Seattle Transit Investments Show Promising Results
Stephen Fesler looks at outcomes of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District as it finishes up its third year. Funding for the STBD came from a 2014 measure approved by voters to expand transit services through a $60 vehicle license fee and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase. The STBD has provided a good return on investment, with $0.91 for every dollar going directly to improving transit services and access.
Since 2015, transit ridership has increased in Seattle on all modes, and much of this growth has happened on regional partnership bus routes. Access also improved between 2015 and 2018. In 2018, over two-thirds of households were within a 10-minute walk of transit service with a frequency of at least 10 minutes, up from a quarter of households in 2015.
In addition, notes Fesler, on-time performance of buses in Seattle improved, the ORCA Youth Card program grew, and more bus routes were added to a service to hiking trailheads.
Funding for the STBD will end next year without reauthorization. In addition to the annual spending on service and access improvements, the Seattle Department of Transportation can spend an additional $10 million on capital projects through the end of 2020. "These investments could include transit-only lanes, queue jumps, transit signal priority, and other strategies to improve speed and reliability," says Fesler.