Thursday, December 15, 2005

Monorail Derailed

Rosebud last night was home to an unlikely collection of transit activists. They had come together to celebrate the end of a long battle - for some, only two years, for some as much as eight - against a transit agency which ignored the realities of the system they proposed and tried to move ahead without adequate funding or disclosure.

After I-83 failed (possibly because people thought a "No" vote was "No" on the monorail), the system finally was brought down by an almost 2:1 vote. This couldn't have happened without these people's dedication to informing the public about the shortcomings of the system, the people running it, and the financing plan. Richard Borkowski of People for Modern Transit handed out awards to volunteers and activists who had put hundreds of hours of their lives into phone banking, research, time before the SMP board and on committees to keep SMP honest.

Before and after the awards, discussion was largely about the future of local transit - now that the monorail is dead, we can get back to what we'd all prefer to do: Find solutions to move people and implement them. With Link under construction and Sounder ramping up service, it sounds like people in the area are starting to stop asking about profitability and start realizing that a transit system is within the highway paradigm - an investment to generate economic growth. It was nice to see.


At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very disappointed with this article. It's snarky and self- conrgatulatory tone is unnecessary and divisive. Try to be a little more graceful winner in the future.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

That's kind of like saying someone needs to be a graceful winner over a child tyrant. :)

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see ou took that comment to heart.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was never with the monorail technology itself. People forget that. All the whining was about the crappy leadership, financing, hush-hush stuff, etc. etc. not monorail itself. Get it right.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...


You mean, the problems with the fact that it couldn't be at-grade through low density areas? Or that it was less energy-efficient than LRT, despite fancy and expensive regenerative braking? How about the fact that the train design we were planning to use would have about half the capacity of the standard LRT trains?

Give me a break.

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the recent Seattle Weekly:

And speaking of public money, it's time to pay more attention to Sound Transit. Phase One isn't finished yet, but already the multicounty transit agency is looking for more big bucks for the next phase. They've compiled a $12 billion wish list of new projects—and that doesn't include interest payments. The agency swears it will pare down the next request for public funds, presumably to a number that will produce less sticker shock than $12 billion—scarily close to the $11 billion figure that blew up the monorail.

Comparisons with the monorail aren't entirely inappropriate. Seattle's light-rail project is shorter, is taking longer, has fewer stations, and is much more expensive than originally promised. With that track record, my question isn't, "Where's my checkbook?" but rather, "Why are you asking for more when we haven't even taken light rail out for a test drive?"

Unfortunately (for them), by eliminating the monorail, light rail can now recieve the full scrutiny it deserves. Count on many former monorail supporters to be baying for blood on anyone associated with light rail. They've got noting better to do,anyway, lol.

Also, all the stuff people said about the monorail are now becoming true for the light rail. Ironic, inn't?

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

Ah, yes. Ted Van Dyk.

So, tens of express bus lines, commuter rail with steadily increasing ridership, a light rail line more than twice as long as than the monorail would have been, and better access to transit for three counties, is to be compared with a monorail line for some of Seattle. :)

Please do scrutinize Sound Transit. Perhaps you'll find, like I have, that they respond well to public inquiries, publish their facts and figures regularly, discuss their future options with local advocacy groups, and take action when criticized.

What's especially amusing is how much disinformation was in that piece - bus service suffering because of light rail? Who is he kidding?

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous EvergreenRailfan said...

Tacoma LINK has turned out to be a success, with more riders than the shuttle bus that was operated by Pierce Transit(with fare), and then Sound Transit(Fare Free) ever had. How can a free LRT track riders? Probably with sensors in the doors. Pierce Transit and Sound Transit should be planning joint expansion of Tacoma LINK. Pierce Transit is at .6% Sales and Use Tax, they have .3% under the cap they can use, could be possible for a local-match to allow for an expanded system, much more than ST2.

If Sounder is such a success with just 4 Round Trips, imagine what it could be if 6, or even 9 trips were running. Successful lines start small and grow. One thing that Sound Transit has over the SPMA, is that it is already an operating system, while the monorail was still on the drawing board.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

I used to not totally like their stance on transportation after seeing that their first report "How Do We Get There From Here" attacked Light Rail, but then when they made a video version last year for the Seattle Channel, they were advocating LRT. They had one of their members on the Amtrak Reform Council a few years ago. The Council made a few recomendations, but they got lost in Congress.

As for the city council and the port in Tacoma, only time will tell, but decision time may be fast aproaching.


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