A favorite pastime among the mobile “creative class” in Seattle is complaining that our transportation systems are inferior to those in Vancouver, B.C., and Portland.
But recent news from the neighbors reveals them as anything but nirvana.
* Transit use in metro Portland dropped 1.1 percent in September to November 2012 compared to a year earlier, even as national transit use grew 2.6 percent. The Rose City has struggled with labor strife and service cuts, as detailed here by Oregonian columnist Joseph Rose. One result was MAX light-rail use dropped in Portland (which ended its downtown free-rail zone) while bus use grew. Meanwhile in Seattle, King County Metro gained 1.7 percent and carried 400,440 average weekday passengers in October compared to a year earlier, despite eliminating the downtown free-bus zone Sept. 29. Sound Transit gained 19 percent year-over-year, serving 100,935 weekday riders for bus and rail combined.
* And in an echo of Seattle’s Highway 520 frustrations, drivers in the east suburbs of Vancouver are grumbling over tolls on a new, cable-supported Port Mann Bridge. About 6,000 cars a day are diverting to another bridge, the Vancouver Sun reports. This despite the piddly introductory toll of $1.50 — compared to $3.59 at peak times for Highway 520 to fund a bridge that’s not even built yet.