No time like the present

Today I ran into my friendly neighborhood county councilman in the grocery store. We got to talking (brace yourselves for this shocking news) about transit and its importance in his (my) district. He told me that transit regularly ranks among his constituents’ top three priorities.

After I returned from the store, I got around to reading the Sound Transit E-Wave newsletter that’s been sitting in my inbox since Friday. (More shocking news: I sometimes get behind on my transit agency newsletters.) The “headline” story was a summary of the public comments Sound Transit has received about ST2 thus far. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

The public comments reflect strong support for additional transit investments and an extension of the light rail system as far as possible throughout the region. People shared a strong sense that the region has waited long enough and are eager to make these investments as quickly as possible. A minority opposed additional transit investment, for reasons ranging from concern that the options are too expensive to overall opposition to public transit and/or light rail investments. Among the themes expressed by transit supporters:

• Puget Sound residents are tired of traffic. People clearly understand that an effective regional system will make a significant difference in their daily lives.
• There is excitement and momentum behind light rail. Most comments reflected preference for rail rather than bus service.
• The top reasons identified for support of transit are to provide more ways to get around and to take cars off the road.
• Comparisons to other cities’ rail and transit systems are frequent, along with opinions that the Puget Sound region is being left behind economically.

I still have love for buses (despite their bad rap) and don’t think rail will eliminate the need for them. Still, it sure would be nice if Seattle’s buses could one day become an excellent complement to an extensive, well-used rail system.

Truth be told, I’ll take transit in any form if it will get more cars off the roads. In my lifetime, “progress” in this supposedly green city has been accompanied by more and more and more (and still more) cars. Smog hangs in the air in late summer. Puget Sound is a toxic stew. Former farmland is overrun with new subdivisions. The percentage of obese Washingtonians has more than doubled since 1990.

And still, we drive.