Last Wednesday I attended a "town meeting on regional transportation issues" sponsored by my King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson. The unstated but probable purpose of the meeting was to rally support for a proposed regional transportation funding package. But the RTID package was declared R.I.P. the morning of the meeting, which instead turned into a fiesta of navel-gazing as to why Seattle's mass-transit cargo-cultists can't reach agreement on transportation funding with highway-dependent suburbanites. (I'll leave the answer as an exercise to the reader).
I came to the meeting to make the statement that the biggest obstacle to investment in effective transportation is the multi-billion dollar black hole of Sound Transit light rail that doesn't deliver what the voters approved back in 1996 (not that it would make economic sense even if it did).
The panelists' allegiance to Sound Transit was surreal.
Before I had my turn to speak, Julia Patterson promised that any new transportation projects would be guaranteed to be inline with what the voters approved, or they would have to be revoted on. Another audience member raised some issues about Sound Transit's massive cost overruns and the fact that the voters are stuck with something that was never approved. Ed Murray made a sympathetic face, acknowledged problems with Sound Transit's enabling legislation and let us all know that he's been a big critic of Sound Transit, but hey, it's not his fault, he wasn't in the legislature when the enabling legislation was drafted. Bob Ferguson reminded us that was a big critic of the way Sound Transit used to be run (he ousted an incumbent last November primarily by blaming her for Sound Transit's mismanagement)
When it was my turn to speak, I said (in a nutshell) that we won't be able to make much progress on transportation in this region until we shut down the financial black hole that is Sound Transit and use the money for public transportation that is actually going to accomplish something. I thanked the panelists for their respective criticism of Sound Transit and support for accountability in government and keeping promises to voters and asked, "So I assume you'll all be signing the Trust and Transit petition to require a revote on Sound Transit"?
Sadly, none of them could be bothered to actually hold Sound Transit accountable for its failures.
Patterson: "I disagree that it's a black hole".
Murray: "It was approved by the voters".
Ferguson: "It's too late, they've already started digging".
The next time any of these sleazy clowns ask for more money for a transportation project, the answer should be (literally) "take a hike". Because they simply can't be trusted to build anything that moves or to hold any agency accountable to keep its promises to the voters.
And speaking of the "not a financial black hole":
Sound Transit has unveiled a new, preliminary cost estimate for building light rail north from downtown Seattle to the University District — and it's actually higher than one produced by one of the agency's harshest critics.Julia Patterson, call your office. Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 24, 2004 01:10 PM