According to Tacoma Weekly, Pierce Transit has a ballot measure for the November 6, 2012 election. Proposition 1 asks voters within Pierce Transit’s service area to authorize a three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase. Proposition 1’s goal is about maintaining reliable transportation service for seniors, people with disabilities, students, and commuters.
Pierce Transit depends on sales tax revenues for 71% of its operations. We’ve seen 4 years of declining sales tax. Without additional funding, Pierce Transit will have to cut service by 53% (Tacoma Weekly, 9/28/2012).
If Proposition 1 passes on November 6, it will provide service during morning and evening hours on weekends, buses will be available more often for bus riders to go to work, school, their appointments, and shopping, and it will restore service to community events, such as the Puyallup Fair and the Fourth of July Freedom Fair. Proposition 1 calls for an increase of 0.3% in local sales tax. If Proposition 1 does not pass on November 6, there will be elimination of Saturday and Sunday service for buses and ParaTransit service for people with disabilities and no service will be available on holidays or past 7 pm. This will be the implementation at the current 0.6% local sales tax funding level.
According to the table presented in Tacoma Weekly, if Proposition 1 is rejected, the average daily bus boarding’s for week days would approximately be 21,100 compared to today’s service of 35,737. If Proposition 1 is approved, weekday average daily bus boarding’s would estimate to 43,957. The table also presented Saturdays and Sundays representing zero daily bus boarding’s if Proposition 1 is rejected compared to 19,115 for today’s service estimate on Saturdays and 23,511 estimate for Saturdays if approved. The average daily bus boarding’s for today’s service is 11,348 on Sundays and 13,958 estimates for Sunday if approved.
Those that are interested in attending an open house to get more information and ask questions do not have to be registered voters.
Fife/Milton/Edgewood Tuesday, October 2 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at Mill Ridge Village located at: 607 28th Avenue Milton, WA 98354. Routes 402, 501 will be discussed.
Puyallup/Downtown Wednesday, October 10 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm
Puyallup Library (North Room)
324 S. Meridian Puyallup, WA 98371 Routes 400, 402, 409 will be discussed.
South Tacoma Monday, October 15, 2012 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm
New location: Edison Elementary School
5830 South Pine Street Tacoma, WA 98409 Routes 3, 53, 56 will be discussed.
Parkland/Spanaway Tuesday, October 16 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm
13718 Pacific Avenue South Tacoma, WA 98444 Route 1 will be discussed.
Lars Erickson, public relations officer for Pierce Transit in Lakewood, explained about the open houses: “We are required to present information if approved or failed and making sure people know what we’re asking for and why obviously as a government organization, we can’t advocate for either position, but just putting out information.
In the community, it’s easier to go in neighborhood, find information, and ask questions. More people are willing to attend an open house, for example, if they don’t speak English and are afraid to call in. We try to make as accessible as possible.”
Lars explained what it means by the four years of declining sales tax, “The recession began in December 2007, and there was over four years of continuing declines, some pockets of months of small growths sales tax declined significantly. With that kind of loss, people don’t spend as much. People do not have as much to spend with significant layoffs, when you don’t have a job, you don’t spend money, obviously. When you rely on sales tax, like we do, that becomes a very volatile situation with less money spending, there’s less revenue. The City of Tacoma is 9.5%.”
When asked what parts of Pierce County will be affected with Proposition 1, Lars replied, “We had some changes to our boundaries that shrunk it, which also impacts our sales tax collections. All of the city of Tacoma, Puyallup, Lakewood, University Place, Fircrest, Ruston, Fife, Milton, Edgewood (just parts in Pierce County for Fife and Milton) unincorporated Pierce County, and the city of Gig Harbor, and the city Steilacoom.”
Lars commented on what he thought of Proposition 1: “I work for the agency and it’s not appropriate to advocate a position on it. I can speak to the facts, if it’s rejected we’d have to cut 53% of our service, if it’s approved we’re be able to maintain current levels and improve service by 23%.”
When asked what was something many people may not know about Proposition 1, Lars replied, “It equates out to three additional pennies on a $10 purchase.”
For more information about Proposition 1, please visit: piercetransit.org/prop1
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com