LEAD STORY, released September 26, 1996
in the Public Interest Transit Forum: www.gt.wa-com/RTA/
No Confidence Motion Introduced in the King
County Council on RTA Transit Plan
Three King County Councilmembers (Rob McKenna, Jane Hague and
Chris Vance) introduced a "no confidence" motion
regarding the RTA transit plan to the King County Council on
September 19th. It contains 31 "whereas" clauses that
define their serious concerns about the validity and usefulness
of the proposed RTA transit plan. It provides some very useful
information for citizens to review as they make up their minds
about how to vote on November 5th.
This motion has been referred to a Committee of the Whole
(the entire Council) and will be discussed by the Council at a
hearing on October 7th, at 9:30 am. Subsequent hearings may be
held on the following Mondays and a final meeting may feature
Councilmember debate and a vote on the motion - probably on the
third or fourth Monday of October. The motion will need 7 votes
to pass as the County Council has 13 members.
A story on the front page of the September 24, 1996 Seattle
Times quoted Councilmember Cynthia Sullivan (D - Seattle) as
saying that the motion is "an attempt to cloud the issue,
create doubt and defeat."
A sample of the content of this motion is as follows:
- The plan violates state law, RCW 81.104.120, that
authorizes the operation of commuter rail only when a
comparative test has demonstrated a low passenger cost
per mile than buses or other modes. No such test has been
conducted and it is deemed unlikely that commuter rail
would turn out to be cheaper than comparable express bus
- The prospects for the region obtaining the budgeted
Federal share of costs, $727 million, are slim at best.
Existing bus operators like Metro - which are not part of
the RTA - will be competing for the scarce Federal funds.
- The plan proposes the construction of a new $850 tunnel
from the University District to downtown Seattle to
accommodate light rail, while expected ridership through
the tunnel is only about the same as ridership on
existing bus routes which serve that corridor.
- Funding shortfalls may cause the RTA to push the costs of
the new train tunnel onto suburban residents, despite the
promise that citizens of each subarea would pay the costs
for their own region.
- The plan would also put rail into the existing downtown
Seattle bus tunnel and force the buses out onto surface
streets, with no provision for dealing with the increased
- In several other places the motion raises the concern
that the RTA Plan will not deal effectively with traffic congestion, which is covered in
a previous Lead Story in this website.
It should be fascinating to see and hear the King County
Council members discuss and debate these 31 items. We applaud
Councilmember Rob McKenna for doing the heavy lifting needed to
bring important questions about the RTA Plan before the Council
and the public. We will be reporting on the status and progress
of this motion in the weeks ahead. The full
text of the "no confidence motion" as introduced is
The Editors, Public Interest Transit Forum
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Last modified: September 26, 1996