A building on Aurora Avenue North was recently branded with a new message that said, “Metro stop stealing our lanes.”
The message is aimed at Metro buses and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which created dedicated bus lanes along the busy commuter route. Drivers complain it gives them fewer lane options and doesn’t make their commute any faster, according to a Seattle P-I article. The article reported that SDOT is still studying the effectiveness of these bus-only lanes.
This is just another example of the mounting transportation tension in this city. Recently, Seattleites have been going before the Metropolitan King County Council to plead for their bus service.
Mayor Ed Murray has proposed a regional transit fund created with the same sales-tax and car-tab increase that failed in the August special election. Seattle voters approved the last one, so it’s not much of a stretch to think this Seattle-only funding would pass. And there are other proposals out there, like the one to raise commercial-parking and head taxes — a plan from City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata — to pay for Metro service and stop the cuts.
Let’s not forget bike lanes, which are getting a lot of support with $20 million a year in funding — all amidst the continued battle between cyclists and cars in the city, each staking their claim over the same roads.
There are a lot of dynamics at play here. There’s the battle with density. As a city, we’re asking the young techies who move here to live in high-density, no-parking apartment buildings and live an idealized urban lifestyle. At the same time, we’re slashing transportation options, and commuters are speaking out against Metro.
With Seattle being the fastest-growing city in the United States last year, we need to focus on expanding transit options, not cutting them. The cracks in our infrastructure and urban planning are starting to show as we grow.
We can either use this as an opportunity to think of solid, long-term solutions that will create a better, more navigable Seattle — or we don’t. But time is of the essence.
What these commuters fighting the bus lanes might not realize is those buses and their bus-only lanes could be replaced with 30,000 more cars. It’s doubtful that the alternative would make them any happier.