On the heels of Whatcom Transit Authority losing in their attempt (by 1.8%) to increase the sales tax and maintain service levels, the City of Bellingham is looking to step in and save bus service in the city itself:

Leaders of the newly formed citywide transportation district wants to ask voters for a sales tax increase this fall, instead of imposing a $20-per-year car tab fee, which could be done without voter approval…

An official decision to put the issue before city voters in November will be made Monday, Aug. 9.

The city would spend the roughly $3.8 million generated by the sales tax increase for annual street repaving, installing sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, and contracting with Whatcom Transportation Authority to replace bus service that’ll be cut this fall.

The license fee would have only added about $800,000 annually, so the sales tax option brings more revenue.

Voting in November, when turnout increases, and limiting the vote to the more pro-transit city itself seem like big winners to me. Those of you who live in Bellingham or know someone who does are encouraged to contact the City Council to support the vote, and then start registering young people.

12 Replies to “Bellingham Seeks to Save Bus Service”

  1. The issue that is going to creep up is that WWU students by and large are not registered to vote in Bellingham. So if you trend how the vote went within the city of Bellingham last time, and throw in a couple of percentage points of opposition (due to it being in the November elections, and its going to trend conservative because of the Murray-Rossi-Didier vote), you’ll get an idea of how it will turn out.

    1. They have until October 25th to present themselves in person to register to vote or update their addresses for the November 2nd election. There are usually voter registration drives at the beginning of the school year. Perhaps the PAC might want to educate the students on the importance of voting in the local elections because local office holders and issues have a direct effect on their campus.

      1. I don’t think so. My son is at WWU and went in in person a week before the last election. The seven days only applies to new voter registration. For his change of address he had to wait 30 days for it to take effect. School doesn’t start until late Sept. so there will be a very short window for students to mobalize and become a voting block in B’ham.

      2. I don’t believe that that is quite accurate. My son, who attends WWU, went in in person a week before the last election and was told his change of voter registration would take 30 days to be effective. The seven day in person rule applies only to newly registered voters. Students will have a very short window to change their registration since school doesn’t start until the end of September and the 30 day deadline will be the first week in October.

      3. I can tell you as an Evergreen State College student that the time to update one’s address is 30 days before the election, or else I would do so for IT’s August 17th vote. If an individual has never registered to vote in a Washington State election before, they can do so by 7 days before the election. Not many Evergreen Students vote in Olympia.

        The WWU students still have time for November, but they will have to be pushed hard to do it.

    2. I’d venture that regardless of overall election trends, general election turnout will be more pro-transit than special election turnout.

    3. Most Freshmen and Sophomores are not registered in Bellingham, but as students start to grow more independent as they get older, they tend to be more likely to vote locally. It’s probably less than 1/2, but enough students vote in Bellingham to make a difference. Also, Bellingham makes Seattle look conservative by comparison. Once the fat of Unincorporated Whatcom County is trimmed from the electorate, this is a guaranteed win.

      1. Having a resident student I don’t believe there’s a great shift to change voter registration. I can check with a few of my friends that graduated from WWU and see if any changed voter registration while there. My guess, there are a few that registered to vote while there but that is mostly driven only by presidential elections. Local politics (and as someone said, all politics are local) just doesn’t seem to engage “young” people.

    WTA, BNSF, WSDOT, AMTRAK, FTA, and the Whatcom Co. COG (Farmhouse Gang) have been working cooperatively to restore the 1903 Blaine depot, bus, bike, and pedestrian center since 2010 to make ‘Regional Rail’ a reality in the Pacific Northwest.
    Fantasy you say? Maybe. But our hard times being felt by WTA, as well as most transit providers is only temporary. Happy times are just down the tracks (or road if you insist).
    A local group has formed to make travel between Everett and the Peace Arch using, DMU trainsets capable of 110 mph, to fill in the gaps and compliment HSR between Seattle and Portland and ST services available at Everett Station.
    Blaine would serve the function of car storage and maintenance for the start up line, filling the system in the morning with hourly service to connect into Sounder and STEX at Everett.
    Anyway, enough for this morning. I’ll try to post up progress as the group proceeds, using the U-Link countdown clock as our goal.
    For now, enjoy the link below to see how a railroad is refurbished using modern techniques.

    1. That would be cool. It would resolve the problem of the customs agents only willing to board a train at certain times, and would allow both US and international passengers to travel essentially anytime. If BC transit could extend their buses just a mile to the border, with a station that people could find easily, it could provide an alternative when Cascades isn’t running.

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