As the video indicates, a broad coalition of interest groups, many of which broadly share STB’s ideals, are expressing support for the latest version of the Clibborn package, HB 1954. The conventional wisdom is that these bills will pass the House but run into trouble in the Senate.

For transit advocates, this bill is about saving transit agencies around the State. There are tax provisions tailored to each of the big Puget Sound county agencies. King County (Sec. 405) could levy a 1.5% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), of which 60% would go to Metro and 40% for roads; this would answer Metro’s desire for a “stable” revenue source and basically make the agency’s budget whole. Pierce Transit (Sec. 406, 408), which can’t get voters to approve authorized taxes, could create an “enhanced public transportation zone” to serve precincts interested in supporting transit. Community Transit (Sec. 406), currently maxed out, could add another 0.3% to its sales tax rate. Finally, transportation benefit districts could approve a $40 vehicle license fee without a public vote, up from $20 (Sec. 404).

The summary suggests that over a 12-year period, out 0f $7.8 billion in state spending $100m will go to complete streets and $100m to passenger rail, in addition to $120m in direct state funding for transit. Transportation Choices Coalition Executive Director Rob Johnson tells me that has since increased to $400m, and that its formula suggests Metro would get just under half, which by itself would patch about a fifth of the budget hole.

On the other hand, the bulk of the bill is about raising the gas tax (from 37.5 cents now to 50.5 in 2015, Sec. 101). While gas tax is an excellent source of revenue for roads, the package is heavy on new highways rather than maintenance. 10% of the funding goes to cities and counties, 5% to ferry operations, 7.5% to the “Puget Sound capital construction account,” and the remaining 77.5% to the new “Connecting Washington” account (Sec. 103). That account draws from this list of environmentally destructive highway widening and new freeways, but can also be used for maintenance and upkeep. Some of the proceeds are set aside to complete SR 520. There are also new vehicle weight fees (Sec. 301).

In one of the basic asymmetries in Washington between the way the legislature treats its drivers and its transit riders, the bulk of  transit funding is subject to a public vote, while the new highways are deemed too critical to risk at the ballot box. Personally, I’m no fan of direct democracy, but it would be nice if the sustainable transportation options had the same number of veto points as the anti-urban ones.

I imagine transit advocates will have different takes on this issue.  For those that primarily care about making sure the transit-dependent have a way to get around, this deal meets their needs, but only if they’re optimistic that the transit measures would pass. For those whose advocacy is more about stopping the spiral of environmental destruction and avoiding land use patterns that are hard to serve with transit, the overall merits are far less clear.

81 Replies to “Coalition Pushing for the House Transportation Bill”

  1. Just Say No to Roads and Transit 2. Same as we did with the RTID (Roads and Transit). Just Say No to this crap and wait for a better proposal (ST2) to come around the next year.

    The Metro cuts will not go into effect until the fall of next year. It would be nice to have funding secured this year, so Metro doesn’t waste a lot of staff hours preparing for something that doesn’t happen, but no one will lose any service if we have to wait until next session to get the funding. It’s not worth it to make our problems WORSE long term in order to save a few staff hours at Metro.

    I actually don’t have a problem paying for roads. We have a maintenance backlog we need to take care of ASAP before continued declines in driving and higher fleet mileage depletes gas tax funding even further.

    It’s not even the size of the highway funding portion in relation to its transit spending that I am opposed to. I would support raising even more money to clear the backlog and possibly even get ahead of the curve on a maintenance. I have a problem with the majority of the money going to expansion. We don’t need new or bigger highways, and we won’t be able to afford to maintain them in the future.

    Just Say No.

    1. RTID was a ballot measure. This will not be. But I agree – this would make our problems worse. Either fund transit directly or wait until 2014.

    2. +1. We need to do everything we can to save transit, EXCEPT sell out all our values to do it. It’s a crying shame that none of the transit-only bills never made it out of committee, but I’d rather lose 17% bus service than build 167, 509, CRC, fail to fully fund 520 and 99, AND neglect maintenance needs all over the state. This package is the height of irresponsibility.

  2. Lumping roads and transit together = LOGROLLING.

    Reject it all. Opening up eastern Pierce County to sfd mega-development is not worth the bone they are throwing at the local transit agencies. Cascadia changed its name; it still is car sprawl (big time).

    I won’t be bought off, and anyone concerned about sustainability should not be either. STB should reject this transpo bill, not embrace it just because it has some car tab tax money for transit. Don’t be short-sighted and stupid. Just because Ed Murray likes it does not make it good law.

  3. Given the choice between the whole package and nothing at all, I go for the let-it-die option.

    I think transit will survive without. It will just get more crowded and less available during later hours and far-flung locations, and Metro’s cuts won’t start kicking in until we’ve had another shot with the legislature next year. Most of the cuts that will kick in soonest will hopefully be the routes that should have already been cut, but that’s certainly not a guarantee when it comes to the county council process.

    That said, this is a bill, not a ballot item, so we can lobby to change it. “More money for transit. Less for new highways. And if we have to vote on the local transit-funding options, we should get a chance to vote on the highway money, too.”

    Simple enough?

  4. I don’t know all the details of the various bills, nor do I know all of the political goings on, but if I’m not mistaken:

    1) Lots of Republicans don’t like the big ticket package. They are fans of small government and don’t want to be seen as supporting big projects, especially when so many of them are outside their district (I’m thinking of legislators east of the mountains).

    2) Lots of progressives don’t like these big ticket road projects either.

    3) Most Democrats are worried most about funding transit. They are so worried that they will compromise on other issues just to get the authority to go to the ballot and ask for more transit.

    It seems to me that you could easily put together a proposal like so:

    1) Just fund what is already started. This means 520, 99, etc.
    2) Give local jurisdictions the right to raise taxes for transit.

    That’s it. Republicans could easily support this, since it keeps taxes really low, while being fiscally responsible. The only taxes that are raised (beyond paying for what is being built) are those that voters approve. Many of those would be outside their district. This fits in well with the Republican ideas of local control, low taxes and responsible funding.

    Urban Democrats can support this because it keeps the transit agencies alive and healthy, while paying minimally for new roads.

    The main opposition could be from suburban Democrats, who want to see things like a new bridge across the Columbia or an improved 405. These Democrats (I believe) are outnumbered by the other two groups.

    1. If Republicans are willing to support a minimal highway bill with local-option money for transit, why hasn’t Sen. Tom pushed such a bill forward?

      1. Because Senator Tom wants one thing, which also happens to be the single very worst item in the highway package: I-405 widening.

      2. This is a compromise, and I think no one has done the hard work of compromising yet. Republicans don’t want the local-option money. For Democrats, they don’t want to lose the support of suburban members. In other words, if some Democrat can go back to his or her constituents and point to a fancy new road, then the party is happy. Since both parties lose something with this compromise, they don’t want to suggest it until other options are dead.

        But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be done. These sorts of compromises usually take several attempts to pass. They often need some sort of push from a third party to get things going. What I’m proposing, oddly enough, sounds a lot like a Seattle Times editorial. Very little spending, paying for what you are planning on building, giving local authorities the right to pay for transit (but only if the voters approve it). It the Seattle Times editorial staff suggests this, my guess is that it could easily gain some momentum (especially if other alternatives, like this bill, fail).

        Then again, I could easily see the legislature doing nothing on transportation (although my guess is that the Governor would force them back into another special session if that happens). Speaking of which, if Inslee supported this compromise it would probably pass quite quickly; unfortunately, he (and his transportation chief) are quite enamored by many of the projects (including the new bridge over the Columbia).

    2. I doubt that the Republicans in the legislature would agree to this. They may be craven but they’re not stupid: King County funds the rest of the state’s activities. If it’s allowed to tax itself it will do so willingly and then vote against statewide taxes benefiting everyone else.

      1. RossB,

        Yes, they say they don’t want taxes. But as Anandakos says, they’re not stupid. You need money to pay for the programs that voters like. If you’re a Republican legislator, then your favorite kind of tax increase is a statewide tax increase that is spearheaded by King County Democrats and passed against Republican opposition. You still get your money, but you get to tell your constituents that you didn’t vote for it, and it’s the fault of those stupid liberals that your taxes are going up.

        If King County can tax itself, then we’ll never need to ask for a statewide tax increase again. Suddenly, the Republican counties are screwed. Either they try to raise taxes themselves, or they run out of money.

        Without a doubt, I think that giving municipalities the unrestricted ability to tax themselves is the most important legislative issue in Washington state. Solving this would permanently change the face of Washington politics, in a way that would be hugely beneficial for everything that Seattle cares about.

      2. I don’t think they are stupid at all. They simply adhere to a small government philosophy. These are not Dan Evans Republicans we are talking about. These are Republicans that are willing to under fund (my guess would be) the most popular program in the state (K-12 education) so much that it took a court order to straighten things out. Yet this is exactly what they wanted. Each individual district can raise money for their own area (via a levy) and that is that. It was only when folks said this was illegal (for the reasons you mention) that things had to change.

        I do think their is a mix. There are suburban Republicans who want the goodies for their district. But there are also lots of Republicans who have run on small government and will continue to run on small government (and will get beat by fellow Republicans if they don’t). Remember how Slade Gorton beat Magnuson? He didn’t run against his age (although that was implied) but ran against big government. He basically suggested that while it was good for Washington State to get all the goodies that a senior Senator can provide, it is bad for the country (and the taxpayer). A lot of Republicans feel the same way about various programs for the state. We might think they are nuts for refusing to get government services that disproportionately serve their district, but they simply want less government everywhere (especially if it means less taxes).

        Add to the mix the fact that many ignorant voters believe that the state spends more for the “city folk” than it does for rural voters and you have a winning formula for the knee-jerk anti-tax rural representative.

        My guess is that such a coalition as I’ve suggested could easily win a majority if folks were willing to try and form it. But there are huge political reasons on both sides for why they don’t want to. Neither side wants to lose the suburban representative. As anyone who has followed politics over the last thirty years knows — that is where the action is.

      3. Another factor is that it’s not the same people passing everything. Republican-led coalitions pass budget-cutting measures, and Democratic-led coalitions pass education and library and transit measures. The net result is a “something-for-nothing” situation with unfunded mandates and a squeeze on the general fund (due to diverting funds to specific projects). That doesn’t necessarily mean that most individuals voted for “someting-for-nothing”. It just means that some people voted for budget cuts and others voted for new programs. Those who felt strongly about a measure showed up and voted for it, and may have left other measures blank that they didn’t care about or didn’t know about. Other people stayed home or left those measures blank while voting for others.

  5. I’m pro transit but after 20 years the state of Washing has shown itself to be incapable of delivering on big budget transit and all the decisions have been toward misguided efforts that emphasize density and centrism which I oppose.

    We need a complete purge of the current think, architecture and design before funding something to make sure it is in alignment with the real needs of our citizens.

    1. Can “big budget transit” really exist without an emphasis on density and centrism? If you take the same transit dollars and allocate them by some method that’s theoretically density/centrism agnostic (say you spend the same transit $/square mile for the entire region, regardless of population, etc.) it seems like the system would be vastly more inefficient than it currently is.

      I suppose you could argue that you’d induce demand in the exurbs where there’s currently little service, but you’d also woefully underserve areas that are already dense.

      1. The biggest need is speedy, regular transportation across the Puget Sound. Seattle to Issaquah. Kent to Northgate.

        They had 20 years to make it happen. They stole the money from Elevated. They built a toy train. Now instead of providing transportation they want to [ot]

        This isn’t transit..it’s social engineering!

      2. No one is being “pushed” into apodments. They’re a private development, not some kind of government project you’ll be ordered to live in. They exist because there’s a market demand for them. I don’t see why otherwise free-market conservatives treat them like they’re some kind of liberal conspiracy.

      3. And in 2 decades with 60% population growth we’ve built exactly zero new highways.

        Get rid of GMA build more low cost real SFHs and link it up with fast metropolitan rail, then we can talk.

      4. If somebody takes an express train from Kent to Issaquah, what are they going to do when they get there if there’s no local bus to take them to their ultimate destination? People will only walk ten minutes on average, and ten minutes gets you to about four Issaquah buildings. So they’ll take taxis, not. Or they’ll get out their skateboard, not. Or they’ll get their bike but oops, they can’t fit their bike on the train because there are already too many bikes. So they might just give up and drive, leaving the train empty and the highway overcrowded.

      5. Good for you, Mike, having the patience to explain that to a brick wall!

        Shame that we’re a region of Bailos, included the Bailos in actual decision-making roles on the ST board.

  6. Assuming the bill passes both the Senate and House, the worst case scenario is also a probable outcome. Voters may very well choose NOT to approve the local options and suburban/exurban subdivision developers will get a nice big subsidy from the massive highway expansion program.

  7. It’s amazing to me how many of you, transit riders all, are willing to see painful cuts in the network happen now in order to speculate that you may get a better package later.

    And, as far as I can tell from reading Doug McDonald’s piece and comments in various places, the main reason you are willing to see these cuts is to make new sprawl development in suburban Pierce County more difficult.

    That’s too abstract for me. Lobby (just like RossB says) to get more direct transit funding in the bill and to take out the more egregious megaprojects, particularly 405 widening and the 167 part of the Gateway project. But pass the bill. We need to fund 520 and 99. And most of the smaller highway projects are good things, if you actually read the list. I have no objection to funding them if that’s what it takes to avoid a cut that is quite a bit worse than many of you seem to think.

    1. But it won’t save transit. Transit goes to a public vote. Highways get funded leg-o-matically. That is one big bucket of Wrong.

      1. It’s not all subject to a public vote.

        “3. Increase in the TBD vehicle fee from $20 to $40, councilmanic authority only.”

      2. I get all confused between TBDs, PTBDs, RTAs and county transit agencies. So where does this provision have effect? And why can’t each agency have a pallette of funding options to chose from?

      3. I have a lot of confidence that the King County electorate would approve a MVET directed 60% to Metro and 40% to county roads.

      4. I don’t mind some reasonable amount of highway funding, so long as there’s a healthy amount for maintenance of existing infrastructure and a minimum amount of larger highways. However, I don’t think giving local governments the right to tax themselves more for transit has any place in a transportation funding bill. It should be a separate bill, not a bargaining chip used to buy more highways in suburban and rural areas. If you want to give urban areas something to offset highway funding, direct transit funding would work great. We should accept nothing less.

    2. So is guaranteed massive highway expansion worth the mere possibility that the public might vote for local options?

      1. I’m not sure, but this isn’t it. This is just another highway package pretty similar to ones we’ve had before, and it’s not worth the potential carnage to shoot it down.

      2. Ben, are you sure you’ll get another one, when this time around Rodney Tom is the gatekeeper? I’m less confident about that than you are about the MVET passing.

      3. This bill is extortion, pure and simple:

        You agree to raise your taxes to fund our highways and, in return, we will allow you to raise your taxes some more to fund your bus system.

        But, as reprehensible as it is, it does make perfect strategic sense for Curtis King’s perspective. His constituents all the way in Yakima couldn’t care less what happens to the bus system in Seattle (the few times they go to visit Seattle, they will most certainly be driving). Hence King (and pretty much every representative outside Seattle) has no reason to vote for a bill to fund metro, even if King County is paying for all of it and they are paying for none of it. Unless, of course, the bill contains sweeteners attached to give people from Yakima, Ellensburg, or wherever else, such an incentive. And, in this case, the “sweetener” is highway pork.

        Sometimes, in order to get what you want in politics, you have to drive tough bargains. It worked for the Republicans in Congress when they got the sequester deal a year ago. It worked for Obama and Democrats to pressure Republicans to allow the federal tax rates for rich people to go up. And many members of the Washington State House are hoping it will work for this too.

    3. If transit gets cut 17%, even more people will see it as a useless waste of time and decide the only option is more highway capacity. I don’t think we can solve this problem with a “the whippings will continue until morale improves” strategy.

      1. Our transit is useless now.

        The idea of endorsing a package that reinforces everything that is wrong and backward about our suburban political hegemony, just to keep transit at the exact same level of overpriced uselessness, is unconscionable.

      2. I can understand that point of view. Personally, though, it’s very useful to me NOW, and it won’t be after the cuts — every route I use is either going to be eliminated or severely curtailed. So my own self-interest is to vote for this thing. Yours might be different.

      3. It’s so useless that many routes run over 100% load factor.

        Seriously, I just don’t get this mentality that “it sucks, so it won’t matter if we make it suck worse.” That’s the same mentality that led people to vote for Ralph Nader in 2000, and we all know how that worked out.

      4. It’s so useless that many routes run over 100% load factor.

        Yeah. That does mean it sucks. If frequencies on core routes are so poor that they’re running that jammed while empty buses are running all around the east side, it means the situation is screwed up.

        Metro has the highest concentration of 60ft buses in the county. That’s a symptom, not a good thing. NYC even runs BRT (M34) with 40ft coaches, because the buses are coming something like every 4 min.

      5. I am simply incapable of hearing Metro described as “useful” without presuming that the person using that word either A) has a car for all non-commute trips; B) has a depressingly limited lifestyle consisting mostly of trips to one location; and/or C) is ill-experienced enough not to know better.

        This may describe Metro’s most vocal defenders, but it hardly describes Seattleites as a whole. As I wrote to you a few days ago, car2go’s immediate, massive, unprecedented success in the very parts of Seattle where people are describing Metro as “useful” can in some ways be read as the mass-abandonment by urban residents of a transit system that goes out of its way to make simple trips difficult.

        I remain unconvinced that shock therapy would result in “suck worse”. Metro may have squeezed some operational efficiencies out of the last crisis (shorter recovery times, willingness to use two doors finally), but it refused to move forward with anything resembling improved structural efficiency, i.e. a more “useful” service that would have actually been cheaper to run. After throwing our TransitNow money and three consecutive fare increases away on stupid commuter routes to Covington and zig-zag operations that make “rapid” lines as slow as possible, they decided squandered the two-year car tab running 61 and 24 death spirals and paying driver’s $2/minute to sit motionless on Spring Street.

        Metro is tapping some form of “secret money” to implement RapidRide E without even proffering a restructure of the horrendously stupid mid-north-Seattle route system. And at the same time we’re supposed to believe they’re broke enough to sell out both principle and logic in support of “saving” the “usefulness” of the status quo?

        I don’t claim to know how much of Metro’s eliminations/cuts list that is freaking Orv out is real, or how much is pure scare tactic and political theatre. I don’t much care. When Metro begins to act serious about organizing a service you can use, I’ll support political compromises that throw some more dollars their way. Until then, no more.

      6. Schuyler, you can also fit about twice as many people on a NYC 40-foot bus as on a Seattle 60-footer, because of the presence of actual standing room.

        And people don’t mind standing, because the bus probably amounts to a 10-minute leg of their journey, so there’s no need to “settle in” for a 45-minute slog from hell.

        David, I spent much of yesterday evening blocking the back door of a 60-foot route 40, because I had a suitcase and nowhere to put it. The bus had perhaps two dozen people on it, but by Metro standards it was already “at capacity”… and running increasingly late as a result of Metro’s total inability to deal with even gentle demand surges.

        Fuck. Take out 1/4 of the seats on every bus and give drivers a training course in pulling out into traffic, and this probably wouldn’t even be close to a 17% service reduction.

      7. d.p., no matter what the overall level of funding is, there is going to be a political fight over service between people like us and the likes of Joanna. What makes you think that, just because that fight is taking place in the shadow of potential massive cuts, we are more likely to win it?

        To use the Joanna scenario as an example, I can just as easily imagine Metro cutting both the 12 and the 2S to 20-minute service as I can imagine them boosting the 12 to 10-minute service and cutting the western part of the 2S altogether. In fact, it’s easier to imagine — it “spreads the pain equally.” Restructuring rationally is hard, and it gets even harder when it’s in response to cuts.

        By contrast, the stuff that’s relatively easy to cut (which is not nearly enough to get to 17%) is also relatively easy to cut as part of a budget-neutral restructure, as we’ve seen several times over.

      8. Well, someone needs to get it through Metro administration and the Council’s heads that “spreading the pain equally” means a service so fucking bad that people stop using it electively, and stop giving it $81-$90/month. Which is basically what has happened to the buses in Portland.

        We don’t know what would happen in the face of such tough choice. We do, on the other hand, have plenty of evidence that saving Metro’s ass only leads to them punting on tough choices, continuing to run an unsustainable and generally poor system, and then returning hat-in-hand just a few months later.

        I can’t get too worked up about the possibility of that cycle breaking.

      9. @d.p: “I am simply incapable of hearing Metro described as “useful” without presuming that the person using that word either A) has a car for all non-commute trips; B) has a depressingly limited lifestyle consisting mostly of trips to one location; and/or C) is ill-experienced enough not to know better.”

        Again, that’s a fair perspective, it’s just different from mine.

        I’m more-or-less in category A. I do own a car, so to me Metro is mainly a commuting tool that lets me save money and avoid the hassles of heavy traffic and finding parking. I drive for local trips, but I almost *never* drive into Seattle, even if I’m just going there on a weekend to see a baseball game. My goals for transit are, as a result, obviously different than what the goals would be of someone who doesn’t own a car, lives in downtown Seattle, and wants to get to the grocery store easily.

        I like to think both are valid uses for transit; besides my own monetary savings, there are real environmental and congestion-reduction benefits to me not driving to work. Unfortunately the current limited funding situation creates a zero-sum game (hell, a negative-sum game) where the interests of people like me and the interests of people like you are somewhat opposed.

      10. @Orv,

        You hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, serving both groups well is a necessary prerequisite to continuation of the “transit coalition” that has served Puget Sound so well for the past twenty-five years.

        In the face of unavoidable cuts I have to believe that maintenance of the CBD commuter routes is more essential than having an optimal “grid” network. Some of the cross-town services are going to have to go away for a while. Some of them are important tools for access to work sites, but transit dependent people making base period trips will have to do what they did twenty-five years ago: ride to downtown on their radial route and transfer to the proper outbound radial route, then reverse the trip to return, or wait for the peak.

        Is it optimal? Of course not. But transit dependent people vote a lot less than Seattle CBD-bound commuters, and they hold the keys to continued funding. Are they selfish to turn against transit if their service is reduced or eliminated? Sure, to some degree, but that’s life. Most humans are pretty callous about the difficulties someone not closely related to them suffers.

      11. Anandakos, you’ve hit on something which helps to explain my fervent opposition to letting cuts happen better than I’ve done so far.

        At the current level of funding and hours, it is possible to design a gridded network that, within the city, 1) considerably reduces the pain of eliminating some one-seat commuter rides and yet 2) works far better for arbitrary trips.

        I’ve been spending a lot of evenings lately putting an example together. With a 17% cut in hours, a decent number of the 10- and 15-minute (at peak) gridded routes in my proposal would turn back into 20- and 30-minute routes… making the one-seat rides and express service just as necessary as before. Also, the cut would reduce the likelihood of making a lot of “low-hanging fruit” capital improvements that could have a disproportionate impact on speed and reliability. Every extra hour makes real reform more plausible, not less.

      12. Anan,

        In that case, you had better just change the name of the agency to the King County Functionally Irrelevant Commuter Connector, and Seattle had better revise its density and sustainability goals to reflect its solidified status as Houston West.

        Because as much as people like to crow about transit’s downtown-employed-9-to-5-commuter share — less than half, whoopee — downtown still represents a veritably minor destination for trips in this city, much less the region. And NO elective rider such as myself is going to continue paying $81-$90/month for something that gets even worse. I’ll set aside a car2go budget, I’ll use transit at most a few times a month (paying cash for the longer transfers your plan requires, of course).

        You won’t even be able to sell that cost to the downtowners a

      13. Or maybe I’ll finally just get a car. There’s plenty of free parking to be found in Seattle, often with more walking than lazy people are willing to do but less walking than our dumb, unreliable, sporadic transit often forces upon non-car-owners.

        You won’t even be able to sell the current pass price to the downtown-commute faction, since they’ll no longer ever use the pass for other purposes, and a single work-from-home day makes you lose money on your commute. And once they’re paying by the trip, they’ll find many more times when it just “feels easier” to drive.

        And forget about non-auto-oriented development in any way, shape, or form, anywhere in this city. Can’t happen when the transit does only one thing, and not even that well.

        Your prescription is for a downward revenue-service-revenue-service death spiral. Because commuters-and-the-dirt-poor-only transit systems are irrelevant to their cities. Only useful all-day systems work their way into the larger fabric of urban life. And only the latter have continued to thrive in the post-recession era.

        And David,

        The problem with your grand scheme is that Metro has made a point of promising that NOTHING broken will ever get fixed IF additional funding is received. So the only way routes are going to get streamlined is in the absence of such a patch. A consolidated corridor that truly needs high-volume service will warrant it even after the cuts. And later, when revenue improves, you build upon those corridors.

        But the current public process is all about incinerating good money after bad.

  8. NO. Definitely no. But how do we move forward? Is there anyone on one of the transportation committees we can work with directly to craft a measure we’d actually support next year?

    1. That’s a very good question. Personally, I think the best chance of success comes from what I proposed above (basically fund only the existing projects, along with local-option money for transit). I would love a bill that was more transit focused, but I doubt that would get through a Republican Senate.

      But something like what I proposed could be very popular, but I have no idea who is willing to propose it.

    2. Yes, Matt. There are plenty of them. If we make it clear this is an *election issue*, we can have this fight next year.

      1. Grrr… I just lost a comment that took a huge amount of time to research (not STB’s fault, but my work’s crappy Internet), listing the state senators that could help us. Basically, there are only 5 of the 13 senators in the transportation committee that are in districts that would care about bus or rail service, and there aren’t any at all that represent Seattle (this explains a lot).

        How do we get a Seattle senator into the transportation committee?

      2. I briefly discussed this today with my representative in the 1st District, Luis Moscoso, on a Facebook page for local Democrats. Luis worked for Community Transit for years, so he understands the importance of transit (and he’s on the House Transportation Committee). But he’s making supportive noises over this bill. My bet is that he would favor a more pro-transit bill if one came up later, but he’s also willing to support a lot of bad stuff to keep the deep cuts from happening. But with the Senate a complete mess, I get the tough spot legislators are in. The cuts are not acceptable but neither are the highway projects unless they are offset by a strong transit element that simply isn’t there.

    3. Or we go big. Proposed bill:

      Anti-Micromanaging Act of 2014
      Any city or county shall henceforth be able to set their own taxes as they see fit. These taxes will be in addition to state taxes.

      1. Excellent idea. I suggest going bigger and authorizing cities and counties to levy taxes on (a) the incomes of residents and (b) the incomes of anyone earning money by working in the city / county.

        Too radical?

  9. Maintaining our current level of transit service requires a vote, new highways get approved without a vote, and meanwhile, the unfunded maintenance backlog continues to grow? No, thank you. It’ll take highway proponents longer to feel the pain, but gas tax revenues are falling off a cliff – they’ll feel the pain soon enough.

    I have absolutely no problem with the size of the package and would happily vote for even higher gas taxes with tolls on top: But this “build it and the’ll come bill?” No way. Fix what we have now, add spot fixes (like the I5 Madison St restriping), and if you want new highways, fund it with a public/private partnership.

  10. I have already sent an e-mail to my State representative that while I approve of allowing local transit an opotion for more stable funding – I disagree with special provisions that describe one agency in particular.

    1. Well, that isn’t something that’s going to change too much. Every legislator tends to write bills for *their* agency. I haven’t figured out why they do that, but they know they don’t have to do that and they do it anyway.

  11. Let the people vote and they will vote this transit silliness down and vote for roads. You already have overpaid drivers with LIFETIME pension guarantees sucking up OT pay like its crack.

    Mr. Bailo is right, build highways because that’s what people want. You folks in Crazytown need to get of Capitol Hill more often.

    1. @LittleDickDies,

      Um, “the people” fairly recently voted down “Roads and Transit” which was very like what the legislature is proposing. Then one short year later, they approved “ST2” which was a purely transit package.

      Sure, things have changed economically since that time. People are hurting, but they’re no more willing to spend for huge highways than they are to spend for mega-transit (if in fact they aren’t ready to spend for mega-transit; they were the last time it came up).

  12. Just as when a child is dependent on his parents, the child should support things that benefit their parents, because that’s what pays for the child. In other words, you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. Public transit is very much dependent on cars, and cars need roads to drive on. Public transit supporters (the child) need to support road construction for auto drivers (their parents).

    1. No. At least in urban areas, public transit is not dependent on cars. In fact, public transit and cars are sometimes enemies – as we see in the fights over bus lanes.

  13. I love how in this proposal the “gateway” gets 1.27 Billion and a crumbling I-5 through Seattle get nothing. Statewide sub-area equity at its finest…

  14. In the long run, every suburban highway that gets widened simply encourages more people and businesses to relocate to areas which are difficult to serve by transit. Furthermore, while making driving faster during rush hour (at least until more sprawl fills up the additional capacity), but doing nothing to make transit faster, this makes transit less attractive to users. Which means less support, which means less funding, etc. Furthermore, the increased gas taxes people will be paying to fund this will make them less likely to approve additional taxes in the future to fund transit. And that’s before you consider the impact on the environment, or on bicycle and pedestrian mobility resulting from the construction of new highways. Or the fact that even after the construction is finished, we will be continually saddled forever with the maintenance and periodic replacement every 50 years of such.

    While this bill may be good for transit in the short run, in the long run, it is very bad. We need to just hold our ground and say “no”.

    1. Actually, what’s good for cars is good for transit. Transit in this region owes its existence to people who buy and drive cars.

      1. Lunacy. I know you have whacked-out funding systems in that region. You don’t have to, though.

  15. The one thing I’ll say for this is that the raised gas tax isn’t going to raise as much money as the legislators expect. People are *very* sensitive to gas prices at this level. Meanwhile, driving is down, and drivers are going electric as fast as they can. So there will be much less money for the sprawlways than the legislators expect.

    Just as long as they don’t decide to start raiding the general fund for highway expansion… like the Feds did…

    1. Yes, and they’re going to have to start raiding the general fund to finish these big projects, even if gas tax money is available to start them. You can’t just start building a new highway, stop halfway through, and let all the money you’ve already spent go to waste.

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