There’s a nice post over at Metro Future Blog detailing the community outreach work Metro has been doing in the Snoqualmie Valley, a project that seems to be going genuinely smoothly. If you’re interested in the details, you should read it, but the penultimate paragraph illustrates the tone:
Lastly, the reason we enjoy being able to discuss these projects with the public is that we get the opportunity to run ideas by our current and prospective riders and see what they think, as well as hear about suggestions that never crossed our minds. For example, we heard that our flex time in Duvall would have excluded Duvall High School. An oversight on our part and something we are grateful someone has pointed out to us. We’re now able to discuss this option along with the list of other great questions/concerns/comments you have all brought up.
While I’m sure the restructure exercise in the Valley is genuinely less stressful and more agreeable than in Seattle, there’s a little more back story here that you won’t read on the Metro blog. People on the inside tell me that the person to thank for allowing these proposals to advance through the process relatively unscathed, particularly the truncation of Route 311 (riders will be required to transfer at Redmond TC), is the King County Council member for this district, Kathy Lambert.
As I (and everyone else who’s ever watched a Metro restructure process) predicted, the elimination of the commuter one-seat-ride into downtown Seattle caused protest among those Duvall riders who use that route, even though the number of people who use it past Woodinville does not warrant continued service under Metro’s guidelines. I’m told Ms. Lambert has gone in to bat for Metro in the face of opposition from upset constituents, arguing the success and effectiveness of the overall network trumps the convenience of the small minority of people for whom the status quo happens to work very well.
As a Seattleite, it’s a little galling to see this kind of backbone brought to bear on transit matters by elected officials: on our side of the lake, we mostly seem to have bad examples of elected officials squashing, or trying to squash, changes that are called for under the guidelines and which would, in fact, benefit their constituents overall. A former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was quoted as saying:
Just remember when you’re up there making those decisions, you don’t just represent the people who have the time to spend all night at your hearing. You represent everyone, including the vast majority of people who don’t know the meeting is going on and have no time or ability to be there.
I don’t know if Ms. Lambert has even heard of Seattle Transit Blog, or gives a fig about what Seattle transit wonks think of her, but in this case, and in the more high profile drama of the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge passage, she has been a friend indeed to transit, and I thank her for it.