Man reads story
Fantastic story ["Who'll stop the train?" 1/25]! Reads like a sex/crime thriller. I hardly ever read anything, but for this I sacrificed my lunchtime nap.
Keep up the good work,
ERNST G. KNOLLE, CEO
Mark Fefer wonders what keeps Sound Transit going ["Who'll stop the train?" 1/25]. The answer is simple: The public knows that we need better transit alternatives to more roads. And all the many studies to date have concluded that light rail is the most versatile and cost-effective way to go.
It's true that public process was not Bob White's forte. But he did put together a superb project for giving an extraordinarily large number of people much better transit, exactly the kind of alternative to congestion that was promised to voters.
But to serve so many people (over 120,000 a day when it gets to Northgate), it must serve highly developed neighborhoods directly, which means disruption. Naturally, many people in these neighborhoods care much more about short-term disruptions than about the long-term benefits to the region, which are years away and much harder to prove. And, of course, Kemper Freeman and allies have always wanted to build more roads, not rail. Thus a diverse combination of powerful interests have now taken full advantage of Bob White's ineptness in handling both his critics and the inevitable cost overrun.
The Sound Transit Board members may not be interested in all the design and construction details, but that is not their job. What they do know is that new freeways and roads in built-up areas will have costs and opposition that will make their Link project look like a piece of cake. They also know that all the hype surrounding suggested alternatives such as free buses or monorail is just that. These have all been considered before and rejected by numerous transportation professionals as less suited to the regional task at hand (although they did identify other, more specialized roles for these alternatives).
Don't believe the seductive siren calls of the critics. Transforming the regional car culture will be a long, arduous, and expensive task. I really admire Ron Sims and colleagues for having the political courage and vision to move forward.
DICK BURKHART PEOPLE FOR MODERN TRANSIT
Thanks for some real analysis of the reasons Sound Transit seems invincible ["Who'll stop the train?" 1/25]. Not only do nearly all the politicians have trouble understanding the details, they don't seem to understand that they don't understand. After extensive questioning about the financial assumptions by Rob McKenna at the January 11 Board Meeting, Chair David Earling and State DOT head Sid Morrison implied that if he had only been present for the fluff piece presentation at the beginning of the meeting, all of his questions would have been answered.
What you don't mention are the fallacies that County Executive Sims and others keep repeating. The first rule of propaganda is to lie and keep on lying—eventually the public will believe you. Say it will add capacity through the most congested corridor, when, if anything, it will reduce capacity through downtown. Call it a legacy when it's an inheritance of debt with little benefit. Say the polls show the voters still support it, but claim that if they don't build this now we won't vote in another transit plan for 30 years. Claim federal money wouldn't be available again for years, but base your financial plan on twice as much in three years. Thank the public for their comments and ignore them.
Build it, stupid Yanks
Hearing people question light rail ["Who'll stop the train?" 1/25] takes me back to days in Vancouver, BC, when light-rail detractors were out to stop the Skytrain. I feel as though I have gone back in time, fully aware of how future events will unfold. So let me tell you, Seattleites, this is your future—it will be built, it will be way over budget, it will be behind schedule, there will be scandal, and in 15 years there will be no one who does not love it.
Just look north. To use a baseball phrase (written by a Canadian, no less) that you Yankees love so much—"Build it, and they will come."