Would you pay more taxes for light rail in Ballard?

Mayor Mike McGinn has said all along that he would like to see a light rail line from Ballard to downtown and West Seattle. Now he’s proposing that Seattle build the transit system on its own with money collected from Seattle residents.

In this Publicola article, Mayor McGinn addresses his side of the issue – that Seattle needs light rail sooner than Sound Transit can deliver. He’s estimating that Sound Transit won’t be in the black for another 14 years. Looking at Portland as an example he writes, “Portland spent $103 million on its current streetcar line. That line, in return, has generated $4 billion in private investment and more than 10,000 new residential units within 750 feet of the line. Buses simply do not generate that level of investment or have that kind of impact on surrounding land use and development patterns. Portland’s rail system helps save more than $2 billion a year in gas costs, allowing Portlanders to spend that money locally.”

On the other hand, King County Council member Julia Patterson disagrees with McGinn. Patterson writes, “After all, the world doesn’t end at a city’s limits. Seattle’s roads don’t end when they hit Tukwila and buses don’t stop on the Bellevue/Redmond border. Sound Transit’s plan creates a regional spine of light rail through King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. While it offers a long-term, regional vision—one that includes light rail for Seattle and beyond—Mayor McGinn’s Seattle-only ballot proposal offers a short-sided, parochial vision.”

Both sides offer lengthy details on why they support their opinions. Click through to read their takes on the issue.

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Guest
Guest
Guest

Street car yes. Light rail, no way.

Ernie
Member
Ernie

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would be better. A street car is nothing more than a really expensive bus that is tied to a specific route and is still stuck in traffic.

No way that Seattle will ever build light rail on our own, that’s pure crazy talk and diminishes what little is left of McGinn’s credibility.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I take Metro and it works just fine for me and everyone I know who uses Metro. Why would we want to diminish something that works perfectly fine already??? Oh I know… so on the 9 months out of the year that it rains the bike riders can get to work on something cooler than a boring Metro bus. FU McGinn.

Cking
Guest
Cking

Seattle buses suck, I would gladly pay more taxes for grade separated transit of any kind between Ballard and Downtown.

Cking
Guest
Cking

BRT will still take an hour to get from Ballard to Pio Sq though won’t it?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Monorail yes, but nothing else. :)

Steve
Guest
Steve

Would you gladly pay more taxes for better and more buses? This would be a significantly cheaper.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Buses are for bums and earnest liberals. I want a tram.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I like how McGinn brings up that the Portland train costs only 108 million. For those who were not around around just 6 years ago or have a short memory span the Monorail that was going to go from Crown Hill to Downtown price tag was at 11 Billion before everyone came to there senses.

Steve K
Guest
Steve K

More taxes? Just use my car tab money you collected for the monorail.

Gurple
Member

Half an hour to downtown is pretty optimistic on the 15, 17, 0r 18. Is that “just fine”? If light rail can get me downtown in 15 minutes, sign me up to pay the light rail tax!

Guest
Guest
Guest

yea it’s just fine. I’m getting my ride subsidized by KC tax payers and it’s only costing me and everyone else who rides 25% of the actual cost to ride the bus. The monorail commision spent 125 million just planning the Crown Hill to Downtown. It was going to cost in the end 11 billion or 22 Safeco fields… yea the Bus suits me fine.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Significantly cheaper?? 125 million just to design the Crown Hill to Downtown Monorail. 11 Billion to build it. Mars man.. your living on Mars.

SeattlePDX
Guest
SeattlePDX

Can someone explain to me why there is not a Ballard stop for the Sounder train that runs to Everett? Granted, it only runs a couple of times a day and would not be a replacement for bus/light rail, but it seems like an affordable place to start.

Bookish
Guest
Bookish

Yes, yes, yes! We need rail service from Ballard to the rest of the city — and it will more than pay for itself over the near term. Can we please stop talking about it and finally do it?

I grew up in the Bay Area and everyone debated BART’s costs endlessly — until the rapid transit lines went in and became indispensable everywhere. Portland, Vancouver…the list goes on and on. (Not to mention European cities who figured this one out in the Victorian period.)

We are the only major West Coast city without significant rail transit! Come on. SOMEONE please figure out how to make rail work here….now!

Bookish
Guest
Bookish

My husband would take the rail to Everett every day if he could but the Sounder train people told him that they could only run it going south in the morning and north in the evening. Very shortsighted!

I don’t think they realize there is a market for that kind of train service. (And rebuilding the old Ballard train station near Golden Gardens would be even better.)

Guest
Guest
Guest

That would make sense. Build park and ride station in Shilshole/lower Sunset Hill area. Tracks are already in place. People in the Ballard Region would use it, but it wouldn’t attract many people outside of ballard since to get in/out of Ballard for a lot of people would be just as fast to get downtown. (Someone living on Phinney ridge wouldn’t bother driving to there just to take a train in to downtown). It would be a fraction of the cost of whatever fantasy world McGinn is living in.

Gurple
Member

That’s well and good when gas costs $3/gallon, or maybe even $4. The bus system is just barely adequate. When gas costs $5/gallon and everyone’s leaving their cars and flooding the bus system, what then? We need a system that can handle serious load. I don’t know that this is that system, but at least it’s an idea.

Gurple
Member

Salt Lake City! Effin’ _Salt Lake City_ has a great light rail system — actually it’s regional rail that connects Ogden quite efficiently, too.

If the reddest state in the nation can do this, we… well, I don’t know if we can, but we certainly /should/.

Guest
Guest
Guest

Buying more buses when there is more demand from riders would be considerably cheaper than building a light rail system.

Bathos
Guest
Bathos

A very good idea, I’m afraid, that’s going to be sunk by its messenger.

Gurple
Member

In the short term, yes. Looking at the incremental cost of buying buses vs. a huge capital outlay to build a new system, it’s always appealing just to pile more money on an inefficient system. Transportation projects on this scale pay for themselves on the scale of decades, not years.

Justintron
Guest
Justintron

I know that Tacoma used to have trolleys going all over the place.

Cking
Guest
Cking

I could only stomach more buses if they were NOT diesel or gas powered. Diesel is $4.50 now. I have a feeling it is not going to go down in price. Seattle bus service keeps going up in cost and down in service quality due to the cost of gas and lower tax revenue. At least using electric as the power we can eliminate gas price inflation from that equation for budget projections. I am not privy to growth projections but this city’s leaders need to look at growth projections for the next 50 years, factor in cost of resources and population density, and design a system that will actually withstand that growth and transportation challenges of the future. All this peacemeal “throw a few streetcars here, a few buses there, a few trains here, and naw, they don’t have to interconnect or be able to scale” is indeed a waste. Forget $4.50, what happens when Diesel is $8.00 a gallon? How will “Bus Rapid Transit” work then? Rapid cost increase and service cuts is my guess. If electric streetcars fit the bill, fine, design a complete system to link up the city and make it happen. But right now… Read more »

Noemail
Guest
Noemail

The idea that McGinn thinks Portland is a city to emulate is horrifying. Then again just everything else he thinks horrifying too.

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