This post was updated at 6:20 2.20.18 to include testimony and information from comments.
In a disappointing legislative session marked by mostly defensive effort to protect the Sound Transit 3 project list from cuts, there has been one bright light: Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5288, allowing Thurston County Intercity Transit to add an additional 0.3% sales tax within its district, if approved by voters.
ESSB 5288 passed the Senate last week on a 34-14-0-1 vote. It is scheduled for its second public hearing, in the House Finance Committee, today, at 3:30 pm. The hearing will be aired live on TVW. (Go to 58:30 in the video for the public hearing.)
Intercity Transit is currently allowed a 0.9% sales tax, like most other transit agencies in the state, but has enacted only 0.8%. Allowing 1.2% would bring it up to Community Transit’s level, but without being combined with the additional 1.4% Sound Transit sales tax that applies in the CT district. IT gets 63% of its revenue from sales tax. Nearly 5 million boardings are served each year, at a cost of $45 million in operating expenses and $33 million in capital expenses such as fleet renewal. The additional revenue it could get for the 0.3% extra sales tax is estimated at $18.1 million annually.
Intercity Transit has had to take on most of the burden for transit service between Tacoma and Olympia in recent years, as Pierce Transit and Sound Transit have eliminated Thurston-Pierce inter-county service. IT operates routes 603, 605, and 612 between Olympia and downtown Tacoma, and route 620 between Olympia and Tacoma Mall.
Intercity Transit also operates a free shuttle serving downtown Olympia and the Capitol Campus. The shuttle has 12-minute headway much of the day. The only other IT routes with headway better than half-hourly are routes 13 and 41, each with 15-minute headway during their peak periods, and half-hourly off-peak on route 41. Some combined corridors provide scheduled 15-minute all-day headway.
Intercity Transit’s budgets and strategic plans are available here.