The Seattle Monorail debate – The Blog’s Most Viewed Post



The Rail For The Valley’s most viewed blog post is “Seattle’s monorail versus LRT debate – Same story, different players!”,  which at first glance is a little puzzling, but when one understands the massive public debate over the proposed Seattle monorail, it is not surprising at all that there is still much interest South of the boarder.

In Vancouver, there has never been a real public debate about ‘rapid‘ transit, as the decision for every one of Vancouver’s three metro lines was made by the provincial government, strictly for political reasons and as such, any debate on transit mode, route, etc., would lead to political embarrassment. Simply, no real debate was allowed. The mainstream media is prompted to report positively about SkyTrain and the RAV/Canada line with large advertising accounts for obliging news outlets. Be negative about transit and TransLink and no advertising money for you. Don’t believe Zwei; go ask Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight.

In Seattle, the US nature of funding ‘rapid’ transit construction with long term bonds encourages public debate, culminating with an electoral initiative, where the taxpayer could approve or reject ‘rapid’ transit construction by ballot.

It is this process of public debate that has attracted more interest in public transit in the USA and is much harder for politicians to ram through pet projects. More people in the Seattle area have taken part in local transit debates than their Vancouver counterparts and thus there is more interest in transit issues down South.

Currently there is a public ennui with transit planning as they are kept from the planning process and only involved when TransLink or the provincial politicians want a media event for photo-ops. There is a complete disconnect between the public and transit planning as it is seen as a ‘mom and apple pie’ issue and any ‘rapid’ transit is good ‘rapid’ transit and the cost of providing ‘rapid’ transit is kept from the public, lest the public wakes up and finds that proposed ‘rapid’ transit plans are dated and unfordable.

A good part of TransLink’s present financial woes stem from building light-metro at two to four times more than light rail – building more SkyTrain will only increase taxes and debt, but the taxpayer knows very little because no real debate has been allowed by politicians and bureaucrats. The result: The public in Greater Vancouver remain ‘out of the loop’ and treat transit expenditures as a ‘fait accompli’.


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2 Responses to “The Seattle Monorail debate – The Blog’s Most Viewed Post”

  1. mezzanine Says:

    “The mainstream media is prompted to report positively about SkyTrain and the RAV/Canada line with large advertising accounts for obliging news outlets. Don’t believe Zwei; go ask Charlie Smith and the Georgia Straight.”

    Repoter Matthew Burrows of the Georgia Straight sems to like skytrain. And this is without a large advertising account going to the Straight. According to him, we’ve already paid off the Expo Line. (look in the comments section)

    ” The skytrain makes it possible for them to stay connected to the city and that is a good thing.

    Here I agree unequivocally. I travel to Burnaby a lot and boy do I appreciate the Expo Line. But that’s not the issue. We’ve paid off the Expo Line now. ”

    Zweisystem replies: The Georgia Straight has been generally unfavorable to SkyTrain & RAV, in fact Charlie Smith has done many insightful stories about SkyTrain, exposing the metro for what it is. For years the Georgia Straight, strangely enough, was the only news outlet that did investigative reporting about SkyTrain and RAV and recent stories by Mr. Smith claim that TransLink doesn’t advertise in the paper….strange because the Georgia Straight’s demographic is that of people who take transit.

    Zwei has been told personally by several reporters that negative stories about SkyTrain were killed by senior editors.

    How much is TransLink paying you?

  2. David Says:

    Matthew may be a good guy, but his writing is only as good as his source material and whether it’s TransLink or some provincial ministry, I don’t trust his source.

    It’s possible that the TransLink portion of the Expo Line has been “paid off” through creative accounting. Borrow a little more than you really need to for new buses and voila, the SkyTrain debt is “paid off” and the bus debt is larger than it needed to be.

    TransLink already plays games with figures. They claim SkyTrain has the highest cost recovery of any rail transit on the continent even though more than 80% of passengers first need a bus to get to SkyTrain and most of the remaining 20% use a bus to reach their final destination. They are deliberately apportioning too much fare revenue to SkyTrain to make it look cost effective when, in fact, it bleeds millions per month. Honest accounting would say that we have a cost effective bus system and a poorly performing rail system, but honesty simply isn’t allowed.

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