An Open Letter to Columnist Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times

Dear Danny-

I was interested to read your column in today’s Times, entitled “Relying on The Bus Foolhardy in Seattle”.  Since the majority of Seattle residents are of the liberal persuasion, and often advocate getting people out of their cars, I was amused by your experience this summer, trying to get everywhere by bus.  “What’s it like to get around Seattle these days on the bus?…What’s it like to depend on the bus for making appointments, for after-work errands, for just living in the city?  Answer: It’s terrible.”  Too bad you had to ride through the part of Seattle where people actually work for profit-making businesses (“Amazonia”).  Too bad you had to wait at bus stops while too-full buses passed you by.  You neglected to mention how it was taking the bus to the grocery store, and getting your purchases home (I’m betting that’s because your wife does the grocery shopping in her car).  You did get lucky, however, in choosing the summer where we had much less rainfall than normal, and whole months full of sunny warm days.  Try it in the pouring rain sometime.  You did mention the statistic that 84% of Seattleites own cars, as distinct from New York, where only 44% do.

So, here are a couple of facts for you. One is,  SEATTLE IS NOT NEW YORK!  The majority of Seattleites live in, and prefer, single-family homes with garages, and fenced yards for their children to play in (when they have children).  Very high numbers of New Yorkers live in high-rise apartment buildings, or row houses, and garage or on-street parking is hard to come by.  New York also has a nearly-100-year-old subway system for those carless people to ride.  Danny, you cannot have MASS Transit without the MASS.  And the vast majority of Seattleites have demonstrated that they do not want to live in high-rise apartments.  As much as you liberals yearn to get everyone out of their cars and onto (non-existent) mass-transit, most of you don’t want to do that yourselves.  Isn’t it lots of fun to have to build your life around someone else’s schedule?  And stand outside in the rain or hot sun to wait for the transportation?  And miss the last bus home if your schedule changes at the last minute?

Now, you said something about the enthusiasts of “shedding the shackles of automobiles”.  You might think that an automobile resembles shackles (things that tie you to something).  However, to me and most of the people I know, MY CAR IS MY FREEDOM.  My car allows me to live on MY schedule, go where I please when I please, and carry home huge sacks of groceries that I could not carry in my two hands.  My car allows me to go from my house in Everett to a professional association dinner meeting in Bellevue, 25 miles away, in around 30 minutes.  And if I wanted, I could stop at the local bar for a drink on the way home.  Or not.  MY CHOICE.  Public transportation takes away choices.  My car gives me my choices.

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