Proposition 1, which proposed to save Metro Transit service and fund road repairs, failed to get support from King County voters in last month’s special election.
While not surprising, it is disappointing that voters would fail to support this necessary funding. Voters in Seattle supported the measure, but those elsewhere in King County did not — most likely because the initiative was marketed as one to save Seattle’s buses, which hardly serve the rest of the county.
Many voters said their decisive “no” vote was a clear message to Metro to run its system more efficiently. Many called for a self-sustaining bus system, but public transportation systems have always relied on some form of funding. Ridership is up, and service hours aren’t; now, services will be slashed by 600,000 hours.
Voting no doesn’t harm those who have failed to make Metro more efficient or secure funding at the state level. It harms the hundreds of bus drivers who will be laid off, those who work at night when nighttime service is cut and those who live or work in areas that already have limited bus service.
And we cannot expect people to live a car-free lifestyle in aPodments but not offer the services needed to navigate the city. The population boom we’re expecting within the next few decades only compounds the problems.
It also comes at a time when the city is pushing bike lanes. The City Council is proposing to spend $20 million each year for the next 20 years to install or update 474 miles of bike routes, but only 4 percent of Seattle currently commutes by bike each day. The city should shift its focus to supporting all forms of green and efficient transportation, including public transportation.
Because of the failed proposition, bus riders will now be forced to deal with more crowded buses, longer commutes and less access. Many will turn to getting back on the road among the expected 30,000 additional cars.
All hope might not be lost though, as the group Friends of Transit announced it is filing a city initiative for November to save Metro service inside the city limits by raising property taxes in Seattle.
We cannot lose services that are so vital to our city’s economy. Let’s hope voters get it right in November.