Dear Monsieur Jean-Marc Cote. His vision of 2000 didn’t materialize. But was that his lack of imagination or ours? How well can we envision public transit in 100 years? With good news for the future of Washington State public transit in the expected passage of the proposed $16 billion transportation package, it seems a good time to indulge in a bit of fantasy.
So let us indulge in fantasy but not fantasy fantasy. More like Fantasy Football. Constructed within reality. Studying what is at hand and making the most of it. That means no flying buses or “Beam me up, Scotty.” Instead, the fantasy is you as the master puppeteer. The Transit Czar. You calling the shots. You conjuring up your vision firmly within reality.
And our reality? There is the good news of an infusion of cash for local public transit projects. The other local transit news, however, is the loss of fare revenues and the pending Washington State Supreme Court ruling on the legality of fare enforcement on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and rail services.
The recent stall of a Sound Transit light rail train after the Apple Cup has brought on a public discussion on communicating with transit customers. Let’s hope that conversation continues. It is an important one.
Have you ever felt a touch of fate? Several weeks ago I decided to take public transit from Seattle to visit the Kinsey Collection Exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum. (Fantastic show for a more visceral understanding of African American history. Gone now but you can check out on The Kinsey Collection website.) It turned out to be a freakishly on-target, real life look at public transit customer communication.
It all started with my smug self meeting up with reality on the trip back to Seattle.
[UPDATE: An earlier version of this article claimed that WSDOT has purchased no new ferries for a decade. There have been four.]
The Washington State Ferry Service (WSF) is in the news. And not in a good way. After 70 years of steady, dependable service, it is falling apart. Out of the blue, we are lead to believe. But the falling apart has everything to do with that 70 years of steady, dependable service.
Public transit is shortchanged. Where’s the news in that? If you follow this blog you know, and you have the numbers to back you up. Public transit in the United States is underfunded. And what’s with the folk band? Where’s the bus, the train, the ferry, the beautiful route map? The graph? Was the wrong image downloaded? Where’s transit?
Standing on the stage. In 2014, Poetry on Buses, a collaboration of King County Metro and 4Culture, was awarded the #2 spot in the Top 10 Collaborations of Art, Music and Local Businesses judged by DO206, the Seattle Chapter of DOSTUFF. This is an image from the Poetry on Buses kick-off event that year. I was there. That evening The Moore Theater rocked with music and the spoken word. It was the first year the annual project really reflected Metro’s riders with poems in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and Somali, the five most spoken languages in King County. Metro transit riders, some of whom had never written poetry before but coached in workshops put on all over the county, proudly read their poems with family and friends filling the theater to capacity. It was a brilliant, powerful night.
Now back in 2014 we could be forgiven if we didn’t believe in the power of poetry. But in 2021 a young woman with a glorious red headband and bright yellow coat believed otherwise. Amanda Gorman reminded us we are a storytelling people.