SEATTLE — The popularity of transit in Seattle and King County is blessing and a curse. But one Kevin Freitas admits it’s worth it.
“We live in a world class city, really,” he said while standing in front of his South Lake Union office.
He loves the location. The commute? Less so.
“A car is not the best way to get around anymore,” he said.
So Freitas treks from West Seattle via bus most days but feels compelled to take out his phone and film bus lane violators.
“Those lanes are there for a reason,” Freitas said.
The morning routine he documents actually backs up traffic even more, but with Rapid Ride and other bus lanes getting wide-open room to roam there are indeed fewer places for drivers to go.
“I don`t think it represents a war on cars, rather than a little bit of a shift in mentality,” said Andrew Glass Hastings, the mobility guru for Seattle's Department of Transportation.
Between Metro and the SDOT, deciding to hand over parking and entire lanes to buses is a delicate balance.
“We can`t expand our roadways in a city like Seattle. In many ways, we`re built out. We`re not building new roads. We`re trying to take care of the ones we have,” Glass Hastings said.
About 300,000 people use the system in the city every day, so the hope is by making better buses, and getting them out of regular traffic---it can be an incentive to get on board.
A fancy system within the system called "Bus Rapid Transit"---sort of a light rail on the road.
“Transit lanes, signal priority, signal jumps, things like that,” Glass Hastings said.
But it all falls apart when scofflaws scoot into the lanes.
The city isn't having it and have stepped up enforcement of everything from HOV to bus lane tickets.
There's already been half a year's worth of tickets from 2016 through the first four months of this year.
So Freitas will keep calling people out, but he admits he's lucky to be on a bus line that goes right to work.
“I`d love to have more trains. I`d love to have more buses. But until people actually say they want more trains and they want more buses, it`s not going to happen,” he said.