Once, very long ago, Seattle humans left their homes as often as once per day — sometimes more! — to travel to other locations in the city. On those occasions, they sometimes took a train to get there. And if leading fortune tellers are to be believed, at some point in the future they will be free to do so again.
And when that day comes, those fortunate Seattle humans may be startled to discover a cute sleek train has appeared to whisk them from 42nd Ave SW in West Seattle all the way through downtown, past the Space Needle, over the ship canal to 14th Ave NW in Ballard. Despite our current quarantine, work is continuing on the West Seattle/Ballard light rail project.
But the city needs a little public input before they can proceed, which is your chance to shape the future of Seattle rail.
Typically, light rail open houses are attended almost exclusively by nerds who own recumbent bicycles, and retirees who have been bothering city staff since the Carter administration. But because of coronavirus, the city has shifted its focus to online forums and surveys, which means it’s easier than ever to pursue a career as a public-comment weirdo.
Sound Transit (update: the city of Seattle) is running a survey to determine priorities for the forthcoming West Seattle/Ballard rail project, and it’s full of some very difficult choices. You’ll be asked to rank a variety of guiding principles by importance, from “not at all” to “extremely,” but the problem is every single gosh darn principle seems like it should be of top importance.
For example, “supports a safer transportation network and fewer collisions” — that’s extremely important, right? But so is “connects you to work, school, shopping, and recreation in other neighborhoods,” because what is the point of building the thing if it doesn’t do that?
Another principle: “provides welcoming and comfortable light rail options for all, regardless of race and ethnicity” — well geez, who would rate that as anything less than extremely important? But right under that is “reduces short- and long-term negative impacts that disproportionately burden communities of color,” and what possible reason could someone have not to rate that as a top priority?
Anyway, this rail line is scheduled to start service in about a decade, if humans still exist at that time, and your feedback certainly would help shape the project even if you think every single principle on the list is super-duper extra-urgent. Hey, maybe the lesson here is that mass transit in general in extremely important.