For the thousands hoping to come to Capitol Hill for the January 20th Seattle Women’s March, we have two words for you: light rail.
In 2017, officials believe more than 120,000 people marched from the Central District’s Judkins Park as part of the march, the city’s contribution to women’s rights marches across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s election victory. But, to be honest, they’re not sure. It was impossible to count. In 2018 with a year since the election passed and with some advocates saying it is time to move beyond demonstrations, nobody knows how many thousands will gather January 20th on Capitol Hill for this year’s rally and march.
Organizers and city officials are preparing and gathered Wednesday to plan for how to help those thousands get to and march off of Capitol Hill in the smoothest, safest, most First Amendment-y way possible.
Even with an impressively crowded Judkins Park, people-choked streets from the Central District through downtown, and overwhelmed public transit, 2017’s march, somehow, worked. “We’re lucky it went as well as it did,” one Seattle Police Department representative said Wednesday at a meeting of City of Seattle departments and march organizers to discuss the Saturday, January 20th event.
Ali Lee of the Be the Change Network is leading the group of organizers in charge of pulling together the “constitutionally protected free speech event.” She and other organizers discussed logistics for 2018 with representatives from SPD, Seattle Fire, King County Metro, and the Seattle Center, where the 2018 march is planned to terminate.
Organizers have not yet announced final details of the day’s rally and march route but E Pine will play a major role in the events. Neighbors and Capitol Hill businesses should plan for a busy, congested, and — if it’s anything like the immense gathering in 2017 — incredible day.
Assembly on Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris artificial turf will begin around 10 AM with shuttle buses from organizations and groups traveling to Seattle for the march expected to arrive around the park much earlier. Officials Wednesday encouraged travelers to consider using the UW light rail station at Husky Stadium as a better place to drop off marchers who could then ride the line up the Hill to Broadway for a short walk to Cal Anderson.
Officials at Wednesday meeting were hopeful Sound Transit’s light rail could help mitigate many of the transportation issues that came up before, during, and after 2017’s march though nobody from the agency was in attendance at the city meeting. We have asked Sound Transit about plans for the 20th and if they will be able to increase service and will update when we hear back.
UPDATE: Sound Transit says it is working with Metro, and the transit agencies in Pierce and Snohomish counties “on the best ways to get people to/from light rail stations” and tells CHS they’ll have “all available trains ready to roll” on the 20th:
We'll have all available trains ready to roll and will be able to have extra service out as needed before, during and after the march. Saturdays we normally run 3-car trains every 10 minutes and can cut that down to every 5 min during big surges.
— Sound Transit (@SoundTransit) January 11, 2018
The 2018 march program of tribal blessings and speakers is slated to take place from the stage on the south end of Bobby Morris from 10:30 to 11:30 AM at which point marchers will be directed to begin assembling onto 11th Ave and E Pine. Speakers are expected include Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Senator Maria Cantwell.
The march route will follow Pine off the Hill, through Westlake, and, then, onto Seattle Center. Organizers expect marchers to also assemble and join from Westlake and Seattle Center if you’re looking for an alternative way to join the crowd. The final march route including the best option for entering Seattle Center to end the march had not yet been finalized as of Wednesday’s planning meeting.
So, how many will rise to march in 2018 after a year of the Trump presidency? You could expect an increase in apathy and a loss of urgency. Or, maybe, with the #metoo movement people are more inspired to act. Maybe people are angrier. Maybe they’re tired. Unlike 2017 when there were several other smaller marches across the state, in 2018, the attention appears to be fully focused on Seattle. Rainy cold weather, on the other hand, could dampen some of the enthusiasm.
CHS reported earlier on the plans for a weekend of activity around the anniversary of the 2017 march as organizers from multiple events are working together on a new march on Saturday and a Sunday of community organizing around the city and region. For many, the events Sunday focused around voter registration, education, and underrepresented groups should command greater energy and attention.
Still, thousands will hit the streets Saturday. Organizers say that thanks to experience from the 2017 march and subsequent events like the March for Science that took place starting in Cal Anderson in April, they are planning elements to help streamline the 2018 event including musicians that will be part of the crowd to help keep the marchers on pace and moving. There will also be better coordination of clean-up resources including ways to collect thousands of signs at the end of the march. According to the Wednesday meeting, city departments are still sorting out how many additional personnel may need to be on hand for the 2018 march.
Other elements like finding a bathroom or a drink of water along the route will be left to participants — and local merchants — to sort out.