I don’t like the idea of sub area equity, although it may have saved Sound Transit politically by getting early buy in from the suburbs when Central Link and Tacoma Link were the biggest projects. Still, generally speaking, political solutions designed to reassure suburbanites that big mean Seattle isn’t going to take all of their money (when the opposite is generally true) and that put arbitrary restrictions on transit development aren’t my favorite. See also, 40-40-20.
So the fact that Ed Murray is opposed to it is somewhat of a positive for me (although his doing it in a way that specifically attacks building rail to from Ballard to Downtown is not helpful). But over at Seattle Transit Blog, Ben Schiendelman makes the case for Sub Area Equity.
Subarea equity originally existed because suburban legislators, in creating Sound Transit, wanted to make sure that suburban money didn’t end up spent in Seattle. As a result, Link implementation was at first slower. But now that Sound Transit 2 is passed, the North King subarea’s “spine” is fully funded. Most of the political pressure on Sound Transit is now to expand to Tacoma, Everett, and Redmond, and most of the board votes are outside Seattle.
In a Sound Transit 3 package, subarea equity is paramount to ensuring that we get a new line in Seattle – it ensures that Seattle’s contribution stays in the city, and political pressure doesn’t move money out to the ends of the lines.
Murray claims that his reason for wanting to remove subarea equity would be to focus transit investment in Seattle – but the outcome of removing it would be the opposite. As a transit advocate who wants Seattle to have more grade separated transit, this is scary because it’s a direct threat to a new line in the city, and it’s scary because a mayoral candidate should have a better grasp of the issues.
It does seem rather abhorrent to have sub area equity when we’re building Central Link and Tacoma Link and then not have it when we’re building out to the suburbs.