Egregious Transportation Revenue Distribution between Cars and Transit

We spend over 100 times as much for a light rail transit rider as a car trip and 12 times as much for a bus rider. That is why we don’t have enough money to pay to fix I-405 where it would give you a lot of congestion relief. The current political leadership has chosen to distribute the revenues collected for transportation in King County in an egregious manner. We have chosen an enormous unfair misappropriation of funds and I will work to change that formula as your representative in Olympia.

The residents of Bellevue pay six times as much to Sound Transit and double as much to both Metro and to WSDOT as they pay to the city government for transportation in a year.

The distribution of the dollars from the voters in the City of Bellevue is a good example. The four major agencies providing transportation services in the city are: 1. The City of Bellevue (local streets), 2. King County Metro (bus transit), 3. Sound Transit (light rail and Regional Express buses), and 4. WSDOT (state highways). Each agency produces information for their sources of revenue. The bar graph below shows the revenues generated in Bellevue by the various agencies for 2018.

The residents of Bellevue pay just under $40 million for the annual Capital Investment Program (CIP) of the city for transportation related items. At the same time, King County Metro collects about $85 million/year for bus transit Sound Transit collects about $230 million/year for its program, and WSDOT collects about $90 million/year, each from Bellevue residents.

Cars are and will still be dominate, even more so in the pandemic. Trip estimates by the City of Bellevue in its Transit Master Plan show that by 2030, people in cars will still be 82% of all daily trips in Bellevue, people in buses will be up to 5.6% of the trips and people on light rail will be about 1.4% of all trips in Bellevue, with the rest of the daily trips being walking at 10.7% and bicycling at 0.2%.

City residents are spending about $9,000 this year and every year/projected light rail daily rider in 2030. Combining the City CIP and WSDOT funds as road-based car trips, Bellevue residents pay about $80/daily car trip/year in the city, and $2,500/daily bus transit trip/year. This is the annual cost to the collective Bellevue residents for the city, county, regional, state, and federal taxes, fees, tolls, and fares to provide the services and infrastructure for transportation in Bellevue.

Get that? We pay 112 times as much for a daily light rail transit rider as a car trip in public resources and 12 times as much for a bus rider. And even at that level of subsidy, we couldn’t get more people to ride the transit system pre-pandemic. Transit ridership is way down with the ‘work at home’ orders for the downtown office workers which dominate the commute transit ridership.

The unfair political decision on priorities is why we have traffic congestion on I-405. We have politically decided to not spend the money to relieve your daily traffic congestion.

I will work to change that when I am elected to be your State Representative in the 48th District.

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