Back in April of 2007, Andrew Smith created the Seattle Transit Blog. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, STB quickly became the preferred focal point for people interested in transit-related discussions.
However, one reason for the blog’s success was Andrew’s intent to make sure that content was frequent and current. To that end he accepted the inquiries of other bloggers, including Ben and me later that year.
As the blog continued to grow, Andrew handled most of the business and technical aspects behind the scenes. He also built an impressive set of contacts in the establishment. Most visibly, he was the one that made sure that there was a post every day, when the stable of bloggers he built was too busy with other things and didn’t come through.
Most of all, Andrew has become a friend to all of us: not just another member of the pack, but the one who serves as the nucleus, the soul of the group. He may have let others get a lot of face time (in the photo above, witness me in the background ranting to the meet-up attendees), but he was the decider that kept the personalities in balance.
Meanwhile, STB has become a full-fledged community with thousands of readers, where both transit riders, political leaders, and the news media itself find out what’s going on in the transit world. It’s gone from a stream of personal opinion pieces to a semi-professional news and advocacy organization. A cadre of intelligent commenters from inside the transit agencies make sure we stay grounded in fact, and when the time comes we’ve shown we can mobilize for change: the community around this blog deserves a small part of the credit for Proposition 1 going to the ballot and passing in 2008, and a somewhat larger one for the defense of East Link in the last legislative session. It’s a community I’m proud to be a part of.
As he announced Friday in typically understated style, Andrew is leaving the blog to focus on some other projects, most notably his infant daughter. As a father myself, I can appreciate his shift in priorities, but we will definitely miss his unique voice on both the blog and in our internal communications.
I’ll leave to others the discussion of what this means for the future of volunteer media in our region, coming on the heels of Dan Bertolet’s sabbatical at HugeAssCity. Our hope is that, by having several of us replace the various functions once performed by one man, we can keep the blog’s traditions in both volume and quality. For my part, I’m going to be the new front man, so please direct all brickbats about our editorial direction my way.
Good luck, Andrew, in your future endeavors, and don’t be a stranger. And thanks for taking a chance on a blogger with a wafer-thin resume and a lot of passion for transit.