WSDOT Secretary Consults with Political Advocates on Response to WPC Study, Has No Real Dispute With Our Data

In 2019, Washington Policy Center asked national transportation expert Wendell Cox to evaluate transportation planning in the Puget Sound region. He looked at data showing where people choose to live, where they choose to work, and how they choose to travel. Specifically, he addressed the policy question: does our regional transportation plan reflect reality or wishful thinking?

Key Points about the report and WSDOT's drafted response:

  1. A 2019 WPC study by Wendell Cox found that public transit has little potential to serve employment destinations outside of downtown Seattle.
  2. The study emphasized that transportation planning should focus on access to jobs.
  3. WPC asked for feedback from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on the study, but never heard back.
  4. Through public disclosure, WPC found WSDOT had drafted a response but never sent an official response.
  5. WSDOT’s complaints are largely around methodology and authorship, without any real dispute with our data.
  6. A thoughtful and data-focused reply should have been compiled and sent, which would have contributed to the public’s understanding of transportation policy and spending.

A brief excerpt follows:

"Lastly, Secretary Millar stoops to ad hominem attacks, stating that Cox is a “proponent of auto-centric development” so it’s not surprising that the study “downplays the positive contributions that transit and other options have on congestion mitigation.” On the contrary, Cox is a demographer and national urban policy expert whose values have been readily published online in an invited European journal essay and on Demographia’s website as follows: “The objective of urban policy should be to achieve widespread affluence and eradicate poverty” and that this “requires transport that maximizes mobility and minimizes travel times."

Read the full Policy Note here (PDF opens in new tab or window).

This article is reprinted with permission from Washington Policy Center.

Mariya Frost is the Director of the Coles Center for Transportation at Washington Policy Center. Mariya has lived in both Eastern and Western Washington, and believes strongly in the freedom of mobility for all Washingtonians. She is on the Board of Directors for the Eastside Transportation Association, a member of the Jim MacIsaac Research Committee, and a member of the Women of Washington civic group. She and her husband live in Tacoma.