Friday, May 30, 2008

Seattle Mass Transit Blackhole

I am a Seattle newbie, via Washington DC for five years, from Wisconsin originally. Over the past two months I've both experience and received various opinions about the Seattle mass transit "system" or lack there of. I emphasize "system" for a reason. From wikipedia a system is "is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole." I have yet to see any indication of this in the greater Seattle area aside from buses; which I want to point out, I don't consider a viable mass transit system since:

1. Routes are limited and transferring is a timely pain.
2. They share and add to traffic congestion.
3. Have a limited capacity load much smaller than other mass transit systems

The Seattle Streetcar, SLUT as its known locally, around the South Union lake area isn't an suitable mass transit system as its confined to a relatively small area and if expanded would again add to street level congestion and headaches.

What I'm talking about is suitable rail system similar to those in D.C., NY, and Boston among other large cities. The need here in Seattle is arguably even greater for such a rail system given the bottleneck bridges crossing Lake Washington and that growth is limited in the downtown area and will continue to spread to the other side of the lake.

Ideal solution: An underground metro rail from Seatac airport up through downtown Seattle with east/west routes popping up to cross Lake Washington along the 520 and I-90 briges and connecting again North to South on the Bellevue side. You'll see a crude white path here.

Seattle is not the only West Coast city facing this challenge. Recently, Steve Hymon of the Los Angles times wrote an article about similar traffic and transit problems there. He even cited Seattle resident, Edward Martin's Youtube video and commentary on the Seattle Transit's inability to time traffic lights correctly adding to increased congestion.

I'm not saying that planning and funding a project of this scale is easy or inexpensive but with oil hitting all time highs, congestion a constant problem for commuters, and the green environment movement taking center stage again, I was/am disappointed that the greater Seattle area has not taken real positive steps solving these problems for the generations who want to live and work here for decades to come not to downplay the environment as well.

1 comment:

Loretta Donovan said...

You really have to contact Ann Donovan at Paperless Business Systems. She was president of the Capitol Hill Commmunity Council for several years and got involved because of mass transit (or lack thereof) in Seattle. She's give you the poop on what's in the works and what has gone belly up.