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July 27, 2008

Enviros can celebrate with ST2 on the ballot this November

I’m ready to uncork the champagne at the news that Sound Transit is going to be on the November ballot.  2008 is going to have huge turnout after eight years of hell under the Bush administration.  Thank you to Mayor Nickels and the rest of the Sound Transit Board who took the leadership this year to make transit funding a priority. 

I can hardly contain my disgust with the so called bus advocates who are bashing light rail and ST2 every chance they get – and I mean you Ron Sims.  At first blush, I can see a rationale for making an infusion of cash into local transit agencies the priority this year, when bus ridership is seeing double digit increases.  But opposing Sound Transit is not the way to make this funding a reality – especially when the city of Seattle only gets a sliver of the new transit hours allocated by Metro.  Yes, we need a big infusion of new dollars for local transit, but that tax money and that new local authority needs to come from Olympia.

When it comes to funding for transit all roads lead to Olympia.  It bothers me to no end that the legislature spins its wheels and is so incapable of creating funding for transit.  We can applaud the action of past years to allow sales tax revenue to be used for transit, such as the 2006 King County Transit Now measure.  However this local revenue only makes up for the transit dollars lost by the passage of the 1999 I-695.  What we need is leadership in Olympia that will create new taxing authority for transit districts and for cities that would like to partner with local transit agencies to create supplemental funding for transit service in their cities.  We also need a slice of the state budget pie to fund transit service and capital construction of transit facilities.  Where are the advocates for transit in the legislature?  Frank Chopp never met a social service program he doesn’t like – and frankly I don’t have any complaints that we’re a state that cares about people in need.  But that caring approach doesn’t need to translate into an inability of the Democratic majority in Olympia to do the right thing for the environment by stepping up to the plate to figure out how to fund transit.

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and vote a big happy yes for Sound Transit.  Investing in new light rail, express buses and commuter rail are going to make such a huge difference.  If you want to be a patsy for developers like Kemper Freeman, who want to delude you into believing that the car is still king, then take the blue pill and live in your fantasy world. As for me, I’m going to continue my advocacy for an investment in all modes of transit from all levels of government.  I’m going to continue to believe that we can create a transportation system that works by driving in one new rail spike and buying one new hybrid bus at a time.

Cross Posted on The Urban Environmentalist

Posted by EzraBasom on July 27, 2008 at 11:00 PM in Policy | Permalink

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