FAQs about the RTA Plan

  • What am I voting on?
    A yes vote for Proposition 1 implements a ten year plan for a new rapid transit system for much of the Puget Sound region and will take 53,000 cars out of rush hour traffic everyday. It links the urban areas of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with Express Transit systems and provides an alternative to the congested freeways between cities.
  • Is the plan fair to everyone?
    The plan was developed in over 400 public meetings with input from thousands of people. Each region in the plan is served by a system that best represents their particular needs. The entire region will be served by 20 new express buses with suburb to suburb service. Eighty-one miles of commuter rail will link 14 communities from Everett to Tacoma. Twenty five miles of light rail will alleviate traffic in our most congested corridor, along I-5 from the Sea-Tac Airport to Downtown Seattle and further on to the U-District. Also, the revenues raised in one area go directly towards transit in that locality -- no one area will subsidize another.
  • Haven't I seen this on the ballot before?
    The proposal on the November ballot is Phase One of the plan that the Regional Transit Authority submitted last year. As a "scaled down" version, this plan encompasses less construction, fewer vehicles, and costs about $2.8 billion less. After ten years, any additions to this initial plan must be approved by voters. Thousands of hours of traffic studies, hearings and community forums have gone into this proposal; as a result, many of those opposed to the 1995 plan are in favor of this initiative.
  • How many people does the plan accommodate?
    Regional Express will swell transit ridership to 390,000 per day . At least 100,000 additional trips will be taken off the most congested corridors at the busiest times of the day. That means as many as 53,000 new commuters will use this system daily. Public transportation will have the capacity to move 40% of the region's commuters to their jobs -- that's over 650,000 people that will have a faster, cleaner, more reliable service to their school, place of business, or leisure site. Most of all, as drivers shift to mass transit, everyone benefits from less crowded freeways.
  • What does it cost? Where will the money come from?
    The cost of the plan is $3.9 billion. Long term bonds, federal grants, and rider fares comprise about half the required funds. The remainder will be financed through a 0.4% increase in local sales tax and a 0.3% increase in the motor vehicle excise tax. To an average family, this translates into $8/month. No property taxes go toward the expense of this plan. To insure accountability to the voters, RTA has hired independent agents and auditors to scrutinize costs and expenditures.
  • What makes people want to use this system?
    This plan is reliable, well integrated, and easy to use. It links 24 urban centers via 20 new bus routes and a light rail line, with service running for 18 hours per day and as often as every six minutes. A rush-hour commuter line can be reached at 14 different stations between Everett and Lakewood. A single ticket will access both regional and local transit services, and several new community gateways allow simple transfers to cars, bikes, and other transit modes.
  • Is the RTA working in tandem with other gov't agencies?
    Yes. State representatives and the Department of Transportation are working with RTA officials to complete the HOV plan already in progress. Bottlenecks such as the SR 520 bridge remain the responsibility of the state, but the RTA has pledged to build the local elements of the HOV expressway system. The Puget Sound Regional Council has identified $21 billion in unfunded transport needs, and this proposal directly addresses $3.9 billion of those concerns. The PSRC has also found this proposition consistent with their "Metropolitan Transportation Plan". The regional express project uses the existing facilities of other local services (such as the Metro Tunnel) to operate efficiently and avoid duplication of service. Also, the federal government has approved increases in "new start funding" for transit plans (including the RTA's), and our region is asking for no more than what similar metropolitan areas have received for their new improvements and systems.
  • Does this plan compete with the local transit systems?
    This system actually enhances the ability of local mass transit to operate more efficiently. The RTA plan avoids parallel service issues by directly supporting local transit where it already addresses regional needs.
    Schedules are created with local operations in mind, and regional service will allow local governments to reallocate a portion of their own resources. Revenues of existing transit agencies are not keeping up with the drain of increasing costs, and cities are paying more and taking more time just to maintain current service levels. New local services and capital projects that are desperately needed are going unfunded, and there are no unallocated tax authorities for these agencies to look to. The RTA is investing in capital projects such as express lane on-ramps and park-and-ride lots, which will save millions of hours in ridership time and help unthrottle funds for local transit needs. Even the federal funding that is available to the RTA is separate from that of county systems -- so grants from the Dept. of Transportation can benefit both agencies.
  • Is there any flexibility in the plan?
    This is not an "all-or-nothing" proposition. The plan as submitted is built in stages, and a policy has been adopted to scale back subarea plans in the event of a funding shortfall.
  • What are the alternatives to this proposal?
    No consensus has been reached on any other ideas, but the opposition has suggested building more lanes onto existing highways. This will add to congestion, not decrease it. Also, that course of action leads to more pollution, and longer commutes. It also suggests that our busiest streets and freeways have room to grow -- which they don't. Homes and jobs will be displaced; property now close to the highways will lose value; delays due to construction will aggravate a situation that already unbearable. An equivalent dollar expenditure on highways would not accommodate as much as the RTA plan would, and it could not be realistically completed on an environmental or political level. "More lanes" is an ineffective solution to move people and goods on a regional basis.
  • What happens if voters turn down this plan?
    The RTA is afforded only two opportunities to send a plan to voters -- of which this is the second. No source of funding exists to extend the life of the RTA beyond the November election, and there is no other regional body that substitutes for the RTA. Also, if the Puget Sound region fails to provide local funding for this project, the federal funds earmarked for regional express service will be made unavailable for at least six years. Finally, no other comprehensive plan to address regional congestion issues has been formally proposed (much less agreed to), and a solution will be delayed yet again.

Interested in more about the proposal itself? DETAILS ABOUT THE PLAN are available through the Regional Transit Authority web site.

Haven't we waited long enough?


Vote "YES" on the RTA Proposition No. 1 on November 5.

It's about time!

(206) 728-6051 MICHAEL LUIS, TREAS.