homeWelcome, sign in or click here to subscribe.login




print  email to a friend  reprints add to mydjc  

July 25, 2005

Letters to the editor: Readers agree we're a flop at transportation planning

Why is it that our local woes are news across the Atlantic? ("Is this region a flop at transportation planning?" DJC July 20) Well maybe, because it's true.

It is true that the region is intellectually and in some cases, programmatically, way ahead of the rest of the nation. Unfortunately that does not say too much about us, considering the yardstick we are measuring ourselves with. The fact is that this region has been woefully underprepared, and I would dare say purposefully turned a blind eye towards its growth. It is time to grow up and get educated about challenges that other regions went through as they transitioned from one size to another.

We can probably give ourselves a moderate score for preserving some of our natural forests and agricultural land. However, without any doubt, we have failed miserably at keeping housing prices in tune with our region's incomes, providing housing and shelter for lower income households and the homeless, providing realistic transit choices for 80 percent of our residents (the middle to lower income families) and reducing our region's toxicity (mercury, PBDEs, radioactive waste and so on).

I will go as far as to claim that one of the root causes of this malady (other than funding programs and the lack of a regional authority) is the absolute lack of linking land use to transit mobility. First, there is a denial that the way we allocate density has anything to do with the equation, then there is the denial that infrastructure planning (such as dedicating roads and corridors for transit BEFORE the problem arises) is necessary and lastly, the efforts that are made - do not reflect the vast knowledge, research and experience to be had from other communities across the world.

Yes, London's efforts are not perfect. So we may not want to emulate them. But instead of making our own mistakes and wasting valuable resources, let's learn from others. There are MANY success stories. Developing small nodes of transit oriented development along pockets of a highway-oriented bus-rapid-transit system is a boon against highway expansion. It is only a hiccup towards a regional plan for mobility and access.

We need to reconsider the way we plan so that transit is integrated into every community's and neighborhood's plan. We need to say and mean that walking and biking are a priority and we need to critically review the vast highway expansion projects on the boards.

We need the Governor to create a regional transportation authority. We need centralized planning that reflects and at the same time directs funding. We need every community in this region to develop their individual mobility plans that targets 80 percent of their population and guarantees to serve at least 20 percent by 2020.

Communities need to seriously consider and promote Transit Demand Management programs that attract participants. We need to collectively commit to reducing vehicles miles per person, while increasing mobility ridership, and non-vehicular trips per person. Many of those who are dependant on driving have no alternate choices. Many who support bills that kill transit do not understand that they are shooting themselves in the foot. Transit is here to stay. So let's get used to it and make the best of it.

Anindita Mitra

I'm afraid I have to agree with The Economist on Seattle's transportation problems. My husband and I lived in Tacoma, Bellevue and Seattle from 1977 to 1981 and the clogged freeways were bad then, and from what we have seen in all of our visits since, it is not much better. On one trip we spent 30 minutes trying to get from a hotel in Redmond to a restaurant in Bellevue, a distance you will agree is not far. When I worked in Bellevue I dispatched field engineers on computer service calls and they were extremely restricted in the jobs they could accomplish in a day because of traffic problems.

Although Seattle's planners think they have been working on the problem, the lack of any overall solution is striking to those of us from outside the area. In contrast, we have watched Portland solve its traffic problems very effectively. Our daughter has decided to attend college in Portland rather than Seattle and we are confident that she will be able to get around efficiently and safely there.

Doris M. Butler

Tell us what you think...

The Daily Journal of Commerce welcomes your comments.

Related Stories:

Previous columns:

Email or user name:
Forgot password? Click here.