Public Interest Transportation Forum -

"Mass Transit Now" campaign messages that won the November 4 election to double Sound Transit's tax collections

by John Niles

The citizens of King, Pierce, and Snohomish County have approved a 15-year mass transit (mostly light rail) construction plan and associated 5/10 percent sales tax increase on the November 4, 2008 general election ballot.  Latest returns here from Washington Secretary of State. 

These are some of the messages disseminated by the Mass Transit Now campaign that helped Sound Transit to win the election, followed by a brief interpretive comment:

"End 40 years of political gridlock"

This refers to the defeat of the King County Forward Thrust heavy rail subway plan in 1968 and 1970.  The first 26 years of this past history, 1970 to 1996, is not relevant to today, since Sound Transit's first phase of construction was initiated and funded in a 1996 election, after a defeat in 1995.  Prop 1 providing 1/2 % sales tax for Sound Transit was defeated in 2007, but has now won as of November 4, 2008.

"Send a message to Big Oil"

People who ride Sound Transit's electric light rail will not be consuming gasoline in their car for that trip.  The Sound Transit environmental Record of Decision for North Link (downtown Seattle to Northgate) indicates that the energy saved after 90 years of Link light rail operations will equal the energy burned in the line's construction.  If "Big Oil" is keeping watch, the fuel burned by construction activities will make them happy for years to come.

"Do something about climate change"

Trips taken on light rail or on a well-patronized bus emit less greenhouse gas (GHG) than trips taken in an automobile. Sound Transit estimates that ST2 will reduce GHG by approximately 1% in 2030 than would be the case if ST2 had been defeated.  Click here to see Sound Transit's GHG calculation in its Sustainability Assessment of September 2008. The ST2 impact on global greenhouse gas is trivial, and does not begin to accrue until over a decade has passed.

"Reduce traffic congestion"

Train riders have a congestion free trip once they are aboard the train. (Standing on a train does not count as "congestion!")  Sound Transit has never claimed that there will be less traffic congestion on the roads in general. The Sound Transit environmental impact statements to date have indicated that traffic congestion as measured by forecast future delay of highway vehicles will be much worse than today with or without the light rail as conceived by Sound Transit ... makes no difference.

"Invest in our economy"

Sound Transit estimates that the Prop 1 construction and transit operations program will generate 60,000 new jobs, and benefit the region by providing new mobility options. The million dollars per day in additional sales tax collections that go to Sound Transit will not be available for other purposes, including transit alternatives that are more productive than Sound Transit's plan. This money going to Sound Transit will also not be available for any other productive economic purpose.

"For only $69, a little more than the cost of a tank of gas, you can help build a transit system capable of moving more than a million people everyday!"

A 15 gallon tank filled with gasoline costing $4.60 per gallon equals $69. Vehicles of Sound Transit running at full capacity in 2030 were claimed to be able to carry more than a million people in a day.  However, the officially forecast use of all the ST2 vehicles in 2030 is forecast to be around 385,000 per day. The capacity of the four-car light rail trains of Sound Transit is much less than that of a heavy-rail system like San Francisco's BART with ten-car trains.

Return to the Public Interest Transportation Forum home page.

Hit Counter                                                                       Last modified: February 07, 2011