Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seattle's Water Taxis to the Rescue

I was just reading in the Seattle PI about how King County is hoping to make the West Seattle-Downtown passenger ferry a year round service. They are also considering expanding the passenger only ferries to new routes such as Vashon Island-West Seattle and Kirkland-University of Washington. It's really exciting to hear that the county is pursuing this rather unconventional form of transportation. From what I hear, the current summer ferry service is extremely popular and we shouldn't miss any opportunity to get someone off the road and onto mass transit.

It would be quite ironic if the very bodies of water that are blamed for causing so much of Seattle's transportation woes end up being the means to our transit salvation. Obviously a couple of boats trolling back and forth between two fixed destinations are hardly going to solve anything, but perhaps we'll eventually return to the peak of the Mosquito Fleet when thousands of small passenger ships sailed across the Puget Sound and our assorted lakes.

One of the most frustrating things about mass transit, whether it is a water taxi or a light rail line, is that our cities are not designed for them. Ever since the car has taken America by storm everything from our houses to our cities to our lives has been designed around it. The problem with this is that when we attempt to develop a form of mass transit it is often argued that no one will use it because it is not convenient. It is not convenient of course because people do not live or work in the right places to make mass transit a convenience. People will not choose to change their lifestyle or move or anything until there is an alternative already in place which leads to quite a quandary. Do we build the transit first, at a loss, knowing it will not be utilized to its fullest at first with the hope that people will someday build their homes and offices in the vicinity of transit and adopt it? Or do we wait to build anything until magically the density needed for transit appears of its own right?

While no one knows the correct answer yet, it appears that the car-based lifestyle we have created is becoming less and less sustainable. Investing now in transit may be the best and cheapest way to keep our society moving forward. Since we are not yet at the point where we have to give up the car cold turkey we can still afford to experiment and see what best meets our needs. Water taxi's are definitely worth trying.

Right now the ball seems to be in the King County Council's court. They passed the ferry taxing district last month, and some time soon they will decide if a tax will be imposed to expand the service. Please contact your representative to let them know you'd like to see expanded transit choices. For Capitol Hill and all of District 4 our council member is Larry Phillips. Take a moment to send him a quick email and affirm your support.

1 comment:

brianwestbrook.com said...

Matt... your insightful posts and creative proposals are what we need to see more of in this community. When you run for City Council, you will have my vote. Keep the awesome posts coming, I look forward to reading!

--BMW.