The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Prop 1 Lite may be opposed by all 3 County Execs

Unsound Transit Ed Note: Prop 1 Lite still costs far too much and achieves far too little, (even less than prop 1, which achieved virtually nothing)

Sound Transit version 2.1

By C.R. Douglas

Imagine this scenario. Sound Transit comes back to ballot this fall with a shortened light rail plan and all three county executives within the voting district oppose it. Wouldn't that make for an interesting campaign season?

It might just happen. Right now, Ron Sims (King), John Ladenburg (Pierce), and Aaron Reardon (Snohomish) have grave reservations about Sound Transit's scaled-back proposal, which would extend the line up to Northgate and across the Interstate 90 floating bridge to the Eastside suburbs. Sims favors buses to the Eastside instead of rail, and Ladenburg and Reardon don't think the reduced plan does enough for their communities.

The agency has until mid-April to formally adopt a ballot plan. It seems poised to do so despite the county executives' opposition.

And what about the local Sierra Club, one of the notable opponents of last fall's mammoth roads-and-transit proposal? "We're still considering it," says Mike O'Brien, the organization's chair. He says his group wants an analysis of the greenhouse gas effects of the shortened plan before it signs on. He sounds reasonably encouraged, however.

O'Brien spoke on a transportation panel I moderated on Thursday, March 20, sponsored by Friends of Seattle. Other panelists were Rob Johnson of Transportation Choices, Jan Drago of the Seattle City Council, and Greg Walker of Sound Transit.

Clearly, it was a transit-oriented lineup, and they were all from King County. It was therefore predictable that they felt the most important thing right now is the scaled-back Sound Transit plan. Still, there was other notable agreement that could prove a path forward after last fall's roads-and-transit defeat, one with broad buy-in. The elements of the strategy are:

* Keep the Sound Transit agency as is.

* Send the roads piece back to the state (not back to the ballot).

* Move full-speed ahead with tolling.

In other words, re-commit to transit as a regional responsibility; demand action from the state on roads; and tap tolls instead of the unpopular sales and license taxes as the primary source of revenue. Not a bad roadmap, all things considered.

But what makes them all think that the state, which got us into the roads mess with years of inaction, is up to the job? The panelists cite a recent change in leadership at the Department of Transportation. Also, the new culture of creating stakeholder groups for the large projects to hammer out more acceptable plans. The recent success at reaching consensus on rebuilding Highway 520 encourage them all. The governor just announced a proposal for the aging bridge that was agreed to by a number of constituents, including Microsoft and Bellevue, two behemoths that haven't been on board past 520 designs.

We'll never be Portland, which is everyone's favorite example of regional planning, but we may be on the verge of a new vision.

Crosscut readers comments

pricing vs rail
by: dfp on Mar 21, 2008 1:54 PM
"The elements of the strategy are:

* Keep the Sound Transit agency as is.

* Send the roads piece back to the state (not back to the ballot).

* Move full-speed ahead with tolling.


If you "mobility price" even one freeway lane each way, then that lane will remain in free-flow 24/7, even at the height of rush hours. At which point, what is the point of rail?

- Bus Rapid Transit, where it unloads and loads passengers "off line" (off the right of way), has more capacity by far than rail.
- Assuming you start with existing HOV lanes, BRT is cheaper than rail by about an order of magnitude, and thus about ten times the high-capacity right of way can be installed for any given budget.
- And it can be put in place now, not decades from now.

BART-style heavy rail would have been a good deal for this region thirty years ago when the federal government was willing to pay for most of it, but times have changed. So now it's time to change the "operating system" of the HOV lanes and run hybrid/bio-diesel express buses (and vanpools) down them at 50 to 60 mph every few minutes. BRT on HOT

That way we could be the first American metro region to implement a 21st century transit system, not the last to implement a 19th century one.

Blight Rail
Report a violationPosted by: on Mar 21, 2008 4:17 PM
the 'solution' that the construction unions, seattle socalists and non-responsive governmental agencies love to foster !

a 'solution' that over 90 % of the region will never use, the commercial sector can't use and the regions gangs will love to use late at night to further foster their spread into the suburbs.

how can Crosscut possibly justify giving any credibility to the 'california club''s input on this waist, as if this out of state club merits any say when, in fact, the same 'organization' is up to its CO2 eyeballs trying to explain the 'global warming' grift it has been pushing ! ?

It is Now - Or Never - For Sound Transit
Report a violationPosted by: Tarl on Mar 21, 2008 8:01 PM

The three county executives actually agree on something? Do each of them know they appear to be on the same side of a question? That's usually enought to scare one of them to the other side. Are they talking together again? Who knew?

If Sound Transit can't make it on to the ballot in 08 it'll be all the evidence needed for most people to get behind the type of governance reform Sound Transit's Board hates. And then it will surely be four more years before anybody does much of anything but posture and yack, yack, yack.

More than anything, people are sick of delay and indecision. Olympia has already delayed by two years the type of regional transit measure people want to vote for.

Up or down in 08! Or change the players and take the Executives out of the game completely with new elected leadership. If they can't agree on a package, they're the wrong people to be involved in this. More impass is no option

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