Evaluating Two Years of Transit Investment in Seattle

Two funding sources for transit investments approved by Seattle voters in 2014 are paying dividends in 2017 in the form of improved, expanded service.

2 minute read

November 9, 2017, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Sound Transit

vewfinder / Shutterstock

The city of Seattle recently completed an evaluation of transit investments in the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (SFBD), which is funded by a vehicle license fee and sales tax approved by voters in 2014.

"At the time, King County Metro Transit was facing funding shortfalls after exhausting reserves during the Great Recession when sales tax receipts were in decline, but by the time voters okayed the measure the proposal had flipped into one of service expansion to serve a growing city," reports Stephen Fesler.

The SFBD now produces an annual performance report on the success of the funding program in delivering investments in "transit service, ridership and on-time performance, access to frequent transit, and transportation equity initiatives such as the Youth ORCA Program and ORCA LIFT," according to Fesler.

In achieving those goals, the SFBD reports many successes—which cities with declining ridership and declining service should both envy and emulate.

Summing up the second year, the STBD reports that access to frequent transit service is way up from where it was in 2015 and surpassing current goals. Additionally, nearly 2,700 youth participated in a free transit pass program, and ridership on several RapidRide lines is up by double digits since 2015. Leading the pack in growth was the RapidRide C which grew 40% since 2015, averaging 11,600 daily rides by last count.

The second annual report is only the latest evidence of Seattle's leadership in public transit. In October, Planetizen reported on Seattle's increasing transit ridership, after repeatedly noting the city's declining number of solo car commuters and increasing adoption of alternative transportation modes.

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