Letters to the Editor

Ignorance and disappointment behind light rail | Federal Way letters

I voted against the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure for two reasons. First, because I had zero faith that Sound Transit would actually deliver on any “promises” made to Federal Way. Second, because I don’t consider the planned end point of S. 272nd Street to be of any value to the City of Federal Way.

If you are going to commit to providing Federal Way with a viable light rail line, then one must insist that the plan actually reaches the city center, not just the northern outskirts. I felt that accepting a “build now to 272nd Street and fund the rest later” plan was surely a recipe for disappointment.

What is really irritating is the myopic view that many have in regards to how link light rail will be used. This ignorance is exemplified in county council member Julia Patterson’s recent media quote: “We’re looking at the amount of time it takes to ride light rail from Federal Way to downtown versus the express bus.”

Why is it that so many assume the primary purpose of Federal Way’s light rail is to get to the Seattle core? Anyone who has spent time on light rail and subway systems in foreign locales know that the primary benefit of rail is to enable travel either long distance (SeaTac, U-district or Bellevue) or short stops (one, two or four stops up the road), in a manner that doesn’t hold up or impede, or contribute to surface street traffic. The real benefit of light rail is providing an alternative to not only cars, but to buses as well. An alternative that is reliable from a schedule standpoint. An alternative transport that is easy to enter and debark. A SeaTac bound passenger can roll a piece of luggage easily onto a light rail car; you cannot do that on a bus.

Contrary to Patterson’s mindset, light rail from Federal Way will not be used primarily for travel to Seattle. It will provide for viable “transit hopping,” whether it involves short or long distance travel.

I believe King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, our mayor and city council should proceed with all possible legal means to turn this decision around. Either we obtain what was stated (implied) in the ST2 ballot proposal (transit to Federal Way), or we receive a refund on our Sound Transit contribution.

And hopefully, Federal Way voters will not be bamboozled into being so trusting of the Sound Transit organization in the future.

Larry Paterson, Federal Way

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