Proposition 1 is failing in early (but substantial) returns. With 30% of an estimated 38% turnout counted, the measure is failing 55%-45%. Barring an unexpected late surge in ballots, King County voters will get the road and bus systems they evidently deserve.

Faced with the choice between slightly higher taxes and draconian cuts to service, the voters have chosen the cuts. The impact will be most severe on the transit-dependent, but commuters of all modes, businesses in dense areas, clean air and water, and public health are all losers.

At the campaign party, King County Executive Dow Constantine indicated he would submit the legislation to cut 550,000 service hours in the next few days. Some officials expressed interest in trying again, perhaps at the city level, but in any case cuts will begin soon.

It is always imperative that Metro spend its dollars wisely. The King County Executive and Council must exercise real political courage to overcome the forces that resist reform of our route structure. In an expanding service environment, it would be possible to rationalize the system and take care of the scattered losers from any restructure, but today Metro must focus on the serving the most people it can, and the casualties are regrettable but inevitable.

One effect of the cuts will to be consolidate desirable service into a few trunk lines. It is more important than ever that these lines function effectively to avoid the total collapse of the system. In these corridors, cities must ignore complaints from other stakeholders and remove parking or general-purpose lanes to ensure these buses are not stuck in traffic. Moreover, future city transportation levies must invest in priority treatments for buses. The returns from these projects are often astronomical, and if anything the case for them has improved.

In these struggles, we look forward to the support of the many Proposition 1 opponents who were concerned that Metro was not spending its dollars effectively.

282 Replies to “Proposition 1 Failing”

    1. A victory for those who believe in half truths, lies, spin, and what-have-you. So many mistruths right now on how “Metro is just now raising fares.” I call BS as anyone on this blog can tell you just in just 6 years prices have gone up a buck a ride. Also, how about working together with state government? BS too. When the state won’t listen, what can we do?

    2. Mr. RennDawg… You have lost any moral right to complain when thousands of bus riders are forced onto the streets and into beater cars. I hope you have a good stereo in your car and a good insurance company.

    3. A victory for those who are unserved by the system that massively favors Seattle over the surrounding areas, so much so that we who live outside of Seattle are forced to rely on our own means of transportation entirely.

      How is it fair that, in addition to having no viable public transportation in our area, we then get to have to pay taxes on the vehicles we need so that those who live their smug inner city lifestyles can avoid the expense of a motor vehicle? This is the fundamental question. This is why Prop. 1 failed.

  1. As a transit supporter, I was really sad when Roads & Transit lost in 2007. However, a year later, ST2 passed and is currently under construction. This emergency transit funding package clearly isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but hopefully it kicks some pants in the state legislature (and the Democratic coalition) to do better next time.

    And really, ditto for Metro. Metro told the community it needed extra funds, and there were a lot of reasons normally generous people voted no. I hope this sparks some change.

    1. That’s not how this will be read in Olympia. Remember that in 2007-08 Democrats had big legislative majorities. Republicans now control the State Senate and are not supportive of funding transit – they organized against Prop 1 and helped kill it. They do not really care how Metro is structured, or how efficient it is. They don’t believe transit is a legitimate use of their tax dollars. I don’t really see what else Metro can do without more money. Any restructure with 550,000 fewer hours means lots of cuts, and that in turn means dramatically reduced public support.

  2. The casualties are not inevitable. I find this post really hard to believe. There are many options out there that avoid the death spiral of Metro, which is exactly what will happen if we don’t stop or quickly reverse these cuts. We can see what happens with Pierce Transit, where the cuts have significantly eroded public willingness to invest in that system. It’s what the right wants. We need to reject the notion that there are any benefits at all to these cuts, and instead resist them with everything we’ve got.

    1. Im with you. This is just bad, bad, bad. I wish we could have gone to ballot at a better time. Higher turnout would have passed this. It was polling over 70%, but much lower in the demographic most likely to vote in a weird April election.

      1. Agreed, this was bad timing. But that was driven by the legislature’s failure over the last 5 years to deliver the funding we need. This defeat sucks, but we cannot let it be the end of the story.

      2. Higher turn out would have cuased it to lose by an even bigger margin. Furthermore it is entirely unfair to expect the parts of King County outside of the city limits to pay for the service that massively favors the city.

    2. The death spiral happens when transit agencies, like PT, deny reality. Metro’s done a decent job and got fare recovery back into the 20% range. That’s not a winner, that’s a return to mediocrity; not a cause for celebration and certainly not justification for the tax increase. Add to that it was due in part to fare increases rather than increased efficiencies. Transit in this region went way off the rails. The biggest offender is ST gobbling up half the revenue and doing basically nothing for regional mobility. Metro does the heavy hauling and transit on whole is a tiny majority of the total trips. ST for the most part currently provides high cost low impact service.

      1. Please justify your statement about how Sound Transit does basically nothing for regional mobility. Everything it does is about regional mobility and it moves a lot of people.

      2. Sounder North is a poster child for waste. Do I really have to post the links? No, you know that’s true. The eastside gets lots of decent ST service but East Link is a boondoggle that provides nothing that isn’t already better served by ST Express. The DT Bellevue tunnel and freeway station… come on. Transit provides a small portion of Puget Sound trips; less than 5%? We’re spending billions and that changes that by virtually zero with ST expansion over the next couple of decades. Yes, UW to DT is huge and South end transport will be helped slightly (maybe) with Link vs. more bus service. But, there’s a reason there is zero ST Express servicing the East Link route through Bel-Red; there’s nothing there!!!! And that is why we’re mortgaging the future to spend billions on a massively expensive transit system?

      3. I will agree with you that Sounder north is a waste of money, but if it buys political support to keep the rest of the system funded, it is serving its purpose. The bread and butter of Sound Transit, the express bus routes, are quite efficient, and carry a lot of people.

        Link has already made dramatic improvements to mobility in south Seattle, and will have an even bigger impact on north Seattle in the next few years.

        As to the Bel-Red corridor, there are two things to say about it. First, if you’re going to go from downtown Bellevue to Microsoft, you have to take some route to get there, so you may as well stop and serve something on the way. Second, the Bel-Red stations are about future development that has not been built yet, so it isn’t fair to judge those stations against what’s there currently.

      4. The downtown Bellevue tunnel and the freeway station exist because BELLEVUE DEMANDED THEM. Otherwise, the City of Bellevue was entirely willing–courtesy of some of its neighborhood groups–to go to the map and stall East Link even more. It got to the point that the City of Redmond, which is where I lived when this debate was happening, was publicly calling for Sound Transit to bypass Bellevue if that’s what was needed to get the project moving. Here’s why East Link travels the route that it does: The State of Washington (and, more locally, the City of Medina) wouldn’t let Sound Transit build on top of Hwy 520’s bridge. That’s also monumentally more expensive. IH-90 already has in its documents the right for Sound Transit to use the middle lanes for high-capacity and guideway transit, regardless of what the City of Mercer Island thinks.

        Sound Transit 2, passed by the voters, said that there would be an East Link. The astoundingly high load factors on the 550, the 545, and (creeping on up there) the 542 are evidence of this need. (I intentionally left out non-ST routes because East Link is owned by Sound Transit.) However, Bellevue took it upon itself to gripe and moan about East Link until Sound Transit almost entirely gave Bellevue what it wanted.

      5. We have growth centers now; South Lake Union, DT Bellevue. Serve them before you branch out to the muffler district with equal taxing authority as all of Metro. It’s a politically fucked up system and I have no disagreement that all of the Bellevue City Council has been worse than useless.

      6. “The death spiral happens when transit agencies, like PT, deny reality.”

        The death spiral happens when buses are infrequent, don’t go where people are going, and stop running in the early evening. In short, when they’re so uncompetitive with cars that they become unfeasable for a critical number of people, even those who want to take the bus.

        We’ve already seen the other end of this. The fact that transit was so skeletal in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, led an entire generation of people to believe transit wouldn’t be there when they needed it, and couldn’t ever be, so they built their lives around cars (regardless of whether they loved driving or hated it) and became tenacious about parking everywhere and higways everywhere. Since 1990 we’ve been able to convert some of them to transit at least part time since by improving transit service, but it’s less successful than if we’d had good transit service in the first place. San Francisco, Chicago, and New York don’t have anything like an hourly bus: they all run every 5-20 minutes, with half-hourly night owls every mile, and rapid transit in strategic corridors. That’s why their ridership was so high, and we could have the same thing if we raised our transit service to that level and kept it there for a decade or two.

      7. Velo, that’s an interesting link. The fare recovery ratio is way higher than anything I’ve previously seen either for Metro or as an average. If you take the page one numbers for fares and divide by the total budget it works out to 17% so I’m not clear on how they came up with 29%.

      8. Fare recovery is actually 29%. So barely still in the 20s. Never knew it was so low before like in the teens. Good to see the improvement. Too bad the voters didn’t notice.

      9. Bernie: “Page 1” numbers from that link include ST contracted service, Streetcar, Access, and Vanpool while Metro’s annual reports focus on “the ratio of bus fare revenue to bus operating costs” so they are likely backing out Vanpools and other non “bus” hours. Given that “buses” are Metro’s largest operating expense, this seems legitimate (not to mention that including Vanpools would boost “fare recovery” even more) but I could entertain an alternative viewpoint.

      10. Well, on page 1, “Fares (bus, Access, vanpool, Seattle Streetcar) $145 M”. On page 2, “Operating subfund $680M, 81%” of total budget. The buses are 77% of the $640M but the fares included Access and vanpool so you can’t count the income and not count the expense. Anyway, vanpools make it look better and Access makes it much worse so call it a wash. 145/680 = 21% which is about the number I remember Metro touting after they’d let it slip to ~17% and in line with other transit agencies. The operating expense covers more than just bus hours; like P&R expense but that’s all part of the cost of running buses. Likewise, in the real world CAPEX would be included because depreciation is a real cost of doing business as is administrative overhead, retirement obilgations, etc.

        ST pays Metro $74M. Sound Transit (Link light rail and Regional Express Bus service) is 11% of $680M or $74.8M so pretty close to a wash. That’s 11% of the budget that is 99% guaranteed fare recovery. So fares don’t even come close to 1/3 of the cost of providing service; a stretch to claim it’s even 1/5.

      11. Again, from Velo’s link; “Pension costs have increased by more than 40 percent.” Yowsa! Was Metro seriously underfunding the pension fund ala Portland?

      12. I still think you’re trying to lump too much into “Fare Recovery”. Again, Metro’s number appear to be a sincere attempt at providing a consistent number to compare efficiency over the years for bus operating costs. You’re free to argue that they lump in all costs, but I’d be wary of doing that. Break out the operating costs, capital costs per passenger mile (or some other consistent number), as well as CAPEX and Operating costs for Park & Rides (or possibly per P&R boarding cost – Again, not sure about this – How do you differentiate between transferring passengers and those boarding?)

        I have no problem bringing full visibility to all of Metro’s costs. Ideally we’d be able to see the costs Metro has control over, such as operating efficiencies, vs. those that Metro has less control over, such as politically motivated shitty routing, traffic, and diesel costs.

        (I’d LOVE to see contracted services broken out as well. I noticed that the Seattle Streetcar is impacted by the cuts. If Metro is chipping in for operations of this quasi-boondoggle, that’s a crime.)

      13. “Was Metro seriously underfunding the pension fund ala Portland?”

        Unknown for sure, but this article ($) should provide some answers and raise more questions. A good summary:

        According to Smith’s current analysis, all but two of Washington’s nine major defined-benefit plans are fully funded, with combined liabilities worth $60.2 billion and assets worth $60.7 billion.The exceptions are two plans covering state workers and teachers that were closed 35 years ago.

        and, more ominously:

        Elsewhere, most public pensions discount their future payouts based on market interest rates. The Netherlands, for instance, has set its rate at 2.42 percent; if Washington operated under conservative Dutch rules, its pension gap would swell to $105 billion.

        That article is seriously tl;dr, but from what I scanned, Washington is in relatively good shape under current rules but there is open debate about what the rules should be. I’ve bookmarked the article for later rabbit hole exploration.

    3. We are better off than PT and CT, simply because these cuts are happening AFTER the recession hit, and after they had to reduce service. Keep in mind, once service is reduced, it’s really expensive to restore it. Just ask CT PT is just now treading water, and they have the worst off. Then again, PT has 1/3 of its tax dollars available when they can convince voters of the benefit, and I hope they can do that someday.

      Just imagine if we lost half of our service? Sure 15-17% is bad, but half of our service would be horrible. In a few years, CT will likely have skeleton Sunday service, and a reliable network of buses again. But Pierce Transit will continue to struggle until revenues can pick up. It’s a shame the way transit is funded in this state.

      1. King County has several times the population of either Pierce or Snohomish. It has more people that prefer transit and demand frequent transit, more transit-dependent people, greater congestion, and more liberals. That puts a floor on the minimum tolerable service, which is higher than Pierce and Snohomish.

      2. Pierce Transit also had the luxury of convening a Public Transportation Improvement Conference that allowed its boundaries to be redrawn. The remaining service was focused in places where transit is more viable. Metro, being a county entity, can’t do that.

      3. The bigger issue is that this road+transit thing has been tried before and failed, why it was even brought up again baffles the mind. Furthermore, Metro has been granted various gimmicks to help them tread water for the past few years, while neighboring counties were taking on water and shrinking service. Why Metro did not proactivly restructure and downsize with the idea that someday something would happen, good or bad and they would have a good core to start from. One way to solve Metro’s problem is to reform them as a PTBA, so they can reduce the service area to the urban core. Providing rural service, while importaint when your tax model relies on the MVET is no longer nessasary, and is indeed a wasteful service.

  3. For some, this may have been a vote against all taxes, but I believe for a great many this was a vote of no confidence in the system as it exists, starting at the top. I hope that is the prevailing takeaway message, but I fear it won’t. Metro as it exists today needs a total overhaul.

    1. It was a vote against taxes. For some it was a vote of no confidence in the system, but the number of people who felt that way are quite small in number. Our side didn’t turn out our voters the way we should have, and we failed to strongly message the importance of stopping these cuts. A Seattle-specific proposal may be required to stem the bleeding and reverse the cuts, at least within the city.

      1. For me it was both a vote against taxes, no confidence in Metro and more. I could have gone for the sales tax increase. (They probably could have had a higher sales tax rate.) I would have included some property tax relief. The car tabs are a no. I know to many people who were scared of this. Even with the low income part they still believed they could not afford it.

      2. Taftem is right and Robert is wrong. By at least a large enough swing vote to have made the difference — not to mention all the abstentions-by-apathy — this was a vote of no confidence, and a resounding proclamation of “fed up” over paying more for the same old crap.

        The permanent TransitNow sales tax whose flagship “improvements” bellyflopped and whose statistically-significant monies now merely bolster the same old crap. The aforementioned 80% fare hikes — soon to be 100%, even if the proposition had passed — that have disappeared into the same-old-crap abyss-pot.

        Never in my life have I heard so many vocal opponents of a transit measure making their feelings known on the very bus that could be cut! Perhaps the guy who vented on an STB thread that he was voting “no” because his 56 was already gone might have sung a different tune if RapidRide weren’t a gigantic lie and if his feeder bus weren’t fucking hourly. Metro has amply demonstrated that it can’t shake the ambling spindly last-resort po’dunk system of its past, because it can’t be trusted with to follow the best-practice service principles that allow a core-and-feeder system to work.

        Unless forced.

        Metro had better understand that it is now being forced.

        Get it together, Metro, and earn back your future vote of confidence.

      3. I hope that will happen, d.p. But does Metro really have enough money, despite 17% cuts, to implement a working core-and-feeder system with sufficient frequency? My presumption is no, not even if it cuts every silly, stupid route around. Do you have any actual numbers?


        Actual estimate now 15%. Cut more aggressively in places where Prop 1 failed by a landslide. Make it obvious which routes are the long-term heavy-lifters, and make explicit your intent to further improve these routes as future funding recovers.

        Yes, it can still be done.

        (p.s. And don’t pretend that frequent core functions become irrelevant at 6:30pm. Handing over the evenings to personal vehicles, cabs, and Uber has long been a greater contributor to Metro-as-little-but-a- commuter-shuttle marginalization than anyone at STB seems to realize.)

      5. Yes, I know that Metro could do it given no cuts and Link built out to Northgate. But would it still be able to do that with no Link and 15% cuts? I’ll run the numbers tonight when I have time, but I don’t think so.

      6. Obviously it’s not as good, not as reliable, not as ease-of-transfer-enabling with 15% cut as with full funding.

        So that’s why you disproportionately cut where the voters have expressed a desire for no more than skeletal service, in order to aid a functional network where such a thing is actually wanted.

        And that’s why you finally get your act together on ORCA distribution, on cash elimination, on the paper transfer anachronism. It’s why you finally get serious with lethargic drivers, who are no longer allowed to drive the core routes whose reliability they torpedo, who are no longer rewarded for longevity rather than competence.

  4. A few thoughts:

    a) I guess now the folks who screamed “hostage situation” can now learn: You need us in the 38 other counties and we need you in King County. Your right to whine otherwise is over.

    b) To the bus driver’s union who conducted your own hostage situation letting Bob Pishue warn the folks you guys could have used the additional revenue for driver benefits and not protecting service, you are to blame for this defeat. Ditto to those municipal governments that made clear to them roads didn’t equal roads. Too many scary messages – and then the very real threat other tax increases were inbound (e.g. parks, ST3 and a statewide package) didn’t help matters either. I’m sorry it is what it is. We just didn’t get the message out this was about buses & roads – and too many working to hijack this from the get-go. Folks could veto more light rail at a later date, for instance.

    Sorry guys.

  5. A tad off topic, and someone in an earlier post listed all the reasons why the citizenry has a dismal voting record, but every election cycle it never ceases to boggle my mind how few (38% estimated this election) “care enough” to cast a ballot. We will hear moaning and groaning regardless of the eventual outcome. I got into an argument with a co-worker when I glibly said that those who don’t vote really don’t have a leg to stand on when complaining. This individual said he didn’t vote because “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between candidates but he still every right to complain. So be it. There was more than a dime’s worth of difference between Bush and Gore and what they stood for and that election was decided by a few hundred votes. Do 62% percent of King County voters really not care either way on Prop 1?

    1. Maybe you can rag him about Prop 1. In California, people are pretty frequently told to go vote because of the referenda, even if they don’t care about the candidates, and it DOES have an effect.

    2. Outside of transit and political circles, almost no one I knew was talking about the election. It seems like Move KC Now had a decent campaign, but for some reason, most people just didn’t care.

  6. One of the more bizzaire facets of the campain is that it was “vote to increase your taxes but have the level of service remain the same.” The county came out and said “we trimmed some fat and kept service at almost the same level” which is sort of impressive. But the whole “pay more and get the same” ideology just doesn’t seem very appealing.

    1. I agree. It was a huge influence in my vote. I didn’t want my tabs to increase 36% for status quo service. Additionally, the fee applied the same to a pickup, to a high-end car, to an old Datsun and to a motorcycle. It wasn’t equitable.

      1. There was no way to base the fee on the value of the vehicle currently. That has been dead since I-695. The legislature is unlikely to allow a value based MVET any time soon.

        Effectively you are punishing metro, the county, and yourself for the structure of the taxes which is something the legislature controls.

      2. Can we stop referring to tax limitations as caused by Tim Eyman initiatives. Nearly all of them FAILED constitutional scrutiny and were voted in as bills by the democratic controlled legislature, blaming the initiative is dishonest.

        695, lowering motor vehicle excise tax (license tab fees) to $30 per year, requiring voter approval be required for any tax increase, and repealing existing vehicle taxes (A) Later declared unconstitutional, but version of same bill (except voter approval for tax increases) approved by legislature.

      3. A(n) MVET is used for RTA fees! It’s still in your car tabs! Don’t give me that an MVET is not used. …or do you not own a vehicle? If you do, look at the breakdown of fees!

      4. The variable-rate MVET is dead. But limited kinds of fixed-rate MVETs are still allowed. The state tells counties and cities how much they can charge and for what purpose, on MVETs and sales taxes and property taxes. Sometimes counties and cities don’t charge the whole amount they can, and thus have room to raise it later, which is what made prop 1 possible.

      5. @meanie
        you are right I-695 was overturned by the courts, but the effect is in many ways the same as if it was upheld. The legislature in order to reflect ‘the will of the people’ lowered the MVET to a flat $30 fee and repealed the existing taxes without coming up with an alternate revenue source. However if I-695 had not passed I doubt the legislature would have done any such thing. They had years to fix how values were calculated and did nothing.

        When the legislature repealed the MVET they did not replace it with another revenue source. Everything the MVET used to fund from ferries, to transit, to local street maintenance has been hurting ever since.

        Yes Sound Transit has a value based MVET tax. Tha

      6. @CharlotteRoyal
        Yes Sound Transit has a value based MVET tax. That was authorized by the legislature and approved by voters prior to the value based MVET being repealed by the legislature. As the taxes are used to back bonds the basis for those taxes can’t be changed until the bonds are paid off.

        However, that being said, the legislature is unlikely to approve any new value based MVET taxes any time soon. The flat fee was the option given to the county by the legislature and the county couldn’t very well go out and say “we’re going to make this a value based tax” on its own.

      7. There should be a cap per household. Those that live in King County and are outside of Seattle are so poorly served they need more vehicles. Those that live in the city can get by with none – so they get the benefit of a tax that they don’t have to pay.

    2. I agree. No way was i going to pay more for the same crummy service we now get. The buses are never on time and then take off almost when your foot is halfway in the door. Plus the legions of people who are “sorry, short on busfare”. Metro needs a lot of revamping and just tossing more money at it is not wise

  7. A few thoughts:

    a) I guess now the folks who screamed “hostage situation” can now learn: You need us in the 38 other counties and we need you in King County. Your right to whine otherwise is over.

    b) To the bus driver’s union who conducted your own hostage situation letting Bob Pishue warn the folks you guys could have used the additional revenue for driver benefits and not protecting service, you are to blame for this defeat. Ditto to those municipal governments that made clear to them roads didn’t equal roads. Too many scary messages – and then the very real threat other tax increases were inbound (e.g. parks, ST3 and a statewide package) didn’t help matters either. I’m sorry it is what it is. We just didn’t get the message out this was about buses & roads – and too many working to hijack this from the get-go. Folks could veto more light rail at a later date, for instance.

    Sorry guys.

    1. Joe –

      Thanks for the shout out. I don’t know if they “let me.” Really, I have no complaints with Metro drivers. I am on record with the Seattle Times saying that drivers deserve their pay. I know a majority of them deal with a lot of crap and bad situations. Even the STB said that union contracts should be considered when service cuts are proposed.

      King County has a rare opportunity where they are not “locked in” to a contract, and any and all potential savings to keep buses on the road should be considered.

      Take care,


      1. Slashing operator pay and benefits by 16% is not something King County can do without agreement by the Union (in particular, a vote of the Union membership). I’m glad you are on record opposing pay cuts for operators.

        But I would like to get back to a question you left unanswered: How would you fund the low-income fare program, which you said you supported?

      2. @Bob. I don’t think the contract situation really helps. Nothing has really changed since November (except that the revenue projections have gotten better), and the offer the union rejected then explicitly provided for the possibility of new revenue (by giving the operators an additional raise in the third year of the contract), so it’s reasonable to assume that the base offer was made assuming no new taxes. Since an impasse has been reached in negotiations the contract headed for binding arbitartion. It’s difficult to imagine the drivers getting less than the November offer.

      3. We meet again Brent – sorry if I left you hanging on the previous thread.

        Metro is planning to implement the low income fare program regardless of the outcome, but at $1.50/ride instead of $1.25/ride if the package passed. Without going back to the ordinance to send the measure to the ballot, I believe a low income fare costs the county around $7 million. Metro’s document “Actions to Address Metro’s Deficit” says that “Labor cost savings” (assuming that is the 1-year wage freeze) has saved a recurring $17 million per year.

        Similar savings may be found within their negotiations to pay for the low-income fare program. That coupled with rising revenues and the Municipal League recommendations should be able to keep buses and the road and implement new programs to help many low-income riders.

        I don’t run Metro, but it looks like those would be good places to start. I am just trying to offer alternatives to cutting bus service.

      4. I will throw out my 2 cents here… I am a King County Metro transit operator, and I voted no on our last contract proposal. I know many people like to focus on the numbers and our pay scale as to why we voted no… In reality, there were a great many things in there that were poison pills we couldn’t swallow. Look beyond the numbers… I read the changes, and I went from a tentative supporter to a heck no voter.

      5. @William

        I agree, it likely won’t be less. But even if they accept the old offer of 0%/2%/2% that saves the county $17 million per year (see previous post). Metro is receiving $32 million more in sales taxes this year. Just adding those two things together gets you $50 million, 5/6 of the amount King County says they need to preserve 600,000 hours of bus service.

        And I just want to say again, its not up to me to decide what Metro does or doesn’t do, but I am trying to find realistic and sensible solutions so that bus service can stay on the road.

      6. Kelly;
        You mind telling us what “poison pills we couldn’t swallow”? Please tell.

      7. The big one was the “actual time operator”, which was a full timer who actually wasn’t full time. A lot of operators viewed it as a degradation of both our part time and full time working conditions. Another was a change to the way that one goes about getting days off… Another reason was changes to how they handle on the job injuries. Admittedly I do not have all my reasons for voting no memorized (it was months ago and voted down), so it is not a full list of the grievances with it.

  8. The No Vote was about one thing: $60 car tabs. I don’t think anyone was buying the other baloney arguments.

    Put just the 0.1% tax increase on the November ballot, and make it 100% for bus service. Use it to preserve most of the service until 2016, and then use a chunk freed up by the restructure for neat stuff like more ubiquitous RTA signage, WiFi on all the buses, the delayed fleet replacement, signal priority, and lane streamlining.

    Just make it sales tax, and the anti-transit crowd won’t be able to paint it as war-on-cars.

      1. FLAT car tabs. Flat taxes don’t sell well in MLK County. I’ve never been involved in a campaign where we had to apologize for the funding mechanism every step of the way. Please don’t ever put flat car tabs on the ballot again.

      2. Yes! I think that just a sales tax would have been more persuasive to an undecided voter. Everyone pays a sales tax – not just car owners. People would pay higher sales taxes on big gas-guzzling SUVs than they do for economical cars, which would also be fairer. Consider that 0.1% sales tax on an expensive, loaded, new car that costs $48,000 would mean $480 more in tax revenue or 8 years of a $60 car tab.

      3. So this was about a loophole to increase the maximum sales tax for transit. OK, but in your example of a “star in a reasonably priced car” ~$500 is enough to drive sales to Snohomish or “cars cost less in Puyallup”.

      4. True enough, I didn’t fact check the numbers in Al S’s post. Someone at work did just buy an Audi R8 with the V10 engine but I don’t think you can test drive it in Puyallup. But still, 10% has to be a hard limit on the sales tax for King County. Make it a rally point for an income tax gut don’t pretend that one will go away if the other passes. Link it together.

      5. Many locales add 0.3% on top of King County’s insane 9.5%. In Fed Way and in Seattle, you pay 9.8% sales tax on vehicle purchases. All the more incentive to buy your vehicles out of county.

    1. Car tabs are a hot button. But the 10% threshold for sales tax is also a big deal. Look, transit is already gobbling up 3.8% of the ~4% local allowable revenue. It’s the 50% gobbled up by ST’s pot of gold that is the back breaker. Since that’s pledged to debt service we’re pretty much screwed for the next couple of decades. But eventually you’ll have a posh train ride to the Muffler District.

      1. Link is pulling our transit system out of the dark ages. At least half my trips will be significantly faster when ST2 Link is finished, including transfer trips. It’s more frequent than any bus route has been. It will significantly open up the variety of neighborhoods I can live in while still being within an hour’s trip of most of the county, even if I have to take a bus to get to it. Oh, and it doesn’t get stuck in traffic jams, like buses do at Stewart & Denny. It makes it easier to deal with spikes in ridership like ballgames, parades, and that Seahawks thing. It’ll make it easier to cope with rising gas prices and possibly further lessening bus service. And it gives airport visitors a good impression of the city. In short, it’s the greatest single thing we’ve done for Pugetopolis’ transit mobility by far.

      2. When I first moved here, it was Sound Transit express buses that got me started riding transit – that and sitting in a car, watching bus after bus pass by in the HOV lane (back before the construction started, when 520 still had an HOV lane). I still take them nearly every day to work and back and they are what makes are transit system usable.

        Even for non-work trips, it is Sound Transit buses I really depend on the most. Avoiding transit for a local trip is simply a matter of walking, riding a bike, or at worst, blowing $5-15 on car2go or Uber. On the other hand, getting to Issaquah or Redmond without the 545 or 554 would entail either a multi-hour journey or a huge expense ($50 minimum for Uber both ways, or a rental car).

        Here’s another way to put it – if you ignore Sound Transit and only consider Metro buses, the level of service (and the sales tax rate that funds it) becomes essentially the same as the city of Houston, where express buses outside of rush hour are nearly non-existant. Sound Transit is what makes our region much easier to get around by transit than the Houston region.

      3. Sure, if you live in Issaquah and want to commute to Seattle ST is your ticket. But the vast majority of trips in King County is handled by Metro. And ST is rapidly moving from the model that “got me started riding transit” to the privileged few that can take a car to ride the rails. Basic disconnect, transit should encourage centralized development. Instead, in King County Metro and ST is the “move to Bonny Lake” cheerleader.

      4. Sound Transit was created to build light rail, as well as buses and Sounder. Or if you don’t like the words “light rail”, substitute the more general “high-capacity transit”. ST Express is not high-capacity transit. But naturally it was deployed in future rail corridors as an interim stopgap.

      5. I live in Seattle and use Sound Transit regularly to reach other areas. While I do walk and bike to a lot places close to home (which is why I live where I do), there are still jobs, people, and mountains out in the suburbs. It is Sound Transit that makes living without a car feasible – if every day I ventured outside the Seattle city limits cost another $50-$90, the economics would simply not pencil out.

        Also, Sound Transit is not just about the privileged few that can take a car to ride the rails. Major corridors, like the 545, 554, 512, and 594, operate all day in both directions and are usable to people who live anywhere, including Seattle. With the combination of Sound Transit and a bike (which avoids the need to depend on lousy bus service, once you get outside the city) even places as far-flung as Emerald Downs can be reached in a reasonable amount of time without the need to resort to an expensive rental car (bike + 578 + bike) . I don’t visit places like this every day, but the freedom to do so is huge.

    2. Problem is we can’t put that 0.1 % sales tax and have it just used for transit You gotta go to the legislature for that, and there’s no chance of that happening as long as the DINOcrats rule the senate.

    3. Although I reluctantly supported this, I knew that the regressive nature of this tax, coupled with the fact that those who don’t have cars would be affected far less than those that do, that this was a bad idea and inherently unfair. Transit is something that should be available to ALL and should be everyone’s responsibility. Not JUST those who don’t use it 100% of the time. Disclaimer: I don’t own a car and would not have been affected anyway. Point being, it was a slap on the face to car drivers, and that’s how i felt. Saving the bus service was also important, though, and I could have gone either way.

      Some of my other comments were directed at ideas that were based on misconceptions and lies. To those that voted no based on my logic above, that’s an understandable concern, and a problem that needs to be resolved, and shows that the person understands the problems with transit in this state. To everyone else who buys into lies and deception, I hope you’ll learn someday the truth regarding how transit is funded.

      1. Transit is something that should be available to ALL

        Right there in the constitution, the right to life, liberty and the ability to live in the most god forsaken outpost and still be afforded transportation on the public dime to wherever.

    4. Put just the 0.1% tax increase on the November ballot, and make it 100% for bus service. Use it to preserve most of the service until 2016,

      Would that be anywhere near enough to do that? Can we even make it that far without cuts?

    5. Wait until the cuts all take place – and commutes are 20 to 30 minutes longer, then put it back on the ballot exactly like it was.

      1. I think you’ll find that many people who were in the catchment area for this tax will barely notice the commute times. They’re already bad because Metro doesn’t serve the region outside of Seattle effectively.

    6. Funding transit on the backs of car owners was the problem with the ballot measure as there is no connection between how many cars an individual owns and why they should be paying more to fund Metro transit than someone with fewer cars. Similar to the monorail project and the variable excise tax; why should the value of your vehicle affect how much you contribute to funding transit? The benefits of transit affect the whole community, so identify a funding method where everyone pitches in equally to pay for it in a logical and fair way.

  9. Can we axe the Sounder-duplicative 152, 158, and 159, now? … and the Link-duplicative 7X? Tell me they will be in the first round of cuts.

    1. Although the 152, 158, and 159 are somewhat Sounder duplicative, it would be more justifiable to cut off the 150, 101, etc. at the Rainer Beach link station. Why is Metro wasting so many service hours running every single 150 and 101 trip all the way to downtown Seattle?

      1. Even before this failure, the 150 served as a collection point for Kent-East Hill riders. Afterwards, though, the 150 is especially important for those needing to go to SODO and downtown. Although no cuts are planned to the 150, the productivity should increase now that a number of alternatives (the 158, 159 to name a few) are disappearing.

      2. Look at the 158/159 timetable, which includes Sounder times, and you should see why nobody is going to switch from the 158/159 to the 150, unless they are simply trying to save 25 cents (or 75 cents on senior fare or $1.25 on youth fare).

      3. In fact, I’m not seeing any route cuts that would likely lead to a bump in 150 ridership.

      4. Exactly what I was thinking, Aleks. There is no excuse to run the 101 and 150 all to Seattle when we can put everyone on link. And we would get back a s***load of service hours if we did that.

      5. mic: “You convinced me then, and I still think you SHOULDN’T just leave it there.”

        Cool! What do you propose to do to help make this restructure proposal happen?

      6. Well, now that we have Metro’s attention, and the Pols are sucking their collective necks back under the shell, I plan to make the case for Alex’ reforms to Metro Service Development. As former Chair of Kent Transit Advisory Board, and S. King Co. Sounding Board, I still have a few friends remaining in decision making roles.
        Of course I would like Alexs to green light any activism on my part, as it is her idea and fit’s nicely with another conversation I’m having with Anandakos on sub areas in general.

      1. The timetable I saw said the evening cuts would happen first, and most of the deletions would come next year. Presumably that’s to give time for the state to pass its transportation bill before the deletions happen, since it’s a lot easier to restore evening runs than to revive service from the dead.

      2. The proposals are really poorly thought out in some ways. Specifically, they neglect the value of running trolleybuses vs. running diesels. It shows a lack of comprehension of the cost structure.

        The cut proposals *quite literally assume* that the cost of running buses is directly proportional to the number of service hours — they say so outright, and measure the amount cut by number of service hours — but we know that it isn’t quite right, because diesels are somewhat more expensive to operate than electrics.

      3. Bleh. I read through the plans, and there’s a ridiculous level of emphasis on “coverage”. The result will be a lot of areas with low-frequency, convoluted-routing service which will suck.

        Heck, the SLU Streetcar is to be reduced to half-hour frequencies at midday. The suggestion for an alternate route? Route 40… reduced to 20 minute frequencies at midday. I realize that people can just walk this section. They will.

        This isn’t the sort of restructure which Seattle Transit Blog has advocated for. Concentrating service on a few solid all-day corridors makes sense. Instead, the proposals retain peak-only routes to Enumclaw, now as hourly routes.

        Is retention of these terrible bus routes going to get a meaningful number of votes? I doubt it. Bite the bullet and drop service to outlying areas such as this; redirect it to Seattle.

        Perhaps the problem is the existence of King County Metro. The restoration of Seattle Transit operated by the City of Seattle would probably bring management with different priorities.

      4. Metro has a certain performance/coverage allocation, I think it’s around 60/40. That’s part of transit best practices, to decide how much to allocate to each goal. But don’t think peak expresses count as “coverage”. The peak expresses exist because they’re full, and Metro taxpayers are riding them. Even far-reaching routes like the 218 are full. I don’t know about Enumclaw specifically.

      5. Perhaps the problem is the existence of King County Metro. The restoration of Seattle Transit operated by the City of Seattle would probably bring management with different priorities.

        A very small percentage of people in these outlying areas actually use transit. The routes are a bone to get all of the people to put money into the sales tax kitty. And Mike, 60/40 went out the window with the recession. Of course we could try the PT trick of eliminating areas from the Metro transit coverage so they can’t vote but still have to travel to areas that collect the sales tax to shop.

      6. “I don’t know about Enumclaw specifically.”
        #143: “One of the lower performing peak-only routes in Metro’s system”
        #907: “One of the lowest performing routes in Metro’s system”
        #186: “One of the lower performing routes in Metro’s system”
        #915: “One of the lowest performing routes in Metro’s system”

        Despite this, these routes were reduced, not eliminated. Meanwhile, there are problematic reductions in service on much more valuable routes much closer to downtown. When you look at the distances, the time spent running a single run to Enumclaw could probably run multiple round trips on some of the downtown lines. But an awful lot of this outlying-region “low performing” stuff is scheduled to be preserved, at the expense of the routes through Seattle and its first-ring suburbs.

        This indicates that coverage is still considered a high priority. Including, if I’m not mistaken, coverage of areas which voted against Prop 1. It doesn’t actually make sense. Pierce Transit had enough sense to realize that they should shrink their district after results like this. It wouldn’t be as straightforward to do with King County given the different government, but something similar will have to be done.

        I see that Ben is pushing a Seattle-only tax to fund Seattle-only bus service. This is probably a good way to go.

  10. Also, can we axe the F-Line and 128 loop-de-loop at TIBS, the 50/60 knot at the VA (permanently), the Seattle Center mess on the 16, the 2 and/or 4, the 255 loop-de-loop at S. Kirkland Park&Wonder-Why-the-Stop-isn’t-on-the-Street, the 132 diversion to Burien TC to serve a clinic that is now permanently closed, the mass fare evasion scam that is paper transfers … I better stop.

    1. it is a hard job driving a bus and dealing with the public.

      True, but it doesn’t require a college degree, and it’s expense. There are far more people qualified to drive a bus than build rockets to Mars. People flipping burgers also have to deal with the public. Driving a bus is a special skill set; but it’s not like trying to find an NFL quarterback. School bus drivers have it just as tough and make far less money.

      1. You appear to be responding to some random quote, from someone else, on an entirely different post. Though, clearly, operators have a lot more responsibility and require a lot more training than someone flipping burgers.

      2. Sorry, it was the next post down I was intending to respond to:

        Some of the no votes may also be directed at Metro where people may feel that it is is a bloated agency. Others may have felt that the drivers are overpaid but I am not one of them as it is a hard job driving a bus and dealing with the public.

        [(self)deleted, whining about comment policy]

    2. I do not understand what this is describing:
      “128 loop-de-loop at TIBS”.
      The last detail I read on the 128 was that it was to be redirected to eliminate the Morgan Junction/High Point connection.

      1. I’m referring to the 128 pulling into the lot at Tukwila International Boulevard Station, simply because the City of Tukwila opposed an on-street stop (one of many things Tukwila did to commit economic suicide when they could have embraced Link). I’m sure the administration there has changed by now. It may be time for Metro and the Tukwila City Council to talk to each other about streamlining the routes that serve TIBS but don’t terminate there.

    3. Metro could definitely be made more efficient. All of those indicators you list make me think that investing in Metro is a good idea. There needs to be more oversight in Metro and paper transfers definitely need to be eliminated. There are tons of transit services that do it better than King County Metro and what we need to do is take a page out of their books. For example, I have a friend in Brisbane, Australia, who reports having some of the best transit service I’ve ever heard of; service I can’t dream of having in the Seatac area. She has worked and attended university on their transit system for more than half a decade and has never once voiced the desire for a car.

  11. I think that the large no vote was a message from the taxpayers saying that you can’t continue to come to them with these special tax requests for individual programs despite their merits and this proposal has good things in it but the voters said that the money well has run dry. As I posted earlier I voted no but it took a long time for me to come to that decision and it was based on finance.

    Some of the no votes may also be directed at Metro where people may feel that it is is a bloated agency. Others may have felt that the drivers are overpaid but I am not one of them as it is a hard job driving a bus and dealing with the public.

    But a better indication on why people voted the way they did are the comments on the Seattle Times website.

    This large no vote should also sent a message to other groups that want to raise taxes for their special interests if they are paying attention. More then likely they are not.

    1. A dozen-ish right-wing trolls on a website represent a cross-section of public opinion? Shoot me if that is the case.

      1. They may be right wing trolls but their opinions carried the day with the no vote.

      2. There were only two choices on the ballot. Not everybody who voted No believe taxes should be zero and transit shouldn’t exist. Most of them just wanted to keep their car tabs low or believed Metro was too fat. If you lean even slightly toward one half you vote for that half, but that doesn’t mean you believe the extremists on the far end of that side.

      3. But a better indication on why people voted the way they did are the comments on the Seattle Times website.

        Again, assumes facts not in evidence. We don’t know *why* people voted no in any kind of fine-grained way.

        Obviously one of the most important pieces of missing data is how many people voted primarily no because they didn’t like the (more) regressive flatness of it. Depending on how much the totals tighten, if that number is between 7-10% of no votes that’s enough to get us to a tie. I would like to believe that’s the case, as it would bode well for the future and confirm my frustration and anger with the dysfunction in Olympia, but I’m not going to assert it must be true because I want it to be so.

      4. “one of the most important pieces of missing data is how many people voted primarily no because they didn’t like the (more) regressive flatness of it.”

        That’s important. The pro-transit supports were split on it, as were the social-justice supporters. “Normally” they would solidly vote Yes for better transit, but many of them had reservations about this bill and voted no. The same thing happened with Seattle’s proposition 1 a couple years ago. It had a wide but thin smorgasbord of bus, sidewalk, and streetcar projects. Some transit supporters thought it had too much streetcar, others thought it had too little. Some transit supporters thought it dedicated too much to sidewalks/roads, while all the transit opponents obviously thought it had too much transit. Perhaps half of the normal Yeses voted No, and that would have been substantial enough to tip it over the edge. So the same thing is happening now, at least to a large extent.

      5. DavidR, you don’t have to be in the minority to be a troll. From a simple Google search for ‘troll definition’:

        make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.

        Don’t worry, EVERYONE can be a troll. No need to feel left out!

    2. I too am unconvinced that Seattle Times commenters are representative of anything other than Seattle Times commenters.

      1. Right, and you can find plenty of evidence of that by comparing the proportion of support/opposition on the comment sections (5% support? 10%?) with the actual vote (45% yes). Not sure how the breakdown of those that actually voted lines up with the general population.

    3. But a better indication on why people voted the way they did are the comments on the Seattle Times website.

      This is pretty much never true of anything, and a terrible approach to data collection. To get a real sense, you need actual polling data. Newspaper comments aren’t a random, unbiased sample of voters.

      In general, these fine-grained assertions about exactly what motivated voter behavior need to stop. We don’t know. Don’t use the vote to validate your pet theory about what was wrong’s wrong with Metro, the campaign, etc.

    4. An unimaginative continuance of the wretched carhell that is America—nothing James E. Akins and others raised warnings about over a generation ago, but to no avail, it would seem. Ah, here’s a great quote, Akins was trying to end his “The Oil Crisis: This Time the Wolf is Here” article on a somewhat positive note:

      “By the end of the century oil will probably lose its predominance as a fuel.”

      And then he makes some hopeful noises about alternatives (sure aren’t) or nuclear fusion (nope!). Earlier in the article there was talk about “controlling consumption reasonably” (Americans? Too funny!) or building effective mass-transit systems. Ah well, back to burning as much oil as possible for marginal purposes, I guess. Let me know how spending that savings account goes for you.

  12. Is there an interest in having a “watchdog” management strategy yet for local funding referenda? In other parts of the US, the funding agency is independent from the transit operator. This gives the undecided voters some assurances that their fees are managed responsibly.

    1. Metro operates most of the service funded through Sound Transit. Do you think that has increased public confidence in the fiscal practices of ST?

  13. Plan A, before the tax election describing what would happen if the election were lost, is for the advertising posters on buses and the campaign rhetoric to motivate voters into raising transit taxes.

    The Plan A pitch cards left on a late evening RapidRide bus I was aboard a week ago are full of hedge words on the scope of the threatened cuts. Scan is posted at . “facing the need … up to … at risk”

    Incidentally, Plan A failed to note what Metro would do with the extra money in a ten-year tax hike going beyond what was needed to avoid all those drastic cuts.

    OK, enough said. Plan A didn’t work out. Cancel Plan A. And now don’t be mean to all the bus-riders who voted for Plan A.

    Time now to come up with Plan B for after the election is lost.

    Plan B is for serving as many customers as well as possible within the resources of a public service operating under funding limits set by citizens. There may well have to be some restructuring as suggested by Martin Duke. I go further and suggest restructuring in the broadest sense of the term … routes, functions, staff offices, overhead, etc. Options exist when the heat is turned up.

    Metro has many potential sources of assistance in thinking beyond the boundaries of Plan A.

    1. My respect-o-meter is broken. I’m mad and I’m taking it out on social media. It’s not personal, you’re just handy as someone to whom I can reply.

      You know what, I don’t give a rat’s hind end about “the funding limits set by citizens.” WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING WHEN IT COMES TO MONEY. We The Everloving People govern by soundbites and bumper sticker politics and if half of your posturing was accurate, you’d know the difference. We The People are fickle, are arbitrary, are hypocritical, and are biased. Yes, all of the foregoing includes me. We elect people to do the things that we want and when those people can’t, for whatever reason, we ferociously turn on those who would dare to tell us “no.”

      Instead of listening calmly and making rational decisions, we do things like demand tax cuts and then wonder why the infrastructure is failing. We demand “deregulation” because hey, who doesn’t like kicking the nosy government out of where it doesn’t belong, and are then shocked when the economy craps all over itself. We vote for referenda that claim to be about budgets or about “taxation fairness” and then we wonder why our government can’t get anything done.

      Plan A _did_ note what Metro would do with the extra money: Metro would have refilled its capital expenditures accounts and its rainy day fund; things it spent because it’s been for damn sure raining as of late. Once that happened and as the economy continued to recover, Metro could have done things like, ohIdon’tknow, expand and enhance service.

      I think it’s hilarious that the country with the highest amounts of personal credit card and loan and mortgage balances in the world has a huge sect of people who claim to know how to make government “live within its means” yet still can’t fathom why government is not run like a business.

    2. Bernie accurately frames the voter ‘burn-out’ with ever increasing transit taxation and John’s call for a comprehensive Plan B are spot on.
      Let’s all put our differences aside for the moment, and concentrate on finding solutions to get transit back on track to collectively make SOV’s less desirable than riding the bus or train.

      1. Hopefully we’ll get this right before Plan Z.
        Here’s a recent exchange between Anandakos and myself musing about letting local jurisdictions determine their own ‘Transit Destiny’.
        I haven’t seen any precinct breakdown yet, but suspect this would have passed in Seattle and failed miserably in East King County. Transfering 4 bus bases and route responsibility to SDOT sounds like radical surgery, but look north to the City of Everett. They run their own local service, within a CT transit district, within a larger ST district. It seems to work, and the legal precedence is certainly established.
        Why shouldn’t Seattle determine it’s own fate (routes, span, taxing mechanisms, etc) without getting derailed by either South or East counties, ‘less is better’ voter?
        I’ll stop there, as today is not the time to rush to judgement. There are lots of Metro employees wondering if they will have a job in the next year, and my heart goes out to them being a retired Metro driver.

      2. Seattle can and does buy extra service hours for things it wants. Most recently it has been propping up evening service on a few routes that would otherwise have half as much. So if Seattle can raise money, it can give it to Metro and tell Metro where to deploy it, and Metro can either accept it or not. But how much Seattle can raise and what kind of taxes is another question. Can the city form a citywide transit benefit district at the level the county was going to?

      3. Totally agree with mic. Too many greater King County residents don’t see the benefit of transit given that they don’t use it. So…make it more local…Seattle could have a dynamite transit system if it could have more control over of the funding / service choices. Mayor should push for this.

    3. This seems to just imagine away the various political constraints that Metro faces in trying to restructure with better and more efficient service. Obviously the cuts will give them some leverage they wouldn’t have in a service-neutral restructure, but imagining away political constraints on service rationalization is extremely naive.

  14. Metro KNEW this was going to happen.

    So now we’re back to post I695 & pre-Transit Now service levels. With the added caveat of no service between 1:30am and 5:00am.

    Of course, I figure somewhere along the line funds will be scrounged up to keep some owl service, though the 2:15 and 3:30 go-arounds will probably be discontinued and replaced with super-early 4am starts on a few core bus routes.

    1. I hope you’re right but I think you’re not. If the 84 dies, there’s nothing for most of the Central District. There’s already less-than-nothing for Lake City, though at least it looks like the 41 is keeping its later trips. Starting at 4am after a 11:30pm stop is a head-scratcher. As someone who pays the same taxes but works an odd schedule, I’m getting very frustrated at late night service being the go-to for “easy” service cuts.

      1. Market Wonk: “demand will drive wages higher when lack of bus service shrinks labor pool”
        Actual Worker: “less time to help kids on homework and less money to spend on food because getting to work just got a lot more complicated”

      2. Well, if the issue is predominently traffic then ending late night service seems quite logical to me.

    2. I can tell you things are are probably a little worse with most routes ending their weekday runs by 10pm come early 2015.

  15. For what its worth – I think this vote isn’t about bus driver wages, farebox recovery, etc. It’s about the options given to voters.

    Voters were told that its either bus cuts or tax increases. Doom and gloom. No matter what they choose, I think a majority of people felt like it was a lose-lose. Those who would “keep service,” paid more to receive what they already get. If they didn’t approve of new taxes, they lost their bus route. That’s a tough pill to swallow when there doesn’t appear to be any net benefits to either riders or taxpayers. It’s akin to my landlord increasing rent. My apartment is the same. The amenities are the same (or degrading). But I am just paying more for it.

    I think that Metro officials have a lot of other things going for them. They aren’t locked in to a union contract. They are receiving record sales tax revenues (yes, a common complaint is that I don’t talk about the recession’s impacts – listen to my David Boze interview and I discuss it). The Municipal League said that Metro officials should adopt six recommendations (and lowering costs and raising fares) prior to asking voters for a tax increase.

    The doom and gloom situation left people wondering, “is there a better option that wasn’t provided?” And I think that there is. But this is my opinion.

    I too want Metro to keep bus service on the road, I just think there’s another way to get there.

    1. Bob, all I can say is, I hope you’re right. But I still imagine myself stuck in Crown Hill at 9 PM waiting for a newly-hourly bus to Montlake and a transfer home… and I wish this had passed.

      1. Bill, there won’t be any service after 9pm on Sundays or holidays from crown hill.

    2. >> It’s akin to my landlord increasing rent. My apartment is the same. The amenities are the same (or degrading). But I am just paying more for it.

      Yep, and now we aren’t paying for it and our stuff is on the curb.

  16. Thinking ahead about what this means for ST 3 – if we can’t even pass a transit measure with King County, how are we going to do it with Pierce and Snohomish County added to the mix? (Come to think about it, how did ST 2 ever pass – it seems ages ago).

    I’m starting to wonder if Sound Transit is really a feasible route to get rail to Ballard in our lifetimes, or if a Seattle-only measure represents a better chance. Unfortunately, the latter option would almost certainly get watered down to a useless streetcar due to lack of funds…

    1. Sound Transit goes to the ballot during presidential elections, when there is much more favorable turnout. Metro’s decision to go to the ballot in April was an act of desperation, but clearly a mistake.

      1. It didn’t have a choice. There was no presidential election before June.

        And “Metro” did not go to the ballot. The county council did. “Metro” is a group of unelected employees who can’t put up ballot measures or raise taxes, and who are severely limited in what kinds of “political” statements or advocacy they can do. The county council are politicians and they can do all these things. Sound Transit has its own board of politicians; that’s why it can put things on the ballot itself.

      2. I agree, I wouldn’t read too much into this. The timing of the this vote was horrible and meant that many transit supporters were unlikely to turn out.

        BTW the first Sound Move vote was in 1995 which failed. The revised measure in 1996 passed. ST2 first went to the polls in 2007 as part of roads & transit. The revised transit only measure passed in 2008.

        I think a big part of why both measures passed the second time around was simply by being on the ballot in a high-turnout election year (President and Governor). Improved campaign strategy and messaging for round 2 likely helped as well. Would the original more ambitious proposals for Sound Move and ST2 have passed the second time? We’ll never know but I suspect revising the measures had little to do with their passage and timing and improved messaging were the key.

      3. What makes you think a larger turn out is going to favor passage? Frankly I figured Prop. 1 had a chance by being off the election cycle in that the supporters would be motivated to vote and the detractors might get caught off guard. Fundamentally this tax increase was unpopular with the majority.

    2. Sound Transit will get more consideration from the state than Metro did, because (1) it represents a larger number of constituents and legislative districts, (2) it’s closer to the level of the Puget Sound Regional Council which has both state and federal recognition, (3) the legislature created ST and expects it to come forward with ST3 someday.

      Given the dire state of local transit and the possibility it may be the same or worse off by the time ST3 comes around, we may need to think about shifting some local-transit priorities into ST3 and postponing some regional-transit priorities. For instance, parts of Seattle’s Transit Master Plan, a Kent “Don’t-Call-It-Rapid-Ride” to Link, and that Northgate pedestrian bridge. Snohomish County might its five proposed Swift routes. Pierce County should probably think about more one-digit routes, and filling in off-peak service on the 1 and 2, and extending RapidRide A to Tacoma.

      As for Ballard Link, it won’t get a city-funding hearing unless ST3 definitively dies or Ballard Link is excluded from it. Then it would be time to consider city funding measures. We’d have to underscore that a Ballard streetcar is NOT a substitute for Ballard Link. It could potentially complement it, but Ballard Link must have higher priority. No streetcar unless the light rail line is going ahead.

    3. ST is a special district than only covers the urbanized areas of the three counties. ST taxes are only collected in areas that have a reasonable expectation of transit service.

      King County’s boundaries date to the Civil War and predate Washington’s statehood. Thus we ask voters in the hinterlands to jack up their car tabs for transit that will never serve them.

      1. When I moved here from San Francisco 25 years ago I was amazed at the weird King County boundaries. I was used to the City and County of San Francisco. Something like that would make sense here.

  17. I’m legally blind, and I work nights.
    This vote may very well mean I lose my job.

    I wonder if those who voted against Prop. 1 would rather pay to have people like me “freeload” off the system, because that’s very likely what they’re going to get.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear that, and I hope you’re able to keep the job.

      I suppose it won’t be much comfort to learn that No voters I argued with assured me I was being alarmist with talk about ‘job loss’, and people like you were merely a product of my fevered imagination.

    2. Those that voted against this would also vote against any sort of system that allows people to freeload. They would rather see you die in the street.

      1. Really, I don’t know anyone who can read the minds of 200,000 voters. The ones I talked to who voted No said nothing about wanting anyone to die on the streets.

      2. I doubt they wanted you to die in the street – they probably just didn’t give a crap about anyone except themselves.

      3. It’s not that they want me to die on the streets. It’s just that they don’t care if I die on the streets or not, just as long as I don’t die in their parking spot.

        The fact is, this is an issue I have to fight constantly, on many many fronts. Most employers don’t take me seriously because I have a disability regardless of my background, skill set, or work ethic. Most blind people I know don’t have jobs at all, and it’s not due to laziness.

        One major factor a lot of employers give is a lack of “reliable transportation”. I know even at my current job that was a big thing when I got hired. Eliminating night service makes “unreliable transportation” substantially more unreliable, and will make it even harder for me to convince other perspective employers I’m worth hiring.

        As for my current job, all isn’t necessarily lost. I might be able to switch shifts (…maybe), and I might be able to work around the cuts depending on exactly when service ends and which routes get moved where, but I shouldn’t have to be put in that situation. Neither should anyone else who takes the bus, whether they’re choice riders or they’re dependent on transit.

  18. Lakecityrider, I thought the D line moved to unchanged in the new rough draft?

    1. Since transferring at Montlake was referred to, I think the rider from Crown Hill was thinking of the 48 rather than RR-D having no service Sundays after 9 pm.

      1. Yes, I was thinking of the 48. I live on the Eastside, though, so don’t refer to me as a “rider from Crown Hill.” I was just using it as an example of one area of Seattle I go to sometimes and can easily imagine getting stuck in if service is reduced.

  19. I’m not surprised this lost but I am surprised how badly it lost. Perhaps the Metro should have asked to only extend the 20 CRC which folks were already paying and the .01 sales tax? Left roads out of it and did a better job of explaing the transit end of the deal.

    I will say this. Where were the pro transit and liberal voters?!! The one thing the no campaign and conservatives get about this is that this is a larger proxy fight for how we want to shap society, anit union and anti public sector ideology. Democrats need to learn come out in force and make statement votes like conservatives do.

    At least for now and until the cust settles, it will certainly complicate the politics for transit supporters in the near future. In Olympia when transit allies go to bat for Metro in a State package this vote will be thrown in our face for years. Show up an vote! Damn.

    1. I agree, we got nothing politically from adding roads to the proposal. No one talked about roads. All they talked about was transit and the tax.

      1. I think the roads portion of the package muddied the waters in two respects:
        1. To the extent roads were discussed it wasn’t clear what exactly cities would spend the money on. The cities didn’t really have a good answer for the most part.
        2. The additional funding for roads added to the sticker shock. $60 car tabs instead of $40.

    2. Democracy is about who shows up… Limbs seem to be more interested in booze and legal pot…

    3. Low-turnout voting is nothing new, and it’s nothing specific to Metro. It happens every non-presidential election.

  20. I also heard from a lot of no voters that they would have went for an extension of the $20.00 congestion reduction fee. Woulda Coulda Shoulda is torturing my pro transit mind right now. Dammit!!!

  21. Okay Metro Transit, it’s time to put up or shut up. You must implement every single draconian cut that that you have listed on your charts or no one will ever believe anything you say again. This is a test of your credibility. There are a lot of us who believe that you are putting out a worst case scenario and that voting no will not have that much of an impact on bus surface. Prove us wrong.

    1. Metro is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The only question is how long does it want to wait for the SCATHING SEATTLE TIMES EDITORIAL condemning Metro’s decisions from the sidelines.

      Metro makes big cuts: Riders are inconvenienced or cut entirely out of the system. Traffic congestion increases. Economy continues to edge forward, sales tax revenue improves, Metro comes back a year or 18 months later and proposes to add back some of the routes/trips. SEATTLE TIMES BELLOWS about how Metro “should have seen this coming” and “lied to the people” about the need for drastic cuts. People are furious because they were sold a bill of goods, demand cuts to Metro to “enforce efficiency.”

      Metro finds some way to not make big cuts: Economy edges forward, sales tax revenue improves. Riders are marginally inconvenienced but life goes on. Traffic congestion does its thing, only creeps up in line with population growth. SEATTLE TIMES BELLOWS about how Metro “sat on favorable revenue forecasts” and “lied to the people” about the need for drastic cuts. People are furious because they were sold a bill of goods, demand cuts to Metro to “enforce efficiency.”

      Meanwhile, frequent-contributor-to-Seattle-Transit-Blog David is appointed Dictator For Life over Metro and implements his Frequent Network Plan in one fell swoop over a single weekend. Parades are thrown, good times had by all.

      (“That last paragraph might be a bit hyperbolic,” BELLOWS SEATTLE TIMES.)

      1. The Seattle Times editorials agains Metro come down to one thing, the publisher hates unions. ‘Force efficiency’ is code for ‘cut wages and benefits’.

    2. This absolutely will not have any effect at all on the paint on the buses (e.g. the “surface”).

  22. I read this blog, I read the Seattle Times, I read the cycling blogs, I even read The Stranger, and I voted, “no.” My entire “no” vote was based on car tabs. I will not vote for anything that is a flat tax. I have voted in every election since I turned 18 (20 years ago); never missed one. I have consistently voted this way, and it is not going to change.

      1. Even the most progressive countries and cities in the world have flat bus fares, but they do have assistance programs for people under a certain income level. It isn’t really feasible to charge a graduated fare based on income. Can you think of a way?

      2. Fares need to go up. Those that use the system should pay for the system. I have a neighbor that uses the bus every day and happily brags about the large amount of money he saves everyday by taking the bus. He’s wealthy and can easily afford to pay more – as well he should.

    1. To Godwin the conversation, would you vote for a flat tax if the alternative was #Insert-Evil-Dictator-Here# in power?

      Then you agree that there are some things worse than a flat tax. Now we can talk about just which things are worse than flat taxes.

  23. Well…the history of these votes is that when you try to cobble together Roads and Transit in one all inclusive package it usually loses. Then, when you come back to the voters with a smaller package targeted just at Transit is usually passes.

    Hopefully they make some prompt cuts to the worst performing routes and come back to the voters with a smaller, Transit only package.

    But the R’s are wrong about needing to starve transit until Seattle is wiling to come to the table and support more roads. That won’t happen. Time for the R’s to wake up and smell the urban coffee

    1. This “was” a transit only package. No one seriously believed this had anything to do with roads.

      1. In the more conservative corners of the county that is probably how this was perceived, but there is no doubt that by including “roads” the cost of the package was substantially inflated and the it’s focus was diluted. Both of those factors worked against passage.

        Makes some targetted cuts, remove the roads portion and reduce the cost by approx half and this measure would pass easily at the polls.

        And, if a transit only package was to pass at the polls, then the R’s would finally be forced to “put their big boy pants on” and actually do something for transportation. So far they haven’t.

      2. Without polling it is impossible to know if having a road component to the measure was a factor in its defeat.

        However we know the road component increased the cost of the measure ($60 car tabs instead of $40). Furthermore there was no list of specific projects the road portion would fund.

        Without roads in the measure I think there would have been much less handwringing over the regressive nature of the taxes.

      3. I agree Chris. My gut feeling is that including roads was a mistake since no one talked about roads. I didn’t see it on any literature, nor any editorial (pro or con). It was Metro versus the tax.

      4. “No one seriously believed this had anything to do with roads.”

        The larger cities were leaning toward spending their portion on sidewalks and things that would indirectly benefit buses. Unincorporated areas were just going to spend it on roads, mainly on resurfacing.

  24. This was definitely a vote of no confidence in a system that has reduced the quality of service, eliminated service, and introduced an insulting “rapid ride” system that has made transit unusable.

    This entire election was premised on holding what little remains of our transit system hostage, saying effectively that we’ll kill the rest of the hostages if we don’t get what we want. [ad hom]

    1. If you want to change the way the schools are run, vote for a new school board, don’t vote against the levy. If you don’t like the way Metro is run, vote for a new county council. This won’t change the way that Metro is run, it will only reduce bus service.

      1. If we defund the Washington Policy Center, will it help make them more efficient, or in any way reform them?

  25. There have been several people on this blog who have said, ‘Why can’t we do a Seattle-only measure?’ which makes sense considering that you’ll be much likelier to pass something with just that demographic isolated.

    However, will there be some unintended consequences of that going down the road? If Seattle gets more bus service for itself and Metro keeps cutting service for people outside the city, I wonder if you’ll eventually see a revolt by some of the cities outside of the city who will vote to pull out of Metro because, ‘if we’re getting jack squat for service and Seattle will pay for its own buses more and more, wtf do you need our money for?’

    I’m not trying to parrot any sort of anti-Prop 1 talking points here, but I think it does need to be noted that Seattle gets more out of Metro than it pays in and vice versa for the surrounding cities. What’s in it for the surrounding areas when they get just basic, skeletal service and Seattle says that they’re willing to pay more and more on their own as time goes on? I think this is a giant elephant in the room that transit supporters in the City of Seattle need to acknowledge and discuss. We’re all in this together, city, Eastside, South King County, North King County whether we like it or not and we need to work together.

    I totally sympathize with people in the City of Seattle who want better transit and a Seattle-only ballot measure is probably the only way to go. I just fear down the road you may see cities break off and make their own more localized transit agencies and we’ll end up with an even more incoherent transit system with even less cooperation, similar to what exists now in the Bay Area(BART, Muni, Caltrain, VTA, Samtrans, etc.). I just don’t hope this causes a region-wide death spiral that just makes everyone say, ‘What is the point of being part of Metro?’ and just pretty much kill public transit.

    I want public transit to succeed in the region because it’s a win-win for everyone as has been discussed on STB over and over. I’m just concerned that we’re at or approaching a tipping point where service gets gutted and the underserved surrounding cities are going to get restless.

    So I guess my question really becomes, “What does the whole regional population (not just STB readers) actually want from public transit?”

      1. The anti-tax voters also want a free ride. Everyone wants something for nothing. That’s how we get initiatives mandating raising teacher pay and small class sizes, but no money to pay for them. Sometimes it’s the same people voting contradictorily. More often it’s probably different majorities, one voting for the service and the other to cut taxes.

      2. (enabling sarcasm module) But that’s how you get efficiency! You do more with less, right? If you mandate more pay and less tax revenue it has to work because you made it so!

    1. what we want is an efficient system suitable for the developed world, instead we give them billions and we have among the worst roads and transit in the developed world, if you ask me all those involved in the decades of stagnation, waste and failure have to be fired before the system gets any more money

      1. Josh I think you’re hyperbolizing here which isn’t helpful.

        If you want to see crappier roads, please visit any part of Illinois or the Midwest in general, urban or rural. You could even take a Google Maps Street View ‘staycation’ and check out the potholes that way.

        If you want to see crappier public transportation, please visit major cities in the Southern US.

      2. We give them “billions”, but not enough for a “developed world” network like New York or Cologne or Vancouver or Washington DC. That’s why we don’t have one.

      3. @Transitdork, I take issue with your comparison of our roads to Illinois roads. After living in Illinois for 15 years, I can say that Washington’s roads in there current state are far worse than Illinois. And no where near as crowded.

        When I returned to Washington state , I drove over much of I-90 and I have to say, beginning at the Idaho/Washington border, the road was just a plain embarrassment. Even Idaho’s portion was far better maintained.

        But, I have to say, we are reaping the seeds of Washington’s tax adverse culture.

      4. Charles,

        I grew up in Illinois and lived there for 25 years so I guess we will respectfully agree to disagree.

        Drive down Route 47 from Yorkville to I-74 in Mahomet sometime. Or Route 30 from Aurora out west for 30-40 miles. I went back home a few months ago and drove around where I grew up and Route 30 in particular is just as horrible now as it was 10 years ago. NO road in Washington State that I’ve ever driven on was as bad as either of those. (admittedly, I haven’t been to every corner of this state, but I’ve seen good chunks of Western and Central/Eastern WA by car)

        Anyway, enough minute detail……..I definitely agree that this state is reaping what our bizarre tax-averse culture has sown and will continue to do so until we have fundamental change regarding how we fund things. That however will likely require a Democratic majority in both houses of the Legislature.

    2. What you are basically describing is the current state of Washington State. The state doesn’t want to spend money on Seattle, even though it is the economic lifeblood of the state. They figure the city, when push comes to shove, will probably pay for things themselves, so why bother. Better yet, agree to give them things, and in return get something we want.

      A big part of the problem is the right wing turn of the Republican Party, along with the rise of identity politics. Dan Evans was born and raised in Seattle, and remains the state’s most popular governor. It is hard to imagine that happening again. Seattle voters hate most Republicans, because of what the national party represents. This leaves the Republican party with the obvious strategy of demonizing Seattle, which doesn’t cost them much while playing into their base, and their political tribalism (“Seattle is full of Volvo driving, latte drinking, tree hugging…).

      The same thing could easily happen with the county. Suburban voters could easily be convinced that “Seattle gets too much” or that “Seattle wastes too much money” or simply that Seattle is too liberal. The scary part is if they think that Seattle doesn’t matter. It is a reasonable assumption if you live in Spokane (although your taxes and government services as well as your economic success is tied to Seattle a lot more than you think). But it would be ridiculous if you feel that way and live in Bellevue, Shoreline or Kent. If Seattle suffers, so do the suburbs. But ignorant voters could easily be convinced by shady politicians to “let Seattle pay for its fancy system, we don’t need it” and the entire region would suffer as a result.

      1. RossB, I think you’re right. In the end, we probably just have to play the political ‘mutual destruction’ game and be prepared to win a game of wills even if it means taking the state back to the Stone Age. As long as King County keeps caving, why would the rest of the state give in when it can get what it wants without giving anything up? It’s time for the region to grow a pair.

      2. When did King County cave? Or was it just defeated in the legislative votes? They’re two different things.

      1. Sherwin, how did the Pierce Transit area have certain areas opt out then? Is it the same type of agency as Metro?

      2. No, that actually was a Public Transit Benefit Area (PTBA). I’m not aware of why it was organized differently, but I think it has to do with the unique history of King County and the downfall of Seattle Transit.

      3. It is not. Pierce Transit is a Public Transit Benefit Area (PTBA), which is why it was allowed to contract.

      4. Looks like Will beat me to the punch. That’s generally correct. Metro was formed as a county agency to succed Seattle Transit and the suburban counterparts, which were on the brink of folding. I’m less sure about this, but I believe creating a PTBA is a legislative affair. It would be a massive undertaking.

      5. It may be a massive undertaking, and doing so may just lead us down the path of repeating the history of the 1960s where the buses outside Seattle had to basically be bailed out, but what good does it do Seattle when it’s stuck in a transit agency where the other parties have entirely different priorities? That doesn’t really help anyone.

        You could probably get far more stable funding (and much better focused service) for Seattle if you only had to go to them for votes instead of pandering to everyone and having to gold-plate voter propositions and water everything down for the entire county to make everyone happy.

      6. So, with Metro being a county agency then, could Section 28.94.030 (Public Transit Zones) of the King County Charter just be put to a public vote to amend what areas Metro serves and then carve out the areas that want to leave? It’s hard for me to believe that municipalities have no way to get out of Metro or any county agency.

        Is there something saying you can’t put this to a public vote?

        King County Charter Link:

    3. The areas most likely to opt out of Metro are the same as those outside the Sound Transit district: Carnation, Snoqualmie, Maple Valley. Metro has already been reducing service there, so maybe it would be mutually beneficial to just make it complete. They can establish their own skeletal transit if they want, as Snoqualmie Valley Transit has done. But these are also a small number of people, so they won’t make much difference in Metro’s revenue.

      The larger cities will not do this though. Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, and Kent know they need full-scale transit, not just one or two daytime vans to a P&R. At most they might start a “Suburban Metro” or “Eastside Metro”, but not a different agency in each city. And ORCA and shared transfers/passes are already in place, so they’d just roll into it.

      1. Mike, I agree with what you’re saying. I’m just afraid that, during the negotiations for an ‘Eastside Transit’ agency that one or two cities would try to extract too much service, power, etc. out of the deal and cause the complete Balkanization of public transit in the Seattle metro area, which does nobody any good. If we go that route, I hope there is a monolithic block on the Eastside to pursue this option.

  26. there we go, a clear sign that the citizens believe the public officials are failing, i’m glad people are finally acknowledging it

    1. What are you talking about? This election had no public officials on it. This was not a referendum on electing a new Metro board, or rearranging the county council, or asking for a new oversight board or anything like that. There was only one issue on the ballot, and it concerned a new tax. Nothing more, nothing less. If people voted for or against it based on some other criteria (e. g. voting no because of they are unhappy with our current engagement policy in Syria) then they are idiots.

      1. people are sick of giving these failed officials money, that’s what the vote is about. If the leadership of the city, county and metro had been replaced together with the tax increase I would have voted yes. Everything they’ve done sucks

      2. Uh, the vote is really about these “failed officials,” why don’t they just vote them out? We’re constantly voting for county executive and councilmembers.

  27. Takaways from this, in order:
    1. No one votes for road maintenance. The extra $40 this added to the tabs killed this prop. Let’s send “roads and transit” measures to a permanant watery grave.
    2. There is general distrust in Metro. The negative messages really seemed to stick to them. Ex: People who have absolutely no clue about Metro’s operations would say things like “they need to get more efficient.”
    3. People hate car tabs. They prefer their taxes hidden for whatever that is worth. .1 sales tax was never really the issue.
    4. Passing a measure that promises to maintain something is a loser. It also makes your current state too easy a target. How much will really be cut? Passing something that adds of builds removes that bullet. $60 tab plus .1 might have passed with a shiny transit object attached (speed up ST3! Etc.)

    1. Agree with all of those points. #2 is something people say because they are looking for cover – they don’t want to come out and say openly that “I don’t care about buses, screw those riders, I just don’t want to pay a few more bucks to register my car” so they look for some other justification that doesn’t make them look like assholes.

      1. Robert, I disagree with your comments on #2.

        With a decent size Metro workforce, we hear from our friends/neighbours that work there. There is a lot of dis-function. Publically identify crazy rules, workers that get paid some hours for not working, and make suggestions on removing non public facing workers (mgmt., supervisors) with a firm proposal. Then come back with a request for more funding

    2. Kyle I agree with all of your points, especially #4.

      I don’t think that road maintenance should ever be voted on period. If we commit to having a road, its maintenance should be considered an essential expense, not discretionary spending to be determined by the will of the people. Otherwise you end up with the mess we have now.

      Where do you stop with this piecemeal crap? How about we vote on fire and ambulance funding every year? Or police funding? Hell let’s just put up every government spending item to a public vote and let mob rule run everything.

      1. Broadly, we need to switch from state sales tax to state income tax and actually fund all of the things that are important to our society and economy from that (larger and more stable) pot of money. Agreeing to that is the first step. The road to making that change will be very long but 100% worth it. It would mean better everything for Washington and would get us out of this ridiculous small ball game.

      2. I agree that we shouldn’t have to vote on roads, but you could say the same thing about transit. Also, we have voted on fire and emergency services, schools, and a lot of other necessities. It is simply the product of having gutless politicians and a really bad tax system (brought about because of gutless politicians).

    3. #1 — I agree completely. If anything, it should be its own measure. Lumping it with transit was a huge mistake. It added to the cost, and brought little to no extra support (did anyone here anyone say “I don’t want to pay for buses, but we could use some road improvements, so I’m voting yes”?).

      #2 — The Seattle Times editorial really brought this into focus. Without their “no” endorsement, I think this vote would have been a lot closer. The organized opposition was really bad. They had trouble writing complete sentences with the voter’s pamphlet. It would have been easy to dismiss the opposition as loons, especially given the lack of opposition from politicians. But once the editorial came out, a lot of people either opposed the measure, or felt justified in opposing the measure. I’m sure a lot of them still believe that Metro will somehow “wring some efficiencies” from the system, and things won’t be that different.

      #3 — I agree. Unfortunately, car tabs are a political loser. I think people like being nickled and dimed versus paying a chunk of money, even if that chunk is relatively small (how is 40 dollars per car so terrible — you pay that in oil changes every year).

      #4 — I think is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations. Ideally, you propose a very big measure, with lots of bells and whistles, then, if it fails, come back with a scaled down version. This is what Sound Transit did. The first measure failed because people thought it was a “Cadilac” system. So, the scaled it back, and we are slowly building what the first initiative proposed.

      I think the timing of this was off. This proposal should have come a couple years ago (during the Presidential election). There also should have been more publicity about the whole process and things done to reduce the financial crisis. You basically had big increases in fares, big cuts in wages and benefits as well as the draining of the rainy day fund, but it happened a long time before the election.

    4. Regarding item number two, I wonder if we should elect the Metro board directly, like we do with the school board. That way they can take out their frustration on the members, not the entire system. I would support that.

      1. And then we can campaign directly to elect David, Ben, and d.p. to the Metro board… I like it!

      2. The one-seat riders, milk run champions, “Save Route 2!”, “no transit lane in my parking space!”, and “Downsize Metro!” people are eager to eager to elect some boardmembers.

    5. I’m fairly sure people will sometimes vote for “maintain”. But I think the message has to be a LOT clearer. For instance, if the vote is “vote for this tax or we cancel ALL service in X county”, you can sometimes get the county to vote for it. This wasn’t nearly that clear or dire.

  28. If this is really that big of a funding crisis, than the fares need to go up by more than just .25 cents as a political gesture more than anything. Currently the fares are proposed to go up by .25 cents but not until Jan 2015!!.

    Again, if this is truly a funding crisis, than raise the fares .25 cents in June and another .25 cents in 6 months.

    While farebox recovery is at 29 percent , why is this deemed adequate? It should be more and we should be aiming for more just from a business perspective. And I say this as a transit supporter and one who realizes tax subsidies are a necessity.

    1. 1. Concur – raise rates.

      2. Show the cost structure. On the times’ site, there are comments about the number of employee’s made over $100K. Provide a breakdown on their job categories – if it truly mechanics fixing buses that is one thing, If it is mgmt. structure – propose significant cuts with a confirmed timeline, and then come back with a new proposal to raise public funds

      1. “Efficiency” and “Metro employees making > $100k” are largely bludgeons transit critics use to beat back taxes for a government service they don’t see as legitimate and should be viewed in that light.

        True lovers of efficiency AND transit will ask questions that drill into the how and why of Metro’s operations.

      2. Velo:
        Don’t forget the public sector union haters who think all government workers should make minimum wage with no benefits.

      3. VeloBusDriver,
        If it is a bludgeon, Metro just had to publish the list, and if the reasons/jobs were legitimate the issue would go away.

        It was be so easy – and so I suggest that Metro publish detailed costs before the next time it goes to voters. Lets find out if the heavy salaries are from skilled mechanics or bureaucrats or waste.

    2. Fares have already gone up by quite a bit over the past 6 years. We have some of the highest fares of any large transit system in the country. How high should fares go?

      1. Well, friends of transit in ST write that KCM runs the most expensive per bus network in the country and KC isn’t the most expensive county to run transit in general. Hence that’s where the optimization should go.
        Raising prices works only as much. For me and my wife whenever there’s free parking it’s cheaper and faster to drive than to take the bus already. If prices are raised significantly it’ll simply make even parking worthwhile.
        Raise cash fares significantly. Don’t give out senior passes to everybody. When Bill Gates is 65 he won’t need 75 cent fare, he can pay in full, same with a lot of other retirees, not everyone is on small fixed income (though those people usually drive, but none the less).

      2. Under the circumstances, is it fair that all King County employees get a free bus pass? Shouldn’t they at least pay for part of it (those who actually use it)?

  29. The one silver lining to this dark cloud is that now there will be the financial requirement to cut the less used routes no matter what the political pressures of the past. Without a crisis like this those routes would never be cut.

    Long term spending on things like the Big Dig for the waterfront and the massive 520 bridge spending hurt our abliity to spend money on other transportation needs. (As well as the underfunded schools which have a court requirement to be fixed.)

    Short term, it’s going to suck. Traffic won’t get all that worse where it’s already jammed. As people will just not go. That’s not a great choice. Some few will chose a bicycle ride because nothing is safter than riding in stopped car traffic, and it will be faster than the bus or driving. But that’s not a good way to move people into the bicycling mode.

    Still, the tide will turn and the buses will get more funding in the future. But first up, cut those routes that are inefficient.

    1. Efficiency is only one metric, and I’d argue that it’s more important to be concerned with equitable access and the ability to easily move around the metro area. With the impending deletions and reductions, my neighborhood and others are being effectively cut off from reasonable access to downtown.

      1. And what do you mean, “just not go?” Most people I know don’t have the option to not go to their jobs.

      2. “Just not go” Some trips are optional. We’ve seen that when the I-90 bridge sank and when it was re-opened within weeks there were 10k’s more trips than the weeks prior. Those people didn’t just get new jobs, those trips were either combined into other trips or just never made.

      3. “I’d argue that it’s more important to be concerned with equitable access and the ability to easily move around the metro area. ”

        Around the metro area? Arguably you’re right.

        To Enumclaw or North Bend? I think not. People who’ve chosen to live out there have chosen either to have a job and do all their shopping within that town, or to be car-dependent.

        And actually that’s one of the problems with the proposed cuts. They do cut a hell of a lot from fairly populated neighborhoods, but they retain “coverage” service out into the boondocks. Not trying to pick on Enumclaw or North Bend here, but they pop out immediately if you look at the map.

        The borders of King County include a large area which isn’t metropolitan area at all, isn’t covered by Sound Transit, and is never going to have well-performing bus service. Why preserve this stuff while cutting city service?

        (If you start with the current “cuts” plan and cut the poorly-performing routes which leave the Sound Transit taxing area, using that as a rough proxy for the metropolitan area, you would eliminate the four routes to Enumclaw, the 208 to North Bend, the tail of 168 to Maple Valley, and the 232 to Duvall. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lot of mileage.)

        Frankly, my local agency in my little town did something like this some years back in response to budget issues — we used to have service to neighboring counties. This was eliminated entirely, so we’re no longer subsidizing people across the border. Service to outlying areas within the county, which wasn’t well patronized and was expensive to run, was *sharply* reduced, and subjected to an elevated “second zone” fare. Service within the core, however, was preserved.

        This hurt a fair number of poor people who were living waaaay out in the boondocks to get cheap housing, but given the limited budget, it was the only sane thing to do. The current city policy in my little town is to build a bunch more, taller apartment buildings, including “affordable housing”, downtown. Apparently you’re having trouble implementing that policy in Seattle, which may make the politics harder.

      4. Nathanael, KCM is a county-wide agency. It has a different role than ST and it shouldn’t limit itself to the ST service area. Pierce Transit essentially did that when it contracted; we don’t want to do that here.

        However, that doesn’t necessarily mean having regularly scheduled buses doing peak hour trips from the hinterlands to Seattle. Metro might promote more vanpooling and vansharing or use contracted services like they did with the Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle.

  30. Any thoughts on how this might affect an ST3 vote? More traffic will lead people to think big, etc.

    Does this suggest going for a less costly option than the subway option E? A bigger push for a Ballard to UW option?

    I wasn’t around when ST2 was voted on (which apparently happened after a similar measure bit the dust), so I am curious what the horde thinks.

    1. ST is not directly affected by this.

      However, reducing Metro service will indirectly lead to higher ridership on ST and on ST rail services. That would probably lead to increased acceptance of rail as a transit option in the PS region.

      But how that effects an ST3 vote is probably in the noise level. What will count per ST3 is the plan details and the overall transit situation at the time of the vote.

      1. I’m not so sure. A percentage of ST rail riders use buses to get to the rail. Without those buses, rail ridership could go down. The same thing could happen with ST buses.

      2. Na, some longer range buses will now be truncated at rail stations to save Metro money. There might be some access lost in certain areas, but it will be gained in others.

        ST will see increased ridership.

  31. As I said before, they can accommodate much more actual hours within same budget if they speed up boarding, i.e. make everyone use orcas, i.e. make cash fares 50-100% more expensive.
    Second order derivative of this is that overtime hours will be cut and those are more expensive, saving KCM even more money for normal routes.

  32. Rather than scream at the failings of our electorate, here are some takeaways.

    1. Never put transit on an off-year election ballot.

    If there’s a funding hit at the state level, take the hit, then come back with a package in a presidential year that adds service. Try to get committed funding when possible so that people don’t get voting fatigue. For expiring taxes, time it so that the taxes expire in synch with the four-year election cycle.

    2. Use better funding sources.

    No flat car tabs ever. Paying taxes in one big chunk makes them seem bigger, and taxing cars for transit is bad politics. Sales tax is better but I think there’s a pychological ceiling at 10%. We need to use other sources if possible, and if not possible, we need an election-year campaign to change the rules to free up other sources.

    3. Every proposal needs to add service and provide tangible and visible benefits to voters.

    Voting defensively to save existing service is a loser. It sets you up with a doom and gloom campaign and people tune out. It’s better to take the hit and then add service back, plus something new.

    4. Deliver on promises.

    RapidRide amounts largely to red paint. If you’re going to claim a tangible benefit, deliver that benefit. Also, don’t threaten cuts that aren’t coming. Either way, you kill credibility. If you don’t run a vote to maintain service, but always to expand, that prevents the problem of threatening cuts that you back away from later (which is usually done honestly and with good intentions, but looks dishonest). That leaves only the need to deliver on implementation.

    5. Address the doubt of voters about how the agency is run.

    A lot of this is just delivering on promises made. Transparency about goals (explaining why transit needs both coverage and frequency and how there are tradeoffs) is helpful. Filtering out genuine concerns from FUD and promoting initiatives to meet them is also good. If people perceive that fares are too low, implement a program to maximize fare collection without reducing ridership. Be clear about when routes are serving a coverage goal and promote that publicly, and try to set a ceiling on what portion of funding goes for those goals. The idea is to anticipate complaints and try to neutralize them both through better PR and by adjusting priorities in a transparent way. If people are complaining about empty buses, have data instantly on hand that can explain that the misperception is wrong (and if it isn’t, have a very good reason for not dropping that service that plays to the voters at large). In general, every step above should think through the long-term political consequences and work to build public support for transit in the future. Even if criticisms are misplaced (and they often are), Metro needs the vote of a lot of people who hold to those criticisms if it is to thrive in the long run. It’s easy to dismiss people for shortsightedness or outright stupidity, but ultimately it’s on Metro and transit supporters to do a better job at winning support.


    1. “RapidRide amounts largely to red paint” – You are grossly understating the improvements that RapidRide brings. Was it oversold? Perhaps, given the political realities of ripping out parking for bus lanes and getting people to STOP USING CASH. Is it BRT? By no stretch of the imagination. However, RapidRide lines attract more passengers and move them more efficiently than their predecessor routes – hands down.

      #1 improvement idea: Eliminate paper transfers. You can still get a PoP voucher for cash payment but if you want to transfer, you need an ORCA card. Do that, and the whole system’s efficiency improves overnight. We’re down in the sub 20% range of passengers using cash anyway…

      1. I know that there are improvements on RapidRide, but it was oversold and not the best use of money (so far). When you have a skeptical electorate, you need to be very careful what you promise and how you deliver. I think timing, taxes, and providing positive visible benefits are the main things to focus on, but I do think there are ways to improve service and build credibility for the agency over time.

        Totally agree on getting rid of paper transfers. Day passes would also be welcome–they don’t just appeal to tourists and other visitors, but they’re a nice incentive for locals to try out the system with a minimum amount of fuss, and learn that they actually like it. Little bits of service like this could go a long way toward building public support, for not a lot of monetary investment (and in some cases, savings).

      2. I like RapidRide because it’s efficient for tourists. Also the buses look nice.

    2. 1. I don’t think transit votes need to be limited to just the November ballot in. Presidential election years. True Sound Move and ST2 both only passed in presidential election years but Metro was able to increase sales taxes for TransitNow and the previous ballot measure in off years. But those were general election ballots rather that weird April special elections.

      Remember turnout was only 38% so roughly 21% of the voters in determined this outcome. If the turnout had been larger I doubt we would have seen the same results. I’d avoid drawing any broad conclusions about the electorate in general from this vote.

      2. Local government entities are at the mercy of the legislature. Good luck getting them to approve better funding sources. The only real possibility I see is maybe giving transit agencies some property tax authority.

      3. Again I don’t think this is absolutely necessary. Sure it is an easier sell when you have some “sizzle” to market but voters have been willing to maintain funding for various services in the past with no new things added.

      4. I disagree about RapidRide, the A line at least is a real improvement over the old 174. Sure it isn’t as nice as SWIFT but we got a lot more of it than we would have if everything had been built to SWIFT levels.

      As for keeping other promises, metro’s ability to add new service has been hampered by tax revenues not meeting projections and cost increases above projections. Unfortunately explaining structural deficits to voters is really hard.

      5. I’ll agree Metro does seem to have a perception problem even among transit supporters. I’m not sure what can be done to address that

      1. I personally think Metro does a good job. But I included point 5 because I don’t think you win political battles by dismissing the arguments and negative perceptions of the opposition. It is often hard to find coherence in transit opponents, and a lot is simply knee-jerk anti-government feeling, but just ignoring the opposition doesn’t seem to be a useful strategy.

        If it’s not the timing of the vote, or the form of the tax, or the scope of the service being offered, what do you change? I think there were major problems with all three. I don’t really get it but it’s clear at this point that car tabs are a sore point for a majority at the county and state level. A generalized tax (sales/property/income/VAT/whatever) is what you need to avoid the perception that one interest (driving) is being asked to pay for another (buses). It’s less the regressivity of the tax (which most people don’t really care about) but the optics of a big annual fee that is not imposed directly on the thing it specifically funds.

  33. I’ve seen this figure a couple times today. I’m sorry I didn’t ask about this before, but this is something that might have influenced a couple people – 29% fare recovery. I think some people are taking this literally to mean that people are only paying 29% of the time. I suspect that’s not what it means?

    1. It means that money taken in by fares covers 29% of Metro’s costs. The rest are covered by direct taxes (e.g. Metro’s portion of the sales tax), indirect taxes (e.g. money from the City of Seattle general fund), and corporate funding (e.g. the Passport program).

  34. In the second ballot drop a bit shy of 30,000 ballots were counted and the gap narrowed slightly. It’s now 45.49% – 54.51%; not that it will make any difference in the result.

    In the streetsblog article about this, there was a comment,
    But with a regressive tax like this, voting against it isn’t necessarily a clear cut bad thing.

    Personally, I’d vote for a car registration fee, but the sales tax combo torpedoes it.

    This leads me to think that what lead to the defeat was that there were just too many things to not like about it. Some didn’t like the sales tax part, some didn’t like the car tabs part, some saw Metro as inefficient and ineffective so they wanted to punish them, etc. There are too many reasons to vote against and not enough to vote for.

    1. The part between “there was a comment,” and “This leads me to” was supposed to be a block quote. I messed up the HTML tags.

      Where’s my edit button?!!?

  35. King County only sees the day light when they win over more taxes; it’s their answer to everything…

    Let’s raise taxes for those who never use the bus system or never have. If they want to use the green and help with emissions why don’t they start by cleaning up their act? Let’s tax the tax payers for are mishaps… It times to solve a huge amount of transportation problems in King Co. once and for all. Why don’t they impose a bicycle tax, yes that is what I am saying, if older than 16 years of age you pay a road and bike lane tax. We as gasoline drivers have to pay on the gas we use and the auto we drive. If they started to make bicyclists start to pay there fare share could be used for roads and metro transit… Yes, I am a bicyclist and I see no reason why we shouldn’t help with the problem!!!

    1. Bike riders using buses should also pay a fare for their bikes. Those bike racks cost a lot of money.

  36. Looking for someone who knows how to make this happen.

    Help make this a reality. Shouldn’t bicyclist start supporting the funding of the bicycle lanes they use? If bicyclist can help metro transit in the process, that is a bonus. Why should car tabs, gas taxes and property taxes always be the answer? Drivers and Property owners have cared the burden of supporting the DOT and King County Metro transit. This would generate new untapped revenue.

    Proposed Initiative

    A resolution relating to financing transportation improvements; submitting a ballot measure regarding transportation funding to the qualified electors of the King County transportation district at a special election to be held on November ___, 2014, and submitting a proposition to the district voters to authorize the district to create a bicycle endorsement and impose a fee of $20.00 annually to persons who are a minimum of sixteen years of age operating a bicycle; funding of transportation improvements bicycle lanes and for King County Metro transit and all King County cities and unincorporated king County.

    1. Shouldn’t bicyclist start supporting the funding of the bicycle lanes they use

      They do; by not driving a SOV that is several orders of magnitude more destructive to the pavement. That said, a large amount of cycling is recreational and the way we tend to build bike infrastructure is expensive and often not that great from the standpoint of people that actually try to use it. The gas tax is a great way to fund roads. Cyclists pay their fair share of the gas tax because virtually all still drive cars and the bikes cause zero wear on the pavement. Of course you could do without the bike lanes and just let motorists (and buses) wait behind the bikes which as a vehicle have every right to use as much of the lane as they feel is required to be safe.

      1. Of course you could do without the bike lanes and just let motorists (and buses) wait behind the bikes which as a vehicle have every right to use as much of the lane as they feel is required to be safe.

        In my experience, this brings out a lot of road rage from motorists and causes them to do things like tailgate while revving their engines, shout mean-spirited things, and throw stuff at the cyclists. Even though cyclists legally have the right of way, most motorists don’t see it that way.

  37. Dear Martin,

    what you fail to realize is that those “slightly” higher taxes would have fallen disproportionally on the citizens of King County that live outside of the City of Seattle. They are the ones with multiple cars. They are also the ones who all too often get little or no value from the Metro System. The Metro System massively favors Seattle. Is it any wonder that King County voted it down? It was one of the most egregiously unfair funding schemes I’ve ever seen.

    Residents of Seattle appear to be out of touch with the realities of those that live in the surrounding areas. While you may have 1 or at most 2 cars per household, those of us that live in the poorly served areas of King County need to have more vehicles, particularly with young adults living at home. They cannot take busses to their schools or community colleges. The service is too poor. And for decades we’ve been promised that the service would be built out to our areas but it hasn’t happened.

    So I say to you, fund your own system for Seattle and please stop expecting it to be subsidized by the hard working people of King County who neither live in Seattle or work in Seattle.

    1. To that end I can also add that most of the King County’s revenue comes from Seattle and other larger cities. Would it also be fair to distribute sales and property taxes to the areas from where they are coming from in the same proportions? :)

      1. Sure – I dare you. I think you’ll quickly discover that you’re assumptions are wrong.

    2. 1. You’re ignoring the roads money in the package.
      2. Your implicit call for good suburban service would result in a less efficient Metro. That’s OK, but I suggest you work out your differences with the “Metro is too wasteful” crowd that voted this measure down.
      3. Only considering public transit subsidy is a strange way to draw the line. Seattle voters have little use for huge interstate highways and rural roads, and yet contribute to that spending. More intensive service in dense areas with little parking is common sense.

      1. 1. Please explain to me how much of the money was targetted at roads. While you may be right this was seriously lost in the messaging of the campaingn to pass this.
        2. If you want my support ofr Metro then let me get some sort of return on my investment. I have nothing to sort out with the “Metro is too wasteful” crowd.
        3. What’s your point? This ballot was about funding buses as far as I can tell. Perhaps we should have a comprehensive funding bill instead of this piece meal mentality.

      2. ps – fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We’ve had the rug pulled out from underneath our feet too many times. Why should we beleive anything Metro says?

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