This past Tuesday, Senate Transportation leaders held a public hearing at Stevenson Elementary in Bellevue. One of many planned across the state, the forum was meant to gauge citizen input on state funding for transportation. By all the accounts I’ve heard, it sounds like transit supporters dominated the crowd and podium, speaking primarily for preserving Metro service.
If you were in attendance, let us know how the meeting went in the comments. You can also relive the hearing in real-time on Twitter, where the #moveKCnow hashtag is being used to document what will likely be a massive lobbying effort to prevent Metro cuts.
16 Replies to “Rewind: Tuesday’s Senate Transportation Forum”
Wow. Many STB’ers were there…including myself. There was hardly any time or chance for citizens to express their opinions. Politicians ruled the mic with little substance to their arguments. Apparently the same held true yesterday in Everett according to the Herald.
I grew tired of requests for I-405 to be widened. I grew tired of people from the same organizations (both municipal and commerce-related) reiterating what was previously stated (405 sucks, widen it and 167). I wanted to hear revenue generating ideas or unique concerns. Only a few unique items arose such as boat fees, foreign investment and P3 implementation.
If you’re wondering, I rode my motorcycle to Stevenson ES. Got there at 6:20.
Crosscut’s story on it was a fairly accurate description of the meeting: http://crosscut.com/2013/09/18/transportation/116505/eastside-residents-want-state-transportation-actio/?page=single
A lot of talk about highways but a lot of talk about transit too. Almost nobody who wanted the status quo.
I got there about 15 minutes after the event started and stayed until about 8:30. The three primary themes of those that got the microphone were as follows, in no particular order:
1. Pass a transportation package
2. Fix 405
3. Save Metro
Most of the speakers were elected officials and advocates, most associated with some organization or another. Not a whole lot of regular citizens spoke, though there may have been more toward the end after I left.
There was a good amount of support for transit. The best moment was near the beginning, when a man was complaining about how out of balance funding for roads vs. transit had become. He complained that transit funding was now over 60%. The room burst out into applause at this point. I’m fairly sure he was not expecting that response.
Most of the transit comments were aimed at preserving current levels, without much talk about expanding it (though that was brought up by some).
Regarding 405: A lot of people asked to have 405 “fixed” or upgraded, most likely in the form of adding more lanes. Personally, all I think it’s going to do is allow slightly more cars to move through the same level of congestion that there was before.
All in all, I’m pleased with the level of support transit got at the event. At the same time, based on the fact that they didn’t even originally intend to hold a meeting in Seattle, I wonder how sincere they are about hearing our opinions.
I have a difficult time reconciling your statement that the “best moment” of “support for transit” was a man complaining that “transit funding was now over 60%.”
Where did that figure come from? In my vague memory of something random, I thought that public transportation was 2% of the state’s budget, rendering it one of the most transit-hostile states in the country?
It was the reaction to it. You had to be there.
He was quoting a math-is-hard report that calculated transit spending as:
(Total transit subsidies at state, federal, and local levels) / (Total WA state gas taxes collected)
Anyhow, direct transit subsidies is actually only 1.4% of the total budget (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/76EA6C26-F318-4637-BB5E-3E031B230761/0/201315WSDOTBudgetReqExecSumm.pdf).
However, the applause was entirely sarcastic, applauding how much better we’d be if we 60% of our transportation budget actually went towards funding transit.
I was there too, showed up around 7:10pm or so. Seem to be dominated by public officials and groups. Very few individuals got to speak. I did not attend today’s meeting in Everett, but the Everett Herald has an article on it already. http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130919/NEWS01/709199897/Public-officials-others-voice-support-for-state-road-work
Loved this from the Herald article….
Tim Eyman of Mukilteo prompted a few snickers in the crowd when he pointed this out.”Normal human beings are not in the crowd tonight,” he said and demanded any revenue-raising plan agreed to by lawmakers be put on the ballot.”Wanting more money does not justify taking it,” he said. “Let the voters decide.”
He is right. The average voter never goes to these things. I’m sure Tim smells an initiative he can get paid for running around somewhere…
There’s another hearing in Seattle on October 14th – the second to last of these Senate listening sessions. We can definitely use more help in getting the “average voter” there. If anyone’s interested in helping, let me know or sign up on our website.
“Let the voters decide.” If that’s how it’s going to be, Tim Eyman…
Initiative 503, authorizing the creation of an MVET to fund transit, and grant local transit agencies the authority (under voter approval) to allocate up to a %1.5 sales tax to fund public transportation.
Let the voters decide? Please do :-)
Aw, dang. I misplaced my percent sign.
My wife and I went but got there too late to speak (they got only half way through the speaker’s list). I’m sure that the extraordinary turnout impressed them, plus the overwhelming support for transit funding.
However, none of the speakers mentioned points that I was going to address (and will submit online). The biggest point is the over-design of most of the mega projects from the point of view of the ongoing decrease in driving, which I expect to accelerate toward the latter part of this decade. This is driven by environmental and resource limits, also unmentioned. For the same reason I expect international shipping to decrease in the future – already ocean shipping is switching to larger slow container ships to save fuel costs and air freight costs are going up (about 1/3 since 2005 for imports to the US).
WSDOT is using the phrase “Fix it First” but that is not reflected in the project list. No mention of the Columbia River Crossing, but particular local projects were supported by particular groups, such as 509, 167, and 405. Funding for 520 got a few mentions.
There was also no mention that local transit funding should not be held hostage to political interests elsewhere – that transit supporters should be rewarded (like other political interests) by additional state dollars for voting for a state transportation package, not severely punished for voting against it.
Maybe you could send in those comments by the online form they mentioned there? I’d do the same, except I really don’t have anything new to say.
I was the penultimate speaker and put in a plug for electric vehicle support equipment and infrastructure. For a relatively small investment, the state can continue the process begun by ARRA and the West Coast Electric Highway initiative. I drove there in my EV and carpooled back with others from the Transit Riders Union who’d showed up from Seattle in support of transit funding.
By the way, other hashtags used were #WAleg and #WaTranspo
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