Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Seattle Times tops itself again with dishonest anti-light rail editorial

The Seattle Times editorial page, which isn't worth the paper it's printed on (as Andrew has documented) is once again disgraced with false information in a second no on Proposition 1 (Roads & Transit) editorial.

The Times editorial board's big problem with Roads & Transit is the heart of the package - Sound Transit's light rail project, which it despises with a passion.

Rather than fisk the whole editorial (which you can read for yourself if you have a few minutes to waste) I'm going to make a few key points that refute the Times' blatantly dishonest assertions.

The Times says Roads & Transit is a waste because of the light rail expansion. It praises "buses with dedicated lanes and more-frequent service, van pools, bike lanes, flex hours, congestion pricing, traffic-signal alignment and, here and there, more road lanes." But almost all of these types of projects are in the package. What is clear is that for the Times, light rail is a deal-breaker, no matter what other transportation improvements are included with it.

That's how much the editorial board despises rail.

It's Kemper-style loathing.

We've been saying for months - and we'll say it again - that an effective, useful rapid transit network needs a rail backbone. We need a high capacity, high powered system that can move huge amounts of people reliably and quickly through our clogged corridors. Light rail is that system.

If I live in Federal Way today, I might take Interstate 5 to Seneca Street in Seattle, then take Seneca to 5th and on to my job a Columbia Center. With light rail, I could board a high speed train to Seattle and walk to my job once I arrive in downtown. If I don't live that close to the station, I could bike there or take the bus. Light rail is our ticket to a reliable commute.

The Times whines about the sales tax as a funding mechanism. Opponents have been tacking that on to the end of their dishonest attacks against the package for months. It is true that the sales tax is regressive and somewhat unstable. But tax reform is a matter for Olympia to take care of.

If the Times would like to see regressive taxes like this eliminated, it should advocate for their repeal during the legislative session. I’ll be waiting with baited breath for the Seattle Times to support an income tax, but I think I’ll be waiting for a while.

The Times says that "our third reason for opposing Proposition 1 is that so much of the light-rail investment goes to places that even the supporters of light rail privately agree make no sense. That includes the segment from Sea-Tac Airport to Tacoma, and from Northgate more than halfway to Everett." Baloney!

That's a complete and utter falsehood. Sound Transit is building light rail north and south from Seattle because I-5 is one of the region's most congested corridors. Ever try to get from Seattle to Lynnwood during rush hour? Or get to Tacoma? It can be a nightmare. Light rail will take cars off the road and give us a choice.

Opponents have argued that light rail is just for Seattle, and now they complain that building it out to Tacoma (and hitting several major population centers along the way) is a waste. Well, which is it?

The Times also wrongly claims East Link will reduce capacity on the I-90 floating bridge, which is untrue. Two HOV lanes would be added to the bridge to replace the express lanes, which will be converted for light rail.

Light rail carries more people then 1, 2, or even 3 freeway lanes. It's equivalent to an entire highway. Just look at this visual posted by Will at HorsesAss, which provides a nice comparison.

If you get the Seattle Times delivered to your home, remember that the editorial page makes an excellent liner for your birdcage or tinder for your next campout.


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