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How the Metro Transit vote ran into a deep ditch

There are lessons from the results that led to Proposition 1's failure that could help shape the next steps in financing bus service for Seattle and King County.

It’s become the hot topic in any discussion of transit funding: Whither the King County suburbs?

Last month, initial results of King County’s Proposition 1 vote indicated that the measure had received a beating outside of Seattle.  In ensuing weeks, Seattle-based transit advocates announced “Plan C,” a Seattle-specific effort to boost property taxes to stave off Metro cuts. The rationale was simple: If the suburban communities aren’t interested in financing current Metro system, have Seattle go on its own.

“Plan C” has now received major pushback in the form of opposition from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “While there is no question that the region has failed Seattle on transit funding in recent years,” Murray wrote in a Thursday press release, “it is equally true that transit is a regional issue that requires a regional solution.” Regionalism, Murray announced, is a necessary component of any plan to earn his support.

That leaves a big question hanging. It’s clear that the King County suburbs were not supportive of Prop. 1. But how deep does that discontent run? To start to answer that question, let’s take a look at the Prop. 1 results, and analyze what King County voters were trying to signal with them. 

A sea of red

It was clear on Election Night that suburban King County was rejecting Prop. 1. 

We now know the full extent of the damage. Not only did the measure get thumped in the suburbs, but its losses versus previous transit measures were unusually concentrated outside of the urban core. Prop. 1 was billed as a “roads and transit” effort, in part to garner support from parts of King County with few public transit users. One thing is clear from these results: That didn’t work.

First things first: Let’s take a look at the raw results. The map below shows the Prop. 1 results by precinct (a level of detail that wasn't available before). Precincts in dark green were most supportive, while dark-red areas rejected the measure.

This map is, to put it lightly, mostly a sea of red — and much of that red is quite dark. Countywide, the measure received 46% of the vote. That showing was certainly buoyed by strong support in Seattle, where Prop. 1 passed 2-to-1. Normally, an overwhelming result in Seattle is enough to carry an election countywide. Not this time: the rest of King County voted, by a nearly identical measure, against Prop. 1. Even with relatively strong turnout, Seattle was only 38% of King County votes. City votes were effectively neutralized.

Outside of Seattle, green areas are thin on the ground. Vashon Island, to be sure, was nearly as supportive as the city. Lake Forest Park very narrowly voted yes, as did many parts of Mercer Island and Shoreline. Bellevue and Redmond had pockets of support downtown, and in areas loaded with apartment dwellers. A few other cities had or two supporting precincts in their most urbanized parts.

Disenchanting the suburbs

So, what happened? The first point to make is that support was mostly isolated to areas where transit is a viable option for everyday living. This can be demonstrated any number of ways. One of the more fascinating efforts was by Brandon Martin-Anderson of Conveyal. Martin-Anderson created this excellent map, showing the number of jobs accessible by public transit commute on any given weekday morning. Dark blue areas can reach over 500,000 jobs in an hour’s transit time; dark red areas, fewer than 10,000.

With a few exceptions, this map lines up extremely well with the Prop. 1 results — down to the pockets of support in Mercer Island, Bellevue, Redmond and Shoreline. Looking at this comparison, a reasonable person might reach an easy conclusion: Car-loving suburbanites just aren’t willing to foot the bill for public transportation.

There are two problems with this analysis. The first is that there are car-dependent portions of Seattle — especially West Seattle and North Seattle — where Proposition 1 did just fine. In my car-dependent, north Seattle home ‘hood, Hawthorne Hills, the measure received 70% of the vote, even though U.S. Census reports indicate that car ownership is nearly universal here. Plenty of car users voted for Prop. 1. It just appears that, outside of Seattle, they were in the clear minority.

The second problem with the “unwilling suburbanites” angle: The suburbs have voted for transit before. In 2008, a Sound Transit proposition was overwhelmingly approved by voters across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. In the parts of King County where it was on the ballot, the Sound Transit measure decisively outpaced this year’s. That included resounding wins in some suburban communities.

Take a look at this table, showing the relative performance of 2008’s Sound Transit measure versus this year’s Metro Transit proposition.

The figures are staggering. Losses were modest in Seattle, with support for the 2008 vote at 70% and support for the 2014 vote at 67%. On the other hand, the “yes” support in Auburn dropped by more than half, from 47% in 2008 to a paltry 23% this year.

In most of King County, it’s obvious that Prop. 1 lost a huge chunk of voters that were supportive of Sound Transit in 2008.

These were different measures, of course, but that’s very much the point. There was something in this year’s proposal — whether it be car tabs, the focus on bus transit or Metro Transit itself — that alienated suburban voters. The result was a marked decline of support that cannot simply be attributed to anti-transit sentiments. We’ve seen turnarounds on transit issues before — Sound Transit’s 2008 success followed a 2007 loss — but never before have attitudes between so polarized between the city and suburbs.

That leaves transit advocates with a dilemma: Do they hone their message for the broader region, or narrow their focus to supportive Seattle? That question is likely to weigh heavily on the debate around “Plan C” — and could send transit advocates even further into the alphabetic reaches.

Benjamin Anderstone is a Seattle-based political consultant. His firm, Anderstone Strategies (www.anderstone.com), specializes in analyzing voter behavior and elections. Benjamin's work has been featured in the Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Fox News's Fox and Friends, Tacoma News Tribune, and at academic summits on political geography. He can be reached at benjamin@anderstone.com.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, May 9, 1:44 a.m. Inappropriate

The loss of this year's transit Prop 1 is due almost solely to it being the only thing on the ballot. Special elections are death to countywide money measures. Had this been run on a presidential election ballot -- like both of Sound Transit's successful votes -- it would've passed with ease.

The only lesson to be learned is a very simple one: Don't put tax proposals on special elections ballots!

Posted Fri, May 9, 5:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Car tabs are an unpopular way to tax. One tenth sales tax here, one tenth there...pretty soon you are talk 10% sales taxes in some areas with almost 2% going to transit ( ST and METRO people usually don't distinguish).

The opponents of Prop 1 used a tool that proved more effective than the millions spent by the Transit Workers Union and METRO, history.
They simply went to voters with the time line of tax and fee increases coupled with the broken promises of increased service, particularly in outlying areas.

Perhaps Crosscut could generate a map of how much is being generated/collected in tax dollars for METRO's budget, versus where the services are being allocated, to gain some additional insight into why the measure failed. The upcoming cuts will only deepen the divide, coupled with the condescending "I told you so" attitude of King County Executive Dow Constantine and METRO's Kevin Desmond. The County and METRO seem determined to avoid any conflict with the Unions and would rather "get tough" with METRO customers and taxpayers.

Cameron

Posted Fri, May 9, 7:33 a.m. Inappropriate

Take a look at your car tab renewal form the next time you see it. $30 goes to roads (and public transportation is part of that), $20 goes to Metro, $20 goes to congestion reduction fees, and $60 goes to Sound Transit. Changing Metro's take to $60 from $20 is what I voted against.

talisker

Posted Fri, May 9, 7:28 a.m. Inappropriate

One thing that all of these post mortem articles are ignoring is the ever increasing costs that we're being asked to pay while our wages are pretty much stagnant. Every time one of these proposals comes up, whether it is for buses or higher utility costs, the government is so careful to say that it's just a few dollars per household. Those few dollars add up.

I voted against the tax increase because I haven't had a pay raise that outpaces inflation in years. I don't complain about the money that Metro already gets from taxes because I think the money we spend on it is worth it, and I would have voted to renew the current $20 surcharge on car tabs if it had been on the ballot. But they wanted more, and because of all of the other "just a few dollar a year" increases we're being asked to pay I just didn't have it to give.

People didn't vote against the proposal because they hate buses and the people who ride them or because they hate Seattle. They voted against it because they think Metro is already well funded and just need to adjust their service rather than reaching into our pockets even deeper while we're just trying to make ends meet.

talisker

Posted Fri, May 9, 2:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Imagine that you have a medical condition, which means that parts of your body depend upon your taking an expensive prescription every day. You can function without the prescription; it just would take you much more time to complete the things that you need to do and would use up more of your energy.

Now, imagine that you budgeted to afford that prescription refill every month, and things were fine for awhile. Unfortunately, the drug company decided to raise the cost of the drug, but there's no other place you can get it. So you stretch a little to make ends meet, and you can cover the higher costs, but you're living paycheck-to-paycheck now or perhaps you run your older car longer between oil changes and you let your clothes wear out more before replacing them.

Now, imagine that you get laid off from your job for a few months. But you need the drug, because your body parts don't function so well without it, so you keep refilling the prescription and running up the debt. Luckily, you get asked back to your old job and salary, but now you've got this big debt hole to carry.

What do you do? Find a way to bring in more money? Or stop filling the prescription entirely? Or maybe you decide you can cut a percentage of the drug you take, and ony take less of it or skip taking it on Saturdays and Sundays when you're not working.

Mickymse

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:08 a.m. Inappropriate

In 2008 people still felt relatively good about their finances. They were not massively underwater on their mortgages yet.

2014 people are much more nervous about their personal finances and have a sense that government spending is out of control.

This is not a messaging problem with transit.
This is a wealth problem and people simply don't feel like they can afford any more.

James11

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:06 p.m. Inappropriate

No kidding. Living within ones' means is a creed that Metro doesn't really seem willing to embrace.

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Since the vote on Sound Transit 2 in 2008, voters have had a chance to see for themselves that the basic promise of Sound Transit to voters was a lie: light rail has NOT reduced traffic congestion. All the money we are wasting on transit has NOT helped anyone except that small percentage of people who actually use the transit. So, the people who use the transit should be the only ones paying for it.

The argument that transit helps everyone by reducing traffic congestion has been proven to be a lie. Everyone who drives in our area sees this every single day. We were lied to by Sound Transit and Metro. Traffic is not getting better.

And Prop 1's defeat is going to expose Metro for lying again. I expect that there will be little, if any, service hours actually cut. Metro will say that they will "temporarily" delay service cuts while they wait for the State Legislature and/or the City of Seattle to come up with more money for Metro. This will prove that Metro lied to voters when they threatened to cut service if Prop 1 passed.

Either that, or Metro will, indeed make the service cuts they threatened, and then everyone in King County will once again see that those service cuts have ZERO effect on traffic congestion, and that service cuts are essentially a non-event that doesn't affect the vast majority of King County residents one little iota.

The bottom line is that Sound Transit and Metro have NOT delivered on their promise to relieve traffic congestion in our area, and King County voters have see the proof of this, and have decided to stop throwing good money after bad.

Lincoln

Posted Fri, May 9, 10:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Yep. This very website printed articles about how bus routes were being cut, but in both cases the routes were either being folded into other routes (like the 3 and 4), or the cut was only after midnight but daytime service wasn't being touched at all. The cuts aren't going to decimate the system, especially since sales taxes are on the rise and they are collecting record amounts of revenue.

I hope that there are cuts - Metro needs to seriously look at their routes and figure out how to make them more efficient. And they should just come back in the fall and renew the $20 tab fee that is expiring.

talisker

Posted Fri, May 9, 11:33 a.m. Inappropriate

I have relatives in the Snoqualmie Valley, they are losing two out of three buses ( 209 and 215 ) and the remaining 208 will run from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM every two hours. They might as well not have any bus service. Time to redraw the lines and let the folks who will not be getting any real service out of the taxing areas. METRO simply cannot get their act together in some areas.

Cameron

Posted Fri, May 9, 2:15 p.m. Inappropriate

You're absolutely right. If Metro doesn't have enough money to provide the level of service people need, then we should give it less money. Tell them to talk to their neighbors who voted against Metro because there's so damn many empty buses running around in the suburbs, and that's a sign of how Metro is mismanaged instead of putting buses only in the urban neighborhoods and on freeways.

Mickymse

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:10 p.m. Inappropriate

You're absolutely right. If Metro doesn't have enough money to provide the level of service people need, then we should give it less money. Tell them to talk to their neighbors who voted against Metro because there's so damn many empty buses running around in the suburbs, and that's a sign of how Metro is mismanaged instead of putting buses only in the urban neighborhoods and on freeways.

— Mickymse

Finally we agree, amend the METRO taxing districts, allow the outlying areas to stop subsidizing METRO's Seattle Bias in service and with the money that the suburbs save, they can contract for private carriers to feed into the system at a far lower cost.

Cameron

Posted Sun, May 11, 1:48 p.m. Inappropriate

"I have relatives in the Snoqualmie Valley, they are losing two out of three buses..."

I have never understood where people who live in the sticks got the idea that they're entitled to urban-level services. Yes, transit service is provided by King County, and paid for by all county residents, so it would seem only fair to at least attempt to provide service to all King County residents, but that's not practical. (And to be fair, the service was originally provided by what Mr. Mossback calls a "designer government" called the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, until it was ruled unconstitutional.) Wanna ride the bus? Move into town, or at least closer to it...

orino

Posted Fri, May 9, 10:53 a.m. Inappropriate

You've got it just right. Congestion is much worse. And I travel N/S on Aurora at afternoon commute time, so not only is congestion worse, but there is one fewer lane, i.e., a third of the capacity given up for buses, which adds at least 15 and often 30 minutes to my already hour long commute. The truly amazing amounts of money being spent to "relieve congestion" are being wasted, and I submit that was never the true plan, anyway.

mspat

Posted Fri, May 9, 2:12 p.m. Inappropriate

I saw a mouse in my barn, so I bought a cat to kill it. It was a waste of money, though... because even though my neighbors kept telling me that this would work and claimed that they saw my cat with a dead mouse in its mouth, I keep seeing a mouse in my barn. In fact, yesterday I thought I saw two mice, but that's ridiculous...

Mickymse

Posted Fri, May 9, 10:03 a.m. Inappropriate

Metro should dismantle and reconfigure the entire system. Of all the big city transit systems I've used, Seattle Metro is the worst. Neither does Sound Transit bus service complement Metro, compounding the inefficiencies of each; more buses and buslines than necessary and too few arranged to actually provide reliably convenient service. The trolleybus route arrangement downtown is far short of its potential, Metro personel should know, yet there's no better hill-climber than trolleybus. Don't believe the conjecture about
hybrids one day being as good for hillclimbing, another lie.

With an efficiently arranged trolleybus system to serve just downtown, with least turns of overhead wire on more streets, with a modern new fleet (perhaps 20 to start) of a low-floor, short wheel-base model, more suburbanites would take transit knowing once downtown they could finish trips conveniently.
A "Business Excise Tax" funds Portland's Tri-Met, but until Metro and Sound Transit reach even
a modest level of competence, their funding is wasted, IMNSHO, intentionally wasted.

Wells

Posted Fri, May 9, 10:34 a.m. Inappropriate

They should have had city councils and county council outline where the roads money was going, and had commitments the incremental roads funding would not just replace existing city/county budgets for roads with that money then being redirected elsewhere. Roads got 40% of the money, but zero mention in the one postcard I received.

sjenner

Posted Fri, May 9, 1:49 p.m. Inappropriate

One, $60.00 car tabs are a difficult, if not impossible, sell.

Two, a vote in April? Of a tax proposition?
Basically stupid and hopelessly optimistic. The only people you got to the ballot in east King county were "no" votes.

Three, your elected County Council MUST make/take financial reforms seriously at METRO.

Four, raise fares modestly - say 25 cents a ride.

Schedule your next vote for the General Election in November. Don't argue "philosophy" or "catastrophe".

Focus on voter turnout - your voters. Get smart. Get tactical.

Ross Kane
Former Member, Snohomish County Council
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Sat, May 10, 2:48 p.m. Inappropriate

Of course, they could always accept the verdict and make the changes that are needed. But that's not even remotely in the realm of consideration for this area's "progressives." If there's one thing we know, it is that "progressives" deeply despise the people they claim to serve, and none so much as the working middle class.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 16, 1:47 p.m. Inappropriate

"...$60.00 car tabs are difficult..."
It would have only been a $40 increase over the $20 we were already paying.

"...a vote in April..."
- only necessary in order to avoid the service cuts because the legislature failed to act.

"...raise fares modestly..."
- A 25 cent fare increase across the board was a part of Prop 1.

"Schedule your next vote for the General Election in November..."
- Delaying the vote until November would not have prevented the cuts from occurring. Cuts will begin as early as June.

"Focus on voter turnout..."
- We did and it wasn't enough.

nwcitizen

Posted Fri, May 9, 2:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Based on what I know obtains in the Pierce Transit and Whatcom Transit service areas, I suspect if Mr. Anderstone were to overlay the Metro Transit results with those of the last two or three general elections, he would discover the Western Washington suburbs are becoming strongholds of a New Right coalition.

Its dogma appears to be a volatile mix of Ayn Rand economics, prosperity-gospel Christianity and Republican white/male supremacy.

This is unquestionably the underlying message conveyed by Whatcom Transit's 2010 defeat and the double debacle that brought Pierce Transit to its knees in 2011 and 2012, and it is clearly articulated by the 2012 general election vote.

It is also evidenced by the fact Washington state government is now paralyzed – no doubt permanently – by a growing Republican majority in the Senate.

The general election results showed Bellingham and Tacoma are, as expected, strongly democratic (note the lower-case “d”) and functionally Democratic – for Obama, marriage equality and robust public services.

Meanwhile the adjacent suburbs have become vehemently, even fanatically Christo/Republican: for Romney, against marriage equality and emphatically in favor of downsizing government services, particularly as a means of destroying public-sector unions.

The anti-union issue is especially revealing. It shows how organized labor's ability to secure superior pay and benefits – formerly the strongest argument for collective bargaining – has been deftly perverted into bitter envy and even outspoken hatred of unions and their members.

Homosexual rights appear to have become similarly provocative. Various post-2012 analyses of the results in the Pierce Transit service area showed the anti-transit vote closely paralleled the vote against marriage equality, which in many suburban precincts was as high as 70 percent.

Pierce Transit's response to this reality has been de facto surrender to the suburbs. It now penalizes pro-transit urban voters by denying them service even as it rewards the anti-transit suburbanites by providing them new bus routes – this with revenue that under previous policies would have restored intra-city service. (I cover this at length in “Exclusive: How a Local Transit Crisis Exemplifies the Global Class War,” http://lorenbliss.typepad.com/loren-bliss-outside-agitators-notebook/2014/05/exclusive-how-a-local-transit-crisis-exemplifies-the-global-class-war.html )

But there's another issue here too – one that to my knowledge no one has yet brought into sharp focus. This is the steadfast refusal of the politicians and bureaucrats in Seattle and Tacoma to recognize the need for radical restructuring of their respective transit agencies.

The electoral message is undeniable: if Seattle and Tacoma are to provide adequate public transport to their citizens, they will have to concentrate their operations accordingly. Metro – as many Seattleites have already recognized – will have to become Seattle Transit. Pierce Transit will have to become Tacoma Transit.

Trouble is, the politicians and bureaucrats of both cities are too devoted to building and maintaining their little empires. That's why they refuse to acknowledge that restructuring – in this instance by abandoning the anti-transit suburbs – is the only way to maintain and increase service for the ever-more-transit-dependent cities.

Posted Fri, May 9, 5:22 p.m. Inappropriate

I think you're wrong about a drift to the right in the suburbs. Check out the King County election results maps here:
http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=165333.100

I agree with comments that the problem was timing, a poorly written measure (an expensive car tab with half $ going to roads again!), and simple tax fatigue in a shaky economy. I hear lots of angst about property taxes (like the forthcoming MPD proposal) in my neighborhood that voted 70% for Prop. 1.

[edit--and what jmrolls said just below. People are tired of boondoggles and not getting promised services.]

louploup

Posted Fri, May 9, 10:27 p.m. Inappropriate

louploup...my own slipshod editing deleted a sentence that specified I was referring to the suburbs of Bellingham and Tacoma, not Seattle. Thanks to your astute criticism, I've since corrected my error. Sorry for the confusion.

That said, some parts of Whatcom County have always been rabidly conservative and, like the South, a de facto Christian theocracy as well, with all the characteristic intolerance and viciousness. Pierce County too had pockets of extremely reactionary voters, particularly in the Eatonville area.

But the emergence of unyielding county-wide opposition to mass transit is a relatively new development in both locales.

The 2010 anti-transit vote in Whatcom County was 60-40 against, so vehemently negative that not a single county precinct -- or so I am told by government sources there -- voted in favor of Whatcom Transit's service-maintenance measure. Inside Bellingham, however, the vote was the diametrical opposite: 60-40 in favor.

An almost identical split now exists in the Pierce Transit service area, and here I can report with certainty the reality of a genuinely breathtaking shift to the Right in the suburbs around Tacoma. (Thanks to the easy citizen access to detailed public records facilitated by our superbly competent County Auditor Julie Anderson, I was able to confirm the data myself rather than, as in the case of Bellingham and Whatcom County, depend on telephone interviews.)

In both Whatcom and Pierce counties, the growth of anti-transit sentiment is powerfully influenced by the notion “transit is welfare,” an incipiently racist meme that was apparently injected into Washington state politics during the Sound Transit controversies of 2007-2008. Whatever its source, it is obviously devastatingly effective, especially amongst suburban whites.

As for Seattle/King County, obviously I don't know the particulars there; I have not lived or worked in either place since 1982. The sentence I mistakenly deleted – a classic example of the old adage “haste makes waste” – would have made it clear I was merely speculating.

But I do know the coup that gave the Republicans the state Senate – and therefore gave them control of the entire state government -- was indeed headed by a man from the Seattle suburbs, which suggests the same hard-Right shift has occurred there as in Pierce and Whatcom counties.

Perhaps though, despite the Senate coup, the shift's power and magnitude remained obscure until the landslide defeat of the Metro Transit measure.

Posted Sat, May 10, 4:54 p.m. Inappropriate

As for Seattle/King County, obviously I don't know the particulars there; I have not lived or worked in either place since 1982.

Are you the "progressive" who posts from New York?

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 11, 1:14 p.m. Inappropriate

The old urban vs suburban/rural split is really dated. A more accurate breakdown would be urban, inner-suburb, outer-suburb, ex-urban, and rural. Much of the far-right partisanship you decry is concentrated in the latter two. Note: An inner-suburb is an urbanized suburb with suburbs.

Posted Sun, May 11, 1:01 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't see as much of a either/or politico-cultural schism as you do - rather I see it more as a multi-valent landscape that has been forced into a black/white political straight-jacket.

I do agree with the reconstituting of Seattle (Electric) Transit, in the form of a Seattle/County compact by which Seattle would takeover the electric trolleybus/streetcar network, with a pledge to expand it all in-city routes (#99 and lower) within ten years. Adjacent areas (Shoreline and Bellevue?) could elect to join the network by joining the taxing district.

Posted Thu, May 15, 1:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Have you been to Bellevue/Kirkland/Redmond lately? Lots and lots of people from India, Africa and the Pacific Rim countries- also, quite a few Hispanic people - look at the international delis and grocers- Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mexican. Many Seattle neighborhoods are way WASPier.

Seasoned

Posted Fri, May 9, 3:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Overlay the Eyman car tab votes on the precinct level with this vote. I think you will pretty much have your answer.

ddmiller

Posted Fri, May 9, 5:13 p.m. Inappropriate

The recent and current examples of mishandling of transportation mega-projects are also a factor. The enormous amounts of money spent on behalf of special interests for amenities and features for suboptimized projects on the waterfront, the 520 bridge termination and the cosmetic expenditures to beautify Mercer Street and a few affluent neighborhoods are mind-boggling. All do little or nothing to increase capacities or reduce congestion for taxpaying commuters.

So, these taxpaying commuters do not believe what leadership says about transportation. The process has become trivialized and is reflected in the vote.

jmrolls

Posted Fri, May 9, 7:55 p.m. Inappropriate

I assume that "Wither the King County suburbs" was a typo, not a request, although it might be best for Seattle if they did wither.

sarah90

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Sarah90, that seems like a seriously elitist wish. The people living in the King County suburbs work and play in Seattle, just as Seattle residents live and work in King County areas.

What's the beef?

Posted Sat, May 10, 2:44 p.m. Inappropriate

That would be 69% of the county, including the 175,000 people of Redmond and Bellevue whose household incomes are almost double Seattle's. If I were a Seattle "progressive," I'd be reluctant to tempt them to go their own way. They just might want to take you up on the offer. We need Bellevue and Redmond a lot more than they need us.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 9, 8:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle Sarah and the like minded are so convinced that they and they alone should be allowed to dictate policy in King County that they will not tolerate any diversity of opinion and certainly not a lost vote. It's becoming it's own little house of horrors. Feed me...Feed me.

Cameron

Posted Fri, May 9, 9:34 p.m. Inappropriate

The press and environmental groups hammered home the point that Prop 1 was to save Metro transit. It wasn't until I actually read the ballot that I realized that they had slipped in 40% for roads. Bertha's stuck forever, SR520 pontoons may or may not waterproof, and there are plans to waste even more billions on a Cross-base Highway down by Joint Base Lewis McCord. Eyman has a simple message - don't raise car tabs. Tim Eyman has done more than any other single individual to de-fund road projects in this state. He should get the environmental award of the decade. Prop 1 would have reversed that. It was an easy vote no.

Posted Sat, May 10, 5:25 a.m. Inappropriate

Actually, the MVET was costing individuals so much and was applied in such an unfair manner, it begged to be repealed. As you recall the measure passed, was found unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court and was immedidately passed by Gary Locke and the Legislature. So since Gary Locke signed the legislation, I guess you should modify your statement to read Gary Locke did more than any other single Governor to de-fund road projects in this State.

The vote was more about trust and there simply isn't a whole bunch of confidence in the management teams at METRO or King County right now.
They have proven time and time again that they are not good stewards of the publics money. It just so happend that with nothing else of significance on the ballot the voters were able to send a direct message.

Cameron

Posted Sat, May 10, 8:47 a.m. Inappropriate

It's time to redesign the system. Providing doorstep service to outlying suburban areas expensive and can be provided differently. Since it's impossible, in such areas, to get around without a car, the car needs to be part of the solution.

More park & rides and frequent service to the park & rides by express busses would make more sense. This would address mostly commuters, but that's ok: that's the period of time when the roads are most congested.

But, wait. For the system to work, it can't shut down at 7pm. Frequent service to the P&Rs; must continue up to midnight or so. "Frequent" might stretch to 15 minutes in the late hours, but it needs to be short enough that a rider still has the incentive to use the P&R; rather than drive all the way when he knows he will come home late that night.

Would this save money? It depends on how many milk runs can be cut and how many busses are needed to serve just P&Rs.; So far, I haven't seen any proposals like this. I welcome Metro to explain why or why not this would work.

pragmatic

Posted Sat, May 10, 12:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Some random reactions:
-- Election return maps such as those above are extremely misleading and inaccurate unless they contain some kind of population density component. Some of the vast areas depicted in deep red have comparatively few residents.
-- For decades Metro Transit's route map has been strangled by the deadly "Seattle Process." Because the bureaucratic process required to change a route is so brain strangling, the transit agency has always been slow to adjust to new growing population centers. Only recently are we seeing more vision with the advent of Rapid Rides. Yes, there needs to be more reliable intercity bus routes to serve Eastsiders, but if it would at the expense of a milk run from Ballard, there would be heck of ruckus.
-- To place the tax initiative on it's own ballot was politically inept. That strategy may for local school races where local supporters can focus their support, but it won't work in a county-wide initiative where every voter is mailed a ballot.

Lytton

Posted Sun, May 11, 3:16 p.m. Inappropriate

I won't at all be surprised if stand-alone transit and roads measures are placed on the ballot next fall - the hope with a combined transit/roads measure is that yes votes in favor of either will outnumber the no votes opposed to either. That didn't work for the original ST measure - didn't work this time either.

Posted Sat, May 10, 2:14 p.m. Inappropriate

I used to vote for all these things. I was a typical sleepwalking Seattle voter, doin' what he thought was his civic duty. What changed? For me, it was that fat, lying weasel on a bicycle, Mike McGinn.

When he started pulling his stunts, I woke up. Not all at once either. I even thought that the Seattle Times was too rough on him right out of the gate. But that changed, and once I start paying attention I tend to keep paying attention.

One thing that has become clear to me is that local and state government in these parts have absolutely no shortage of funds. It is quite clear that when the various "progressives" want something -- a new basketball stadium, a new waterfront, a $4 billion tunnel instead of a $1 billion viaduct retrofit -- they have no trouble coming up with the dough. If we say no the first time, they'll came back at us, and they'll stop at nothing. If we keep saying no, they'll go the "progressive" courts. They always have money. If any of them claims poverty, it means that you and your program aren't part of the "progressive" in crowd.

It is also clear that they hate to fix or maintain anything, and that they pay no attention whatsoever to their promises, or to any kind of internal logic when it comes to whatever initiatives or levies they propose. This city and this state practices government by roulette wheel, and it shows.

Today and forevermore, I'm a "no" vote on any city or state tax for any purpose whatsoever, period. Not that it matters, because they will always get the money.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 16, 2:02 p.m. Inappropriate

"It is quite clear that when the various "progressives" want something -- a new basketball stadium, a new waterfront, a $4 billion tunnel instead of a $1 billion viaduct retrofit -- they have no trouble coming up with the dough."

I agree with most of the above statement except for the use of the word "progressive" to describe the 1%-ers who jammed those projects down our collective throats. Hardly progressive, more like greedy and self-serving.

nwcitizen

Posted Sat, May 10, 4:24 p.m. Inappropriate

Seattle voted no in 2011 on the Transportation Benefit District

Seattle Car-Tab Fee Implementation
Result Votes Percentage
No 96,628 56.94%
Yes 73,075 43.06%
"It would authorize a $60 increase in the Vehicle License Fee beginning in 2012, allowing collection of approximately $20.4 million annually for ten years."
http://ballotpedia.org/Seattle_Car-Tab_Fee_Implementation_(November_2011)

My guess is that unlike the 2011 ask for money without too much of a plan to spend it, the 2014 vote in Seattle was a much clearer "this for that" bargain that was heavier on explicitly saying what transit would be paid for, and the rest maintaining the streets busses, cars, and bikes roll on.

It's hard to convince people to pay to save something that they aren't actually getting to begin with.

I think plan C would pass, probably not with as big of a margin as the votes cast in this last effort (having Mike McGinn endorse something benefits Mike more than the the thing he endorses).
I wait to see what plan E is.

Mr Baker

Posted Thu, May 15, 3:08 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm a bus driver and I still voted against it. It would be rather uncivil of me to vote in a $60 a year tax for my parents, that I wouldn't have to pay myself, to get (in theory) better service for myself.

I also noticed that the signs pushing a 'No' vote were everywhere throughout the city, vs 'Yes' signs I only saw right near bus stops in Bellevue/Mercer Island.

Amonite

Posted Sat, May 10, 8:50 p.m. Inappropriate

What nobody seems to mention, not even Metro management, is that Metro is losing out on thousands of dollars daily by failing to enforce fare collections. I watched on one of the new speedy lines, as groups of individuals entered the coach with out paying and merely exited when they saw fare enforcement get on the coach. In one single trip I estimated that less than 1/3 of the passengers paid a fare. If you don't believe me, ride out to Federal way and back on the bright shiny red buses.

sanget

Posted Sat, May 10, 9:55 p.m. Inappropriate

I can't really blame the drivers in the current environment, but I do blame authorities for not stationing plain-clothes police on routes where fare-beating is common. Metro has no incentive to do anything about it. Until they do, nothing will change.

NotFan

Posted Thu, May 15, 3:05 p.m. Inappropriate

That's because of the 'Orca Card' I think, I still haven't got one. It allows people to prepay and then board the back door, or use a transfer and go in the back door - supposedly its faster because the driver never has to check fare.

Unfortunately, it also means people can just walk on - only if fare enforcement is on-board can they actually check to make sure a transfer is valid or the orca card paid - and as you said those people could just leave.

I am not sure why metro is so concerned with blazing fast service at the cost of efficiency or saving money - no one except metro expects a bus to be super-speedy.

Amonite

Posted Thu, May 15, 8:40 p.m. Inappropriate

The enforcement on the Orca card is about the same as with cash. There's a reader that indicates whether the fare was paid, and whether it was paid by monthly pass, transfer, or purse value (cash put onto the card). The box makes different sounds depending on whether the transaction succeeded or errored out.

Obviously, there are limits to enforcement -- drivers are reluctant to deny service to beligerent individuals, for instance. The electronic system also makes it easier to claim under-paying was accidental (whether it's true or not). But the new system makes payment easier, faster, and less overt, so my guess is it's probably revenue-neutral at worst. (Although I don't know what cost they sunk into the electronic readers.)

Posted Sun, May 11, 12:25 p.m. Inappropriate

Opposition to Prop. 1 harped on two contradictory factors: 1) Efficiency and 2) Service. Metro Transit has, in fact, become more efficient (with now a 29% farebox recovery vs 20% in 2007). Service, on the other hand, for most county residents outside Seattle has remained flat or decreased, due to dropping the 40-40-20 new service ratio that guaranteed the suburbs 80% of any new service hours. With Sound Transit absorbing more and more of "county" service, it is hard for me to see how county-support for maintaining Metro Transit service levels won't continue to fall.

Personally, I'm in favor of a Seattle/County compact by which Seattle agrees to take over the electric trolleybus/streetcar network, reconstituted as Seattle Electric Transit, with a pledge to expand it to all other in-city routes (#99 and below) within ten years, as well as to adjacent county districts (if they choose to join the Seattle Transit taxing district). I could see Shoreline and Bellevue ultimately choosing to become part of an expanded Seattle Electric Transit.

Posted Sun, May 11, 1:53 p.m. Inappropriate

And the fares on the "electric" boondoggle should cover 100% of the cost.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 11, 3:27 p.m. Inappropriate

As if drivers of single-occupancy vehicles are covering 100% of the cost of the freeways, highways, bridges, ferries, arterials, roads, streets, alleys, and parking that they require. Just as those costs should largely be socialized, so should those of transit.

Posted Sun, May 11, 9:19 p.m. Inappropriate

Trucks and buses are much harder on roads than are cars, because they're much heavier. Everyone uses goods which arrive on trucks, so the "socialization" happens. So what?

simorgh

Posted Sun, May 11, 8:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Tax my CAR, not my house

Posted Thu, May 15, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

A while back, when Metro had an open house to talk about upcoming proposed changes (aka RapidRide, the B-Line for Bellevue) - they made it abundantly clear that they were *not* interested in questions or concerns. Instead it was a promo, trying to tell us all why we wanted the B-Line and ignoring residents when we said we did not.

Among chief concerns: It pushed more disabled people onto the ACCESS bus, it was harder for mothers w/children or groceries to get to the farther bus stops, it was wasteful with money and needed even more, favorite routes were being cut, no one really needed the perks like a faster bus or up to the minute times because bus riders planned ahead, etc.

Their responses were "Well the taxpayers already gave us money for this specific project, and if we decide not to do it, we'll forfeit that money" or "but the bus will be faster to Redmond!"

When the B-Line was implemented, the route changes affected me a lot (I could no longer get to the theater without transfer so stopped a lot of my volunteer work and acting), and the farther bus stops made it difficult for me to get around. Citywide, they took down many beautiful bus stops that fit with the aesthetic of Bellevue to waste money putting up ugly modern ones.

Frankly, I saw no reason to support a proposition that would allow Metro to be even more wasteful, especially when areas like Seattle/Redmond get such vastly disproportional attention and when Metro made it clear it didn't really care about the concerns of Bellevue residents.

Amonite

Posted Fri, May 16, 2:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Where I live in the NW corner of Seattle, the "Rapid Ride" bus is a joke. It is no faster than the bus routes it replaced, the stops are farther away and the bus shelters cost more to build.

nwcitizen

Posted Fri, May 16, 9:47 p.m. Inappropriate

Shhh. Don't tell Metro you've noticed.

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