Prop 1 has failed but another initiative has emerged hoping to rescue transit

Officials react to news and new proposal

Asking voters to pay more in sales tax and a $60 car tab fee as proposed in Proposition 1 has failed on the April 22 ballot. The unofficial cumulative total votes show the measure being rejected. The totals are Yes 187,324 or 45.49% vs No 224,441 or 54.51% of the vote.

Officials were quick to react to the news:

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said via Facebook: "Ouch.
We need the Legislature to give us progressive options to fund transit and roads."

State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon said, "The failure of Proposition 1 is a huge disappointment as it will leave thousands of riders stranded, put more cars on the road, and result in more pollution to our air and water."

Chris Arkills, Policy Adviser to the King County Executive said,"As I stood on my packed bus this morning I watched other buses going by full of riders. Metro is already struggling to keep up with demand. The failure of Prop 1 will have real effects. Buses will be so crowded they will often pass people by. There will be less trips at night and poorer connections. More people will drive and our roads will be more congested with cars adding pollution affecting climate change. We are moving in the exact wrong direction."

Since the state legislature has failed to take any action to fund transit the cuts the supporters of Prop. 1 warned about, some 17% of all service or 550,000 hours.

Now a group called Friends of Transit has announced a new plan. They said in a press release today that they will file an initiative for the November 2014 ballot that would save bus service within Seattle city limits. The measure 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.

“Seattle will grind to a halt if we don’t act fast to save buses,” said Ben Schiendelman, founder of Friends of Transit and proponent of the ballot measure. “Seattle voters want better transit. We will not rest until we have reversed these cuts and begun making the investments we need to provide Seattle with the transit system it deserves.”

Rep. Fitzgibbon reacted to the news and said, "I would have strongly preferred a countywide solution, because a Seattle-only measure fails to help many of my most transit-reliant constituents in White Center and Burien. However it is fortunate for Seattle bus riders that they may have another opportunity to minimize bus cuts and I hope it succeeds."

Executive Constantine on announced initiative to keep Metro bus service within Seattle city limits
Initiative for November ballot announced by Friends of Transit

King County Executive Dow Constantine today reacted to the announcement today by Friends of Transit to contract for Metro bus service within Seattle city limits:

“We welcome and encourage efforts that would protect bus service and avoid major disruption to our riders. Unfortunately, in the near term, we will still need to transmit major service cuts if Proposition 1 fails.

“While King County Metro works as a regional system that moves people across jurisdictions throughout the county, reflecting the truly regional nature of our economy, the notion of cities buying bus service is not a new idea. We already have a number of cities and businesses contracting for service.”

Constantine was a proponent of Proposition 1.

"Proposition 1’s failure will greatly harm the entire Seattle metro region. Overloaded buses will pass people by, making them late for everything due to incredibly congested roads as people with the option to drive may abandon the bus system. For West Seattle, with very limited access points and already overburdened roads and buses, our bridge commutes will be devastated – whether you drive a car or ride the bus. We need a reliable and fair transit funding solution before it’s too late,” said Joe Szilagyi, West Seattle resident.

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.

The initiative will be filed by the end of the week. Once filed, it will be made available to the media and to the public.

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