Monorail proponent Elizabeth Campbell---in the news most recently for her opposition to the deep-bore tunnel, and for her short-lived candidacy for mayor---is accusing another transit proponent, Seattle Subway founder Ben Schiendelman, of stealing her ideas for rail transit on the west side of Seattle.

In an email Campbell forwarded to PubliCola, the monorail backer said Schiendelman---one of the leaders of the anti-tunnel campaign---had initially offered to give his advice and help to Campbell's group, CenTran, on future monorail planning. But subsequently, Campnbell charges, Schiendelman, "unbeknownst to me, ... embarked on a whole other thing, and it has been revealed more and more over time, that well, he is trying to start some kind of competing effort by using everything I shared with him, to do this 'Seattle Subway' gambit."

Noting that Schiendelman signed a confidentiality agreement promising not to reveal any proprietary information about the monorail proposal, Campbell writes, "Mr. Schiendelman has a bar against both talking about and converting to his own use the information that I shared with him."

Before I go any further, here are the two maps---first, the Seattle Subway proposal, then Campbell's Central Transportation map.

Seattle Subway:

And the CenTran monorail:

As you can see, the routes (the red line in the Subway map corresponding roughly to the red line in the monorail map, and the blue line in the subway map corresponding roughly to the light green line in the monorail map) are similar, but hardly identical.

Moreover, Schiendelman says, the idea of building a rail system on the west side of the city isn't exactly new. "It seems to me that she considers planning work done in the 1960s to be proprietary," he says. "The only similarity between her idea and Seattle Subway's plans is that they both propose transit service to the western portion of Seattle."

Schiendelman says Campbell never shared any specific information with him "past the fact that she wanted to build a monorail on the waterfront."

In her letter, Campbell sort of acknowledges this. "I will grant you that transportation routes are not necessarily proprietary in the long run," she writes. "[H]owever, pursuant to the non‐disclosure agreement that Mr. Schiendelman signed on September 20, 2011, he agreed not to disclose the confidential and proprietary information that I had provided to him, including the CenTran route alignment, or to use it for his own purposes, including using it to compete against CenTran’s project."

For more back and forth on this internecine transit-advocacy battle (yes, I loved typing that), check out Seattle Transit Blog, where Schiendelman and Campbell had it out in the comments on Seattle Transit Blog late last month.
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