Sound Transit needs your input!

Last fall I was saddened to learn that the greater Puget Sound region voted down the mass transit package that had been put forward for the Pierce, King and Snohomish County areas. While that put a bump in the highway, so to speak, for the transit people it didn’t stop them from moving forward to see what other options could be considered for our area. Transit is a major issue for our continued quality of life in this region and many groups, government, non-profit, and public based are coming together to try and make it more and more of a priority.

It’s an enormous issue when it comes to real estate and it will impact what cities and neighborhoods will thrive over the coming years. Think of it like the railroad towns of the late 1800’s that once the automobile became the major mode of transportation, those towns dwindled to permanent small town status UNLESS they found another way to be relevant. Today, we need a more diverse mix of convenient transit options more similar to places like Washington DC, Portland, New York, Chicago or like our European counterparts in Paris, London, Madrid, or Milan.

The big question here is whether or not the choices that are implemented are ones that the public wants or feels is appropriate. If you want to see what is going on, check out this website at Sound Transit, and start providing your public comments to the conversation.

For my own part, I am proud to be a member of the local REALTOR(R) association and as part of my volunteer time spent with programs they have such as committee meetings, I am also involved in the current opinion panel work that is bringing together our organization with others that are shaping the area – such as city council members, Sound Transit, park departments, non-profit environmental groups, and more. We’re focused on trying to find common ground that we believe will benefit all in the area and transit is a big part of it. I hope you’ll join the discussion too.

24 thoughts on “Sound Transit needs your input!

  1. We would have been happy to approve a transit plan. What we got was a plan to build roads. When we get a real transit plan we’ll approve it.

    What killed the last plan was an absurd amount of money devoted to terrible road projects like the Cross-Base Highway. As long as that mistake is avoided, we’ll be in good shape.

  2. Sound Transit has routes already in operation, yet rarely do I know anyone who rides them. It would be great p/r to have have an outreach program to any business office that would like to participate, for no cost, for their entire office within King, Snohomish/Pierce Counties/Island Counties to have a reserved day & time to ride a particular route … who better to become the true spokespersons of these routes than businesses who have first-hand experience “riding the rails”?

    I add Island County to this list since the new connection at Mukilteo is being worked on now.

    I was at the airport a couple of weeks ago – very impressive!

  3. I think what killed the last plan was being designed by committee (“we won’t go along unless the plan has this project in it”). That and picking a tax plan that was DOA if it needed voter approval. As soon as I heard the funding plan I knew it was a waste of money to even have an election.

  4. I am still in shock about the light rail going to Sea-Tac. Portland light rail has almost no riders to or from PDX. Chicago had to lock the doors and stop only at O’hare due to the robberies and assaults on tourists. Really, the light rail from Seattle to Sea-Tac could have gone thru Southcenter…hundreds of shops and restaurants and then to the airport. The tracks are less than 100 yards from the shopping. I don’t think ANY support should be given to the folks that make these decisions. Question…what tourist will take a $3.00 train ride, schlept their bags and stay in our $350 per night downtown hotels? Won’t they take the limo or a taxi?

  5. Larry, it makes more sense than it going 1.3 miles (or whatever) from Sea-Tac, which is what it was when construction began.

    I think people would take it to/from the airport, although I think by regulation taxis are only $20.00 from the airport to downtown (plus probably a gas surcharge).

    But you’re right, the route is a bit messed up.

  6. Larry –

    I used to live in Atlanta and about the only times I ever rode MARTA was to get to/from the airport, and every time I was on it there were at least several other folks in the car going to the airport also. Taxi’s are generally expensive to/from airports, and when you are not rich the difference between $1.50 and $30 is enormous (especially since two trips are involved!). I still think the light rail will be looked on as an expensive mistake in the next 5-10 years.

  7. So I can visualize driving into Downtown Seattle, along with my small kids and all their gear… Park for $20 (or more) per day, get on the light rail to go to to SeaTac to catch a flight dragging said kids and gear the whole way. Uh, no, I don’t think so. And people visiting the Seattle area don’t come for just the Downtown area (as wonderful as it is), they explore Western Washington in general so they need a rental car and where is the easiest place to get that rental car? Not Downtown, at the airport.

    Secondly, I’d really love to see real estate professionals put their money where their mouths are at and drag their clients to look at houses by being environmentally friendly and taking the bus! Sounds totally reasonable to me. So park those E-class Mercedes and hop on sound transit. Or even better, take the bus Downtown, hop the light rail to pick up clients moving to Seattle, get back on the Light Rail headed into Downtown, catch a bus back to your target neighborhood and WALK to the homes you’d love to show them. Oh, they will be so impressed by how you are saving the time of everyone else who wanted to drive their cars on the (Gasp!) roads.

    Most people I know want OTHER people to use mass transit, but won’t use it themselves. Why? Because it’s a big pain in the butt and takes a really, really long time to get anywhere. I can drive to my office in Downtown from my home in about 25 minutes. I usually start my work day at 9ish. If I were to ride the bus it would take me and 1hour and 20 minutes. Assuming my bus in on time, there is no accident on the way or weather tie up. Sorry, not going to take two hours away from the rest of my life and family every day. PERIOD, and I bet you wouldn’t either.

    So spend away on mass transit. All that will accomplish is to increase the amount spent per rider because it isn’t going to increase the number of people who use it. I suppose the only thing that will really increase ridership will be implementing tolls on I-5, Hwy 67, I-90 and Aurora Ave. Oh, then only the hated “Rich” will be able to afford to drive their cars… Don’t underestimate what people will do or pay to have the use of their cars. This will never be Manhattan where they have a subway system that will probably get you to your destination in short order. We aren’t going to put in a subway or light rail from the Sammamish Plateau to Downtown Seattle. Ever.

  8. I, for one, have very mixed feelings. The powers that be cannot figure the traffic problem out in an effective manner, as many of you have already said. I do worry that projects will be chosen just to appear to be solving the problem without the value of the projects being clear. Many of you have made good points, some about the fact that ridership on some of the existing transit systems in other cities does not justify the expense involved. We’ve got to make sure the appropriate ridership studies have been done and the ecological and economic impacts are clarified before agreeing to move forward.

    On May 1st at 7 PM, there is a meeting at the Houghton Fire Station in Kirkland, 6602 108th Ave NE with the Cascade Bicycle Club to review the issues, On May 5th, there is a meeting with the King County Council, 10th floor of the King County Courthouse Building, 516 3rd Avenue in which people are invited to voice their opinions. ( FYI, I do not know if the time or the place have been confirmed for this meeting.) And lastly, on May 8th, The Eastside Trail Advocates, will be holding a meeting at the Houghton Fire Station at 7:30 PM to review the issues. Become informed about what may happen so you can decide what is the right thing to do.

    There are a number of active groups on the eastside who are for smart transit and trails, but not wasting tax payer money, if moving forward in a ridiculous manner is the answer.

    On the eastside, there is much talk about the BNSF rail line. Last summer Ron Sims was a trail proponent. Now he is for rail banking, which means a trail today, but a possible rail tomorrow. The Port seems to be in favor of a rail line. There was a meeting of the King County Council this morning regarding the rail line. Regardless, it is not clear the appropriate ridership studies have been completed. It seems as if the county is grasping at straws. The line will not be able to connect to the airport or I-90 because the Wilburton Tunnel, which supported the train tracks will be gone. The train line crosses over school crossings, wetlands, and parks.

  9. # 4 Larry, we flew a couple of years ago from Seattle to Portland, took light rail to the Convention Center for a show, and were thrilled with the easy connection.

    I definitely agree that there should be a link for Southcenter to the light rail, but doubt the airport travelers care about going to Southcenter as much as the Southcenter folks care about going to downtown Seattle and Bellevue.

  10. Chris, I don’t know where you live, but my bet is that if you drove to a park and ride lot, hopped on an express bus, you would be in downtown Seattle from wherever you live in less than half hour, not hour and half.

    I’m assuming you live in North Seattle or Shoreline based on your comments.

    Quite a few of my real estate clients have given up their personal cars and ride the bus to work, and use Zipcar (used to be Flexcar) for when they need a car, truck or van, etc. I think that system works well for quite a few.

  11. Leanne- I live in the South part of Edmonds. Right now I commute down Aurora or Greenwood, depending on traffic.

    It would take me at least 15-20 mins to get over to the Mountlake Terrace P&R. Even if I caught the express buss, I’d still be spending extra time waiting for a bus to and from. I parked at a P&R when I first moved to Seattle 12 years ago in Bellevue. After my car got broken into twice in six months I decided I was done with the Park and Ride experience.

    But thanks anyway for the advice.

  12. Edmonds is tough to downtown, no matter which way you go. I have a friend who is up at Swedish Hospital, and she rides the rail from Edmonds to King Street, and then catches the hospital shuttle to work. Other than the lack of a later train time in evenings, she loves it and says it’s super-easy.

    Many years ago I heard an urban planner talk in Portland, his ideas seemed very worthy then, and more today. His suggestion was that public transportation connect to all the shopping centers & malls, which would also have multi-storied park & ride buildings, with security on each floor. Daycare, car repair, groceries and more would be encouraged to lease space in these areas, thus creating a mini-commuter town. Seems like a fine idea for our area too.

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