Good to see that Ron Sims has taken up the mantle of go-to anti-rail crank for the local media. Thanks, Ron!

Sims is peeved that the buses stuck in traffic downtown only stack up three deep. He’d like to see them going at least five deep.

It's All Relative

I’m going to try to refrain from ad hominem attacks against former WSDOT secretary Doug MacDonald, who is in the midst of a 3-part series on Crosscut arguing against Sound Transit expansion.

(Seriously, though… diesel is at $5/gallon, causing Metro to cut back service, and the Crosscut editors think we need to hear an argument for more diesel-powered buses? What planet are these guys on?)

MacDonald’s installment today takes bus ridership numbers and extrapolates wildly, arguing that they provide an open-and-shut case against light rail.

But his logic is flawed. He focues on the bus lines that have shown the biggest increases, not the ones that are biggest in absolute number. He says that 550, which parallels East Link, grew at only 7%, while the 535 grew at 31%. This, he argues, proves that light rail is a waste of money. Or something. But if you look at the absolute numbers, the 550 is still has 425% more riders than the 535. Because the 550 is on a core corridor. That’s why it would be better served with rail.

But the real fallacy is the argument that we should spend more on buses because buses have more riders. That’s totally backwards. By that logic, we should never build a highway because a highway has zero riders before it gets built.

In absolute numbers, connecting Lynwood, Federal Way, Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle with a high-capacity, high-frequency rail link is an incredibly smart long-term investment for the region. Every argument otherwise relies on some kind of logical sleight-of-hand. That should tell you something.

San Francisco

Interesting article at Mass Transit Magazine about Muni operations, some factors in on-time performance, parking, &tc. I would wonder how well the SPD coordinate with Metro….if my car didn’t disappear with such miraculous rapidity when I park in a time-prohibited space.

A Bus Named Hal

A few months ago I took what I thought was the bus ride from hell. The bus computer was broken, and the driver literally did not know which direction was north. The constant iteration of “oops” got less amusing as the hours passed and we saw more and more of Kitsap County.

I see now that things could have been worse, as we learn that a bus driver was apparently looking at Google maps as he drove his bus under a low bridge and peeled the roof off. Lately, people who visit me tell me that the directions from Google were wrong.

Could we as a people become too dumb to breath? Some days it seems like we’re halfway there.