Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reportback from West Seattle forum on our Transportation Future

i know it's a few days late, but here it goes.

The major things discussed were: the upcoming RapidRide line, light rail, the tunnel. No surprise here obviously.

For those of y'all that don't know, the RapidRide is a form of transit called BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). It's designed with fewer stops and more frequency to act somewhat similar to a rail line would. You can read all about the RapidRide itself here and BRT here

Cities like Seattle, that don't have the appropriate infrastructure or geography in order to have lots of rail options often resort to a BRT system. According to what was talked about in the meeting, the first RapidRide line that was introduced between Federal Way and Tukwila has already achieve 50% more ridership than the line that it replaced. 

The C Line will be replacing the 54 and 54X, the bus I often take home. My original concerns with the proposed line were that it was taking away stops from areas of West Seattle that are home to a lot of elderly care homes and doctors offices that serve people with limited mobility, specifically on California between the Alaska and Morgan Junctions. When I asked a question about that, I was assured that the 22 and 128 lines that serve that area normally just during rush hour, would have their hours extended to cover the times that the 54 normally would serve those stops.

Light Rail

So right now Seattle has light rail from the Sea-Tac Airport to the main shopping district in downtown that serves the southern neighborhoods of Seattle and Chinatown, Pioneer Square, and Financial District. That line is in the process of being extended to the U-District through Capitol Hill, and after that is planning on being extended all the way up to Lynwood. There is no official plan for light rail in West Seattle just yet. Two big reasons: no funding (obvz, isn't that what they always say) and the geography makes it hard. Light Rail is not designed to function on hills like Seattle has, that's why a lot of it in the hillier areas of town so far has been all underground. 

imma underneath your cities, transportin your poor huddled masses

There's two major reasons we don't have any funding for public transportation right now, the major one being that the state of Washington refuses to implement an income tax that would benefit things like public transit, and ALL of the taxes that the Department of Transportation takes in all go towards road expansion and maintenance. The second one is that federal government support for federally subsidized public transportation is really really limited right now. Cities that do have really good (or potentially good) transit systems like Portland or Atlanta (ATL doesn't really count anymore) all got federal funding from the government as far back as the 60s and 70s for implementing public transit. 

So, right now in Seattle the priority in public light rail transportation is being put on high density neighborhoods like the U-District, Capitol Hill, and those more dense residential neighborhoods north of the U-District. 

The Tunnel

Obvz there is a lot to say about that tunnel and i've already had my say about it. You can read that blog post here. There wasn't tons said about it except that it's basically inevitable and there's nothing we can do to stop it. There's already been way too much money and effort put into making this thing happen, and anti-tunnel advocates are just a little late.

The folks over at West Seattle Blog were there and videotaped the WHOLE FUCKING THING. You can watch the footage if you are that interested here.

For now I am done typing about this. If you have more specific questions leave them in the comments section and I'll respond.



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