Target Practice: Greg Nickels Trips During Light Rail Victory Lap

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Hey everyone, did you forget about that thing I only sort of screwed up? Well let me remind you!
Target Practice is our daily aim at a hypocritical politician, worthless law or random nincompoop who deserves a bit of buckshot in the backside.

It's common practice for the guy who used to run the joint to come back and take a victory lap every once in a while. Even if he was unceremoniously dumped, as former mayor Greg Nickels was last August, it's still customary to provide any former head of state a platform from which he may list all of the virtuous services he provided the local peasantry.

So it's not a surprise that The Seattle Times gave Nickels 800 words to play around with. But it is eyebrow-raising that he chose to use that space to talk up light rail, a victory that's looking less worth taking credit for every day.

In Nickels' eyes, getting light rail up and moving was like taking the world's best road trip. It was "an epic journey" and "an amazing adventure" filled with "many twists and turns." Apparently he forgot that all we have to show for it thus far is a new, really costly way to get to the airport, a place we never really had a hard time getting to to begin with.

Nickels is also out to lunch when he talks about how many people will actually ride the thing. Writing that, after expansions, "70 percent of the residences and 85 percent of the jobs in Metro Seattle will be within an easy bus ride, bike ride or walk to a rail station. With a capacity of 1 million passengers a day, it will transform how we get around."

Problem is, nothing gets transformed if no one uses the shiny new toy. And a new forecast from the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Metropolitan Transportation Plan says rail boardings will only be 164,400 per day in 2040, a 47% drop from the Sound Transit forecast of 310,000 per day in 2030 that helped sell the project to the public.

In other words, saying rail will have a capacity of one million passengers is just another way of saying there will be a lot of empty seats.

In this way, Nickels is like the sophomore puffing out his chest because he managed a C-minus on his Chem final. Sure the test was hard. And he had to, like, study for months. But when the end result is as muddled and unflattering as the current state of light rail, wouldn't it make more sense to shove it in a desk drawer and forget it ever happened, rather than sticking it up on the fridge for the whole world to see?

Of course, given that the guy who took over for Nickels can't give a straight answer to a simple question, maybe he has a right to brag.

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