Quick recap from last night's Community Idea Lab on transportation

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Dozens of transpo passionadoes debate the future of getting around in Puget Sound.

How perfectly ironic that one of the first tweets about last night's Community Idea Lab was inspired by traffic on I-90.

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Tweeter Pat Dunn and more than 100 others braved the congestion and made their way (by car, bus and bike) to Mercer Island Community Center for a wide-ranging conversation about the future of transportation in Puget Sound. Our emcees, State Sen. Pramila Jayapal and Rita Brogan, PRR board chair and Washington State Transportation Commission member, kicked things off with presentations on the current state of the state's transportation system and what needs to change.

After learning that transportation was a big concern for her constituents in the 37th District, Jayapal asked to serve on the Senate's transportation committee — and was told by Senate aides that she was the first representative from the 37th to ever do so. Jayapal reported that, alas, her colleagues in Olympia are still a ways from a vote on a statewide transportation package.

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Brogan shared survey results (from the ride-sharing company ZipCar) showing that Millennials have different views about how to get around. Driving (themselves) just isn't as important — or affordable — for 20-somethings as it is for their parents' generation. Hence the rise of car-sharing services like ZipCar. In fact, when asked, Millennials said they'd rather lose their car than their smartphone or computer. That kind of car indifference is already reshaping our transportation system.

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Noting that the region's population is expected to grow a whopping 28 percent by 2040, Geoff Patrick, Media Relations and Public Information Manager at Sound Transit, explained how the Sound Transit 3 measure aims to expand the existing mass transit system (light rail, commuter rail and bus service) as a way to accommodate the boom.

Shefali Ranganathan, Director of Programs for Transportation Choices, argued that "When we make decisions, it needs to be based on a framework of values, not on a list of projects." Values such as safety, equity and interconnectedness.

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And then it was time for the audience to weigh in.

Broken into 12 different lab teams at 12 different tables, audience members and expert moderators debated 12 different transportation topics — at times, heatedly: Should metro areas prioritize bus/bike lanes over parking? Should state funding be used to incentivize electric car use? Should suburban residents have to pay for major improvements in metro areas such as Seattle and Bellevue? Should there be park and rides near all mass transit stations?

Following the group discussions, attendees peeled off to post individual comments on the 29 different transportation projects under consideration in Puget Sound. From extending light rail to Ballard ("Waste of money. Light rail is for distance travel. Use RapidRide.") to the controversial Viaduct tunnel ("We need gondolas!").

The highlights from all those conversations and comments are coming soon.

  

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About the Authors & Contributors

Cambria Roth

Cambria Roth

Cambria Roth is formerly a digital editor at Crosscut, where she curated and wrote Crosscut’s daily, weekly and election newsletters.