Two rural Washington counties will have a referendum on the ballot tomorrow, each asking voters to approve a sales tax increase to restore or begin lifeline fixed-route and dial-a-ride service. The financial and ridership numbers involved in these proposals are on a different scale to the Puget Sound metropolitan region, but the presence or lack of service will matter for people who live in these areas.
First up, Okanogan county:
Local voters will probably have a chance to decide in November if they are willing to pay 4 cents on every $10 purchase to fund a new public transportation system in Okanogan County.
The proposed transit system would provide regular daily bus service linking Okanogan County communities, including three round trips on weekdays between Winthrop and Omak and two round trips between Winthrop and Pateros.
Okanogan county is roughly twice the size of King County (or about the size of Connecticut), and its population is about 41,000 (just over that of Ballard).
More after the jump.
Meanwhile, Grey’s Harbor Transit will be asking for another tenth of a cent, to restore weekend service cut due to the recession:
Grays Harbor Transit eliminated its weekend service in early September, and if the sales tax increase isn’t approved this fall, the agency might have to start hacking apart weekday service, said Mark Carlin, general manager of Grays Harbor Transit.
“When they have the voting going on, I hope people realize how important it is,” Jamtaas said. “Even if people don’t use the buses, it’s a really important service for the disabled population. And it’s really cheap, that 0.1 percent.”
This is also a good time to recall that Washington state’s financial contributions to transit are pathetically small compared to other states. Matching funds for operations, or significantly increased funding for transit capital grants, would help show the state understands that moving people means more than just paving roads.