Tagger takes on Aurora's bus-only lanes
SEATTLE -- A tagger is taking a stand against Metro buses along a section of Aurora Avenue, saying the designated transit lanes are ruining the road for the rest of the drivers. It's not clear who painted the graffiti, but the sign is so big it seems bus drivers can't help but notice.
Neighbors say the graffiti went up a few days ago on the wall of a vacant building just south of 42nd Avenue. It all capital letters, it says "METRO STOP STEALING OUR LANES."
Commuters who use Aurora give the dedicated bus lanes mixed reviews.
"It takes a lane out and leaves less options," said Matthew Sigler, who drives Aurora every day.
Beginning last year, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) re-designated the curb-lane along portions of Aurora for buses only. The change applies during peak morning and evening commutes. Traffic planners predicted the special lanes would lead to faster travel times for both buses and cars.
However, Sigler says he hasn't seen it.
"As a driver on this corridor, it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference," Sigler said.
Other signs of discontent have sprung up in recent weeks, with similar anti-Metro slogans posted over street signs. However, it's the sheer size of this latest message that calls drivers' attention.
Tim Ley owns Seattle Natural Mattress on Aurora, and is fighting SDOT over a plan to take away the only parking he has in front of the shop. The city has told him it may need those spaces to extend bus-only lanes several additional blocks.
"They are going to measure how much time the buses save going this two and a half blocks," Ley said. "If they save enough time they are going to take the lanes, and they don't care if we all go out of business."
SDOT analysts say the effectiveness of the bus-only lanes is still being studied and some traffic lights need to be re-synchronized before they can measure if the commute has actually improved.
The massive anti-Metro graffiti may grab the attention of passing motorists, but Aurora merchant Peter Toms says he can't risk his business over a bus lane experiment.
"There's a whole row of businesses over here, that are just small microscopic businesses that are keeping families alive, and they are being very adversely affected by these policies," Toms said.
SDOT officials say they are still evaluating how well these dedicated bus lanes work.