Sales Tax Hike Could Save Olympia’s Transit System

intercitytransit.pngIf transit supporters don't turn out at the polls, service in Thurston County will plummet by about 25 percent compared to levels made possible by a small sales tax hike. Image: Seattle Transit Blog
It may be the middle of summer, but if you're paying attention, it's already election season. With a string of primaries leading into November's main event, voters will consider transportation issues from now through the fall. In some races, like for California governor, it's one of many hot-button topics being debated by the candidates. In others, transportation is right there on the ballot.

Three Tuesdays from now, Thurston County, Washington, home to state capital Olympia, will vote on whether to increase its sales tax by 0.2 percent in order to fund transit. And according to the Seattle Transit Blog, the stakes are high:

The revenue predicament of Intercity Transit should by now be familiar. Tax revenues are down about 13% from 2007 levels. The agency has already cut some nonessential programs and raised fares, and is now facing a 9% cut in February 2011 and a further 14% in 2012.

Likely 2011 cuts include, according to this handy fact sheet:

  • Elimination of the Dash shuttle (Capitol Campus-downtown Olympia)
  • Elimination of Rt. 42 (SPSCC-Family Court)
  • Reduction in Rts. 13 (Tumwater-Olympia), 41 (TESC-Olympia), 94 (Yelm-Lacey-Olympia) and 620 (Olympia-Lacey-Tacoma)

followed in 2012 by:

  • Elimination of all transit service on Sunday [just like everyone else]
  • Elimination of Rt. 67 (Tri Lake-Lacey)
If the sales tax passes, Thurston County would actually be able to increase service. Observers expect a close vote, though. According to the Seattle Transit Blog, it's all going to come down to turnout.

More from around the network: Midwest High Speed Rail reports that construction between St. Louis and Chicago begins as soon as September. SoapBoxLA looks at how to introduce a new director of city planning. And Car Free Baltimore explores the relationship between street crime and choosing to walk.