SDOT is planning to finally stick it to 520 commuters this spring, to the proposed tune of $7 per day for peak commutes. Unfortunately, the Valhalla I fervently wished for was eliminated as an option, as they also plan to nail carpoolers- you know, those little buses that run for free. My interpretation is that carpoolers lack for a lobby that can push their point of view. They also aren’t extreme enough for either political party to pander to (Cars Bad! Cars Good! Nazi!)
Anyhow, if you’re Microsoft then your commute should be faster as the riff raff will be off the road and you can better enjoy your time on the Connector with your reserved seat, free wifi, and complementary fresh ground coffee*.
For most everyone else in Wallingford, your 520 Transportation Choices™ are not so good.
520 bus routes will be expanded but will continue to skip Wallingford. As someone that commuted to Microsoft in pre-Connector days I can vouch for how impossibly slow buses are, with 3 transfers required to get across 520 and to downtown Wallingford. The one way rush hour commute to Microsoft typically exceeded an hour, whereas it was less than half that time when carpooling.
Metro bus choices from Wallingford across 520 are still limited to either getting up to the 65th street park and ride or down to Montlake via the Burke Gillman trail. This will typically mean getting on a bike and having a decent cell phone data plan. Plus you’ll have the complication of waiting for a bike slot, as these fill up quickly in the summer. Here’s a view of the new routes- if you’ve found a good way to make things work via metro please let us know in the comments section:
Your next best option is to be rich and pay the $1500 or so per year, which is a great new Transportation Choice™. After that, your next best option is to defray your costs. If you go in before 5 AM or come home after 11 PM it’s free one way. On the other hand, if you have a life or wish to have a life some day you can carpool and split the cost. You will need to sign up for a “Good to Go” pass as that saves a bit. There is also a Metro run Web site that you can use to find carpool partners. Alternately, there’s a real-time 520 ride sharing option that’s in pilot mode for now (amusingly it is not yet Windows Phone 7 compatible, but then again at Microsoft you rely on the “carpool” alias for real time match making).
Finally, there are a few alternate visions of reality in the future. Assuming the big one hits while you’re on the bridge, things will not be good- hollow concrete columns built on marsh land. Still, this is a low chance- only a 5% risk over the next 50 years that the Seattle Fault will slip, and you’re only on there 10 minutes a day. Pshaw- worry about traffic accidents with cell phone chatting Land Rover drivers first. Still, there would be this to look forward to:
Or you can hope for a bridge that is promised in 2014 but that is only 1/2 paid for and is being blocked at mid span by a mayor that will hold his breath rather than let it be finished in any way other than His Way. His Way includes keeping it at 4 lanes (eliminating that dastardly carpool lane), and adding rail (which is a kazillion dollars and will also not cross I-5 into Wallingford.) Where are the “don’t blame me, I voted for Nickels” signs at Not a Number?
We may not build things in this country anymore, but at least we can create groovy fly throughs:
Finally, if you want to view the official tolling propaganda here’s a handy video with the happiest music / commentary on earth. The subtext is clearly “please don’t vote for Tim Eyman’s next initiative”. The muted version of this is likely to be your reality for some time to come:
*- Lies. In truth you must wait and get your complementary fresh ground coffee at work.