One of the more unusual effects of the ST3 Draft Plan coming out just 5 days after ULink opened is that ULink has had an exceptionally short period of joy, celebration, and awe. The euphoria of its opening has been largely replaced by the oxygen required to analyze and react to the next big thing. Though Sound Transit threw a great party and ridership has seemingly exceeded already high expectations, what’s struck me most as a Capitol Hill resident is the swiftly increasing ordinariness of it all. Eavesdropping on my fellow riders’ conversations, onboard discussions of the train itself have already begun fading into the background, replaced by the everyday musings and banter upon which public social conversations rely.
And you know what? That’s great for transit. We don’t judge Thomas Edison’s legacy by how many people still react with sublime pleasure upon flipping a light switch, but rather by our complete and utter ability to take for granted the gifts of electric light. Done well, transit is is a public utility that improves life for the many but excites the passions of the few (sorry, fellow nerds). Good transit readjusts our baseline expectations onward and upward. Quickly accustomed to our new spoils, we begin to complain anew – and often rightfully so – as agitation is both the currency of politics and the impetus for continuous improvement.
So I’m not ungrateful in already taking for granted that Pioneer Square is 10 minutes away, forever. Transit’s highest compliment is when the magical becomes ordinary. Far better to be instant necessity than ongoing novelty.