This November, there are two ballot measures targeted directly at improvements in the region’s bus systems. One of them will also make a significant contribution to safe nonmotorized transportation. Both of them are decidedly worth your vote if you live in either jurisdiction.
YES on Move Seattle. It would be tedious to recite every benefit that the Move Seattle plan will bring the City. But the heart of the measure is seven new Bus Rapid Transit corridors, dubbed “RapidRide+”:
- Mount Baker to UW via 23rd Ave
- Ballard to UW via Market and 45th
- Downtown-Madison Valley via Madison Street
- Downtown-Rainier Beach via Rainier
- Downtown-White Center via Delridge
- Downtown-Northgate via Eastlake and Roosevelt
- Downtown-Northgate via Fremont, Ballard, and Crown Hill
Metro has tried to deliver rapid buses in the past, with mixed success, but the true ability of buses to bypass traffic is up to the cities that own the right of way. We’re glad to see that Seattle is stepping up. Current struggles with the First Hill Streetcar and the Seawall notwithstanding, SDOT has a good record with project delivery: Bridging the Gap did most of what it promised during a massive economic downturn.
Rail skeptics are fond of pointing out that bus investments can deliver much of the quality of rail much more cheaply. We’re interested to see which of those skeptics, now presented with a measure largely focused on high-quality bus service, manage to show up for this measure, and which will find yet another excuse to oppose spending money on transit.
Even if you’re as excited about rail as we are, buses will always be an important part of our transit system, no matter how many trains we build. Move Seattle will bring decent transit service to areas where rail is not on the horizon, and build momentum towards a city where a car is not a necessity for most people.
We also strongly support the levy’s funding of Graham Street Link station, the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge, Vision Zero, Bicycle Master Plan implementation, the long overdue retrofit of Mount Baker Station, and rechannelizations of hostile arterials such as Aurora, Rainier, and Lake City Way.
Opponents of Move Seattle such as the Seattle Times argue both that the package is too big and yet not nearly enough, and that it caters to “City Hall’s urbanist-at-all-costs agenda” instead of benefiting drivers. They argue that the new districted city council members should decide which projects in their district deserve city funding–unhelpfully dividing what should be an integrated network into parochial fiefdoms. The reality is that large, necessary projects shouldn’t be subject to such whims, as the best projects connect districts and share benefits between them. Others complain that the project list has flexibility build into it. But of course the project list is flexible—a nine-year levy must be able to adjust for future needs, seek opportunities for grants and matching funds, and negotiate with communities and public process along the way. Move Seattle deserves your vote.
YES on Community Transit Prop 1. Because Seattle isn’t doing nearly enough to accept newcomers, it is inevitable that much of the region’s growth will occur in South Snohomish County. The only plausible way to preserve mobility alongside that growth is a convenient, frequent bus system, available when you need it.
Community Transit’s Prop 1 will add frequency, increase span of service, build two Bus Rapid Transit Lines (SWIFT II and III), fully integrate their system into Link at Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, and add new suburban connections between Marysville, Snohomish, and Mill Creek. And this will all cost the average resident about $2.75 a month. With Link likely to either terminate in Lynnwood or hug I-5 for most of its path to Everett, bus service will be indispensable in delivering people to Link at a scale that Park & Rides cannot match.
The STB Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Zach Shaner, Erica C. Barnett, and Dan Ryan. It serves at the pleasure of the Board of Directors.