maggie-fimiaI’m passing on information about Sound Transit’s $54 billion proposal on the November 8th ballot. While the topic could easily fill up a three day workshop, the bottom line is that while we absolutely need more and better transit, continuing to build light rail actually puts us further behind our abiity to serve more communities, reduce sprawl, reduce greenhouse gases and stop the incredible growth in soul killing traffic congestion.

Five facts and a few prominent supporters of the NoST3 position along with links for more information:

1. Yes, the region is on track to get about 800,000 – 1,000,000 more people by 2040 – How many of those people will get out of their cars and onto transit by 2040?
According to Sound Transit – from a letter to elected officials dated July 22,2016 – there will only be “64,000 new transit trips taken by new riders/day.” That’s about 32,000 new riders.  We get the 32,000 by the generous assumption that those folks just take 2 trips by transit. This plan has always been about just moving people off of buses and onto trains – leaving many people still on buses stuck in traffic.

2. Light Rail is called that because of capacity not weight – it can never be more than 4 cars long and is not the same technology as systems like BART or the Paris Metro. It has to stop at every station – express bus service goes away and there is no express light rail service. This is a technology that is only meant for dense urban cores. The private sector who greatly benefits from building these very expensive systems – have co-opted transit in our city and others – millions of dollars are spent on slick advertising to sell us this notion that we are getting “fast, reliable, mass transit.”

3. This does absolutely nothing to address congestion – the 1996 Sound Move Plan bumper sticker read “Traffic Jammed?” The same message was used in 2008 when the region passed ST2 and is used again to imply that millions of people will be using this everyday – “Light rail can carry up to 16,000 people an hour vs. 2000 cars per highway lane,” is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

  • Capacity is not the same as number of actual riders
  • This is “crush” capacity – unheard of for light rail
  • Compared with one person per car. No buses, no carpools
  • Buses in dedicated lanes can carry far more people than light rail and can be ramped up to meet demand

4. This is not an accountable or transparent agency. I’m happy to give you several examples, but the most important one is that the Sound Transit Board appointed Tim Eyman to the committee to write the “con” statement in the voters’ pamphlet – against the wishes of the official NoST3 campaign. The Board took two of the campaign’s people off and put Tim Eyman on – hoping to turn off voters who don’t like his initiatives. He has never been a part of the bipartisan, broad based campaign coalition.

5. We are “on track” to build 50 miles of light rail by 2023. The Sound Move Ten Year Plan we passed (and I voted for) in 1996 is still not done – they have renamed different segments and changed costs and dates so they can claim “on time and under budget.” The fine print in the voters’ pamphlet (section 2 paragraph 3) gives the ST Board authority to change the plan – and also use ST3 funds to pay for Sound Move projects or ST2 projects. They have a 50% contingency in this $54 billion proposal – because there is not a detailed plan.

NoST3 campaign supporters include:

  • Superintendent Randy Dorn
  • Mike Lonergan – Treasurer-Assessor of Pierce County
  • Phil Talmadge – former state legislator and Supreme Court Judge
  • Sen. Maralyn Chase, Democrat, 32nd District
  • Chuck Collins, former manager of Metro
  • Toby Nixon, President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government

Here are some links for more info:

  1. Why I’m voting no on ST3 – “transit supporter and self identified bleeding heart liberal.”
  2. Outside City Hall – Vote No on ST3 – blog by Seattle Displacement Coalition about ST3.
  3. Seattle Times endorses NoST3 position
  4. Smarter Transit – education/advocacy – much more info including links to SoundTransit Revealed – treasure trove of data- Mark Ahlers has done the research so you don’t have to.
  5. People for Smarter Transit – NoST3 coalition running campaign – see tax calculator to find out how much this actually will cost you. (they really liked our name)
  6. Smarter Transit Facebook page – many articles from around region, country and world regarding these issues.

And while he is not endorsing the NoST3 position, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat from Seattle publicly stated that, “As a state legislator I cannot in good conscience support an inequitable and unstable financing plan…that I believe will have substantial negative implications for public education in the years to come.” Publicola 8.11.16 He is also the one that said “It consumes the oxygen in the room.” March 24, 2016 Seattle Times . It is not a zero sum game. We can’t have it all – or give it all to this unelected board.