Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Community Transit Ballot Measure -- What Does It Mean?

On July 16, the Community Transit Board of Directors voted to place a measure on the Nov. 3 general election ballot seeking an additional 0.3 percent sales tax for increased transit services.

The board resolution is not the final step. Technically, any candidate or jurisdiction in Snohomish County has until Aug. 4 to get on the November ballot. After that time, the County Auditor will release the official ballot. That should be just a formality for our measure.

A view of Mt. Rainier taken from the top deck of one of our
Double Talls serving Rte 402, traveling southbound on I-5.  
What does this mean? Who gets to vote?
The state has set sales tax as Community Transit’s only local means of funding, other than fares. Currently, Community Transit’s sales tax level is 0.9 percent, which is 9 cents on a $10 purchase. The new measure would add 3 cents to that same $10 purchase.

Community Transit’s sales tax is only collected in our service district, or public transportation benefit area (PTBA). Every city in Snohomish County, except Everett in in our PTBA (see map), as are many areas of the unincorporated county

Only people who live in the PTBA are eligible to vote on this measure, but anyone who shops in the PTBA pays taxes toward Community Transit. So, all those Skagit or King County residents who shop at the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall or Alderwood Mall help to support Community Transit.

That’s why we say “Buy Local for Transit!”

Why is new funding needed?
Remember when we cut service in 2010? People asked why we were the only local agency cutting service at that time. The reality is we made the tough, but fiscally responsible decision to balance our budget when revenues fell dramatically below our expenses.

The result is that we emerged from the recession early and began adding service when other transit agencies and local cities are still considering cuts.

Current service levels do not meet the demand for transit now. Ask any commuter who has to stand for 80 minutes to Seattle, or has a bus pass them by because it is already full. Or talk to the person who misses a connection and has to wait nearly an hour for the next bus.

New funding is needed so Community Transit can meet current and future transit demand in Snohomish County.

In the past two years, job growth has picked up and more people have moved to our county, and the region. The Mill Creek-Bothell area is one of the fastest growing areas in the country right now. And, forecasts for future growth are staggering: 240,000 more people and 130,000 more jobs are expected in Snohomish County by 2040, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.

If new funding is approved, Community Transit will provide:
  • More local bus trips throughout the day, as well as expanded service hours every day of the week.
  • A second Swift bus rapid transit line between the state’s largest manufacturing job center at Boeing/Paine Field and Canyon Park/Bothell, Snohomish County’s high-tech job center.
  • More commuter bus trips to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington.
  • Increased east-west connections within the county.
  • More bus service to job, housing and educational centers throughout the county, including communities such as Arlington, Monroe and Stanwood.
  • New routes, such as Marysville-to-McCollum Park via Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Silver Firs via Highway 9.
  • Reconfigured local bus service to connect with Sound Transit Link light rail when it reaches Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and, eventually, Everett.
  • More vanpools and expanded DART paratransit service.

The additional sales tax would generate about $25 million a year for more transit service. In addition, Community Transit could bring in up to $50 million in federal and state funding to complete the second Swift line, and possibly more grant funding for a third Swift line to link up with light rail by 2023.

A new web page is being set up to answer questions about the ballot measure. Go ahead and start asking questions here, now.


  1. "all those Skagit or King County residents who shop ... help to support Community Transit. "

    Like me in Mukilteo & Paine Field. Happy to do so. Let's get this done, get connectivity for not just Mukilteo but the rest of Snohomish County!

  2. I have been hoping against hope that a route going up and down Hwy 9 from points north to Redmond. It would be used for commuting but also access to the shopping areas and recreation. I know I would!