Barriers to Efficiency in Transit

Short rant- My boyfriend and I are generally busy people, we both work and go to school, have two dogs and family obligations. Given this we decided to celebrate Valentines day in the morning by going out to breakfast because a. It would be less complicated and b. way cheaper. We live in the Fremont Neighborhood of Seattle which is served by at least five bus routes so, given the “special” occasion we figured we’d bus downtown, grab a nice breakfast and then he could bus over to work on the northwest side of Seattle and I could bus to the northeast side to school. Makes sense right? Super simple, efficient and totally normal urban activity.

To get to the point, that didn’t happen. In order to get to any bus stop we have to cross a big street, nothing massive but big enough that during the morning rush if there aren’t three simultaneous gentle souls willing to stop you may never get across. After about ten minutes we make it across the street in the rain to the uncovered bus stop, we then wait for the bus which should be arriving (according to the handy one bus away app) in three minutes, then five minutes then ten, fifteen, twenty…we give up go back across the crazy street get in our car and drive to downtown Seattle, then drive to the northwest side then to the northeast and then back to Fremont…. completely frustrating.

This weeks readings pointed out so many of the largest issues facing the issues of transportation from financing to political agendas and people simply not coming together to come up with innovative responses to the problem. As we’ve said it comes down to convenience, what happened to us on Valentines Day is the reason so many people don’t take transit- it can be physically challenging to get to bus stops, waiting on uncovered corners in the rain is highly uncomfortable and transit continues can be unreliable even within the core of our city.

Bogota’s mayor Enrique Penalosa made headlines across the world for his improvements to his cities transportation system in part by keeping in mind the importance of “making transit sexy”. Sexy is fast, efficient and beautiful and no one I know would describe Seattle’s transit system that way. We know what’s at stake by not investing in a functional transit and looking around the world we know there’s something that can be done about it. Personally I think it’s time to set bold standards, we’re an adaptive species – not being allowed to drive somewhere, paying to enter a congested part of a city or stopping more often won’t kill us, the proof is all around us.

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