Waiting could lead to greater costs
The “Reject Sound Transit 3” [Opinion, Oct. 20] editorial is misinformed at best, and deceptive at worst. Planning started more than two years ago, with the first public input 1½ years ago. That is anything but “rushed.”
If the measure fails to pass, you can count on the next proposal serving fewer neighborhoods, starting four years later, offering up compromised transit (with street crossings) that moves half as fast, with fewer economies of scale, resulting in less benefit per dollar spent. A series of timid half-measures could end up spending more money for less gain. So much for “accountability.”
As for “unclear benefits,” tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people who live or work near the proposed new service, and who currently stew in traffic. Surely, new bus rapid transit the entire length of Interstate 405 is not “minor.” The Ballard-Downtown Seattle segment is conservatively forecast to have ridership of 100,000 per day, taking one-third the time transit does today. That volume and speed is like building a freeway past Amazon and Expedia, but at a fraction of the cost. And you would have us believe there is no value in being able to get to events at the Tacoma Dome or Xfinity Arena in Everett.
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By mentioning only the last delivery date, you hide the fact that the first improvements are complete in the early 2020s, with a steady stream thereafter.
We have a thriving economy now, but there is some tipping point beyond which traffic nightmares will drive businesses to move elsewhere. You are playing with fire.
Dale Menchhofer, Seattle
Plan for self-driving cars instead
Sound Transit 3 is asking for $54 billion. I would support it if it helped with congestion or carbon, but I don’t believe it would.
There are parts of ST3, such as bus rapid transit, that make sense.
It’s biggest flaw is blindness to vehicle automation, which is the biggest tool available to planners to fight carbon and congestion.
It isn’t just Google that is developing automated cars; its all the major car companies and their suppliers. Small, automated transit vehicles on reserved lanes are operational in Europe and Asia today. These developments are happening in the automotive and tech industries. Planners are about to get blindsided, including in Puget Sound.
Expect to see self-driving taxis on the road within five years. Uber and Lyft are betting on reaching profitability by not paying drivers. When Sound Transit 3 completes around 2040, the suburban commuters it seeks would have permanently moved to self-driving taxis.
If we build it, and they don’t come, empty trains would do nothing for carbon reduction or congestion. We need to plan on how to take advantage of vehicle automation, rather than clinging to 20th-century solutions and being overwhelmed by 21st-century technology.
Tyler Folsom, Seattle