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

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Friday, October 25, 2002


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

From the Cabalmaster:

(* from a 1970s Olympia Beer TV jingle)

Continuing the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal's coverage of Seattle's monorail plan:

King County Executive Ron Sims has received answers to the questions he's posed -- and ETC is not amused On October 23, Sims released a letter from the King County Metro General Manager, Rick Walsh. Walsh states that Metro does not have the resources -- $4.5 million per year for an additional 90,000 hours of bus service -- to provide monorail feeder service. This is three times the level projected by ETC. ETC projections envision that half of monorail passengers would arrive at stations by feeder bus. Walsh also stated that only 1,000 parking spaces at stations could be built for ETC's $25 million estimate.

We Opinionated Ones are extremely skeptical of Seattle's monorail plan. The mode choice was literally made first, then the route was selected -- exactly the opposite of how good planning should be conducted. This point has been made repeatedly, in cities far and wide . . . including Curitiba, Brazil, where a monorail scheme collapsed earlier this year owing to withdrawal of a financing offer. A transportation engineer and former president of MetrĂ´ do Rio de Janeiro blasted the "before the fact" selection of monorail technology. He argued that "The selection of technology must be the final decision, following demand analysis and calculation of costs and benefits of various options." None of this was conducted before selection of monorail technology in Seattle. The project has advanced in a manner that suggests foaming, not planning.

A "Seattle Post-Intelligencer" editorial supporting the monorail acknowledges this:

"The plan to build a monorail line through the heart of Seattle is a wide-eyed optimists' idea that sprang not from the cautious calculations of those in the establishment's paneled halls but from the rambunctious dreams of those literally at street level.

"The plan's very existence is the result of a brash and repeated rebuke of elected officials' conventional wisdom.

"It is a huge investment in alternative transportation that would have a dramatic impact on the city's architectural ambiance.

"And those are only some of the reasons for supporting the proposal to build the 14-mile monorail system."

(An FOC ("Friend of the Cabal;" = "Fellow Traveler") has a slogan: "The 'Seattle Post-Intelligencer' is neither!)

Among the volume of "letters to the editor" inspired by the monorail is a veritable foamer's manifesto in free verse Excerpts:

"We support the monorail. The people, the voters, the citizens of this fair city of Emerald Green, know us and know our actions are not merely words.

"Now that the monorail is REAL, now that the Powers That Be, the Builders Of Roads, the Politicians who bleed us dry to subsidize the suburbs, realize that-now they will come, wearing sheep's clothing over their wolf skins, pretending to be Seattleites. They will naysay the monorail. They will lie, cheat, steal-whatever it takes to line their pockets.

"We Seattleites, we of the Dream, we of the City, we who are here now, then, and in the future-we shall unmask them."

With respect to the difference between planning and foa . . . er, wishful thinking . . . an FOC and avowed monorail critic complains that ETC has kept "virtually all" basic planning information, related to the following planning aspects, "under lock and key"

- All elemental design and cost data.
- Design data for most major stations.
- Rolling stock details.
- Operational assumptions.
- Basis of operating cost claims.
- Details of financial assumptions.
- Ridership modeling assumptions and methods.

"The ETC's claims are rife with contradictions, anomalies, and mysteries. Their ridership estimates have been growing like Pinocchio's nose, to fatten their revenue estimates, yet none of the details have been released to the public."

"For any other public transit project, especially [one receiving federal funds], all this information would long since have been public record."

Ready for a bit of comic relief? Citizens Against the Monorail planned a "Coming Out Party with Marge Simpson" for October 29. CAM planned to screen a 1993 episode of "The Simpsons" titled "Marge Against the Monorail." The plot line of this animated hilarity is predictable: nefarious monorail salesmen come to Springfield, sucker the city into building one, which Homer promptly wrecks. Marge protests, "But Main Street is still cracked and broken;" Bart replies, "Sorry, Mom. The mob has spoken"

In response to the risk of ridicule, monorail supporters had a cow (so to speak) and complained to Fox Broadcasting. In mid-October, Fox sent a letter ordering monorail opponents not to proceed with the planned showing on grounds of copyright infringement

No, we didnt make this up; check out the links!

The leader of the anti-monorail campaign said he would seek legal advice, and it was not clear at posting time whether the planned showing would go ahead.

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