Proposition 1 is failing in early (but substantial) returns. With 30% of an estimated 38% turnout counted, the measure is failing 55%-45%. Barring an unexpected late surge in ballots, King County voters will get the road and bus systems they evidently deserve.
Faced with the choice between slightly higher taxes and draconian cuts to service, the voters have chosen the cuts. The impact will be most severe on the transit-dependent, but commuters of all modes, businesses in dense areas, clean air and water, and public health are all losers.
At the campaign party, King County Executive Dow Constantine indicated he would submit the legislation to cut 550,000 service hours in the next few days. Some officials expressed interest in trying again, perhaps at the city level, but in any case cuts will begin soon.
It is always imperative that Metro spend its dollars wisely. The King County Executive and Council must exercise real political courage to overcome the forces that resist reform of our route structure. In an expanding service environment, it would be possible to rationalize the system and take care of the scattered losers from any restructure, but today Metro must focus on the serving the most people it can, and the casualties are regrettable but inevitable.
One effect of the cuts will to be consolidate desirable service into a few trunk lines. It is more important than ever that these lines function effectively to avoid the total collapse of the system. In these corridors, cities must ignore complaints from other stakeholders and remove parking or general-purpose lanes to ensure these buses are not stuck in traffic. Moreover, future city transportation levies must invest in priority treatments for buses. The returns from these projects are often astronomical, and if anything the case for them has improved.
In these struggles, we look forward to the support of the many Proposition 1 opponents who were concerned that Metro was not spending its dollars effectively.