Thursday, November 15, 2012

Downtown-to-Ballard Transit Study Gets Its Dough

Posted by on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:49 PM

  • SEATTLE SUBWAY: The dream.
The board of our regional transit authority, Sound Transit, voted unanimously this afternoon to toss $2 million toward studying better transit options between downtown and the Scandinavian condominium enclave of Ballard. The city will kick in up to $800,000.

For transit fetishists like myself, this means the region is leaping a hurdle between our slow, impractical bus system and... the Seattle Subway, a popular vision of an integrated rail network connecting all of Seattle's body parts to each other.

To be square with you: Commissioning this study won't predispose the findings to support a rail system. Planners could conclude that we actually need more buses along this corridor (unlikely) or that we need to extend our streetcar system (possibly). But what I really hope it finds—which evidence from other big cities shows works, regardless of what politicians say about super special Seattle—is that it's time to invest more money into extending the light-rail system. That could be done through a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, which has yet to be put on the ballot (but voters in Seattle would surely approve in droves, just like the previous two light-rail packages). As Sound Transit explains over here, "By state law, Sound Transit high-capacity transit services must operate principally in exclusive rights of way," meaning that it wouldn't share a lane with vehicles.

The mayor's office says that building a rail line along this route would accommodate up to 26,000 riders per day, a net gain of 12,500 people who currently don't take transit along that route. Weirdly, though, the mayor's office couldn't confirm details of how they got that figure or whether that figure applies to a streetcar or dedicated light-rail line. No matter. That's what's so great about having Sound Transit (and not the city) in charge. They can figure this stuff out, explain it, and build it.


Comments (14) RSS

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It is appalling that Seattle is going to spend 2 million dollars to study a plan for expanding the so called mass transit into Ballard.This city,for all it's growth in other areas,is horribly behind the times in public transportation.
Posted by B.Chapman on November 17, 2012 at 10:15 AM · Report this
ah yes those noisy whiners back east, adding rail lines to nyc, 750,000 trips a day on dc metro, what do THEY know about transit? we're unique here. we're the ONLY city in the world with hills and water, therefore our refusal to build a real train system is understandable; nobody else could handle our uniqueness either. so let's keep studying what to do, the fact that in about 200 other large cities around the world, a grade separated multiline train system in web or hub pattern WORKS in rpoviding fast transit throughout a region is irrelevant to us, and stop telling us about it. see, we're unique.
Posted by uniquely smug and slow on November 16, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
@7 The rest of the country never even thinks about Seattle's lack of transit for all the noisy whining emanating from the east.
Posted by JAT on November 16, 2012 at 8:07 AM · Report this

You mean the one that broke down and left hundreds of thousands of rail dependents stranded?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM · Report this
cressona 10
You can jigger a study to come to whatever conclusion you want it to. Garbage in-garbage out. But if this city decides not to build a second north-south light rail trunk--grade-separated through downtown--we're going to be regretting it for decades to come. Do we need to build such a thing imminently? No. But eventually, as part of Sound Transit 3.

And I agree with Dominic about the other point he makes. Better to have Sound Transit rather than the city in charge.

Maybe I need to rephrase something I just wrote, "But if this city decides..." A Sound Transit 3 ballot measure will by definition be a regional decision, but a new in-city light rail line is going to have to part of what creates a winning coalition. And you know what, I'd fine with seeing a Ballard-U District east-west route be part of that, but I would imagine Ballard-downtown gives a better bang for the buck, especially considering it could continue to West Seattle and White Center. There's good reason the monorail project chose that corridor.
Posted by cressona on November 16, 2012 at 8:03 AM · Report this
In every place else on earth, the cost of light rail per mile is $30 million dollars. But in Seattle that same amounts buys nothing but a few white papers!

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 16, 2012 at 7:23 AM · Report this
So in that picture why does the north end get two crosstown routes, and the south end none?
Posted by ryanmm on November 16, 2012 at 6:14 AM · Report this
As a 10 year long New Yorker, I will say that the rest of country is laughing at Seattle's lack of a proper transit sys.
Posted by SanchoReal on November 16, 2012 at 6:11 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 6
Why such a hard on for Ballard versus West Seattle?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on November 16, 2012 at 5:59 AM · Report this
Almost $3 million for a study.
Posted by sarah70 on November 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM · Report this
Had the City stepped up and added some $$ up front to improve the financing of the monorail, we could be riding it today. But no, TPTB didn't want to because Martin Selig and other big developers didn't want it to go past their monuments so it failed under a tidal wave of FUD. Sheesh!
Posted by nwcitizen on November 15, 2012 at 8:12 PM · Report this
California Kid 3
It just took me 90 minutes to get from the u district to Columbia city. A complete real mass transit system is the only way this city can move forward @2. It's hardly burning $$
Posted by California Kid on November 15, 2012 at 8:04 PM · Report this
"No matter."

Yes, 'no matter' when there's tax payers money to pile up and unaccountably burn!
Posted by Sugartit on November 15, 2012 at 7:17 PM · Report this
Cook 1
"Scandinavian condominium enclave" is definitely one of the better phrases I've read in my life
Posted by Cook on November 15, 2012 at 5:54 PM · Report this

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