train financing scheme.

    ST is run by political appointees only. Giving political appointees blank-check taxing and spending rights for the next three decades would be the very definition of stupidity. Talk about the wrong incentive structure . . . it's a lock nothing would come in on time or within these exceedingly soft budgets the politicians are dangling before voters at this time.

    Over the past twelve years all ST has done (time and time again) is fail to meet the expectations of those it suckered into voting for the 1996 ballot measure. The LAST thing our community needs to do is reward this unaccountable government that's shown it can't deliver what a trusting and gullible public mistakenly believed it was being promised.

    If the elected and accountable legislators thought this was a good idea, they'd have taken charge of the taxing and spending for this train line decades ago. Now they're just keeping their heads down, trying not to be asked whether their constituents should vote for this particular measure.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Add Up the Tax Burden, Current and Proposed!: //It's just NOT THE TIME//

    Ah, the song of the no campaign. When is the time? 20 years ago? Last year? Never?

    You mention gas prices. What will you do when gas prices are really unaffordable? Will it be time then? Oh wait, it takes years to build a rail system. Maybe it would be time 10 years before then. But when is that?

    I'll happily pay $69 a year to give me gas-free options. I think the rest of the voters will too.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate

    Good Value?: Prop 1 is a good value? The authors do not even attempt to defend this absurd claim. Look at this in just two ways.

    Cost per mile of light rail. In Prop 1 the construction cost of the 34 miles of light rail extension is estimated at $11.8 bllion. That is about $347 million per mile of light rail. In Portland, the 2004 light rail extension cost about $60 million per mile, most of which was paid by the federal government. The cost to local taxpayers in Portland was about $16 million per mile, or less than ONE-TWENTIETH of what light rail in Prop 1 will cost. How is the light rail in Prop 1 a "good value"?

    Cost per new transit trip. Prop 1 will raise the sales tax in three counties by 0.5 percentage points. Sound Transit expects that if Prop 1 passes, it will result in a net gain of about 62, 000 new transit trips by 2030. In 2006, Transit Now passed, which was a 0.1 percentage point increase in the sales tax in King County alone to increase Metro bus service. Metro expects Transit Now to result in a net gain of 50,000 to 60,000 new transit trips by 2016. So Prop 1 will provide about the same number of new transit trips as Transit Now, but the sales tax increase in Prop 1 is FIVE TIMES AS HIGH as the sales tax increase in Transit Now. How is this "good value"?

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 11:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    Clueless Sound Transit: It can't even keep the small stuff straight: Here's a recent LTE I had published online at The Seattle Times:

    Very often, small things reveal greater, more profound truths. So it is in (a recent edition of The Times ) with a tiny snippet buried on page B3 recounting how Sound Transit's Web site crashed for several hours over the weekend because the agency had allowed its domain name registration to expire.

    An agency spokesman, per the scant inches of insight, revealed that, "He didn't have an answer as to why the agency didn't figure that out on its own..."

    And we're being asked on November's ballot to fork over $18 billion to an outfit that can't send a $10 check to cover a routine expense? Figure that out.

    Lucky for Sound Transit that some wag didn't catch on, cop the domain name by sending in his own check, then create a Web site filled with mischief and Lord knows what else. But that would have been wrong - very wrong.

    Yet the greater meaning remains: If Sound Transit cannot be trusted with the smallest of details, why should it be trusted with $18 billion of our money? Its checkered track record of honoring such trust speaks for itself - this most recent flub is but sour icing on a bitter cake.


    Not today, not now, not tomorrow...not ever!

    The Piper

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 11:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Clueless Sound Transit: It can't even keep the small stuff straight: //why should it be trusted with $18 billion of our money?//

    How about because it's on time and under budget for the last project we voted for?

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 12:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Add Up the Tax Burden, Current and Proposed!: Will you happily pay $250, $350, $500, $1000 a year for light rail, as the project doubles in length, the costs triple, debt service dwarfs those costs, and by the way, you and your family never never use the thing, and those who do are subsidized, and developers rake in wind-fall profits for owning land that light rail services?

    Will you happily believe that you'll spend only $69 a year on "gas-free" options?

    Will you happily believe that Sound Transit has not mislead you about its projected costs?

    Will you happily fork over $2700 to everyone in your family for a Wall Street bailout so that you have -- what is not exactly clear? -- and not see any similarity to your commitment to subsidizing Sound Transit's continuous failure?

    Will you happily let Sound Transit Tax you for 30, 40, 50 years without any accountability?

    Will you waste your family's resources and your children's future, so that they can ride a train?

    Will you happily point back to Sound Transit's broken promises in the future when new non-gas energy resources come on line over the coming decades and non-polluting electric cars integrated with future technology make light rail the boondoggle steam engine of the past, and you're still paying your historical "gas-free options" tax to an irresponsible, unaccountable money-burning self-justifying taxing entity that's main capability is creating ballots that cheat taxpayers out of their money?

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 12:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Add Up the Tax Burden, Current and Proposed!: Yes, I'm sure Sound Transit will steal your childrens' future and probably your soul. Or maybe they'll come in on time and under budget like they did last time.

    Oh, and don't fool yourself with magical future technologies or electric cars. It's far more expensive to build highways than rail.

    Even if you won't ever ride Link, the fact that someone else rides Link will make your commute better.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 2:52 p.m. Inappropriate

    There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: The Sky is not the limit. We have seen that with the collapse of the garbage loan system that is reverberating through the US and world financial markets right now.

    The sky is not the limit with taxes, either.

    For every tax we institute, there is a worthy program that we will not have the funds for.

    Let's think very carefully about which taxes we can afford, and which are bloated. Let's not tax people out of their homes.

    Especially now, with retirees (and most everyone else) seeing their stock portfolios significantly diminished, the price of gas, food, utilities going up, up, up- there are less expensive ways to move people and goods in the Puget Sound region that address mobility, relieve congestion and won't break the proverbial (taxpayer) bank.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:22 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Good Value?: "So Prop 1 will provide about the same number of new transit trips as Transit Now, but the sales tax increase in Prop 1 is FIVE TIMES AS HIGH as the sales tax increase in Transit Now. How is this "good value"? "

    Lincoln, like most rail critics, you mangled the facts to reach that conclusion.

    First off, Metro leverages a .9ths sales tax. They used existing ridership growth to make up those Transit Now ridership figures.

    Secondly, the ridership guesstimates employed by Metro are about as reliable as the cooked-up figures the monorail people employed. No standard methodology was used. But the local media took Metro's propaganda hook, line and sinker - without even asking how they came up with the numbers.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: Please list these wonderfully cheap alternatives. Long-term, nothing beats rail even ignoring gas prices. Short-term, gas prices will become a very large concern that will hit not only car commuters but also buses.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    NICE TRY SOUND TRANSIT - STILL NOT INTERESTED: With all their good intentions of swaying the election, recent events will weigh heavily on voters willing to part with what cash is left after all the dust settles from recent events.
    Let me offer a few counter-points for us average Joes to ponder.

    A spine sounds great, but is still only 34 stops in the whole region when done. You'll still have to figure out the bus system to access the spine in order to use light rail, or hope one of the few park and ride slots is still open. Some redevelopment will occur, but don't expect a huge density makeovers any time soon.

    Light rail in exclusive ROW doesn't get stuck in traffic. However, neither do buses in exclusive ROW. That's a false argument. BUT, building a light rail spine that cost the equivalent of a new Qwest Field for every mile along the route sure makes you wonder how much exclusive bus lanes would cost.

    Capacity for all rail is not larger than buses. 4 car trains with 137 people in each car, most of whom have to stand the entire trip, crossing Lake Washington every 9 minutes (ST estimate on startup), is less than 3700 riders per hour. Similar jam-packed buses, with a lot fewer standees, traveling along the same ROW at one-minute intervals could carry about 4800 riders (60x80), with room left on the HOV 3+ lane for 2000 Prius's, carrying another 6000 or more riders.

    Speaking of greenhouse gas, LRT construction generates huge volumes of CO2, which will likely not be recovered for generations (ST study). A Prius generates less CO2 than the average rail trainset (USEPA), considering the average mix of power generation from hydro and fossil fuels. We just happen to tap the hydro side of the grid, but the pollution free electrons could just as happily go south or east.

    The article touts the ‘front loading' the plan with 100,000 hours of new buses. A start, but in the big scheme of things, a drop in the bucket over what is currently provided region wide. A 1-2% increase in bus hours, when buses are jammed packed today is not much help, especially when ST taxes are doubled for the next 30-50 years.

    I'm voting to keep my dollars - what's left of them!

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Prop 1 lets traffic congestion increase: If you want to get an idea for how pathetic the 'organized' opposition to light rail is in this town, check out John Niles' stuck in the past CETA "organization" and website. His "coalition" is basically Niles, and a couple other obsessed anti-mass transit cranks. CETA used to have some elected officials behind them, and a handful of foaming monorail, PRT and pavement advocates behind them; but all the electeds have either moved on or got thrown out of office - and the foaming, bitter monorail activists crawled away.

    With the exception of Darnell Coles / Digg Newsvine. He's still smarting from defending the monorail authority's insane finance plans - and their attempt to sell bonds before the public caught on to the scary details involved with selling junk bonds. (see: Las Vegas monorail for how we dodged a bullet there).

    Niles hides behind CETA, and keeps this shell organization alive for one reason: it helps him hide the fact he's working for two local right wing think tanks, and a certain shopping mall owner / Interstate Era dinosaur from Bellevue.

    John Niles likes to pretend he's a BRT advocate, but the guy never lifts a finger to get more bus service on the road. In fact, half of the guys Niles works with have actively sought to fight new Metro bus service expansion - they have also sponsored and supported statewide initiatives and bills which would have diverted existing locally-passed transit dollars into freeways.

    Transit fact of the day: what a joke.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Good Value?: Some perspective to apply to Lincoln's fuzzy math, lifted from a commentor on the Slog today:

    Metro collects 9/10s of 1 cent today in sales tax. It carries 400,000 riders a day. It's nearly broke, suffering under declining tax collections and escalating fuel prices. It's not on a financially sustainable path.

    Under the new plan, ST would collect 9/10s for 25-30 years, roll back 5/10s to the current 4/10s when construction is complete. The result: the ability to sustain operation of a 55-mile, hydropowered rail system with capacity to carry over a million daily riders -- at less than half the tax load Metro collects today.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 3:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: "Please list these wonderfully cheap alternatives. Long-term, nothing beats rail even ignoring gas prices. Short-term, gas prices will become a very large concern that will hit not only car commuters but also buses."

    A few wonderfully cheap alternatives: car pool; van pool; work from home (telecommute); 4-day work weeks.

    All of these wonderfully cheap alternatives reduce traffic congestion, reduce gas consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and SAVE COMMUTERS MONEY! None of these require tax increases! Every one of these in the long term beats rail hands down in terms of cost to taxpayers, which is ZERO with these alternatives.

    You could also ride your bike, walk, or take the bus.

    In the short term, high gas prices will persuade many people to car pool, van pool, work from home, ride their bike, etc. In the first half of this year, vehicle miles traveled in WA state FELL by almost SEVEN PERCENT! At ZERO cost to taxpayers. According to Sound Transit's own study, Prop 1 will reduce vehicle miles traveled in 2030 by less than one percent!

    Prop 1 is an obscene waste of tax dollars.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 4:19 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: Carpools, vanpools: Cost far more than light rail. Don't believe me? I've run some math here. It'll cost someone in the exurbs a half a million dollars over the life of a mortgage to drive alone from the far suburbs - change it to 4 people and it's still over a hundred thousand each. Take a step back and look at the reasons for this: you're making everyone buy and use their own vehicle - using gasoline for fuel - that sits around most of the time. Instead you could have large clean vehicles that thousands of people can share.

    Telecommute: Nice work if you can get it.

    4-day work week: See telecommute. Plus you're only saving one trip a week.

    Ride bike, walk: Wonderful! But I'm not quite sure how many will really be able to walk instead of use Link. We're talking about a regional transit system here.

    Bus: Operational costs make this much more expensive over time.

    Yes, people started taking the bus when gas prices went up. But our bus system is at capacity, costs far more than rail, and is sensitive to gas prices.

    Your "solutions" are penny wise and pound foolish.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 4:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: NICE TRY SOUND TRANSIT - STILL NOT INTERESTED: //makes you wonder how much exclusive bus lanes would cost.// A fortune. Just widening 405 cost 11 Billion dollars in 2002 dollars, and provide a fraction of the capacity of rail. Imagine widening 90 over the bridge or I-5. Good luck with that.

    // Similar jam-packed buses, with a lot fewer standees, traveling along the same ROW at one-minute intervals// means you are completely maxed-out, pay millions of dollars more per year for drivers and maintenance, and will very soon have to build more lanes across the bridge. Sounds like a good deal to me [sarcasm]. Plus that's just the wide-open freeway. Just wait until you have to cram all of those busses into on-ramps and off-ramps.

    // A Prius generates less CO2 than the average rail trainset// You're proud that a 4-person Prius has the same emissions as a whole train?

    //1-2% increase in bus hours// is a lie. It's 17% - a number widely published.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 5:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    SORRY MATT, YOU FLUNK: It was only a few questions, but you got them all wrong.
    1. Where did I suggest you add a lane everywhere? The 405 study added all new overpasses, several lanes, and on and on. We have a lot of lanes that could be more functional for buses with flyovers, and special access ramps, like extending the E-3 busway further south.
    2. Buses on I-90 1 minute apart is far from the minimum spacing METRO requires of its drivers of 6 seconds apart. That's a lot of growth. LRT trains would be limited to 4 minutes apart - forever.
    3. CO2 emmisions were 'implied' to be on a 'per passenger mile basis'. Not a car against a train. Sorry I didn't spell that out for ya.
    4. The dreaded math problem! Divide 100,000 hours by 7 Mil. bus hours in the reqion is 1.4%. Not 17%. I'm counting all the bus hours, not just ST's measly 20 routes.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 6:23 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: "Carpools, vanpools: Cost far more than light rail."

    What a foolish comment. If someone forms a carpool or vanpool it does not cost ME a dime. The people who use the car or van pool pay for it themselves. We don't have to raise the sales tax a bit to increase car or van pools. That is just a stupid comment. I'm concerned about how much it costs TAXPAYERs. I don't care how much people spend on their own transportation.

    How much do you think it would cost people to use light rail every day, if the commuters had to pay the full cost of their ride, and there was no public subsidy? The only people who save money with light rail are the couple percent of the population who might actually use it. The vast majority of us will never use light rail, so we will continue to pay for our own transportation, plus we will have to pay a huge sales tax increase to susbidze the very small percentage of the public who will use the light rail.

    "4-day work week: See telecommute. Plus you're only saving one trip a week." Only one day per week?? That's a reduction in miles traveled of 20%!! Prop 1 will only reduce vehicle miles traveled by less than one percent. Talk about a meaningless reduction.

    My solutions are far wiser than Prop 1. My solutions don't cost taxpayers a dime. Prop 1 costs taxpayers an extra 0.5% sales tax for as long as ST wants to keep collecting it. Prop 1 does absolutely ZERO for me, except raise my taxes.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 7:43 p.m. Inappropriate

    The Opportunity Cost of Sound Transit 2: Reasonable people agree that there are a multitude of amenities or opportunities that make a city livable, desirable, and a great place to live. Your argument is that LR would make Seattle a better place to live.

    My question is: at the expense of what? There are numerous good projects or programs that demand attention in our region:

    Expanded technology in schools,
    funded kindergarten,
    better pay for teachers,
    better school infrastructure,
    more and better parks,
    trails and paths,
    expanded and supported library system,
    new or upgraded hospitals in some areas,
    more police or fire department positions,
    earthquake retrofitting,
    repaired or replaced bridges,
    expanded water supply,
    support for higher education,
    senior services,
    teen programs,
    Puget Sound cleanup,
    support for streams, fish & open space,
    better Port security (Homeland)
    etc., etc., etc......

    Just like in family budgets, there is only so much money to go around. This is a very different economy (and a much more serious economic discussion) than even last November (2007) when the voters voted against Sound Transit's Prop 1, which was asking for the SAME taxing authority.

    It's a valid question to ask: if we spend our tax dollars on light rail,in this worsened economic climate, what would funding light rail displace?

    Because individually, people are hurting, and as a region, there are going to be a long list of "wants" on the wish-list that cities, counties, and agencies are likely not going to be able to afford, because their constituents just can't.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 8:30 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Good Value?: My facts are not mangled at all. Your comprehension of the facts is simply pathetic. I am talking about the sales tax INCREASES in both Transit Now and Prop 1. Compared to Transit Now, Prop 1 will cost about 6 and a half times more to produce a similar number of additional transit trips per day. Transit Now was a 0.1% sales tax increase in King County alone. Prop 1 is a 0.5% sales tax increase in most of THREE counties.

    Metro has been operating buses for many years. Metro carries about 400,000 riders per day now. Transit now will increase Metros capacity by about 20%, so an estimate of 50,000 to 60,000 new transit trips per day from Transit Now is conservative.

    On the other hand, Sound Transit has not carried one passenger yet on the first segment of light rail (which was supposed to be operating in 2006). So any ridership estimate ST makes is nothing but a guess.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 8:50 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Good Value?: Like a typical light rail disciple, Madison compares actual RIDERSHIP on Metro to CAPACITY on Sound Transit.

    The CAPACITY of Metro buses is several times the actual ridership. The CAPACITY of Metro is probably several million daily riders. Madison does not bother to provide the CAPACITY of Metro, because he does not want to compare apples to apples.

    Nor does Madison give the actual RIDERSHIP of ST light rail, because ST has not operated a single train on the first light rail segment with any passengers so far, although it was supposed to start carrying riders in 2006.

    However, ST estimates actually ridership on ST light rail to be about 280,000 per day in 2030 if Prop 1 passes. This is 120,000 riders per day less than Metro buses are carrying right now!

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 11:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: Why would we even talk about the costs of light rail unsubsidized? Even though I primarily ride my bike, use mass transit and walk, there are still plenty of sources through which I help shoulder the burden of freeways, roads and bridges. The federal government even thinks it prudent to throw my money at the oil companies.

    Look, the world will run out of oil. American supply has already peaked and we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign sources such as Iraq. We are stuck in traffic, polluting the air we breath, and there is a very likely chance that our carbon emissions are a major cause of global climate change. There have even been studies that link auto-dependent lifestyles with obesity. Why are we doing this to ourselves?

    If we seriously want to stand up to the dominance of the auto-centric lifestyle that is wreaking havoc on our Earth, health, and built environment, we need to make serious investments in alternative methods of transportation. We need real mass transit that gives us the choice to leave the car at home.

    The alternative? Spending how many billions of dollars on more polluting, sprawl-inducing freeways with the false promise of congestion relief? Saying it's too expensive and waiting for construction prices to go up before starting? No thanks.

    Even if you don't believe global warming is real and you fancy that peak oil is far in the future look at these studies-

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 11:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: There is a Finite Amount of Tax the Public Can Bear: Cars and your respitory health

    Cars and obesity

    I mean really, why on earth would we want to put ourselves in such a precarious position where we are so dependent on one dangerous product? An average of 114 people die in car crashes EVERY DAY in our United States. Cars are the number 1 cause of death among teens. We give them no other option to get around. What are we thinking?

    This generation might not get it, but we don't need cars for the vast majority of where we go each day. In fact, we can lead healthier lives without them. This proposal is for the generation that understands that, and will build their cities around that lifestyle.

    We don't need to re-invent the proverbial wheel. Rail is a proven technology, has been well-planned for and should be implemented as soon as possible here. Why are we talking about Van Pools? If people liked and wanted to use Van Pools they would! The vast majority of people obviously have no need for them. If they work fine for you, great! It's not a service that works for most of us.

    No, Prop 1 doesn't spread light rail everywhere, but it does a darn good job of boosting regional mass transit mobility. Every journey must be taken one step at a time.

    Posted Mon, Sep 29, 11:40 p.m. Inappropriate


    Matt's probably realized that he has better things to do than argue. But since I don't, I'll jump in.

    1) Where, specifically, do you propose adding bus lanes? Will these lanes still be protected if I-985 passes? How much will it cost? How fast will the buses run? How much will it cost to operate? If you're proposing an alternate plan, you need details.
    2) Buses might be able to run 6 seconds apart in a lane, but they can't stop 6 seconds apart. If I-90 were the only bottleneck and there were easy access to it from lots of places that could load passengers separately (given that buses load much more slowly than trains), this might be a valid comparison. But we don't have that infrastructure today -- buses will just get stuck in traffic getting onto I-90.
    3) That's not including the carbon emitted manufacturing the Prius, nor does it account for the carbon used providing roads, parking, etc. for the Prius. Nor does it account for the tendancy of rail to help build clustered communities, wherein all trips are shorter. Passenger-miles are not the key statistic here -- holisitic energy use is.
    4) But why are you considering all the bus miles in the region? Do you propose that ST should be responsible for all buses in the region?

    Posted Tue, Sep 30, 8:28 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: The Opportunity Cost of Sound Transit 2: // if we spend our tax dollars on light rail,in this worsened economic climate, what would funding light rail displace? //

    Two things: cars, oil.

    Can we afford business as usual?

    Posted Tue, Sep 30, 10:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Clueless Sound Transit: It can't even keep the small stuff straight: So, you're saying that any organization who's web site goes down can't be trusted, even if their core mission has nothing to do with the web? Interesting conclusion.

    Did you to know that the exact same thing happened to Microsoft back when it's stock price was doubling every year? And that amazon.com went completely dark a few months ago? No, you probably didn't.

    David, Chuck - aren't you guys just a little embarassed to see the "Crosscut Writer" logo displayed next to comments like this? You should be.

    Posted Wed, Oct 1, 5:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    Even The French Get It Right!: Bus Rapid Transit. Not Light Rail.

    Cheap. Flexible. Integrated.

    Here's a video from Streetblogs about Mobilien, the excellent bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Paris that launched in 2004...

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 8:55 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: ven The French Get It Right!: There's nothing cheap about BRT. For it to be anything more than a bus it needs exclusive right of way. That means building roads - which cost more than rail. Then you need far more vehicles, which require more drivers, which is where a large amount of money goes (we currently pay over $45k/year/driver just in salary, not to mention benefits and other loads). You need to pay for diesel (our hybrid buses get 3 mpg), tires, and far more maintenance. Then we look at the asphalt roads, which wear out quickly compared to steel rails.

    The fact is that your side constantly tells us that BRT is the solution instead of light rail. 20 years later we're still waiting for a BRT plan to vote on. (crickets) Why hasn't there been a plan? Because when you actually work out the numbers you realize you end up with an inferior system for more money.

    Here's a deal for you. I'll vote for any BRT plan your side comes up with. In return, please consider that not voting for Prop 1 will leave us exactly where we started - with roads crowded with cars.

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 10:10 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: Add Up the Tax Burden, Current and Proposed!: Two points:
    1. It's not the amount of taxes you pay, it's what you get for it. Mass transit investments increase property values (something we all generally like) and make it possible to reduce the amount we spend on gas (also nice), and take the edge off our rush hour traffic (something I absolutely love).

    2. Public infrastructure investments do more to stimulate economic activity than just about any possible action we could take. Think of the increase in design, planning and construction jobs that will result from this sustained effort.

    So we get a good value for our investment and we stimulate our economy. Taxes are an investment, and should be wisely spent. And now, more than ever, we need to make smart investments.

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 2:16 p.m. Inappropriate

    What will it really cost?: Given the recent change in the financial markets, has anyone looked at what this project will really cost? According to the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/business/01muni.html?em
    Municipal bonds have suddenly become MUCH more expensive.

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 10:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    Sound Transit publishes no-new-taxes budget: If Prop 1 goes down to defeat, it's not like Sound Transit goes out of business, or that light rail will stop being built.

    The agency has recently published a 2009 no-new-taxes budget!

    It's posted on the Financial Documents page. Click on 2009 Proposed Budget" (7 megabyte PDF).

    CEO Joni Earl writes in the cover letter to this budget proposal, "The year 2009 will be one of the most exciting ever for Sound Transit. For the first time, Central Link light rail trains will be in service, carrying passengers from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. By year-end 2009, passengers will be able to ride light rail trains all the way to Sea-Tac Airport."

    This document makes clear that Sound Transit does not want or need the Prop 1 taxes to make light rail to the airport a reality. Furthermore, the light rail subway to Husky Stadium with a stop on Capitol Hill will be under construction with an expected Federal grant award of $813 million around the end of this year.

    In other agencies funded programs, implementation of King County Metro's RapidRide BRT on five routes, and Community Transit's Swift BRT on SR 99 will proceed without Prop 1. City of Seattle is using its taxes to create some peak-period bus-only lanes on selected arterials, such as 15th in the Interbay.

    Thus, the alternative to Prop 1 is to let Sound Transit finish building the Seattle downtown-to-Airport light rail it promised in 1996 to build using the million dollars per day already being collected from tax payers. Some would even say that the agency should build the North Link subway all the way to the Brooklyn station in the U District before getting a doubling of its taxes, but that might be a station too far for the money being collected now. In addition, the Roosevelt Station needs to be included because that is where muck will be removed from the tunnel digging under the UW campus. Those two stations are not funded in the no-new-taxes budget mentioned above, nor is the Sound Move station with a park & ride lot at S 200th. These three stations are now part of the Prop 1 bail out.

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 10:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    Expert Review Panel has one more meeting before the Prop 1 election: The one remaining meeting of the Sound Transit Expert Review Panel before the election might take a look at the dramatically changing economic climate and force ST to make its financial planning more realistic.

    That would be a fine public service! A municipal finance expert is on the panel.

    Posted Thu, Oct 2, 11:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    RE: The Opportunity Cost of Sound Transit 2: Since Prop 1 passage would pull an extra million dollars per day in taxes out of the regional economy, growing year by year, and since the light rail expansion funded won't open for business for over a decade, I expect food, clothing, and shelter would be displaced on the margin for many people, that is, those not getting paid directly by these new taxes. Economics works that way.

    The displacement of cars and oil? Not much. Even when the Prop 1 expansion is complete, Sound Transit's computer modeling shows under 300,000 light rail customers per day in 2030, despite the million per day capacity claimed. This much forecast ridership nets out to 62,000 additional one-way transit trips per day compared to a future without Prop 1. This is not much of a transit surge in that future time when the Puget Sound Regional Council is forecasting about 15 million trips per day in the region across all modes.

    By the way, Sound Transit's cost per rider numbers would still be pretty bad even if the trains were to run full. Spending most of $17.9 billion to build tracks and trains and 19 more light RR stations puts the system in a financial hole to begin with if amortizing the capital investment is part of the calculation.

    Posted Fri, Oct 3, 8:47 a.m. Inappropriate

    RE: The Opportunity Cost of Sound Transit 2: I'm tired of fighting bad data, so I'll stop. But tell us how the other 238,000 people get to work without Prop 1. Is there a secret BRT plan on the ballot that I missed? Or by "transit" are you including cars?

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