Sunday, September 25, 2005
I recently rode the old monorail in Seattle. It looks like the new, larger monorail is in trouble. Mayor and city council don't think the financing plan is realistic. A scaled back monorail plan is on the ballot.
Here is an idea for the monorail, as if they don't have enough suggestions already.
Turn the new monorail into a "feeder line" for Sound Transit.
Sound Transit is Seattle's other light rail proposal. It has had problems and cost overruns as well. Sound Transit has also had to scale back it's original plan. The original "phase 1" plan called for going from the airport to University of Washington, possibly even on to Northgate. It has been scaled back to a line just from the airport to downtown.
At least Sound Transit is starting to build that line.
The original monorail plan sort of paralleled Sound Transit. It went from West Seattle, (down the airport direction) through downtown and up to Ballard District. That's sort of the direction toward University Of Washington.
Why can't they merge the two plans?
Let Sound Transit build it's line from the Airport to downtown. Then have a scaled back monorail line from downtown to University of Washington (where Sound Transit had originally planned to go).
Another short monorail line could link West Seattle to the Sound Transit line that comes up from the southwest, rather than having to go downtown.
The monorail could become a feeder line to Sound Transit. They should share a downtown station so passengers can easily transfer from one to the other.
Both lines could gradually branch out from that hub and connect with metro transit bus routes.
People tend to forget, but Sound Transit already has another rail service that links both Everett and Tacoma to Seattle. It's called the Sounder Train. Runs on existing BNSF right of way.
Tacoma already has a short Sound Transit light rail line in it's downtown area.
All these things should start connecting up, but people may have to transfer from bus to train to monorail, for instance. One fare should cover it all. Maybe it's not a perfect idea, but it's better than sitting in traffic.
Part of the problem, with any transportation system, is the staggering cost of land in Seattle area. Houses that sold for $20,000, not that many years ago, now sell for closer to the million mark. It must be next to impossible to do any public works project, such as building stations, that requires buying land. This problem especially makes adding lanes to the existing freeway impractical. If one thinks light rail is too expensive, just try adding another lane to I-5! It would take up so much room and displace so many homeowners that the bank breaks.
So, Sound Transit and Monorail should get together. It's just another one of my ideas.