By Rich Stolz
For Northwest Asian Weekly
As any bus rider who has been passed up by an overcrowded bus or forced to stand for an entire commute can tell you, we need to start taking steps to improve bus service in Seattle. Our city is growing rapidly. If it were just trying to keep up with demand, Metro would have to grow by 15 percent. Instead, we just eliminated a significant number of bus routes.
That makes no sense. We need to be investing in expanding bus service, not reducing it. We need to start investing in adding service to reduce overcrowding and improve the reach and reliability of our bus system. By doing that, we help people get to their jobs, help students get to school, and help our seniors get where they need to go. And that is exactly what Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 will do.
Past cuts to service have already taken a toll. What was once a 30-minute, one-seat ride to Asian Counseling and Referral Services now takes 90 minutes with transfers and multiple buses for some riders. If further cuts take place, this type of experience would be multiplied across the county.
Seattle Transportation Proposition 1 asks city residents to make a modest investment — through a $60 vehicle fee (with a $20 low-income rebate) and 0.1 percent sales tax increase — to take the first step in rebuilding our public transportation system and meeting the demand for bus service. The measure would raise $45 million in Seattle to support better bus service, including $2 million to improve access to the recently-announced low-income fare and $3 million to build partnerships with other jurisdictions around King County.
The City of Seattle has committed to working closely with King County Metro to ensure that the funds raised by Transportation Proposition 1 provide value for the dollar by funding bus service in the city that will help tens of thousands of residents get around.
The Asian Pacific American community is growing across Seattle, and our communities disproportionately feel the pinch of inadequate bus service. On Nov. 4, we have an opportunity to begin changing that dynamic. If we pass this measure, members of our community will gain access to important economic opportunities. Drivers will face less congestion and enjoy shorter commutes, as thousands of additional car trips are eliminated from our already crowded roads. And our environment will benefit as well.
By voting yes, we have a chance to ensure that members of our community will have an easier time getting to their jobs, their classrooms, and all of the other activities in life that require reliable transportation. We urge you to say “yes” to better bus service in Seattle. Vote Yes on Seattle Transportation Proposition 1. (end)
Rich Stolz is CEO of OneAmerica Votes, and Diane Narasaki, Executive Director of Asian Counseling and Referral Services also contributed.