The tech boom in Seattle has created a gold rush economy. We have added jobs at a dizzying rate, while failing to add the necessary infrastructure for these additional workers. The end result is a city with a massive traffic problem fueled by inaction, poor planning, and contradictory policies.
Recent mayors have prioritized bicycles over motor vehicles, pitting them against each other and making us enemies on the road. Existing parking places have been eliminated, and significant new construction has been permitted with little or no planning for parking. This, and our generational failure to build a truly effective public transportation system, has left us with a disastrous traffic problem in Seattle.
This problem will not be easy, cheap, or quick to fix; it’s a problem 50 years in the making. We can’t undo what has been done, or rather, what has not been done. We can only move forward from here. Technology may one day provide the answer. We can’t predict what answers technology will provide, but we do know that technology will need routes. Be it driverless, ownerless smart cars, or electric “train” cars that intelligently link and unlink as required, any future innovation will need pathways on which to operate.
With that in mind, we need to serve today’s citizens while preparing for the future. In the short-term, we need to increase the number of buses, expand routes, and increase the number of Park and Rides. We need to create a public transportation system so efficient that the majority of the people in the future would prefer to use it. We need adequate parking, and driving routes on improved streets to serve those who choose to drive. We need roads that work for our port city’s commerce to thrive.