Ballard District Council Talks Transit

By Amanda Morton – UW Newslab

A survey on the new RapidRide buses was among topics discussed at Wednesday evening’s Ballard District Council meeting.

Dennis Galvin presented the results and analysis of the Ballard District Transit Survey. “While the analysis is not yet complete, the general feeling from the community over the recent transit changes and the introduction of RapidRide was one of frustration,” Galvin said.

The survey had 21 questions and was released Jan. 19. The survey closed on Jan. 31 with nearly 800 responses. Overall, community members who participated failed to see any improvement in their transit experience. “A large majority  felt the recent changes had made their experience worse,” Galvin said.

RapidRide street cars have “longer space between stops, transit signal priority, and sometimes ride in their own lanes separate from traffic,” said Michael James of the Seattle Department of Transportation, who spoke at the meeting.  These cars are supposed to decrease commuting time, yet the survey results showed most Ballardites were on the bus the same amount of time and felt a decrease in reliability at reaching their end destinations.

The conversation about transit continued as Karen Waterman from Sound Transit and James discussed the Ballard to Downtown Transit Expansion Study.

The goal of the study is to improve and identify the needs of the community so that the infrastructure can be built up to meet the growing demand. The study focuses on both street car and light rail transportation. “Currently the study is only on a conceptual level,” said Waterman. At this time there is no funding to produce any of the improvements that might be unveiled. However, the results will be available to the city in case any of the projects or proposals might be picked up in the future.

The first public meeting concerning the study will be held on March 12 from 5-7 p.m. at Ballard High School.

Also at the meeting, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess said that funding for Ballard’s infrastructure is lagging behind the area’s growth. Burgess is hoping to “align growth and density with an increasing amount of infrastructure,” he said. “When we spend money more wisely we can do more good.”

The next Ballard District Council meeting is scheduled for March, we will update readers with the details when they become available.

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