Thursday, February 10, 2011

Transportation For Washington Campaign Officially Launched

The Transportation for Washington is officially live.

Here is the press release for the campaign in its entirety:

Transportation for Washington unveils blueprint for more transit and smart transportation investments across state
Campaign also introduces new local transit funding legislation

Olympia – A coalition of environmentalists, transit advocates, labor groups and businesses today unveiled a new vision for Washington state’s transportation future.  Called Transportation for Washington, the campaign is a blueprint with new policies and a set of principles for how to get Washington moving forward with investments to repair aging transportation infrastructure and funding for more transit.

“We have a transportation crisis in our state, unsafe bridges, slashed transit services, bumper to bumper traffic congestion,” said April Putney, Co-Director of Futurewise.  “To get Washington ready for economic growth and create jobs in a way that protects our environment, it’s time for us to have a new vision for transportation in our state.  Transportation for Washington is that vision.”

Transportation for Washington is a multi-year campaign to clean our air and water, invest in transit options that save people money, and build great, healthy communities to work live and play. The campaign is based on three main principles:

1.      More transit.  Washington needs new investments in transit to increase transportation choices while reducing congestion, improve freight mobility, connect our rural communities and decrease pollution.
2.      Fix it first; Save lives.  The state’s crumbling bridges and roads must be repaired first, and then ensure that new investments do not cause more sprawl, pollution and increased costs to taxpayers.
3.      Build healthy, sustainable communities.  Washington needs a more efficient transportation system that supports affordable and healthy neighborhoods that connect people to jobs, their community and each other.

As part of the campaign launch of statewide principles, Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds) announced he would introduce legislation to provide permanent local funding for more transit.  The bill would provide local transit agencies the ability to pursue voter-approved funding for transit, and would allow local transit agencies to select from a variety of local, progressive tax sources.  Before any tax could be levied, it must be approved by the voters in the agency’s jurisdiction. 

The potential tax sources available would be:
·         Progressive Motor Vehicle Excise Tax
·         Vehicle License Fee based on annual mileage
·         Fuel Efficiency-based Tax that rewards clean and efficient vehicles
·         Local sales tax on gasoline

With transit agencies currently relying on the regressive sales tax, Liias is especially interested in solving the growing divide between increased transit use, and the decline of sales tax revenue in a recession.

“Communities are strengthened by the availability of quality transportation choices and reliable infrastructure,” Liias said.  “With local transit agencies staring at devastating reductions in service, this legislation will allow voters to decide for themselves whether to keep the quality of life high in their communities.”

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