Followup: What $ would YOU use to avoid Metro cuts? West Seattle Transportation Coalition launches its poll

May 15, 2014 at 10:44 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 60 Comments

The poll mentioned in our coverage of Tuesday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting has just launched: WSTC is looking for your opinion on funding sources you think the city should consider before a final decision on how to avoid Metro cuts. The poll will be open until Tuesday morning; find it here. Ahead, the WSTC’s announcement and explanation:

On May 13, 2014 in response to King County Proposition 1 failing countywide, but passing inside of the City by 66% in favor, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his funding proposal for preserving King County Metro bus services inside of the city only. Prior to this announcement, another now-suspended ballot initiative was filed by the group Keep Seattle Moving. Both proposed Metro plans use different sources of tax revenue to fund them.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition became aware of heated debates in our membership over which funding sources were best, and that they would be most willing to support. In response, more than twenty members present on our Tuesday, May 13th meeting voted unanimously in favor of this basic poll of available funding sources. All of these can either be enacted by a popular vote of Seattle residents or that the Seattle City Council and Mayor can enact as legislation without a popular vote.

The poll is located here:
westseattletc.org/metro-funding-poll-may-2014

After being open for five days, we will publish the results of the poll and present them to Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council for consideration in a letter, and will request a public response from the chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee and Mayor’s office.

60 Comments

  1. Went to the poll and ALL are tax increases or new taxes of some sort.
    What’s missing???
    a FARE INCREASE!!!!

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 10:53 am May 15, 2014 #

  2. leadership by surveying? sounds like mcginn.

    Comment by $.02 — 10:56 am May 15, 2014 #

  3. My choice isn’t on there…why can’t we increase the bus fare? They increase the ferry fare all of the time. Or charge to use wifi on busses.

    Comment by camp long neighbor — 10:59 am May 15, 2014 #

  4. Metro has wasted thousands upon thousands of dollars on unnecessary upgrades to bus shelter’s, rapid rides, fancy expensive computerized time kiosks, and most of all frustrating traffic causing bus bulbs. They don’t deserve anymore money. If people choose to take the bus have them pay for it. Increase bus fares. Perhaps Paul Allen & Gates will chip in for the difference.
    Road improvement should come from a small tab increase.

    Comment by Zero — 11:08 am May 15, 2014 #

  5. CLN – Bus fares are indeed going up. http://metro.kingcounty.gov/fares/fare-change-effective-03-01-15.html

    Comment by WSB — 11:11 am May 15, 2014 #

  6. None of them are good options.
    Here are a few that should be on there.
    Fare increase
    Cut overhead at Metro
    Pay rate caps
    Increase advertising fees
    Cut routes

    Comment by wade — 11:16 am May 15, 2014 #

  7. Fare increase would reduce bus ridership.
    Surveying is a legitimate way to get feedback.
    Metro received a federal grant for Rapid Ride.
    *
    Listen you guys, if you want to be part of the solution, great. Otherwise remember that we are your unpaid, volunteer Neighbors trying to make a difference.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 11:16 am May 15, 2014 #

  8. My choice is not on the survey, and there is no way to write in “other.” I think there should be a tax on developers of commercial and residential properties and a raise in Metro fares.

    Comment by iggy — 11:18 am May 15, 2014 #

  9. I have it from first hand (not mine but close enough) that Metro could get some of that “needed” money/funding from those multi-millon dollar buses that sit idle (some never on the road ever) at their bus barn just west off of highway 599. I’m not talking one or two buses, I’m talking hundreds.

    Comment by payrollgirl — 12:08 pm May 15, 2014 #

  10. I agree with iggy, with these new apartment buildings popping up in West Seattle without sufficient parking, the developers should be helping pay for metro as they are creating a need for it as well as congestion in neighborhoods.

    Comment by M — 12:13 pm May 15, 2014 #

  11. 1. Elimination of ALL duplication of subsidized transit options (Water taxi)
    2, Factual data on percentage of total cost of providing service which is paid by the fares charged. For Metro, Water Taxi, State Ferry system, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit…
    3. Factual data on the percentage of the budget which goes to overhead for each of the above organizations.
    4. Factual data on percentage of ridership which are avoiding paying of fares. It can’t be that difficult to count the number of riders that enter the bus and publishing the income generated.
    5. Developer impact fees – particularly for those developers who assume their residents will be riding transit since they are NOT providing off-site parking.
    6. Commitment by the poo-baa’s involved that they will make logical decisions regarding the expenditure of funds, re: red paint to mark bus lanes to see if people who can’t read can distinguish colors, bus bulbs which impede traffic, instead of alternatives such as cameras on the bus’ which would record the autos that are impeding the bus traffic, expensive systems which announce when the next bus is due for a system which proudly states on its web site that service is so often that you don’t need a schedule!…..

    Then we’ll talk!

    Comment by flynlo — 12:16 pm May 15, 2014 #

  12. The bus fare increase is only .25 cents.. That isn’t much considering the amount of funds that are needed.

    I agree with Iggy in that there should be a tax on developers of residential apartment properties for this.

    Comment by Fred — 12:23 pm May 15, 2014 #

  13. Again, “Raise fares” is not an option. Why is it that “other funding sources” must be increased, but not that one as well.

    If it decreases ridership, THEN SO BE IT. Everyone should pay into these additional funding needs.

    It is more robbing Peter to pay Paul b.s. that Seattle is getting known for.

    There are no “free lunches”, and there should be no “free rides”. Make EVERYONE pay into the increases.

    Comment by Ray — 12:24 pm May 15, 2014 #

  14. @$.02: This poll is from West Seattle Transportation Coalition, NOT the mayor’s office.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 12:24 pm May 15, 2014 #

  15. Very sad to see the uneducated comments above about fare increases. Anyone that has studied the issue would know that Metro raised fares in Metro raised bus fares every year from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and there is another raise that will occur next year.
    .
    Whether fare increases are a good idea or not is an interesting discussion, but please let’s start with facts.

    Comment by moose2 — 12:26 pm May 15, 2014 #

  16. hmmm, I didn’t know Metro received a federal grant for Rapid Ride. The Feds should ask for their money back. Wonder if they know how it was spent and the success of the RR.

    Comment by schwaggy — 12:32 pm May 15, 2014 #

  17. Without having the option for more fare increases, the WSTC is basically asking what taxes would you like to go up. Are they too scared that a fare increase would be popular among respondents?

    Without even asking for fare increases, it shows the poll isn’t serious.

    Comment by Civik — 12:41 pm May 15, 2014 #

  18. For all the “developers to pay”, if we enacted an increase on the B&O tax, we will be getting a portion of the money that they are making in Seattle to increase the B&O portion that goes to transportation already (.9%)

    Comment by AmandaKH — 12:44 pm May 15, 2014 #

  19. This survey is biased (not saying intentionally.) It lacks all the responses I’d support and based on comments above, I’m not the only one. Start this thing over again because the data won’t be valid with the current options.

    Comment by Biased — 12:52 pm May 15, 2014 #

  20. Wht can’t they do some more negotiating with the bus drivers? Let them pay for part of their medical and take a bit of a wage decrease. It’s either that or some of them will be out of a job, where are their priorities?

    Comment by LJ — 12:56 pm May 15, 2014 #

  21. good to see that majority agree with my votes for commercial parking tax and property tax; though, I agree with other comments re my choice for developer impact fees (which I’ve been advocating for 2+ yrs) not included in survey; many progressive cities are implementing developer impact fees this year; we should be bold and do the same
    ~
    we REALLY need a state income tax, and stop all this piecemeal ridiculousness
    ~
    I will vote NO on any regressive taxes that hurt the working poor; flat tax car tab fee is the worst

    Comment by Diane — 12:56 pm May 15, 2014 #

  22. A progressive property-tax that includes a higher rate for high-density buildings seems to be a fair way to fund this.

    Comment by Brian M. — 12:58 pm May 15, 2014 #

  23. I’m interested in adding neighborhood zone parking in West Seattle. There is a surplus of excess cars parked on the avenues for days at a time and driving on the avenues quickly becomes a one way street and a game of chicken with oncoming cars.

    Maybe issue one zone pass to home owners, and then take the rest of the additional funds generated toward metro? Just an idea.

    Comment by Francisco — 1:10 pm May 15, 2014 #

  24. Serious question: If Metro did in fact receive a federal grant for Rapid Ride (which I keep hearing as a rebuttle to, “Rapid Ride was a waste”), why did spend it all on Rapid Ride? Was it a requirement that they build all of those bus stops the way that they did (overkill $ in many cases)? Could they have rechanneled some of the savings by scaling back some towards other cost overruns?

    Comment by Riddle me this — 1:23 pm May 15, 2014 #

  25. RMT, yes, it was explicitly for RapidRide (“bus rapid transit”). It wasn’t “hey, here’s some federal bucks, do whatever.” Same with the federal grants being used to build the two new Water Taxis.

    Comment by WSB — 1:25 pm May 15, 2014 #

  26. great idea Brian M; totally agree
    ~
    except for the fact that many/most apt projects have opted into the MFTE (multi-family tax exemption) program that was set up by our city; big mistake; that allows them to pay zero property tax on the building for 12 yrs, in exchange for taking about $100 off the rent of only 20% of their units; we need to get rid of this MFTE asap; it’s allowed developers to save millions in property taxes, all while raising rents sky-high; and they save millions by NOT having to build parking, with the expectation that renters will take the bus, which developers are paying zero to fund

    Comment by Diane — 1:28 pm May 15, 2014 #

  27. I have to stop reading these comments. I can only assume that 1) people who don’t want to pay for bus system at all have no understanding how it works. It’s not a business, it’s not for profit purposes but for the good of the city. It benefits everyone. Just like road maintenance. Just like a school system and 2) they don’t understand that “pay your way” doesn’t work. If so, I’d like to see a checklist on my yearly taxes so I can pick and choose what I will pay to the penny.

    The common good is lost as far as I am concerned. Selfishness abounds.

    Comment by AJL — 1:28 pm May 15, 2014 #

  28. Thanks for clarifying WSB. Sounds like Seattle is feeling the pain of not building a public transit system (other than buses) years ago before it grew up.

    Comment by Riddle me this — 1:29 pm May 15, 2014 #

  29. RMT – or, for example, dismantling the one that existed almost a century ago … the streetcars, now being re-created in some neighborhoods at some cost (First Hill, etc.), though not ours so far …

    Comment by WSB — 1:35 pm May 15, 2014 #

  30. My preference isn’t on there either. Direct some of the (soon to be) new recreational weed sales tax to bus funding.

    Comment by Shawn — 1:42 pm May 15, 2014 #

  31. Raising fares is not listed as an option because 1) Metro has already approved another fare increase to take effect next year, and 2) these options are only the options available to the City Council to approve or send to the ballot for transit funding. (So, no MVET, no income tax, etc.)

    Comment by Mickymse — 1:54 pm May 15, 2014 #

  32. Fare increases (whether they have gone up every year or not) and or having developers pay.

    Comment by enough — 1:59 pm May 15, 2014 #

  33. @AmandaKH: a B&O tax would not hit the developers,it would hit the businesses who lease space. Because it is based on revenue, not profit, B&O tax on top of the really high lease rates could be a substantial burden on a small or new start up businesses. What I want to see in the list is a “development impact fee” option, which would be borne by the developers and likely passed on in increased costs to lease or buy a unit in a new development, which could still hurt small businesses (job providers), but would be softened and shared by spreading out to residents also.

    Comment by BT — 2:21 pm May 15, 2014 #

  34. Didn’t we just tell Metro no more money by ballot? Why don’t they take a look at management. A few pay cuts are in order or maybe a fare increase.

    Comment by Kevin — 2:42 pm May 15, 2014 #

  35. At this point if I’m going to be taxed I would rather they make the water taxi more viable since it’s only ten minutes across to downtown and isn’t affected by accidents. I’d pay for a bus that just shuttles people back and forth to it all day (a real bus, not the current shuttle). I agree with others that there should be an other option for the survey.

    Comment by natinstl — 2:50 pm May 15, 2014 #

  36. AJL said it perfectly.
    People yelling about paying for it if you use just do not get it.

    As a driver, I’d rather fund public transportation than pay for the huge increases in infrastructure costs that public transpo eliminates.
    http://voicesforpublictransit.org/content.aspx?page=issues&id=Issue1

    How about Fire Dept.? – should only those whose homes catch fire pay for the Fire Dept.? Or should maybe we realize that a Fire Dept benefits EVERYONE and fund it?

    Seems like a no-brainer? So why so confused when it comes to public transportation?
    I think it might be because a house fire sounds dangerous, but a failing economy doesn’t. No public transpo means your city economy will eventually fail. I’m sure you knew that though.

    “Selfishness abounds” is completely accurate.
    I would add “Ignorance runs rampant” as well.

    Comment by zark — 2:53 pm May 15, 2014 #

  37. Impact fees!

    Can there be some sort of dwelling occupation tax? Where you pay a flat fee for living in the city? The fee would go to every house hold or apartment. I mean, if every household chipped in $10….

    Comment by K8 — 3:22 pm May 15, 2014 #

  38. Leave Seattle Voters alone and do your jobs Mayor and City council.
    Raise fares and enforce that ALL passengers pay their fares. Passengers should not be able to step into the bus without the fare transaction taking place first. This means that METRO needs to use its brains and common sense when figuring out what technology is needed for the passenger to pay before boarding. It’s the 21ST CENTURY. Use 21ST CENTURY technology.

    Comment by Seattlite — 3:33 pm May 15, 2014 #

  39. City and County need to better coordinate. Just heard the Mayor is asking for increase on property tax to fund Pre-School. And we are being asked to fund Parks District. And we are being asked, etc. etc. etc. Everything is knee-jerk. I have lived in Seattle since 1976. We went through Comprehensive Plans and Neighborhood Plans and You Name It Plans. Hundreds of thousands of hours and dollars of consultant and Seattle and County staff salaries. And here we are: We’ve given developers a Tax Holiday!!!!???? We’ve put in worthless Red bus shelters (and sometimes removed functional ones). I don’t mind paying my share of property tax and B&O tax and car tabs and sales tax and whatever tax(I’ve done it all for almost 40 years). But this is getting ridiculous. Knee jerk crisis every other day. So, unless I see some management and fiscal responsibility from our lawmakers and planners, I am done. Amen.

    Comment by Iggy — 3:47 pm May 15, 2014 #

  40. You know all you folks who are whining that “My option isn’t there” could have shown up at the WSTC meeting on Tuesday, voiced your desires, and had them incorporated into the poll. But, you didn’t.

    Comment by old timer — 4:15 pm May 15, 2014 #

  41. Periodically impact fees come up in WSTC meetings. They come up periodically before the City Council. At this point there has been a conscious decision to not delve into this topic from the WSTC (nearly unanimously) and to move slowly on it, because, being honest: the City Council isn’t going to do impact fees that “stop” development. They’re not.
    .
    Speaking only as me for a moment: Development isn’t going to be “stopped” unless someone brings a genius and heavily financed ballot measure. Politically, it’s a non-starter and pure fantasy as of May 2014. It’s probably a fantasy as of January 2016 after we do District elections. I would bet $1.00 that anyone who voted for District elections for such reasons will be disappointed, being honest.
    .
    THAT said, there are ideas banging around for things such as a dwelling fee as @KB said, or something tied into and around residential parking zones. It would need to be very fair, very reasonable, equitable, progressive, and have a legitimate transportation benefit before I would guess the WSTC took any positions. Legitimate = with real evidence. Do all that and it’s possible (again, guessing as ME, not on behalf of the WSTC) that the group could support something like that. If it benefits the community and doesn’t hurt the community.
    .
    For example, “the character of the neighborhood” isn’t a measurable value as related to infrastructure. What character? Whose standard? That’s like art. It’s subjective.
    .
    Now, if you could show that there’s NEVER a parking space free on your block? If you could demonstrate with business records that MULTIPLE businesses took a fiscal hit in an area because of new density? Not construction. Construction is transitory and falls in the realm of “crap happens”. But the others? You come up with a system that deals with those problems. People aren’t problems.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 4:19 pm May 15, 2014 #

  42. thank you, Iggy…well said!

    Comment by flimflam — 4:20 pm May 15, 2014 #

  43. DPD has been screwing the community with their rulings. The city council has no interest in listening to residents concerns about density and are bending over backwards to serve the developers. Make the developers pay for more Metro and increase fares.

    Comment by Civik — 4:43 pm May 15, 2014 #

  44. KB, I like your idea of a dwelling occupation tax, earmarked only for Metro bus service within Seattle.
    City planners need to start thinking outside the box of the same-o, same-o, same-o property tax levy or sales tax levy. If we’re not going to have a state income tax, let them get creative.

    Comment by iggy — 5:29 pm May 15, 2014 #

  45. I don’t want my tax dollars to support bloated salaries and wages. If my taxes are going to increase, then I want the transit union to lower wages and salaries by 10%. Transit supervisors make $100K/year.

    Comment by Fan of Dori Monson Show — 5:40 pm May 15, 2014 #

  46. A lottery to raise $$$$, similar to how the stadiums were partially financed.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:00 pm May 15, 2014 #

  47. If we had any kind of reasonable leadership in Washington state this conversation would not even be happening. The extent to which referendums are used here is a sure sign of dysfunction, and a sure way to get nothing done. If a tough decision needs to be made, our ‘leaders’ shift into analysis paralasis mode until there is not enough time left to address the issue. Then, out come the referendums. Pathetic.

    Comment by B — 6:23 pm May 15, 2014 #

  48. Reduce administrative costs, middle management costs and union contracts

    Comment by AJ — 6:50 pm May 15, 2014 #

  49. It seems people are kind if missing the point. The options presented are funding options legally available to the city now. Discussing legislation to allow new funding sources is valid, of course, but I think this survey is more to gauge how people feel about the current options.

    Comment by Gotb — 7:14 pm May 15, 2014 #

  50. West Seattle needs some of its own circulator buses, or Metro needs to add more fare zones. It doesn’t make sense for the 2 of us to pay $9-10 for a round-trip (2.25-2.50 per person each way, unless we rush and try to hit the transfer time limit) to the Junction (e.g., dinner, shopping, a show).
    At the IRS standard mileage rate (.56/mile), that’s a $2.24 trip using our car.

    I do realize that most of this conversation assumes one is taking the bus downtown, but I can easily imagine many of the tenants of the no-parking apartments across the street here in Morgan Junction might work at Westwood Village or Alaska Junction (both about 2 miles away). That’s $25 a week for bus fare (or 2.5 hours of min. wage labor) vs about $10 to drive. This is essentially lost farebox revenue and increased congestion.

    If there were a comparably priced alternative to driving to the junction and taking up a parking space, I’d happily leave my car at home (in it’s own parking spot off the street).

    Comment by DrDimentico — 7:19 pm May 15, 2014 #

  51. The State Legislature should pay for it. In 2008 King County supplied 42% of the states revenues. We received only 26% of the State’s budget.
    King County is the cash cow that provides the bulk of revenue to the state. Transit supports the county economy. The county economy generates the revenues. It is in the State’s best interest to invest in King County transit solutions.

    Comment by BCH — 10:09 pm May 15, 2014 #

  52. A conscious decision to limit responses is the definition of survey bias. If you truly want creative funding ideas then you wouldn’t have limited the survey. If you truly have an open mind then you wouldn’t have limited the survey. If you truly want the respect and support of the community you are wanting to represent then you wouldn’t have limited the survey. All I’m seeing is another group pushing a tax agenda. Sorry.

    Comment by Still terrible — 7:06 am May 16, 2014 #

  53. No fare increase = no support!

    No taxes to support Metro

    Comment by marc — 10:03 am May 16, 2014 #

  54. There IS a fare increase coming, as noted above.

    Comment by WSB — 10:17 am May 16, 2014 #

  55. Just wondering…
    If all the people who take the bus, who have a car or can
    afford a car took their car instead of the bus,

    would the cost in per car idling and time in traffic jams
    be more or less the yearly car tab fee raise?

    Comment by patt — 11:20 am May 16, 2014 #

  56. Gas tax or Car tab fee sound good.

    Comment by patt — 12:04 pm May 16, 2014 #

  57. Of course nobody wants to pay more taxes, but was public transportation ever meant to generate profit to cover all of its costs? Public transportation is a public service that cannot exist without subsidies.

    Transportation is not cheap, as many car owners probably understand. Does a bus that is not packed with people equate to some kind of “inefficiency?” Why? Are you “inefficient” every time you drive alone in your car? Do you stop and pick up people to fill your vehicle to be more “efficient?”

    Do buses that run during off-peak hours equate to a waste of money? What about the people who need to travel at those times, like students, or people going to part-time jobs, or people who can’t afford to park downtown? Should bus riders be limited to traveling only during rush hour so all buses are full at all times? What efficiency!

    I also hear bus drivers are totally overpaid! Really? By how much? What an easy job they must have — sitting all day, driving. I bet we all wish we could be so lucky!

    Public transportation is an essential public service that reduces the number of cars on the road and helps move people from place to place when they need to travel. We all benefit from public transportation just as we all benefit from other things we subsidize: street lights, sidewalks, traffic lights, street signs, whatever.

    As one who rides the bus significantly more than I drive alone, I am thankful for the public service, despite its “inefficiencies.”

    Comment by George — 3:31 pm May 16, 2014 #

  58. Well said George. Your post is a lovely raft floating in a sea of willful ignorance and selfishness.

    Comment by Andi — 6:27 pm May 16, 2014 #

  59. When I review the cost per hour that Metro incurs, my sense is that they know how to spend money, not how to use spend it effectively. If they would reduce costs, Metro could provide increased service without taxing us more, and even give us a tax decrease. But I expect efficency from govt; I doubt this will ever happen.

    Comment by Jay — 10:46 pm May 18, 2014 #

  60. One option is to eliminate all mass transit and declare Seattle a HILLBILLY BACKWATER. There is too much economic vitality here.

    I was just in NYC and used the subways and buses heavily. The city is thriving economically and culturally. Do you think it wastes no $? It doesn’t cut off its nose to spite its face.

    Look to other successful cities as models for how to pay for mass transit. Stop polling BACKWARD HILLBILLIES.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 10:55 am May 19, 2014 #

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