The West Seattle Transportation Coalition voted to endorse King County's alternative funding 'Plan B' in light of the lack of action from the state legislature on resolving potentially damaging cuts to Metro.
Transportation coalition endorses “Plan B” for alternate solution to transportation funding woes
By Gwen Davis
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC) met Tuesday evening in an emotionally-charged back-and-forth about the future of the troubled transportation budget package that state lawmakers failed to pass last year. As a consequence of the failure, King County transportation services can soon be in dire straits. Metro outlined a proposal to cancel 74 bus routes and reduce and revise another 107 routes to live within reduced revenues, according to Seattle Metro as of January of this year.
But King County voters could see an April ballot measure to save Metro bus services. The WSTC discussed the pros and cons of endorsing “Plan B”, as it makes its way to voters. “Plan A” – the original plan, which would have preserved and reportedly enhanced transportation services – is presumed dead by many advocates at this point. Plan B would more or less maintain the status quo for the next 10 years.
“Plan B will keep residents able to get to their jobs,” said Kevin Broveleit, of the WSTC’s research and solutions committee. “It’ll be a band aid – it’s not asking routes to maintain more services than we have. It maintains our current commute.”
However, participants complained during the meeting that the Plan B document as it was lacked objectivity and transparency, leaving people scratching their heads as to what they were supporting.
“Voters are fatigued with this type of thing,” interim board member Amanda Kay Helmick said. “They will not be happy with this proposal. There are no pros to Plan B.”
But as the meeting rolled on, the approximately 13 participants got more onboard with the plan.
“Is Plan B ideal?” said Helen Biersack, a volunteer. “Absolutely not. But are we looking for ideal? Absolutely not. If services are cut we are taking many steps backward. If Plan B doesn’t pass,” life will be hard, she said.
And some participants said the discussion gave peace of mind.
“I’m positive about voting for this now,” said board member Deb Barker. “I’ve learned how to sing positively about things.”
Approximately six interim board members were present at the meeting.
But participants also discussed potential negatives. Other recent metro transportation initiatives were not successful, and participants feared voters would turn down this package since previous ones turned out to be duds.
“People thought they were voting on an increase of public transit with Rapid Ride,” said interim board member Joe Szilagyi. “But instead of an increase, they got a decrease.”
The Rapid Ride program implementation was not great, admitted Chris Arkills, transportation policy advisor at the office of King County Executive Dow Constantine. The D and C lines of rapid ride got off to a rocky start, he said.
One participant said that seeing all of these fee increases “made my heart sink.”
While Plan B will increase fees, the King County Council will decide on the size of the increase, not the voters.
People expressed regret that this was a 10-year plan and not a two-year plan.
There was also discussion about public perception. Participants expressed frustration at how this transportation issue is often seen as political, when it is actually not.
There were times throughout the meeting where participants became highly emotional, with shouting, and yells for “time out!”
But at the end of the day, the collation voted to endorse Plan B, however, not the exact document displayed at the meeting. Coalition members will write up another Plan B document for endorsing purposes.
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition is a Peninsula-wide organization working to address transportation and mobility issues for Seattle’s largest constituency. It represents more than 100,000 people living and working in the 10-square mile area between the Duwamish River and Puget Sound. The coalition is comprised of community leaders, advocates, business owners, and residents to address transportation and commuting challenges.