Friday, November 10, 2006

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

Submitted by Paul Ellis

What do yesterday's election results tell us about public attitudes towards transportation funding? What guidance can the recent election give policy-makers about next November's "big vote" on roads and transit?

First, the failure of propositions in both Seattle and Tacoma to fix crumbling streets most likely indicates public desire to see current tax revenues used wisely before jurisdictions consider new taxes. Most voters--rightly or wrongly--believe that local governments should use existing revenues to maintain transportation facilities.

Second, transit may be the exception to that rule. Seattle's "Transit Now" proposal passed by a wide margin, as have previous transit proposals in many Puget Sound jurisdictions.

Or it may be that proposals to expand services or to create new facilities are what voters want--that's another way to read Seattle's results, where voters turned down a measure to fix streets and bridges but gave the nod to expanded transit services.

Admittedly, this gaze into the crystal ball is a little cloudy (they usually are!). For a clearer glimpse into the collective mind of the Puget Sound's body politic, check out the recent summary of public opinion released by the Regional Transportation Investment District.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community's largest transportation planning effort.

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