July 21, 2009
Why Did The Seattle Area Build A Light Rail Line From Seattle To Tukwila?

The transit line opened this weekend and some of those riding free explained why they backed the new line.  For example, Chloe Brussard.

"It's about time," said Chloe Brussard, echoing the sentiments of many who turned out for free rides during the debut of the $2.3 billion 14-mile Link line.

Brussard, her husband and a friend toured the entire line, starting in Rainier Beach, with stops to stroll Westlake Center and grab dim sum in the International District.  "It makes Seattle feel like a real city," she said.

Columnist Danny Westneat agrees.

It's true, Seattle finally has something most big cities had decades ago: a rapid mass-transit line.  During the opening ceremony, everyone was shaking their heads at how long it took for stubborn Seattle to mature out of adolescence.

So there you are.  We built this line so people in Seattle can feel they live in a "real city", or as Westneat might say, a grown-up city.  Some might think that 2.3 billion is a lot to pay for those feelings, especially if you don't live in Seattle,  And very especially if you moved out of Seattle, as so many in the suburbs have, because you don't want to live in a city, even a real grown-up city.

I have been saying "we" because the people of Seattle did not pay for this line by themselves.   Sound Transit (often called (un)Sound Transit by picky folks who think that transportation projects should pass cost/benefit tests) has a taxing area that takes in much more than Seattle.

Sound Transit taxing district

(If that boundary looks like it was gerrymandered, that's because it was.  When an early proposal failed, narrowly, they redrew the boundary lines to eliminate some rural areas and their no votes.)

The people who live, or just shop, in Everett, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, Bothell, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Woodinville, Kirkland, Redmond, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Medina, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Beaux Arts Village, Sammamish, Mercer Island, New Castle, Issaquah, Burien, Renton, SeaTac, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, Ruston, Algona, Tacoma, Pacific, Milton, Fircrest, Fife, Edgewood, University Place, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Steilacoom, Puyallup, Lakewood, DuPont, and Orting helped pay for this line.  But for now, only the people of Seattle and Tukwila get any direct benefit from the line, though we are promised that it will be extended to the SeaTac airport by the end of this year.  And much farther, eventually.

But the line makes Brussard, Westneat, and company happy that they live in a real grown-up city.  Only they can tell how much that feeling is worth to them.  But I do think that they owe the rest of us, who paid for most of this boondoggle, a 2.3 billion dollar thank you.  (With more thank-yous to come, as the line is extended.)

I would feel somewhat less negative about this line if this area had not skimped on road construction and maintenance for decades.  Doing too little to improve, or even maintain, our roads has caused the people of this area to waste immense amounts of time in traffic.  And doing too little to improve, or even maintain, our roads has probably contributed to many accidents, and even, possibly, to a few deaths.

I hesitate to give Brussard, Westneat, and company advice, since they do not seem to be moved by rational arguments.  But I will go this far:  Perhaps, they should try to make Seattle a better city, not a small imitation of New York and Chicago with all their faults.   Perhaps — and I know this would be considered a radical idea in most parts of Seattle — they should consider whether 19th century technology is really the right way to make Seattle a better place for the people who live there.  (I won't suggest they use cost/benefit tests for the next big projects.  Not because those aren't a necessary part of any rational transportation plan, but because I can not imagine Brussard, Westneat, and company understanding them.)

Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.

(The attitudes described in the article, and in Westneat's column, seem so extraordinary that I asked the lead reporter, Mike Lindblom, if the attitudes were typical, and Westneat if he intended his column as a parody.  Lindblom, who appears to be a solid reporter, said that they were; Westneat did not reply, even though I told him that, as a parody, his column was a good piece of work.)

Posted by Jim Miller at July 21, 2009 01:37 PM | Email This
Comments
1. What an odd question, with made up answers. Obviously rail transit is a component is many "real" cities, but that isn't why we built light rail. No one has claimed that -- and your quotes don't say that.

Why did we build light rail? Well, explicitly Mr. Miller, voters approved a plan in 1996 to construct light rail. They approved a plan in November of last year to expand light rail.

If that boundary looks like it was gerrymandered, that's because it was

First of all, it sticks very closely to the urban growth boundary. Second, gerrymandered? Really? Citizens within the district benefit from Sound Transit, and have to pay taxes for it. It would be perverse to arbitrarily force communities to pay taxes on services they will not benefit from.

The people who live, or just shop, in Everett, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, Bothell, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Woodinville, Kirkland, Redmond, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Medina, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Beaux Arts Village, Sammamish, Mercer Island, New Castle, Issaquah, Burien, Renton, SeaTac, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, Ruston, Algona, Tacoma, Pacific, Milton, Fircrest, Fife, Edgewood, University Place, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Steilacoom, Puyallup, Lakewood, DuPont, and Orting helped pay for this line.

Every single region on that list receives Sound Transit service from Sounder or buses. Many of them benefit from HOV lanes that Sound Move funded. And because projects are funded through sub-area equity, money raised in your community stays there. In clear terms: the Eastside did not fund a penny of Seattle's light rail. Neither did Piece or Snohomish Counties. North King County and South King County funded their light rail system.

And in terms of rail, many of the areas you listed do benefit or will in the future. The areas underlined receive rail service through Sounder, or will in the coming years (Lakewood). The areas in bold will receive light rail in the coming years. This, still, ignores the bus improvements, the transit centers, and the HOV lanes funded by Sound Transit.

Doing too little to improve, or even maintain, our roads has caused the people of this area to waste immense amounts of time in traffic.

Mr. Miller, you will be unable to name a single metro in the Western world that has eliminated traffic with roads expansion. Roads expansion does not reduce congestion over time. For the price it's taken to expand I-405 in the Eastside, light rail will travel from Seatac airport to the U District and will have a higher capacity to move many more people -- faster. The cost-benefit there is obvious. Rail wins.

Of course we should maintain our roads and make sure they are safe. I do not think it is a zero-sum game: we should do both. Nearly all highway funding is from the state and nearly all transit funding is local (often with Federal help for both areas, with highways receiving more).

Of course, it is very simple to compare the costs of light rail construction while completely ignoring the costs of highway construction. Assuming that multi-billion dollar highway projects are free is going to amount to a favorable comparison. Unfortunately, it's not a true comparison.

There is absolutely no way to expand I-5 in Seattle. Opening up a transit corridor adds much-needed N-S capacity in the city. Future expansions, overwhelmingly approved by voters, will bring more and more suburbs into the network.

If you honestly believe that modern light rail is 19th century technology, what century reflects the values of removing giant swathes of communities to expand highways? We don't have the space, the money, or the alternatives to keep on building roads that only amount to more congestion. Rail is more reliable than cars, cheaper to operate than buses, and more energy efficient than both. And at rush hour, it's going to be much faster, too.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 02:22 PM
2. (My underlining didn't work. Numerous areas you mentioned have Sounder rail service at the moment.)

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 02:24 PM
3. The light rail is a disrpution to everyone that lives along its line. And if your not within a few block radius its useless. No parking (most 2 hour or pay parking). The amount of time I spend walking to the light rail, I can park my car (for free) walk less than 2 blocks, wait for a bus get on a bus and be at work.
What about people that cannot easily move around like the elderly? Or us that have to drop a child off at daycare or school.
Waste of time and my tax money.
On a side note: Boo to the company that requested donations for t-shirts and a green bag at teh downtown booth on opening day! Wasnt my tax money enough to earn me a free tshirt!

Posted by: Vicky Laner on July 21, 2009 02:35 PM
4. A interesting essay could be built around the similarity of most public projects and south sea islanders cargo cults.

Posted by: joe on July 21, 2009 02:41 PM
5. @3Vicky - that's not even addressing the crime issue on any public transportation. Liberals are always soft on crime to begin with - so naturally they couldn't give a flying fart.

Posted by: Crusader on July 21, 2009 02:53 PM
6. Does anyone remember the street name, "Interurban", or the trail we now call the "Interurban Trail"? It was the original electric train line, back and forth from Seattle to Everett, and Seattle to Tacoma. The right of way was and is owned by Seattle City Light. Google Interurban Trail Seattle and you can see the current trail system from Seattle to Everett. There are high tension power lines on the route and it seems to me that our new (18th Century Technology) light rail system could be routed along the existing right of way.
Perhaps not "Sexy" nor expensive enough.
My wife and I live in Ballard and the empty Sounder train passes behind our home each day. I cannot see any way we will ever set foot on the light rail. Not even curios.

Posted by: Dave Peterson on July 21, 2009 03:01 PM
7. Jim,
A point of disagreement. The Sound Transit revenues go for more than just light rail. Just because Seattle got Light rail, doesn't mean those other areas got squat. We did receive the Sounder, and we did receive Sound Transit Buses. Tacoma also received Light Rail in Downtown. Sound Transit has increased the number of Sounder trains on a yearly basis, and they have increased the number of runs (frequency) on some of the most popular Sound Transit bus lines, along with adding a few additional bus lines. Your posting makes it sound like all we received was Light Rail for Seattle.

Posted by: tc on July 21, 2009 03:30 PM
8. The Light Rail Transit Line is as idiotic and as fiscally irresponsible as its promoters. It is like the spoiled rich kid who gets a pony even though they have no real use for it, no place to put it that does not do significant collateral damage to its environs and no possible way to justify or sustain its cost.

Liberal Seattle; haven for morons and fools like Rizzo (John Jensen who advertises that he wants to murder conservatives) who has no clue about much of anything and is eager to prove it by telling everyone all about it.

"Rail is more reliable than cars, cheaper to operate than buses, and more energy efficient than both. And at rush hour, it's going to be much faster, too."

To paraphrase RFK, "Some people see things as they are and say fine. Liberals dream of things that only morons would do and say why not?" 19th century Light Rail Transit in Leavenworth maybe where getting somewhere in a timely manner doesn't matter, . . . sure. In Seattle . . . forget it.

The only way to justify any of the criterion set forth by Rizzo, one must completely ignore the huge draw backs to light rail as a transit system, and he does that quite well as always. Cost and energy effective? Not!! This statement is plainly nonsense.

In Seattle, light rail is only a good way to provide extremely expensive shelter and mobility for homeless scum bags and bums.
Why not? Suits Rizzo.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on July 21, 2009 03:43 PM
9. They built it because all such systems have to start with a line somewhere. Look we can argue if it should have been built, and I would be with you saying it is not the best use of our money, but the fact is that argument took place and we lost. The system is being built and it is being built in sections. I lived in the Washington DC area when the Metro was being built and when the first line opened (the red line) people said that same thing about it never being used and it being a boondoggle. Try going to DC now and not benefiting from it. If DC did not have the metro it would be a very sad thing. The metro now has many lines that link the surrounding communities and make commuting in the city possible.

All that being said, I recently used the Baltimore light rail and it pretty much stopped at one extended line. Total waste and used only by those who could not find some other way to get around.

You need a complete system for it to be successful but you have to start somewhere.

Posted by: Carl on July 21, 2009 04:03 PM
10. Confused by liberals, you are once again confused by the basic facts of the situation.

Rail is cheaper to operate than buses. You can move more people with less operators and use much less energy in the process. Light rail is absolutely more energy efficient than both buses and cars.

Of course, the capital outlays for light rail are very high. But "no build" is simply no alternative. We need additional capacity in the region, and the choice is between highways that simply fill up with congestion over time or light rail trains that avoid traffic and emit no pollution. Obviously this first segment doesn't serve the same amount of people that the full system will, but it takes time to build infrastructure. How long did it take to finish the I-90 span?

Voters overwhelmingly approved both light rail plans, but of course democracy isn't very important to the likes of Confused.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 04:03 PM
11. Why did we build light rail? Well, explicitly Mr. Miller, voters approved a plan in 1996 to construct light rail.

Well, explicitly Mr. Jensen, the voters in 1995 disapproved a plan to construct light rail. It was just too bloody expensive, and they killed the plan for that very good reason.

So the unaccountable, unelected Sound Transit Board simply jiggered the voting boundaries as Jim Miller explained, lowballed a new cost estimate, and reran the election with a concealed provision declaring that once voters approved light rail, its true costs could be unlimited and would be beyond voter control. That dishonest concealed provision should properly have resulted in jail terms for its drafters, but no - it simply served their purpose of preventing future votes from vetoing the crooked blank check given the light-rail shysters.

Tar and feathers.

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive on July 21, 2009 04:09 PM
12. tc - We don't disagree. I actually thought of including those points in the post, but decided not to because (1) the post is already a bit long, and (2) I think almost all of us know those facts.

But I'll address your general point: Almost always, I am opposed to large subsidies to small groups. (Handicapped people are the main exception I can think of off hand.) And right now, all of these subsidies to rail transit fit in that category.

For example, the Sounder trains have extremely large subsidies for a few riders, most of them quite well off, from what I can tell. We could save money and provide better service to those riders by switching them to luxury buses, but almost no one in Seattle would favor that because those buses don't run on rails.

I don't think that rails are an excuse for large subsidies to a few, mostly well off, individuals.


Amused by liberals: Please skip the personal insults. They weaken any argument you might make.

General rule: If you wouldn't say it to a sweet 10 year old kid, don't put it in a comment here.

Posted by: Jim Miller on July 21, 2009 04:13 PM
13. @8: Wow, so JJ posts a detailed refutation of what Jim posted, and you respond with... lame insults. Never mind, of course, that he actually has experience with what he's talking about.

Not to mention that Jim seems obsessed with talking about cost-benefit like he's suddenly discovered gold. :) Still, if he's waiting for an apology for the expenditures on light rail, I'll be more than happy to give it to him... when he apologizes for the services in the suburbs that I don't use but are supported by state funds.

Posted by: demo kid on July 21, 2009 04:15 PM
14. Let's face it...Government doesn't like Freedom of any kind. It doesn't like Freedom of movement. It doesn't like the private car and the Freedom of exercising that Right of moving Freely within a Free Society based on your time-schedule and Freedom of will to do so. It wants to control everything. What do you think the HOV lanes are all about. It's certainly not about you the Individual having better conditions for Freedom of movement. You can have quite heavy traffic and have the HOV lanes half-empty. All lanes should be wide open for FULL use to reduce congested traffic, after all, the tax payers have paid for all lanes and should have the Right to use all lanes. No, the Government is denying your Right to all lanes so it's Government transportation system using the HOV lanes has the upper hand over the use of Private Vehicles.

Now, comes Sound Transit at great expense to the tax payer. With great Government efficiency and cost control it has been built for over 2 billion of your tax dollars. Such a Deal! It provides no parking for those who wish to use their private car to reach a local station to access the line with the exception of Tukwila. Why would Sound Transit stifle access to its boarding and debarking stations via the private car. It is because Sound Transit wants you to take the bus to their stations. Again, the Government wants to have the upper hand over the use of Private Vehicles. Government wants to control Everything and when it feels it can get away with banning private vehicles and your Right of Freedom of Movement...It Will!

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 04:21 PM
15. Insufficiently, a concealed provision declaring that once voters approved light rail

How concealed could it be? All the documents that voters approve are public well-before the election. I'd buy your sentiment if 57% of voters didn't approve light rail expansion just last November.

Every single member of the ST board, expect the State Secretary of Transportation, is an elected official. They're not elected for the board itself, but they can still be voted out of office and thus off the board. I'm not sure if having a directly elected board creates a better organization. Note how the Port of Seattle is in complete dysfunction and scandal, yet is directed by an elected board.

Mr. Miller, For example, the Sounder trains have extremely large subsidies for a few riders, most of them quite well off, from what I can tell. We could save money and provide better service to those riders by switching them to luxury buses, but almost no one in Seattle would favor that because those buses don't run on rails.

But those subsidies fall over time, since operation costs are so much cheaper than buses. We would not save money [now] by switching to buses, you are incorrect. The capital outlays at the beginning are larger for rail, but the operating costs are lower. That is why every major metro region in the world uses rail: It can move more people, faster, and more efficiently. Also there is an effect called "rail bias" which basically means that people tend to prefer rail over bus transit. Getting more people onto public transit means that it's a better investment, obviously. If all of these people returned to the roads, we'd be suffering through extreme congestion.

What a lot of anti-rail folks tend to ignore is that Sounder isn't just Tacoma-Seattle, and Link isn't just SeaTac-Seattle. It's a lot of areas in-between. Buses are not very effective at serving many population centers because they are slower and can hold less people.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 04:26 PM
16. I don't think that rails are an excuse for large subsidies to a few, mostly well off, individuals.

Sorry for not addressing this in my last comment. But this does not seem to be a standard to which you hold highway capital investment to. Why is public transit capital investment so vastly different? Do you think the average car driver is more poor than the average light rail rider?

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 04:28 PM
17. I am not opposed to light rail specifically but I sure am opposed to what we have now. It was un unnecessarily expensive and poorly planned. Not to mention the points @ #11. I suspect this this light rail will turn into what others have. A haven for the thugs and the poor that will need endless piles of cash to keep it safe and serviceable. And once the public union workers who operate it start to get a little long in the tooth, the costs of their gold plated retirement and benefit packages will really start to take a toll on operating costs.

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 21, 2009 04:31 PM
18. @14: So let me get this straight... transit provides you with more choices to get to where you need to go, and you're whining (again) about "Freedom"?

@17: With this being a rail link to the airport, it's doubtful that this will turn into a "haven for the thugs and the poor". But hey, if you're supportive of light rail, how exactly would you have done it?

Posted by: demo kid on July 21, 2009 04:36 PM
19. Daniel, you do not have a right to ruin the experience of bus commuters by blocking HOV lanes. You have as much of a "right" to drive in HOV lanes as you do to drive down light rail tracks.

HOV lanes often move many more people than general purpose lanes during rush hour specifically because modes like transit, vanpools, and even carpools carry more people in less space than your single-occupancy vehicle. And when HOV lanes are under-utilized, I like the HOT lane idea, where an HOV lane is open to single-occupancy vehicles willing to pay a small toll based on traffic conditions.

What a scary vision of government control you imagine: HOV lanes to reward those who travel efficiently and remove the need for costly highway expansion. And the government encouraging one to take OH MY GOODNESS a BUS to light rail. Not a BUS!

Many of the future suburban stops for light rail have park & rides. That's a sustainable model. And there is pay parking around many of the Link stations. But look, even if there were free parking, no one would drive to the Rainer Valley to park their car if they're not willing to drive to Tukwila. Since when do people have a right to free parking in a big city, anyway?

About freedom. True freedom is not having to own a $8,000 car, $1,000 annual car insurance, and $65 in tab fees to get around town.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 04:42 PM
20. I see that the moron rizzo is ecstatic about the choo-choo. Why am I now surprised?

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 21, 2009 04:58 PM
21. @18...Government forces more choices on me. They are NOT my choices except, I have to pay for it, like it or NOT! Get the Picture? Nah....You're a Liberal and probably a Government employee.

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 04:58 PM
22. Daniel, right now I have a choice to take the bus, take Sounder, take light rail, take a streetcar, or take my car. That's a lot of choices.

It seems like you'd rather foist the car onto me, no matter what. How is that freedom? How are those choices?

Government isn't forcing anyone into HOV lanes. They're not forcing anyone onto transit. Voters rejected Eyman's initiative to open up carpool lanes. They approved Sound Move and Sound Transit 2 to build and expand light rail. These transportation decisions aren't just good for society, they're approved by society.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 05:04 PM
23. Look at it this way Daniel - when rizzos choo-choo breaks down (and it will break down!) it won't impact traffic in any significant way (say like when a ferry breaks down) since next to no one is riding it.

It's a double plus for mouth-breathers like rizzo since she can ride her bicycle - and her feet still won't touch the ground!

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 21, 2009 05:48 PM
24. @19...Nobody, is Blocking the HOV lanes. The Government Bus can access all lanes equally as we the tax payer have the Right to access all lanes. If there is any need to restrict the use of all lanes then, Government Buses should be the first ones that should suffer any restrictions. Only, the private vehicles should be the Last to be restricted, naturally, with the exception of emergency vehicles. After all, they have that Right because, they have and are paying for everything, Government should always be in second place to those who pay the Bills. Government is the Servant of the People Not, the other way around.

HOV lanes never move many more people than the general purpose lanes during rush hour. How can you compute that when, you have six lanes serving traffic and only one lane serving as a HOV lane. But then, you're a Liberal and the Truth is not expected from a Liberal.

Of course, you like the HOT lane idea, where a HOV lanes are open to single-occupancy vehicles willing to pay a not so small toll. It's just, another act of Theft of Government stealing from those who have paid for the use of all the lanes in the first place. Any Scam to steal more from the Tax Payer. That's standard procedure for all Government Entities. That's why the Bigger the Government, the greater the cost to the Tax Payer in Services and most importantly of all, the greater the loss of...LIBERTY!

Since when do people have a right to free parking in a big city, anyway? Well, if Free parking would be readily available in the City, you would have a lot more buying and selling, the generation of tax revenue and growth in the City. Why do you think all these Shopping Malls have come into existence? It is because, they have the smarts to offer Free Parking and have been rewarded with high traffic of the buying public. At the same time the commercial districts of Cities have declined. But perhaps, that kind of thinking is too much for JJ the Liberal.

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 05:50 PM
25. @22...As long as you and the other users Fully pay for the choices of the Bus or the Sound Transit that would be more acceptable. However, I don't want to use those Government conveyances nor do I want to give special privileges to them over my choices of what lane I wish to occupy.

Government isn't forcing anyone into HOV lanes? That was never the concern. It was Government restricting the use of HOV lanes and the establishment of HOV lanes in the first place. Your comments are getting pretty confusing, disconnected and surreal.

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 06:05 PM
26. I checked out the new rail cars on the news. Can anyone tell me where the car is, that will carry my boat trailer on it to go fishing??? I see a nice transit tax on my tabs, so just figure If I am paying for rail , I should at least get to use it .

The bad news...........the attitudes that brought us this boondoogle are now in charge in D.C.

Help Mr. Wizard.

Posted by: fRED on July 21, 2009 06:05 PM
27. fRED - you'll be able to tell it from the others by the gun rack I'm mounting on it...;'}

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 21, 2009 06:12 PM
28. Oh, and I understand that, in an effort to attract riders from along its path, they are going to add those spinner hubcaps to one of the cars.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 21, 2009 06:14 PM
29. Don't forget to get on the free vinyl window bandwagon before it leaves the station.

Posted by: JoeBandMember on July 21, 2009 06:27 PM
30. You can't ignore the cost of building light rail, and then talk about how cheap it is to operate. The entire cost must be considered. The payback for the capitol outlay will be many, many years.

But what if the centers of commerce change in the next 20-30 years? What if the fixed rail no longer serves the population centers getting to the places of business? Already, there has been a shift since this whole conversation started.

That's why buses make so much more sense. They do not require a huge upfront expense. They travel on existing roads. They are flexible, and can move to where the people are, and where they are going.

Buses have worked well in the Puget Sound area. Why are we working at sabotaging them?

Posted by: janet s on July 21, 2009 06:40 PM
31. I'm sure the 2% of commuters (less if this week's numbers are any indication) will really appreciate that $2 billion gift. Whatever. I live outside the district, so my gift is minimal.

Posted by: Palouse on July 21, 2009 07:00 PM
32. Real grown-ups understand the concept of cost-benefit ratios. This one doesn't pass that test. So we out here in East King County have been helping to pay for this joke, but it sure wasn't cost-effective. Why does this region insist on spending abnormally huge amounts of money on such a tiny percentage of commuters? This is obviously an expensive TOY for these Seattle people. And they made us pay toward it. bleh

Posted by: Michele on July 21, 2009 07:08 PM
33. Daniel, do you think you paid the full amount for the roads and highways you drive on? You're arguing for one subsidy over another. HOV lanes make traffic better, not worse. If we got rid of them, less people would ride the bus which means more cars on your drive. You'd be stuck in traffic and we'd all be emitting more pollution.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 07:49 PM
34. @32: This one doesn't pass that test.

Which "test"? Do you actually have numbers to back up what you're saying, or are you just shooting your damn fool mouth off like usual? (I'm expecting the latter.)

Posted by: demo kid on July 21, 2009 07:55 PM
35. "I have been saying "we" because the people of Seattle did not pay for this line by themselves."

Jim Miller continues to prove that he is the biggest airhead posting at SP.

Despite his attempts to scare reactionary right wingnuts with disinformation, Sound Transit does employ a subarea equity policy. So, if you live in the far-off exurbs (like most SP readers) you don't pay for light rail in Seattle. Even South King County paid only for their portion of track south of Seattle.

Diggin' the plate of whine and sour grapes, though. Would you like some French Brie with that?

Last question for the clueless Talibangelists at SP: are there any smart conservatives left?

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 21, 2009 08:04 PM
36. Squishy Westneat concludes in his piece:
"Seattle finally stopped dithering. We built something. If that's the Chicago Way, I say: More, please."

The problem with that infantile thinking is believing that what you "built" was worth constructing in the first place. Much like our Chicago machine President, who believes hastily heaping huge generational debt upon our 'posterity' without anyone (including himself) reading the damn bill or taking the time to determine the long term affects of such actions, refers to this as "progress". Next up: "healthcare reform". Nevermind the details in the bill, we don't have time for the public to weigh in on the subject, we just need to pass it and hope for the best.

Only a fool and the blissfully ignorant would agree with either of their assessments.

Posted by: Rick D. on July 21, 2009 08:06 PM
37. So we out here in East King County have been helping to pay for this joke

No, you haven't been. Not a single cent of ST revenue from East King County has been spent on this light rail.

You got buses and service, HOV lanes, transit centers, HOV ramps and fly-overs, and other things from Sound Move. No money from East King, Pierce, or Snohomish was spent on this light rail spur.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 08:13 PM
38. As I noted: (Sound Transit) reran the election with a concealed provision declaring that once voters approved light rail, its true costs could be unlimited and would be beyond voter control.

Mr. Jensen says: How concealed could it be? All the documents that voters approve are public well-before the election.

Sir, they certainly were not public in this case.

By the standards of consumer protection and product liability, critical information was concealed. The ballot alluded by reference to an unpublished Resolution 75 which included that one-man, one-vote, once-only provision. ST must have learned its political chicanery from credit card companies who hide their charges-by-ambush in an ocean of fine print - at any rate, the public was unaware of this crucially important Resolution, because it was parked out of sight and excluded from the election documents.

Item: The Court Should Not Presume the Voters Have Knowledge of a Provision Kept From Them in Defiance of Constitutional and Statutory Requirements that They Receive Notice.

Item: Sound Transit's failure to disclose the discretion-granting provision in the eight-page proposal means it is unreasonable to presume voters knew of it.

By the standards of consumer protection, these arguments should have prevailed. By the standards of Washington's statist supreme court, it was the voters' fault that they did not perform legal research off-ballot on their own time. Those Justices should have joined the scriveners in jail.

Curious, isn't it, that the urban elite who fawn over light rail regardless of its vast cost and limited utility (gosh, it goes in one thin line from A to B) are the same sophisticated bunch who cheer when the Obama admin sinks its fangs into credit card companies for their punitive small print?

Tar and feathers.

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive on July 21, 2009 08:19 PM
39. "I would feel somewhat less negative about this line if this area had not skimped on road construction and maintenance for decades. áDoing too little to improve, or even maintain, our roads has caused the people of this area to waste immense amounts of time in traffic."

Couldn't let that idiotic sentiment pass without challenge.

WE SEATTLE COMMIE/LIBS ARE THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR BILLIONS IN ROAD MAINTENANCE AND CONSTRUCTION.

You knee-jerk anti-everything SP clowns were the ones who OPPOSED MONEY FOR ROADS via (now ex) Repub legislators & I-912. (and conservatives are baffled as to why their 'movement' is in shambles)

Jim Miller: have some self-respect, man. It's intellectually dishonest to pretend you are for something you were virulently against a few short years ago.

Nice try, tho.

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 21, 2009 08:19 PM
40. @33...It is the Tax Payers that have paid the full amount for the roads and anything else the Government does. HOV lanes do not make traffic better. HOV lanes restrict FULL use of ALL lanes and therefore, restrict traffic Flow. Have you checked out the number of people who ride the Tax Payers subsidized Buses? Pathetic! The ridership is so few that there isn't enough revenue from ticket sales to even begin to pay Bus expenses. What a Joke! There isn't enough people that ride the Buses to have any noticeable effect in the reduction of cars on the highways whatsoever. What does have a noticeable effect is the restricted use of the HOV lanes causing more congestion than otherwise would be and Yes, more pollution. In short, the restrictive HOV lanes creates more of a disservice than a SERVICE! If your not going to make a sensible cogent comments why would you bother? That's Right...You're a Liberal

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 08:24 PM
41. Re Sound Transit boundary changes in 1996 -- "When an early proposal failed, narrowly, they redrew the boundary lines to eliminate some rural areas and their no votes."

Will someone please list which communities, or better yet which precincts were eliminated? Better yet, please show us maps, before and after, so we can see the extent of this terrible Gerrymandering? We've been hearing this story for years now; let's see the evidence. Please, somebody; anybody?

Posted by: Roger P. on July 21, 2009 08:38 PM
42. I also noticed the remarks about Seattle finally being a 'real city' by Mr. Goldstein also, and found them quite sophomoric.

Before moving to the Seattle area I lived most of my life in Chgo and understand the train-lust. It was exciting to explore the big city via the 'el' as a teenager. However it was also a haven for criminals and miserable form of regular transportation. As soon as you could afford to, you ditched it and drove instead. Judging from the reports of vomiters, flashers, etc on Metro buses, that the Stranger has faithfully covered, I doubt that ST rail will be much different.

$2 billion is a lot to recapture youthful memories from growing up back east. And it's not going to work anyway. When you're an aging hippie, now journalist or blogger, balding and with a paunch, riding the subway will never be quite the same as you remember it.

Posted by: travis t on July 21, 2009 08:52 PM
43. Garth Brooks really really sucks. That being said when he came on the scene he impressed me as someone whose popularity with teeenie-boppers and buckle bunnies would be unrivaled.

Really though his music is as trite, formulaic and boring as one will find anywhere.

Posted by: JDH on July 21, 2009 09:21 PM
44. Hi all,

Congestion saves lives, by slowing traffic.

It's a huge factor in why it's so safe to drive in cities like Seattle. When congestion comes to the suburbs, they get safer too. Highway fatalities need speed to happen.

My very best to everyone who is civil, and thanks to the owners for all the hard work and expense of running SP.

new left conservative 1

Posted by: new left conservative 1 on July 21, 2009 09:36 PM
45. Jensen sez @ 10
"Rail is cheaper to operate than buses. You can move more people with less operators and use much less energy in the process. Light rail is absolutely more energy efficient than both buses and cars."

Only if you compare the same starting points and ending points. However, Bus routes can be changed to accomodate increases or decreases in ridership. Rail can not. Furthermore, buses can be rerouted to avoid disruptions in traffic patterns, such as construction, or police activity, or.... Light rail can not be rerouted, but must be stopped. Then you have to call in busses to transport the light rail riders, which increases the costs and decreases the efficiency of light rail. And when you consider the overall effect of bus transportation and the amount of riders they serve, there is no way you can conclude overall that light rail is more efficient than bus transit.

And here is an interesting quote from an article that specifically address light rail vs bus transit:

Veteran transportation analyst John F. Kain of Harvard summed it up: "With few exceptions studies of the cost-effectiveness of alternative modes have found that some form of express bus system, operating on either an exclusive right of way or a shared facility, would have lower costs and higher performance than either light or heavy rail systems in nearly all, if not all U.S. cities. The tendency of policymakers to ignore the abundant evidence on the superiority of high-performance bus systems is explained by a prior commitment to rail and a willingness to 'cook the numbers' until they yield the desired result." Other scholars and researchers have come to the same conclusion: rubber-tired transit on roadway lanes is, in nearly all cases, more cost-effective, more flexible, and enables a higher level of service to riders than rail.

http://reason.org/news/show/busway-vs-rail-capacity


Sorry to pop your bubble.

Posted by: komodo_dragon on July 21, 2009 09:56 PM
46. Well, if it isn't Silly Twiddle Dee from San-Fran...Congestion may save lives and just staying home will save even more lives. However, people have jobs to go to and places to go and wish to do so conveniently and with reasonable speed. The Freedom to do so, as with Freedom itself, is not without risks. If you wish to be completely safe. Have the State incarcerate you and place you in solitary confinement in a padded cell. The State will provide you with three meals a day and a jump suit. Then, you will be well fed, clothed and above all else....Safe.

Posted by: Daniel on July 21, 2009 10:06 PM
47. Dyam, Jensen... is everything you say a lie, or what?

"cheaper to operate than buses,"

Exclusive of the lies used to shill Sound Transit, here's some recent figures more close to reality then the tripe you spew:

"According to TriMet's own data on WES´┐Ż performance for the month of May, the operating cost is almost $33 per passenger on average. The average fare was $1.15."

http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_071609_news_wes_trimet_costs.4895c64e.html

Buses are set at around $11 per rider.

Jensen, you're a leftist scumbag. Come on down and try and take me out, moron. I GOT something for ya.

Posted by: Hinton on July 21, 2009 10:08 PM
48. Daniel,

komodo_dragon, I don't have much interest in defending rail from the silly attacks that "buses can change; buses can avoid accidents!" Every major metro in the western world has rail transit as its backbone. It is proven to work. Buses are proven to be incredibly slow. I ride one every day.

There are corridors, like I-5 between Everett and Tacoma and I-90/SR-520 between Seattle and the Eastside which do not need to be adjustable to change. These transportation corridors have existed for more than a century and more than a half century respectively. They do not need to change to demand.

Yes, in many cases bus transit is the most effective option because it isn't "limited" to tracks. But in terms of these main spines that rail serve will not significantly change over time. But what does change commute patterns significantly? Transportation corridors, be they rail or highway. In other words, rail systems and highways typically design future growth and not the other way around.

Seattle is a growing city. It is trying to densify and expand its population and workforce. Investing in rail transportation is simply the better alternative.

By the way: you've changed your argument at the end w/ a link to an article about busways. (Busways are exclusive right-of-way for buses.) If you are going to design a right-of-way, for example, that avoids traffic then you're going to have elevated sections, at-grade sections, and even tunnel sections (see the downtown transit tunnel). This right-of-way is by far the most expensive part of light rail -- and would be for busways as well. At that point, the calculus isn't between a cheap bus and expensive light rail -- it's between an expensive bus and an expensive light rail system.

So why does light rail win? No diesel; electric engines which require much less maintenance and are far more efficient. Vehicles last longer Higher ridership due to rail bias. Higher capacity due to train size. Less operators due to higher capacity.

Also, bus rapid transit (BRT) is prone to perversion as we're seeing this Metro's RapidRide. This BRT system won't have a busway. It won't have many Ticket Vending Machines. It won't have a variety of features standard with rail that'll make it less reliable and useful, to be frank. (Though I support any effort to increase frequency and clarity in our transit network.)

Is light rail cost-effective for many of the bus trips we take day-to-day? No, probably not. But for the biggest corridors like along I-5 (N-S) or I-90 (E-W), yes it is cost-effective. It's more efficient and comfortable than bus rapid transit, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than expanding either highway... Actually, it's possible. Expanding I-90 or I-5 through the chokepoints at this stage is literally impossible without taking out chunks of Seattle/Bellevue.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 10:18 PM
49. Daniel, 118 million trips were taken with just Metro buses alone last year. Imagine if all those trips were handled by cars. We'd all be stuck in congestion.

HOV lanes absolutely reduce congestion, buddy. And obviously transit reduces congestion because it puts far less cars on the road.

Hinton, WES is not light rail. It is DMU commuter rail. It is a totally different mode and technology, and definitely not as cost-effective.

Jensen, you're a leftist scumbag. Come on down and try and take me out, moron. I GOT something for ya.

Great.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 21, 2009 10:26 PM
50. No John, I did not change my argument. If you had the ability to actually read, the quote was this:
"...some form of express bus system, operating on either an exclusive right of way or a shared facility, would have lower costs and higher performance than either light or heavy rail systems in nearly all, if not all U.S. cities..."

The operative (para)phrase here is that bus systems, whether on an exclusive or a shared right of way have lower costs than light or heavy rail, and higher performance. So the real question is what part of that statement do you not understand and why do you want to deliberately install a less efficient, more costly, and less adaptable system?

Furthermore, the buses do not require an exclusive right of way, unlike rail. That produces potenial for lower costs for buses than rail.

You lose again, still.

Posted by: komodo_dragon on July 21, 2009 10:42 PM
51. Answer me this, Mr. Jensen: if light rail is so great, why do we have to spend so many tax dollars selling it. Such as the $400,000 worth of glossy brochures that were mailed out (at taxpayer expense) prior to the prop 1 vote last year. Or the continual ads on talk radio by ST. Or the $1.1 million party they just threw?

When a lane of 405 is repaved, do we have to throw a big party to cajole people into using it? Of course not, that would be absurd. So why do we have to do it for light rail?

Posted by: travis t on July 21, 2009 10:54 PM
52. Similar debate rages on Mike Lindblom's online Seattle Times articles. Here are some typical chestnuts from rail advocates:

-There hasn't been enough time / wait until the SeaTac/Lynnwood/Bellevue routes open

-Sure there's low ridership but it will pick up eventually!

-Sure it's hurting businesses along its corridor now, but it'll magically change soon!

-It's free or cheap (for a ticket, which only covers about 25% of the actual cost)

-Anti-rail folks would complain about anything / they're just negative pessimistic "haters"

-Now we're progressive / a world-class city! (with 19th century technology)

-It may be less efficient but we'll walk the rest of the way - we need it (so expensive inconvenience is a boon?)

-It works in Europe/LA/PDX/Denver/etc and it will work here

-People complained about Qwest/Kingdome/Safeco/I-5 too!

-We have to subsidize roads too!

-No transit can't be expected to make money! (listen to the EconTalk podcast about Santiago's transit nationalization - they went from $50m/yr private to (-$500m)/yr public)

In other words, a lot of hysterical excuses; anything to obfuscate the fact that it's already not working. Few of them seem willing to confront some key facts:

TRANSIT SHARE
Rail's average transit share in the 11 largest metropolitan US cities with rail is 1.97%. LA is a "success" at 0.5%, and so is SF at 2.9%. PDX is a similar "success": it spends nearly 2/3 of its transportation budget on rail to pick up 2.3% of transit share. NYC has THE MOST at 7.4%, subways and all. And the mo's who think Europe "makes it work" are ignorant to the fact that "Since World War II, European countries have discouraged auto driving with punitive auto and fuel taxes and promoted rail transit with heavy subsidies. Europe's policy, like that of many U.S. urban planners, is to 'shift the balance' from autos to transit, relieving road traffic 'by developing other means of transport,' especially 'major rail works.' This policy has not worked. According to the European Union, between 1980 and 2000, the automobile's share of European passenger travel increased from 76 percent to 78 percent, whereas intercity rail and transit's share declined from 21 percent to 16 percent. A recent conference on European transport policy concluded that rail transit 'has never successfully reduced road traffic and, except in a few city centres, cars remain largely predominant almost everywhere in urban and suburban areas.' As a result, says one member of the European Parliament, 'the current European transport policy steers towards a prohibitively expensive and inefficient utopian ideal." (The Best-Laid Plans, O'Toole)

CAPITAL COST
Cost per mile to build: $166 million. Multiply by 14 for $2.3 billion.

DISPLACEMENT COST
I can't remember the last statistic to within the correct 1000 but they were supposed to have spent an average of about $48,000 to displace each new commuter. It costs an estimated $1.15 billion to attract 1% of transit share, with a very low ceiling (as I said, for all its transit NYC garners only 7.4%). Also, most places that built rail (e.g., PDX, CHI, LA, SJ, DAL, DEN, SAC, SLC) had faster growing ridership before they built it. Afterward it slowed down.

COST TO RIDE
As I said, your ticket price covers about 25% of what it costs to accommodate you on the rail. The other 75% is a black hole of subsidies. Think about that next time you marvel over the price.

REPLACEMENT COST
Rail must be rebuilt every 20-30 years, typically at greater cost than the original. I won't even get into operations and maintenance. Many rail systems hailed by advocates as smashing successes were within a calendar year of fiscal ruin until they were bailed out with stimulus money (e.g., like that of DC's WaMet and NYC's MTA; also parts of CHI's Loop).

PERMANENT TAX LIABILITY
This in a time of severe recession.

PROVINCIALIST ROUTES
I am aware of plans for expansion into Lynnwood, SeaTac, UW and even the eastside (at nearly $20 billion and in 30 years - two figures we will blast right past), but Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties voted for the amended Prop 1 (which was incidentally behind schedule and over budget, even by the first proposal). For the mid-term future, this will serve only one corridor in Seattle. If that's what the people want, fine - it's just a travesty that the poor voters of Pierce and Snohomish (and some King) Counties don't stand a chance against Seattle's indulgent groupthinkers, and have to pay for their ludicrous fantasies and get virtually nothing in return.

FAILED PROJECTIONS
Projected opening day ridership -- which was "free" and had the twin novelties of being the first day of operation and of hosting a 65,000-fan soccer game -- was 100,000. It actually got about 45,000 on Day 1, and that's without factoring in the fact that most people were double-counted (why would they only go one-way?) and many reported being counted upwards of five times. Controlling for the novelty of its first day, unique riders (not double- or triple-stoppers), the advertised "free" rides, and the 65,000-fan soccer game, don't expect this abortion to regularly capture even a single percent of the share.

ACCESS LIMITATIONS
It runs 14 miles on a narrow north-to-south axis. Cars run any number of miles in any cardinal direction. Currently it features just 13 (?) stations. If your destination is among the hundred within a stone's throw of one of these stations, you're in luck. Meanwhile, if your destination(s) are at any of the other millions, well, you're SOL. You're gonna need transportation from your house to the P&R, from the P&R to the station, from the next station to your business, from the business back to the train, from the train to the P&R, and finally from the P&R back to your house. Pretty darn convenient, but it's not like a car. And if you're wondering why there is so little parking, it's because they have determined you don't need to drive as much as you do. Trust me, they know best. They refuse to provide adequate parking because they want to socially engineer you out of your automobile. Remember, YOU pay their salaries, and they task themselves with circumventing your will?

EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS
It is already hurting most local businesses and creating east-west congestion for auto and bus traffic. Local news outlets are reporting this but insisting, with no explanation, that things will pick up soon.

DISPLACEMENT OF ALTERNATIVES
It has cannibalized some bus lines (#194, I think).

SAFETY
It has already hit at least 1 car. They have projected for more casualties and fatalities.

ETC ETC ETC

I'll wait for the storm of angry comments that will inevitably ensue. Just know: I've given you qualitative data. The least you can do is the same. There is no room for you theories, personal experiences, or ad hominem dismissals.

Posted by: chipdouglas on July 22, 2009 12:05 AM
53. #34: I don't respond to comments from people who choose to descend into use of obscenity. And btw, it doesn't boost your points, whatever they may be.

Posted by: Michele on July 22, 2009 12:25 AM
54. Hmmm, this is interesting. A May 5th op-ed in the Times by Mike Ennis says that "Sound Transit wants ONLY the taxpayers on the Eastside to pay for the (rail) connection across Lake Washington.."

Oh great--we had to help them pay for their train line from Seattle down through Rainier Valley to Tukwila, but THEY don't want Seattle to pay to run it across the lake to the eastside??

And they wonder why so many people don't trust Sound Transit...They treat taxpayers like dirt, and then treat them like dirt again.

Posted by: Michele on July 22, 2009 12:44 AM
55. komodo, The operative (para)phrase here is that bus systems, whether on an exclusive or a shared right of way have lower costs than light or heavy rail,

A bus that has shared right of way vs. one that has exclusive right of way is a completely different mode. It is like comparing your driveway to I-405.

Yes, buses by and large are fine with shared rights of way. But sometimes -- like in downtown Seattle, the University District, on SR-520/I-90, or between Northgate and Seattle, the shared right of way brings numerous capacity issues to the forefront. This is where bus transit begins to show major flaws and suffer through the same capacity issues that drivers face.

You are doing something very shifty here. You are comparing a bus with 10 boardings a day to one with 20,000 boardings a day -- casually insisting they are both buses. Absolutely, they are both buses. But while the one with low ridership cannot justify investment in a fixed guideway corridor, the high ridership route can.

higher performance.

Not true. Again, for high demand corridors rail is cheaper to operate because it has far higher capacity and is more energy efficient.

So the real question is what part of that statement do you not understand and why do you want to deliberately install a less efficient, more costly, and less adaptable system?

Blah blah blah. Every large metro in the Western world has fixed-guideway transit. It's proven to work, and be cost-effective. If buses did the same job for less, we'd all use buses. But buses don't do the same job. And bus rapid transit might work for some other corridors, but certainly not along an already-congested I-5 or cross-lake corridor. There is barely room for the current buses.

I already addressed your silly "adaptable" points. The major corridors for light rail are never going to go away. How many subways in NYC get low ridership? DC? SF? For low ridership routes, adaptability is important. For established urban areas and the close suburbs? Please. Those corridors have existed for generations.

Furthermore, the buses do not require an exclusive right of way, unlike rail. That produces potenial for lower costs for buses than rail.

Yes, but it creates buses that are fundamentally different than rail. This is like saying that "streets do not require grade separation, unlike highways." Right, that is technically true, but you cannot ignore that highways have much greater capacity. Similarly, fixed-guideway rail has much greater capacity than a bus route.

You lose again, still.

By what metric? You continue to treat a high-demand route the same as a low-demand route. You have a very simplified view of our transportation system, and your arguments are wholly unconvincing.

Or by another metric: voters overwhelmingly agree with me.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 22, 2009 12:46 AM
56. TRANSIT SHARE

Transit share is a meaningless, misleading statistic. You really think that calling NYC's transit share 7.4% is a valid statistic when the majority of residents don't own a car? As if walking is serious competition to a subway? ("54.6% of New Yorkers commuted to work in 2005 using mass transit." CNN.com)

You need to look at transit share during commute times, aka rush hour, when that capacity matters the most and when travel distances are typically further.

COST TO RIDE

Link is expected to have a 50% farebox recovery ratio before year's end. That will increase even higher after the University Link extension opens.

This is in comparison with the $0 is costs to drive on I-5, I-405, I-90, SR-99, and SR-520.

REPLACEMENT COST

Rail is not rebuilt every 20-30 years. That is a false claim.


PROVINCIALIST ROUTES

Um, right, we have to start building a route somewhere. This is a lame criticism since you've noted the expansion into the Eastside and Snohomish County coming within 15 years. Sounder reaches deep into both Piece and Snohomish Counties, and all money raised in each community stays there.

(which was incidentally behind schedule and over budget, even by the first proposal)

Well, that was completely made up. There are budget problems due to the worst recession in generations, but given that it's a long-term plan that may be solved with bonding.

Seattle's indulgent groupthinkers, and have to pay for their ludicrous fantasies and get virtually nothing in return.

You mean "the region's voters" who overwhelmingly approved Prop. 1, right?

FAILED PROJECTIONS

You're wrong. Projected opening weekend ridership was 100,000, and they got 92,000. That is boardings, right -- but so was the 100k number. Regardless, we didn't build light rail for the opening weekend. This seems like just another mindless criticism that has nothing to do with transportation policy.

ACCESS LIMITATIONS

Why do you have to work so hard to convince people so hard that cars are better? Cars are great and fine, until you're stuck in traffic with everyone else.

Where exactly would you put parking? Do you think a giant park and ride in the Rainer Valley would serve some the demand of a suburb resident like you? Give me a break.

The suburb spurs should have parking. This line, since it's mostly urban, doesn't need it. Just like NYC's subway doesn't have parking. Just like SF's light rail doesn't have parking.

EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS

What you've written here is not true.

DISPLACEMENT OF ALTERNATIVES

Wasted money on duplicate routes is a sign of good government? 194's service hours can be used elsewhere in Seattle, thanks.

SAFETY

The cars have hit the train, making illegal left-hand turns. And the EIS shows that MLK Way is actually safer with Link trains on it than without because the previous conditions were so dangerous.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 22, 2009 01:05 AM
57. [i]"Blah blah blah. Every large metro in the Western world has fixed-guideway transit. It's proven to work, and be cost-effective. If buses did the same job for less, we'd all use buses. "[/i]
Jensen, you know that is a miserable argument. The average American has $8000 in credit card debt. Does that mean credit card debt is a 'proven' and 'cost effective' idea?

And again, if it is so good, why are so many marketing gimmicks required to sell it. Why not put all that marketing money into more train runs? It should sell itself, right?

Posted by: travis t on July 22, 2009 01:06 AM
58. Excellent point, Travis. God knows GM didn't use marketing gimmicks to put you and yer yahoo friends in Hummers. That thing is safe, right? Just ask the Insurance Institute of America, which toiled for YEARS to git yer yahoo GOP politicians to figger out that a 4' tall bumper and a 2' tall bumper don't match up too good in high speed collisions. Then there's that pesky high center of gravity issue.

Yeah, surely, marketing gimmicks had nothing to do with putting moron suburban and exurbanites into Taliban-hugging SUV's... and putting US auto companies out of business. That there was just the old free markit capitalisms at work. Right, Travis?

Daniel @ 40: git yerself educated. Horse and Buggy Cart CC didn't prepare y'all too well for entry level transportation debates. Lucky for you, you're in good company here at SP, where mythology and urban legend rule.

Look @ Michele @ 54...she knows she's spreading manure about subarea equity policies - but rather than correct the mistruths, she ALWAYS doubles her inaccuracy rate with more absurd disinformation.

Smart move. Just ask Jesus. He died so she could keep lying. Neat trick, no?

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 22, 2009 02:15 AM
59. Garthbrooksfan, I believe you just made my point for me, weird diction notwithstanding. It took a ton of marketing gimmickry to persuade people that they needed 4 wheel drive and 10 inches of ground clearence just to drive to the mall. It took the same to get people to vote yes on Sound Transit.

Posted by: travis t on July 22, 2009 02:25 AM
60. "Jensen, you're a leftist scumbag. Come on down and try and take me out, moron. I GOT something for ya."

Ahh, the intellectual stimulation of Sound Politics frequent flyers. John Jensen, don't pay too much attention to sociopaths like Hinton. These broken middle-aged white guys always make their bark scarier that their bite.

Heck, when they say "git a rope" and "let's tar and feather 'em" in reference to Black politicians they disagree with...why, heck: it's more about self-hatred and abusive alcoholic redneck daddies than anything Obama did.

The more disgusting these right wing psychos are, the more content practitioners of common sense politics should be.

Kooks like Hinton, Michele, TravisB and Daniel are driving the Grand Ole Party into the ground. Paranoid hatred never gits these clowns very far at the ballot box...outside Kennewick, anyways. In other words, their fringe brand of politics should be encouraged!!!!

Posted by: GarthBrooksFans on July 22, 2009 02:39 AM
61. Right, Travis. Sound Transit tricked people into buying billions worth of trains...by making them feel skinnier, sexier, more masculine, safer and better endowed.

Excellent comparison.

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 22, 2009 02:47 AM
62. However, you still fail to answer the question. Why is so much marketing required to sell light rail? Why the glossy brocures, the push-polls, the incessant radio ads, and the $1.1 million party?

Posted by: travis t on July 22, 2009 03:06 AM
63. @14

I don't know what you're complaining about. I use, legally, the HOV lanes (and the HOT lanes, for free) at least twice per day during peak periods in a vehicle of my own choosing. It isn't in a bus. It isn't in a "government bus". It isn't even restricted by having a second person.

It galls me, as someone whose ideology swung back to the right in response to Jimmah's [mis]administration when I was getting a degree in civil engineering in CA, to agree with some elements of what Jim Jensen and demokid write. But, on some issues related to transportation, it is amazing to see fellow conservatives go off the rails (no pun), and bring uninformed/unsupported by - in many cases - well-published facts in to support their conspiracy theories.

I don't recall this when I was living in San Diego county (hardly a bastion of liberalism, notwithstanding downtown interests), or even when I was living in LA (when the LAT was at least a little right of center and CA could elect Ronald Reagan as governor), so I have to wonder what it is about WA?

Posted by: FT on July 22, 2009 04:51 AM
64. Portland light rail:

-cost $33/ride
-revenue $1.15/ride

City of Portland Transportation budget
-55% for light rail, bus, trolley, bike accomodation; 5% use light rail, bus, trolley, bike accomodation

If the above is not pure insanity, nothing is.

Oh, so what does Portland do about the above???

-dedicated bike streets coming up
-expand light rail while ridership drops

Where are the adults?

Clearly not in Portland, Seattle, Olympia, Salem.

Thought: perhaps the janitors in every transportation dept should exchange places with management. At least some connection would real life would result.

Posted by: Hank on July 22, 2009 05:40 AM
65. John @ 55
You apparently think that trying to compare a single corridor of rail with a single bus route is a valid comparison. It is not. You must compare complete system to complete system. Otherwise it is like trying to compare apples to midgets.

I notice you still have not addressed the statement that I provided:

"...some form of express bus system, operating on either an exclusive right of way or a shared facility, would have lower costs and higher performance than either light or heavy rail systems in nearly all, if not all U.S. cities..."

http://reason.org/news/show/busway-vs-rail-capacity

Again I ask, what part of buses have lower costs and higher performance than rail do you not understand? When you compare the two systems side by side (on an exclusive right of way) buses are cheaper and higher performance. When you add in the fact that buses can operate on a shared right of way, they are cheaper yet. When you add in the fact that light rail requires an exclusive right of way for every inch it covers, but bus systems only require exclusive or shared right of way in a very small portion of their routing capabilities, the cost and performance of buses improves even more.

I porvided documentation to back up my claim, you have provided none. I will take the experts position over yours any day.

Furthermore, the light rail cars cost over 4 million each with a capacity of 200 with only 74 seated (per sound transit), while a bus costs between 450,000 and 650,000 with a capacity of 56-58 people (per metro KC). Metro doesn't define the seated capcity, but I have personally ridden these buses hundreds of times and that is the seated capacity, with room for at least 20 more standing. That means that right off the bat, the equipment costs are, at the minimum, double for light rail over buses, and that only includes the actual physical cars, nothing else. When you factor in the costs of the construction, land acquirement, etc, the cost of the light rail is astronomically more than a bus system that trasnports the same amount of people. Therefore your argument that light rail is cheaper and more efficient than buses fails.

Now, you can continue to make your false claim all you want, but you have no evidence to back it up.

You lose again, still.

Posted by: komodo_dragon on July 22, 2009 06:10 AM
66. I look upon rapid transit as a city thing. Since I live outside the taxing boundaries for light rail, I breath easily as I watch with amusement those who are paying.

I avoid Seattle whenever I can (which is all but one or two visits to the ball park per year). I lived in an urban setting for nearly 20 years of my adult life and that is more than enough for any human.

Let the urbanites have their light rail. They chose to live there and are welcome to pay for it. If someone doesn't like paying they can move outside the boundaries.

Posted by: deadwood on July 22, 2009 06:11 AM
67. deadwood: like you, nearly all the transit haters at Sound Politics live outside ST's taxing area.

Thanks for that small slice of political sanity. It's quite curious, however, as to why a rural resident would even want to pretend to know what cities need for future transportation demand.

I miss the days when conservatives used to subscribe to a live-and-let-live philosophy. The (relatively new) Christian Right approach which has replaced it: "I may not know a single thing about your life, but I'm gonna judge the heck out of you, anyways."

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 22, 2009 08:05 AM
68. I'm with you deadwood. I'm outside of the taxing jurisdiction (for now) and only approach the loony bin when it is absolutely necessary. But I still like to point out the aberration that is the 'modern' liberal.

There's one moron who posts here that would say, "duh, it's already built, so move on" and technically he would be correct (and still a moron). They also built the Tower of Babel and were fools then, too.

As long as they are honest in accepting that the monies spent on this boondoggle could have been applied toward maintaining what we have and reducing congestion by adding lane-miles and streamlining ingress/egress instead of a pretty choo-choo that 1. does nothing to alleviate congestion and, 2. will never come anywhere near paying for itself.

In 2007 the WSDOT, in conjunction with our state auditor Brian Sonntag released a Performance Audit on our Puget Sound transportation system. (warning: 5.3meg) It's pretty predictable stuff, but in essence declares with no uncertainty, that the public likes their cars, uses their cars, and will be using them more, not less, in the future.

Build all the choo-choo's you want - few people are going to use them. Bankrupt yourselves in the process - that's kinda amusing to watch from afar. Beat your pathetic concave chests and declare yourselves urbane and enlightened - that there's some great entertainment, I don't care who you are!

Just don't pretend that you are doing anything significant or sincere about reducing traffic congestion because it makes you look like a loon.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 08:19 AM
69. FT @ 63, thank you for that breath of fresh air.

I've been asking the same question for years, here: why are conservatives in WA state so clueless - and so reactionary?

Well, for one thing, some of the lefties in this area are pretty dang stupid; so, the kooks on the far right seem dead set on balancing out hippy leftist stupidity.

As for basing their opinions on mythology - that could be a rural thing. Word of mouth is still an important communication form if you live in - say - Gold Bar. You also have to remember WA's conservatives were bright enough to nominate Pat Robertson for Prez back in the day. And it was the Sound Politics crowd which produced such winning candidates like Ellen Craswell.

Then, you have these pretendgineer rationalists like Komono_Dragon and chipdouglas who always dump a pile of out-of-context stats into a big random number generating blender; the result of this silly exercise always favors their own personal pet transportation project over others'. Surprising, I know.

Posted by: GarthBrooksFanz on July 22, 2009 08:34 AM
70. You all look like you are having a good time, so
I'll offer you this...
Every car requires 3 parking spots. 1 at home. 1 at work and 1 at the single place where you shop.

Obviously there are exceptions.

Point is, you can't build your way out of traffic congestion when space is limited. (function of physics)

2nd point - rail is only part of a solution. The other part is that people need to live more centrally and less in the sub/ex-burbs.

Until we understand the scope of the problem and understand that every possible solution has trade offs, we can't make progress.

But hey! gotta love that I-90 and 512 daily traffic. :-D

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 09:04 AM
71. Centrifuge John continued to spin:

This is in comparison with the $0 is costs to drive on I-5, I-405, I-90, SR-99, and SR-520.

Yes, because there are NO taxes on gasoline or car ownership. Oh, that's not true? Well then John must be WRONG!

Rail is not rebuilt every 20-30 years. That is a false claim.

Correct. In the case of the rail in Seattle's bus - excuse me, light rail - tunnel it was torn up in about a decade, rather than two or three.

And if you really think that rail doesn't need to be rebuilt and replaced, well, go talk to anyone at track maintenance at Burlington Northern (who own the heavy rail lines around here). Not just mudslides/avalanches, but regular replacement of rails as they are worn down and used.

Um, right, we have to start building a route somewhere.

We have to start? First off, we didn't HAVE to start; we didn't have to do light rail.

BUT, if we are GOING to start, why not start with a high-traffic stage first, rather than a low-usage route? Why not start with an I-90/SR520 route, or a Northgate-to-downtown spur down I-5 that has 5 times more commute?

Where exactly would you put parking? Do you think a giant park and ride in the Rainer Valley would serve some the demand of a suburb resident like you? Give me a break.

So how do people get to the light rail train? Seems that buses - and the Sounder - use park and rides to make it possible for more people to use transit. Except when it comes to light rail, we can't do that.

The reason there weren't any park-and-rides made was twofold: cash (not enough to buy all the land and build the parking) and neighborhood objection (who wants a 1,000 car parking structure built in their neighborhood).

GarthBrooksFanz writes:

It's quite curious, however, as to why a rural resident would even want to pretend to know what cities need for future transportation demand.

It is quite curious, however, as to why an urban resident would even want to pretend to know what rural communities need for land and growth restrictions.

So if the rural folks stay out of urban issues, will urban folks stay out of rural issues? That a deal you're willing to make?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on July 22, 2009 09:07 AM
72. Shanghai Dan, you've hit on a great idea! What say we erect a wall around seattle proper and cede all control of it to the libs. I have no problem with staying the heck out and I'm sure with the urban paradise that would ensue they would have no reason to come out...;'}

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 09:31 AM
73. Dan, you have to understand that what you understand of suburban transportation is different from urban transportation

Seems that buses - and the Sounder - use park and rides to make it possible for more people to use transit. Except when it comes to light rail, we can't do that.

Most buses don't use park and rides at all. Here are the Most popular Metro routes. The 550, 19th on the list, serves a park and ride but none of the other top 20 bus routes do. Most successful bus routes don't serve park and rides.

Why? Because park and rides generally belong in suburbs, and suburbs have lower transit ridership than urban areas. Given that every single stop except Tukwila is in a major urban city, it makes no sense to develop park and rides around these stations.

People clamoring for Park & Rides are generally from suburbs who wouldn't use a P&R in Rainer Valley anyway.

BUT, if we are GOING to start, why not start with a high-traffic stage first, rather than a low-usage route?

It's a low-usage route? It serves the part of the city with the highest transit ridership and it serves the region's major airport. Projected ridership is nearly twice that of the region's most popular bus route.

Why not start with an I-90/SR520 route, or a Northgate-to-downtown spur down I-5 that has 5 times more commute?

I-5 between Seattle and Federal Way is one of the most congested parts of the state. However, light rail to Bellevue and to Northgate is already being planned and funded. Both those spurs will be built.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 22, 2009 09:55 AM
74. Dan, Yes, because there are NO taxes on gasoline or car ownership. Oh, that's not true? Well then John must be WRONG!

Everyone pays sales taxes for transit. That doesn't mean that fares are free.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 22, 2009 10:10 AM
75. As, with morons like GarthLover and Jensen, Seattle would become a political train wreck that makes California look sane.

I'm from Seattle... and it's a great place to be FROM. Scum down here have and are gerrymandering elections to get loot rail operations paid for, again cutting out all of the "no" areas... just none of the retail sites that would generate the income needed to run this massive waste of money.

The observation of liberal, urban morons have no problem attempting to exert their will over how we live is directly on target. And, as a fiscal conservative, garth's convenient memory lapse, concerning a certain scumbag threatening to kill conservatives, just goes to show that now's a good time for us rural folk to cling to our guns and our religions.

Posted by: Hinton on July 22, 2009 10:12 AM
76. Hinton - I guess it's all in how you view it. I'm happy to be from seattle, and not in it. That wasn't always the case and I wish it weren't so, but it is what it is.

On the upside, the libs will continue to defy the laws of logic and common sense and eventually those laws will assert themselves. When it does seattle will collapse from the weight of its own stupidity. Perhaps then some enterprising individuals will plow it under and rebuild something useful - like a garbage dump...

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 10:32 AM
77. @75 Hinton on July 22, 2009 10:12 AM,

"The observation of liberal, urban morons have no problem attempting to exert their will over how we live is directly on target."

Morons or not, it is not simply a matter of exerting will, but exerting political power.

If there is a better way to identify the transit problems and solutions, non-liberal morons should get busy building a political coalition around it or remain content whining while watching the light rail and buses.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 10:34 AM
78. TRANSIT SHARE
Transit share is a meaningless, misleading statistic. You really think that calling NYC's transit share 7.4% is a valid statistic when the majority of residents don't own a car?

Sophistry. This is THE SINGLE most DISHONEST thing I have heard out of a rail nut YET. 100% transit share represents all transit. If we know, as in the case of PDX, that spending 2/3 of the regional planning agency's (Tri-Met's) transportation budget on rail will only serve 2.3% of all transit, then we can say with certainty that it isn't worth the cost. It doesn't matter what it's competing with - what matters is the transit share you get for the price. Go ahead and tack on all the conditions you want: raw transit share will not change.

COST TO RIDE
Link is expected to have a 50% farebox recovery ratio before year's end. That will increase even higher after the University Link extension opens. This is in comparison with the $0 is costs to drive on I-5, I-405, I-90, SR-99, and SR-520.

I'd like a quantifiable source for the first two sentences. Here's what I know:

"Since transit agencies receive more than three-fourths of their funds from taxpayers and less than a fourth from transit fares, they are more dependent on appropriations committees than fare-paying riders. The plodding planning processes of government bureaucracies stifled innovations, while the incentives associated with federal funding encouraged transit agencies to select high-cost, high-risk solutions such as high-capacity buses and rail transit rather than the low-cost solutions that private entrepreneurs might have chosen."

As for the roadways you mention: $0 in costs? We pay for them in gas taxes. You knew that, it just didn't help your cause. You're also aware of the tolls proposed for the 520 and 90 bridges (?). Also, "Freeways make up less than 3 percent of the road mileage in urban areas, but carry 37 percent of the traffic.* Freeways, especially those built to interstate highway standards, are also the safest forms of transportation in urban areas." So, would you rather pay gas taxes to carry 37 percent of traffic or eat a majority of the transit budget so displace the 1.97% average of the major metropolises with rail?
* Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2003 (Washington, DC: US DOT, 2004), table HM-71.

REPLACEMENT COST
Rail is not rebuilt every 20-30 years. That is a false claim.

Tell that to NYC, CHI, DC, BOS, and SF. Here we go:

"Rail systems must be completely rebuilt, at a substantial fraction of the original construction cost, every 30 years or so. Transit agencies rarely account for this in their original plans (whose time horizons often conveniently end in 30 years or less) and so may not have funds available for such reconstruction."

NEW YORK
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) needs $30 billion to rehabilitate its subways over the next 5 years, for which it has designated $13 billion. The other $17 billion, they hope, can be paid for by inconveniencing riders and taxpayers with higher-capacity standing-only cars and higher taxation. Naturally, even when it does gather this revenue, it must be rebuilt again in 30 years. If they are having problems accounting for this money now, it is difficult to imagine a different scenario 30 years from now, with perhaps a higher debt. BLP

CHICAGO
Said by the Engineering-News Record to be "on the verge of collapse," the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is in need of $16 billion to rehabilitate its rail lines, of which it has none. Predictably, planners and rail enthusiasts blame the problem not on a bad rail model people don't want, but on "low fares and taxes."*
*"Chicago Rail System On Verge of Collapse" Tudor Van Hampton. 11.21.2007. Engineering-News Record.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority needs $12 billion to rebuild its rail system, and is "begging local governments to cobble together a $1.5 billion fund to just repair the system's worst problems." (AP)

BOSTON
The Massachussetts Bay Transporation Authority (MBTA) "is spending one third of its operating budget on interest on its $5 billion debt." (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) needs $12 billion to rebuild, of which it has only half. (AP)

I ask for sources, you make claims.

PROVINCIALIST ROUTES
There are budget problems due to the worst recession in generations, but given that it's a long-term plan that may be solved with bonding....You mean "the region's voters" who overwhelmingly approved Prop. 1, right?

Two things about your first claim. One, you know what private companies do during recessions? They trim the fat. I know you've driven by temporarily abandoned housing developments in the last two years. That's what private companies do because they don't have the luxury of taxpayer bailouts to subsidize their fantasies and bad decisions. Two, their bogus projections are not one-off - these are systemic:

'''I have interviewed public officials, consultants and planners who have been involved in these transit planning cases,' comments University of California planning professor Martin Wachs, 'and I am absolutely convinced that the cost overruns and patronage overestimates were not the result of technical errors, honest mistakes or inadequate methods. In case after case planners, engineers and economists have told me that they had to 'revise' their forecasts many times because they failed to satisfy their superiors. The forecasts had to be 'cooked' in order to produce numbers that were dramatic enough to gain federal support for the projects.'"

"A group of Danish researchers led by Bent Flyvbjerg found that U.S. rail transit projects cost an average 41 percent more 10 and attracted fewer than half the riders than originally projected. In contrast, U.S. road projects went only 8 percent over budget and actually underestimated use. Rail cost 'underestimation cannot be explained by error,' says Flyvbjerg, 'and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying.' 'Undoubtedly, most project proponents believe their projects will benefit society and that they are thus justified in cooking costs and benefits to get projects built,' Flyvbjerg adds. 'The ends justify the means, or so the players reason.' Even after cooking the books, planners' analyses nearly always show that rail is the least cost-effective transportation solution. Yet cities and transit agencies usually propose to build new rail lines anyway."

I've got specific examples in Denver, Minneapolis, New Jersey and Portland that are probably too much for our purposes. Nevertheless, "overwhelmingly" approved Prop 1? You mean the one they struck down at first, then approved with its revised numbers (which proved to be false) by 57%? Yeah, that's "overwhelming."

FAILED PROJECTIONS
You're wrong. Projected opening weekend ridership was 100,000, and they got 92,000. That is boardings, right -- but so was the 100k number.

I'm right, but more importantly, you're lying. Read this quote from the AP's Tim Klass' article in the Seattle Times 4/20/2009, "Seattle's New Light Rail Line To Open July 18":

"Sound Transit is planning for 100,000 riders on opening day and an average of 26,000 a day afterward, said Joni Earl, chief executive of the three-county transit agency."

You'll notice they specifically said riders, not rides, and they specifically said opening day, not opening weekend. We know that's not even CLOSE to true. Any other lies?

ACCESS LIMITATIONS
Why do you have to work so hard to convince people so hard that cars are better? ... This line, since it's mostly urban, doesn't need it.

I specifically DON'T. It's self-evident. How long have you been in this debate anyway? It's your side that has been trying to get people to ignore the obvious superiority of the automobile for decades. More privacy, more mobility, attuned to YOUR schedule, you don't have to pay for anyone else's car, it's not an indefinite tax liability you have to pay whether or not you use it, etc. Maybe you don't mind the lack of parking, but literally hundreds of Seattle-dwelling commenters online do - it has been the primary complaint among the anti-rail and even moderate crowd on Mike Lindblom's Seattle Times articles, for example. Next time speak for yourself. Also, you seem to confuse what is (e.g., NYC, SF) for what should be. There is often a world of difference.

EFFECT ON LOCAL BUSINESS
What you've written here is not true.

Keep repeating the mantra. This also from the Times:

Retailers in other parts of town are hunkering down as construction crews build more of the light-rail line. In Rainier Valley, the turmoil of construction became so disruptive that the city put about $50 million toward a fund to help affected businesses with low-interest loans, grants and other assistance. ... [S]ales fell 7 percent when Sound Transit started to demolish old buildings to make way for its station, and 8 percent more when it closed the Olive Way entrance from Interstate 5 to Capitol Hill. Wells has had to lay off his longtime general manager and three other workers. Also see the Times article "Merchants Say Light Rail Barriers Will Hurt Business": "My business depends on the cars getting in here for fuel, and if they put the divider in it's going to be very bad for business," said gas station owner Gurdev Singh. In addition to legal action, Sing and others are threatening to block the tracks the day light rail starts running on July 18. SDOT officials said they studied the intersection of South Graham Street and MLK Way extensively and said they have no other choice but to install the barriers. City officials said they tried using signs and other ways to change drivers' behavior there-- but none of them worked."

And this from AP: "Another problem with light-rail construction is that it hurt many of the businesses along the route. A Phoenix insurance company estimates that it lost $250,000 worth of business during construction. Lenny's Burgers survived, but he is now selling burritos because a nearby Mexican restaurant did not. The opening of light rail gives more people access to surviving businesses, but with the recession, many may yet fail."

DISPLACEMENT OF ALTERNATIVES
Wasted money on duplicate routes is a sign of good government? 194's service hours can be used elsewhere in Seattle, thanks.

I said this? As a matter of fact, #194 served many. YOU are the proponent of duplicate routes, as 194 was there before rail. Again, check out the Times' transportation article comments - a good percentage of the disillusioned have been complaining about the loss of the 194, travel times, etc.

SAFETY
The cars have hit the train, making illegal left-hand turns. And the EIS shows that MLK Way is actually safer with Link trains on it than without because the previous conditions were so dangerous.

This isn't even a point of passion for me. But so long as it's up for debate:

"[I]n 2004, Houston opened a light-rail line that soon earned the name 'Wham-Bam Tram' because it collided with automobiles every four to five days. Running in downtown streets did more to add to congestion than relieve it. Transit systems in both Houston and Minneapolis carried fewer riders in 2004 than 2003, partly because the high cost of the rail lines forced the agencies to curtail bus service. Minneapolis transit recovered in 2005, but Houston did not." (BLP)

"Phoenix opened its $1.4 billion light-rail line for business on Saturday, December, 27. Thousands of people lined up to ride it during the first four days, when it was free. Some riders were treated to a little extra excitement when light-rail trains were involved in several collisions with automobiles. The first accident took place on December 2, when Phoenix Metro was testing the system. The second collision happened on the day after it opened to the public. The car's driver, apparently an illegal alien, fled the scene on foot. But it was the third collision, less than a week later, that raised the most eyebrows. A pickup truck had stopped at a light-rail crossing for a train to go by. After the train passed, the crossing gates lifted, the light turned green, and the pickup tried to cross -- only to be hit by a train going in the other direction. Apparently Metro still has to get the bugs out of its crossing gates."

I've given you nothing but substantive data. You've tried two tactics: obfuscating my numbers ("who cares about transit share"?) and hysterically denying that my numbers are true.

NEXT.

Posted by: chipdouglas on July 22, 2009 10:39 AM
79. "Morons or not, it is not simply a matter of exerting will, but exerting political power.

If there is a better way to identify the transit problems and solutions, non-liberal morons should get busy building a political coalition around it or remain content whining while watching the light rail and buses."

That's hilarious! In essence you are saying, "Not only do we realize that what we created is a pile of sh!t, but we're gonna sit in it and wriggle!"

"Hey, why aintcha in here with us?!"

No thanks, I think I'll stay over here (way over here!)

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 10:52 AM
80. John Jensen - how is light rail going to help congestion on the I-5 route through downtown Seattle?

Posted by: Crusader on July 22, 2009 10:57 AM
81. @80: Tell me, out of all the trips taken in the Puget Sound region, what is the share that uses I-5? And what is the expected share for the light rail line?

And if you tools want to start criticizing public transit, why not start with the ferry system? The Bainbridge ferry is pretty much a direct subsidy to all the folks that commute into Seattle... and given the price of housing on the island, that really doesn't seem like the best place to dump public money.

Posted by: demo kid on July 22, 2009 11:12 AM
82. @79 Alphabet,
If you are fine with the cost and function of the implemented and planned systems, great.
If you are not, then not doing anything ain't going to change anything.

In essence I'm saying 10+ years of whining and not building a coalition for something better brought you (and other complainers) to where you are on light rail.

FYI, effective Jan 2010 the travel cost/reimbursement to and from SEATAC to the office for my employees will be reduced with the light rail.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 11:14 AM
83. What a huge example of the typical Democrat led, big government fiasco. The Puget Sound just isn't geographically compatible with rail. Nor are the spiderweb like myriad of non-corridor cross-commutes that make up today's economy. A far more cost effective plan, would have been to establish better bus routes, bus rapid transit, and tax incentives for corporations and individuals to live closer to where they work. Instead we get these ridiculous years late, and millions short, rail scams that are nothing more than late night show one-liners.

$165 Million per mile, for a toy train without any meaningful method of commuting to, or any meaningful destination. This is where Hope is a substitute for Reason.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 22, 2009 11:43 AM
84. A new website called SeattleLightRail.net shows businesses, parks, churches and libraries (to name a few) near the brand new Seattle Link. With over 275 Locations mapped near Seattle stations, it is a great tool for visitors and commuters.

Posted by: Randy Luethye on July 22, 2009 11:45 AM
85. As have been well demonstrated on this Forum...That Liberals are absolute blind FOOLS! They are the Easy Believing Sucker Class who will not only be Ripped-Off time and time again by the same Scams, programs and tactics, they will also, defend to the Death, those same Scams, programs, tactics and the politicians who are Ripping them off. Such a Deal! They can have all kinds of Truth/Facts, History of similar failures and ongoing failures and it means Nothing to them. The only saving Grace of having Liberals on a Forum, is that it gives opportunity for those who are aware, to do research and provide Great commentary to all readers in rebuking their wrongful positions.

Posted by: Daniel on July 22, 2009 11:47 AM
86. mikeBS

I have been at Soundpolitics and other local sites for the better part of the last ten years advocating in favor of rational and reasonable approaches to transportation management. I and other like-minded folks have found ourselves out-voted by people who voted for systems that they had no intention of utilizing. They voted them in for other people to ride.

If you want to call that "doing nothing" then that's your prerogative. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

The seattle choo-choo is a nice toy but not a practical one, and horribly expensive in the process. By design, it does little to alleviate traffic congestion and actually contributes negatively. As I've indicated, I don't live along the corridor and won't ever ride the damn thing, so my interest is merely academic.

Well, not completely. You see, the same folks who visit misery such as this upon themselves love to visit it upon others as well. I watch for the intrusions because I know that dhimmis can't help but over-reach.

My job is to stop them.

Posted by: Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 11:54 AM
87. @78 chipdouglas on July 22, 2009 10:39 AM,

Regarding the MTA,
The New York city subway is oldest subway in the world opening in 1904, ranks 3rd on the planet in ridership, and is the only subway on the planet open 7x24x365.

Of course it takes money to maintain.
Of course NYC is having trouble finding the money in its budget during the recession.

But you've got to be off your noodle to suggest the New York City subway is not one of the most cost effective mass transportation projects ever imagined, built and maintained.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 12:02 PM
88. @86 Alphabet Soup on July 22, 2009 11:54 AM,

"I have been at Soundpolitics and other local sites for the better part of the last ten years advocating in favor of...."

Blogging ain't political organization.

And therefore it is no surprise that "I and other like-minded folks have found ourselves out-voted" by people who are better and more effective at political organization, and more often than not have better ideas.

BTW... What are the examples of your "rational and reasonable approaches to transportation management"?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 12:11 PM
89. Easy let Sound Transit just franchise the add on routes to Lynnwood, Bellevue, Federal Way and use the franchise fees to set up a maintenance fund for the starter train. With the franchisee paying the big fee they will build quicker than the 13 years phase 1 took and surely start making plenty of money with the projected riders. We'll feel even more world class by then! I am sure at least 5 consortiums will bid on the right of way!

Oh wait the monorail was going to pencil out so it was hauled out and shot (the scope was continually increased to raise the costs to make it unfeasible) and sent to the bottom of the ocean. The Pulitzer Prizes for the investigative journalism went unclaimed on that one.

It is just a trough at which cowards eat and proclaim all is good while they pass us the hemlock.

Posted by: Col. Hogan on July 22, 2009 12:54 PM
90. Rome wasn't built in a day, but thank heaven it was! Cities need to be built for the future, not the present. I am grateful too the the past generations that gave the the interstates. Shame on all of you who do not care to plan for the future generations. Youy are selfish, and only care about what you will get out of it in your life time, for yourself. This is apparant in even the poorly planned roads of Seattle, where everything spirals into a deadend, and does not connect or cannot be extended. While Seattle was riding ponies, other cities set the precedent for mass transit. The NYC subway built and operating in the 1800's, manages to serves MILLIONS of riders today. What foresight!

Posted by: vc on July 22, 2009 01:23 PM
91. The question isn't really "why did Seattle build a transit system."

The real questions should be

"Why did Seattle so greatly overpay for it?"

"What bonehead didn't think about parking?"

"what research showed that people really want to go form downtown to a place in the middle of nowhere in Tukwila instead of to the airport like it should have?"

By asking the wrong question, we allow the bureaucrats to answer in terms of "We need infrastructure." (Well, daaa.)

By asking the right questions, we get to the heart of the problem, which is that Washington State can't seem to do anything at a reasonable cost.

Note that when asked about costs, Bureaucrats will often compare the spending to budgets. That isn't the question we should be asking.

The question is "Why did we so greatly overpay for it?

Is there any doubt in anyones mind that a company like Walt Disney could have build this same kind of system for 50 cents on the dollar based on length? (And has in both California and Florida?)

Why can't our own state government be at least as efficient as a mouse working with only 4 fingers on each hand?

Posted by: johnny on July 22, 2009 01:36 PM
92. 90 vc - yeah but at what cost? You can't have everything, including unlimited welfare state, etc...

Posted by: Crusader on July 22, 2009 01:37 PM
93. 92. Crusader- Unlimited Welfare?? If anything, this project has and will continue to create JOBS, which are sorely needed. I do not understand the connection you have made. Yes, future projects are necessary to build,thank goodness. You aask at what cost- How much does it cost for our officers to monitor drivers trying to get to work so as to issue countless tickets, instead of patrolling, and keeping us safe?

Posted by: vc on July 22, 2009 01:49 PM
94. What all of you who defend the Republican Party fail to appreciate is that Inhoff forked over a pile of federal money and without that money this boondoggle would have withered on the vine.

Posted by: JDH on July 22, 2009 01:57 PM
95. #86, "They voted them in for other people to ride"

Exactly right. Liberal elites like Nickels push mass transit for "other people" to ride. Nickels would wet his pants if he rode the bus into downtown anytime after dark from West Seattle. I know darned well he wouldn't consider it. He'd find his beloved mass transit is full of nasty thugs and dirty crazy people, and there won't be a cop in sight. I'd love to see one of these snotty politicians take their wife out to dinner downtown at night on mass transit. Perhaps they might discover what years of permissive liberalism has done to civilized life.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on July 22, 2009 02:04 PM
96. As I said before, I'm not generally against light rail in concept but with this monster in particular. I'd like Mr. Jensen to address these points:

What Sound Transit first promised in 1996 when voters initially approved funding:

21-25 miles of light rail by 2006, which would carry 107,000 daily riders for a cost of $1.8 billion.

Today (2009), we have 14-15 miles of light rail, which will carry about 26,600 daily riders for $2.3 billion.

They also claimed at the time: "Sound Move is based on extremely conservative cost and ridership assumptions and methodologies reviewed by an independent expert review panel appointed by the governor, the state Legislature and the state Transportation Department."

We are being governed by crooks and criminals who respond only to small, politically connected constituencies who look the other way as this corruption engulfs ever larger amounts our tax dollars and gives back less and less to those who are footing the bill for these "boondoggles" (and I'm being charitable by calling this crap a boondoggle).

Posted by: G Jiggy on July 22, 2009 02:20 PM
97. G Jiggy, Sound Transit's early cost overruns and poor estimates were tragic. Management got fired, and ever since Joni Earl has run the agency (2001) the light rail project has been on-time and under-budget. This first spur was constructed for $100mn less than budgeted in 2001.

Light rail will exceed those ridership estimates and match the length specified once University Link opens.

Voters had a chance to punish Sound Transit last year, but instead they approved a large expansion of light rail across the region. The agency and board made many mistakes in its early years, and I'm not here to defend those mistakes -- but the agency by all accounts seems to be doing much better now.

Posted by: John Jensen on July 22, 2009 02:44 PM
98. @95 Bill Cruchon on July 22, 2009 02:04 PM

"Exactly right. Liberal elites like Nickels push mass transit for "other people" to ride."

Liberal elites or not, of course public transportation is for other people to ride. If everyone MUST drive congestion is terrible for those who need to drive. Bill, that's always a deliberate attempt of mass transit.

Jim can probably give us the cost/benefit of per capita drivers stuck in traffic. :-)

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 03:25 PM
99. I'd rather be stuck in traffic any day than sitting next to some foul smelling crazy person or listening to young criminals shouting in the back of the bus.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on July 22, 2009 03:32 PM
100. @99 Bill Cruchon on July 22, 2009 03:32 PM,

I don't suppose you have ridden on the light rail spur in Tacoma?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on July 22, 2009 03:35 PM
101. @99: Sounds like a typical thread at (u)SP... :)

Posted by: demo kid on July 22, 2009 03:54 PM
102. I'm closing the post, since I have other things to take care of in the next day. (I may reopen it tomorrow afternoon, or start a new thread.)

Posted by: Jim Miller on July 22, 2009 04:40 PM