Excerpt from “Seattle Transit: An In-Depth Look”

October 12, 2010 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

In one of the greatest diversions of Seattle transit’s time and effort, instead of a true rail system a 1997 vote approved an extension of the existing monorail which would link all four corners of the city to downtown. The flawed Initiative 41 was drafted by Dick Falkenbury, “a long-time political gadfly who earned his living driving a cab and leading city tours… poet-activist Grant Cogswell, and a small band of supporters,” and required private construction of the monorail by the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) with city approval but no public taxes. Though the City maintained doubts about the project’s feasibility, it was forced to abandon an effort to repeal Initiative 41 in 2000 in the face of public outcry. Instead, a second initiative, Initiative 53, which authorized $6 million for a new monorail plan and reserved $200 million for implementation and included 20,000 signatures collected by a local activist, was approved in 2000. In 2002 voters approved construction of the 14 mile “Green Line” at a cost of $1.75 billion. However the project ran 20% over budget while tax revenues were 30% less than expected, and in 2005, the Seattle Monorail Project was finally cancelled when voters killed a financing plan which would cost the City – and its taxpayers – $11 billion over four decades, including $2 billion in principal and $9 billion in interest. From the very beginning the Seattle Monorail Project was flawed, with unrealistic cost estimates and infeasible financial plans. However, this is to be expected when a transit plan is drafted not by experts and engineers, but by laypersons with little to no experience with transportation networks.

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