Sales Tax Hike Could Save Olympia’s Transit System

transit supporters don’t turn out at the polls, service in Thurston
County will plummet by about 25 percent compared to levels made possible
by a small sales tax hike. Image: Seattle Transit Blog

may be the middle of summer, but if you’re paying attention, it’s
already election season. With a string of primaries leading into
November’s main event, voters will consider transportation issues from
now through the fall. In some races, like for California governor, it’s one of many hot-button topics being debated by the candidates. In others, transportation is right there on the ballot.

Three Tuesdays from now, Thurston County, Washington, home to state
capital Olympia, will vote on whether to increase its sales tax by 0.2
percent in order to fund transit. And according to the Seattle Transit Blog, the stakes are high:

The revenue predicament of Intercity Transit should by now be
familiar. Tax revenues are down about 13% from 2007 levels. The agency
has already cut some nonessential programs and raised fares, and is now
facing a 9% cut in February 2011 and a further 14% in 2012.

Likely 2011 cuts include, according to this handy fact sheet:

  • Elimination of the Dash shuttle (Capitol Campus-downtown Olympia)
  • Elimination of Rt. 42 (SPSCC-Family Court)
  • Reduction in Rts. 13 (Tumwater-Olympia), 41 (TESC-Olympia), 94 (Yelm-Lacey-Olympia) and 620 (Olympia-Lacey-Tacoma)

followed in 2012 by:

  • Elimination of all transit service on Sunday [just like everyone else]
  • Elimination of Rt. 67 (Tri Lake-Lacey)
If the sales tax passes, Thurston County would actually be able
to increase service. Observers expect a close vote, though. According to
the Seattle Transit Blog, it’s all going to come down to turnout.

More from around the network: Midwest High Speed Rail reports that construction between St. Louis and Chicago begins as soon as September. SoapBoxLA looks at how to introduce a new director of city planning. And Car Free Baltimore explores the relationship between street crime and choosing to walk.



More Election Results: Transit Wins Big

Out of 11 transportation-related measures that were voted on Tuesday, seven represented a victory for transit, two were losses to learn from, and two more aren’t really a win one way or another but are worth noting. According to the Center for Transportation Excellence, these numbers bring the year’s total to an impressive 79 percent win […]