First count shows rocky road for Proposition 1 vote on Metro, transportation funding — UPDATE

Looks like “Plan B” has an uphill battle ahead. Proposition 1 which would authorize a 0.1% increase in sales tax plus an annual $60 car tab fee replacing a fee that expires this summer to help fund Metro and roads in King County is off to a rocky start in the first count of ballots in the April election released Tuesday night.

UPDATE 4/23/14 4:45 PM: With another 40,000 or so votes tallied, still looking like bad news —Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 4.49.33 PM

CHS wrote here about the potential cutbacks faced by Metro — including the lopping off of several Capitol Hill-area routes — if the proposition should be rejected by county voters.

Early counts in the by-mail elections have typically left more progressive issues and candidates underrepresented for a variety of reasons including the busy lifestyles of younger voters. Seattle’s bus riders had better hope that trend plays out strongly on this one.

The Seattle Transit Blog reports that Yes on Prop 1 sources inside the campaign had said they would be comfortable with a 55-45 no-yes split on Election Night given the way they expect subsequent tallies to play out.

UPDATE: A group calling itself Friends of Transit has announced it will begin work to get an initiative on the November ballot that could raise up to $25 million a year for the next six years, “enough to reverse most cuts to King County Metro routes that serve Seattle.”

The proposed initiative would increase the city’s property tax by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value between 2015 and 2021. The measure is estimated to generate $25 million a year in revenue, enough to fund as much as 250,000 hours of bus service. This funding would help stave off cuts to routes operating completely within Seattle, and may help reduce cuts to routes operating between Seattle and other cities. The property tax increase requires a simple majority vote for approval.

Revenues would be collected by the City of Seattle and used to purchase service from King County Metro. Seattle currently buys approximately 45,000 hours of bus service from Metro using revenues generated by the Bridging the Gap property tax levy, approved by voters in 2006.

2014’s fall vote could be a big one for some of the more important civic issues in Seattle. Organizers pushing for a $15 minimum wage in the city are preparing for a charter amendment vote on the issue if City Hall fails to make progress on income inequality this spring.

Below, you’ll find the latest Metro plans for route cutbacks and eliminations.

20140414 Table of Routes

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14 thoughts on “First count shows rocky road for Proposition 1 vote on Metro, transportation funding — UPDATE

  1. 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.

    • Basically you’re setting Metro up to fail, no matter what they do.

      Scenario 1: Metro makes big cuts. Traffic congestion increases, many people’s commutes get worse. But after a year when the economy is still strong and sales tax revenue has increased, Metro proposes to add back some of the routes. People like you are furious because Metro “should have seen this coming” and “lied to the people” about the need for drastic cuts, demand more cuts to Metro to “enforce efficiency.”

      Scenario 2: Metro finds some way to not make big cuts. Riders are marginally inconvenienced but life goes on. Traffic congestion only creeps up in line with population growth. People like you are furious because Metro “sat on favorable revenue forecasts” and “lied to the people” about the need for drastic cuts, demand cuts to Metro to “enforce efficiency.”

      I guess there’s a scenario 3: the economy gets worse and bus cuts continue forever. Congratulations, you got what you wanted!

    • That might be true if we were talking about a $20 increase from the baseline, but we’re talking about the expiration of the previous $20 tab increase as well. Metro is losing a ton of cash – there’s no way they can continue at current levels.

      Also, what part of “subject to revision” don’t you get?

  2. For a solid couple of weeks before the election, they should have done a sampling of the draconian cuts, showing what would really happen. Of course that would cost money to implement and would piss off metro workers, but in the long run, it would have been a good idea. That said, I think the one consistent aspect of Seattle is the majority of people care only about their own narrow self-interests so even an illustration of the impact of cuts wouldn’t make people care. The real thing hiding behind the curtain is that Seattle doesn’t care about people. Whatever liberal, progressive reputation/image this place had is now gone. I just hope there’s one more bus operating that will take me to another city.

    • Unfortunately, this is true, and illustrates the problem of when we have chicken-shit council members and State politicians who are afraid to take unpopular stances or totally self-interested.

      A sampling of comments on the Times and PI message boards shows the comments basically fall down along two lines:
      1. “I ride the bus, so I think we should vote yes, I really need this”
      2. “I don’t ride the bus and I don’t give a crap about anybody else, and I don’t want to pay anything, so I vote no.”

      Sure, there are people who don’t ride the bus but still see this as important. Unfortunately, they’re way outnumbered. Obviously.

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  4. This is in the interest of both bus riders and drivers, but apparently some can’t see it.
    1. Bus riders/transit dependent–obviously need the buses, and may lose or not get jobs when service is further reduced. This population also includes those who can already ill afford the steadily climbing fares which will be increased even as services are drastically cut.
    2. Car drivers–need the buses because without the service steadily declining those who can will use or buy cars, further congesting the already tight traffic. The truly poor will be stuck with whatever is left of our transit service.

    This is terribly upsetting, and I am very disappointed with the way people seem to be voting.

    • Yeah,… You could get maybe 2/3 of a pass for one month.
      The pitiful thing is most people waste more in 2 weekends of cocktails than this additional tab cost would be for an entire year.

  5. 1) Make the 18.000 King County employees with free bus passes pay something to ride the bus
    2) Sell off all the nifty new bus schedule computer TVs all over downtown
    3) Cut some burecrats job (i.e. people who have nothing to do with the buses)
    4) Raise some fares
    5) Smartly reduce some routes

    Not rocket science or the end of the world. When the metrics say you are the most expensive bus system in the US grow a fucking brain…

    • What will really happen is that they will inflict the maximum amount of pain on the bus riding public and they will double up at the ballot box…. Just plain sad

  6. I feel many people love social programs provided they don’t need to pay for them directly. My guess is that a metro funding bill that taxed local businesses instead of car registrations would have passed. There’s a definite selfishness to it.

  7. Pingback: Seattle vs. the rest of King County — How we voted on Prop 1 | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle