Seattle Area Transportation

by Bob Fleming

Information about regional transportation in the Seattle area, and a healthy dose of my own opinions!

My mobility web site My pedestrian web site My monorail web site My mass transit web site Contact me
Different Modes of Transportation:
Walking, Running, Jogging Bicycles Automobiles Highways Motorcycles Buses Bus Rapid Transit Streetcars Light Rail Heavy Rail Subway Monorail Personal Rapid Transit Magnetic Levitation

My name is Bob Fleming, and I am very interested in seeing a greatly improved transportation system for Seattle and the surrounding region.

I am going to divide the general topic of transportation into three broad categories — non-motorized personal transportation, roads, and mass transit.

Under the category of non-motorized personal transportation I am including such modes as walking, running, and bicycles.

The category of roads includes roads, highways, turnpikes, freeways, streets, boulevards, and other construction intended primarily for the use of automobiles.

Mass transit includes vehicles operating more-or-less on fixed routes and charging a fare (usually) to carry passengers from the general public. It does not include taxi cabs, nor does it include private buses and such that do not offer its services to the general public. I also am not including airlines which I do not consider to be under the category of regional transit but rather under intercity transportation.

Current System

First of all, I must say that the Seattle area has a pretty good transportation system now, with a good highway system and quite good system of public transportation.

FREEWAYS: There are two north-south Interstate highways, one east-west Interstate highway, and several other main routes. For more about the current highway system, click here.

MASS TRANSIT: Public transportation is provided by public bus systems operated by three counties and a city. There is also a regional transit authority providing express bus service, commuter rail service, and light rail service. Additionally, there is a short monorail line. For more about current public transit, click here.

Current Problems

ROADS vs. TRANSIT There is an ongoing controversy between people that want money spent mostly on roads but not much on mass transit, and other people that want to see less money spent on roads and more on transit.

The road-oriented people include many people who drive and are tired of the congestion. They don’t want to see their tax money go for transit that they never use instead of for better roads that will be of greater benefit to them.

The transit-oriented people include many people who don’t drive or who don’t like to drive, and want better transit service. There are also people who believe that more roads, for more cars, promotes pollution and congestion.

My belief is that we need a balance of both roads and transit. We should rebuild damaged or outdated highway structures, increase capacity on some roads, and take other measures to relieve congestion. There are many people who need to drive, and transit is not an alternative for them. We should also improve our mass transit system considerably. As mass transit gets better, more people will decide that it is cheaper and more convenient to take transit than deal with the congestion, unpredictable delays, hassle, and expense of driving and parking. Encouraging more drivers to use transit for at least some of their trips will reduce the number of cars on the road, and that will help those who must still drive.

ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT The Alaskan Way Viaduct is a double-decked elevated roadway parallel to Alaskan Way, a street along the Seattle waterfront. The Viaduct carries state highway 99, a major north-south arterial.

The viaduct was built in the 1950s and is reaching the end of its useful life. There are portions that are damaged and have been reinforced. There is concern among many experts that if there is another major earthquake, the structure could collapse. There is a major project in progress, boring a tunnel under part of Downtown Seattle, which will be the new route of highway 99. After opening of the new tunnel to traffic, the Viaduct will be torn down.

Click here for more information and opinion about the Viaduct.

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©2006 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated 16 May 2018.

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