The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
REHASHED SEATTLE STUFF
Home of More Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity: and I'm not so sure about the universe. Einstein
From the Cabalmaster:
We pick on Maggi Fimia of Seattle, Again!
WAKE UP, MAGGI,
WE THINK WE'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU,
IT’S ALMOST DECEMBER,
AND DENNIS DE YOUNG’S
STILL SINGING "LIES" ABOUT YOU!
(once again with apologies to Rod Stewart / Martin Quittenton www.codehot.co.uk/lyrics/qrst/rodstewartmaggie.htm, The Knickerbockers www.lyricsfreak.com/k/knickerbockers/16645.htm, Dennis DeYoung and Styx)
A while back (well, OK, about a year ago--so, you think we get PAID to do this? We'll consider contributions, though!), The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal received a brief communiqué from a correspondent who works with King County (Seattle) (WA) councilmember and SAP™ laureate Maggi Fimia. We thought we’d share the highlights because it’s highly entertaining – and sobering.
ALL YOU NEED IS SPIN
ALL YOU NEED IS SPIN
ALL YOU NEED IS SPIN, KIN
SPIN IS ALL YOU NEED
(with apologies to John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
With all due respect to various FOCs in the area, we TransitCabalists have neither time, patience nor sympathy for Seattle-style spin control, to which a certain subset of the local population seems addicted.
A LITTLE BIT OF SPIN WILL GO A LONG, LONG WAY,
‘AVE YOURSELF A ‘EALTHY ‘ELPIN’ EVERY DAY!
(with apologies to Dick Van Dyke)
Intrepid Websurfers will recall one of Fimia’s less astute remarks, reported to us by FOCs resident in the area. "I'm a woman, and I have concerns about going underground." Referring, of course, to underground rail transit.
We were contacted about this once before; we checked last time -- and this time. Our sources reiterate – Fimia gave this to the media. They, and we, do not understand why anyone would say something this . . . dorky . . . within earshot of a reporter for the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Stranger or (worst of all) KOMO TV-4, is beyond us.
Fimia, we are assured, “has no recollection of making” the statement as we quoted it.
--Yeah, but she didn’t deny it, either. If we receive an explicit denial, verifiably attributable to Fimia, we will post it here on our blog.
We are also assured that Fimia grew up in New York riding subways, and uses the downtown Seattle transit tunnel without fear.
--Irrelevant and argumentative. Once again, she does not deny making the statement.
We’ll try not to snicker too loudly at the following weak and lame attempt at a diversion:
“Perhaps what your sources heard is a remark that reflects the view of the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives that the Seattle Central Link Light Rail Initial Segment is insufficient justification for closing the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel for two years in order to rebuild it so that trains can operate interspersed underground with buses.”
We laughed and guffawed when we read the following – almost loud enough to reveal the location of Line’s End™, the (very) secret (very) hidden retreat of the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal.
“The light rail train will cost $200 million per mile or more to build and is forecast to attract 16,000 daily one-way boardings new to transit, the equivalent of 8,000 new round-trip commuters per day.”
--“$200 million per mile to build:”
Yes, and the point?
Central Link traffic density will be off the proverbial scale, and – if anyone up there has any idea how to build it properly – might even rival that carried by the Blue Line in Los Angeles once the line is completed between Sea-Tac Airport and Northgate. (More on that in another post.)
--“16,000 daily one-way boardings new to transit:”
Here’s an example of Seattle spin control at its best – or worst. “One-way boardings?” There ain’t no such animal – a “boarding” is a “boarding.”
Note also that the “16,000 daily” figure refers to “one-way boardings new to transit” – in other words, somebody’s estimate of that portion of TOTAL ridership that will be “new.” Total ridership is forecast at more than 40,000 for the 14-mile initial segment. The ten-mile segment to Northgate might add up to 100,000 more (let’s hope the line is properly designed for the commensurate traffic density).
“New to transit,” by the way, is a planning concept that is difficult to relate to anything observable in the “real world.” Except, by chance, in Los Angeles, where excellent statistics for individual transit routes were compiled until very recently. An FOC has sent us some fascinating excerpts. The Blue Line opened in 1990, and by 1996 carried more than 40,000 passengers per weekday. Only 40 percent of this figure could be accounted for by traffic declines on parallel bus lines. The remainder, about 25,000 boardings per weekday, were “new,” either by patrons new to transit or additional travel by existing transit patrons. Total corridor ridership went up by this figure – and total corridor TRAVEL (that is, passenger-miles) went up by a whopping 44 percent. In other words, the Blue Line captured (and generated) a large number of long-distance trips. (This has major implications for Seattle, but that’s another post, if we ever get around to it!)
--“the equivalent of 8,000 new round-trip commuters per day:”
More spin; we doubt that even Wendell Cox would be so careless to make such a flagrantly dishonest claim. Seattle’s rail critics can do better.
It is well known in transit circles that a system’s “constituency” – everyone who rides, say, at least once per week – is larger than the average weekday ridership divided by two. This has been revealed repeatedly by customer surveys. In other words, even if the “16,000 daily one-way boardings new to transit” had 100-percent “real-world” validity, the number of PEOPLE who make these trips would be larger than 16,000 / 2. (Given the trend toward telecommuting during part of the week, it might actually be larger than 16,000.) Fimia and cohorts should know this (we suspect they do, but can’t resist the “desinformatsiya” impulse).
“Because of this deliberately planned waste of limited transit resources -- the disturbing centerpiece of a project now being audited by the Inspector General at USDOT -- many in Seattle ‘have concerns’ about Seattle's Central Link Light Rail ‘going underground’ through that Tunnel.”
-- “Have concerns” about Seattle's Central Link Light Rail “going underground”
Oh, how CUTE! Still no denial, however. Instead, the quote gets labeled as “out-of-context hearsay” at the end of the communiqué.
As we’ve noted before, we respect Seattle’s assorted light-rail critics; they are an educated, sophisticated, media-savvy lot – although we note that they’ve apparently lost the battle to stop Central Link.
But some of them have one-track minds -- and we’re not referring to monorails here!
Your Favorite Transit Pundits find it difficult not to laugh at anyone who would seriously offer monorail as a more cost-effective alternative to light rail, or argue that buses can carry the same traffic volume through Seattle’s downtown tunnel as railcars. This and other examples of Sappy™ thinking may be summed up as follows:
“STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT!”
Which, among other things, betrays the Sap™s total unwillingness to learn anything new.
We think that Seattle’s rail critics – some of them, anyway – are smarter than that. Now that ground has been broken, some may even acknowledge defeat and recast themselves as citizen-watchdogs as the project progresses. Based on her previous antics, however, we’re not expecting too much from M.
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