The Transit Riders Union is helping to build a coalition of community, labor, environmental, and social justice organizations to push for a 2.5% tax on the unearned income (capital gains, interest, dividends) of wealthy Seattle households that make over a quarter million dollars per year. This could raise $100 million dollars per year to help strengthen our communities and defend against Trump, and pave the way to fixing our state’s unjust tax system, the #1 most regressive in the nation.
We are planning a Day of Action for Wednesday, March 1st – including an event at City Hall in Council Chambers, 12:00 – 1:00 PM; a letter delivery; and phone calls to elected officials.
More details to come soon! In the meantime, you can learn more on our resources page here.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Action Meeting on Saturday, Jan. 28th! If you didn’t make it but would like to sign up to volunteer for signature-gathering and other aspects of the campaign, you can do that here.
We’ve had multiple requests for the slide presentation and other materials from the event, so we are starting to compile resources on this page. We’ll also be creating an FAQ based on the questions submitted at the event. If there are other resources you think would be useful, please get in touch by emailing TRU’s campaign coordinator, Katie, at email@example.com.
Now is the time to act, right here in Seattle. With the federal government in irresponsible and dangerous hands it’s up to us to build community and resilience and power at a local and state level. On January 28th the Transit Riders Union is hosting an Action Meeting where you can learn about a bold campaign that is in the works right now, and sign up to get involved.
Saturday, Jan. 28th, 2-4PM
Labor Temple Hall 1
2800 1st Ave
Washington State has the #1 most regressive tax system in the nation. That means the poorest people pay the highest percentage of their income in state and local taxes – basically, Seattle and Washington State are tax havens for the wealthy. As a result we can’t adequately fund basic prerequisites of civilization, like education for our children.
And now, we’re all waiting to see what Trump’s administration is going to attack first. The Affordable Care Act is already on the chopping block. What’s next? Workers and their unions? Immigants? Social security and medicare? Foodstamps?
It’s time to act. We can help defend Seattle against Trump, set an example for other cities, AND pave the way to overhauling our state’s regressive tax system. If wealthy people with incomes over $200K contributed more fairly to our community, Seattle could raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year for affordable housing, transit, education, and green jobs. This will be a massive grassroots effort. We need you!
Earlier this year, the Transit Riders Union launched a campaign to improve public transit access for the many thousands of people who can’t afford ORCA LIFT. After all, mobility is a human right – and access to transportation may be the single strongest factor in escaping poverty. So, we delivered letters and petitions. We testified at public hearings. We built coalitions with service providers and other organizations. We met with elected officials. And guess what? We won!!!
We are excited to announce that today the King County Council voted unanimously to cut in half the price service providers pay for tickets through Metro’s Human Services Ticket Program, as we urged. The ticket price had doubled since 2008 due to fare increases. The new lower price will allow service providers to purchase and distribute more tickets and/or redirect funds to other essential services.
This comes after the council voted in September to increase the quantity of reduced-price tickets available each year, and after Metro created a new “combo-ticket” in June to open up access to Link Light Rail for people who rely on bus tickets.
Not only that, the County Executive has promised that during the next biennium, he will “direct Metro to engage other transit agencies, the state, other local jurisdictions, human services agencies and other potential partners in a discussion of transit’s role in contributing to the social safety net for the lowest income residents, and how to possibly provide assistance while still being able to meet the growing demand for transit service throughout King County and the region.”
THANK YOU! to all the people and organizations that have contributed to every phase in this campaign. We have plenty of work still to do, but this is a great step forward.
You have your ballot, it’s time to vote! The Transit Riders Union recommends that you vote APPROVED on Sound Transit Proposition 1 (if you live in King County, it’s the last thing on your ballot) and YES on Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and mandate paid sick days statewide.
We’ll soon know whether or not voters in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties have approved a massive expansion of our region’s light rail system. While there has been some opposition from the usual anti-transit groups, the Seattle Times and even some more urbanist-minded folks in Seattle, the fact remains that in Seattle and around the region, transit, and particularly light rail, remains popular with voters. The massive ridership numbers at the new Capitol Hill and University District stations show that when given an alternative, people will choose transit over sitting in their car in gridlocked traffic.
As bad as traffic is currently it will only get worse in the coming years if we don’t act now to provide expanded light rail service. We’re expected to see 800,000 new people move to the region by 2040, when the projects included in Sound Transit 3 will be wrapping up. With the rising cost of living in Seattle forcing people out into the suburbs and surrounding cities, many of those people will be forced to locate in cities other than Seattle, cities that often do not currently have good, reliable, fast transit service. Continue reading
On Monday, September 19th, the King County Council voted unanimously to expand the Human Services Reduced Fare Ticket Program by around 20%. This will mean more tickets available for low-income youth, seniors, refugees, people with disabilities, and homeless people. Thank you everyone who has supported this effort!
But we’re not done yet. The very next day we delivered over four hundred letters and petitions, and a letter signed by fourteen organizations, asking King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council to take further action to make sure that everyone in our community has access to public transit.
We are asking the county to reduce the match price that service providers pay for tickets from 20% to 10% of face value, ensure that people who rely on the ticket program have access to all Sound Transit services, and to begin work on a very low cost transit pass for riders who can’t afford ORCA LIFT – like they’re doing in Calgary, Canada!
Thousands of people in King County rely on tickets from service providers to ride the buses and light rail. This includes low-income youth, students, seniors, homeless people, veterans, and refugees. But there are never enough tickets.
Mobility is a human right. We are asking King County to:
1. Make more tickets available and lower the “match price” that human service agencies pay from 20% to 10% so that can afford to buy enough tickets for the people they serve.
2. Start working on a very low-cost monthly pass for very low-income riders. Calgary, Canada just started offering a sliding-scale pass costing as little as $5.15 per month! We can do that here!
Help us put pressure on King County Executive Dow Constantine! We will be delivering letters and petitions to the County Executive and County Councilmembers on Tuesday, September 20 at 2:00 PM. Meet in the park just south of King County Courthouse.
At the 2016 Solidarity Summit on Affordable Transit, we asked participants this question. Below are some of the responses. Want to chime in? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Affordable and Accessible”.
Maybe I can afford bus fare to work AND lunch some day.
Affordable bus fares that reward transit users for contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Expansion of routes to make more bus service available.
Enlist more employers to subsidize Metro passes.
Easy & fun to use
No fare enforcement
Policy decisions that reflect an ethic of love
Real BRT: dedicated bus lanes with right of way for public transit
Hospitable and high-quality bus stops
Prioritizing funding that serves the public (everyone)
Frequent reliable service (every 10 minutes) on high traffic routes until 9:30 pm (#36, #120, #21, #70)
Affordable: $2.50 all day, more reduced fare tickets
Sustainably, fairly financed: Tax the large scale employers that are taxing our infrastructure from influx of new residents
Build transit funding into cost to develop (SLU area)
To be able to travel around the area without worrying about cost. It’s hard enough to get to parts of the area due to route quirks without having to worry about whether I can afford it.
Better East/West access.
Downtown Seattle auto-free zones (i.e. Holland)
Lower fares on monthly passes even for Orca Lift ($35)
People from all incomes, backgrounds riding together peacefully
Educational outreach to other people that don’t rely on the bus. It is NOT just for the poor or low-income. It is a necessity and is a great, environmentally friendly resource.
More routes and more often in places further from the city center
Extend the 2-hour transfer to 4-6 hours or all-day passes
THE BUS FARE IS TOO DAMN HIGH!
Thanks to everyone who attended the Solidarity Summit on Affordable Transit on July 26th! The house was packed with people and energy, and the afternoon was filled with great speakers, discussion & comradery. Special thanks to our panelists, emcee, workshop facilitators, and all the TRU members who volunteered their time and helped to make the event a success!
If you didn’t make it, you can still watch the speaker program below. Big thanks to Mike McCormick, host of Mind Over Matters on KEXP, for taking the time to come out and record!
As if to highlight the main theme of the Summit, during our speaker program the news broke that Calgary, Canada will start offering monthly transit passes to residents living in extreme poverty for just over $5. Stay tuned for actions and updates as TRU continues our campaign to improve transit access for homeless and very low-income riders!
This event is free and open to all, but RSVPs are encouraged and appreciated.
Tuesday, July 26th
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
215 Columbia St.*
Seattle and King County are at the forefront of a growing movement for mass public transit that is affordable and accessible to all. Just in the past few years, low-income transit riders, public school students, college students, workers, social service providers, and homeless people have organized and won important victories.
And yet, we still have a long way to go. You’re invited to participate in a community assembly on July 26th as we celebrate the progress that’s been made, discuss campaign efforts now underway, envision a future of universally affordable mass transit, and build momentum for new wins this fall!
*SEIU 775 building downtown, served by many transit routes
Solidarity Summit Program
- 11:45 am Doors open, Socializing and Refreshments
- 12:00 pm Welcome & Introductions
- 12:15 pm Panel discussion with audience questions
- 1:15 pm Break & Mingle
- 1:30 pm Workshops
- 2:15 pm Break & Mingle
- 2:30 pm Report-backs & Action Plans
This event is free and open to all, but registration is encouraged. In addition to helping us plan, benefits of registration include:
- A guaranteed seat
- Early choice of workshops
- Complementary copy of the new Seattle Transit Map and Guide!
Solidarity Summit Workshops
We have four great workshops planned for July 26th. Here they are! We have limited space in the workshop rooms, so if you have your heart set on one in particular please make sure to register in advance.
1. Riding While Poor: Transit Access for Homeless & Very Low-Income People
For many, ORCA LIFT is too expensive. Thousands of homeless and very low-income people rely on single-use transit tickets from social service providers; but as housing costs and homelessness continue to rise, the need has far outstripped the supply. This workshop will focus on King County’s Human Services Reduced Fare Ticket Program program. How is it working and how could it be improved? What potential exists for new pass-based programs that are more affordable than ORCA LIFT? What are the challenges? How can transit riders and service providers build grassroots momentum and political will to improve transit affordability & access for homeless and very low-income people?
2. Affordable Transit Around the U.S. and Around the World
Rising fares and inadequate funding for public transit are problems that extend beyond Seattle, King County, and Washington State – and so does the movement for affordable transit! In this workshop we’ll look at some different ways transit systems around the country and the world have implemented programs to make transit affordable. We’ll find out how these programs work, how they’re funded, and what King County and Seattle can learn from them.
3. Climate Change, Public Transit & the Funding Wars
As climate change accelerates, we are confronted with the urgency of reducing carbon emissions. Public transit is a clear part of the solution. So why is investing in a true mass transit system, and incentivizing ridership by keeping fares low, not a priority in the United States? In this workshop we’ll delve into the details and history of the underfunding of public transit systems in Washington State and beyond, and discuss what we can do to turn the tide.
4. Tell Your Story to the Camera!
Do you have trouble coming up with money for bus fare, or have you in the past? If you had an unlimited transit pass, how would that change your quality of life? Do you rely on tickets from human service agencies? Your story can help us to win more affordable transit for thousands of people, and we want to record it for posterity! In this workshop we’ll be conducting short video interviews, inviting you to speak about your experiences riding public transit and what affordable transit means to you. We’ll use these videos to create a short online film. And if you prefer to write about your ex periences instead, that helps too!
In March TRU endorsed Initiative 1433, to raise the minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave for workers throughout Washington State. The clock is ticking to gather enough signatures before the June 30th deadline. This month TRU members and friends will be helping to gather signatures. Join us! Check our calendar for details, or volunteer directly with the Raise Up Washington campaign.
This Changes Everything: Film Screening
Saturday, May 14th
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Hillman City Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Ave S.
This Saturday, come on out to the Hillman City Collaboratory for a community screening of This Changes Everything, the 2015 documentary film based on Naomi Klein’s best-selling book on climate change and the need for a radical social and economic transformation. TRU is hosting this free event in collaboration with the Meaningful Movies project. There will be popcorn and other refreshments, and the movie will be followed by a discussion. RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends!
Sunday, May 1st is International Workers’ Day! TRU will be rallying and marching in solidarity with workers and immigrants in the annual rally and march organized by El Comite, and we invite you to join us. We’re also launching the spring issue of our Transit Reader newsletter that day.
1 PM – Gather at Judkins Park, 2015 S. Norman St. (served by Metro routes 8, 48, 27, 3, 4, 7)
2 PM – Rally at Judkins Park
3 PM – March begins, proceeds to downtown Seattle.
TRU will have our table set up in the park from 1-3 PM, so come by to say hi and grab a free copy of the Transit Reader! We’ll also have copies of the Seattle Transit Map, and balloons for the kids. After that we’ll be marching with our banner, and we’d love to have you join us!
UPDATE: Monday, May 2nd
Friday, April 29th is the last date for public comment on ST3, the 25-year, $50 billion light rail expansion package that will be heading to the ballot this November. Click the image at the left to visit the ST3 website, where you can read about the package, take a survey, and find details of public meetings.
TRU is submitting a letter (you can read a draft here) urging Sound Transit to make the following improvements to the ST3 proposal:
- Use their progressive Employer Tax authority to raise an additional $1-2 billion
- Speed up the timeline for an infill station at Graham St.
- Add funding for a station at 130th St.
- Prioritize affordable housing and equitable Transit-Oriented Development near stations and on Sound Transit land
On April 16th, over a hundred transit riders rallied and rode the light rail in celebration of winning our campaign against a two-tier transit system! The day before the event, Metro and Sound Transit announced their short-term fix that will allow very low-income and no-income riders who depend on tickets from social service organizations to ride the light rail:
Thank you to everyone who signed our petition and helped us to win this campaign! TRU will continue to push for more tickets to be available to organizations at a lower cost, and for monthly ORCA passes that are affordable and accessible for very low-income and no-income riders. Join us – together we can win!
Saturday, April 16th @ Westlake Park
3:00 PM Community Meal
3:30 PM Rally
4:00 PM Ride the Rail!
** UPDATE ** Metro and Sound Transit have announced their short-term fix! They have also provided us with light rail day passes for our event on Saturday. Join us at Westlake to celebrate!
Thousands of riders in King County rely on bus tickets from social service agencies. But, these tickets aren’t accepted on Link Light Rail. Especially since the March 26th bus service restructure, these riders are being left with a second-class transit system.
In 2015 the ORCA LIFT program that TRU and others championed brought welcome relief from high fares for low-income riders who can afford $1.50 per ride, or $54 for a monthly pass. But for riders with very low or no income, this is still unaffordable. And it’s these people who are most reliant on public transit – to get to work and job interviews, to school, to medical appointments, and to access basic necessities like shelter and food.
In January, the Transit Riders Union and the Our City Coalition called upon Sound Transit and Metro to find a solution that doesn’t create a two-tier transit system and is affordable for all. Join us on April 16th for a community meal, rally and direct action to turn up the ????HEAT!????
UPDATE: Since we announced this action, Metro and Sound Transit have responded to say that they are working on a solution. Depending on what has been accomplished by April 16th, our Action may become a Celebration… come find out!
Welcome to the new Transit Riders Union website! The old site served us well for the past 4 years, but as TRU has grown so have our electronic needs, and so we must discharge our old friend from duty.
Please excuse us while we finish updating some of the content. And if you find any broken links, or otherwise have any suggestions, just send an e-mail to our volunteer webmaster email@example.com.
Homeless and very low-income transit riders depend on bus tickets from social service agencies for basic mobility. Riders use these tickets to travel to work, housing, shelter, medical appointments, and essential services.
These tickets aren’t accepted on Link Light Rail or Sound Transit Buses.
On March 26th, King County Metro is restructuring bus service in NE Seattle to integrate with the newly extended Link Light Rail line. That means thousands of riders who depend on the tickets will be left with a second-class transit system, or in danger of penalties for fare evasion.
Please sign our petition below, and join us on Saturday, April 16th, 3:00 PM at Westlake Park for a free community meal, demonstration and action to bring attention to this issue.
Our region’s need for transportation infrastructure and transit service is far from satisfied. Even in Seattle, Prop 1 and Move Seattle notwithstanding, riders continue to struggle with overcrowded buses, scant late-night service, and crumbling or nonexistent sidewalks. Now the global economy appears to be sliding toward a revenue-shrinking recession. So, when our state legislature considers a progressive funding option for transportation, we should sit up and take notice.
On Thursday, February 18, the House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 2186, which would grant local authority for a Non-Residential Parking Tax (NRPT)… please come down to register your support: 3:30 pm in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien Building.