Would Seattle Transit Initiative Prompt State Lawmakers To Expand Bus Service?

May 7, 2014

Some state lawmakers who are supporting a Seattle initiative to undo King County Metro bus cuts say it could give them some bargaining power in Olympia.

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, is one of eight Democratic lawmakers who’ve signed on as endorsers of the so-called Keep Seattle Moving Initiative.

The initiative, expected to be on the ballot in November, would save the city of Seattle from the long term bus cuts planned by King County Metro. Supporters decided to go for a city initiative after a county wide measure failed in April.

Fitzgibbon, who's a democrat, says, if Seattle passes this initiative to solve the city’s transit problems, he'll be able to play offense rather than defense in Olympia. He says now legislators from the rest of the state are always lobbying for new roads, while Seattle area representatives have had to fight just to keep from losing public transit money. If Seattle votes to fund buses, that will change the dynamic.

"It would free up legislators from the Seattle area to advocate for expansion of our transportation infrastructure, particularly better buses and light rail as opposed to just fighting to stop cuts," Fitzgibbon said.

Still, Fitzgibbon would prefer that the county-wide bus measure would have passed. He says the Seattle only initiative doesn't help bus riders in White Center and elsewhere in the county who rely heavily on bus service.

Initiative 118 would raise $30 million a year for buses for the next six years. It would raise property taxes by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value, which works out to about $60 a year per homeowner.