Aidan Wakely-Mulroney Photo – “The Washington State Capitol; Olympia, Washington”
Voters tonight decided to keep a divided State Legislature for a multitude of reasons. But those reasons aren’t the purview of Seattle Transit Blog/STB.
The problem for us at STB is now we need to make the case to Republicans why Republicans’ self-interest is in supporting transit. So here goes from the STB Republican-in-Chief:
Argument For 1: Republicans should realize transit is fiscally conservative versus building more highways that encourage sprawl that will require more of the following:
- First Responders
- Public utlilities – water, sewer, the like.
- Public schools
- Even more roads
- More support staff
All of this will require more government which will require more taxes. Transit instead works to create density to protect scarce taxes – all of which confiscated from hard-working taxpayers for public services.
Argument For 2: Transit enables the disabled who cannot drive a place in our society. Instead of having disabled folks dependent on relatives or welfare, transit is an important means to a J-O-B, to community and to life.
After all, do you want an Aspergian with 1.5 good eyes and PTSD behind the wheel and running somebody over? If so, you’re certainly NOT pro-life. Transit is therefore vital to folks like I.
Argument For 3: Transit is good for the economy. Transit allows tourists to not have to rent a car or hail a cab to visit a community. Transit also pivots spending away from the automobile towards other forms of spending such as food, lodging, clothing and the like.
Argument For 4: Transit also can provide congestion relief when done correctly. Transit allows families to own only one or no car instead of two – therefore providing congestion relief. Transit allows folks to take up much less space on a road going to work than a Single Occupancy Vehicle/SOV. Transit also when serving areas of high residential density, high commercial density (malls, museums, etc) plus job creators (Paine Field, downtowns) does excellent congestion relief by taking many cars off of the road.
Argument For 5: Transit support will translate into votes with more Millennials using transit. According to a Rockefeller Foundation study, “Almost two-thirds of Millennials (64%) say that the expense of owning a car is a major reason they want be less reliant on one, including 77% of Millennials who earn less than $30,000 a year.” Furthermore from the same source, “Almost all Millennials (91%) also believe that investing in quality public transportation systems creates more jobs and improves the economy.”
Realtor.org – no progressive website – recently wrote,
Cars are a hassle. In 2008, only 31 percent of 16-year-olds and 77 percent of 19-year-olds had a driver’s license — numbers dramatically lower than the 1978 numbers of 50 percent and 92 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Even as millennials age, they’re driving less than prior generations. In 1995, 20.8 percent of autos were driven by 21-30-year-olds, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2010 Household Travel Survey. By 2009, that number had dropped to 13.7 percent.
“For baby boomers, owning a car was a coming-of-age, life-stage thing,” explains Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting in Madison, Wis. “The coming-of-age toy for the next generation is the smart phone.”
Several factors contribute to millennials’ negative perceptions of cars. “One is the expense,” says Ryan. “Millennials are the most unemployed generation, and their college debt compared to that of their baby boomer counterparts is exponentially higher. Millennials also believe cars are ecobombs — that they’re inheriting a planet that’s totally messed up, and they don’t want to contribute to it. The final kiss of death for cars? You can’t text and drive. All these things together create a perfect storm against cars.”
I can keep citing sources from Google or Yahoo or Bing upon request – that transit is an important part of winning the millennial demographic just now doing this thing called voting. Not sign-waving, not Tea Partying, not public comment sorties; but actual voting that wins elections. So unless Republicans find joy only pontificiating in the minority instead of governing in the majority; it’s time Republicans started supporting enthusiastically transit.
Argument For 6: Transit is a means of letting suburbs and cities exercise local control over transportation options. We just saw tonight Seattle vote to tax itself more to fund transit – that’s only proper, with the regressive tax code we have in this state it’s only right to have a public vote on taxes and support transit. It’s also only right for those of us who are conservative to champion local control and let local people decide what’s right for them through local governance. Republicans aren’t supposed to be the party of big mandates but the exact opposite – and as such unless we have some reforms we on the Right would be able to impose to make Sound Transit more awesome, then let the voters decide on ST3 for local control’s sake.
It’s also worth noting ST3 is necessary in the eyes of the City of Everett, Snohomish County, and the Puget Sound Regional Council for starters with more to come. All those local government folks have hit “a critical level of frustration” – and if we Republicans are truly pro-local control as we distrust Big Government, then it’s time to support the local government folks in the trenches.
That said the way Scott Dudley representing the largest city on Whidbey Island has stepped up and taken the fight to save Island Transit on is how Republicans could tackle transit. We show that we’re the ones who will be fiscally responsible, use transit as an economic growth tool and grow transit in a fiscally sustainable way. We’ve seen the progressive alternative with Island Transit – and its incompetence.
Ultimately, I’d rather see a Republican positive plan to reform transit than the obstructionist approach we’ve seen in recent state legislative sessions. If not, this whiff of power Republicans have gotten in recent years is going to slip away…