U District Let’s Go is stepping up our Social Media game! On March 14th, we attended Transportation Choices Coalition’s Transit Talk titled 10 Years of Link Light Rail. 10 Years of Connecting Community and live tweeted the event! It was a great way to connect the transportation work we do in the U District to the larger Seattle and King County areas.
Regina Dove is the new Director of Education and Engagement with Transportation Choices Coalition and this is the first Transit Talk she has hosted in the position. She put together an incredible panel of experts to discuss this important topic. Panelists for the event included:
Don Billen, Executive Director of Planning, Environmental Review and Project Development, Sound Transit
Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro de la Raza
Greg Nickels, 51st Mayor of Seattle
Jill Mangaliman, Executive Director, Got Green
Jose Luis, Owner, The Station Café
Mark Hallenbeck, Senior Data Science Fellow, Director of the Washington State Transportation Center University of Washington
Miranda Redinger: AICP City of Shoreline, Senior Planner
(Above: Moderator and panelists for TCC’s March 14th Transit Talk)
I had the pleasure of speaking with Regina after the event to discuss how she was able to choose the topic of Light Rail for this Transit Talk. She mentioned she coordinated a lot with Miriam Castro, former Program Manager for U District Let’s Go in the planning. She also stated, “Sound transit and light rail had its 10th anniversary, and we wanted an opportunity for folks who had been a part of the planning process since the ‘90s up to the folks who have Light Rail stations in their communities that just opened up a few years ago. What are the lessons learned and what are the things to celebrate? A lot of us recognize the advantages of light rail in our communities but how can we make it better? How can we improve current stations to better serve communities as well?” Those questions, among many others, offered lively discussion and engagement from the panelists and attendees.
The Transit Talk provided a unique platform for community leaders and Transit representatives to be at the same table and share dialogue about their experiences in how the Light Rail is expanding and impacting communities. It was particularly interesting to hear the panel engage around questions regarding community input. Sound Transit’s Don Billen reaffirmed that a key aspect of moving forward with Light Rail expansion is to include impacted communities in all of the conversations moving forward. The response from community leaders, however, spoke more to how many Transit organizations already ask for input, but they do not do anything with that information once it has been collected. Jill Mangaliman, a community activist and Executive Director of Got Green stated, “Communities are often asked our opinions, but the advice is ignored and then we’re left to clean up the mess.”
While there was not agreement on every topic, the Transit Talk offered an inside look at how many transportation decisions are made from beginning to end of each project, and even the continued assessment work after each new project is implemented. Greg Nickels, former Mayor of Seattle, summarized the influence of establishing Light Rail clearly with one sentence, “We have made a lasting impact for our children and our children’s children.” What’s next for Light Rail? Quite a bit! ST3, the next leg of Sound Transit’s Light Rail expansion, is moving forward. Check out their website for the map and timelines of when the new stations are coming to a neighborhood near you.
U District Let’s Go is excited to continue their partnership with Transportation Choices and is in the process of finding more ways to continue that partnership in the future. When asked about her favorite part of Transit Talks, Regina said, “ Often times we get stuck in our worlds where our profession is. I appreciate a big picture perspective to refresh our minds about why collectively we are all a part of this. I hope moving forward we can continue to engage communities and can include policy makers who are in the weeds of the work.” We hope so too, Regina!
Keep checking back here and on our Facebook page for more updates about the great work we are doing together!
Missed the event? Check out the recording here:
Want to follow us on Twitter?
Follow us at: @Udistrictletsgo