NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Tim Eyman reveals that his old buddy Kemper Freeman Jr. is bankrolling I‑1125

When Tim Eyman announced a few weeks ago that he would be attempt­ing to qual­i­fy a mea­sure for this year’s bal­lot, we were imme­di­ate­ly sure that he had con­vinced some­body to put up a lot of cash to hire mer­ce­nary peti­tion­ers (because Tim does­n’t do vol­un­teer sig­na­ture dri­ves). On May 1st, I wrote the fol­low­ing:

As for Eyman’s ini­tia­tive, I‑1125, it’s dead on arrival unless Eyman has found a wealthy bene­fac­tor to fund it. Maybe his bud­dy Kem­per Free­man, Jr. agreed to give him half a mil­lion bucks. Or maybe Michael Dun­mire has agreed to resume fill­ing Eyman’s cof­fers with cash. We’ll know soon enough.

As it turns out, NPI was cor­rect on every sin­gle count.

A few weeks ago, we learned that Eyman’s old sug­ar dad­dy Michael Dun­mire had made a $100,000 con­tri­bu­tion to Eyman’s per­son­al com­pen­sa­tion fund (Help Us Help Tax­pay­ers). Eyman sub­se­quent­ly trans­ferred this mon­ey to his cam­paign com­mit­tee (Vot­ers Want More Choic­es).

Now, Dun­mire’s con­tri­bu­tion may have been made to help Eyman reduce his debt (Dun­mire pre­vi­ous­ly wrote checks to can­cel out Eyman’s loans for I‑985 and I‑1033) but it’s pos­si­ble Eyman tem­porar­i­ly used the mon­ey to jump­start the I‑1125 sig­na­ture dri­ve. If that’s the case, then Dun­mire’s mon­ey has been indi­rect­ly prop­ping up I‑1125, even if it was intend­ed to erase some of the I‑1053 debt.

Today, we learned that the real bankroll for I‑1125 is Eyman’s oth­er bud­dy, the guy who owns the Belle­vue Col­lec­tion and has been doing every­thing he can to destroy Sound Tran­sit’s East Link project: Kem­per Free­man Jr.

Hours ago, Eyman pur­pose­ly pre­empt­ed his own trea­sur­er’s report for May to the PDC and announced that Kem­per recent­ly made a dona­tion of — and no, I’m not jok­inghalf a mil­lion bucks to the I‑1125 effort.

So that analy­sis from May 1st was real­ly spot on.

And just to be clear, we did­n’t know who was behind I‑1125 (or what the amounts of the checks that had been writ­ten were) before I wrote that post. (It’s not like Tim Eyman ever calls us to fill us in on what he’s up to).

It was sim­ply an edu­cat­ed guess, based on years and years of expe­ri­ence. NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense has been watch­dog­ging Eyman for years.

When he makes an announce­ment, we’re pret­ty good at inter­pret­ing and pars­ing the mean­ing. We took the unveil­ing of I‑1125 to mean that Eyman had found some­body to fund a sig­na­ture dri­ve. We were cor­rect.

Today’s news destroys any last bit of doubt peo­ple might have had about I‑1125 mak­ing the bal­lot. We’ve known for some time that the sig­na­ture dri­ve is hap­pen­ing and that Eyman had the cash lined up to make it suc­cess­ful.

So, once again, we’ll have a Tim Eyman ini­tia­tive to work against this autumn. Hav­ing to deal with these schemes is get­ting pret­ty old.

And unfor­tu­nate­ly, there’s no end in sight. As long as Tim Eyman can pay to play, and as long as he has friends with deep pock­ets, he’ll have some­thing on the bal­lot. Year after year after year. Not since the 1990s has there been a spring when Tim Eyman was­n’t try­ing to qual­i­fy an ini­tia­tive for the Novem­ber bal­lot.

That’s how long he has been in busi­ness.

It’s time the pro­gres­sive move­ment in this state dis­card­ed the pre­tense that he will some­day go away, and start­ed putting into place mean­ing­ful infra­struc­ture to com­bat his destruc­tive ini­tia­tives. What we do through Per­ma­nent Defense is impor­tant, but it’s not enough. PD is only meant to be a first line of defense.

Our com­mon wealth and our plan of gov­ern­ment will always be threat­ened as long as Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry is run­ning. We need to make stop­ping Tim’s ini­tia­tives a top pri­or­i­ty that we think about and work towards year-round.

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5 Comments

  1. Good morn­ing: You call your­selves the NW Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. I also call myself a Pro­gres­sive. The dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tion for pro­gres­sive means “favor­ing progress or reform.” There is no par­ti­san mean­ing of the word.

    Sup­port­ing light rail is by def­i­n­i­tion a regres­sive pol­i­cy. The pri­vate auto­mo­bile replaced pub­lic tran­sit 100 years ago. By sup­port­ing mass tran­sit, you are by def­i­n­i­tion regres­sives.

    That is why I no longer vote Demo­c­rat. Like Kem­per Free­man, I favor progress in region­al trans­porta­tion. We need more free­way lanes in order to increase vehi­cle speeds. This increas­es gas mileage and decreas­es our depen­dence on for­eign oil. It also saves com­muters hours of time each week, when we could be work­ing or spend­ing time with their fam­i­lies.

    There­fore, by def­i­n­i­tion any­one like myself who favors increas­ing our free­way lanes, and using gas tax­es exclu­sive­ly for this pur­pose, is pro­gres­sive. Any­one who favors not build­ing more lanes, or even remov­ing them and replac­ing them with 19th cen­tu­ry trains is regres­sive, by the dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tion.

    I think it is time for a pro­gres­sive par­ty (encom­pass­ing folks who think like myself), to com­pete with the Demo­c­rat, Repub­li­can, Lib­er­tar­i­an, Green, and Tea par­ties, nei­ther of whom I would ever give a dime to.

    When­ev­er I am stuck in traf­fic, I look to the side of the free­way to see how many new lanes could be built. I’ve done this my entire life. That’s because I favor progress. That’s because I’m a pro­gres­sive.

    Light rail will only reduce vehi­cle trips by 5%, as esti­mat­ed by the Puget Sound Region­al Coun­cil and Vision 2040. In con­trast, just 6% more vehi­cle lanes will decrease con­ges­tion by 36%. You can read more about this from the engi­neer­ing stud­ies of Dr. William Eager and oth­ers.

    I have post­ed some of these along with Kem­per Free­man’s video on my web page. These traf­fic stud­ies are from expe­ri­enced Civ­il Engi­neers, not urban plan­ners. They will play a key role in the I‑1125 elec­tion this fall.

    You may review and let me know if you agree that build­ing more free­way lanes, and decreas­ing time stuck in traf­fic, is a pro­gres­sive idea. You may let me know if you think that light rail is a regres­sive idea, since as Kem­per and Dr. Eager explain, it will do noth­ing to solve con­ges­tion. The evi­dence is clear that Grid­lock will get sig­nif­i­cant­ly worse with mass tran­sit, and get 36% bet­ter with only 6% more free­way lanes.

    # by Tom Lane :: June 11th, 2011 at 6:05 AM
    • Hi Tom… Thanks for stop­ping by. Your com­ment is one of the more enter­tain­ing I’ve read in a long time, because you sound exact­ly like a lib­er­tar­i­an, but here, you are call­ing your­self a pro­gres­sive — and sug­gest­ing that we are not. That would make about as much sense as if any of us went to a right wing web­site and left a com­ment claim­ing to be a real con­ser­v­a­tive.

      On your own web­site — which you linked to and encour­aged oth­er read­ers to vis­it — you actu­al­ly admit that you are nei­ther con­ser­v­a­tive nor pro­gres­sive because you share both world­views:

      I am an Inde­pen­dent, and gen­er­al­ly con­ser­v­a­tive and “Neolib­er­al” on eco­nom­ic issues, and very lib­er­al on social issues (i.e. I val­ue eth­nic diver­si­ty, reli­gious free­dom, wom­ens’ rights, gay rights, and nation­al health care). I am also an envi­ron­men­tal­ist, favor­ing pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions that pur­chase land for pur­pos­es of build­ing hik­ing and moun­tain bike trails. I have very lit­tle in com­mon with today’s Democ­rats, Repub­li­cans, and Lib­er­tar­i­ans.

      You say you are not a lib­er­tar­i­an — and maybe you don’t iden­ti­fy as one — but lib­er­tar­i­ans hold con­ser­v­a­tive views on eco­nom­ic issues and lib­er­al posi­tions on social issues. It’s that mix­ture of views that makes lib­er­tar­i­an­ism its own dis­tinct ide­ol­o­gy.

      Pro­gres­sives strong­ly sup­port mass tran­sit because mass tran­sit gives peo­ple a choice, a way to get around with­out a car. As George Lakoff and the Rock­ridge Insti­tute stat­ed in Think­ing Points, we believe that every­body should have access to tran­sit, so they are not forced to dri­ve to get to where they want to go:

      Tran­sit for all means expand­ing and improv­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion at the local, region­al, and fed­er­al lev­els. It means invest­ing in bus and light rail in urban areas to cre­ate clean, con­ve­nient, reli­able, and acces­si­ble webs of trans­porta­tion. It means invest­ing in high speed rail, to move peo­ple, goods, and ser­vices from city to city. Mov­ing with­in urban cores and con­nect­ing urban and sub­ur­ban hubs, these webs would extend to all auto-dense areas.

      Tran­sit for all is about val­ues. Improv­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion is about giv­ing all Amer­i­cans the free­dom of equal access to social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties that enhance our qual­i­ty of life. Invest­ing in alter­na­tive trans­porta­tion is using the com­mon wealth for the com­mon good. It is an expan­sion of free­dom, cre­at­ing more diverse trans­porta­tion.

      Cities and regions that dis­man­tled their pub­lic tran­sit sys­tems decades ago at the behest of car and oil com­pa­nies have come to the real­iza­tion that they made a very cost­ly mis­take. If they had kept their street­cars, as San Fran­cis­co did, they would­n’t need to be spend­ing so much mon­ey now to lay rail.

      I’m not sure how much com­mut­ing you do dur­ing rush hour, Tom, but if you’ve tried to get around this region in a car dur­ing rush hour, you have undoubt­ed­ly noticed that you can’t get any­where fast.

      That’s because so many peo­ple are dri­ving at the same time. Because our tran­sit sys­tem isn’t as good as it should be, many peo­ple have no oth­er way to get to and from work except by car. So they dri­ve. And the result is grid­lock. Too many peo­ple try­ing to get some­where at the same time.

      Build­ing more lanes on our high­ways will only make con­ges­tion worse. As the authors of Sub­ur­ban Nation explain:

      The sim­ple truth is that build­ing more high­ways and widen­ing exist­ing roads, almost always moti­vat­ed by con­cern over traf­fic, does noth­ing to reduce traf­fic. In the long run, in fact, it increas­es traf­fic. This rev­e­la­tion is so coun­ter­in­tu­itive that it bears repeat­ing: adding lanes makes traf­fic worse.

      This para­dox was sus­pect­ed as ear­ly as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the high­ways he had built around New York City in 1939 were some­how gen­er­at­ing greater traf­fic prob­lems than had exist­ed pre­vi­ous­ly.

      Since then, the phe­nom­e­non has been well doc­u­ment­ed, most notably in 1989, when the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Asso­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ments con­clud­ed that traf­fic assis­tance mea­sures, be they adding lanes, or even dou­ble-deck­ing the road­ways, would have no more than a cos­met­ic effect on Los Ange­les’ traf­fic prob­lems. The best it could offer was to tell peo­ple to work clos­er to home, which is pre­cise­ly what high­way build­ing mit­i­gates against.

      Fur­ther­more:

      The mech­a­nism at work behind induced traf­fic is ele­gant­ly explained by an apho­rism gain­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty among traf­fic engi­neers: “Try­ing to cure traf­fic con­ges­tion by adding more capac­i­ty is like try­ing to cure obe­si­ty by loos­en­ing your belt.” Increased traf­fic capac­i­ty makes longer com­mutes less bur­den­some, and as a result, peo­ple are will­ing to live far­ther and far­ther from their work­place.

      Build­ing more lanes is thus a com­plete waste of mon­ey. It will make con­ges­tion worse, not bet­ter.

      The only way to effec­tive­ly reduce con­ges­tion is to give peo­ple options so they are not forced to dri­ve. Few­er solo dri­vers means less grid­lock. This is what light rail is all about: Giv­ing peo­ple a choice.

      When Uni­ver­si­ty Link is com­plet­ed in 2016, it will be pos­si­ble to go from down­town to the Uni­ver­si­ty Dis­trict in just a few min­utes, no mat­ter what the weath­er or traf­fic is like. I‑5 could be com­plete­ly and hope­less­ly grid­locked, and still, some­body tak­ing Link light rail will be able to go from West­lake Cen­ter to Husky Sta­di­um in less than ten min­utes.

      Peo­ple will leave their cars behind and hap­pi­ly choose rail tran­sit if it takes them where they want to go. Many solo dri­vers say they would use light rail if it only served their com­mu­ni­ty. When we expand Link, it will serve more com­mu­ni­ties, and more peo­ple will be able to ride it. I am look­ing for­ward to the day when I can step onto the train and be in Seat­tle in less than a half hour.

      The sta­tis­tics that you offered in your com­ment are worth­less because they don’t reflect real­i­ty. We know that build­ing more lanes will not make con­ges­tion bet­ter, because it’s been tried in places like Atlanta and Los Ange­les.

      Pro­gres­sives believe strong­ly that peo­ple should have choic­es. Spend­ing mon­ey only on high­ways and forc­ing peo­ple to dri­ve is not the Amer­i­can way. We owe it to our­selves to invest in more mass tran­sit.

      # by Andrew :: June 11th, 2011 at 11:52 AM
  2. Hi Andrew … Thanks for your com­ments … You wrote:

    “Hi Tom… Your com­ment is one of the more enter­tain­ing I’ve read in a long time, because you sound exact­ly like a lib­er­tar­i­an, but here, you are call­ing your­self a pro­gres­sive – and sug­gest­ing that we are not.”

    Indeed, 90% of what you find on the net crit­i­cal of “smart growth” and “light rail” is from Lib­er­tar­i­ans and Repub­li­cans. How­ev­er, I am an Inde­pen­dent with pro­gres­sive view­points, and not a Lib­er­tar­i­an, since I favor nation­al health care, stronger anti-pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tions, and tax cred­its for elec­tric cars and pas­sive solar, etc. etc.

    How­ev­er, I am NOT sug­gest­ing that you are NOT a pro­gres­sive. You and I prob­a­bly agree on more that we dis­agree, since we are both pro­gres­sives. Yet on light rail, we just dis­agree over whether or not build­ing more free­way lanes is a “pro­gres­sive” con­cept or not.

    Mov­ing beyond these def­i­n­i­tions, you con­tin­ue:

    “Pro­gres­sives strong­ly sup­port mass tran­sit because mass tran­sit gives peo­ple a choice, a way to get around with­out a car.”

    I’m all for build­ing sev­er­al trans­porta­tion net­works at the same time, and giv­ing peo­ple a choice. How­ev­er, in con­trast to you, I also favor more free­way lanes. And, it’s clear from the Puget Sound Region­al Coun­cil that light rail is not cost effec­tive, since it will only take 5% of all trips by 2040. So, instead of light rail, I’d love to see more bus­es, along with bus rapid tran­sit, bike lanes, and grav­el bike paths.

    There­fore, light rail is not the only option. It has been giv­en too much atten­tion by the media, where­as these oth­er meth­ods have not been well pub­li­cized.

    And regard­ing region­al grid­lock, you write:

    “Build­ing more lanes on our high­ways will only make con­ges­tion worse.”

    Accord­ing to Dr. William Eager PhD — civ­il engi­neer — a 6% increase in free­way lanes will DECREASE con­ges­tion by 36% (from the link above). He’s the engi­neer, so I trust his num­bers.

    You wrote:

    “The sim­ple truth is that build­ing more high­ways and widen­ing exist­ing roads, almost always moti­vat­ed by con­cern over traf­fic, does noth­ing to reduce traf­fic. In the long run, in fact, it increas­es traf­fic. This rev­e­la­tion is so coun­ter­in­tu­itive that it bears repeat­ing: adding lanes makes traf­fic worse.”

    How can adding more lanes make traf­fic worse, when you are increas­ing the ratio of pave­ment, to the total foot­print of all the cars on the road?

    “This para­dox was sus­pect­ed as ear­ly as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the high­ways he had built around New York City in 1939 were some­how gen­er­at­ing greater traf­fic prob­lems than had exist­ed pre­vi­ous­ly.”

    Do you have a ref­er­ence for this? and also this?

    “Since then, the phe­nom­e­non has been well doc­u­ment­ed, most notably in 1989, when the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Asso­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ments con­clud­ed that traf­fic assis­tance mea­sures, be they adding lanes, or even dou­ble-deck­ing the road­ways, would have no more than a cos­met­ic effect.….”

    Fur­ther­more:

    “When Uni­ver­si­ty Link is com­plet­ed in 2016, it will be pos­si­ble to go from down­town to the Uni­ver­si­ty Dis­trict in just a few min­utes, no mat­ter what the weath­er or traf­fic is like. I‑5 could be com­plete­ly and hope­less­ly grid­locked, and still, some­body tak­ing Link light rail will be able to go from West­lake Cen­ter to Husky Sta­di­um in less than ten min­utes.”

    Yes indeed, note that Dr. Eager’s plan calls for two more lanes in each direc­tion on I‑5, from Lake­wood to near Everett.

    “Peo­ple will leave their cars behind and hap­pi­ly choose rail tran­sit if it takes them where they want to go. Many solo dri­vers say they would use light rail if it only served their com­mu­ni­ty. When we expand Link, it will serve more com­mu­ni­ties, and more peo­ple will be able to ride it.”

    The prob­lem is low pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty at about 2500 per­sons per square mile in the Puget Sound area. There are not enough peo­ple con­cen­trat­ed near light rail lines. The puget sound region­al coun­cil says that just 5% of all trips will be com­plet­ed by light rail in 2040.

    “I am look­ing for­ward to the day when I can step onto the train and be in Seat­tle in less than a half hour.”

    And, I would look for­ward to the same time frame, but instead, by way of either bus rapid tran­sit, or the per­son­al auto­mo­bile.

    “The sta­tis­tics that you offered in your com­ment are worth­less because they don’t reflect real­i­ty.”

    Well, actu­al­ly the stats that I offered are from Dr. William Eager PhD who is an inter­na­tion­al­ly famous traf­fic engi­neer and edu­ca­tor.

    “We know that build­ing more lanes will not make con­ges­tion bet­ter, because it’s been tried in places like Atlanta and Los Ange­les.”

    Here’s a 2008 exam­ple where it worked, SR-67 par­al­lel to I‑15 north of Salt Lake City, the Lega­cy High­way, where con­ges­tion on I‑15 was reduced by 20% due to the new par­al­lel arte­r­i­al.

    “Pro­gres­sives believe strong­ly that peo­ple should have choic­es. Spend­ing mon­ey only on high­ways and forc­ing peo­ple to dri­ve is not the Amer­i­can way. We owe it to our­selves to invest in more mass tran­sit.”

    I could not agree more with giv­ing peo­ple more choic­es. I do not feel that light rail is cost effec­tive. Oth­er choic­es are much cheap­er and can car­ry more peo­ple — such as more fre­quent bus routes, bus rapid tran­sit, and more free­way lanes.

    In terms of air pol­lu­tion and peak oil, I favor nat­ur­al gas vehi­cles, dou­bling of gas mileage stan­dards, and tax cred­its for elec­tric cars. There­fore, giv­en my advo­ca­cy of gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion into fuel sources, I am far from being a Lib­er­tar­i­an.

    As Bob Brinker repeat­ed­ly says, we are import­ing 12 bil­lion bar­rels a day from coun­tries who don’t like us and want to blow up Israel. We need to become ener­gy inde­pen­dent.

    # by Tom Lane :: June 12th, 2011 at 1:58 AM
    • When dis­cussing our road sys­tem, we pre­fer the term high­way rather than free­way. Free­way implies that high­ways are free to use — and that is sim­ply not true. Road main­te­nance alone requires a huge amount of mon­ey. The more pave­ment we put down, the big­ger our road main­te­nance bud­gets have to be.

      The Puget Sound Region­al Coun­cil has nev­er said that build­ing light rail is not cost effec­tive. In its own Trans­porta­tion 2040 plan, the PRSC endors­es Link light rail, and calls for the imple­men­ta­tion of “an aggres­sive tran­sit strat­e­gy”. Here are the PSR­C’s stat­ed goals, as out­lined in the exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry:

      Com­plete Sound Tran­sit 2 projects and addi­tion­al Link light rail exten­sions to Everett, Taco­ma and Red­mond. Increase local tran­sit ser­vice by more than 100 per­cent in peak peri­ods and over 80 per­cent in the off-peak, while achiev­ing oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies to reduce costs. Addi­tion­al local tran­sit ser­vice should be added to keep up with increas­ing pop­u­la­tion and job growth if it can be financed through oper­a­tional effi­cien­cies and tax base growth to off­set increas­es in arte­r­i­al delay. Pro­vide addi­tion­al all-day ser­vice with high fre­quen­cies (gen­er­al­ly every 15 min­utes).

      If you’re famil­iar with the details of the vot­er-approved Sound Tran­sit 2 plan, then you know it includes mon­ey for expand­ed bus and com­muter rail ser­vice along with fund­ing for extend­ing Link light rail.

      I have fol­lowed media cov­er­age of Sound Tran­sit for a long time. The media has giv­en plen­ty of expo­sure to Sound Tran­sit crit­ics, espe­cial­ly light rail oppo­nents. The rea­son light rail is in the media so much is pre­cise­ly because light rail oppo­nents con­tin­ue to try to stop Sound Tran­sit from build­ing the sys­tem the vot­ers approved. They’re try­ing to cre­ate con­tro­ver­sy where there should­n’t be any.

      You have put a lot of faith into the num­bers of one per­son. I trust the con­clu­sions reached by the broad­er engi­neer­ing com­mu­ni­ty about induced traf­fic.

      As I explained, the rea­son that adding lanes makes traf­fic worse is that it encour­ages more peo­ple to dri­ve. It encour­ages peo­ple to make more trips. It’s like a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy. As the authors of Sub­ur­ban Nation phrase it:

      The ques­tion is not how many lanes must be built to ease con­ges­tion but how many lanes of con­ges­tion you want. Do you favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traf­fic at rush hour, or six­teen?

      The con­di­tion is best explained by what spe­cial­ists call latent demand. Since the real con­straint on dri­ving is traf­fic, not cost, peo­ple are always ready to make more trips when the traf­fic goes away. The num­ber of latent trips is huge — per­haps thir­ty per­cent of exist­ing traf­fic. Because of latent demand, adding lanes is futile, since dri­vers are already poised to use them up.

      They add:

      While the befud­dling fact of induced traf­fic is well under­stood by sophis­ti­cat­ed traf­fic engi­neers, it might as well be a secret, so poor­ly has it been dis­sem­i­nat­ed. The com­put­er mod­els that trans­porta­tion con­sul­tants use to not even con­sid­er it, and most local pub­lic works direc­tors have nev­er heard of it. As a result, from Maine to Hawaii, city, coun­ty, and even state engi­neer­ing depart­ments con­tin­ue to build more road­ways in antic­i­pa­tion of increased traf­fic, and, in so doing, cre­ate that traf­fic. The most irk­some aspect of this sit­u­a­tion is that these road-builders are nev­er proved wrong; in fact, they are always proved right: “You see,” they say, “I told you that traf­fic was com­ing.”

      These excerpts are from The Amer­i­can Trans­porta­tion Mess, Chap­ter Five of Sub­ur­ban Nation (The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the Amer­i­can Dream), pages nine­ty and nine­ty-one.

      For more on the impact of Robert Moses’ high­way projects, I would rec­om­mend read­ing Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great Amer­i­can Cities, and The Pow­er Bro­ker by Robert Caro.

      For more on the fruit­less­ness of adding lanes in Cal­i­for­nia, read “39 Mil­lion Peo­ple Work, Live Out­side City Cen­ters” by Car­ol Jouza­tis. This was pub­lished in USA Today on Novem­ber 4th, 1997.

      Final­ly, about the “per­cent­age of trips” met­ric that you keep using. As I said pre­vi­ous­ly, it’s worth­less. I’ll let two pro-tran­sit con­ser­v­a­tives, the late Paul Weyrich and Bill Lind, explain:

      [S]ense and expe­ri­ence, those two great con­ser­v­a­tive tests, tell us tran­sit is impor­tant. The sta­tis­tics that count total trips, even total urban com­mut­ing trips, tell us it isn’t. What gives?

      What has to give is the unit of mea­sure­ment. The seem­ing con­tra­dic­tion stems from the fact that count­ing total trips (or total com­mut­ing trips) does not effec­tive­ly mea­sure the present impact or poten­tial of pub­lic tran­sit. The anti-tran­sit stud­ies are apply­ing the wrong yard­stick. They are, in effect, try­ing to mea­sure flour with a ruler, or count inch­es with a spoon. Their num­bers are cor­rect, but the mean­ing they draw from them isn’t. To mea­sure transit’s cur­rent worth or future poten­tial, we need a dif­fer­ent mea­sure­ment.

      They go on to say:

      A mea­sure­ment that allows us to cal­cu­late bet­ter the impor­tance of tran­sit – present and poten­tial – is tran­sit com­pet­i­tive trips. We need to ask not what per­cent­age of total trips tran­sit car­ries, but what per­cent­age it car­ries of trips for which it can com­pete. Mea­sur­ing tran­sit by count­ing trips it can­not com­pete for is like ask­ing how much orange juice you can get from a bushel of apples. More pre­cise­ly, count­ing total trips is mea­sur­ing how much orange juice you can get from a bushel of mixed fruit, only a por­tion of which is oranges. The frac­tion will always be small, but the prob­lem is the ques­tion, not the answer.

      So there you have it. I might add that not all trips that dri­vers make today are essen­tial trips. For instance, some­body that choos­es to go out on errands sev­er­al times dur­ing the day instead of com­bin­ing their errands is choos­ing to take more trips, and spend more time out on the road com­pet­ing for space with oth­er vehi­cles.

      In terms of mea­sur­ing spend­ing on trans­porta­tion projects (to deter­mine cost effec­tive­ness) the cor­rect mea­sure­ment for cost com­par­i­son is rev­enue pas­sen­ger miles. This is what plan­ners use to prop­er­ly com­pare modes of trans­porta­tion (train/automobile/airplane) against one anoth­er.

      Research has shown that peo­ple who will not leave their cars at home to take the bus can be per­suad­ed to do so if train ser­vice is avail­able. This is one rea­son why it makes so much sense to build light rail. It real­ly gets peo­ple out of their cars. In cities like St. Louis, many peo­ple who ride the train own auto­mo­biles and have a choice in how they get to work, where­as a large per­cent­age of bus rid­ers are tran­sit-depen­dent.

      Since light rail gets peo­ple out of their cars, it does not can­ni­bal­ize bus traf­fic as light rail crit­ics claim. And it great­ly alle­vi­ates con­ges­tion, by pro­vid­ing a reli­able alter­na­tive to dri­ving. Those who con­tin­ue to dri­ve see the ben­e­fits, too, because there are few­er solo dri­vers com­pet­ing with them for space.

      This region has made a com­mit­ment to light rail. Light rail is a wise invest­ment that we sim­ply must make. The debate over whether we build a rail back­bone for this region needs to be over. I‑1125 is an ill-con­ceived ini­tia­tive that seeks to over­turn the will of the peo­ple by sneak­i­ly inter­fer­ing with the state’s plans to trans­fer part of the Homer M. Hadley Bridge to Sound Tran­sit. I‑1125 should be reject­ed.

      # by Andrew :: June 13th, 2011 at 4:39 PM
  3. First, I would like to state that I appre­ci­ate both of your well informed com­ments, and an edu­cat­ed argu­ment is one that I can not only lis­ten to, but respect. I have been liv­ing in Phoenix for the past four years, and the typ­i­cal argu­ment for or against tran­sit and/or more free­way lanes is “you suck” and “you’re dumb.” So, it just makes me long for the Puget Sound area even more.

    Tom — You note that the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty in Puget Sound is 2500 per­sons per square mile, which is pathet­ic even by Amer­i­can stan­dards. That is tak­ing into account the region as a whole. When you look at this map http://tiny.cc/mhew3 you’ll notice that the area has done a par­tic­u­lar­ly excep­tion­al job at focus­ing high den­si­ty growth in strate­gic loca­tions (down­town, West Seat­tle, and key areas around free­ways.

    All data below from: http://tinyurl.com/3ohwzu
    For a bet­ter idea of the Seat­tle den­si­ty, the Seat­tle Metro Area ranks 746th on pop­u­la­tion den­si­ty world­wide with 2,800 per­sons per square mile while rank­ing 25th in land con­sump­tion. To be fair, a large amount of the includ­ed land con­sump­tion area is farm and for­est land. Mean­while, since 1950 the sub­ur­ban growth of the city has increased by approx­i­mate­ly 3+ mil­lion peo­ple while the cen­tral city has grown only about 100,000 (http://tinyurl.com/3nvp7t8).

    What you run into is the lev­el of VMT is increas­ing expo­nen­tial­ly com­pared to the amount of free­way lanes being intro­duced into urban areas. The FHA also rec­om­mends traf­fic man­age­ment as an effec­tive way to increase free­way capac­i­ty rather than build­ing new free­ways. (http://tinyurl.com/3dpvx4z). This runs into a prob­lem with two of your state­ments:

    “Light rail will only reduce vehi­cle trips by 5%, as esti­mat­ed by the Puget Sound Region­al Coun­cil and Vision 2040. In con­trast, just 6% more vehi­cle lanes will decrease con­ges­tion by 36%. You can read more about this from the engi­neer­ing stud­ies of Dr. William Eager and oth­ers.

    The Liv­able Region also con­duct­ed a study in Van­cou­ver when an addi­tion­al lane was added to a bot­tle­neck cor­ri­dor (a bridge) where it showed increased traf­fic. (http://tinyurl.com/3ju7dvn).

    So what do we do about this? LRT? BRT? While I agree com­plete­ly with the prin­ci­ples espoused by that increas­ing free­way lanes will increase con­ges­tion, what I am most con­cerned about with the con­struc­tion of more free­way lanes is it will lead to fur­ther sprawl. The sprawl of US cities is a direct cause of the free­way rev­o­lu­tion, and reduces the effec­tive­ness of pub­lic trans­porta­tion. That which you per­son­al­ly advo­cate, pub­lic trans­porta­tion relies on den­si­ty to make it finan­cial­ly fea­si­ble. What you see is in cities like Chica­go and New York where den­si­ty is intense and pub­lic trans­porta­tion is a pre­ferred alter­na­tive to the grid­lock of the local streets and free­ways, is that the fare­box recov­ery ratio is high­er (http://tinyurl.com/42778mc and http://tinyurl.com/3n7zyxa) com­pared to those of sprawl­ing envi­ron­ments such as Puget Sound and Port­land (http://tinyurl.com/6xgnl5n and http://tinyurl.com/3jnrb47).

    In sum­ma­ry, the real crime is that free­way expan­sion encour­ages sprawl. The LRT sys­tem is not a per­fect sys­tem, and I see it as a form of regres­sion as well, but rather than regres­sion to a neg­a­tive, it is more of a regres­sion to the mean. What I mean by that is the cur­rent tra­jec­to­ry is unsus­tain­able and LRT is a cur­rent­ly avail­able and accept­ed form of trans­porta­tion that encour­ages high­er den­si­ty growth en route to high­er capac­i­ty tran­sit alter­na­tives.

    Just for fun, check out this link (I know I’ve post­ed a lot of them — this is the most impor­tant): http://tinyurl.com/3rqy4cl. What it shows is the hous­ing plus trans­porta­tion afford­abil­i­ty index of the Puget Sound region. What you’ll notice is that free­way expan­sion has increased the hous­ing afford­abil­i­ty through­out the region, but has increased trans­porta­tion costs that exceed the rec­om­mend­ed H+T costs in more areas. You’ll notice that loca­tions clos­er in which boast high­er hous­ing costs than those out­side pub­lic trans­porta­tion options over­all cost less on aver­age than loca­tions that are vehi­cle depen­dent. What High Capac­i­ty Tran­sit does is encour­ages intense, high-den­si­ty devel­op­ment. Free­ways have done noth­ing but encour­age low-den­si­ty growth which will only increase liv­ing expens­es. This does­n’t need a link.

    Imag­ine a house/apartment locat­ed near­by a HCT line around Tuk­wila. Now imag­ine a house in Shore­line. Each house­hold has a mem­ber that is employed with­in a 10 minute dri­ve, and one mem­ber employed down­town Seat­tle. They are both locat­ed on the free­way, and thus can eas­i­ly access Seat­tle, or wher­ev­er, by car. Each is locat­ed 10.7 miles from down­town. The Shore­line house­hold owns two cars with $300 pay­ments and $90 insur­ance pre­mi­ums. The Tuk­wila house­hold owns one car. The sav­ings in Tuk­wila is $390 imme­di­ate­ly per month. The com­mute time is 35 min­utes from Shore­line and 26 min­utes via Link from Rainier Beach Sta­tion to Uni­ver­si­ty Sta­tion. Of course you save mon­ey, it costs $2.25 to take the Link as opposed to $2.00 to dri­ve.

    I’m not per­fect, I’m not a know it all. But I do know that in addi­tion to cost­ing cities and states infra­struc­ture costs by sprawl­ing out­ward, free­ways are cost­ing peo­ple mon­ey, cost­ing the envi­ron­men­tal bur­den of land con­sump­tion, and cost­ing cities and coun­ties mon­ey for infra­struc­ture cap­i­tal and main­te­nance costs.

    Regard­less of the polit­i­cal label you put on your­self, you’re wrong for all the right rea­sons. Increas­ing tran­sit capac­i­ty in the city is the only way to grow in a pos­i­tive eco­nom­ic and social direc­tion.

    # by Anthony A. :: June 12th, 2011 at 9:38 PM