Five years ago I moved back to Seattle from the Bay Area and realized that public transportation in Seattle was in a very bad way. There was discord over light rail and Sound Transit’s future. There was confusion about buses – unfortunately this continues, as Bruce Nourish has so well documented. Life-stealing and welfare reducing congestion was rampant, with no clear plan to deal with it in sight. The viaduct replacement project was a mess. Worse yet, there was the failed monorail project, which cast a dark shadow over public transportation and our city’s make-it-happen-attitude. I started the Seattle Transit Blog in part because there was no obvious place to discuss these issues online – and I wanted there to be.
I like to think that the blog has had a part in the greater discourse in our community on this topics- and I don’t think that it is untrue or unlikely. Certainly, not all of these have gone the way the members of the blog would have like them to have gone – and many of them have split the blog staff itself. We have often disagreed with each other and argued with our readers. But I’m comfortable speaking for everyone who has written here to say what we are most proud of is the level of discourse and the knowledge of our commentariat.
For the blog’s longevity, we can only thank Martin Duke. Mr Duke has worked to put an organization in place to ensure the blog’s – and hence the discussion’s – long-term survival. He’s worked diligently to ensure there’s always a place for the voices of both the fresh and the weary.
Looking back, what I see the top stories of the last five years:
- Link Opening
The first phase of Link was actually completed. The trains work. People ride them. After decades of waiting and disappointment, when it seemed like real rail transit would never arrive, it did.
- ST ballot passing
The Sound Transit expansion passed on its second go at the ballot box (the failure was in a ballot measure with an unholy marriage of roads and transit). It passed with a surprisingly large margin in a surprisingly large number of communities. The appetite for transit is there, we just need to make sure there’s something on the menu.
- Service cuts
Community Transit and Pierce Transit have all gone through very painful service cuts in the past few years, with Metro soon to follow. These have been very hard for the communities they serve.
- Deep Bore Tunnel
The DBT is clearly a huge loss for “let’s please not waste huge amounts of money on unnecessary highways” group. I still believe the DBT is a mistake we’ll regret for years for oh so many reasons. Foremost is the mostly useless and extremely expensive tunnel highway that will be built, whose construction will drag on for years. The second is the massive hobo-trench that will replace the existing viaduct, rather than a more useful, more vibrant, more energetic atmosphere. Finally, the political process was itself very destructive.
Highlights for the next five years:
- More in-city transit expansion
The city of Seattle has larger transit needs than does the larger region, just as Bainbridge has larger ferry needs than does Auburn. Voters in Seattle have shown themselves willing to approve and pay for transit projects repeatedly. I believe over the next five years, we will find a way to harness that willingness to build something.
- Metro service restructuring
Mr. Nourish has outlined the case for intelligent restructuring metro in great detail here. The process will take time, but I believe over the next several years a more efficient metro will emerge, thanks in no small part to the hard work of people like Bruce.
This may be very optimistic, but I expect within the next five years we’ll at least hear the beginnings of a conversation about an ST3 package.
- U link
Within five years U-Link will open, more than doubling ridership on Link and completely transforming the way people think about mobility in Seattle.
Any new venture opens many new doors, and those doors can have surprising treasures waiting behind them. I started blogging in order to have a place to share my thoughts on transit and advocate for ST2. What I have gained is so much more than what I have given. I like to say the best part of having started the Seattle Transit Blog is that there’s a high-quality blog devoted to transportation and land-use written from the angle that I want it to be, written by devoted staff members and commented on by intelligent, knowledgeable readers. And most of the time I haven’t got to do anything, for that I’d like to thank all of you.