Story/video by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
As the morning traffic of busy 35th SW – including Metro buses – rolled behind them, three local elected officials joined members of the new grass-roots West Seattle Transportation Coalition to decry the political standoff that could lead to dramatic cuts in bus service, hitting hard in densifying West Seattle.
(L-R, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon)
Metro outlined those potential cuts at a briefing a week and a half ago (WSB as-it-happened coverage here) – including a map showing the shrunken local route system that would result:
(Click for full-size view)
WSTC’s board met last week to plan strategy, and the first result was this morning’s rally – 14 minutes, which you can watch in its entirety in our clip above, bookended by WSTC’s Deb Barker (below) and Amanda Kay Helmick.
“We can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on this problem, we can’t keep expecting Metro to find funds and close this gap,” warned County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee. He pointed out that Metro already has taken $800 million in gap-closing actions.
City Council Transportation Committee chair, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, pointed out that his own bus route, 37, is one of those that Metro says will be “deleted” if its proposed cuts have to be made. And the effects go beyond citizens’ commutes, potentially putting thousands of cars back on the roads and snarling traffic further, affecting freight and commerce: “If this region is in gridlock, we are in deep trouble with regard to our economy.”
Also there, State House Transportation Committee member Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, who told WSB before the event that a special session is still not looking likely for later this week (when legislators will be in Olympia anyway), because they’re not close to an agreement yet. A special session would be vital for legislators to pass a package that would at least allow local voters to be asked to approve taxes/fees to replace the transit funding that is expiring next year; the package is not just about transit, it’s been stressed, but would include road funding too.
If legislators can’t do it, said Helmick (below), closing out the rally speeches, WSTC wants city and county leaders to go immediately with “Plan B,” which could include asking voters to approve a license-plate tax up to $100. “We need action and we need it now,” she declared.
They closed with a round of chanting “Save our Metro,” and WSTC members lingered for Q/A with media in attendance, which included three TV crews.
WSTC members are all volunteers and looking for more reinforcements – as explained on the WSTC website.
Meantime, to share your opinion on the Metro cuts – which, if nothing changes, would start taking effect next September – and what to do to avoid them, the county invites you to:
*Take this online survey
*Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Come to a meeting December 3rd, 6-8 pm, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW), described as an open house with optional presentation/small-group discussions starting at 7 pm