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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Light rail: parking, noise, whiners and downright laziness

Other light-rail systems at least made provisions for parking

Editor, The Times:

Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan’s quote in The Seattle Times [“Would-be rail riders bemoan lack of parking,” page one, July 16] is astonishing! He said, “Light rail was meant to be fed by people taking the bus, walking or biking. It was not mean to be fed by cars.”

His arrogance has blinded him; light rail is meant to serve the public. It could also serve to reduce freeway congestion. Why on Earth were there not provisions for station parking as part of the plan, other than the typical Seattle “let’s do this on the cheap” mentality?

Look at the Portland MAX Light Rail interactive map. There are dozens of parking areas available, and many of them are offered by churches and businesses, so there was no cost to install them; it took only coherent planning and goodwill. BART in San Francisco also has provisions for parking. Both of these systems have high levels of ridership.

Sheridan and other Seattle official’s cars-are-evil mentality will surely inconvenience the citizens who are paying for the system and may doom it to minimal use.

My wife and I would use the service, but the station is more than two miles from our home, too far to walk on a rainy evening.

— Eric Wightman, Seattle

What, no parking?

Sound Transit is unbelievable. It will soon open a 14-mile railroad costing $2.3 billion dollars, about the cost of the more than 50 miles originally sold to taxpayers.

The one thing Sound Transit doesn’t offer is parking for people who, because of distance or other concerns, must drive to their stations. For this the city can thank the greenies, including Mayor Greg Nickels, the most self-righteous greenie of them all, to whom cars are anathema.

But perhaps a lack of parking doesn’t matter. In a special on the light rail, The Times named the neighborhoods in which stations are located and showed them on a low-detail map but didn’t list their addresses or specific locations [“Your guide to light rail,” page one, July 12].

Either Sound Transit doesn’t want riders — certainly not those who own cars — or they expect potential riders to meander about in search of a station.

— Harry Petersen, Bellevue

Parking limitations will only destroy ridership

Only in Seattle would the butt-headed arrogance of city planners be allowed to sabotage a major, regional transit effort. In the words of the Seattle Department of Transportation, “Light rail was meant to be fed by people taking the bus, walking or biking.”

The message for those who don’t live near a feeder bus line, or are unable to walk or bike due to age, infirmity or just being out of shape, is: “You are out of luck. You can help pay for the light-rail line, but Seattle is going to discourage you from using it.”

This attitude will lead to a catastrophic loss of ridership on the rail line and lack of support for future regional transit improvements. How many people would be riding the bus into downtown Seattle without local and regional park-and-ride lots? It is a proven method of getting people to use mass transit.

Instead, we have another bizarre decision from the people who brought us rubber-bladed snow plows and a strategy to clear the streets for people with SUVs.

— John Russell, Seattle

Station design promotes laziness

I heard on the news this morning that the new Beacon Hill light-rail station will normally be accessible only by elevator, with stairs for emergency use only.

Is it any wonder so many people are horribly out of shape? To try to put it politely, elevators are for the elderly, handicapped and those with baby strollers. Escalators are horrible. People just stand there, so it can be faster to take the stairs. Climbing the stairs is an easy way to get some exercise.

I know the Beacon Hill station stairs are long and tall, but I challenge you to use them. Fight entrenched laziness!

— David Fuhriman, Edmonds

Share parking between homeowners, rail riders

Let’s see if I’ve got it straight. The city sets up restricted parking for a quarter mile around the light-rail stations to prevent car commuters from choking up parking needed by residents and businesses. The predictable result will be a ring of commuters parking just outside the restricted zone. Then pressure to extend it and so on.

Part of the problem is that the city sees would-be light-rail car commuters as offenders and insults them with terms like “hide and riders” instead of seeing them as potential light-rail customers whose needs must be served. For the rail to succeed they’ve got to get as many riders aboard those trains as possible, and that means they need those commuters and their fares.

You don’t have to think very far outside the box to see the solution. Share. Restrict some of the parking spaces, say every other spot, by painting the curb. That way locals and commuters can park.

— Robert Fleagle, Redmond

Noise complaints come from ‘whiners and criers’

It’s as though Link Light Rail is putting so many whiners and criers into a noise hell [“Light-rail report: Neighbors right, trains are too noisy,” page one, July 11]. Many of the homes near the right of way were built after the light-rail plans were in place, just like people who have built houses under power lines and airport glide paths.

I wonder how many of these malcontents were forced to buy their homes? I have lived here 30 years and have never heard so much crying about everything from soup to nuts. Seattle needs transit, and it should have been place many years ago. Ever wonder why Boeing left here for Chicago?

Bet the whiners and multiple studies had a lot to do with Boeing’s move!

— Dan Morris, Lake Stevens

Light rail, buses will need to connect better

If light rail is going to “be fed by people taking the bus” like Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan explains, then the buses actually need to connect to the train.

The Rainier Beach community will have difficulty using the train system if buses continue to layover at Henderson Street, approximately a quarter mile from the train. While the city has agreed to make changes for some bus lines, major routes like Route 7 still end at Henderson.

My family is very excited about the train and want to use it for work commutes and family outings, but the bus logistics for south-end users will need to be addressed before this can be a reality for us.

— Jennifer Pritchard, Seattle

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