The West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting Nov. 12 focused on getting people into committees but ultimately aimed at action on addressing the issues facing people on the peninsula regarding getting around. Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Council's transportation committee spoke to the group.
West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets to promote action
The Nov. 12 meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition dealt with committee assignments and and organization but the reason the 30 people in attendance were there was to get something done. The group acknowledged that transportation is a fundamental part of infrastructure. The question is, what can the coalition do about it?
Recent potential cuts in bus service were announced by Metro which would increase travel times, cut the number of bus routes, increase crowding, and affect the entire region.
The committees set up for the WSTC Outreach including recruiting, public events, rallies, engagement, group meetings, Communications including media, internet, surveys, polling messages, issues tracking, Research and Solutions including land use, development, transit planning, issues studies, solution planning, Master plan, and Action including engage officials, agencies, Government meetings, lobbying, advocacy, and getting commitments.
Elected officials were invited to the Coalition's January meeting but thus far they have gotten no firm commitments. The WSTC plans to follow up now that the election has passed.
"We are Seattle's biggest constituency with more than 120.000 people here on the peninsula as projected to be the water on 3 sides with the Burien city limits as the southern boundary," noted Szilagyi. He also pointed out that with a series of community group endorsements the Coalition itself carried the weight of more than 55,000 citizens regarding transportation issues.
The suggestions came from around the room including Amanda Kay Helmick who suggested that a written West Seattle Transportation Master plan be created by the group.
Deb Barker mentioned a peninsula wide "listening tour" in area coffee shops to gather public feedback about the transportation issues people face day to day.
Having a presence at the West Seattle Farmers market. Going to Olympia to stage a rally. "What the heck, we're new and we're not happy" Deb Barker
emails, and response from the Action Committee
Next Thursday and Friday, the 4th special session for the state legislature will get underway to get some kind of a transportation package passed. In a recent display of political unity local officials from around the region came together to champion a 1.5 percent Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). But four eastern King County senators, in the Republican controlled Senate are blocking action on the issue. Senators Rodney Tom (R-Bellevue/Medina/Kirkland), Andy Hill (R-Redmond), Joe Fain (R-Auburn), and Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) supported the fact that Republican leadership failed to bring a gas tax hike and the MVET to fund bus service to a vote. Both efforts fell in that process.
As it stands in the Republican controlled senate a transportation package faces an uphill fight. But the cuts recently proposed by Metro, if no sustainable permanent funding solution is found, will hit West Seattle hard. Chris Arkills, King County Executive Dow Constantine's Transportation Policy Advisor said that transit for West Seattle would see a 27% cut if the solution isn't found. The loss of 17 percent of bus service hours would impact the entire region with seventy-four routes completely gone and more than a hundred significantly revised.
The first cuts would begin in June of 2014, when state funds for Alaskan Way Viaduct mitigation service are exhausted. That would directly impact West Seattle, White Center, Burien plus north and downtown Seattle.
Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was in attendance and spoke to the group noting that it's really "up to the citizens" to take action on the issue. Rasmussen has already met with Mayor Elect Ed Murray to see what the city might be able to do to mitigate the problem. Rasmussen echoed the need to get the constituents of the eastside senators to communicate that the issue is not just a City of Seattle matter but that it will have far broader implications. "If you have friends on Mercer Island, Kirkland or Redmond you need to tell them, 'you've got to get to these four senators and tell them, if you don't vote for this package we will remember this on election day'." Rasmussen noted that the "conventional wisdom is that in an election year it's even less likely that a transportation package will get passed." He said if it isn't resolved at the state level that looking to Washington D.C. was not a likely possibility either. "If we have to go it alone we will and come together for the good of our state."
If you'd like to learn more, join the coalition or contact them visit
http://www.westseattletc.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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