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As a board member of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, I am casting my vote today in support of Resolution 12, which would ask Seattle voters to approve a funding package to help retain bus service in the City when Metro starts making cuts next year. If we are serious about our climate goals and want to do everything we can to accommodate the growth we are experiencing in this city, it is critical that we approve Resolution 12.
The data show that more and more people are utilizing different ways of getting around the city.
- 2012 data from SDOT indicates that Seattle’s population increased by 11%, traffic volumes decreased by 10%, and transit ridership increased by 40% in the past ten years.
- Commute Trip Reduction data shows that 50% of downtown commuters are getting to/from work via transit, compared to just 27% driving alone.
- Recent Rapid Ride numbers show that the West Seattle to Downtown use is up 70% over the routes that line replaced. Use is up 39% from Ballard to Downtown.
All of these the data points demonstrate that the work we have been doing for the past decade or so is working—more people are taking transit and other ways to get around than ever, even as the population of the city continues to grow. These stats also tell us that we must continue our progress and not take a step backwards, which is what we would be doing in Seattle if we let these cuts happen. Preserving bus service in Seattle will prevent putting thousands of cars back on the road and making congestion worse.
Finally, the impacts on low-income households that rely on bus service to get to work, to school, to the doctor, to the grocery store or anywhere else around town would be devastating. A lot of debate has gone into determining the best, most progressive funding to help us preserve this critical bus service. In the end, cutting bus service is the most regressive thing we can do in this situation, so I am supporting this package today. But our work does not end today. Beyond preserving existing transit service, we need to expand the transit service to meet our current needs and to do so we will need additional revenue sources, including options we are not using today.
By acting today we hold the course for the short-term while we continue to work with our regional partners to secure more sustainable, more progressive, long-term funding that allows us to grow our transit system to meet the growing demand we are seeing in Seattle.