Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Puget Sound voters are ready for a regional Roads & Transit package

The introductory segment of our just-released podcast highlights data collected earlier this month that shows the Roads & Transit package has strong public support. For those of you who'd rather read, here's a transcribed preview:
Recent polling just released this week by EMC Research and Moore Information indicates the people of Central Puget Sound are ready to vote in favor of increased revenue for transportation improvements. 63% of those polled are supportive after hearing what the revenue increases will cost the average household and what the major components of the package are.

One of the most popular components in the package, according to this poll and other data gathered by Sound Transit, is the expansion of the Link light rail system, which 75% of respondents across the region support. When broken down by subarea, residents of the Eastside are the most enthusiastic, with an astounding 80% expressing support for light rail.

Also very popular are plans to expand express bus service and add more park and rides.

Respondents also gave Sound Transit high marks – 63% have a favorable opinion of the agency, while 20% have an unfavorable opinion. King County Metro received similar numbers.

Interestingly, respondents were not as pleased with the State Department of Transportation, the agency that primarily builds highways, maintains roads, and operates the ferry system. WSDOT received a 50% favorable opinion and a 30% unfavorable opinion in the poll.

76% percent of those polled say they believe the 2007 Roads & Transit package will help fight congestion in Puget Sound, with close to half saying it would “help a great deal”.

Only 18% said they did not think would not help much.
This information, while not a surprise to us, is helpful in that it ably counters all the dire predictions and gloomy forecasts we've been hearing constantly from some state politicians, area commentators, and pundits.

For example:
On top of the existing backlog, elected officials soon will ask private interests to underwrite a ballot campaign this fall for a crushingly cost-ineffective Sound Transit regional light rail system as well as new local roads. They'll be kidding, right?
Or this:
The no-no Alaskan Way Viaduct advisory verdict by Seattle voters was a Nisqually Quake-like warm-up for a bigger tremor at which we may soon find ourselves in the epicenter.

The "Big One" will very likely come this fall, when voters in four central Puget Sound counties are asked to fork up $15 billion or so for highways and Sound Transit light rail projects.

"We are headed for a train wreck in November," said John Stanton, co-founder of Western Wireless.
Wrong - according to this information, we're headed for a smooth ride in November. It certainly won't be a sure thing, but the chances of success are pretty good. It's an excellent opportunity. While we've never been enamored with individual polls, this poll is consistent with scientific research that has been conducted in the past and demonstrates a distinct trend.

We have repeatedly observed that the region is ready for light rail and eager to invest in transit solutions. This $16.5 billion package represents tremendous progress - it's a huge step forward. As Sound Transit Chairman John Ladenburg emphasized to me earlier today in our conversation, it's a twenty year plan. That's something we haven't had in the past.

And thanks to years of experience, Sound Transit staff can offer realistic projections to the public. One of the ways the agency turned itself around a few years ago was by adopting a policy of under promising and over delivering - which has helped ensure pleasant surprises instead of unfortunate disappointments.

Voters are ready for the regional Roads & Transit package, and we are too. The municipal leaders guiding Sound Transit and RTID ought to be commended for keeping their eyes on the prize in the face of skepticism and outright hostility from the state's political and media establishment.

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