Reading the Tea Leaves

Proposition 1 up in Puget Sound, with $30B in transit funding and $16B in lane-miles for roads, went down Tuesday. There seem to be a variety of theories on why:

  • Voters were just saying “NO” to new taxes.
  • Voters wanted to pick and choose projects, rather than buy into a bundle.
  • Perhaps most intriguing, the Daily Score suggests that voters wanted an accounting of climate change impacts of the investments, and cites a number of ‘no’ recommendations from environmental and progressive organizations.

7 responses to “Reading the Tea Leaves”

  1. Interesting, I read that a really big % of the money was for transit – maybe 80%, and it would not relieve congestion. (You know, like MAX – Costs too much – does too little)

    In other words, rationality won.


  2. As has been discussed before, there is a growing divide.

    Environmentalists are coming to understand that that transit is great as an alternative to road building. But it will not compensate for destructive new capacity. So they are no longer willing to support a package that includes bad roads in order to get more transit.

    On the other hand. There is also a group of people, like Jim, who don’t support transit. They define its value solely in terms of its impact on traffic.

    Finally there is a group who simply don’t support public investment of any kind if it involves higher taxes.

    The idea of a balanced transportation may have lost its majority. Instead some communities, like the Portland region, are committing to increasing use of transit and alternatives.

    Whether that happens elsewhere will depend on the individual community. But they are going to have to choose because they can’t pass new roads with new transit or new transit with new roads. I suspect this vote has moved Seattle into the Portland mode. But we will see.

  3. I read that a really big % of the money was for transit – maybe 80%


    Expanding the transit network after decades of primarily auto-oriented development is going to cost money. Rather than looking at the proportions allocated in one funding bill, how much has been spent in Puget Sound over the past 50 years or so on automobile-related infrastructure vs. transit infrastructure?

    In any case, there has been a lively debate on all sides and from all walks of life regarding the measure — there was a mix of lot to like and a lot not to like for many people — we many never know exactly why that measure was defeated.

    – Bob R.

  4. Its not blind love of mass transit that causes cities all over the world to invest in high capacity transit projects at some point. Roads just can’t deliver; indeed they make matters worse, pushing development to spread further and further out. How lucky we are in Portland to be ahead of the game for a city our size.
    And the last thing we need, Metro’s draft RTP notwithstanding, is more road capacity. Actually, the No Build analysis shows shorter trips and fewer vehicle miles, which is the direction we must travel. So Puget Sound was right on to send this measure down. We all need to focus on the M&Ms…Maintenance and Management. Remember, is there is no road, no one will drive on it.

  5. And then there is the group of people, like me, who do not trust the government anymore and will not vote for anything that expands goverment power.

  6. Also, there are those who travel down I-5. who don’t bother to look around Tukwilla and continue to believe what they hear from some Talk Radio hosts that Sound Transit has built nothing in the past 10 years. At Tukwilla, it is right in the commuters face, you can’t miss seeing the bridge wehre it crosses I-5. Now transit might win on the second time around, it did 10 years ago, only it was slimmed down. There will be more Light Rail in it, maybe not all grade seperated, and not as far as last time.

    Now, SOUNDER continues to increase riders, and more trains are considered for next year. Sound Transit has joined the club on those who are upset that the Lakewood line has not been finished yet, that they are starting two temporary bus routes from the two stations on that line to Tacoma Dome Station and on to Seattle.

    Also, ignored by all local corporate media, was Kittitas County Prop. It looks like it is passing. It is to form a county rail district. Kittitas County is rural and conservative. The proposal is mainly to look into bringing Amtrak back to Ellensburg.

    Also, elsewhere in the coountry, a conservative attack on Charlotte’s transit tax, failed. The repeal effort lost with only 30% voting for it. In Utah, a transit(road) tax in several counties failed, but the one in Box Elder to pay for extending FrontRunner Commuter Rail, passed.

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