I would love to see more people living in and around Seattle ditch driving in 2015 – and it looks like that could happen.
Heavy traffic is ballooning out of control resulting in two-hour commutes to travel 30 miles in the Seattle region. In addition, Washington prides itself on residents’ concern for the environment. Striving to drive less should be second nature in the Emerald City and Evergreen State.
Some good news: The Seattle Times’ Daniel Beekman reported that more than a million bikes went over the Fremont Bridge in Seattle this year. That constitutes a 10 percent bump in ridership. But wait, there’s more. The Seattle Department of Transportation plans to add or expand bike lanes from the Fremont Bridge to downtown and in South Lake Union along Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue.
I don’t cycle, but I do take the bus most days to work. I feel relieved when my express bus breezes over the West Seattle Bridge during the morning rush.
With Seattle voters approving Proposition 1, a measure that raises sales taxes and car tab fees to pay for public transit improvements, more people could become bus commuters very soon.
Vote in the poll below:
Most people living in this metropolitan region agree traffic seems to worsen by the day. This newspaper also reported recently about some horrendous commutes that stretch to two or three hours on Interstate 405. Wider freeways could help, but wouldn’t it be better to reduce the number of cars on the road?
For many Eastsiders, driving is the only option. Our region has to provide better options even some that seem unlikely such as reusing the Eastside rail line.
And, as the area’s population and job base grows, more traffic seems inevitable unless people are willing to leave their cars parked.
I have to admit that I ride the bus most of the way to work. I drive about a mile to reach a convenient Rapid Ride stop and also walk about 12 minutes to reach my office. For some people, those added steps might make them scrap taking the bus altogether.
Most Americans are fine paying for transit services, but that doesn’t always mean they will use public transportation more, according a recent story in the Atlantic. It turns out, disincentives to drive such as spikes in gas prices are more effective.
Nationwide, only about 5 percent of Americans commute by bus to work, the Atlantic found. In Seattle, of the 350,673 workers, 18.5 percent took public transportation, 3.4 percent biked and 9.1 percent walked, according to the 2014 the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census.
Sound Transit saw an overall ridership bump of 8 percent in 2013 compared with 2012 and an 11 percent jump on Central Link light rail.
The King County Department of Transportation reports that bus ridership on Metro is up 2.3 percent in 2014 compared with last year. The biggest jump in usage is on the Rapid Ride, which has been adding and replacing previous lines. It looks like making transit convenient and fast works.
Sure, many people would love to leave home, jump in the car, sail through streets devoid of traffic and arrive at a destination where free parking awaits. But that just isn’t realistic in this fast-growing urban metropolis.
It’s time to embrace other pleasures like buses that run on time or dedicated bike lanes so that the people who do have to drive don’t stare at seas of red brake lights for hours.