"Friends of Transit" Plan Would Fund Bus Service for Routes Mostly in Seattle
A new proposal by a group of transit proponents would fund bus routes whose lines are at least 80 percent within city of Seattle boundaries.
A group of transit proponents led by pro-subway activist Ben Schiendelman (his Seattle Subway group proposed building a series of underground rail routes throughout the city) has, in the wake of the apparent failure of the Metro-saving Proposition 1 last night, proposed an initiative to preserve Metro service—in Seattle only.
The proposal, which would fund only routes with 80 percent or more of their service hours inside city limits, would be funded with a new property tax of 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on homes in Seattle. The group says it could raise as much as $25 million a year for Metro.
Schiendelman said he hasn't crafted a plan for administering the proposed new tax or choosing which specific routes would be funded. "The exact implementation would be up to [the city c]ouncil. We don't want to create new bureaucracy!," he said.
Some existing Metro service, about 45,000 hours, comes from the Seattle Department of Transportation's Bridging the Gap property tax levy, so SDOT would be the obvious city agency to figure out the logistics if the measure passes.
Switzer also couldn't immediately say how much of Metro's revenue comes from within the city of Seattle and how much comes from the outlying suburbs because the information isn't "readily available."
The proposal is an obvious urbanist F-U to the suburbs, based on the common assumption that the suburbs, unlike pro-transit Seattle, don't want to pay for city transit service.
However, Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said Metro does not know how many of the agency's routes would qualify for funding under the parameters of the initiative. Many Metro routes are commuter routes that serve both the suburbs and the city.
(And, of course, everybody benefits when all commuters, including suburban ones, have access to transportation options other than driving—one of the main points made by proponents of Prop. 1, which argued that its failure will put an additional 30,000 cars on King County roads.)