Tuesday, December 18, 2007

OMG! Seattle INCREASES public transportation!?

This I've got to see in person. Here is the main site and here is the route:

SLUT route map
Call me crazy but I'm not sure that route is going to help too much. You're cutting right through a section of Seattle that doesn't have a lot of people living in it. The whole North half of the route is not a very populated/popular area. Plus, the housing there is fairly expensive and I'm pretty sure the bulk of public transportation (PT) riders, for now, are not the ones who left their C-class Mercedes at home (congrats to you if you do, though; PT should have nothing to do with socioeconomic status).

Other then the kind of goofy route, the fare is low ($1.50) and the website says it does connect the other PT systems which is a start:

The Seattle Streetcar's South Lake Union line has eleven stops conveniently located a short walk from other transportation hubs connecting the entire the region's transportation options, including: Metro buses and Sound Transit buses, trains and light rail; Ferry service; Taxi; Flexcar; Park and Ride; and Monorail.

The big upside is that the South Lake Union Trolley has a great acronym. Part of me wonders if someone was smart enough to "accidentally" give it such a funny name to possibly get it into people's minds.

Someone: "Wanna drive there or ride the SLUT?"
Someone else: "Is that a serious question? SLUT, of course!"
The first someone: "Alright, let's go SLUT it up!"

That was fun but I digress... So they have a great nickname, the fare is low, they connect other modes of transportation, and they look pretty neat:

SLUT Seattle Lake Union Trolley car (I wonder if anyone will do an image search for 'slut' and get this picture hahaha
All this is fine and dandy but there's a big problem in the mind of those who would like to see a massive increase in PT options like this one (especially in Seattle). The Seattle PI says that this could lead to new networks of PT: "We now want to talk about a network that connects neighborhoods to downtown." But those are talks, not plans. There is now this fancy, new trolley system covering areas where the ridership is, naturally, going to be pretty low. These are not congested areas, they are not huge urban centers (in terms of living spaces), and they probably didn't need this route to begin with. I suspect that they will see much less people riding the trolley as they anticipated and will use it as a reason to avoid future PT plans. The purse-string controllers will go "see, you silly Seattlites, we told you PT was stupid... look, no one is riding the one we gave you $52 million to build."

Seattle is a beautiful city caught up in a lot of goofy crap. It has two of the most amazing sports stadiums in the country and two disappointing sports teams with a pretty weak (in terms of numbers and overall fanaticism) fan base (come see the maniac Charger fans and you'll see what I mean). PT gets cut and cut and cut and people wonder why no one rides the buses and monorails (the monorail goes from the friggen Science Center to the Westlake Mall... not useful). Ineffective leadership, poor money management, and almost zero cultural diversity, Seattle simply needs a huge injection of something other than heroin.

So what to do? Why not make Seattle the shining example of a green city? Lots of rain to use, it already looks great, and the whole place could use an identity. I mean, it's already called the Emerald City. Make an environment for architects that fosters green design, legislate strict LEED enforcement, add a greentech museum... none of this is hard and none of it is all that expensive. Tax breaks for adding EV charging stations, same for alternative fuel stations.

Seattle skyline from Lake Union
*sigh* complaining about Seattle makes me miss it a little bit... coming home soon.


Bridget said...

josh-- i go home tomorrow. I can not wait. 12 days of pure bliss!! can't wait. I hope you xmas is amazing.

Josh C said...

I'll get a hold of you... going home today as well!

Brent said...

While I agree that the new streetcar line is for the most part useless (unless you need a way to get to Hooters, Daniel's Broiler, or few other "seedy" locations in South Lake,) it *is* a start. The transportation department is finishing up plans on extending the line to the UW campus. Along with this extension, there are many other "planned" extensions throughout the city. Whether these "plans" ever materialize is anyone's guess. But hey, "it's a start."

Josh C said...

Thanks for the comment Brent...

It seems so odd to me that a start would be so lack-luster and poorly thought-out. Why not start with the UW line? Why not make a splash and cash in on new riders?

I don't think they built something impotent on purpose to make a point, I just think that another "Seattle Monorail" type project is a big waste of everyone's time. That Monorail could be a "start" to bigger and better things (it almost was over and over again) but, instead, it just serves as a goofy reminder that Seattle has some serious growing up to do!