The Seattle Transit Riders Union held a WtF, Olympia? rally last Saturday afternoon. Elected officials who spoke included County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Mike McGinn, State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D – 36th District – northwest Seattle), and State Representative Gael Tarleton (D – 36th District).
Mayor McGinn described how a coalition of mayors presented a united front for transit funding, including Mayor Skip Priest (R – Federal Way). However, when the mayor talked with a Senate Republican leader, who he did not name, he was told, “We want Seattle to starve until we get what we want.”
Sen. Kohl-Welles said the votes were there in the Senate to pass the transportation package (House Bill 1954), but that leadership would not allow it to come up for a vote. In a telling sign that transit advocates did not have a presence in Olympia, the senator said “I wish you were down here with us.” She offered that “There is hope the governor will call a special session.”
City Council Candidate Kshama Sawant also spoke. She called for an income tax on millionaires to help fund transit and other human services.
Speakers from a few other organizations expressed their solidarity with TRU. A few TRU members told their stories. A couple dozen gold-t-shirt-clad members worked the crowd, collecting testimonials on how people would be affected by cuts to Metro bus service. Some of those testimonials were read before being dropped into a cardboard bus that is slated to be delivered to Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D – Medina). Each mention of Sen. Tom’s name elicited booes from the crowd.
Among the decorations were several cardboard tombstones, including one stating “No cuts”. Others listed Seattle bus routes on the chopping block, including the 19, the 27, and the 7 Express.