Our Northwest

Amazon commuter buses should ease Mercer Mess

Wednesday, September 28, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

construction of Amazon buidling in South Lake UnionI'm pleased to read that Amazon.com is launching commuter buses for its Eastside employees.

Although it's exciting to witness the once-sleepy South Lake Union community flourishing with such vibrancy, gridlock seems to worsen each week. But the Amazon buses should help reduce traffic.

I've worked in the neighborhood since 1984, and up until Amazon relocated there in 2010, South Lake Union was one of Seattle's secret treasures. It certainly was from a commuting standpoint.

For 18 years I commuted via Metro buses that conveniently dropped me off two blocks from my office. Then my work hours stretched, so I began driving. I could get home to Redmond in 20-25 minutes.

PEMCO's headquarters during that time had been next to REI's flagship store on Eastlake. Up until this past January, for years during the evening rush hour, I drove the five blocks to the Mercer Street I-5 on-ramp in only four minutes.

After the neighborhood tech boom, that time tripled.

Amazon building construction in Seattle

This past winter PEMCO moved just one mile away, as the crow flies, to our new Dexter Avenue headquarters. My drive to reach that same I-5 on-ramp now ranges from 20 to 55 minutes, through the "Mercer Mess." Amazon and other new businesses have added to that congestion.

So I applaud Amazon for doing something about it.

And as one who drives from downtown to the Eastside via I-5 and SR 520, I hope that unlike a certain company's Connector buses, the Amazon buses won't camp in 520's left lane too often.

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