It’s very difficult to even fathom $54.8 billion, the amount of money that Sound Transit’s Proposition 1 proposes to spend on mass-transit services over the next 25 years. That money—$27.7 billion of which would come from new taxes—would build 62 miles of light rail across the region, from Tacoma to Everett to West Seattle to Ballard. It’s far less difficult to fathom $169, the amount by which the average taxpayer’s annual taxes would increase via property, sales, and car-tab taxes if Prop 1 passes; when you add the Prop 1 increase to previous Sound Transit levies that we are still paying off, the full tab comes to $629. We recognize that’s a lot of money, and at a time when the cost of living in Seattle is causing difficulty for many, we don’t endorse Proposition 1 lightly. But we do endorse it strongly. Very little of the frustration Seattle residents feel about transportation in this city—with gridlock, with parking—has to do with the supposed “war on cars.” Despite what you may have heard, we are currently spending billions on highway infrastructure; just last year, the state legislature approved a $16 billion transportation package, with the lion’s share going toward expanding highways. No, our frustration is due to our longtime unwillingness to fully commit to mass-transit systems in this region, which has effectively kept us in our cars even as our population has grown beyond what any amount of road infrastructure could handle. And it’s only going to get worse, with the region adding an estimated 800,000 people in the next 25 years. With previous Sound Transit measures, we have established an agency that, after a rough takeoff, has proven to be both trustworthy with our tax dollars and effective at delivering effective transit to its customers. Now it’s time to take it to scale. It’s a frustrating reality that the relief Proposition 1 will bring is decades out, with much of the light rail promised coming on line in the early 2030s. But to delay a fix because it’s not fast enough is oxymoronic. Let’s commit to the plan and vote yes on Proposition 1.
Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.