After 2+ years, new monorail initiative reported to be ballot-bound

July 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 42 Comments

In spring 2012, we reported on activist Elizabeth Campbell‘s proposal for a new monorail company, to be called the Century Transportation Authority, CenTran for short, with a line running from Ballard to West Seattle, like the last monorail proposal. Haven’t heard much about it in the interim, but today, PubliCola reports that Campbell has gathered enough valid signatures – just under 4,600 – to get this on the Seattle ballot in November. If voters say yes, CenTran’s website says, it would start out with a $5 license-tab tax to raise money to plan the monorail system.

42 Comments

  1. here we go again …

    Comment by metrognome — 5:25 pm July 24, 2014 #

  2. Build it! I’d ride it… if I’m still living in W SEA by the time it’s here! Busses are awful, they take forever to get around the area!

    Comment by metrogNOme — 5:54 pm July 24, 2014 #

  3. Is she a taxi driver?

    Comment by flashback — 6:04 pm July 24, 2014 #

  4. r u serious!!!???!!! You have to be kidding, I am not ok with giving away all of my hard earned money again…it’s like a rerun episode of the Simpsons, but real life! Fool me once,… you know the rest!

    Comment by monroe1200 — 6:34 pm July 24, 2014 #

  5. THIS I may be interested in hearing more about.
    Provided the first sentence says that the city, county and state steer clear of funding, building or managing it.
    Dare I say it? *gasp* a privately held corporation should do it.

    Comment by 935 — 6:39 pm July 24, 2014 #

  6. Are we being punk’d?

    Comment by jno — 6:40 pm July 24, 2014 #

  7. Yes, we are being punk’d. The city and county did several studies all in the past. This is just more b.s. to grab cash to use for general funding. Another underutilized service to suck up a disproportionate amount of taxes while not being adequately funded by the actual users of the system.

    Comment by Ray — 6:47 pm July 24, 2014 #

  8. After browsing the CenTran site, I would say that this is (thankfully) not a serious effort. It will survive a few news cycles and be handily defeated in November.

    Comment by jno — 7:09 pm July 24, 2014 #

  9. Unfortunately a pipe dream. We must accept no other reality than endless traffic jams forevermore. Because taxes

    Comment by Marc Mauger — 7:10 pm July 24, 2014 #

  10. Are you kidding me??? A 3rd transit agency? That is the last thing we need. Metro just added the E and F lines to Rapid Ride and If you live in West Seattle, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, basically anywhere not serviced by Light Rail you still can’t get to the airport efficiently.

    Why? Because that is sound transit’s domain. The F line drives right past Seatac without stopping. If you don’t live on the LR line, or the 560 line it takes 50-75 minutes to get to the airport and you have to transfer agencies who don’t honor one another’s transfers so you have to pay a whole new fare.

    We need to concentrate our efforts on expanding Sound Transit’s Light rail, or Metro’s rapid ride. Not bloat the system even further with another agency.

    I live in Morgan Junction and the trip to the airport which used to take around 20 minutes and cost 1 fare now takes 50+ minutes and involves 2 fares.

    Comment by Big G — 7:13 pm July 24, 2014 #

  11. Seattle’s tax-crazy. Wow. Is the plan to make Seattle too expensive for what’s left of the middle class?

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 7:17 pm July 24, 2014 #

  12. I’ll bite. I’m enough of a sucker to get ANY type of mass transit to ws that isn’t the bus. I may actually visit other parts of the city. A monorail through the new water front park would be awesome. And people could remember the good ole days of driving across the viaduct. I’d be happy to pay an extra $50 per car for that!

    Comment by Jw — 7:45 pm July 24, 2014 #

  13. Well, it’s a hearty effort but, if the route they’ve devised for West Seattle is a for real proposal, I think they are in for quite a bit of “process”.
    They show the train running right thru the new Fauntleroy development, (Whittaker Place?) and the new Duwamish crossing ought to be a tunnel else it will be subject to the same opening conflicts as the low-level Spokane St does.
    I know this is a cursory comment based on a 5 minute review of what’s on their website, and I’m sure that much of what they have there is all that could be done with available resources. Still, having worked to try to have the last Monorail built, I’m intrigued by the prospects of transit that has a new river crossing, is grade separated and independent from auto interferences. It will be fun to see where this goes.

    Comment by old timer — 8:05 pm July 24, 2014 #

  14. “a privately held corporation should do it”
    .
    As much as that might sound ideal, you’re talking about a massive amount of land use which requires the cooperation of multiple government agencies to approve. Unless somebody like Paul Allen were to buy every lot of land this will run on, it won’t be privately funded or run. Shoot…even South Lake Union which is mostly owned by Paul Allen is funded by tax payers.

    Comment by Mike — 8:20 pm July 24, 2014 #

  15. What ever happened to our elected officials doing something other than waiting for signatures to be gathered? Oh yeah we have to pay for the elected officials too.

    Comment by trevor — 8:25 pm July 24, 2014 #

  16. On the CTA website, Campbell links to a Seattle Met article about herself. Take a read, and then see if you find irony in her pursuing a giant, controversial construction project.

    Comment by Smintisgood — 8:29 pm July 24, 2014 #

  17. So, those of us that were ‘fortunate’ enough to ‘get’ to pay the monorail car tab tax the first time – do we get a by for the new tax? Or has that money been sitting somewhere earning interest? Are the people from Vashon and Southworth also going to get to join in on the money-go-round? Sheesh!

    Comment by K'lo — 8:54 pm July 24, 2014 #

  18. murray and the council seems to think tax payers have unlimited money…if this does not make the vote I am sure government will make it law…..maybe murray forgot ONLY his staff got a 40% pay increase and can afford all his new taxes and fees.

    Comment by joel — 8:57 pm July 24, 2014 #

  19. in·san·i·ty
    noun \in-ˈsa-nə-tē\

    : something that is very foolish or unreasonable
    3

    a: extreme folly or unreasonableness

    b: something utterly foolish or unreasonable

    Comment by Chris — 9:09 pm July 24, 2014 #

  20. Interesting. Reading only the comments rather than the original story, one would assume that the city council had already approved funding and construction was slated to start tomorrow.

    Comment by Twobottles — 10:13 pm July 24, 2014 #

  21. Nope read the story. Like other transportation systems, these do not make money. Any private venture is destined to fail before it starts because it will never be profitable and will either fall onto the local governments to take over or bail out.

    This will most very likely die a quiet death and go nowhere.

    Comment by Ray — 11:08 pm July 24, 2014 #

  22. Not thinking big enough again, as shown this proposal does not add to mobility as it requires *taking* a lane from existing bridges across water crossings.

    Comment by dsa — 11:22 pm July 24, 2014 #

  23. Twobottles is right. People are acting like this is something Murray or the city council thought up. From what I can see, private citizens are pushing this, and it’ll probably be defeated at the ballot box and no more will be heard about it. Even if by some weird fluke it wins, it’ll probably never happen, just like the other one never happened.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 3:21 am July 25, 2014 #

  24. Will someone let them know that in order to start off on the right foot to please ALWAYS refer to it as West Seattle-Downtown and Ballard-Downtown lines. The “West Seattle to Ballard” throws everybody off and gives headline readers the wrong impression.

    Comment by Smitty — 6:37 am July 25, 2014 #

  25. Chris, I would add C:

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein

    Comment by Alan — 7:34 am July 25, 2014 #

  26. I’m all for it. Those bitching about it must love to sit in traffic and then bitch about the traffic. Sounds schizophrenic to me.

    Can someone tell me why after 4 “yes” votes and 1 “no” vote it was killed? We could have been enjoying the ride for the last 4 years even with a years delay.

    Once again are we going to be voting against our own interests just because of hatred toward government and having to pay for something?

    Comment by WS since '66 — 8:08 am July 25, 2014 #

  27. What is with the constant attempts to increase the car tabs? Why be punitive because someone has chosen to own a car? With the first monorail effort, my car tabs jumped to $350 for one vehicle due the monorail tax, as I rode the bus to/from downtown everyday, and people without cars contributed nothing to funding the monorail. How is that fair?

    Comment by BT — 8:59 am July 25, 2014 #

  28. LOL. McAfee wouldn’t even let me visit the CenTran website. I was punk’d

    Comment by sam-c — 9:29 am July 25, 2014 #

  29. I don’t care how we get it, West Seattle and Ballard NEED rail service. Are people really so tightfisted that they will sit in immobile traffic for 45 minutes to get home from downtown?

    Comment by Greg — 9:34 am July 25, 2014 #

  30. Stupid is as stupid does.
    We went over ALL the arguments of why this is a bad idea years ago. At all the forums. I went to the website, I can’t figure out who funds this mindless drivel? Those asking questions must either be numb, or just moved here. Especially those with the “it’s better than a car or bus.” Mindless. Right up there with (Not) Rapid Ride. How that got through I’ll never know.
    But if you are just coming out from under a rock – I will provide you with a better mass transit solution.
    Light rail. Let me educate for a moment. Light rail can go on grade, below grade, or wait for it – above grade just like your nifty cool monofail. Also you can tie in to an existing system and spread the cost across three counties.
    Mic drop.

    Comment by JMB — 9:44 am July 25, 2014 #

  31. @WS since ’66, I can tell you why it was killed: because a $2B system was going to cost $11B over 50 years, paid entirely with city car-tab taxes (the only viable revenue stream due to state law).
    .
    You are ascribing a lot of spurious motives to “no” voters (I don’t “hate the government,” I don’t mind paying for city services, and I don’t love or even like sitting in traffic). If you want to see a real plan for mass transit in WS, killing off this ridiculous, less-than-half-baked plan as quickly as possible is IN our own interests.
    .
    Face facts: the city can’t afford this on its own, and the project would have to compete for state and federal dollars with the regional agency that has a proven track record building mass transit. Spending any more money to study this when we have an EXACT case study of why it won’t work is asinine.
    .
    If you want to see a serious plan for mass transit on the peninsula, join Seattle Subway and lobby Sound Transit to accelerate their studies for our area.

    Comment by jno — 10:46 am July 25, 2014 #

  32. “constant attempts to increase the car tabs” is because we have THE most regressive tax structure in the country; we need a state income tax, like nearly every other state; THAT would solve a lot of problems

    Comment by Diane — 10:54 am July 25, 2014 #

  33. Great idea and is something very needed it’s just to bad our city visionaries did not try and incorporate this into an above or below ground hwy99 rebuild instead of putting the tunnel project into motion as they did with no room for future growth and options, then you have the waterfront rebuild going on also that could have been designed to include a project as this. Now add the new bicycle path plan through out the city. Where is the mass transit system in any of this ? W/S will need a new bridge or tunnel for a transit system and it should be built to include a bicycle, walking, jogging path within it bypassing the lower bridge. $5 tab increase will never come close to paying for a monorail system like this. Might cover the down town area, and as far as being a privately funded built/run system it would be a money loser for any investor unless their greatly subsidized. If the city was really that interested in helping the traffic flow in this area don’t you think they would have had a plan and incorporated some sort of mass transit system into one of their many projects ? our city government has gotten to big and no ones knows what the others are doing, until the thinking style and priorities change nothing else will either as they continue raising our taxes.

    Comment by wetone — 11:15 am July 25, 2014 #

  34. I fully agree Diane about the income tax. It sounds like most comments here were written by those who were not here when we had a more fair (tied to the value of your vehicle)car tab cost. A reminder also several years ago (6 to 8?)after the car tabs were reduced to $30 there was an advisory question on the ballot. The question was how to pay for transportation (roads and mass transportation). There were about 4-6 ways proposed and the majority voted the old car tab way was the preferred tax plan. Btw,how many here vote regularly? Please note at the end of your comment if you do or don’t.

    Comment by WS since '66 — 11:55 am July 25, 2014 #

  35. Admittedly, this article is from 2012, but is still good for a reality check: http://seattletimes.com/news/business/taxes/qa/page_01.html

    We are not being taxed to death. The government is not out to get you. Minorities are not trying to ‘get away with something’, Fox News is not real news. What we need is an income tax to make things more equitable. But of course the knee jerk anti-tax amongst us voted that down.

    Comment by Villagegreen — 2:59 pm July 25, 2014 #

  36. After you read the above mentioned Seattle Times piece, head over here to learn about cherry picking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking_(fallacy)

    Comment by Data — 8:14 pm July 25, 2014 #

  37. LOL. I always love the “we’re taxed to death” comments. No. Not even close. Go live in Europe. Matter of fact, Seattle isn’t being crushed by taxes, we’re the fastest growing city in the NATION. Not in Western Washington, in the nation. We choose to pay taxes here because people here LIKE parks, libraries, etc. If you don’t like taxes feel free to move yourself to Montana or Wyoming or Kansas (er, last one isn’t a good idea, they’re budget is massively in the red because of, well, tax cuts). At some point, of course taxes can be too high. But so far it doesn’t seem to be even STARTING to SLOW DOWN growth here, much less kill it. And heck, just 3 weeks after the $15 minimum wage change we had the HIGHEST hotel sales price ever, and 2,000+ more hotel rooms coming online in the next 4 years. Sure isn’t driving them away. Hmmm.

    But seriously, monorail? I love the nostalgia, like everyone. But do we need yet ANOTHER transit system funded/run separately? So I can take the monorail to the light rail to the street car, and then maybe the gondola up Union. It would be nice to have a UNIFIED single transit system, not 5 or 6 random unconnected “near each other” systems.

    Comment by David — 10:09 pm July 25, 2014 #

  38. where do I sign up for doing the studies??they are the only one that are making any money on this dead horse. millions of dollars down the drain for studies that are going to be ignored anyway. this country was built on PRIVATE ENTERPRISE.let the billionare bankers and railroad magnates build it .they have more money than the working stiffs, and most of them are drowning in money anyway..hell they pay less in taxes than a laborer…

    Comment by Robert — 7:40 am July 26, 2014 #

  39. For those who don’t want to read about this online–taken from this mornings Times–PLEASE READ It!
    **************************************************
    If voters approve Proposition 2, it would create the Century Transportation Authority, a new government entity run by an independent board of directors with the power to place taxpayers on the hook for bond debt.

    The measure also imposes a $5 annual citywide car-tab fee on vehicles at least 1 year old, raising an estimated $2 million a year.

    The money would be spent writing plans and environmental reports for an approximately 16-mile line connecting Ballard, the waterfront and West Seattle as far south as Westwood. Construction, pegged at $2.4 billion, would require a follow-up tax measure
    **************************************************

    Comment by Gene — 8:07 am July 26, 2014 #

  40. Why worrie! We can’t even start our diggie machine. There’s no money for this..:)

    Comment by Starsky — 6:00 pm July 26, 2014 #

  41. I’m not sure how I feel about this Prop 2 just yet. I’ve worked with Elizabeth before and know that she does want what is best for the city. She isn’t a politician like the ones in place.

    I’m hearing complaints about the way it is now and I know her initiative to be in response to our messed up transportation infrastructure.
    Even so, I can’t say just yet how I will vote on Prop 2 as I don’t know enough about it yet.

    Comment by au — 7:54 pm July 26, 2014 #

  42. Agreed our sales tax dependant revenue is regressive and an extremely volatile source of income. Makes common sense to diversify with an income tax.

    I love the idea of going downtown in 15 minutes with frequent departures. Can’t beat it in theory. Also love the idea of making Seattle a leading city and destination. The Seattle monorail is an icon and one of the few profitable transportation systems in the country.

    First things first we have to fix our tax base, then we can dream. Damn, I’d love to be zooming over the viaduct now the finances were figured out!

    Comment by Jon — 10:50 pm July 29, 2014 #

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