Ballots in King County’s special election must be postmarked by tomorrow, so now is the time to stop procrastinating and Vote Yes.
I suspect there are many voters out there that simply want to have as few of their taxes as possible going to transit. They’d be perfectly happy to not have public buses at all, or a system that only those in the most dire need would set foot on. If that’s your ideology — you simply haven’t bought into the enormous societal benefits of higher transit use — we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. All the squabbling about labor costs and efficiency are secondary to what you really want, so go out and vote your principles.
For the rest of you, any angst you might feel about this vote comes down to the gap between Metro as it is and Metro as you would like it to be, or perhaps the gap between a vehicle license fee with a low-income rebate and a different tax. We’re aware of those gaps; Seattle Transit Blog has probably thought more than any other organization about how to improve Metro dollar-for-dollar. But a voter more interested in good transit service than “sending a message” needs a theory of change: how a no vote will lead to improvement in whatever Metro is not doing well.
Rejection of this tax will not rally the legislature to produce a more progressive taxing source. Deep cuts to transit service are not going to punish the forces that keep our taxes regressive, and in fact will give them a solid argument that even King County voters just don’t care about preserving transit service levels.
Minor efficiencies aren’t worth deep cuts. True, a crisis at Metro might wring some concessions out of the union, but not enough to make up for the cuts, the suffering of the transit dependent, and the numbers of people who will give up on Metro and decide it’s useless for them. It is no way to build a system. The really big restructures over the past half-decade are connected to qualitatively new service — Link and RapidRide — rather than the specter of cuts. A growing system is easier to restructure than a shrinking one.
If you think Metro is a pretty good agency, vote Yes. If you think Metro could improve greatly, stand with the experts on Metro improvement at STB and vote Yes.