Citizen Petition No. 1 establishes a new city transportation authority to study another monorail proposal.
I was all in favor of the previous monorail proposal that got started and then later shot down at the polls due to a concern over how much it would cost. I am not in favor of this. Here are my reasons.
We had a shot at a monorail, and this proposal doesn’t bring a new idea to the table. It focuses on West Seattle to Ballard, which is already being studied by Sound Transit, and it doesn’t include other possible corridors.
Sound Transit Light Rail is up and running, soI’d rather we focus on expanding light rail to new neighborhoods. Sound Transit itself is an organization with a track record of completing new segments early and under budget, though with a long time frame and large budget.
The proposition is the brainchild of Elizabeth Campbell, who has a history of half-baked activism. The organization that put this on the ballot couldn’t get it’s ballot statement submitted on time. Putting them in charge of a new transportation authority is a recipe for failure.
The folks at Seattle Transit Blog are public transportation wonks, and Seattle Transit Blog opposes the monorail measure. These are the most extreme pro-transit people with a platform in Seattle, with knowledge to back that up, not some conservative road-happy developers.
This proposition pisses me off for two reasons. The first is that we have to even have to vote for it at all. The Washington State Legislature has failed for years to give King County the authority to fund Metro in a sustainable fashion. So now we’re stuck with two options: cut Metro service by huge amounts or use regressive sales and vehicle taxes to fund it. While the latter option sucks, it’s better than cutting bus service. The second reason is that we aren’t using 100% of the proceeds to pay for bus service. We’re using 40% of it for roads. Theoretically, road maintenance rather than construction. But still, Metro needs the money.
So here’s what happens if we pass it on the revenue side: a sales tax of 0.1% and $60 dollar vehicle tab fee ($20 more than current fees), with a $20 rebate for poor people. On the expense side: $80 million per year for Metro which will stave off cutting 5 dozen routes completely and reducing service on tens of others. $50 million goes toward maintaining roads and road safety.
The anti-proposition 1 side says Metro needs to cut costs first. Metro has already cut $130 million in annual costs. Really what these people are pissed about is that poor people who ride buses are getting a freebie. That’s what they think, that transit riders are getting a subsidy while respectable drivers aren’t etting one. Never mind that they already have huge road subsidies.
I have a car. I am happy to pay the $60, and I won’t get the subsidy. But I also ride the bus. Metro service is more convenient than driving much of the time, and necessary for many people. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions over driving. It reduces congestion for cars. There are all sorts of benefits from bus service. We need Metro. It’s as simple as that.
The Sound Transit Board passed Resolution No. R2008-11 concerning an expansion of mass transit. This measure would expand and coordinate light-rail, commuter-rail, and (beginning 2009) express bus service, and improve access to transit facilities in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, and authorize Sound Transit to impose an additional five-tenths of one percent sales and use tax, and to use existing taces to fund the local share of the $17.9 billion estimated cost (includes construction, operations, maintenance, interest and inflation), with independent audits, as described in Resolution R2008-11 and the Mass Transit Guide. Should this measure be approved?
I would dearly love to see them pick better neighborhoods to serve. Rainier Valley was good choice. West Seattle, Ballard, Bellevue, Lake City, the Aurora corridor, and other places would have been better. Nevertheless, buses aren’t the answer. And we’re not getting a monorail. So light rail it is. One light rail train can carry far more passengers than a host of cars. Seattle will never be a world-class city without this. It will spur economic growth along the rail lines. It will reduce congestion. It will give us a lot without taking anything away except a little bit of money temporarily.