She's A-Comin' Through the Mountain

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None of Seattle's typical "too cool for school" stand-offishness. Tens of thousands of cheerful riders, oohing and cooing, tweeting and twittering along SoundTransit's light rail line. Dozens of staffers in dayglo green shirts directed (human) traffic, and the trains (speedy, quiet) ran every ten minutes or so, tunneling under Beacon Hill and emerging high above MLK in Mt. Baker. Further south, African-American, Latino, Asian neighborhoods with exotic strip malls as well as depressingly familiar chain stores. Big crowds at the Stadium station, where the MLS Sounders acquitted themselves with honor against the visiting powerhouse, Chelsea. Then again, maybe the Brits didn't want to embarrass their hosts.

First person we encountered on the train was King County Councilman Larry Philips (SoundTransit board member and candidate for county executive) who told us he'd been waiting forty years for this day. "Every other big city on the West Coast, from San Diego to Vancouver, has had light rail for years." Cities around Old Europe, too, like Strasbourg, which (unlike Seattle) managed to integrate parking for bikes and cars into the system. Who cares if it's going to take longer to get to SeaTac by train than on the 194? (Seriously: the 194 takes 30 minutes flat from Westlake Station and costs $1.75. Light rail will take 34 minutes just to reach the Tukwila station, plus a shuttle bus to the airport, and the fare will be at least $2.50.) No matter! We're up-to-date now!

Actually, one light rail train carries 350 people. One bus, a tenth of that, especially when filled with flatland touristers and their rolling stock. Also, the 194 doesn't run late at night. Great sighs of relief on both counts.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on July 19, 2009 12:00 AM.

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