Today, Seattle Subway launched a campaign to pressure state legislators to fund transit and undo the damage that Tim Eyman did by passing “$30 car tabs” via Initiative 976. Use this Action Network tool to make it quick and easy to email Governor Jay Inslee and your respective state legislators. Many other Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) coalition members signed on including 500 Women Scientists, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Sierra Club, Transit Riders Union, Rooted in Rights, 350 Seattle, Seattle Transit Blog, and The Urbanist.

We’ve covered how devastating the cuts will be. King County estimates it will need to trim 175,000 service hours from its bus network if Eyman’s initiative stands. Sound Transit said at least $20 billion in funding is at risk, hitting light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit expansions. $6.9 billion of that comes via lower motor vehicle excise tax revenue, but that lost revenue forces Sound Transit into an estimated $13 billion in higher borrowing costs to replace those funds and adjust for delayed timelines, an agency spokesman said.

ST3 Systems Expansion map in King and Snohomish counties. Includes light rail extensions to Ballard, West Seattle, Everett, Redmond, Issaquah, South Kirkland and bus rapid transit on I-405 and SR-522. (Sound Transit)
ST3 Systems Expansion map in King and Snohomish counties. (Sound Transit)

Without supplemental funding, Sound Transit will be forced to delay Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines, and it may need to downsize or cut projects, too.

Statewide, the voting results were close, and I-976 was rejected in key Democratic areas. State legislators should understand that the Sound Transit taxing district–the area most affected by motor vehicle fees–opposes I-976. 59% of King County opposes it, underscoring that the economic engine of the state really wants state voters to take the governor off. Instead outlying counties keep gumming up the works and inviting congestion.

I-976 is nearly at a tie in Kitsap County, where just 224 votes separate the pro-transit and pro-Eyman sides. (Secretary of State)
I-976 is nearly at a tie in Kitsap County, where just 224 votes separate the pro-transit and pro-Eyman sides. No on 976 won in King, Whatcom, Thurston, Island, Jefferson, and San Juan counties. (Secretary of State)

And it wasn’t just King County. More than 70% of San Juan County opposes it, leading the state, followed by Jefferson County (anchored by Port Townsend) at just under 60%. Almost 54% of Whatcom County (led by Bellingham) voted no, and 52% of Thurston County voted no. Island County voted no, too, and it was virtually a draw in Kitsap and Clallam County, meaning much of the Puget Sound Region rejected Tim Eyman’s con.

In short, state legislators must fund transit and repair the harm done.

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  1. beyond its impact on the goal of moving people, products and services as efficiently as possible the cuts to transit by this ill-conceived imitative is its impact on those that rely on this the most. And its hitting home for me. My wife has macular degeneration, stargardt’s disease. At a young 53 years of age she is very independent, and relies heavily on ST, Metro (both link and bus) to get out and about. We do own a car, but she doesn’t want to be dependent on my being around to get out and about. Tim Eyman, at best is a flim-flam man, making a living off of this initiative via donations, and in his spare time stealing office chairs. I have lived in Seattle my whole life, grew up riding Seattle Transit since my mom being of the depression area generation defined very clearly wants vs. needs. We NEED transit, I-5 will not magically be expanded. I could get on board with a conversation and a solution to Washington’s regressive tax codes, which is what is really at the core of most of us living here, I understand tax burdens, our property taxes remind me of this every month. To cut transit funding, to cut transit will have a long reaching affect, for business and for those such as my wife who depend on it to get around. Side note, limiting her independence also makes it harder for her to get a guide dog, since its a requirement that the dog and its handler are out and about regularly to keep the dog motivated to lead.

  2. “Without supplemental funding, Sound Transit will be forced to delay Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines, and it may need to downsize or cut projects, too.”

    What’s that assertion based on? My understanding is that Sound Transit hasn’t even prepared, let alone disclosed, the five financial plans ST3 requires:

    Those would show what the projected revenues and expenses in each subarea likely will be, and they would indicate whether the car tab tax revenue will be needed, and when it would be needed, in each subarea. For example, the North King subarea may not need it at all, given the huge excess of sales tax revenue that will be pouring in through 2050 (the 2015 estimates were WAY too conservative).

    • So you’re suggesting the extra sales tax revenue can replace the $6.9 billion in lost car tab revenue? And adequately enough to overcome greater borrowing costs and rampant construction cost escalation this region is seeing as it booms? I’m highly skeptical that Sound Transit can patch such a large budget hole so easily.

      Hopefully this is all a moot point and I-976 is tossed out in courts. Either way, these conspiracy theories about Sound Transit misleading the public about its finances are a bit much.

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