Stu Rolfe, the managing partner of Seattle Monorail Services, which operates the historic Westlake-to-Seattle Center monorail, has resigned from the board of the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority due to conflict-of-interest concerns. "It's unfortunate, because I am very interested and excited about what the SPMA is doing," Rolfe says. "I've been part of the [Elevated Transportation Company] board for over two years now and would very much like to continue. But I've come to the conclusion that . . . the conflicts are just too great."
The city of Seattle, which owns the monorail structure, soon will hand it over to the SPMA. If he'd stayed on the board, Rolfe would have been responsible for both operating the monorail and overseeing the agency that will own it. If and when the old monorail is demolished to make way for the new one, Rolfe likely will be compensated for the loss of his profitable business. And in the longer term, Rolfe wants to be able to join the yet-to-be-chosen team that would design, build, and operate the new monorail, although he says he has "no current intention" to do so. At his last meeting as a member of the SPMA board, Rolfe opposed a revolving-door policy that would have prohibited former board members from doing work for the agency for a year after they leave the board. "I don't think it's appropriate to have a rule that says I never could" work for the agency, Rolfe says.
In what might be a win-win for Puget Sound protection and for the Port of Seattle's push to dock cruise ships at Terminal 30 [see "Cruising Is Bruising," Nov. 27, 2002], two leading cruise lines say they'll follow Alaska's stricter anti-dumping rules down here. The Port hopes the tougher standards will reassure federal regulators about the cruise-ship proposal. Fred Felleman, West Coast director of the environmental group Ocean Advocates, hopes the Port will ask the feds to make the cruise lines document what they do with their waste: "If these [cruise companies] had a less sordid history, we'd be inclined to take them at face value."
So let's get this straight. Gov. Gary Locke, faced with a potential budget crisis, decides to slash a cheap little program that takes 20,000 cars off the road every day and leverages $35 million from employers who promote alternatives to driving alone. At the same time, the state Department of Transportation manages to find $2 million to open HOV lanes at night, a proposal everyone agrees will benefit no one. As Jon Stewart would say, "Whaaaa?"
Commute trip reduction, or CTR, isn't sexy. It just works, by requiring large employers to give their workers incentives such as free bus passes, flexible work hours, and telecommuting, and giving them tools to get the job done. As Peter Hurley, director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, puts it, "Why in the world would you eliminate what is quite possibly the single most cost-effective program" run by the WSDOT?
But there's hope yet: Aubrey Davis, head of the Washington Transportation Commission, which oversees the WSDOT, says he's been "talking to legislators" about the program, "and I think it might get restored."
Erica C. Barnett, with staff reports