Yesterday Dan laid out the impacts of I-976 on Sound Transit. Now let’s talk about Metro and Seattle. Unlike with ST, the situation is both simpler and more dire. KC Exec Constantine has already pledged a lawsuit, and Mayor Durkan is expected to follow today on behalf of the city.
Metro calculates it will lose over $100M in state funds over the next five years. These are primarily capital grants from the state’s mobility fund that go to projects like RapidRide and other speed and reliability improvements, as well as funds to support Access vans.
The Seattle Transportation Benefit District is funded by a combination of sales taxes and the $60 vehicle license fee or VLF. (The older $20 councilmanic TBD goes away as well). If the VLF goes away, SDOT estimates a $32M budget hole.
If no new revenue is found, SDOT would have to start buying less bus service as soon as next spring. The roughly 350,000 service hours funded by the STBD comes in two main flavors.
Weekend, evening, and night owl service (77% of hours) enables the car free living that is actually putting a dent in our car ownership rates. As SDOT’s report states, in 2015 there were only five routes in Seattle that met the definition of ‘very frequent.’ today there are 16.
Peak routes (23% of hours) add capacity and get people out of their cars traveling downtown. With buses still at crush capacity, reducing service here would probably lead to more driving and congestion during rush hour.
Neither is appealing to cut, which means it’s time to talk about new revenue sources. The best answer would be for the state legislature to backfill the $1.5B multimodal account with new revenue, making Metro whole.
Alternatively, King County could seek its own TBD, which it has yet to rule out doing. There were a host of unfunded projects and revenue hours in the Metro master plan even before I-976.
To replace the lost SDOT funds, the city council could put a measure on the ballot to double the TBD’s sales tax from its current 0.1% to 0.2%, which would make the TBD whole (though this would be a bit more regressive and prevent the county from doing its own sales-tax-based TBD). The city could also get more aggressive about bus priority in an effort to stretch dollars further. More creatively, SDOT could choose to accelerate the congestion pricing timeline to create new revenue opportunities.
Long story short, absent significant new funding, bus service in Seattle will deteriorate, and Metro’s capital program, which recently found its footing after being gutted in the last recession, will also face significant cuts.
164 Replies to “I-976’s impacts on bus service”
Seattle could impose a tax on the largest employers, based on revenue, payroll size, number of employees, etc. to pay for transit. It has legal authority to do that as a condition of business licensing. It could provide the revenues to Metro and/or Sound Transit. No more sales taxes or car taxes for transit — they’re far too heavy as is compared to all peers.
I like your reasoning, compared to all peers, our income state tax is to light (zero), time to catch up?
Another thing . . . the “big unknown” for Metro is whether its tab tax revenue and/or the Seattle TBD tab tax revenue were securitized. Take Sound Transit’s tab taxes — we know they were (the bond sale contracts pledged those revenues as security for bondholders for the next 30 years, which “Eyman proofed” them). If Metro did the same there won’t be a problem. i976 contains a provision that basically says “if debt contracts don’t allow refinancing or early retirement, then the tax can remain in place to secure the creditors.” Sound Transit locked up its tax revenue streams that way, and Metro should have as well.
This is why I’m confused. People keep talking about light rail being cut back or delayed, but then I hear others bring up this bond info. What’s the actual situation?
If you don’t know how the WA constitution’s contracts clause can be used to lock in taxes then you haven’t had Muni Finance 101.
Sound Transit can comply with I-976 and not reduce its taxing. It might join a suit challenging the initiative on “single subject” grounds, but because of what I-976 says about bond contracts in section 12 Sound Transit is going to escape any fallout from I-976. It is going to tell DOL “Keep imposing our tax at the rate you have been using the 1996 vehicle value table as the statute now requires.” DOL will comply (it will not say “No, we are going to interpret I-976’s terms differently than you do, Sound Transit”). This will be a non-event for Sound Transit because the bond contracts don’t allow it to get bonds out of some bondholders hands before 2048, which means those tax imposing pledges it made to them must remain in place.
* “Keep imposing our tax at the rate you have been using and keep basing the tax on the 1996 vehicle value table as the statute now requires.”
“…because the bond contracts don’t allow it to get bonds out of some bondholders hands before 2048,…”
All of the bond issues ST has issued to date have defeasance provisions.
“It is going to tell DOL “Keep imposing our tax at the rate you have been using the 1996 vehicle value table as the statute now requires.” ”
As we learned recently in the class action lawsuit now before the Washington Supreme Court, Taylor Black, et al. v. Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority & State of Washington, the agency HASN’T been using this MVET schedule. Rather the RTA tax assessed on vehicle registrations (tabs) has been based on a 1999 schedule.
“All of the bond issues ST has issued to date have defeasance provisions.”
That’s correct, and if you read the 2016 debt’s Official Statement filed with the SEC (part of the 2016 bonds contracts with holders) you’ll see what those defeasance provisions are. They way they work is that for the redeemable debt they allow defeasance as a first step for redeeming, but for the non-redeemable Term 2048 debt the defeasance only can occur after that term expires.
DOL just screwed up and will start complying with the law, no? The holders of the 2016 debt were told the 1996 valuation schedule would be used.
“the “big unknown” for Metro is whether its tab tax revenue and/or the Seattle TBD tab tax revenue were securitized.”
Probably not. The TBD is for operations and other immediate needs. Metro’s base funding is all sales tax as far as I know, and it’s used for operations, reorganizations, and a few projects pay as you go. It’s not in a capital-projects spree. If it were, we’d have voted on a specific package for that because the base funds aren’t enough. The last big Metro capital project we voted for was Transit Now (RapidRide A-F) in the mid-2000s, and it was finished around 2015. Since then there have been a couple Metro operational measures but they have all failed.
I know this should be known, but what does TBD and VLF stand for in the context of this article.
Had the same issue! Transportation benefit district and vehicle licensing fee.
The definitions guide (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/definitions/) is also a good place to look if you’re not sure what an acronym means. Though VLF isn’t on that list. Perhaps it should be added, since it’s particularly relevant now.
Or you could just answer his question…
TBD = Transit Benefit District
VLF = Vehicle License Fee
Thank you for catching that, I try to be good about spelling these out the first time or at least linking.
Thanks for the clarification everyone!
Washington State really needs an income tax. Relying on property taxes and car tabs is just not enough for reliable transit funding. Your tax structure also makes you the most regressive of all the blue states when it comes to taxes.
When I explained the WA tax system (10% sales tax, no state income tax) to my conservative (voted both Bushes, occasionally watches foxnews until my mom tells him to turn it off) economist dad, he said that this was nuts. But then we lived on the east coast, where there isn’t the libertarian streak (even the state republicans generally believe in funding services).
So much of a taxation is based on history. Propose any new tax and people will oppose it. Some taxes are less popular than others (car tabs are particularly unpopular) but the main reason we don’t have an income tax is simply because we never have had one. Well, that and it is likely unconstitutional.
I do wonder about whether a flat income tax, or better yet, a flat capital gains tax would be constitutional. This isn’t ideal (it isn’t progressive, like a graduated tax) but it isn’t regressive (like an income tax). For capital gains, most people wouldn’t notice. But big earners (the multi-millionaires and billionaires) would pay a lot. My understanding is that it was the graduated nature of an income tax that made it impossible (without a change to the state constitution).
You’re right, Ross. A progressive income tax is unconstitutional but the state legislature could impose a flat income tax tomorrow if they wanted to. If they were to do that, the sky would burn red and Olympia would be flattened in a petit-bourgeois hellfire overnight.
We need an initiative campaign that flips our tax policy — make sales tax unconstitutional and income tax constitutional.
This would really help the border regions. No more Oregon Republican candidates for governor residing in Vancouver to hide their income tax, no more tax free shopping centers occupying valuable land that happens to be easy to access from Vancouver, etc.
We could run an initiative in 2020 to repeal I-976.
“We could run an initiative in 2020 to repeal I-976.”
Or the legislature could simply wait two years and then vote to repeal or amend the statutes resulting from the initiative. They only need a simple majority to do so. (They wouldn’t even need to wait out the two years if they could get a 2/3 majority consent but that isn’t very likely given the current makeup of the state legislature.) There is aready a precedence for using this legislative alteration process, e.g. initiative 960* from 2007.
*This initiative was ultimately ruled unconstitutional in the challenge involving initiative 1053 when the Washington State Supreme Court issued their opinion in the League of Educ. Voters v. State case in Feb 2013.
If Washington state adds an income tax, I’m moving to Texas. I work from home full time. No reason to be here.
Thank you. And Texas will probably thank you, too.
If you don’t want to pay for essential services in a modern society, who needs you? Enjoy not having them in Texas.
That is one thing about Washington. While it has a reputation as a liberal blue state, its tax structure is pretty libertarian. Not having an income tax makes total taxes a third lower than most states. That’s one reason why tax-phobic billionaires live here. And people have found a double loophole in Clark County. No income tax in Washington, and no sales tax in Oregon. The lack of an income tax is why so many basic things like buses and 911 service are funded by sales tax and short-term levies, and why the sales tax is so high. And sales tax is the most regressive because poor people spend most of their money on essentials. Food isn’t taxed but toilet paper and shoes and school supplies and towels are.
By essentials I mean a baseline like Canadians, Finns, and New Zealanders have. Part of it is because of federal policies we have little control over. But part of it is because of state policies that we have more influence on and can engage directly face-to-face. it’s not because we don’t have the wealth to do it, because those other countries aren’t much wealthier than we are and they’re probably all less. But they are the ones that rank the highest on international measures of happiness, satisfaction with their government and the way it’s going, and lack of corruption.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Dont expect any road repairs. Enjoy those potholes John.
Have fun in Texas.
And personally I say gut the sales tax, make car tabs $30, and the property tax too (except for what’s already been voter approved or bonded) and implement an income tax.
I still think the most politically expedient solution to make up the car tab money would be to tax Uber and Lyft rides. According to a recent Seattle times article, 40,000 average daily Uber/Lyft rides were taken in Q2 2018 in just two zip codes centered around downtown Seattle. A tax of just $2/ride would yield $80,000/day. That’s $29.2 million/year, enough already to completely replace STBD’s car tab revenue. Add in Uber/Lyft rides in the rest of the city, you could probably get away with less. For instance, if there are 60,000 daily rides, citywide, you’d only need an average tax of $1.25/ride.
And, for those concerned about the impact on low-income people who need to travel late at night, the tax doesn’t need to be a flat amount for all rides, citywide. It can be higher in denser neighborhoods with better transit, lower in the periphery. It can be higher during the daytime and rush hour, lower late at night. It can be higher for solo ride and lower for shared rides.
As an added benefit, not all of the tax burden will fall on Seattle residents – some will be paid by visitors, whether from nearby suburbs or tourists flying in from across the country.
As an example, for what such a tax might look like, we can look to Chicago as a model, whose mayor has already proposed essentially what I describe above. Details: https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-chicago-congestion-tax-uber-20191018-mbzfws5hubderki4fm733hwrqi-story.html
Just a reminder that voter turnout in King County is currently around 27%. The lazy get what they deserve. I am extremely disappointed that people would rather spend $20 a month on Netflix than on infrastructure to help every single person in their community. Sickening. And the fact that television will blur human nipples but not Tim Eyman’s smarmy disgusting smile is proof of our misguided media bias.
Meh, Amazon spent 1.5 million on Seattle City Council elections (with crappy results– some of the TV ads against Dan Strauss seemed to have been written by Safe Seattle members), only 500,000 against I 976.
I think a head tax for transit (more/saving buses, quicker light rail, possible tunnels) will survive politically.
You could also argue that negative ads helped depress turnout (IIRC, that is the ultimate goal since partisans will vote anyways)
Seattle liberals are some of the most hypocritical people I’ve ever seen. Woke ‘leftists’ who turn full authoritarian the moment anything threatens their land value. If a head tax for the homeless almost literally caused every business owner in the city to riot then I have little hope for a head tax for transit (or anything at all).
Well, I don’t disagree as to hypocrisy. But when it comes to traffic/overcrowded buses, people will vote (as they did against Amazon generally in the Seattle City Council elections). You can tell West Seattlites that their tunnel dreams (and light rail in general) will go up in smoke if they don’t support it– they will support it. Granted, it will be a Godzilla v. Mothra, but more people will come off the fence in this fight.
“Seattle liberals are some of the most hypocritical people I’ve ever seen. Woke ‘leftists’ who turn full authoritarian the moment anything threatens their land value.”
There is more than one kind of liberal. The homeowners who won’t let anything threaten their land values are a longstanding moderate kind of liberal that’s not liberal on the topic of density or multifamily housing. The “woke” liberals are the ones out in demonstrations who want to abolish capitalism and police your pronouns. They aren’t the same people. There’s also the debate on whether liberal is different than progressive and if so, how. Saying all Seattle liberals agree with the wokes or go as far as them, and then claiming they’re contradictory when they oppose upzoning or a head tax is just inaccurate. The single-family activists by and large grew up with a belief that this was a postwar civilizational achievement and they have a right to it, and the solution to insufficient housing is allowing neighborhoods like theirs to be built outside the urban growth boundary as God intended.
Uh Mike, by definition, if you want to abolish capitalism you’re no longer a liberal.
That turnout number is inaccurate. Based just on votes counted so far, turnout is 27% (360k out of 1330k). However, the county estimates there are another 277k ballots left to count. That would bring the King County total to 637k, which is 48%. Still not spectacular, but pretty good for an off-off-year election.
For comparison, the estimated statewide turnout is 41% (1.84m / 4.50m).
Eyman’s previous initiative, I695, had around 60% turnout and over 50% in King county. This was also an offyear election. There are probably quite a few more ballots left to be counted.
“Just a reminder that voter turnout in King County is currently around 27%. The lazy get what they deserve. I am extremely disappointed that people would rather spend $20 a month on Netflix than on infrastructure to help every single person in their community.”
The impacts affect everybody, not just those who didn’t vote. I’ve voted in almost every election since I was 18. Do I have to move to a state that has a >50% voter turnout in order to have decent transit? There aren’t any.
It’s not Netflix that makes people not vote. It’s because they’ve never voted, they think both choices are bad, they think every candidate will cowtow to the 1% anyway, etc. Liberals and young people in particular don’t vote much compared to over-50 conservatives, and that’s why we get governments and policies that are the opposite of majority opinion.
A few people don’t vote because they were just admitted to the hospital, they’re out of town, they ran out of time to drop off their ballot, etc, but I think the number is small compared to those who believe there’s no point in voting.
“More creatively, SDOT could choose to accelerate the congestion pricing timeline to create new revenue opportunities.” If transit options were robust from all parts of the region, then congestion pricing would make sense. Unfortunately, current service levels & amenities from the suburbs are still not enough – even with the arrival of Link. Not to mention poor reliability on many corridors and, dare I say it, lack of park & ride capacity. If I-976 were to be implemented, Congestion Pricing would force citizens to take transit service that is at risk of being cut.
We’re talking about Seattle itself here, not the entire region. Even if transit doesn’t go to your door, you can still take a Link train or express bus in the general direction and pick up Lyft or Uber from the transit stop. Riding Lyft or Uber all the way from downtown is a luxury and fair to tax.
It’s true, Seattle couldn’t just throw up a cordon. They’d have to coordinate with all the transit agencies to increase service. That could take the form of P&Rs and/or more trunk-and-feeder service. The reliability issue, however, should be helped by road pricing, otherwise it’s not really doing its job.
I was thinking that, for now, give up on the idea of taxing private cars driving into downtown, since that would be politically fraught and expensive to implement, and just focus on Uber and Lyft. No, it’s not ideal. No, it won’t solve downtown congestion. But it will raise real money, and not generate the backlash of taxing private cars.
I don’t think we should enact congestion pricing. This is America. I love my car and should be allowed to drive when and where I please. I’d like to see fewer buses and bikes. Could we eliminate the third avenue bus corridor?
Jenny93, proud resident of Dogpatch, USA.
The point is that the congestion pricing would pay for the transit!
Now as a couple of posters have pointed out, depending on congestion pricing revenues too heavily can lead to conflicts between goals for revenue and those for environmental remediation.
The car commute in to downtown Seattle is a minority. That would seem to suggest that there is enough transit.
Only if you think commuting is the only possible use for transit, which is laughably false.
Not everyone can or should afford cars, y’know.
Seattle is the only city in the country where transit ridership significantly increased over the past 15 years. DC slightly increased. Most other cities saw decreases. It’s because we invested in our system for more bus frequency, span, light rail, Sounder, and reorganizations. In other cities funding decreased, bus service decreased, and long-neglected subway maintenance finally reached the point of lengthy delays and canceled runs. When there’s less transit, people ride it less. When there’s more transit, people ride it more. The change in ridership is even more than the change in service, because less frequent transit is less convenient and people start switching to cars and rideshares or foregoing the trip. The trends of both less transit and more transit are clear. If we want to be a high-ridership area less reliant on cars, we need robust frequent transit, even if it costs money, and even if it takes a while to build up off-peak crowds.
I’m remaining slightly optimistic that I-976 will fail in courts. It’s got the typical “too many things in the initiative” problem that will fail the single-subject rule in courts.
Failing that, our legislature will need to address the local voter approved funding that would then be invalid. Maybe this is finally the straw that breaks the camel’s back in figuring out legitimate transit funding.
I think it will be likely overturned, but we can’t count on it until it happens. Another question is when the court will rule, and if it gets appealed to appeals and supreme court, when they will rule. It might be mid 2020 or 2021.
If it doesn’t pass the initial sniff test, the court would pretty much have to issue a temporary stay.
Eyman may raise a small stink for the cameras, but he could care less. He’s already laughed all the way to the bank and deposited his campaign donations.
By ordering defeasement and then saying “Well, if that can’t work” — it can’t — “never mind.”
[completing the thought…..]
Eyman is essentially admitting, “This whole thing is a scam to fleece some dumb Richie Rich’s and own the ‘Libs’. Lol!!!”
Frank, for context on the potential cut of 350k service hours, how many service hours does Metro currently operate as a whole (or, perhaps more relevantly, how many do they operate on these affected Seattle routes)?
I’m not seeing the Seattle number offhand. Countywide, Metro operates about 4.1 million hours.
I would suggest license plates and tabs for all these bike lanes and Greenways as a form of revenue.
Please show me a bike licensing scheme anywhere in the world that even covers administrative costs of said scheme.
Scheme? easy use the motorcycle plates. charge a new plate fee and a 30$ tab fee. sounds easy to me. Bikes get many things in this city. time to pay up.
You avoided answering the question, so I’ll help you out:
No bike licensing program has ever brought in more revenue than it costs to administer, which is why such programs mostly don’t exist. You are arguing for the government to lose money, which suggests you care more about sticking it to people on bikes than you do about revenue.
Bikes have 1% of the impacts on roads that cars do.
Pat is right. Back in the day, Seattle tried licensing bikes. My dad was one of the few you registered his bike, paid his fee, and got a little tab. He liked the idea, and figured it would cut down on thefts. But very few people did that, and it didn’t catch on. The problem is, bikes are very cheap. Just this evening I walked past an abandoned bike. It has been there for weeks, if not months, It is missing a wheel, but looks otherwise OK. With a little elbow grease (and a new wheel) you could have yourself a decent bike. You can’t say that about a car. Licensing bikes is a bit like licensing hammers — it just won’t work.
I think the map of bus routes subject to cuts is a bit misleading. I don’t recall where, but I recall seeing that some routes would be subject to major cuts (like the 40 and 65/67 losing 10 minute frequency), while other routes would only get minor cuts (like the 372 only losing a couple of peak hour trips). But I’m not sure where I read that and if it’s current.
Assuming that a judge doesn’t delay I-976 coming into effect, when would various transit agencies start proposing specific cuts to specific routes?
The cuts are designed around the Seattle TBD funded busses. Some routes got more added trips due to overloaded busses, others less.
Metro usually only makes major changes to routes/schedules twice a year. They could do so as soon as the current schedules expire though. The next schedule change is in early 2020 IIRC.
If there weren’t court challenges, the answer would be next spring. I would expect, in practice, nothing to get cut until the court battle is fully resolved. I don’t know how how it would take, but courts are known to move at a slow pace. If it isn’t struck down, we could easily find out about it too late to get replacement funding on the November 2020 ballot, which means we’d have to do it in an offyear election.
That would require the court to grant an early stay to keep the reduction from happening until a court decision was made. I believe as it stands I-976 will take effect on April 1, 2020, barring any bonds that cannot be retired early. So we’d be running at a deficit from that date until a court decision is made. And once the state starts collecting less on tabs, they will likely continue to do so for a full calendar year, even if struck down, so that some people who happen to get the luck of the draw regarding what month their tabs are due, aren’t given an unfair discount that others don’t get. I recall some similar language coming up when the monorail expansion collections ended.
They’d better be asking the judge for a stay. If the measure is ultimately going to be struck down, we shouldn’t have to suffer while we litigate.
On the other hand, if the judge grants a temporary stay and ultimately upholds the initiative months later, I suppose Seattle would be on the hook for issuing refunds, leading to even bigger cuts the following year.
“I don’t know how how it would take, but courts are known to move at a slow pace.”
Well, the court battle that ensued after passage of I-695 moved along at a fairly decent pace. The initiative passed in November 1999, the case was concluded in King County Superior Court in March 2000 (initiative ruled unconstitutional*) and the appeal at the Washington State Supreme Court affirmed that opinion in October 2000.
The case was Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 v. State of Washington.
*The King County Superior Court held the initiative unconstitutional under article II, section 1(b), article II, section 19, and article II, section 37, of the Washington State Constitution.
Which is exactly my point. 11 months from passage to a final, unappeable ruling by the state Supreme Court is lightning fast by court standards, but still very slow by human standards. It would also mean that a final ruling would be issued too late to get something before the voters on the November 2020 ballot, should the ruling be unfavorable.
No, your point was that the court system moves at a slow pace and this wasn’t really the case with the I-695 litigation. With that said, the I-976 aftermath may indeed play out in such a way as to be disadvantageous to introducing any sort of replacement funding measure on the ballot for November 2020.
Metro said March 2020. A court stay might postpone it, but that’s uncertain at this point.
The map shows only the routes affected, not now much they would be affected. For instance, the 71 is there but the 62 and 75 are not. Those who followed the TBD enhancements closely have a general idea of how much each route is affected.
* Night owls: eliminated.
* 15-minute evenings on the 5, 10, 40, 41, etc: reduced to 30.
* Extra peak and midday runs on the E, etc: reduced to base frequency.
* Standby buses for those that break down or get delayed: reduced.
* Route 47: maybe deleted?
And, also service after 10PM reduced to hourly on nearly all routes, except RapidRide.
There damn well better be a court stay. It’s one thing to cut service. It’s another thing to have to do it in a sudden, disorderly manner, without having time to think about how to structure the remaining routes or seek alternative funding.
I would also like to point out that, unlike sales tax, Uber and Lyft taxes don’t require a public vote. If the city wanted to, they could have it in place by March, and not need to intact any cuts.
This would be the second series of yo-yo cuts this decade, and at least the third since 2000. In 2014 Metro contracted some 25% due to the recession and laid off hundreds of drivers. I think that was after it laid off all its long-term planning staff; that may have been in the 00s or early 10s. Then a year later it suddenly had to expand again as the economy recovered and Seattle voted in the TBD, so it had to hire hundreds of new drivers because the previous ones weren’t available anymore, and there was a driver shortage for months that prevented full implemetation of the expansion. Since then it’s been increasing significantly but now suddenly it has to contract again. You lose efficiency and hours and planning with each whiplash. Part of it is because sales tax is so volatile; it’s sensitive to the booms and bust in the economy. And part of it is these tax-slashing initiatives. Another Eyman initiative requires levies to be renewed every 4-5 years, which is why we keep having repeated levies for the same basic things like 911 service and libraries. The TBD was one of those, and it prevents long-term certainty in what level of transit we’ll have.
Thank God for Uber pool and Lyft shared services. Plan on using those more often. Who wants to wait for a bus?
A lot of lower income workers depend on those late night busses to get home after their shifts. It is sick to tell these people to pay for an Uber every day while Lamborghini owners pay $30 for the year.
They’ll have to quit their jobs and be poorer and go to the food bank. They can’t afford to take an Uber twice a night five nights a week.
Or they’ll have to walk an hour or two to work. People do that, you know. Before the 120 night owl to Burien there was the 85 night owl which looped through West Seattle and went no further than White Center. It did that because when the night owl network was set up decades ago, the urbanized area only went from White Center to N 85th Street. But Metro found that a significant number of people were taking the 85 to White Center and walking two miles further to Burien. So when it reorganized the night owls it made the Delridge one go to Burien.
As with every Metro service change, a specific route-by-route proposal will be submitted to the County Council for voting a few months before, and then Metro will have to assign and train operators. Since these are cuts there won’t be a need for recrutment and initial training, which takes longer.`Still, we’ll probably get an indication by December or January.
Sound transit and Metro have only themselves to blame. People are tired of the greed from governments and transit agencies that already suck. It’s instructive that the suggestions posted here all iinvolve more taxes. Shocking!!
Except that these are taxes they voted to levy. That’s where your argument falls flat. I976 failed miserably in seattle. Eyman wants you to believe taxes should be voted on. Seattle did just that and they still can’t do it.
It’s not as if there wasn’t a vote on those taxes.
[ah] fails to realize King County voted in favor of the Sound Transit car tabs and later voted against 976. Once again, our ability to tax ourselves for infrastructure we want has been taken away [ah]
Did Pierce and Snohomish vote in a majority for ST3?
ST3 won in SnoCo but lost in Pierce. It’s important to note that the ST taxing district doesn’t include the entire county, so it’s possible that 976 failed in the sections of SnoCo (probably) and Pierce (not likely) that actually pay ST3 taxes, but won in the counties overall.
tbh nothing would make my day more than cutting Pierce out of the ST district and ending South Link at the county line.
@Pat I would argue that for Pierce, the county as a whole is not painted with all the same brushes. As someone who has live in Pierce for about 23 years, there’s a clear and distinct divide between Tacoma-Lakewood-Puyallup-Auburn (Pierce I-5/167 Corridor) and the rest of the county. People who live in the major towns or cities in Pierce do generally see the value of public transportation (O’Ban District being the exception). It’s why I think most people in Pierce would probably agree that Pierce transit needs to separate into two different agencies to deal with the Urban/Suburban and the Exurbs as separate agencies instead of one giant agency.
Agree, and I don’t think that sound or metro should fight the cuts. The people have voted and I say give them the cuts they desire. Sensible across the board cuts by December. Link Red Line trains can also be cut to ten minute intervals at peak, 15 minute mid day service , and 30 minute service after 9pm. On weekends trains can run every 20 minutes on Saturday and every 30 minutes all day on Sunday. This should generate some savings to sound transit. To compensate they can run four car trains at all times.
20-30 minute service is not as useful and loses riders. To maximize riders you need consistent frequent service. With 30-minute service you have to schedule your life around it and you can’t get as many things done during the day, and if you just miss it or your first bus arrives one minute after your transfer left you have to wait 30 minutes, and that can turn a 15-minute trip into a 45-minute trip. How can you expect people to get out of their cars when driving takes 10 minutes but transit takes 45 minutes? Even 15-minutes is not great for transfers or a grid network.
In any case, ST doesn’t need to make such drastic cuts. Operations are much less expensive than capital projects, especially with tunnels and also with elevated. ST has enough money for operations, it’s just tight in construction.
The people have voted and I say give them the cuts they desire.
What desire for cuts?. King County voted against i-976. King County voted for ST1, 2, and 3. Seattle has repeatedly voted to tax ourselves to fund more Metro service hours.
Tim Eyman himself was advocating for “backfilling” it with other revenue. And guess what is the only way that the government can get revenue?
So Tim Eyman now favors a (flat, I suppose) income tax?
The 43 barely exists as it is now. How will they cut it even more? Seems like bureaucratic scaremongering.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Cuts will happen. Simple as that.
We voted for taxes to pay for it. Free lunches have nothing to do with it.
We voted for $30 tabs, also.
You may have voted for $30 car tabs, I didn’t.
I meant my above comment in response to STB’s favorite reactionary troll. Mistakenly started a new thread instead of a reply. I’m by no means happy about this if you’ve seen my other posts.
I’ll say it again no such thing as a free lunch. There will be cuts.
Yes, there will be cuts if this isn’t resolved. I’ve been through this before in the early 2000s. I’m just older now and less patient. I’ve lived through decades of 30-60 minute bus routes or 30-60 minute evenings & Sundays, and I’ve spent more time in cities that have robust transit and realize it’s essential for mobility, sustainability, and competitiveness. I feel like this is the beginning of the end of civilization in Seattle and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with 30-60 minute bus service. We were just making great strides in closing the gap, and my car-driving friends were starting to move from their position of “Me, take transit? Don’t be ridiculous. It takes too long to get somewhere on it.”
I don’t think transit cuts are such a bad thing. It’s right sizing the transit system to deliver based on revenue received. It’s time for king county metro to look at their routes and eliminate bloated service from the routes with the fewest riders. Even Red line service should be cut. I don’t think we need ten minute Sunday service. Trains coming at 20 minute intervals are good for a Sunday.
The right size of transit is one that meets the mobility needs of the population. That means where most people can make most of their trips reasonably conveniently. The current tax levels are based on arbitrary haphazard one-off decisions, not on any real analysis of the optimal level of transit. Metro has the reports on where the underservice is according to transit-planning best practices accepted in most countries. The difference between that and the current service is the funding gap.
I agree transit cuts should and will happen. I also feel that sound transit should, for the moment, halt all planned extensions. Finish the Northgate line and East link. Perhaps, even end the Lynnwood line at 145th street to save on future operational revenue. When these extensions open, trains should run at 10 minute intervals. This will lead to greater savings. They might be able to stop or limit future rail car orders.
The next board meeting in December will get a finance report and start deciding what to do. There’s no need to categorically defer extensions now because everybody knows that’s one of the options. None of the ST3 projects will start construction before 2024 except Federal Way (which is a ST2/ST3 hybrid). They all have several years of planning first, and planning is much cheaper than construction. ST can pay for plenty of planning with its current funds.
South King County voters have made it crystal cleat: Transit, they’re just not that into you.
They’ve got a hot flame for their wheels, and they are true lovers.
So don’t you worry your pretty little head about blocking the county from increasing its sales tax rate, because it wouldn’t anyway.
I sent an email to my city councilmembers requesting that they consider the following in the spirit (if not the intent) of I-976’s government efficiency mandate. If I-976 is upheld, we should be looking at using the service hours we have as efficiently as possible (i.e. keep those buses moving as much/fast as possible), in addition to raising replacement revenue.
* Pressure the state to allow the city to retain all traffic violation
revenue and apply the funding to hiring traffic enforcement officers
and transit service hours.
* Bus lanes *everywhere* that there is a bottleneck. In the post-I-976 era,
the city should not allow *any* service hour to be wasted by private
* Affix license plate cameras to at least a subset of transit coaches to
enforce RCW 46.61.220 (requiring drivers to yield to merging coaches) and
limit the transit service hours lost to scofflaw drivers. Ticket revenue
should go to fund transit operations. These cameras could be similar to
the cameras already in use on school buses to drivers illegally passing the
* Complete abolishment of free parking on any public right-of-way in the
city. In an era of limited funding and a crisis in housing supply, the city
should not allow one of its most valuable resources (land) to be used for
the benefit of the few. The city should sell parking permits (both
short- and long-term) with at least part of the revenue back-filling lost
revenue to the TBD and some revenue going towards improvements local to
the area that generated the revenue. Parking enforcement should no longer
be lax, but as aggressive as possible with the intent of replacing
* A surcharge on all ride-sharing trips (Uber, Lyft, etc.) with all revenue
earmarked for the TBD.
* An immediate congestion charge covering the downtown area, both to reduce trips downtown and generate revenue to give people an alternative to driving.
* Aggressive enforcement of traffic laws, including the use of red-light
and bus lane cameras. The intent should be to alter driver behavior and
also replace lost revenue.
We should point out that keeping buses in traffic is an inefficiency we can no longer afford. I don’t expect it to go anywhere though. The people who voted for $30 car tabs are the ones who benefit by keeping the GP lanes and parking lanes, and they disagree with the argument that they shouldn’t get top priority because they’re the majority as they see it. They’re opposed to high car tabs, congestion charges, converting GP lanes to transit/BAT lanes, and traffic-enforcement cameras, and they have a lot of influence in the city government and legislature because they’re drivers like them.
With inevitable transit cuts, I don’t think we should charger uber and Lyft riders additional fees. We should encourage these services as an alternative to fixed transit service. Uber pool and Lyft shared services can be used to compliment a corridor with fewer bus service hours, particularly on weekends and evenings.
The whole point of charging Uber and Lyft riders additional fees is to *prevent* the transit cuts from happening in the first place.
“My, you look lovely these days, C-Line. Just smashing!”
[“complimenting” a corridor]
The electorate has voted, and I think some reasonable bus service cuts are in order. It would seem we can cut a chunk of weekend service and eliminate most service after 11pm from all routes. Weekend routes can be reduced to run every 20 to 30 minutes on busier corridors and every 60 minutes on corridors with fewer riders. Weekday service can also be eliminated after midnight.
Honestly nothing good happens after 9pm. Cutting service after 9pm is reasonable and might cut on crime. We can just end most transit service after 9pm on all routes.
Dude, Da bad guys don’t ride Metro to rob your house. You need to pull the plug on Faux News and The Seattle Crimes.
Oh, and some good things –including, probably, you — happen after 9 PM.
LMAO you seriously think people are taking busses at 11 PM to steal your TV and take it on the next bus?
hard not to say it
You don’t get out of the house much, do you Morgan. Someone break your heart? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HYDFWv58UE)
The electorate had voted, but the vote of the city of Seattle and the vote of the entire state are very different. Regardless of how the state may vote, Seattle residents value their bus service. This is essentially voters outside the city overruling the right of voters inside the city to tax themselves to fund their own service.
And, if you think nobody rides the bus in Seattle on the evenings or weekends, I encourage you to come and visit Seattle on an evening or weekend and actually ride the bus. Trust me – you will not be the only one on the bus. In many parts of the city, you will even find most of the seats full. Sometimes, you will even have to stand. There are also plenty of big events downtown that end after 9 PM. To say we don’t need transit after 9 PM means that a Mariners game that starts a 7 PM is accessible only by car, if you want to get home. This means driving downtown right in the middle of afternoon rush hour. If the person also works downtown, this means driving downtown in morning rush hour and paying to store the car downtown, all day long. This is just one example of how the quality of evening service and ridership of rush hour service are inter-related.
There are also plenty of events on weekends that draw big crowds. When there’s a Sounder game, the buses are packed. When there’s PAX, Comicon, Bumbershoot, or any other big convention or festival, the buses are packed. When the Sounders play, the buses are packed.
Of course, Metro does have corridors with fewer riders, but those are largely out in the suburbs and don’t go anywhere near Seattle. Speaking of which, Metro’s suburban service would be unaffected by I-976 because that’s funded by sales tax, rather than car tabs. Only the supplemental Seattle service would be affected. So, the net result is just going through with cuts is to shift the relative allocation of transit towards low-ridership areas, rather than high ridership areas.
Ok, well what about no service on any routes after midnight. Service every 60 minutes on all routes between 9pm and midnight. Keep most daytime service on weekdays as it stands today. Cut Sunday service to run every 30 minutes on Sunday and end all routes by 10pm on Sundays
I encourage you to visit Seattle and try riding the bus at 10 PM. The buses are not empty at that hour; cutting service on core routes from every 15 minutes to once per require would require significant numbers of riders switching to Uber, Lyft, or private cars just to avoid people getting left behind at the bus stop.
Lots of Mariners games start a 7 PM and end at 10 PM. How are people supposed to get home when 40,000 fans are all walking out of the stadium at the same time, and each bus route can only carry 50 or so people per hour? Certainly not with Uber and Lyft, which don’t scale nearly well enough to have that many people all traveling at the same time. What’s left is driving downtown, right in the middle of afternoon rush hour, simply to have transportation home. So, the level bus service at 10 PM has a direct impact on the amount of traffic downtown at 5 PM. Maybe even at 8 AM. If someone who works downtown wants to go to a game after work and there’s no bus to get them home, they have to drive to work in morning rush hour and pay to park the car all day, just because Metro is too cheap to run buses to get them home.
And, even after midnight, you’d be surprised how many people are still riding. Certainly not as many as a few hours earlier, but still enough that the buses are anything but empty. Just a few weeks ago, I had a late flight that landed at SeaTac about 11 PM, and light rail got me downtown just after midnight, and I needed that midnight bus to get me home the rest of the way. Not having that bus, and switching to Uber/Lyft would have cost a minimum of $25. While the bus wasn’t full, I was definitely *not* the only one on it.
“Speaking of which, Metro’s suburban service would be unaffected by I-976 because that’s funded by sales tax, rather than car tabs.”
That’s not correct; Metro service in King County suburban areas would be impacted as well. See the link below for more details.
Btw, I had a little chuckle over that 40,000 fans at a Mariners game comment. Not lately (sadly).
Seattle has repeatedly voted to tax ourselves to create more transit service for ourselves.
People go out on nights and weekends. Transit needs to serve those trips.
I have a friend that works at metro. They are meeting today to begin discussions on drastic service cuts beginning in January 2020. Basically, taking us back to 2011 service levels with massive layoffs to follow. At least we have Uber and Lyft….
It’s pretty standard for courts to stay a law (initiative) whose legal foundation is at issue. I imagine the county has to start discussions now due to labor/union rules but could reverse course if the court stays the initiative soon enough. It sounds like both the city and county will be filing their suits early next week, and I’m assuming will be asking for an injunction.
I don’t think service would go all the way back to 2011 levels. 2011 was in the middle of a recession, and sales tax revenue has gone up quite a bit since then. Seattle TBD also has a sales tax component, which would remain. Also, in 2011, a lot of bus hours were sunk into running the 71, 72, and 73 between downtown and the U-district. In 2016, with the opening of U-link, those hours were redeployed into other routes, and I-976 doesn’t change that, either.
Best guess is that Seattle would see service levels rolled back to 2016, just after U-link opened. Which would still be pretty bad. At the time, most bus routes that connect to UW Link Station ran every 15 minutes only Monday-Saturday daytime and every 30 minutes evenings and Sundays, and the 73 didn’t have Sunday service at all.
I also haven’t read any statements about what impact I-976 has on Trailhead Direct, nor do I know how much of that money is coming from SDOT vs. private sponsors. My guess is that, if this doesn’t get resolved in the courts quick, that we will simply have no Trailhead Direct at all, next season, in spite of the 75% ridership bump this season.
The rest of King County would have some impacts, but they look more to do with capital spending than service frequency of existing bus routes. Notably, many new RapidRide lines planned for the 2020’s could be in jeopardy.
I would hope the courts would issue a stay. The question is, if they do, and SDOT is able to continue collecting car tab money, whether they would actually be able to spend it on service, or whether they would end up having to, instead, park the money in the bank, just in case the final ruling goes against them, and they have to issue refunds.
asdf2, re Trailhead Direct, I think a lot of its funding comes from KC Parks, cities other than Seattle, and private businesses (IIRC Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is a supporter). I hope at least the higher-performing trailhead routes remain (Mount Si, Issaquah Alps). Regardless of what happens with I-976, the Cougar Mountain route really needs to be improved as it has more local service in Renton than actual trailhead service since it only stops at a single trailhead, though it passes by a number of others.
What’s with all the South King County hate? Last I checked, all of King County rejected I-976. Am I wrong?
They did! We need to honor the will of the voters and cut service immediately by delivering cost savings to transit. A 30 to 50 percent cut in bus service is probably needed to right size service.
But the voters in King County rejected I-976. Shouldn’t the cuts to service be aimed at the jurisdictions that passed I-976 wherever possible? The will of the voters is not homogenous. Why should the impact be homogeneous?
The impact of I-976 is closer to 10%, not 50%. Metro’s base service comes from sales tax; none or little comes from MVET. Seattle’s TBD has a higher percent of MVET but it’s still a smallish portion. That’s why the map above shows only Seattle routes, because non-Seattle routes aren’t funded by MVET. What the map doesn’t show is the amount of service on each route that’s in jepordy. I outlined that above. Some routes will drop from 15-minute to 30-minute evenings, or from 10-minute to 15-minute midday. Some extra runs at peak or midday will go away. Night owls may be eliminated. You won’t see many routes losing half their services or being deleted. if any routes are deleted it will be a few least-used ones like the 47, 71, 74, and 78.
(continuing) You may believe the right level of bus service for Seattle’s/King County’s size and density is 30-50% less than current, but that has nothing to do with MVET. Tt’s a values judgment on what people need and deserve.
“The impact of I-976 is closer to 10%, not 50%.”
In terms of total service hours, yes. But, if you ride the bus on evenings or weekends, the cuts you actually experience might very well be closer to 50%. Because, the difference between 30-minute service and 15-minute service is 50%.
I’ve been in Seattle long enough to remember what the evening/schedules were like before STBD. Back then, most route offered frequent service only Monday-Saturday daytime, sometimes only Monday-Friday daytime. By 7 PM, service was down to half-hourly almost across the board. By 10 PM, almost nothing except for the 7, 44, 49, and RapidRide ran more often than once per hour.
Even the 40 didn’t get 15-minute service on Sundays until just a few months ago. I rode it on the very first Sunday when the new schedule took effect, and it was already packed, and I wondered how people put up with 30-minutes service on a route like that for so long. Those who say going back to what we had before is “right-sizing” the system are simply pushing for a hobbled system.
The “right size” of service is the level of service needed for most people to conveniently make most of their trips on transit. I regularly use transit in Seattle on evening, nights, and weekends, and the “right size” of service is more than we currently have.
Oh, and ST. ST’s state-authorized tax options are sales tax, MVET, and a head tax. It didn’t want MVET and asked for something else instead, precisely because MVET is so unpopular and people hate high car tabs. But the state wouldn’t give it anything else instead. ST wanted to avoid using the MVET in ST3, but ST released a 15-year proposal and the public overwhelmingly asked ST to please, please, please include Everett, Paine Field, Tacoma, West Seattle, and Ballard (and not a Ballard streetcar!), it was basically forced to upsize the plan to 25 years and leverage more MVET. It still hasn’t exercise the head tax option because it’s also unpopular. (See city council, affordable housing, and Amazon.)
“Seattle’s TBD has a higher percent of MVET but it’s still a smallish portion. That’s why the map above shows only Seattle routes, because non-Seattle routes aren’t funded by MVET. ”
1. MVETs and VLFs are two different things. You keep mentioning MVET in error.
2. There are areas in suburban King County where Metro service will be impacted by this initiative. See the link below for more details.
“Oh, and ST. ST’s state-authorized tax options are sales tax, MVET, and a head tax.”
You left out two other components. ST also collects a property tax and a rental car tax. In 2018, the agency collected ~$143M and ~$4M respectively from these two sources.
I haven’t seen any precinct-by-precinct results, but within King County, the distribution of yes/no votes is very likely not going to be uniform. As a rough guide, you can look at the precinct-by-precinct data of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, and give I-976 about 15 points above Donald Trump across the board.
The result would be an overwhelming “no” vote in Seattle, an evenly-divided Eastside, and a significant, but not overwhelming “yes” vote in South King.
By the same measure, Pierce County residents within the RTID may have rejected I-976. Admittedly, this is less likely in Snohomish County.
ST could save a lot of money cancelling the 512 if I-976 passes judicial scrutiny. Light rail to Tacoma and Everett may be a key part of ST3’s mandate, but 100 feet inside the city limits is adequate to fulfill that mandate. ST eliminating all the Snohomish County (and depending on voter results, Pierce County too) routes would send one hell of a message. Using voter results district by district within King County would be much harder and the message much more muddled.
Regardless of what the county-by-county vote data may say, Sound Transit cannot just cancel the 512. The 512, as it is, is pretty packed, and, even on weekends, is often standing room. I would also be willing to bet that the riders of the 512 were much more pro-transit in their votes than their average neighbor.
Assuming 2015’s mandate of light rail to Everett, Tacoma, and Bellevue as ST’s primary goal, why can’t the 512 be eliminated? A primary goal is, well, primary. Everything else is secondary. That means all bus routes, West Seattle, and Ballard are on the chopping block first. I am more pro light rail than anti light rail, and as such I’d rather keep light rail on the table. That leaves what? Infill stations and ST busses.
Because the 512 is interim service in the Link corridor you mentioned. ST’s mandate is not just future rail lines, it’s also interim express buses until the rail lines can be built. That may not have made it into the first sentence you quoted but it is part of ST’s mandate. If ST wanted to go “Screw the buses, put all money into Link and Sounder to build them faster”, it could just as easily have done so in 1997 and there never would have been ST Express. But that’s not what the voters voted for. If Snohomish County STEX routes must be deleted, the 512 would be the last one to go. Same with the 550, 574, 577, and 594. Those are the “spine” routes that built a preliminary spine. And secondarily the 522, 545 and 554. Those are the primary non-spine routes in my opinion.
ST’s 2015 written mandate is “completing the Link Light Rail spine connecting Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Bellevue, followed by prioritizing ridership and socioeconomic equity”. Even assuming running interim expresses is part of ST’s mandate, it would fall below these three mandates. Prioritizing ridership is not as important as completing the spine. Socioeconomic equity is not as important as completing the spine. Surely interim expresses are not as important as completing the spine.
But if you want to argue the 512 is more important than the West Seattle and Ballard lines (since they aren’t part of any of the three mandates or your mystery mandate), by all means feel free to start your own topic thread here.
You go tell the ST board it should cancel ST Express. It won’t do it. The 512 is part of the Link spine mandate. It would be nonsense to eliminate express buses between King and Snohomish Counties for five years (for Lynnwood) and a subequent Everett-Lynnwood feeder for twelve years, so there would be no regional transit during that time, and then suddenly introduce Link. That completely contradicts ST’s mission and voter expectations, no matter how you interpret that sentence. It’s like reading a passage from the bible literally out of context, without considering what it meant in a first-century culture. ST Express’s explicit purpose is an interim stopgap until light rail is ready, to prebuild ridership in those corridors, and to address the existing acute regional transit needs in those corridors. If ST express went away — and CT and Metro and PT certainly can’t backfill it — then you would strand tens of thousands of people, who would then be driving on already at-capacity roads, or would have to switch jobs or quit their jobs.
“The 512 is part of the Link spine mandate.”
No. Just no. The mere assertion is absurd on its face. There is no explicit or implicit declaration that can even be remotely used to defend this position.
As a student of ancient history, (6,000 BCE to 100 CE), I did find your Bible analogy cute.
Declaration by ST, that is.
It was in the ST3 ballot measure that interim express service would remain, and is what people voted for. I voted for ST3 knowing that for the next 20 years, if not longer, Sound Transit’s impact in my everyday life would be mostly buses, not rail. If the proposal would have killed all ST Express bus service to get rail to Everett in 2035 instead of 2036, I would have voted against it, and I’m sure many other people that ride the Sound Transit buses would have too.
That’s not to say that the ramifications of I-976 (if held up in court) won’t lead to cuts in ST bus service – it probably will. My best guess of the order of magnitude would be routes running every 30 minutes instead of 15, or every 60 minutes instead of every 30. But a wholesale cancellation of all bus service is very unlikely to happen.
I agree wholesale bus elimination is unlikely to happen. But it is much more likely to happen than deferring the spine to a potential ST4. ST3 is basically “the spine at any and all cost”.
There will be a partial spine of some sort. ST can afford to reach at least 164th or 128th. In Pierce it’s more difficult to say. There’s nothing between South Federal Way and Fife, and an extension to Fife is of dubious benefit. Especially if there’s no P&R there.
A partial spine is not a complete spine.
“completing the Link Light Rail spine connecting Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Bellevue, followed by prioritizing ridership and socioeconomic equity”
ST3 will complete the spine at all costs. It’s right there in the first few words of the mandate.
“That completely contradicts ST’s mission and voter expectations, no matter how you interpret that sentence. ”
Agreed. A Joy’s argument ignores the history and role of the ST’s express bus service to the suburban communities while they await the completion of the light rail “spine”. Context is key here.
There’s nothing for south king to lose anyways.
There’s the A, E, 124, 180, 156?, and a handful of others, not including ST routes. South King has definitely gotten the short end of the stick, but there’s still something that could be taken away.
Thankfully these routes don’t rely on the Seattle TBD funds (with the potential exception of the Night Owl 124s). So they don’t lose funding. Nothing stops Metro from spreading the pain themselves though.
The only place they served in south king was kent and tacoma. Everyone else still has cheap old bus routes from since I moved there. I guess once more people sprawl south and tech jobs raise in Renton and small one’s continue to tukwila, ST might care but they can’t even properly help kirkland BEFORE the cuts. They were s***ing with the stupid Issaquah mayor to give them light rail. Their population is not even worthy of it and costco isn’t even that big.
I work in issaquah myself and I’m not even going to use that light rail while i have to wait on SR900 jammed because wsdot doesn’t know how to add a second lane to a congested 50 year old road that still has passing marks.
No, but the 512 could be cut to run every 90 minutes with service hours remaining the same.
Give up on it. ST doesn’t have to cut nearly that much. A 90-minute route is useless for most purposes; it’s a skeletal coverage route. You can see two routes like that in Snoqualmie, the 208 and the Valley Shuttle. Before Sound Transit, that’s what the 210 (Seattle-MI- Factoria-Newport Way-Issaquah) was like (with four trips a day to North Bend), and issaquah had no other off-peak route. That was the most infrequent bus route in King County. ST Express is not a coverage service; its purpose is to connect urban centers and cities in the region with at least 30-60 minute service (and some supplemental peak routes). It was created specifically to be more frequent and faster than the 210.
The 211 also ran off peak … Issaquah saw ~hourly service but it was slow going on either route.
The 215 sped things up and added a lot more service starting in 1997 … well before ST Express began.
What about building more freeway capacity and additional parking garages to counter the transit cuts?
If downtown Seattle goes back to being a place where the majority of people drive alone to work, God help us. We’ll be reminiscing of the days of sub 1 hour drive tines between downtown and Lynnwood and paying under $10 for the first hour of parking.
People often look at the current situation and say, “See, transit doesn’t solve congestion. Your billions in rail won’t help. Most people will still drive.” But what would it be like if the buses we have didn’t exist? What if everybody really did drive or take Ubers or private microvans? Answer: a lot more cars, traffic, and people who can’t get where they need to go in a reasonable timeframe. It would be like Silicon Valley and Atlanta, which have some transit but not much. It would be like South Africa, which has no mass transit I’m told. A guy in SA said, “When the taxis go on strike, people can’t get to work. Because there are no buses like in other countries.” I suspect Saudi Arabia doesn’t have mass transit either; its car culture/policies seem to be even bigger than ours.
Have they considered cutting vanpools? They serve a lot less people, and a number of them originate from places that have transit service, so they are kind of just a comfort subsidy in a lot of cases. If we are short of money, why are we funding semi-private cars.
The vanpool program is required to pay for 100% of its own operating costs via fares, and does, I’m pretty sure. Fares just went up, too.
I don’t know about other places, but a ton of Metro vanpools go to Boeing Everett from North Seattle, and does it in 1/3 the time of what the bus (actually, 3-4 buses) would take.
Perhaps I missed the part of the article or a comment, but why does Seattle increasing TBD sales tax legally preclude King County from running a TBD sales tax measure?
I’m all for transit cuts. I live in downtown Seattle and drive everywhere. Fewer buses will mean quicker and easier trips for me. Do you think they could open up third avenue to cars again during peak time? If transit cuts are coming, they should make things easier for drivers. Another solution, would be to open up the link tunnel to cars. Cars can share the right of way with trains. It would definitely speed up trips.
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