What’s Wrong with Sound Transit 3

Seattle Times article

How telling that ST3 would build as many miles of rail as DC to serve 50% fewer daily riders. The article doesn’t mention this, but the proposal would extend Sounder (commuter rail) service in the south from Lakewood to Dupont, and it would lengthen platforms to accommodate longer trains. But it wouldn’t go to Olympia, it wouldn’t try sending any trains *through* downtown Seattle, and it adds no trips to move toward all-day Sounder service.

Everett light rail makes no sense. Tacoma light rail makes no sense. The $5 billion Ballard tunnel is a ludicrous boondoggle that bypasses Fremont and Seattle Pacific University. The Ballard Spur is missing even though it’s cheaper, faster, and would carry more riders. I don’t know why West Seattle’s line would end at Alaska Junction, though I predicted it wouldn’t serve White Center or Burien. More car-based park and ride stations, no Burien-Renton crosstown line, no Kirkland (though I know local officials and ST are fighting there), no Denny Way subway to unclog that mess. I can support the short extension of East Link to downtown Redmond.

This is the wrong modes the wrong way in the wrong places. It’s a ridiculous amount of money ($50 billion!!!) that takes 25 years–if their predictions hold (they’ve had 2 big failures here)–to deliver what it promises. I would be 65 when it’s complete. It wastes precious infrastructure investment to serve far-flung areas where people will drive to stations and leave trains empty half the time–it won’t increase walkability or improve bike conditions, it won’t increase transit use much for the cost, and it won’t reduce car dependence. It doesn’t create a comprehensive urban rail network at all.

An MVET (motor vehicle excise tax) increase is fine, but further sales tax increases just pour salt in the wound of our mostregressiveinAmerica tax system. Sales tax in Seattle would be 10.1%. The poorest 20% of us are already paying 17% of our incomes in sales tax (higher than federal income tax), while the rich pay 4%. Seniors are fed up with high property taxes forcing them out of their homes. It’s not as bad as sales tax, but it’s not progressive. And they have authorization for other funding sources that would be more progressive and better for the environment like an employee hours tax (which Seattle repealed in 2009 as Tim Burgess pandered to Joe Mallahan).

There’s almost nothing to like here. It’s better than a stick in the eye, though that would be a comparative bargain. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.


UPDATE: The Ballard extension would NOT serve Belltown, where we’ve built a massive amount of tall, dense development. And the package would build the horrible new “transit center” Renton wants at a highway interchange (I-405 & SR-167) instead of breathing life back into their downtown.


Pedestrians are 10th Class Citizens in Seattle!

A huge truck barely missed hitting me when I was crossing Pine St. on the west side of 1st Ave in the marked crosswalk with the light. I called SPD which will be a huge mistake as they’ll let the driver go and imprison me. No one ever cares about these incidents including the current Ped Board. This is exactly why we must ban right turns on red. The Ped Master Plan called for that in 2008, but our politicians aren’t willing to do it. So we keep dying and getting injured on the street. I guess it was brain stem instinct–I really should’ve just let him kill me. The officers have “discretion” once they talk to me to decide whether to cite the driver. We know they won’t. They live in the suburbs and love cars but hate cyclists and pedestrians.

Pedestrian Outrage

On September 26, 2014, a woman was killed crossing the street in Federal Way. This is a satellite view of the area where it happened. The road has sidewalks on both sides and looks newly paved, but based on Google’s street view, far too little street lighting for pedestrians. It’s also 5 lanes wide in most of the area. King County Metro route 181 runs twice an hour all day here (serving the Federal Way park & ride, which is an important regional transit connection), and the woman was crossing the street eastbound at 6:30am (before sunrise)–perhaps from home to the bus stop. Police said the victim was killed crossing outside a crosswalk in the 32200 block of 21st Ave SW, but I’ve mapped the distance between marked crosswalks in the area, and it’s more than 1/3 mile (~7 minute walk for the average person). I don’t know if the driver was speeding or had their lights on. Poverty is more common in America’s suburbs than cities now, but we haven’t redesigned them to make them safe for poorer people, who are less likely to own cars. This part of Federal Way is clearly designed for cars and not people, even with an all-day bus route serving it. The housing along 21st Ave SW needs better pedestrian connections to the arterial. It seems to me it needs more street lighting (lower to the ground instead of 30 feet up) and some kind of pedestrian crossing improvement (flashing yellow light? actuated signal?) at SW 322nd St. Walking should never be lethal.