Transit users to BRT advocates: “We don’t believe you”

Carless in Seattle:

This is the first salvo in the post-Prop 1 debate, and the gates are wide open for every proposal under the sun. I know the pro-bus, anti-rail Left is going to do their damndest to kill more light rail–assuming we get a chance to vote on mass transit independently from roads. I beg the pro-bus, anti-rail Left to think twice about this, and here’s why: we rail supporters and mass transit users don’t believe a word of what you’re saying, and if we split, the pro-asphalt crowd will win.

Read the whole thing.


  1. 1

    JANE BALOUH'S DOG spews:

    Oh Good… More money grubbing whiners wanting to dip into their neighbors pocket and pay for something they wont use. Their squeals are quite unique, kinda a like a pubescent pig stuck in razor wire type squeals. Oh this should be good.

  2. 2

    cmiklich spews:

    San Jose has twice the population of Seattle and has one of the least effective rail systems in the world.

    Tremendous cost, incredibly low ridership.

  3. 3


    Only one jurisdiction in the entire three-county Prop 1 area supported the proposal, the uber-liberal 43rd Legislative District.

    Some of the areas where light rail was slated to go had the lowest levels of support.

    You have to ask…is light rail at any level in any package DOA in Pugetopolis? Do the people simply not want it beyond what’s already under construction? Don’t want any talk of it until what’s under construction has been up and running long enough to prove whether people will actually ride it? Way too little bang for way too many bucks?

    Before light rail true believing die hards toss a Hail Mary effort to resescitate a quite dead political corpse, they better figure out if the public wants any part of it. After all, they didn’t just say no to Prop 1, the said HELL NO!!!

    The Piper

  4. 4

    ArtFart spews:

    Hey, if we keep on with our characteristic trend of municipal masturbation, sooner or later gas is going to get so expensive that Joe Commuter is going to end up parking his last car out back and turning it into a fish smoker. Then, the existing road system will provide unimpeded rights-of-way for whatever the hell mode of mass transit we want. Run busses, lay some rail and run trains, build maglev, expand the downtown horse hack service…whatever rings your chimes.

    Not that getting there is going to be a whole lot of fun, mind you.

  5. 5

    ArtFart spews:

    By “getting there” I meant the process of transition to whatever the future brings. “Getting there” in terms of getting from Point A to Point B in metropolitan Seattle already sucks. Trust me, it’s gonna suck worse before it gets better.

  6. 6

    Chris Meyers spews:

    Lol, all this infighting amongst the little liberals is pretty amusing. Do you realize you have no chance in hell of ANY stand alone rail package of ever being approved again due to the dramatically higher costs of fixed rail and the fact that about HMMMMMMM 1-2% of people use them? Use your frickin brain Goldy. I know you’re one of those stupid East coast outsiders who doesn’t seem to get that this ain’t the East coast, but no stand alone rail package will pass EVER, PERIOD. MARK MY WORDS. On the other hand, a roads expansion package, with some leeway for BRT will pass as (what do you know) MOST PEOPLE DRIVE THEIR FRICKIN CARS. Welcome to the West coast you dumb piece of shit.

  7. 7

    bma spews:

    @6 “Dumb piece of shit,” Chris? Way to elevate the political discourse, jerk.

    Right on, Goldy. The only thing that Bus “Rapid” Transit is going to be good for is creating new lanes for regular traffic once conservatives have it in their minds that BRT is “proven” not to work.

  8. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    6, 7 – Goldy didn’t write this thread, Will did.

    That aside, the main difference I see between car drivers and carless riders is that car drivers pay for the roads they drive on through taxes on vehicle licenses and gas, whereas riders want other people to pay for their rides through sales tax, and taxes on vehicles.

    Light rail is expensive, but roads are expensive, too. WSDOT is planning to spend $550,000 a linear foot on a bunch of floating concrete boxes.

    Railroad tracks aren’t very expensive, because they’re already paid for, but we don’t like those and tear them up wherever we find them. We only like expensive stuff.

    Frankly, I think all you humans are nuts. But I’m not dogmatic. I’m not against light rail. I’m not even against paying for it with a sales tax — if the sales tax is on gasoline.

    But in my opinion, light rail would stand a better chance if the people who want it offered to pay for it. Car drivers don’t try to stick their neighbors with the bills. I suspect that’s why roads consistently win, and light rail consistently loses, at the polls.

  9. 9

    george hanshaw spews:

    I beg the pro-bus, anti-rail Left to think twice about this, and here’s why: we rail supporters and mass transit users don’t believe a word of what you’re saying,

    What an intellectually bankrupt argument. My mind is made up…I will not be swayed by logic…so don’t even try. And don’t vote your conscience as you see it.

    Let’s see, outside of being anti-First Amendment, amoral, pig-headed, and selfish, I guess there isn’t much wrong with that statement.

  10. 11

    george hanshaw spews:

    scotto says:

    @6, A transit-only Prop 1 would have passed.

    Only in your wildest dreams. That assumes that everyone voting for Prop one ONLY FOR THE ROADS would have continued to vote for it absent the roads.

    Not very likely.

    Of course, you could split Prop one into it’s constituent parts and give everybody a vote on each….sort of a Prop one ala carte version. But I doubt you would pass light rail that way. Most of the drivers who suppor transit don’t do so because they use it, only because they have been conned into believing that it will decrease congestion for them if OTHERS use it.

    You can’t make that case for light rail though. Even in Portland, arguably one of the more successful light rail examples in the nation, it only accounts for 1/2% of the total passenger miles….not enough to justify its enormous expense.

  11. 13

    george hanshaw spews:

    Do you believe human caused global warming is a real issue? Or that it is overblown?

    I’m kind of in the latter category myself, but for those of you in the former…consider this article:

    A lot of transit programs only make sense if you ignore the capital cost of construction. But in addition to monetary costs, there are environmental costs as well.

    The environmental costs of the currently planned LINK segment (not what Prop one would have provided, but just the current construction) are a “capital cost” as well, requiring the release of approximately 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gases. Once it is done Sound Transit PROJECTS a saving of 14,000 tons a year of greenhouse gases as the “payoff” on the investment, giving the project a break-even point of only about 90 years. That means, we will front load the environment with all that CO2 and will be back to where we started in only 90 years….asssuming that there are no improvemets in fuel economy standards from today, that no more people have converted to hybrid or electrical autos or that we haven’t developed hydrogen as a viable fuel source before the 22nd century. That also assumes no more delays or difficulties in construction.

    Now if you never were really convinced about the whole human-caused global warming thing anyway, none of this should give you any pause (although economically, the same model is at work. This is a hellacious big investment for a paltry annual return).

    But for those of you who BELIEVE in human caused global warming, do you think this is a good deal or not?

  12. 14

    george hanshaw spews:


    52% said they would have voted for a transit-only Prop 1.

    That’s it, no assumptions.

    Show me an URL….

  13. 15

    scotto spews:

    I already did in my first message. The design of this site makes URL’s hard to see, but they do show up underlined when you hover your cursor over them.

  14. 16

    michael spews:

    Prop 1 failed because big sprawling projects with little oversight that nickel and dime people all over the place fail. If the voters had a, or a few, well crafted, better targeted proposals they would have passed.

    Doug McDonald is a big road building prat and he is gone. Thank goodness.

    Point #1 in carless’s blog post (quoted below) doesn’t describe BRT.

    “We daily bus riders are constantly stuck in the traffic created by SOVs, we’ve missed our connecting bus because of that SOV-generated traffic, and we’ve sat gazing numbly out the window as the bus stops every two blocks while SOVs drive right on by.”

    BRT makes sense in a few places like the Tacoma to Seattle and Redmond to Seattle express buses because the infrastructure is (largely) already in place. Tacoma to Seattle buses run every 15 minutes. To go from BSIT (buses stuck in traffic) to BRT just make the express lanes bus only lanes.

    BRT makes a good interim solution as to what to do while we build a rail infrastructure. Prop 1 didn’t do much in this regard AND gave Tacoma a 20 year wait for light-rail.

    The pro-bus anti-rail left doesn’t exist as a group or movement.

  15. 17

    ArtFart spews:

    This “pro-bus/anti-rail” meme is starting to sound like an all-too-convenient way of playing “divide-and-conquer” to confuse and defeat the advocates of mass transit in general.

    I doubt that this is the way Goldy intended it, but out in the public square, the other side has already seized on it as a way of keeping us busy debating whether we want to ride on steel or rubber wheels, while they prepare their next move.

    Do y’all think there isn’t going to be a roads-only measure on the ballot in the next election?

    As for me, I don’t give a damn about the exact mechanism, but we’ve got to get people out of their fucking cars.

  16. 19

    michael spews:


    People will pay for light-rail if you put it where they want it. The city Tacoma is looking at putting in more light rail lines and the citizens of Tacoma are supportive. In fact the city is playing catchup with the people in the lead.

  17. 21

    scotto spews:

    @17, I did, but then the tag showed up as literal text in the post (according to the preview). Lots of bugs here. Sorry to cause problems.

  18. 22

    scotto spews:

    @16, also, you are absolutely right about the rail vs. bus thing. Buses, trains, cars… they are all just tools — not something to go all jihad about.

  19. 24

    Daddy Love spews:

    george hanshaw 11

    Sheesh. What part of this is so hard to understand: “An extensive exit poll commissioned by the Sierra Club shows that if the transit element of Proposition 1 had appeared on the ballot alone, it would have passed?”

    (Here’s the link again, Einstein: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.....125368.asp)

  20. 25

    michael spews:


    This one’s close enough for government work. Only posted the first couple of paragraphs.

    Streetcars? Tacoma needs ’em. Lots of ’em, starting in downtown and connecting to the neighborhoods and business districts.

    Bike and pedestrian lanes? Need those, too, and fast.

    Free parking? No way. Tacoma should charge motorists “market rates” to park on the street, and the price should vary based on the section of town and the time of day.

    Those were among the recommendations Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson delivered Tuesday to the City Council following months of study and dozens of meetings regarding the city’s future parking and transit needs. Most of the ideas were covered in an August progress report, but the final product included some new details and a slight change of emphasis.

    The need for a citywide bicycle and pedestrian system, for example, received a greater sense of urgency. Regarding a streetcar system, Anderson said he envisions a less-expensive fixed-rail system than Tacoma’s Link light rail.

  21. 26



    “As for me, I don’t give a damn about the exact mechanism, but we’ve got to get people out of their f*****g cars.”

    This is exactly the attitude that causes me to oppose a lot of this stuff. Not “convince the people, persuade the people, offer the people…” but, essentially, force the people.

    To that my response will always be, “Bugger off!” People should be absolutely free to make their own choices, and let NO ONE tell them what they have to do. It’s still a free country.

    If this poll everyone’s is agog over is so hot to go then take it to Olympia and convince the legislature. I know for a fact they’ll turn a frozen shoulder to it.

    For now, and probably for a very long time, light rail is toast. Again, too few bangs for too many bucks. If it ever comes back, it won’t be 50 measly miles, but more like 25 or less.

    Light rail isn’t the only answer, and the sooner its fanatics get that through their heads, the sooner progress can be made. If you want a place at the table, you have to come prepared to make massive concessions and compromises.

    Otherwise, you’ll be the ones dictated to by the people themselves.

    The Piper

  22. 28



    Why does respect for individual freedom and liberty so offend you? This is a serious question.

    What will you do when light rail has to be abandoned because too little costs too much? Go ahead with it anyway irrespective of the will of the people?

    The Piper

  23. 29

    Deb spews:

    Can’t believe I’m weighing in here, but I’m between loads of laundry … needed some light reading. :-) Yeah, right, like this is light reading …

    The original post misinterprets Mr. MacDonald’s statement, taking it places that I don’t think it quite goes. The Sierra Club’s exit poll is subject to interpretation.

    Everyone take a deep breath … it’s the 21st century now, and I think the tenor or the entire conversation is going to change in the next year or two. At least, I hope it does. Prop. 1 was developed over the past FIVE years, based on old and now quite dated assumptions. If we can’t get fresh thinking and prioritization here … which is what Doug MacDonald was talking about in his comments … then we probably are in deep trouble.

    But I’m not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. Soon, but not yet.

  24. 30

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    #26 Piper Scott says:

    This is exactly the attitude that causes me to oppose a lot of this stuff. Not “convince the people, persuade the people, offer the people…” but, essentially, force the people.

    By force is the only option for the ideas of liberals/democrats/dixiecrats/progressives. Without the threat of force by the government not even liberals/democrats will do as they say.
    How many liberals/democrats want taxes raised, yet not a single one would ever consider paying more than they have to voluntarily.
    Manmade global warming, they all know it’s true yet they keep driving and polluting waiting until the government forces them not to.
    Imagine if all those that feel the need for higher taxes simply paid more. Or if all the manmade global warming crowd stopped polluting. Both problems would be solved, instead, they exacerbate the problem refusing to do exactly what they want others to do.

  25. 31


    I’m with Goldy. I’ll be voting no on any transportation package that does not included an expansion of light rail. Whether that be 520, BRT, or anything. No light rail=a no vote.

  26. 32



    You may, then, end up voting no for the rest of your life…Could it be that further light rail is now totally dead? We’ll have to wait and see.

    Is there no alternative? Only light rail? Busses will never do? Only light rail? Irrespective of cost efficiencies and real-world possibilities? Only light rail?

    Why is light rail as addictive as heroin? And these days, about as health?

    The Piper

  27. 33

    michael spews:


    Not likely seeing how RTID was bundled with ST2 because ST2 was passing in the polls and RTID was failing. RTID was the big road road builders last rattling gasp.

    And we have that new Sierra Club poll that supports light-rail and not road building to confirm it.

    If we fight off the Crab Creek Dam over in Eastern Washington we can run the big dam builders out of the PNW too.


  28. 34



    Re-read @29 and consider that Prop 1 was based upon out-of-date presumptions; it was all yesterday’s news.

    And you presume passage without a campaign, which there most certainly will be…that focuses on the high cost for low benefit of light rail as compared to other alternatives. The voters want value (were you paying attention across the board on Tuesday); they don’t see their purpose in life as underwriting your commuting comfort and preferances.

    Why don’t light rail supporters agree to lower the broad general public cost by making riders pay more of the freight? Or even the full cost, as was proposed by your very own, Roger Rabbit?

    Light rail isn’t holy grail…It’s not a silver bullet…Right now, it’s looking more like an Edsel. And that you’re still flogging this not only very dead, but now bloated, stinky, and decomposing corpse, indicates you are seriously disconnected from day-to-day reality.

    The big push we’ve seen so far in the press isn’t to resurrect light rail, but to put together a package for 520. As I scan the political landscape, the only place that still sells ticktes for the light rail Titannic, now resting uncomfortably at the bottom of the political North Atlantic, is HA…

    How are ticket sales going?

    The Piper

  29. 36



    Like, what are you smoking?

    A recommnedation from the Tacoma city manager is nothing…The City Council will pick it apart, especially after Tuesday’s rejection of Prop 1, which means there won’t be a Tacoma light rail link.

    Best I can determine from that article is pie-in-the-sky street cars like Mayor Quarters’ SLUT…And the Tacoma City Council will love paying for that!

    Noticed, too, a dearth of numbers in the article…What’s it all going to cost over the long haul, which was a question Prop 1 pimps couldn’t answer with a straight face.

    Remember…Prop 1 tanked in EVERY jurisdiction where it was on the ballot save the 43rd Legislative District, which means they thought it sucked in Tacoma, too, which stood to be a big winner with a light rail link.

    Time to stop thinking in terms of Alice in Wonderland terms; put away the hookah, breath in some reality, and send flowers to the funeral of light rail.

    The Piper

  30. 37


    Chris @ 6:

    I’m all about free discourse, but I must say, I’m disappointed by ad hominem attacks.

    So, if you’re ever of a mind to call me a “dumb piece of shit” to my face, I’m more than willing to buy you as many beers as you want at the Stumbling Monk in Capitol Hill. But you have to be willing to sit there and chat with me for one hour after you call me a “dumb piece of shit.”

    Email me:

  31. 39

    scotto spews:

    @13, It’s hard to take you seriously if you think thousands of scientists around the planet are all wrong about global warming, and that it is you who is actually right. Still, I looked up your link. Parts of it are undoubtedly true, and parts of it are probably not. Although I know that the PSRC’s VMT modeling didn’t properly account for the land use effects of highways, and that people who are experts say that this tends to underestimate pollution, I don’t know by how much, and therefore, I think I’ll stop there and admit that I’m out of expertise and information.

    Unfortunately, nobody with the necessary know-how ever made a system-wide, top to bottom greenhouse gas analysis of the transportation plans in Prop 1. Given what we know about global warming, this is inexcusable.

    @29, Yes, the Sierra Club poll is subject to interpretation, as is any information. But I think what you meant is that it is questionable, in which case, here’s your chance to explain why.

    @34, Didn’t we just have a bunch of campaigns? I coulda sworn that Kemper Freeman just spent a ton of money bashing light rail cost effectiveness, and the end result was that 52% would have voted for it if it hadn’t been tied to highway expansion; a highways-only bill would have probably lost (follow the links).

    Also, we must be reading different papers, because in the last week, both Seattle Mayor Nickels and Gov. Gregoire made positive statements about a transit vote in 2008.

  32. 40

    compassionatelibertarian spews:

    Public transportation will never work in Seattle. Its dispersed, cold, rainy 265 days a year, and hilly. Me and my SOV love driving all over it though!

    Now if they would only blast through an 8 lane 520…

  33. 41

    busdrivermike spews:

    It takes an incredibly self centered person to write that piece about light rail.

    This guy is pissed because he wants to live 10 miles from where he works. He feels like somehow it is his god given right to live across a lake, in the city, when he works on the eastside? Somehow, I am supposed to feel bad he has to make a transfer at Mountlake freeway station? This guy gets excellent bus service that is subsidized by all of us, but that is not enough for him. No, we must build an underground tunnel under capitol hill, then a new bridge that supports light rail, build the rail line and stations, or life is just too hard for him.

    I have a better idea. BUY A HOUSE OR CONDO IN REDMOND!!!!

    While we are all paying for a gold plated choo-choo for Mr Microsquish employee, what about all the squishees in North City, Ballard, and Madison Park? Should we make an underground rail line for them too?

    One thing is for sure, this town has no shortage of conceited, self centered computer jockeys with a sense of entitlement that would put the Sultan of Brunei to shame.

  34. 42

    compassionatelibertarian spews:

    You go busdrivermike!

    But don’t you know? He has a RIGHT to live in a chic neighborhood with lots of “character.” And force us to pay for his toy train to and from there.

    After all, Redmond is just a bunch of rednecks with an outdoor mall – right? Right?

  35. 43

    Deb spews:


    There are an enormous number of variables to take into consideration when “reading” polling data. Even in the best of circumstances, there’s some context and perspective involved in reading a poll. We’ve taken a lot of the subjectivity out of the role of DATA-GATHERER, but there is still lots of slippage in perspective of the RESPONDER and the END-USER.

    That’s all I meant.

  36. 44

    ridovem spews:

    Water, water everywhere… like from MOHAI to Moss Bay, and on the jitney (or put the bike down and push) to the Redmond campi. Why isn’t that a real-world consideration? The W. Seattle water taxi works fine… & passenger ferries aren’t rocket science (even though they may aid & abet it). And, sure- when The Piper has convinced a newly reorganized PSE to buy interruptible “Night-rate” BPA & pass through the savings so that I can charge my 900lb 4pasgr electric w/ a 350 mile cruise per charge, I’m ready to let gas taxes pay for highway upkeep. Yes, sir!.. sign me up fer them wheels! In the meantime, though, I’d as soon let the SOV/SUV crowd have a poker party on any road that they all find themselves on… at any time of day… ^..^

  37. 45

    George Hanshaw spews:

    @13, It’s hard to take you seriously if you think thousands of scientists around the planet are all wrong about global warming, and that it is you who is actually right.

    The issue is not so much about global warming per se (although that truly is an issue…heat is actually kinetic energy of molecules, and simple averaging does not tell what is going on anymore than averaging of noise levels works. Like sound levels (which are on a decilogarithmic scale called the decibel) we could get in to issues of what the average of two readings should be. But let’s forget that. Let’s talk about whether or not it is HUMAN caused. We have had periods of global warming in the past ASSOCIATED with CO2 increase. Like this one, the CO2 increase LAGGED rather than led the increase in temperature, begging the issue of what’s cause and what’s effect.

    But putting that aside, my comment was a more general one. I believe that many advocates of huge public works projects (be they a light rail project or a dam) are oblivious to the capital costs of that public works project. That includes capital costs of carbon evolutuion as well as capital costs of money.

    Only on rare occasion do we really see people sit up and take notice of these capital costs (the so-called bridge to nowhere, for example)

    and generally we don’t even consider the carbon capital costs.

    Too often people take a knee-jerk approach without really even looking at the figures…..even for operating costs….and certainly for carbon operating costs.

    Take Washington State ferries, for example. Most of my liberal friends love them because they are mass transit and enable them to enjoy the advantages of urban workplaces but live a (significantly state subsidized) rural lifestyle in Bainbridge. But the sad fact is that ferry boats are big….huge by comparison to their passengers…and burn diesel (which is better than it was, they used to burn bunker oil…the lowest grade of diesel) and will soon be burning low sulfur diesel, since they contribute significantly to the sulfur released into the environment in Puget Sound. In 2006 The ferries burned $39 million worth of fuel which at the price (then) of about $2.25 a gallon was roughly 17.3 million gallons. For that they bought 127 million passenger miles…. about 10.5 passenger miles to the gallon.

    Now I don’t mean to sound flip here, but my wife has a huge GMC Suburban and even if it’s only got her in it, it gets 15 passenger miles to the gallon. If we have the two of us plus kids/grandkids, we can get over a hundred passenger-miles to the gallon. Yet somehow my lib friends think the highly subsidized ferry is OK for them to take to and from Bainbridge, but my wife’s ‘Burb (which is long since paid for, but which she buys gas for out of her own pocket) is somehow obscene. The vehicle also meets emission standards…you can’t say that for the ferries.

    Now I’m not making these numbers up…they are publicly available

    Now everyone is entitled to their opinion…but in the internet era when it’s so easy to have an INFORMED opinion, it would be nice if people would at least do the math on this stuff.

    So last year the ferries had operating expenses of $189 million and capital expenses of $90 million (total of $279 million)while fares covered a measly $32.5 million.

    So while my wife pays for the new Tacoma Narrows bridge by user fee (toll) plus gas taxes plus having bought the vehicle to begin with our ecologically minded liberal brethren pay 8.6% of the actual cost of their chosen mode.

    And that’s one of the real problems with things paid for by taxes, something called the tragedy of the commons.

    As gas inevitably climbs, my wife will have a serious disincentive to keep driving the old Suburban, because she’s paying all of the increase. My liberal brethren, however, who are already using a transport mode MUCH LESS EFFICIENT THAN HERS, have no such disincentive to consume, since thay are only paying 8.5 cents on the dollar anyway, and because WADOT has already gone back to the state legislature for a supplemental of $5.9 million to cover the recent increase in the price of diesel.

    My liberal friends in Port Townsend are even more profligate with the commons. The PT to Keystone Ferry makes less than a million passenger trips annually, but they want at least two new vessels (at $140 million each) to replace the eighty year old vessels they have that are gradually sinking. They consider neither the capital costs in funding (largely paid for by someone else) nor the capital costs of CO2 production (somebody is smelting steel, welding, building the damn things) nor the actual operating costs (of which they pay only a fraction).

    I would submit to you that my Port Townsend liberal friends and my Bainbridge liberal friends really don’t differ in any qualitative way from the senator who wanted to build that ridiculous bridge. They are profligate with both the common money and with the common carbon dioxide release, because they feel no real responsibility for either.

    So I’d say it’s hard to take liberals seriously, until they start paying attention to these issues as well. Don’t bitch about my wife’s Burb and support the MVS Spokane. It’s as simple as that.

  38. 46

    George Hanshaw spews:

    In 2005 Metro Transit spent $652 million ($413 O&M and $239 capital)to provide transit services for the 1.788 million people living in their service area, roughly a dollar a day per person. This provided 553 million passenger-miles of service at about a dollar seventeen cents a mile. Fares covered not quite $80 million of this.

    Should transit users pay a larger portion of this budget as user fees (fares) now that we are talking about toll roads, HOT lanes, and toll bridges?