Four Steps to a Transportation Revolution

July 29, 2019

Photo: Crosscut. Click to navigate to source article.

The Seattle Times recently reported that deaths and serious injuries from traffic violence are up in the first half of this year, especially collisions between moving vehicles and people walking or biking. This is unacceptable. With climate change accelerating and Seattle’s emissions rising, we need our elected leaders to take decisive action for a carbon-free transportation system with safe streets for all. The past year and a half has been filled with disappointing set-backs. It’s time to turn that around.

Last week Crosscut published a two-part article by TRU’s General Secretary Katie Wilson, calling for a transportation revolution in Seattle:

Part I: Durkan can’t make Seattle a climate leader without fixing our commute

Part II: Four things Mayor Durkan must do to spark Seattle’s transportation revolution

Here’s how you can help. The MASS coalition has just released a new package of transit, biking, walking & rolling improvements that we are asking the city to act on in the next few months. Please take a moment to send an email to Seattle elected officials:

Email Mayor & Councilmembers

TRU is working hard with our allies in the MASS Coalition and with councilmembers to turn the MASS transportation package into actionable legislation that can be passed this summer and fall. Stay tuned for further actions!

More Primary Endorsements

July 26, 2019

At our July Membership Meeting, TRU members voted to make three additional endorsements for the 2019 Primary Elections. (In June we endorsed Lisa Herbold for Seattle City Council District 1; Tammy Morales for Seattle City Council District 2; Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council District 3; and Shaun Scott and Emily Myers for Seattle City Council District 4.) Here are our additional endorsements:

Yes on Seattle Prop 1: Levy Renewal for the Seattle Public Library

Seattle has an excellent library system and we need to keep it that way. We don’t usually love property taxes, but we do love libraries, so this one is well worth it. Vote Yes!

Dan Strauss for Seattle City Council District 6

Here at the Transit Riders Union, we will miss Councilmember Mike O’Brien. We’ll miss his leadership on public transit and sustainability. We’ll miss his compassionate and courageous approach to the homelessness crisis in the face of ugly opposition. And we’ll miss his willingness to work closely with grassroots groups and communities to get stuff done. But he’s not running for re-election, so you can’t vote for him.

There are many candidates running to represent District 6, more than in any other district, though only six of them filled out our candidate questionnaire. We decided to endorse a candidate who we think shares many of TRU’s values and also (we hope) is within striking distance of making it through the Primary: Dan Strauss, who now works as an aide to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. Dan’s answers to our questionnaire stood out, notably his idea of indexing city fees, fines, and permits to income, like Finland does. We also like that he hasn’t been endorsed by Speak Out Seattle or the Chamber of Commerce, something we can’t say of the other front-runners in this race. If you live in District 6, we hope you’ll vote for Dan!

Girmay Zahilay for King County Council District 2

Councilmember Larry Gossett and the Transit Riders Union go way back, back to early 2012 when TRU was still just a small crew of volunteers, and he was the first county councilmember we met with to discuss our idea of a low-income reduced fare. We appreciate the many things Councilmember Gossett and his dedicated staff have done over the years to advance the cause of affordable and accessible public transit, from championing the ORCA LIFT program to pushing to improve Access Paratransit service.

And yet… TRU is endorsing Gossett’s opponent, Girmay Zahilay. The King County Council is often a sleepy body, with rarely-contested elections. That’s not healthy for democracy. In today’s rapidly-changing world, this council needs members who are there on a mission, willing to shake things up, coming with bold ideas, prepared to challenge their colleagues and fight hard for their consituents. When a candidate like Girmay Zahilay comes along, it’s really hard to say no.

As a child of refugees who grew up in South Seattle, Zahilay has deep roots in the community and personal experience of the challenges many District 2 residents are facing. As an attorney and the founder of a non-profit that mentors at-risk youth, he has demonstrated his abilities and dedication. He has also taken a stronger position against youth incarceration than any of the sitting councilmembers, including Gossett. We think King County District 2 will be best served by electing Girmay Zahilay.

Exciting Court Ruling on Seattle’s Tax on the Wealthy

July 17, 2019

Two years ago, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a tax on high-income households championed by the Trump-Proof Seattle Coalition, which TRU co-convened with the Economic Opportunity Institute. We knew this tax would be challenged, and that was the point: We wanted to give the Washington State Supreme Court a chance to overturn flawed 1930s rulings that have stymied efforts to fix our state’s upside-down, regressive tax system for generations. Venture capitalists and other members of Seattle’s wealthy class immediately sued the city, and since then the tax has been winding its way through the court system.

On Monday, the Court of Appeals handed down its ruling. While as expected it didn’t uphold the tax— only the higher court can overturn its own previous decisions— the ruling was extremely favorable for us. It affirmed Seattle’s authority to tax income, and opened the door for the State Supreme Court to address precisely the question we want them to address: Whether income is a form of property (we say not!) and thus, according to our state’s constitution, only taxable “uniformly,” not in a graduated or progressive way.

If the State Supreme Court upholds Seattle’s tax, our City will have a robust, progressive, revenue source, revolutionizing our ability to provide essential public services and guarantee a dignified standard of living for every Seattle resident. Even if the higher court strikes down Seattle’s specific tax, its ruling could still open huge new possibilities for state and local tax reform. This decision from the Court of Appeals is extremely encouraging, and while we are trying not to get our hopes up too much, we are thrilled and our opponents are “dumbstruck”!

Next stop: On to the State Supreme Court!

TRU’s Primary Endorsements

July 2, 2019

At our June membership meeting, TRU made primary endorsements in four of the seven Seattle City Council districts. Our endorsements are below. It’s possible we will revisit the other three districts this month. You can read all the candidates’ responses to our questionnaire here and watch the MASS Coalition’s five candidate forums here.

District 1: Lisa Herbold

Councilmember Lisa Herbold is a champion for progressive citywide policies as well as for her district. She has led on bold efforts to reform the most regressive tax system in the country. She’s a dedicated public servant, a smart and effective leader, and a strong ally to grassroots movements and groups like TRU. Also, her two challengers are people we really, really don’t want on the city council. Vote for Lisa Herbold for District 1!

District 2: Tammy Morales

Ever since Tammy Morales came within a few hundred votes of representing District 2 in 2015, she has been doing the work. From organizing with Southeast Seattle community groups to serving on the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Tammy has demonstrated that she will show up and represent marginalized communities in District 2 and throughout the city. Tammy has also been a strong ally to TRU and the Trump-Proof Seattle and Housing For All Coalitions, and we are proud to endorse her campaign for District 2!

District 3: Kshama Sawant

Since she was first elected in 2013, Kshama Sawant has been a steadfast champion for working and poor people, and for fare-free mass transit. An unapologetic voice for socialism, she has used her council seat to open up new political possibilities not just in Seattle but across the country. Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce would love for this to be Kshama’s last term on the council. Let’s make sure they don’t get their wish.

District 4: Shaun Scott and Emily Myers

Shaun Scott and Emily Myers impressed us with their energy, progressive values, and strong positions on transit and transportation. Both are renters and will make the housing affordability crisis a top priority. Among a surprising number of good candidates in District 4, we also think Shaun and Emily have the strongest chance of beating the Chamber of Commerce pick in this race.

Hundreds Rally & Ride for Safe Streets

June 17, 2019

Credit: Brock Howell

Six months into the Seattle Squeeze, with carbon emissions rising and Vision Zero a still-distant dream, Seattle families and residents gathered at the Ride for Safe Streets on Father’s Day to urge City leaders to more decisive action.

Over the past year we’ve seen frustrating delays and cut-backs to plans for important biking, walking, transit, and safety projects. Compared with the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan, SDOT’s current pace of bikeway development is less than half of what’s needed, and 27% lower than what the Move Seattle Levy funded. At the same time, major transit projects have been shelved, pedestrians are being deprioritized at major intersections, and sidewalks and curb ramps aren’t being built nearly fast enough.

Councilmembers Mike O’Brien and Lorena González

City Hall Plaza was packed to overflowing on Sunday afternoon as residents of neighborhoods throughout Seattle converged on downtown, bringing a message to Mayor Durkan and other city officials that they expect bold action. The MASS Coalition announced a Green Transportation Package that the coalition hopes to move forward this summer. Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena González and Mike O’Brien spoke at the event and voiced their support for the initiative; Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and a number of city council candidates were also in attendance.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw

“We’ve spent the last fifty years prioritizing and subsidizing driving,” said Jeanna Wheeler, a scientist and member of the Seattle chapter of 500 Women Scientists. “It’s time for us to join cities across the globe in rejecting this harmful dead end. Energy systems change; our energy future isn’t fossil fuel, in the same way that our energy future isn’t whale oil. Rather than building our city’s infrastructure around cars (or whaling ships), we must begin building them around people. No elected leader in Seattle denies the science of climate change publicly, and yet far too many deny that the public is ready to make hard choices to address it. This is the new face of climate denialism in our Emerald City.”

Rich Brown of Duwamish Valley Safe Streets and several other speakers pointed to historic underinvestment in South Seattle’s transportation infrastructure. The Rainier Ave Safety Corridor Project, which promises to transform Seattle’s most dangerous street, has seen years of delay. South Seattle lacks the connected network of bike lanes and paths that makes biking a safe and comfortable option for many in North Seattle. As Jennifer Grant of Familybike Seattle said, “Fathers shouldn’t have to drive across the city to teach their children to bike.”

Credit: Mark Ostrow

“The fact that so many people are willing to spend a weekend day on the streets shows that people are dissatisfied,” said Vicky Clarke, Policy Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. “We’re one of the most economically prosperous cities in the nation; there is no reason we shouldn’t have safe infrastructure for all people, across the city, including for those who need or choose to bike. If the Mayor is serious wanting to achieve Vision Zero it’s going to need more action than we have seen so far. We need to do better and we will continue to hold the city accountable to do just that.”

“When commuting by public transit takes so much longer than commuting by car, it’s no wonder people choose to drive,” said Katie Wilson, General Secretary of the Transit Riders Union. “Buses carrying scores of people shouldn’t get stuck in a sea of single-occupancy vehicles— and they don’t have to. With commitment from City leaders, we can create a robust network of bus priority corridors connecting Seattle’s neighborhoods, allowing all residents to travel rapidly and reliably around our city by bus and train.”

Credit: Mark Ostrow

A common refrain at the event was that the City already has many good plans: Vision Zero to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030; a Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050; and Transit, Bike, and Pedestrian Master Plans to build out our city’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure. But the City is not on track to fulfill the commitments outlined in any of these plans. The MASS Coalition has designed a Green Transportation Package to try to get the City back on track. Participants at the Ride for Safe Streets had a clear message on Sunday for the Mayor: Find the political will, use existing funding strategically, and seek new funding if needed. We can’t compromise on the safe, green transportation system that’s needed today and for future generations.

After listening to speeches the crowd poured into 4th Avenue. Fathers biking with their children, people with wheelchairs and others with canes, and parents with strollers, all proceeded down the street together to Westlake Park, where the event concluded with music and activities for kids.

Riders with Disabilities Win Major Improvements in New Access Paratransit Contract

May 30, 2019
Harriet Williams rides on a King County Metro paratransit bus Seattle, Sept. 2, 2018. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut – source article here)

For years, TRU has organized with riders who use Metro’s Access Paratransit vans and allies including Stop Veolia Seattle, Washington ADAPT West and Disability Rights Washington, to demand higher standards of service so that everyone can get where they need to go reliably and with dignity.

A 2017 audit showed what we already knew: Access riders are often picked up and dropped off excessively late or early, and what should be a short ride can turn into a long, winding, exhausting trip around King County. Why? Because the private transportation companies Metro contracts with to provide this service too often put profit over the needs of transit riders and workers.

Well, last Friday we won a major victory when Metro signed a new Access contract that will go into effect on November 1st. Most critically, the new contract will more strongly enforce pick-up and drop-off time windows and the time riders spend on board. Customer service will be handled directly by Metro, instead of by a private corporation with clear conflicts of interest.

We are thrilled that Veolia Transdev, a notorious corporate bad actor that profits off of privatizing transportation and water systems around the world, lost their bid to continue operating Access service in King County. Instead of Metro dealing with three separate entities that are often at odds with each other, there is now just a single contract with MV Transportation, enabling better transparency and accountability.

We’re not totally satisfied, of course. We wish the contract were still stronger, and ultimately we believe Access service should be brought in-house and run directly by a public agency, with higher service standards for riders and higher labor standards for drivers. We will continue to monitor performance and organize with Access riders, especially to achieve equity for riders who are nonverbal or speak English as a second language. But all told, the new contract is a big step forward, and one that would not have happened without persistent effort and pressure from Access riders and allies. So let’s celebrate this victory!

Hear from Seattle City Council Candidates on Transportation, Housing, & Sustainability

May 22, 2019

TRU, the MASS Coalition, and allies are hosting candidate forums in five of the seven Seattle City Council districts* this month. We’ll hear from candidates as they answer questions about mass transit, housing, ensuring everyone is able to use our streets safely, reducing carbon emissions, and centering racial equity in all of this work. The first two forums will be moderated by Heidi Groover, and the last three will be moderated by Erica Barnett. All forums are wheelchair-accessible and CART services will be provided:

District 6 Candidate Forum
Tuesday, May 21, 5:30-7:30pm
Phinney Neighborhood Association, 6532 Phinney Ave N

District 3 Candidate Forum
Thursday, May 23, 6:00-7:30pm
Washington State Labor Council, 321 16th Ave S

District 2 Candidate Forum
Tuesday, May 28, 6:00-7:30pm
New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave S

District 7 Candidate Forum
Wednesday, May 29, 6:00-8:00pm
SEIU 775 Auditorium, 215 Columbia St.

District 4 Candidate Forum
Thursday, May 30, 5:30-7:30pm
Cascade Bicycle Club, 7787 62nd Ave NE

* Why aren’t we doing all seven districts? It takes a lot of work to organize forums, so we decided to focus our energies on the districts with the most competitive races. TRU and MASS are also doing candidate questionnaires, so before the primary elections take place in August, you’ll be able to read what D1 and D5 candidates have to say about many of these same issues.

Sound Transit Backs Off Privatization Plan, For Now

March 26, 2019

On Thursday, March 14, we learned that Sound Transit has quietly been taking steps to contract out their bus service to a private, for-profit corporation. This is unacceptable for so many reasons. Privatization of public transit is a profit-grab that in other cities has led to eroding service and safety standards, not to mention that any “savings” usually come from turning middle class union bus driver positions into lower-wage jobs with worse benefits. Contracting out to a private company also undermines public oversight, transparency, and accountability. TRU and allies sounded the alert and hundreds of people emailed Sound Transit Boardmembers urging that they halt the privatization plans. Guess what? The board listened.

Sound Transit has agreed to “pause” the RFP (request for proposals) to allow for a thorough discussion among boardmembers and with King County Metro, which currently operates the Express service; labor partners like ATU 587, which represents Metro drivers and mechanics; transit rider organizations like TRU; and the public. We are hopeful this pause will allow for a productive dialogue and a better outcome. We believe that together we can tackle challenges like the need for additional bus base capacity, while keeping public transit public, maintaining transparency and accountability, and without eroding service and labor standards.

We will stay vigilant and keep you informed as this conversation continues. The next public discussion will be at the Sound Transit Board’s Operations Committee meeting on April 4, 1-3pm at Union Station. Again, THANK YOU to everyone who took action. When we organize, we win!

TRU’s Annual Event asks: Whose City Is This?

February 8, 2019

Who really holds power in Seattle, King County, and our region? How do they wield it? How can we act strategically to win as much as we can, while also building new democratic, accountable power for people-powered movements? Join us at 1:00pm on Saturday, March 2, to explore these questions at TRU’s Annual Event & Meeting. We’ll draw some lessons from recent victories and defeats and discuss what comes next.

RSVP for the Annual Event: Saturday, March 2, 1:00pm

The event will take place at the Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 8, 2800 1st Ave. First there will be a public event, open to all, 1:00-3:00pm. Speakers and details TBA. Then, after a short break, TRU will hold our Annual Meeting from 3:30-4:30pm. The meeting part is members-only.

MASS Report on Lessons from “Viadoom”

February 8, 2019

The closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was hyped as a potential traffic disaster that Seattle would have to endure for three weeks. Instead, we saw more people biking, walking, and riding transit, and a wonderfully quiet downtown.

This Tuesday the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which TRU is a member, released a report that draws lessons from the past three weeks. “Viadoom turned out to be a wildly successful experiment in how to reduce emissions, improve mobility, and better our quality of life,” the report states. “Understanding why Viadoom didn’t happen can help us make future transportation policy decisions with equally happy results.” READ THE REPORT

Microsoft Steps Up… Because We Did

January 24, 2019

From Geekwire: click to go to source article

You probably saw the big news last week: Microsoft has pledged $500 million to tackle the housing crisis in King County, after discussions that began in the wake of the big business tax repeal last spring.

How should we feel about this? On the one hand, this is a lot of money, and although much of it is in the form of loans, it should speed up the production of affordable housing and help a lot of people.

On the other hand, as our friends at the Economic Opportunity Institute have explained, relying on philanthrophy to solve social inequities is deeply problematic, undermining democracy and giving wealthy individuals and corporations far too much power over all of us.

Third, and perhaps most important as a lesson for us: As the news coverage makes clear, this happened because of the “head tax”— because of the work that TRU and Housing for All and many others did last year pushing for a tax on big business. Deep-pocketed corporate opponents successfully fought to kill the tax, but we successfully built up a public expectation that they do more to address the housing and homelessness crisis that their growth is driving.

So let’s take this as a victory, even as we recognize that corporate largesse is not the ultimate answer and it’s our job to figure out the next step forward!

Seattle Mariners Respond to Public Pressure With Eviction Prevention Fund

December 14, 2018

Today the Seattle Mariners announced the “Home Base Partnership” to create a several million dollar revolving fund for eviction assistance and prevention, a move housing advocates say is a response to public pressure and a victory for community organizing.

The billion-dollar corporation’s newfound interest in the housing crisis emerges in the wake of a pitched battle with affordable housing advocates over the disposition of the county’s lodging tax revenue earlier this year.

In May, County Executive Dow Constantine proposed that $185 million in lodging tax funds be spent on maintenance and upkeep of Safeco Field, the Mariners’ stadium. The proposal sparked an outcry from King County residents and advocates who argued that this public money should instead be used to address the region’s deepening housing and homelessness crisis. Over 80 organizations signed a letter to County Councilmembers urging them to prioritize basic human needs over stadium improvements that amount to subsidizing a profitable private corporation.

In September, after several overflowing public hearings, the King County Council voted 5-4 to allocate $135 million to Safeco Field. In a partial victory for the housing movement, the compromise bill also directed $165 million more to affordable workforce housing and services for homeless youth than the Executive’s original proposal.

In the course of this multi-month public debate the reputation of the Seattle Mariners and its billionaire and millionaire owners took a beating. Continue reading

Major Progress on Affordable Transit: King County Council approves plan for no/low-cost transit fares

November 16, 2018

What happens when you can’t afford a transit fare and you need to get to a doctor appointment, a job interview, or a shelter? Maybe you pray that the bus driver will be kind and let you board. Or maybe you get caught by fare enforcement, slapped with a steep fine and kicked off the train far from your destination. Maybe you ask passers-by for change and bear their suspicious looks. Maybe you’re lucky enough to find a service provider to give you a free ticket or two. Or maybe you just end up walking for hours.

Thousands of King County residents face these tough choices every day. The stress and time wasted when you can’t reliably get from A to B make it extremely difficult to overcome the many other challenges that people with very low incomes face in our increasingly unaffordable region. As wonderful as the ORCA LIFT reduced fare program is, it doesn’t meet the needs of riders who can’t easily pay $1.50 per ride or $54 per month for a transit pass.

Here at the Transit Riders Union, we are celebrating because this week we took a major step towards making our public transit system affordable for all. The King County Council voted to take steps to implement low/no-cost transit fares for Metro’s lowest-income passengers, with the goal of having this new program in place by 2020! Our big job next year, 2019, will be to work with King County Metro and elected officials to create a robust and well-designed program.

This is a huge deal and a great way to end 2018. (Not that we’re done yet… stay tuned for some big news next week!) Want to celebrate with us? Come enjoy music, food and drink, and great company at TRU’s happy hour fundraiser on Thursday, Nov. 29 —RSVP here.

Celebrate with TRU at our Happy Hour Fundraiser

November 12, 2018

On Thursday, Nov. 29, TRU is hosting our annual fall fundraiser. Come enjoy food, drink, and great company at this fun and casual event. There’s no ticket price, but at the event guests will be invited to make a contribution that is meaningful to them. All proceeds will power TRU’s organizing in 2019.

The event will be 5:30-7:30pm in downtown Seattle at the Flatiron School, which is generously donating their space. Hope to see you there!

RSVP to help us plan!          Facebook page – please share!

Thank you to our wonderful co-hosts: Speaker Chopp, Rep. Macri, Councilmember Gossett, Councilmember Upthegrove, Councilmember O’Brien, Councilmember Herbold, Councilmember Sawant, John Burbank, Brady Walkinshaw, Mike McGinn, Kirsten Harris-Talley, and Tammy Morales.

And thank you to our event sponsors: Flatiron School, Optimism Brewing, UFCW 21, UAW 4121, WFSE 1488, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), SEIU 775, SEIU 925, ATU 587, Teamsters 117, PTE Local 17

Seattle’s Transportation Future: It’s Up to Us

October 25, 2018

Photo from the Seattle Times article (click for link)

TRU has joined with transportation and climate allies to form a new coalition called Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS). Last week we sent a letter to Mayor Durkan and the City Council, asking that they work with us and act boldly to transform Seattle’s transportation system. Check out the news coverage of our launch in the Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and Curbed Seattle, and Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

We’ve come together with a sense of urgency. We see the climate crisis and the recent IPCC report telling us that catastrophe awaits if we don’t act now to cut carbon emissions. We see the viaduct closure looming early next year, and we know that traffic, especially downtown but throughout the city, is about to get even worse as we enter the “Period of Maximum Constraint”. Seattle must act fast to prioritize the modes that move the most people in the least space, and with the lowest carbon impact. That means public transit, biking, and walking — making it easy, safe, and fast for people to get around the city without driving. Stay tuned for our next steps, because we’re going to need your help.

Thousands of UW Workers Win Transit Passes!

October 1, 2018

We did it!! After many months of public pressure, phone calls and petitions, emails and op-eds, rallies and direct actions, several UW labor unions emerged from contract negotiations last week with an agreement that includes 100% employer-paid transit passes starting July 1, 2019. This victory will increase transit ridership, lower carbon emissions, ease gridlock, and make life better for thousands of workers struggling with the high costs of living in our region.

We showed that when workers, transit riders, and the community stick together, we win. Thanks so much to everyone who took action to make this victory possible. And stay tuned for a little mop-up operation — we’ve got some work still to do to make sure this benefit is extended to every single UW employee.

It’s not every day you win $165 million

September 18, 2018

Mariners owner & CEO John Stanton (link to img source)

Yesterday afternoon the King County Council took final votes on the Lodging Tax. In brief: We held our ground! Councilmembers added $165 million for affordable housing near transit and homeless youth services. This new funding will improve the lives of thousands of people. It’s a huge win, and everyone who pushed for it can be proud. Of course, there’s more to what happened. Let’s break it down:

Back in May, Executive Dow Constantine announced his proposal for the Lodging Tax, including $185 million for Safeco Field, and only the state-mandated minimum for housing. Billionaires like Mariners owner and CEO John Stanton are used to operating behind the scenes, cutting deals with politicians. He probably expected his money to sail on through.

We didn’t let that happen. We brought this deal out of the shadows. We packed public meetings, we wrote op-eds, we emailed and called council offices. Working with our allies on #TeamHousing and several courageous councilmembers, we made it clear to the media and the public that this was a choice between public interests and private interests.

So we weren’t able to stop this handout to a billionaire — yesterday five councilmembers, a majority, voted to allocate $135 million to Safeco Field — but hey, we managed to peel away $50 million. (The big loser in this fight was the tourism industry.) And our pressure enabled other wins: as part of the final deal, a number of labor unions won concessions from the Mariners that will make it easier to organize low-wage workers at the stadium, creating better jobs.

Want to help us get even better results next time? If you’re not already a member, join the Transit Riders Union, or make a donation. We do this work on a shoestring and your support goes a long way.

Tell King County, Affordable Housing First!

July 26, 2018

The King County Council has called a special meeting for 10am on Monday, July 30th, to discuss the use of revenue from the county’s Hotel-Motel tax. Executive Dow Constantine has proposed to spend $185 million on upgrades to Safeco Field — including $160 million in non-essential “bells and whistles”. [More info]

This money could be used instead to fund affordable housing. How can we justify using taxpayer money to build an “upper-concourse kids zone” at a stadium, when thousands of kids in our community don’t even have homes? Tens of thousands of working families in King County are severely cost-burdened, spending half or more of their income in housing-related costs.

The Mariners are a private and profitable business that already receives many public subsidies. Their majority-owner and CEO is a Republican billionaire named John Stanton who lives in Medina. He made his fortune in the wireless industry and is a major donor to conservative candidates and causes. We think John Stanton can pay his own bills. Here are three actions you can take. Please do as many of the three as you can:

  1. Attend the special meeting: Monday, July 30, 10am on the 10th floor of King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Ave. Help us pack the chambers! Arrive at 9:30 to sign up to testify.
  2. Call your district councilmember and Dow Constantine. Sample script and numbers below.
  3. Email the councilmembers and Dow Constantine, urging them to hold an evening public hearing so people who work during the day can weigh in before the council makes a decision:

Email County Elected Officials

We are in a housing crisis, and our elected leaders must make difficult and responsible decisions about priorities. With the repeal of Seattle’s big business tax, prioritizing existing revenue streams to address the affordable housing crisis is more important than ever. With your help, we can redirect this funding to a higher use!

A Good Day for Public and Affordable Transit

June 26, 2018

Thank you to everyone who emailed and called City Councilmembers over the past few days. On the afternoon of Monday, June 25th, after testimony from TRU members and from our friends at ATU 587 (the union of Metro bus drivers and mechanics), the council voted to strike the Mayor’s proposal to contract with a private transit provider.

With that ‘poison pill’ removed, the council then voted unanimously to free city transit dollars to make infrastructure improvements that will improve speed and reliability; and to fund student ORCA passes, expanding on the victory won by Rainier Beach High School students, with TRU’s support, in 2015. This will make Seattle the largest city in the country to provide free, year-round transit passes for all high-school students!

That same Monday we also testified at King County Council meeting, in favor of a motion written by Councilmember Rod Dembowski’s office in collaboration with TRU. This motion directs Metro to deliver cost estimates for new programs that would make public transit more affordable and accessible for youth, college students, very low-income and homeless folks, low-wage workers, and residents of low-income housing — all causes we have been championing for years. The motion passed unanimously, setting us up for progress during this fall’s budget process.

With that, TRU is taking a long-overdue break for the month of July. We will be back in action in August, ready to resume our work on decriminalizing fare enforcement, improving Access Paratransit service, winning free transit passes for UW workers, and more.  See you then!

Keep Public Transit Public!

June 23, 2018

The City of Seattle is considering a proposal to divert public funds intended to buy additional Metro service hours to private contractors.  This proposal is part of a larger package of changes to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, which will be decided on Monday, June 25th.

Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Mike O’Brien are planning to put forward an amendment to strike the privatization proposal. This amendment needs our support! We invite you to join us in urging the council to keep public transit public by sending an email now:

Email the Councilmembers

Why would the City even consider contracting with a private bus service provider? The stated reason is that additional peak service is needed to ease congestion during the upcoming “Period of Maximum Constraint”; and King County Metro claims they are unable to provide this service.  However, the experience of other cities shows that privatization is a slippery slope, and we believe the costs and risks of setting up a private system that parallels and supplants King County Metro far outweigh the potential benefits.  We believe the City Council should reject this proposal and instead work with SDOT and Metro to reassess the possibilities of adding publicly-operated service, and implement street improvements such as dedicated bus lanes and other strategies to reduce congestion.