Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In regards to the Seattle Times' editorial, and RTID:

This morning, I read the editorial in the Times regarding transportation funding. For the most part - I agree. Lawmakers should allow an RTID vote this year. Voters need to see the monorail tax disappear as a show of good faith before asking for it for another agency.

This year will bring us I-917, and further claims of government waste from Tim Eyman and his vocal minority. To counter this, I believe that the RTID bill should be bulletproof - fund extremely high priority projects and those WSDOT partially funded with the 2005 Partnership. Be careful to pay attention to the Potato Hill projects - things easily attacked by detractors through misinformation. Potato Hill was a great example last year of how good existing information from WSDOT, a solid response from legislators and bloggers and a response from the Times to their own editorial page made a surprisingly ill-informed attack fizzle.

When defending against I-912 last year, the biggest issue I ran into was a failure of WSDOT to keep their project web pages up to date until it was nearly election time. WSDOT had a page with links to various lists of projects, and very late in the game added project lists by county - missing links to most of the project pages. Many of the smaller projects still do not have web pages (like this one for Point Defiance Bypass) describing their importance and funding sources. If the RTID bill is to pass this year, WSDOT will have to be very clear on their site which projects are to be funded, and they will have to provide a self-contained list, with all proper links to project pages, accessible from a large, friendly button on the main page (as they've done before).

Here's where I'm really concerned: I think that if the monorail tax has not already been retired, any Sound Transit plan on the ballot will fail. It was extremely ill-advised to even discuss not allowing the tax to sunset. Taxpayers need closure! Look at this letter in yesterday's News Tribune - the author seems to be confusing Sounder commuter rail with the light rail project. Monorail and light rail are one and the same to many - our agencies are too complex to be distinct; I know people in Snohomish and East King who believed that they were paying for the monorail mess. Dropping that tax must occur to restore faith before we can ask for more money, and it must stay dead for long enough that people understand what they are paying for.

This brings me to my conclusion: Barring polling suggesting a solid win when offered with RTID, Sound Transit should wait to go on the ballot until 2007. The monorail tax should be retired as soon as the agency repays its debts, and the RTID should be limited to already partially funded projects and safety issues - no new ideas unless they enjoy popular support. As the monorail tax expires and Central Link construction takes shape, Sound Transit could offer demonstrations of their project as trains are delivered and enjoy increased popular support.

Yes, it's a year delay. I suspect that the alternative will be a lot worse.

15 Comments:

At 6:38 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

A one year delay on the RTID might be a good idea, although with the AWV, we have a congressmember that is getting increasingly worried that it may never be replaced. Although McDermott said pick one and he will rally the delegation in support, and knock on all the necessary doors to get the money, Congress and the USDOT loves to see a local-match ready to go.

 
At 9:23 PM, Blogger Avidor said...

FYI...see comments:

http://innovative-transit.blogspot.com/2006/03/who-ran-crying-to-mommy.html

 
At 7:05 AM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

Well, I'm not that much of a fan of it being replaced anyway - but I do think it'll be a tunnel if it is.

Avidor - thanks! I should really keep track of these other blogs... I love your PRT Pod Squad graphic, by the way. :)

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Pardon me, Ben, but your hypocrisy is showing.

"Fear tactics" and "dogmatic adherence to talking points" (your own words) aren't so bad when they support you position, eh? In fact, they can even be quite humorous! ("I love the PRT Pod Squad...")

Take a look at Avidor's page, Ben, and tell me this is not filled with fear mongering and dogmatic talking points. You play the part of offended intellectual very well when it's the other side hurling propaganda... but when it's your own side, you have no problem joining in with the dogmatists.

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

I *do* love the PRT pod squad! It's really amusing to me when people who pretend to support transit as a way to kill it get called on their tactics and their connections.

TE, if you see me using fear tactics or not backing up my points with fact, please let me know!

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

"It's really amusing to me when people who pretend to support transit as a way to kill it get called on their tactics and their connections... TE, if you see me using fear tactics or not backing up my points with fact, please let me know!"


OK, then back it up, Ben. Specifically, I'd like to know how ULTra and Vectus are being used to kill transit.

Even in the US -- show me solid evidence that PRT projects have been promoted to kill transit.

You brought it up, now deliver the evidence.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

You mean, like this?

http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=118320

A PRT advocate accepting bribes and now arraigned? Great work for transit, there.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Oh, so your evidence consists of a single local politician who happened to support PRT and who was indicted on charges unrelated to his PRT involvement.

This is your evidence, Ben?

What you seem to be implying here is: "when a politician is indicted, every cause that politician supported is also indicted." Is that a correct interpretation of your "evidence", Ben?

How else are we to draw the line between "Zimmerman indicted on bribery charges" and "PRT exists only as a stalking horse for transit haters"?

By extension of your logic, any cause that Zimmerman ever supported is suspect. And we all know Zimmerman was a Green, so does this mean that the entire Green party platform is a stalking horse of the highway industry?

Absurd as that sounds, this is the same conclusion you seem to have reached regarding his PRT support.

Really, Ben. Let's get serious here. Look at the charges against Zimmerman, and tell me how they can be used as evidence of Avidor's grandiose conspiracy theories.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

The Tunnel option is the best, compared to a bigger elevated structure, suspension bridges, and another proposal was a simple surface roadway that was 'boxed'. THere are several examples of tunnels surviving earthquakes around here.

 
At 2:53 PM, Blogger Ben Schiendelman said...

TE, I'm not sure what you're arguing with. I said:

It's really amusing to me when people who pretend to support transit as a way to kill it get called on their tactics and their connections.

I backed that up with a link to the person pretending to support transit via PRT, which creates negative PR for transit in general.

I'm not sure where I talked about Avidor's "grandiose conspiracy theories".

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

"I backed that up with a link to the person pretending to support transit via PRT, which creates negative PR for transit in general."

Pretending to support transit via PRT? What evidence is there that Zimmerman's support of PRT was disingenuous? Or, by extension, that any individual's support of PRT is somehow damaging to transit in general?

I'm having a very difficult time understanding your logic here. What does one politician's corruption have to do with the issues he happens to support?

"I'm not sure where I talked about Avidor's 'grandiose conspiracy theories'."

OK, maybe I misinterpreted. Perhaps you should clarify your position: do you agree or disagree with Avidor's relentless assertion that PRT is nothing but a stalking horse for the highway industry?

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger Mr_Grant said...

I'm not saying Zimmerman is guilty or innocent (nor should anyone but a jury). But there are a few loose ends in what first looked like an open and shut case. For instance, see "Allegation #3" and others, here.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Mr_Grant:

You are correct that we should not be convicting Zimmerman in this forum. My point is: even if he is found guilty, it is immaterial to the PRT debate.

Ben Schiendelman:

I'll ask again: What does one politician's (alleged) corruption have to do with the issues he happens to support?

Also, please clarify your position on Avidor's oft-repeated assertion that "PRT is just stalking horse for the anti-LRT bunch." Do you agree or disagree with this contention?

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger EvergreenRailfan said...

This 1 year delay may help get the projects on solid ground. With the closure last night of SR520, it showed that their needs to be redundancy in the transportation and transit grid.

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Ben,

Are you going to respond to my query for clarification of your position?

I quote: "TE, if you see me using fear tactics or not backing up my points with fact, please let me know!"

I still have not seen you back up your statement that PRT advoocates support transit in order to kill it. You point to Zimmerman, but I can't see how that proves anything. Please clarify your position.

Also, you have not responded to my other question: do you agree or disagree with Avidor's assertion that PRT is nothing but a stalking horse to kill transit projects?

I'm just looking for some clarification here.

 

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