The Citizens’ Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC III, pronounced “Seatac”) presented its findings on Monday to Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District board, technically a separate organization but actually just the city council. The TBD tasked CTAC III with figuring out how large of a vehicle license fee to ask for on the ballot (up to $80, on top of the $20 the Council already approved on its own authority) and how that money should be split up among the many needs of each transportation mode.

The committee recommended the full $80. Combined with the existing $20 that hasn’t been allocated yet, that amounts to $34m in revenue each year for SDOT. The report included a matrix that explains in detail the kinds of projects that apply to each pot of money.

The headline allocation levels are 43% for transit, 32% for road preservation and safety, and 24% for bicycle and pedestrian projects. If the $80 measure didn’t pass, the transit portion would be hit the hardest and bike/ped would fare well; the latter is about all that’s affordable on $7m per year.

The categories blur a bit so it’s best not to get to wrapped around those percentages. The infamous “road diets”, where four lanes become three and a turn lane, are actually safety projects, but they have fringe benefits for bikes and pedestrians. Road repairs are not just pothole-fixing, but also the “complete streets” program.

The “transit access” portion of the transit bin sounds like it includes lots of pedestrian and bicycle improvements. In fact, “only” $10.7m (out of $14.7m) of the transit fund is dedicated to Transit Master Plan projects, which are traditional rail, speed, and reliability improvements on major corridors. The remainder seeks innovative ways to serve people who live well away from those corridors.

The City Council will ultimately determine how large of a measure goes on the ballot and how the ordinance will allocate resources between various types of projects.

15 Replies to “CTAC III Report Done”

  1. This is in addition to the $20 “save Metro” fee? So Seattle’s car tabs are about to go up by $120 or more? I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more exposure.

    1. Adan mentioned it at the Metro CRC hearing as a reason for the county council to enact it. $20 of this can be enacted by the city council alone. I suspect the remaining $80 has flown under the radar as Metro has enjoyed its moment in the sun. Families and Education is also up for renewal this time around, I think.

      1. I figure that passing the F&E Levy is the least we can do after youth fares got jacked up.

    2. I saw a bit about it on the news last night (or this morning), though it only covered the City of Seattle increases of $20 (already approved) and this additional $80. It did not mention the $20 CRC for Metro.

  2. If anyone in Seattle can afford a car, they can afford $120 in car tab fees. Come on, it’s about 4 tanks of gas, or a fraction of what insurance costs. The city can’t raise the gas tax, so this is really the only good option for transportation infrastructure.

    1. Zef, I got my motorcycle running again because I couldn’t afford the gas for my car. Now I’m getting hammered with license fees on TWO vehicles. *sigh* You don’t really know what people can and cannot afford. Not everyone works downtown and can take mass transit. I live in Seattle and work outside of it, on shifts. For me, public transit is a nightmare, though I’d love to ride light rail to work. If I had my druthers, we’d get rid of the sales tax and the license fees and build a nice progressive income tax and higher real estate taxes. The real issue with funding is using unstable sources like sales taxes to do it- this economy proves that. The stock market and high-end eaners are doing awesome while Metro flails for cash. Nobody is spending but many are earning. Tax that and you won’t have to chase me for tab fees…

  3. It’ll take both the CRC and Seattle’s $100 car tab to maintain existing service hours.

    Nevertheless, I beg Metro to invest more in the capital backlog and downtown infrastructure, and Seattle to invest more heavily in transit, bike, and pedestrian capital infrastructure. Don’t plan for the completion of the sidewalk network to take 100 more years. Give every neighborhood the ability to walk safely to transit and to bike safely for local trips. Mobility for All!

    1. At current spending rates (~$15 million in 2010) we’re still well over 50 years away from finishing just the Tier 1 projects in the Pedestrian Master Plan. And that’s assuming we don’t cut the pedestrian budget and that we don’t have to take any of it out for maintenance.

  4. To be honest, I think I would prefer a percentage rather than a flat fee. Alas, my reps at the legislature didn’t go that way.

  5. Any lawyers versed in the 18th amendment part of this discussion? I’m not certain the $80 local option license fee and the $20 congestion reduction charge are not the same thing when it comes to allowable uses.

    1. I don’t think the 18th amendment applies because these fees are not collected by the state, they’re local fees.

  6. I can already hear the “bicyclists don’t pay, why should they get 20%”, but when I look at the numbers, while a road diet is good for bicyclists, it also turns out to be good for everybody, drivers included because usually you can make a clean left turn without getting hit from behind.

    The real % is 1.8M/27.2M or 6% which is about the number of bicycle commuters on a summer day.

    1. UW bicycle commuters are in the 6-10% range but I doubt it’s even close to that elsewhere. 6% of just the traffic on the viaduct would be like the STP happening every day! I ride to work on the eastside starting close to the Microsoft campus. On a really good day I’ll see a dozen bike commuters. Just sitting at the traffic light waiting to cross NE 85th over 200 cars go by. When you start counting the staggering number of cars on the freeways it’s pretty apparent that the percentage of bicycle commuters is a small fraction of 1%.

      1. The actual Seattle Bicycle Commuters from the September count is 3%.

        The Group Health count for 2011 was 9100+

        There is a Seattle study that shows that bicycle commuting is 4.3%

        Which is slightly higher than the US Census counts at 3%

        And yes when I ride to work, I don’t see that many bicyclists vs cars. So I figure it this way, not all bicyclists ride every day. And #2 when I’m riding in the same direction as other cyclists, I only see the few that ride slower or faster than I do, and those riding the reverse commute. Yet cars going by, I see more of them because they are driving so much faster than I am.

        But if you stand on the corner of Denny and Dexter there is a steady stream of bicyclists coming into Seattle. It’s a sight to behold.

        Also the numbers of bicycle commuters on the Eastside is really really low. In part because driving around the Eastside is so easy. Parking is “free” and riding from the East to West side of Bellevue doesn’t have good bicycle lanes.

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