Publicola today has one of their fantastic “one question” pieces – this time for mayoral candidate Ed Murray, on his view on Sound Transit’s subarea equity policy. Murray says it should be eliminated.
As a quick bit of background, subarea equity is a policy in which Sound Transit is split into five subareas – and money collected in a subarea must be spent in that subarea. This means money collected in Seattle essentially stays in Seattle, money collected on the eastside stays on the eastside.
Subarea equity originally existed because suburban legislators, in creating Sound Transit, wanted to make sure that suburban money didn’t end up spent in Seattle. As a result, Link implementation was at first slower. But now that Sound Transit 2 is passed, the North King subarea’s “spine” is fully funded. Most of the political pressure on Sound Transit is now to expand to Tacoma, Everett, and Redmond, and most of the board votes are outside Seattle.
In a Sound Transit 3 package, subarea equity is paramount to ensuring that we get a new line in Seattle – it ensures that Seattle’s contribution stays in the city, and political pressure doesn’t move money out to the ends of the lines.
Murray claims that his reason for wanting to remove subarea equity would be to focus transit investment in Seattle – but the outcome of removing it would be the opposite. As a transit advocate who wants Seattle to have more grade separated transit, this is scary because it’s a direct threat to a new line in the city, and it’s scary because a mayoral candidate should have a better grasp of the issues.