Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thurston County Voters Say Yes to Transit

Without a doubt last night's Primary Election in Washington State was not your run of the mill election.

In the midst of wild results for candidates across the state voters in Thurston County strongly said YES to saving transit service in their community.  Like most transit agencies in Washington, Intercity Transit in Olympia was facing a giant budget deficit due to plummeting sales tax receipts.  Last night voters overwhelmingly approved the measure to increase Intercity's sales tax from .6 to .8% allow them to stave off service cuts.  This will also allow Intercity Transit to grow modestly on high demand routes including their Olympia to Tacoma express.  As of this morning the measure is passing by 63.6%!

As staff at TCC I had the pleasure of working on the Yes on Transit campaign in Olympia.  Last night's victory is not only a great win for transit in Thurston County, but also an important victory for transit across the State.  As TCC moves forward with our work on transit funding in the Legislature and fights for transit ballot measures for other struggling agencies,  yesterday's victory reaffirms that even during these tough economic times voters highly value transit service in their community.

In terms of lessons learned, the top three reasons for Intercity's campaign victory last night are:
  1. Preexisting strong relationships and communications between the agency and the community in place prior to the campaign. Prioritizing community connections is embedded into the culture of Intercity Transit.  Tuned in voters understood and sympathized with Intercity Transit's financial problems prior to the campaign even starting.
  2. A well run campaign with professional staff, dedicated volunteers, and ample funding to get the message out and the job done.
  3. Messaging that focused on transit as community service that benefits everyone, transit riders and non-riders alike, with broad support from a variety of local organizations. 
I attended the celebration party for last night's election in Olympia; for a recap check out our Twitter feed

Congratulations again to the Yes on Transit Campaign for a job well done and to Thurston County citizens who will benefit from their foresight to preserve transit service.  It was a pleasure to work with all of you and get a sneak peek into the local politics in Thurston County.

UPDATE: After last night's count the transit measure got over the 64% mark!Amazing!


  1. Now lets see how the funds are used. There's enough money if the economy doesn't tank again, for a modest service increase next year.

  2. How about they use it to accept ORCA? You can go anywhere in the Puget sound with your ORCA card unless you want to go to Lacey.