Category Archives: seattle stuff

STRU, part II

The Seattle Transit Riders Union is wasting no time getting started on the (not small) task of organizing the county’s bus riders.

They’ve posted a survey on their site (there’s also a hard-copy version, which they’re conducting in person at stops) and will use the responses to inform their future work. You should take it.

Also, on November 15th, they’re hosting a public forum with King County NAACP president James Bible as the featured speaker.

What: A “public forum and inauguration of the Seattle Transit Riders Union”

Why do we need a Transit Riders Union?
■ Deep bus service cuts were only narrowly avoided in King County…
■ Public transit is under attack in cities across the country…
■ Unemployment is rising and social services are shrinking…
■ The planet is warming and natural resources are dwindling…
■ The global economy is in crisis…

As individuals we feel helpless to do anything, because alone we are helpless. But what can we accomplish when we organize, when we stand up together? The new Transit Riders Union intends to find out.

When: Tuesday, November 15, 6 – 8 PM
Where: The 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave S (served by the 4, 7, 8, 34, and 48)

See you there!

Upcoming events for transit types

Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador Training
What: A “free training for community members to learn how to lead walks in their neighborhood.”

Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors lead inspiring walks around their community, connecting neighbors in a unique way with their surroundings. More people walking means more eyes on the street, which creates safer and healthier places for all of us to live, play and work.>

When: Saturday, October 29, 10:30 am -12:00 pm
Where: Rainier Beach Library, 9125 Rainier Avenue South
I love walking (more than busing, in fact), my neighborhood, and Feet First. Wish I could be there. If you can, send an email to this address to register.

That’s it for October–that I know of, anyway. Next month, there are many opportunities for citizens to provide input about transportation issues.

Road Safety Summits (City of Seattle)

The Summit[s], convened by Councilmembers and the Mayor, will be a series of three meetings and a Town Hall where agencies, community members, partners and other leaders will convene to discuss the best ways to improve safety and responsibility on our streets.

The summit at City Hall has come and gone, but here’s the information about the other two:

Tuesday, November 15th, 6 PM
Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Ave NE

Monday, November 21st
Southwest Community Center, 2801 SW Thistle St

Transit Master Plan open houses

SDOT will be hosting 5 open houses this fall to share information about the TMP Draft Summary Report and to get feedback from the community. Please join us to learn about the draft plan and share your thoughts.

Here’s the information about the remaining events:

Tuesday, November 15, 6 PM
Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St

November 17, 6 PM
New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave S

Public meetings about service changes (King County Metro)

When Metro launches the new RapidRide C and D lines in September 2012, we will be changing existing bus service to improve the transit system and provide more connections to jobs, schools, and other destinations in Seattle, Shoreline, Burien, Tukwila, SeaTac, and Des Moines. Now is the time for community members to review Metro’s ideas and share their own.

In November, we will be sharing proposed changes to bus service and listening to public comments. We invite you to participate in this process by attending a meeting or information table and completing our online survey. The proposed changes are posted at www.kingcounty.gov/metro/haveasay.

There are some big changes in the works, so make sure you visit the site to see how your travels will be affected. Oh, and show up at one of these events.

Wednesday, Nov. 2 – Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 3 – Adams Elementary School, 6110 28th Ave. NW, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 7 – Catharine Blaine Elementary, 2550 34th Ave. W, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle St., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 14 – Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N 85th St., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 15 – South Park Neighborhood Center, 8201 10th Ave. S, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17 – Madison Middle School, 3429 45th Ave. SW, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

A brand new STRU

The Seattle Transit Riders Union is back—with new leadership, new energy, and plenty to do. Some excerpts from the inaugural post on the organization’s blog:

The idea of starting a Transit Riders Union grew out of the fight against bus service cuts earlier this year. King County Metro’s main source of revenue – sales tax – has taken a sharp dive since the recession began, and by spring 2011 Metro was facing the prospect of 17% cuts. Dozens of bus routes were slated to be eliminated. Some effective propaganda by Metro, combined with the organizing efforts of a wide variety of community groups, helped to raise a huge public outcry. Thousands of people attended public hearings and signed petitions, demanding that this vital public service be preserved.

[…]

This is not just Seattle and King County’s problem. Cities and counties across the nation are in the middle of similar battles, and to make matters worse, federal funding for public transportation is in danger of being cut too. And of course, it’s not just our bus service that is in danger.

[…]

This is why we have decided to found a Transit Riders Union. We, the people who depend on public transit, need a permanent organization to make sure that our voices are heard, an organization that gives us the power to shape the course of events. We are dedicated to building such an organization: a union of, by, and for the poor and working people who depend on public transit. We believe that every human being has a right to safe, affordable, reliable, and accessible public transit. We will continue to fight to preserve our bus system – and not only that, we will fight for better public transit. (To learn more about what the Transit Riders Union is about, read our principles.)

I recommend reading the entire post. There are some thoughtful, committed people involved with this organization, and I am looking forward to being involved.

Transportation as civil right, OG Seattle edition

A few Saturdays ago (around the same time this article was making the rounds on the internets), I participated in a Civil Rights walking tour of my neighborhood, sponsored by the Squire Park In Motion program. The tour was a lot of fun (thankfully for Chicklet and Busling, many parks are named for Civil Rights heroes), and I even learned something new.

In the early 60s, the Central Area didn’t have any crosstown bus routes. This, of course, made it difficult for the neighborhood’s residents to travel to other parts of the city*, including (and especially) the University District. Members of the Seattle chapter of CORE identified the issue and started looking for a solution.

In 1966, Seattle CORE launched an action project to get the Seattle Transit system to run a bus along Twenty-Third Avenue, connecting the Central Area with the University District and points north and south… When CORE negotiators discussed the need for this … the transit authority told us, “There is no need. No one would ride,” so it would “not be profitable.”

CORE and other organizations formed the Crosstown Bus Committee. CORE members set about gathering facts about rider patterns … as well as the numbers of people transferring downtown to the University District… I rode the bus at 1 AM while my husband was home with our young son.

[…]

Armed with these facts, and after additional meetings with transit managers, CORE prevailed. Seattle Transit initiated a route using Twenty-Third Avenue directly to the University District. This was known for some time as the crosstown bus. It is now taken for granted as the number 48 bus, frequently full and clearly a success.

– Maid Adams, coauthor of Seattle in Black and White** and founding member of the Seattle chapter of CORE

That’s right folks, our beloved “doctor,” the vehicle version of Tiger Woods, was born from the hard work (and persistence!) of some committed people who believed that a community could be better served by public transportation.

I am always inspired by stories like these. (And I’m not the only one; Ms. Adams was honored by some modern-day transit activists late last year.) They remind me that change can and does happen, that citizenship involves responsibility, and that people in power do sometimes listen to reason–or at least, really loud voices.

***

*This, it seems to me, is an ongoing PT issue citywide. We’re still working it out.
** Our tour guide is the one who told me I could find the information in this book. (That’s what I get for not attending the library’s reception with the authors in the spring.) She also mentioned the Douglass-Truth soul pole.

Families “in motion”

This weekend, I’ll be sharing what I know about busing with babies at a family transit workshop sponsored by the Squire Park in Motion Program.

What: A casual, kid-friendly workshop where parents can learn: “how to know where the bus is going; when it will arrive; how to keep kids entertained; what to carry with you for the trip; and other helpful things to know when riding the bus.”
When: Saturday, August 6, 10 – 11:30 AM
Where: Central Area Motivation Program, 722 18th Ave (served by routes 2, 3, or 4)
How much: Free!

Kids are welcome, of course, and there will be door prizes (zoo passes!) for the first 10 families to arrive. All particpants will receive a handy family transit guide to take home. Hope to see you there!

How to make a bus chick proud, part II

Ladies and gentlemen, the future of buschickdom (buschickhood? buschickery?) is in extremely good (and thankfully, nerdy) hands:

A Personal Teen Story on Why the $20 Congestion Reduction Charge Matters
By Jasmine Beverly

I’m not a stereotypical high school girl. I don’t go to high school dances, I have to be dragged to shop for clothes, and I’d rather spend time with my family than go out with friends. I’m seventeen and I don’t even have my permit or license yet. That’s right, a high school girl without a driver’s permit or license. Reading this story anywhere else, you’d think “Ooh, she lives in the middle of nowhere and is a little farm girl,” or “What a deprived teenager she must be! Living without a car?” or “She must be the nerdy outcast who doesn’t have any friends.” And although I’m a choir nerd, neither of those statements is true; I simply live in Seattle where public transportation is amazing. Well, for now it is.

Read the rest…

Upcoming events for transit types

The County Council is hosting some public meetings about the proposed congestion reduction charge this month. One (in Kirkland), has already come and gone, but here’s the info on the other two:

Tuesday, July 12, 6:00 p.m.
King County Council Chambers
516 Third Avenue, 10th Floor, Seattle

Thursday, July 21, 6:00 p.m.
Burien City Council Chambers
400 S.W. 152nd Street

If you can’t make either meeting, you can submit your feedback here.

Saving service

At a press conference yesterday, KC Exec Dow Constantine asked the County Council to approve a temporary $20 vehicle licensing fee (officially called a congestion reduction charge) to maintain service at current levels.

The recession-driven decline in the sales-tax revenues that support public transit leaves the Metropolitan King County Council with two choices – ensure interim funding to continue service at current levels, or face the reality of cutting 17 percent of bus service.

To meet that challenge, King County Executive Dow Constantine today sent the Council a proposed ordinance to enact the one tool recently authorized by the state Legislature for King County: a temporary $20 Congestion Reduction Charge on vehicle licenses for each of the next two years.

Or, there’s Option 2.

Should the fee not be enacted, the Executive also transmitted legislation for the Council to shrink Metro service by 600,000 hours of annual bus service over the next two years, or 17 percent of the entire system – the rough equivalent of eliminating all rush hour bus service for commuters, or all weekend service in King County. The ordinance covers just the first round of service cuts – a 100,000-hour reduction to begin next February.

Metro recently launched a new site that explains proposal in detail (check this FAQ for the quick and dirty), including the cuts that would likely happen if the charge is not enacted.  

I was unable to attend the press conference, but not for lack of passion about the subject. The cuts Metro is considering are serious and will affect the quality of life of every resident of the county, not just those who ride the bus. I intend to lobby the council and do whatever else I can to make sure this happens.

If you want to send a message to the council (either all nine members or your local representative), start here.