The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Wednesday, October 23, 2002


"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule." James Howard Kunstler

From the Cabalmaster:

“Look! There on the ballot! It’s a plan! It’s a scheme! It’s a cult!”

Seattle's monorail plan is certainly the most . . . singular . . . transit plan to come along in years. If we opinionated transit pundits didn't know better, we'd swear this plan was being advanced by a cult. And at least one other person shares this opinion.

On October 10, King County Executive Ron Sims accused monorail supporters of "stifling" debate and "threatening" him for asking pointed questions (The King County Executive is an elected official equivalent to the county "mayor;" King County, which includes Seattle, is by far the largest in Washington State in terms of population.)

"[The monorail plan] has taken on a religious, cultlike fervor," Sims said. "You're not supposed to say anything. You're not supposed to question it."

"This is the most unusual political environment on an issue I've ever seen," he said. "If you ask questions (about the monorail) it's almost like you are a heretic.

"That's what's happening in this town, and everybody knows it," he added.

According to Sims, his deputy chief of staff was contacted by a monorail campaign volunteer -- who works as an aide to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for his "day job." The message: "monied interests" who favored the monorail warned that Sims was risking his political future by not supporting it. Although the "messenger" later denied making any threats, we note that Ron Sims is no hothead demagogue or shameless publicity-seeker.

Sims, a moderate Democrat, is part of Seattle's transit "establishment:" Bus service in Seattle and surrounding King County is operated by the county government as King County Metro Transit. Sims also sits on the board of Sound Transit, the agency which is developing a regional network including express buses, commuter rail and light rail. He currently serves as the Sound Transit board chair.

Many Seattle politicians have endorsed the monorail, either as true believers or to avoid alienating monorail enthisiasts. Not Sims. He has declined to take a position, and, during the most recent flap, made it clear that he would remain neutral. Sims did ask the Metro Transit general manager to respond to a list of questions regarding "potential unintended consequences" of the monorail. These queries, which have been asked before by monorail skeptics, include:

--What percentage of monorail riders would be diverted from existing Metro bus routes?

--How would the proposed monorail (Ballard --- downtown --- West Seattle) affect existing and planned bus routes?

--How would monorail construction affect bus service?

--Would the monorail lead to improvements in traffic flow?

--Is there any good way to transfer passengers from buses to the monorail?

We'll be interested to see what the answers are.

(* from a 1970s Olympia Beer TV jingle)

Comments: Post a Comment