Fantastic video by Oran of Seattle's Central Link Light Rail cruising past SR 518 Traffic
The reliability of the transportation system always suffers during inclement weather, but it doesn't have to. Regionally, the most reliable forms of transportation were on rails. Sounder Commuter trains ran on time and LINK Light Rail in Seattle and Tacoma operated mostly as normal. Sounder passengers enjoyed having warm seats, a smooth ride and free WiFi, while I heard anecdotally that some drivers, so frustrated with snarled traffic and spun-out cars on I-5, abandoned their vehicles and sought motel rooms in Kent or Auburn rather than waiting another 3 hours in traffic to get home.
|Route 1's Snow Detour Map (Green)|
Does it point the way for a Tacoma Link extension?
All this took was a little ice and snow and a sustained deep freeze over two days.
What this says is clear: During periods of terrible weather commuters should be riding rails to get to work and school. And further, buses should stick to the flatter, more navigable parts of the City that can be easily cleared of snow and ice by City of Tacoma Public Works crews while staying off of Downtown Tacoma's "ski slopes."
One way to achieve this is to finally implement what has been planned and studied for the last five years by extending Tacoma Link up to the Stadium District and to Tacoma General Hospital. Coincidentally, this route mostly mirrors the snow route established for Pierce Transit's routes 1, 3, 11, 13, 16, 26, 28, and 45. During adverse conditions, Sound Transit light rail could eliminate the need for local buses in the majority of Tacoma from ever needing to come up or down Downtown's steep icy slopes. Instead, by transferring passengers to high capacity light rail on Division Avenue and in the Stadium District, buses could continue reliably serving other parts of the city. This would ensure safer and more reliable mobility for everyone and easier regional connections to Sounder Commuter Rail.
Not only that, but a light rail extension to Tacoma General Hospital could have saved Pierce Transit the purchase of a new $500,000 bus, and may reduce future lawsuit liabilities.