Before we get too far into planning Sounder to Stanwood, Marysville, Orting, Olympia, and God knows where else, I think it’s useful to apply a little reality check from the last election.
This blog spent about 0.01% of its time in 2008 worrying about it, but there was a ballot measure in Snohomish County to extend the Public Benefit Transit Area to the Southeastern part of Snohomish County. This would have been a 0.9% sales tax increase to bring signficant bus service into these areas, which aren’t that far from Downtown Seattle in the grand scheme of things.
To make a long story short, this relatively modest measure got killed in the strongest possible pro-transit tailwind.
Areas like this, in general, contain dispositionally transit-averse voters who will contribute relatively little in terms of tax revenue and make it harder to pass needed measures. Furthermore, people that live in these areas and work in major regional job centers are indicating a pretty strong preference to live as rural a lifestyle as possible, inconsistent with the growth that makes high-quality transit worthwhile.
I’m all for more Amtrak service to facilitate the occasional trip to or from Seattle, but subsidizing this kind of daily commute is not where we want to dedicate resources.
Image of Maltby from Flickr contributor Don Decoud.