Publicola broke the news on Friday, later confirmed by Keep Seattle Moving, that the group has suspended signature gathering for Initiative 118.  Per KSM’s blog post, the “mayor will propose a Seattle-only ballot measure to preserve Metro service in Seattle” and they “believe the City Council will support a ballot measure.”  Mayor Murray has previously stated that any effort to save Seattle buses should be long-term, regional, and take into account the various taxing obligations of the city beyond transit.

We look forward to seeing the details of the proposal on Tuesday.  The mayor, council, and others have all been looking at ways to preserve bus service in Seattle after King County voters rejected Proposition 1 last month.

Update 1:12pm: this post has been updated for clarity. Calling Tuesday’s announcement a “deal” is not quite correct.  Whatever is announced on Tuesday will likely have to be approved by Council and then go to the voters in the fall.

23 Replies to “Efforts Advance to Save Seattle Buses”

  1. You probably should call me before you link to Publicola. I corrected Erica and stated that we had made no commitments to support a Murray plan. She chose to omit that.

    1. I don’t mean to sound like a douche, but why stop the signature collection if the details of Murray’s plan aren’t available for a reality check?

  2. why do we need to vote for this? We elect officials to make these kinds of decisions for us. It’s not a massive amount of money. The mayor oversees a large budget, I’m sure its in his powers to allocate the money right now.

      1. Is a vote required in order to raise any taxes? I want my elected officals to show some spine and fund this without a vote.

  3. If taxes on sold parking can raise enough to preserve current funding levels, that would be awesome! That said, I hope taxing parking stalls doesn’t lead to apartments going back to making the stalls free and bundled with the apartment.

    Congrats to Ben and the crew for getting swift action, and thank you to Mayor Murray for taking swift action! (Thank you ahead of time for not making us have to campaign for yet another flat car tab proposal.)

    I personally would like to see any property tax proposal be part of a mix, not too much to interfere with universal pre-K (which I have every intention of voting for), ratched down after U-Link opens, and expiring after North Link opens.

    I also don’t want it to specifically preserve the current service, including the least productive routes. Work with Metro on how Metro’s service guidelines would cause this money to be used in Seattle, and make that the starting service proposal after the money is secured. Trust the planners.

    Oh, and spend a chunk of it on the one-time capital costs that will create permanent improvements in the transit lines, up front.

    Oh, and please, no red-ribbon committees. Metro needs to know as quickly as possible if the money will materialize, so it can plan accordingly.

    Snap to it!

    1. Brent,

      The way to avoid the pitfall you mentioned is simply to apply a parking tax to commercial parking only, to include currently free parking. That would exempt parking associated directly with residence of all kinds, rental and owned, at the same address while at the same time snagging and perhaps reducing currently over-supplied free retail parking at big-box stores and along Aurora North.

      While there are plenty of reasons to bewail the amount of land dedicated to car storage in toto within the city, all of us need to recognize that personal cars do have a place in the active outdoor life, at least until there is bus service to campgrounds in the Cascades. That’s not likely any time soon…..

      So rather than saying “tax any parking transaction” instead say “tax any land set aside for commercial [and if necessary for legal drafting, employee] parking”.

  4. As a Kentian, I look forward to hearing Seattle’s plan.

    Hopefully, it will be an equitable model which all the cities of the Sound can utilize as appropriate to their needs, but I will never favor any car tab or sales taxes in my city for transit.

    1. So if the republicans get their way and require a revote on all transit taxes what would you do then? We can only play the cards we are dealt.

      1. You’re gonna have to parse that for me:

        if the republicans get their way

        Which republicans, and what way?

        require a revote on all transit taxes

        What transit taxes? And what body would be voting?

        what would you do

        Only if you clarify, can you then play John Quiñones with me.

      2. In king county we are taxed .9% sales tax for metro and. .6% for st. The whole st area revotes for the .6 and county for .9

      3. In the short term, I’d have to support these taxes, but in principal I think transit should be paid for by property, not sales, taxes.

    2. John –

      Can you explain your property tax preference to pay for metro? More stable funding source?

  5. You can answer this for me, John: I see car tab fees as the most important, and least expensive, item in the maintenance budget for my car. Last experience trying to sell a very expensive car in very good condition showed me that what depreciates the value of a car the fastest is the mileage on the odometer.

    I love to drive where driving is lovable: mostly two-lane roads through the countryside at times when traffic is light to non-existent. Don’t mind driving through Downtown Seattle at same kind of times, though don’t go out of my way to do it.

    But no worries for you on two points: One, if this amount is the deciding factor in any pro-transit election, I’ll pay your share too and consider it cheap. And two- your neighborhood will never be congested with my car. If I ever hear about it being there more than three times in a decade, I’ll call the police and report it stolen.


  6. If this is going to be a tax on parking, brilliant; that’s a much better tax than property levy for Pigovian reasons. Car storage is ridiculously underpriced and subsidized in hidden. I’d be tempted to support such a tax even if we didn’t need the money.


      It seems that his press conference was announcing a way for cities to buy back service. Disappointingly, “the first round of cuts scheduled for September would have to be implemented.” That Seattle would buy back _all_ of the in-city routes, including the ones being cut in September, and that it’s a property tax is one reason I really like Keep Seattle Moving’s property tax plan.

      1. This seems like a sensible reaction to the funding shortfall. Make sure that all municipalities have the same opportunity to preserve service as Seattle has. If Issaquah wants to preserve the 200, they know wat they have to do.

      2. It is, but I wish it could be done without having to go through any of the cuts. Yeah, the September ’14 cuts are low-performing, but if we’re going to raise taxes to save cuts, “save all of them” is a much better message than “hurts, don’t it? want us to continue? no? then vote yes.”

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