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Microsoft: Loving its buses more and Sound Transit less

Now, we all know Microsoft was a big – like $200,000 big – supporter of Sound Transit's 2007 measure to expand light rail around Puget Sound. But as Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times reported on Monday, the Redmond tech giant only plans to give $10,000 to the supporters of Proposition 1, this year's Sound Transit measure.

Sorry, Sound Transit. You are out of luck.

Now, we all know Microsoft was a big – like $200,000 big – supporter of Sound Transit's 2007 measure to expand light rail around Puget Sound. But as Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times reported on Monday, the Redmond tech giant only plans to give $10,000 to the supporters of Proposition 1, this year's Sound Transit measure.

Sorry, Sound Transit. You are out of luck.

So. Why isn't Microsoft spending big on transportation this year? Actually, they are – just not on Proposition 1. Seattle Times technology reporter Benjamin Romano reports the company plans to double its year-old shuttle system for transporting employees from the Redmond campus to communities around the region.

On Oct. 6, the company is launching service to nine more areas:

-- Redmond Ridge -- Monroe -- Snohomish / Woodinville -- West Seattle -- Columbia City / Mount Baker -- Leschi / Madrona / Madison Park -- Maple Valley -- South Everett (extension of the current Mill Creek Express route) -- Kent/Tukwila-Renton (extension of the current Tukwila / Renton Express route)

The company is also modifying routes and schedules to Cottage Lake / Redmond and Duvall, and Ballard / Whittier Heights.

The expansion comes five months after the company added routes to North Seattle and the Eastside.

So far, 8,650 employees have used the service for a total of 380,000 rides, according to Microsoft.

While Microsoft takes its transportation troubles into its own hands, the low-budget Mass Transit Now campaign appears to be lacking the big business backers it had last year. Boeing hasn't made a contribution to the campaign, though it seems likely to be forthcoming. Will they follow Microsoft's lead? Will any local business giants get behind ST2? And with Microsoft normally the pace-setter for such contributions, does that mean other companies will give at correspondingly low levels?

None of this bodes well for a proposal headed towards its second run-in with Puget Sound voters. ST2 comes at a time when the economic jitters make rich bond issues harder to pass and when jammed buses are making voters eager for the quick relief of more buses rather than the slow timetable for "rapid" transit. But will that translate into "no" votes?

Clark Fredricksen is a Crosscut staff writer. You can reach him at clark.fredricksen@crosscut.com.


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