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  • Levi Hastings
It’s time to start moving forward on transit—that’s why we must support Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1 on the November general election ballot. Passing this measure is an essential first step to provide transit to serve the greatest number of riders in Seattle.

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Transportation Prop 1 significantly improves from the county-wide transportation measure that failed at the ballot (due to suburban opposition) last April. That measure spent heavily on roads in addition to funding Metro bus service. In contrast, Proposition 1 is a transit-only city measure that will fund Seattle bus routes.

This measure's funding will help preserve the integrity of our existing bus system. If this measure does not pass, we will face deep potential bus cuts next year that will directly impact thousands of Seattle residents. Last week, King County announced a round of bus service cuts that will take effect in February 2015 and deny thousands of Seattleites bus service to get around.

Traffic is already bad enough in Seattle. Cutting bus service will make things even worse; we don’t want thousands of cars getting back on the roads because their drivers can’t take the bus anymore.

Over the course of next year, as many as 45 bus routes in Seattle could be deleted or revised—harming our ability to get to work and school and cutting a lifeline for seniors, while disproportionately harming lower-income Seattleites for whom Metro provides a transportation lifeline. Transportation Prop 1 will ensure that that those lines remain intact and that we continue moving forward on transit.

We don’t think this measure is perfect. Some readers may recall that we preferred a different funding mechanism—one based on more progressive tax measures–to pay for this critical bus service. But a majority of the City Council wanted to play it safe and use the same revenue sources—a $60 vehicle-licensing fee and a .1% sales tax—that 66 percent of Seattle voters had already voted to support in April.

There will be opportunities in the future to add progressive funding sources to our revenue system (if we fight for them!). For now, the important thing is to ensure that this Seattle-only, transit-only measure is successful at the ballot so that we determine for ourselves the level of transit service we need in our city.

Bus service is vital for many seniors, students, and working families who depend on the bus to get to work, school, and services. Proposition 1 provides up to $2 million for low-income bus riders, including efforts to help qualified riders easily access Metro’s new low-income fare program, which starts in March 2015. Low-income drivers are also eligible for a $20 rebate on the vehicle-licensing fee.

We know our current transit system isn’t meeting demand and needs to be expanded. Transportation Proposition 1 is the first step to get the transit we need in Seattle while we work on a regional, long-term solution. That’s why we urge you to vote yes on Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition One.

Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant are Seattle City Councilmembers.