Morgan's Brain

Oct. 21, 2008 at 11:07am

Help Bring Streetcars to Tacoma!

I'm helping coordinate an effort to get out the YES! vote on the Prop 1 Mass Transit Now! ballot measure. Of particular interest of course is funding to help bring streetcars to our neighborhoods - YES!

Volunteers are needed this Saturday the 25th to door-to-door some fliers. It won't take long and you don't have to knock on the doors if you don't want to! Then on Monday and Tuesday make some phone calls.

Please email me for more details.

Mass Transit Now!

comments [26]  |  posted under mass transit now, prop 1, sound transit, streetcar, tacoma


by Erik on 10/21/2008 @ 11:28am
Prop 1 would certainly give some money that could be used to expand LINK. That's close enough to a streetcar isn't it?

by morgan on 10/21/2008 @ 11:59am
Yes! LINK is actually a streetcar - a modern Eastern European one. I know it's not vintage- getting a vintage streetcar will be the easy part. More critical is getting track in the ground.

by NSHDscott on 10/21/2008 @ 1:19pm
Do you really think Prop 1 will help us build a streetcar network in Tacoma? My understanding is that a small portion of it will pay 50% of an extension of the Tacoma Link either north to TG or south to ??. There's no guarantee that the City will come up with the other 50% and I haven't heard our city leadership getting excited about it. I think the biggest chance of the matching 50% happening is if the Puyallups contributed to extend it south to their casino, and frankly (selfishly) I only care about a northern extension.

In the meantime, Prop 1, along with a crappy economy and potential Russell job losses, saps Tacoma residents of any desire to pass yet another transportation tax measure to build a real streetcar network in Tacoma — one that connects neighborhoods to the Link line so that Tacoma residents can actually use it for 1) commuting to their downtown jobs or to the T-Dome Station to hop a bus or Sounder, and 2) getting to shops in downtown and our other smaller business districts. This kind of intra-neighborhood streetcar network just seems so much better for Tacoma than another mile of Link, resulting in a more lively downtown, more business tax income, decreased parking issues, decreased pollution, decreased commute time.

by fredo on 10/21/2008 @ 1:27pm
Save your energy. ST Prop. 1 doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing. People are up to their eyeballs in taxes already.

by tacoma1 on 10/21/2008 @ 3:01pm
Thanks for helping our community. Most people do appreciate your efforts. The polls are showing strong support region wide for rail and transit. And frankly, I just want something built. North, South, or East, I don't care. Where ever it goes, it will get used.

by Nick on 10/21/2008 @ 3:20pm

I get the feeling the city will be supportive, but when it comes down to actually putting thier money where their mouth is, I'm not so sure. They've proven to be more reactive than proactive when it comes to spending money (think "Project Destiny").

However, I think the more likely partner would be Pierce Transit which has already expressed interest in partnering with ST to expand the LINK (and if I remember correctly, there is already a clause somewhere allowing for another agency like Pierce Transit to actually take over the LINK system)..

by tacoma1 on 10/21/2008 @ 3:43pm
The LINK drivers are Pierce Transit employees. ST contracts with PT for drivers. Up north, the LINK drivers will be Metro drivers.

I would guess that after 11/04 the local politicians will grow a pair and take a stance firmly in favor of Prop 1 if it passes, and against if it fails. That is what I call leadership in Tacoma.

by morgan on 10/21/2008 @ 10:39pm
Thanks tacoma1!

Frankly, to address city leadership on the issue: it's up to us (as in you and me) to take action. With a part-time city council, I would be surprised if they know much of the details. Besides, we the people should be taking control of Tacoma's destiny - it's our responsibility. Our leaders will be there to take credit afterwards.

by NSHDscott on 10/22/2008 @ 12:43pm
Just read this Prop 1 prediction by David Brewster in Crosscut (

"It will probably do poorly in Pierce County, which gets only a small benefit"

Sorry folks, but I gotta agree. Like I said earlier, a small Link extension would be nice, but hardly the streetcar system I think we all want, and it would cost us extra money just to get it, and then no one's going to want to pay even more for streetcars. Other than the half-funded, one-mile Link extension, we get more Sounder trains and buses to make it easier for people to live in Tacoma and work in Seattle. Not real good for Tacoma.

by NSHDscott on 10/22/2008 @ 12:47pm
Oh yeah, and Prop 1 also buys some land on which to build a future Tacoma connection for the Seattle Link in 2030 or so for billions of additional dollars. Also to help Tacomans get the hell out of Tacoma. (Yes, I realize it helps Seattlites get to Tacoma, but given their generally misguided opinions of our fair city, I bet the south commute wouldn't come close to offsetting the north commute.

by morgan on 10/23/2008 @ 9:08am
Crosscut has a good article about mass transit myths today:

I can't tell you how many times I've heard these myths, while at the same time hearing very few alternatives.

by tacoma1 on 10/23/2008 @ 10:11am
The only thing that will make it easier for people to live in Tacoma, and work in Tacoma is more jobs, not less transit. You are looking at this issue with too narrow of a vision.

Voting against a much needed mass transit system is not going to bring jobs to Tacoma. Having the infrastructure in place for workers to get here will remove another "roadblock" for employers to set up shop here. Plus if another major employer opens up here, they will hire people from the PNW region, not just people who live in Tacoma. And they will need transportation to get here, and to build more roads is an unsustainable solution.

But, since you seem so sure why Prop 1 won't work, I'm sure you can come up with a solution to fix our employment, transportation, economy, environment, etc. all in one neat package...............

by NSHDscott on 10/25/2008 @ 12:38am
Come on now, be fair. Sure, I do have my theories about Tacoma's partial bedroom community status, mostly because I know too many capable people who spend 2 hours of their lives every day on a commute -- and if the light rail connection is finished, they'll still be spending 2 hours a day on it. Although by then the car commute may be 3 hours, so I guess we're supposed to be happy about 2 hours?

But look, I jumped into this conversation because I thought the headline of this post was misleading. I don't consider a mile-long extension of our Link to be "bringing streetcars to Tacoma." Morgan's one of our early modern architects of a far more comprehensive streetcar system, and this looks nothing like it, so his support of it surprised me. I want Morgan's system, or something like it!

So instead of asking me to solve all our region's problems, why don't you comment on my real point, which is that if Prop 1 passes, I don't see Tacoma residents passing another tax measure that will fund a Tacoma Streetcar-style network. I think it's hard to argue otherwise if we're being realistic. Are you just saying that you'd rather have a link to Seattle than a streetcar network in Tacoma?

by morgan on 11/5/2008 @ 11:54am
YES! I think we did it!

by Erik on 11/5/2008 @ 12:11pm
With Sound Transit package passing and Pierce Court residents having to pay their share, we need to now make sure we get out share of the funds in terms of streetcar extension.

by tacoma1 on 11/5/2008 @ 1:00pm
The new Pierce County Exec will have a seat on the ST Board, and be a big part of our future. Whoever wins, should be quite involved in the link extension. We will certainly want to voice our desires and preferences towards that office.

by Urban E on 11/5/2008 @ 1:02pm
So Morgan,
Is it true that the city's decision on which end of the LINK gets extended depends on if the Puyallups are willing to put up some matching money to get it to the casino? I'm told that if they do than most likely that would be where the first route to get a streetcar line extending off of it would go.

by NSHDscott on 11/5/2008 @ 1:45pm
It's always been a dream of mine to take the Link from the Winthrop to the Emerald Queen. Now THAT'S the streetcar network I've always wanted.

Sorry for the snarkiness, but this to me feels more like a funeral for the kind of streetcar network that Morgan himself championed -- -- than a celebration. Does anyone else think that our city leaders will have the balls to propose another transportation tax measure to fund one, now that Prop 1 has passed? And if they did, that Tacoma voters will pass it?

But hey, if you want to pretend that a slightly longer Link is the streetcar network you always wanted, don't listen to me.

by tacoma1 on 11/5/2008 @ 2:44pm
The reason that you and the other Prop 1 opponents lost last night is you brought nothing constructive to the table. The opponents didn't have a better plan, they didn't even have a plan. Just negative talking points, no help, and no hope.

Voters across the nation voted for rail, not just here (the bullet train in CA, New Mexico, Honolulu, Sacramento, St Louis, BART) . I am happy and proud that our region has the forsight to invest in rail infrastructure for a better future.

by fredo on 11/5/2008 @ 6:46pm
tacoma1@ Why would opponents to a tax and spend measure like Prop. 1 have to put forth a constructive counter proposal?

Most opponents did not want their taxes increased. Does opposition to increased taxes consititute a "negative talking point?" I suppose we could say that Prop.1 proponents brought no help and no hope for people who didn't want to increase their taxes.

Anyway, congrats to the Prop 1 campaign for a big win.

by NineInchNachos on 11/5/2008 @ 7:33pm
i voted for more trains. so when can I catch a link to the airport?

by tacoma1 on 11/5/2008 @ 9:30pm
You can actually take the Sounder train to the airport tomorrow, no waiting required, no added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and no additional congestion to the roadways. Just get on the Sounder at the T-Dome Sounder Station.........get off at Tukwila Sounder Station, and take a short metro ride on the #140 directly to the airport. Once again a solution is magically provided via transit.

And thanks for the vote.

by morgan on 11/6/2008 @ 9:54am
Baby steps. You have to take the 100 year view on something like this. My hope is that a citywide Tacoma streetcar network would have a grass roots element to it when it comes to design and build. We should be thankful that the Puyallups are interested in investing in infrastructure - even if it may benefit their business. Yes, I would love to see investment made in Tacoma's east side - if any neighborhood could benefit from better transportation connections, it's the east side.

There are many moving pieces to financing a project like extending the LINK. The Puyallups are only one potential partner for what I hope can be a true community project involving not just the big guys, but us little guys too. We all should have a stake in Tacoma's future.

by NSHDscott on 11/6/2008 @ 1:53pm
Gee whiz, tacoma1, I apologize for not bringing a better plan to the table, just like I apologize that I didn't "come up with a solution to fix our employment, transportation, economy, environment, etc. all in one neat package" like you criticized me for failing to do a few weeks ago. Although I appreciate that you apparently hold my intellectual problem-solving capacity in such high regard (I must just be lazy, that's it).

Anyway, I'm very happy for all the Seattle commuters who will get a improved commute financed by those of us who work in the city we live in.

Hey, here's a question or two:
If the Puyallups might be willing to contribute to extend the south end of the Link to their casino, might MultiCare be willing to contribute to extend the north end of the Link to Tacoma General? Is it one or the other, or could both work?

I agree with Morgan that the east side could benefit from better transportation connections, but I don't see a terminus at the Emerald Queen to be that beneficial to east side residents (or much of anyone). It isn't like Emerald Queen is in the heart of that neighborhood. Extending the Link to TG, on the other hand, seems like it connects more neighborhood to downtown (and it's a neighborhood more likely to have residents who work downtown, I would think).

I'm curious to hear what you guys think is the next step now that Prop 1 has passed. Don't forget that for us Tacomans, we still have work to do if we want our Link improved, since unlike our northern neighbors, Prop 1 only gives us half of the funding we need. How can we "little people" drum up support for finding the matching funds from the City, or MultiCare, or the Puyallups, or ??? out there, to get our little light rail line extended?

by morgan on 11/6/2008 @ 2:52pm
If the Puyallups might be willing to contribute to extend the south end of the Link to their casino, might MultiCare be willing to contribute to extend the north end of the Link to Tacoma General?


Is it one or the other, or could both work?


It isn't like Emerald Queen is in the heart of that neighborhood.

It sort of is, being off of Portland Ave. By connecting to Portland Ave, other community partners could get involved - Tacoma Housing for example - with the Salishan project. Once would expect there to be more Federal funding for such projects now.

Extending the Link to TG, on the other hand, seems like it connects more neighborhood to downtown

Agreed. It would put Stadium on the line, get us close to 6th Ave and Hilltop. Other lines could then branch off these to get to Proctor, West End, UP, etc.

How can we "little people" drum up support for finding the matching funds from the City, or MultiCare, or the Puyallups, or ??? out there, to get our little light rail line extended?

Good questions! For starters we can visualize a city reconnected with streetcars- we need to get the entire city excited! Matching funds can come from private companies like Russell, private developers, and property owners who would see increased values as a result of the streetcar.

Personally, I would love to see Brown & Haley involved. Imagine a gold and pink streetcar!

We probably have more partners than we realize, but we don't know right now because the community has not been brought together with a singular focus.

by tacoma1 on 11/6/2008 @ 4:12pm
Morgan, Great points. I think that as soon as Pat McCarthy finishes double counting her votes, and tossing out every third vote for Bunney, we should voice our Link concerns to the Pierce County Exec's office.