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Proposition 1 keeps Eastside connections to education, jobs and our future | Guest Column
Your vote on Proposition 1 directly impacts Eastside transportation options for workers and students. Metro transit provides essential mobility connections to jobs, education and health care for thousands who live and work on the Eastside.
As elected officials, we hear first-hand from our constituents about their dependence on Metro, whether it's how they get to work or it's the only affordable way for them to attend school. Transit and roads cross party lines and jurisdictional boundaries as shown by the support of 20 mayors across the county, a unanimous King County Council vote and 200 organizations representing business, labor, social services and education.
And, if we value education, we should also value access to education. Whether a student has just graduated from high school or is retraining to build a better life for his or her family, nearly one-third of students at Bellevue College use transit as their primary means of getting to school. Yet, without funding to replace revenues that are expiring this year, Metro may soon be forced to reduce bus service for those students. Routes serving students at University of Washington-Bothell, Cascadia Community College and Lake Washington Technical College are all facing cuts, as well.
Through its 400,000 daily rides, Metro also takes cars off of Eastside streets and across the county. We have a fiscal responsibility to take care of our infrastructure. If the public does not pass Proposition 1 on April 22, a majority of the routes serving Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland would have to be eliminated, reduced or revised to meet budgetary cuts instead of just refining our system to meet policy guidelines. Our residents take more than 30,000 trips every day on the Bellevue bus routes alone. These cuts will put thousands of additional cars on our already-congested streets and highways, making us spend more time in traffic and less time with our families.
But Proposition 1 isn't just about buses. Across the county and in our cities, there is an estimated $1.3 billion backlog of thousands of miles of roadway maintenance and safety repairs for hundreds of bridges. Continuing to delay our roadway repair means we'll have to replace the roads, entirely. Every $1 in repair we spend to fix a road today saves us $6 to $14 in replacement costs later.
We are proud to represent the Eastside — a region known for its creativity, independence and generosity. We value this reputation and we value our economic growth. In state and county government, we are prepared to do our part. We are dedicated to ongoing efficiencies in Metro operations and to passing a state-wide transportation package that will complete the SR 520 bridge replacement and increase capacity along the I-405 corridor. Proposition 1 is about preserving what we've got while we work to improve the bigger, regional transportation picture.
No one likes traffic. Most of us don't like paying more taxes. Yet, we all want and need safe, affordable and reliable transportation options. Proposition 1 is not just about transit. It's not just about roads. Proposition 1 is about protecting access to educational opportunities, connections to jobs and our quality of life. Vote "yes" to keep our region moving forward.
Cyrus Habib (D) is a state representative for the 48th Legislative District and Jane Hague is King County Council vice chair.