MYNORTHWEST BLOG

Seattle’s transportation system garners praise, but does it deserve it?

Jan 4, 2019, 2:52 PM | Updated: 3:12 pm
seattle traffic...
(AP)
(AP)

Seattle and King County’s transportation system is often maligned in complaints that vary from over-budget projects to over-congested city streets. Recently, though, it’s been praised both by articles in The New York Times and Vox, providing an interesting outside perspective to say the very least.

RELATED: Sound Transit Board approves $2.9 billion 2019 budget

“Seattle is doing a really good job of both expanding its rail system and improving its bus system at the same time, and actually linking the two systems together to make a much more useful system overall,” wrote Vox, in a December article talking about the best and worst cities in the country for public transportation.

“Seattle has won accolades for its transit system, where 93 percent of riders report being happy with service — a feat that seems unimaginable in New York, where subway riders regularly simmer with rage on stalled trains,” said the New York Times in a Jan. 1, 2019 article on how west coast transportation is beating the East Coast.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s break it down.

The Times seems to be referring to a King County Metro survey in 2016, that saw 93 percent of people in the “frequent riders” category respond as “satisfied.” The survey talked to 800 total respondents, weighted by demographics that reflect the most recent census data for residential households in King County.

For Vox, it’s likely it’s talking about measures like ST3, that increased spending for light rail expansion across the region. Or maybe it’s talking about Seattle’s controversial trolley project, that was halted in March, after it became apparent that costs were over-budget by $23 million.

The sum total is an outside look at a transportation system with its fair share of pros and cons.

On the “con” side of things, the region certainly has had its pitfalls.

Light rail projects have gone millions of dollars over budget, ST3’s passage saw rates for car tabs triple for drivers, new bike lanes in Seattle have taken away parking and traffic lanes while the number of cyclists decrease, and Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff ran into trouble in 2017 after reports of verbal aggression, profanity, and sexism, among other allegations.

RELATED: Seattle to kill 300 parking spots for bike lanes

There are also positive takeaways to consider. Ridership on King County Metro continues to increase, including a 7.1 percent bump in Link light rail riders. King County Metro was even named the best transit system in the country by the American Public Transportation Association.

In the coming months and years, Seattle’s transit system will face significant challenges. The city’s population isn’t getting any smaller, the SR 99 tunnel opening set to increase congestion wasn’t actually designed to relieve traffic once it’s finished, and Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten cities in the country for having the worst traffic.

The first major test is mere days away with the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the first project in a years-long stretch Seattle is dubbing the “period of maximum constraint.”

In the meantime, whether the region’s transit authorities are up to the challenge remains to be seen.

RELATED: A case for Seattle’s controversial bike lanes

MyNorthwest Blog

WWII Veterans...
Bill Kaczaraba

Dad is just one hero on this Veterans Day

On this Veterans Day, MyNorthwest editor Bill Kaczaraba remembers his dad who served in the Army during World War II.
23 days ago
Mariners Playoffs...
Michael Simeona

Relive Cal Raleigh’s magical home run that sent Mariners to playoffs

Relive Cal Raleigh's game-winning home run that sent the Mariners to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
2 months ago
Building Black Wealth Graphic_900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Watch: Celebrate Juneteenth with Draze’s third annual ‘Building Black Wealth’

Seattle rapper Draze is hosting a live virtual marketplace on Juneteenth for the third annual 'Building Black Wealth' this Sunday at 9:00 a.m.
6 months ago
Mayor Bruce Harrell, Sonics...
Nick Bowman

Mayor Harrell latest to pick up the torch on years-long effort to bring back the Sonics

Mayor Bruce Harrell is the latest city leader to take the baton on a years-long push to bring the Seattle Sonics back to their home city.
8 months ago
Bruce Harrell...
Nick Bowman

Harrell aims to ‘hit reset’ on strained relationship between Seattle mayor, city council

In his State of the City address, Mayor Bruce Harrell highlighted his hope to repair the strained relationship between his office and Seattle City Council.
10 months ago
ktth, bryan suits...
KTTH staff

KTTH debuts ‘Bryan Suits Show’ weekday mornings

Bryan Suits returns to Seattle airwaves as part of a new lineup on AM 770 KTTH. 'The Bryan Suits Show' airs weekday mornings from 6–9 a.m.
10 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Seattle’s transportation system garners praise, but does it deserve it?