For anyone undecided on Prop 1, I urge you to look at Seattle Transit Blog‘s coverage, especially if you’ve been reading the Seattle Times editorials on the subject which are weak, lazy, and simplistic. The writers at STB have done the digging and hard work to understand how to make our system more efficient. They’ve been doing this for years and have had a great number of successes. Improvement has been a continual process, which accelerated during the funding crunch that started in 2008 due to declining sales tax revenue.
The funding package is regressive and, frankly, terrible, but it’s the only funding tool currently available to Metro, short of further fare increases. (Which are also regressive, have been done several times, and is also part of this package). Even if the system doesn’t work for you, and it won’t for a great number of trips, please know that the vast majority of buses I drive typically become full, or often overloaded, at key chokepoints. The system really works to keep a lot of cars off of the roads, especially at key chokepoints. Even the (decreasing number of) “empty” buses that critics like to gripe about contribute to the cause, although that is a more complicated discussion (see below).
If anybody has questions about how Metro has been improving efficiency, what changes are coming, and the political roadblocks that are beyond Metro’s control, I am happy to sit down over coffee, beer, or hard liquor to explain what I’ve learned over these years at Metro. (Hard liquor is for the discussions of political shenanigans that arise every time Metro proposes changes to the system – Don’t worry, we don’t need to drive afterwards – I know how to get virtually anywhere in the area by transit )
In his letter to the Seattle Times editor titled “Automobile Mondays“, Dean Trier of Redmond asserts that I “don’t pay a penny for the right to pedal over roads”. That’s strange… I remember sending in my property taxes, did the county not receive them? Sales tax? Yup, I’ve got loads of receipts. Registration fees? I own two cars so I pay those too.
Oddly enough, Mr Trier omits mentioning the one tax he likely pays more of than I do: Gas taxes. Ok, you’ve got me there, except for one small problem: The vast majority of funds for the local roads and trails that we cyclists use come from property and sales taxes, not gas taxes. Check any budget for any municipality or county and you will see this is true.
So, Mr Trier, I think I’ve paid plenty of pennies for my right to pedal over the road. How about cutting me some slack? After all, if I pedal somewhere, I won’t be taking up a parking spot. I’ll leave that open for you.