With the demise of the State transportation package and local options along with it, transit agencies and advocates are now scrambling for a last-ditch effort to procure some kind of revenue before Metro cuts kick in next year. I’m not entirely hopeful that this will happen, largely because the root problem is Olympia itself. I’m in agreement with Matt on this, but there’s one talking point coming from Senator Rodney Tom which I think is particularly startling:
[Tom] insists that any new tax for Metro be tied to a state plan, rather than letting pro-transit, pro-tax King County voters go it alone.
“If you don’t link them, what happens is, once the transit crowd gets what they consider they want, the road package gets torpedoed, and vice versa,” he said.
Setting aside the clear snarkiness in that statement, this is bad policy for bad reasons, plain and simple. The thinly veiled implication here is that the highway lobby needs the support of the “transit crowd,” or else road expansion measures would never pass. It’s nothing more than a form of logrolling, bribery, and political maneuvering. We saw it when Olympia demanded the marriage of roads and transit in the 2007 Prop. 1 measure, and we saw it again with the House transportation bill this time around.
What I find interesting is that by Tom’s own admission, separating roads and transit should be good policy. If the “road package gets torpedoed,” that means that people don’t want more roads because they don’t want more roads, not because they don’t want transit. Conversely, we’ve seen people vote for transit-only measures (ST2, Transit Now, etc.) because of the transit, and not because there were roads in the package to entice them.