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Survey Reveals Huge Appetite for Transit Expansion in Seattle

10:52 AM EST on January 23, 2015

Image: PubliCola via EMC research
Image: PubliCola via EMC research
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Sound Transit in Seattle recently commissioned a survey to gauge support for pumping $15 billion into light rail expansion from local taxes. About 1,500 voters were interviewed by phone in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties about their appetite for such an increase.

The questions were phrased neutrally and showed "overwhelming" support for continuing to expand transit options in the region, reports Bernard Ellouk at PubliCola:

The poll shows that voters, by a margin of 55 to 31, believe Puget Sound is on the right track -- a historic high that has not been approached since December 2000. And the primary concern for Puget Sound residents is mass transit, transportation, and traffic, which ranks above concerns over the economy and jobs, the environment and pollution, and education.

Fifty-seven percent of voters rank expanding light rail, buses, and commuter rail as the best way to address the traffic problem, compared with 36 percent who prefer to expand existing roads and highways and build new roads. Stewart says that, coming on the heels of 2008's ballot measure to fund an expansion of Sound Transit's regional express buses and commuter and light rail service, these figures signal “a lot of appetite” to continue transit expansions. Support for expanding transit has remained around 80 percent since 2008. The poll released today shows 82 percent of voters in favor.

Even in light of the $15 billion price tag, 70 percent of those polled support a measure to expand rail. The average additional cost for each adult in Sound Transit’s service area would be about $78 per year if the same mix of taxes funding current projects were to continue. Seventy-one percent say they would support that hit (35 percent strongly support it). Only 28 percent are opposed (17 strongly). Finally, when asked the best way to fund this expansion, 38 percent of voters chose to fund through an increase in the motor vehicle excise tax of $80 per $10,000 of vehicle value over a sales tax increase of 0.5 percent or a property tax increase of 0.25 percent per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Elsewhere on the Network today: BikeWalkLee shares an article explaining how a terrible crash that injured five cyclists became the impetus for new legal protections in the Fort Myers, Florida area. The Bike League says the next frontier in bike advocacy is making the suburbs bike-friendly. And Greater Greater Washington has an update on the threatened Purple and Red lines in Maryland.

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