Thursday, April 29, 2010

Election Update: Whatcom Transportation Authority forced to Cut Service

With no options from the Legislature other than raising sales tax, agencies across the state are facing a tough decision, ask voters to approve sales tax increases during tough economic times, or cut service.

In the case of some agencies such as King County Metro and Community Transit they don't even have this choice because they are maxed out on their state allowed sales tax.

Whatcom Transportation Authority asked voters on Tuesday to raise their sales tax by .02% to stave off service cuts for their transit agency, which recently saw the largest ridership increases in the country (35% in one year).

Tuesday night the election was very close and measure was failing by a mere 274 votes. As new ballots came in last night that gap spread to nearly 1,000 votes. This means immediate cuts of 14% will have to be made by the agency, similar to the level of cuts being implemented by Community Transit in June. There will likely be no service on Sunday and in the evenings; leaving transit riders stranded.

The Bellingham Herald has the full report here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bellingham Herald , "Whatcom County voters narrowly rejecting WTA tax increase"

The Bellingham Herald had a preliminary story on last night's WTA returns. The full story is here.

"Obviously it's close, but I'm obviously pleased that the majority of folks are going to defeat this, I think," said Brett Bonner, campaign manager for People for Progressive Transportation, the group opposing the measure. "The later vote, it tends to lean conservative, traditionally. But at this point no one knows for sure."

Jason Heck, spokesman for the group urging passage of the measure, Transit Works, said they'll just have to see what further counts show.

"We looked at the numbers going in and knew that it was going to be pretty close," he said. "I guess we'll just see where it goes from here."

No new numbers have been released yet and its too close to call, but unfortunately it is an uphill climb for the campaign to save bus service in Whatcom County.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Future of Whatcom County Transit Decided Tonight?

Whatcom County voters will decide today whether or not to save their bus service with a .02% sales tax increase. If the measure does not pass Whatcom Transportation Authority will be forced to cut service by around 15%.

I'll report here live with the first returns. If the election is close it may be too close to call tonight. They need a 50%+1 vote to pass the modest sales tax increase to save service.

For election results directly from the source here is the link you will want.

For great coverage of the campaign (and I'm sure result analysis as well) check out the Traffic Blog on the Bellingham Herald's website.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a majority of Whatcom County voters will decide to step up to save their great smaller transit system.

Win or lose, I think the pro-transit campaign did a great job getting the word out about the importance of bus service in the community and rallying a diverse spectrum of organizational and individual supporters.

Stay tuned here as the first round of results arrive in 30 minutes or so.

Jared from the Bellingham Herald reports that 39% of voters have voted as of yesterday in the special election. I think this is probably a good sign for the measure. Also according to his blog there will be only one release of numbers tonight at 8:30pm. The next one will not be until tomorrow.

With 41.75% of the registered voters counted the measure is failing by a minuscule amount, 274 votes out of 47,536 counted.

Wow. This is very very tight. With these being the only ballots counted today it is way to close to call. This means ballot chasing and very likely a mandatory recount could be in order, unless things swing strongly one way or another. Wild.

According to the auditor they have 48,355 ballots returned as of today. That means they have about 800 more ballots to count as of today. Another few hundred ballots will come in over the next few days, probably meaning there is about 1,400 or less ballots to count. Very very tight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blog Recommendation on Bike Sharing

While thumbing through through some articles on bike sharing and rentals in America I stumbled upon this very informative blog.

As the name suggests the blog is dedicated entirely to reporting on bike sharing programs across the world.

Bike sharing is something that King County Metro, the City of Tacoma, and others in Washington have looked at doing but it has not been fully implemented here yet.

One way bike sharing can be particularly useful in cities is helping folks make connections from transit lines to their destinations. For example, imagine if there were bikes at Columbia City's light rail station, one could hop on the train from Downtown and get a bike to speed up the .5 mi trip from the station to Downtown Columbia City. Making the trip for a lunchtime getaway or meeting on transit more accessible.

Its something to think about and it will be interesting to see if any pilot projects go forward in the near future in Washington!

According to the blog Mexico City has over 1,000 bikes distributed throughout the city, luckily for them they have much less pesky rain to deal with than we do.

Olympia Wrap-Up: Gains Made in the Legislature but State Leaves Transit Hanging by a Thread

Below is the e-mail we sent out to our supporters today summarizing the legislative session. Feel free to post questions in the comment section.

The 2010 Legislative Session was an Olympic-sized roller coaster. This session was tough because it was primarily focused on the general budget crisis. But don't worry, all of your hard work as a dedicated TCC member did have an impact! We were successful in creating a groundswell of awareness on our issues and organizing our legislative supporters around transit funding and other priorities.

Transit Funding

Thanks to the heroic efforts of some of our House champions, like Reps. Marko Liias and Geoff Simpson, we were able to successfully pass an emergency transit funding measure off the House floor by a wide margin. Unfortunately, the bill didn't make it all the way to the Governor's desk, but it was still a great show of strength for our issues. With transit agencies facing financial free falls and nowhere else to turn for revenues, agencies across the State are making or planning for drastic service cuts. We're optimistic that the Senate will also step up for transit in the next session and we'll get a long-term transit funding bill on the Governor's desk this time next year.

Complete Streets

We had a great hearing on House Bill 2911, which would have positioned Washington as one of the first states in the country to adopt a statewide Complete Streets policy. With the help of Rep. Jim Moeller and Chair Judy Clibborn, legislation easily moved out of the House Transportation Committee. While it did not come up for a floor vote, it was a great start to getting the conversation going on statewide Complete Streets and we're working on putting together a funded proposal in future sessions.

Thanks for all of your hard work this session...while our gains this year were modest, we were able to drum up awareness during this tough legislative year and we would not have been able to do that without you!

Publicola did a quick post on the contents of the e-mail on their blog.
The Sierra Club also posted their legislative wrap up today, which is worth a read.

Thanks for all you do!

The Perfect Part-Time Job

Hello friends of TCC! Our pals over at Zipcar are hiring part time help right now to get the word out about their awesome car sharing program!

Have some extra time on your hands and want to make some extra money, check it out!


Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing company, is looking to add new talent to our team.

Today, Zipcar provides hundreds of thousands of people with a viable alternative to traditional car ownership, saving them money, time and headaches. Around the world—from coast to coast, across Canada, the UK, and college campuses in between—people are making the decision to live car free and enjoying the convenience and environmental benefits of having “wheels when you want them”.

As we continue to grow our operations, we are looking for talented, passionate people with great ideas to join the family. We aim to create an environment that is supportive, diverse, and as fun as our brand. If you’re results-oriented, dedicated, and ready to contribute to an unparalleled member experience for our community of Zipsters, we encourage you to apply.

To learn more about Zipcar, what we do, and how we do it, visit For further employment opportunities, visit


Zipcar Street Marketing Representatives are the public face of the Zipcar brand and report to the Marketing Manager. This position is requires approachable, clever, and fun individuals who can effectively communicate the Zipcar message to a variety of different people.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:
* Educates members of the public about Zipcar by engaging people, distributing marketing materials, and signing new members
* Performs event set-up and break-down and associated tasks
* Submits event evualtions and particpates in team meetings
* Works with team members to achieve weekely member goals
* Will be required to wear Zip gear

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Forum Today at Noon!

Just a quick reminder that today at noon is our next Friday Forum where I'll be talking up the 2010 Legislative Session. There will be lots of time for Q and A and I'm sure we'll touch on transit funding, complete streets, and mega projects.

See you there!

WHAT: 2010 Legislative Session Wrap-Up
WHEN: Friday, April 9, 12 - 1:30 pm
WHERE: Downtown YMCA, Room 123 - 909 Fourth Ave., Seattle (between Marion and Madison Streets)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

St. Louis Steps up for Transit

St. Louis voters approved a half a cent increase on their sales tax yesterday to support their financially strapped transit system. See the full story here

Whatcom Transportation Authority in Bellingham is going to the ballot on April 29th and other fiscally strapped agencies in Washington looking at their revenue options in the months and years ahead. Voters locally in Walla Walla and nationally in St. Louis have yet again affirmed their willingness to pay a little more to preserve and grow their transit service. Hopefully this is a sign of what's to come in other communities asking voters to preserve their service in our State.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Preserve Public Transit In Whatcom County: Vote YES on Proposition 1!

We've been hard at work to pass Proposition 1 in Bellingham, which will save bus service across Whatcom County. Below is an action alert e-mail that is going out today. Please considering donating a small amount of money or time to help save bus service in Whatcom County!

Vote Yes on Prop 1 this April to Preserve Public Transit in Whatcom County!

Bus service in Whatcom County needs your Help!
The Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) provides over 20,000 one way trips per weekday to residents throughout Whatcom County. In 2008, WTA had the fastest ridership growth of any transit system in the United States, so demand has been growing. However, while demand has increased, revenues have decreased.

The overwhelming majority of WTA’s revenues comes from locally collected sales taxes. Due to our current economic recession, sales tax revenues have plummeted. WTA has already slashed $2 million out of its existing budget, and the agency will be forced to cut another $4 million dollars in the next year if Proposition 1 does not pass. Cuts will mean evening and Sunday bus service will be eliminated and many Whatcom County residents will be left stranded at their bus stops.

What you can do to Help
1. VOTE YES on Proposition 1 by April 27th! This is an all mail in election so get your ballot in early to make sure your vote is counted
2. DONATE: Even a small Donation to the campaign will help them reach more voters and win in April.
3. VOLUNTEER: The campaign is now running phone banks to contact voters. There are plenty of two hour shifts available from 10am-8pm Monday-Thursday. They are also doorbelling from 10-1 or 12-3 on Saturdays. For more information contact the campaign’s field director at . Doorbelling and Phone banking will be staffed out of the Whatcom County Democrats Office at 215 West Holly Street in Bellingham.

What Two Cents Buys you
On April 27th WTA is proposing to raise their sales tax levels by 0.2%, or 2 pennies on a ten dollar purchase. 2 pennies can help save bus service in your community; at a time when demand for transit continues to grow we need more transit service, not less!

Providing efficient bus service across the county gives Whatcom County residents the opportunity to leave their cars at home when going to work, school or simply running errands. Robust transit service is crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting urban growth that protects rural lands. That’s why we hope you’ll join us in voting YES on Proposition 1.

Thank you for your support! For more information visit and remember to VOTE YES on PROPOSITION 1 this April!