Ask anyone who has lived in Seattle for more than five minutes to name their biggest frustrations and the traffic gridlock will surely be on the list.
Shefali Ranganathan feels your pain. As executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a statewide nonprofit policy and advocacy group, she’s helped lead the fight for more transit options, resulting in a number of wins, including the 2016 passage of Sound Transit 3, Washington state’s most significant plan for transportation expansion, which will increase Puget Sound’s transit network of light and commuter rail, rapid transit and bus lines.
Ranganathan believes that smart transportation investments can be tools for addressing broader issues, such as income inequality, and points to King County’s Orca Lift program, launched in 2015. The low-income transit fare program has significantly increased access to public transportation. “Even if people have access to schools or affordable housing, if they don’t have access to good-quality transportation, it lessens the benefit of those other investments.”
Then, there’s climate change. “If we are going to move people in ways that are not environmentally damaging, we’ve got to invest in our transportation system.”
Ranganathan is aware that citizens are impatient to reap the benefits of the transit innovations we are paying for now. “The good news is we’ve made some profound investments. Twenty years from now, this region will be transformed.”
Read about the rest of 2017's Most Influential Seattleites here.