With Prop. 1 Failing, Group Plans Ballot Initiative To Save Bus Service In Seattle

Apr 23, 2014

King County's Proposition 1, which would have raised sales taxes and car tab fees to preserve Metro bus service, is failing. Initial counts show 55 percent of voters rejected the measure, leaving low odds of passage.

Still, Seattle transit advocates are down, but not out of ideas.

Without new funding, King County Metro Transit says it will have to slash thousands of hours of service and about 16 percent of its bus lines.

With Prop. 1 failing, activist Ben Schiendelman, who belongs to a group called Friends of Transit, says the group plans to file a voter initiative for the November ballot to save bus service within Seattle city limits.         

"We usually see in county measures that fail, that they still passed in Seattle, " Schiendelman said. "It's likely that this one will be the same. My expectation is that Seattle voters did [approve Prop. 1], and that Seattle voters are still willing to save their bus service."

The initiative will propose a property tax hike to raise $25 million per year for the next six years. Friends of Transit says the property tax is less regressive since it's based on the value of homes, and the revenue it raises would reverse most cuts to bus routes that serve Seattle.

Some service cuts are scheduled to take effect in September, which means those routes would be eliminated then reinstated if voters approve the initiative in November. 

King County Executive Dow Constantine, who pledged on election night to keep fighting for sustainable transportation funding at the state Legislature, released a statement welcoming the idea of a voter initiative. 

"While King County Metro works as a regional system that moves people across jurisdictions throughout the county, reflecting the truly regional nature of our economy, the notion of cities buying bus service is not a new idea. We already have a number of cities and businesses contracting for service," Constantine said in a statement.