Bye bye bus.
Bye bye bus. Sound Transit

Sound Transit would like some public input on upcoming service changes, and for once you don’t have to be a professional weirdo to weigh in. Under normal conditions — remember those? — you had to set aside hours of time and endure tremendous boredom to participate in such civic processes.

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But now, thanks to the wonders of a global pandemic, public comment meetings have moved online, which allows you to hop in and rant to your heart’s content from the comfort of your parlour. And given what’s being planned for your local bus and train service, this is certainly one of those times that calls for ranting.

Here’s the short version: When the pandemic began, Sound Transit cut service way back. Now they’re starting to trickle back to where things once were — a “modest” increase for now, they say — and they’re going to make those changes official starting this month and lasting through March of 2021. That includes suspended service on a variety of bus lines, truncated routes, riders having to transfer more often, and less frequent service.

You can read the loooong list of changes in the 2021 Service Plan; the service affected is Link Light Rail; routes 510, 511, 512, and 513; route 523; routes 541, 542, and 544; routes 555 and 556; route 567; routes 586, 592, and 595; and Sounder North and Sounder South.

Of particular concern is the fact that Sound Transit acknowledges that many of these changes will have a disproportionate impact on minority and low-income populations. For example, cuts to route 567 will affect an area with a more than 50% minority population, compared to the approximately 40% average in Sound Transit’s service area. Reductions to light rail service will also disproportionately hit minority communities.

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But those kinds of impacts appear to be the exception rather than the rule. The transit authority estimates many of the reductions, such as those to Sounder North, will have no disproportionate minority impact. And Sound Transit recognized that many of these cuts are a problem, so they’re turning to the public for input — which is where your opportunity to comment comes in.

You have two options for speaking your piece: You can either take Sound Transit’s survey right now, or sign up for a public meeting on September 24 and really give them what for. But you can’t sign up yet! You’ll have to wait until 8:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting before claiming your speaker slot. So mark your calendar now; then rant and rave on the 24th so you can ride the train until March. Whew.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the region, robust transit service is closely tied to lucrative new developments and economic activity, particularly tied to Amazon. Could this possibly be the worst possible time to talk about reducing service, since we clearly need robust public transit now more than ever? Yes, probably, but of course somebody's got to pay for it, and it would be rude to ask Jeff Bezos to chip in any of the $200 billion he's sitting on, or for Amazon to pay taxes.

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