Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

West Seattle can have mass transit

I've seen some complaints lately that Sound Transit isn't building light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, and I want to address them. First, original Sound Transit long range plan maps do show a Ballard line - it was removed after the Seattle Monorail Project got rolling because it didn't make sense for two agencies to build in one corridor. In the aftermath, you can now see a study of those corridors back on the final Sound Transit 2 map.

In Sound Transit 2, Seattle gets several more stations - Brooklyn, Roosevelt, Northgate, and Jackson Park, as well as a streetcar line. Seattle got the bulk of light rail investment in Sound Move - ten of twelve stations!

Without the balance of investment provided in ST2, Sound Transit wouldn't see the support they do outside of the city core - support they need in order to keep building the system at all.

The size of the ST2/RTID "Roads and Transit" package is already a contentious issue for some. It connects regional centers - which means West Seattle is competing with Tacoma and Bellevue in terms of who gets a line first, out of a limited pot that's coming from people living everywhere from Everett to Dupont. Adding a new line in Seattle would have to be balanced with further investment all around the region - more than voters might be willing to agree to.

As I said in response to the West Seattle Herald's editorial on this issue a few days ago, if we want more mass transit in the city right now, we could create a local agency that isn't having to balance West Seattle against Bellevue.

The Seattle Monorail Project was good in theory - but forcing a particular route and technology limited their flexibility and contributed to their demise. An agency without these shortcomings could fill the void in the next few years.

I want to reiterate: supporting Sound Transit 2 will only make building an in-city line easier as they bring more people throughout the region to mass transit.

A line from West Seattle to downtown won't have strong ridership if users have to ride buses to any other destination - and if ST2 were to fail, the pressure for transit in intercity corridors would only increase, making it harder to fight for local transit funding.

I would love to be involved in a local transit project to serve other in-city corridors - but only after we pass the package on the table now.

<< Home