The following is a transcript of ACRS Executive Director Diane Narasaki’s question on transportation to Mayor-elect Ed Murray at a luncheon on December 30, 2013 (Listen to the audio recording for Narasaki’s question and Murray’s response):
As you probably know, Asian Pacific Americans are the largest racial minority group in Seattle at about 15 percent of the population and also the fastest growing racial minority group in the nation. Over 60 percent of us are first generation immigrants or refugees and a significant proportion of us don’t speak English as a first language. Despite the model minority stereotype as you know there’s also significant poverty in the community. We’re growing throughout the city but particularly in the [International District] and South Seattle.
Public transportation, especially bus transportation, is vital to us and is a civil rights issue. In South Seattle, light rail stops as you probably know are over a mile apart and it’s difficult for limited English speakers to use this system. Unequal access to transportation that works for riders of color creates a discriminatory impact for us and makes it more difficult to get to school, to work, health and social services, churches, temples, and families. This is why the curtailment and elimination of bus routes that are vital to our community like the route 42, which went from Skyway to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to the ID and Downtown, is so significant to our community. It was ridden primarily by vulnerable riders of color, including Asians.
Just to give you an example, elders who used to take a half an hour to get to ACRS now face a three-hour round trip because they have to transfer to so many buses. [King County Metro Transit] is considering changes like the change to route 106, which would help solve the problems created by the elimination of route 42 and would go from Renton to Skyway to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to the ID and Downtown as a one-seat ride.
As mayor, will you support public transportation prioritization and allocations with an eye to race and social equity and support solutions like the proposed route change to route 106? Will you ensure that the needs of our community’s most vulnerable are addressed not just through expensive light rail and trolley car solutions but also through bus transportation?