Walking Amidst a Sea of Buses – Giving Pedestrian Advocacy a Voice Among Transportation Advocates


Walking Amidst a Sea of Buses – Giving Pedestrian Advocacy a Voice Among Transportation Advocates

Posted by Derrick Van KirkMarch 31, 2011

Transportation for Washington Campaign: A Vision for Washington State Transportation

As mentioned in a previous post, Feet First has joined a coalition of environmentalists, transit advocates, labor groups, and businesses in supporting the Transportation for Washington Campaign. This multi-year campaign outlines new policies and principles that aim to protect the environment, increase transit choices, and build healthy communities.  According to the press release, the campaign is based on three main principles:

1.       More Transit – Washington needs new investments in transit to increase transportation choices while reducing congestion, improving freight mobility, connecting our rural communities and decreasing pollution.

2.       Fix it first; Save Lives – The state’s crumbling bridges and roads must be repaired first, and then ensure that new investments we make will create jobs, spur economic growth, and improve the safety and health of our communities.

3.       Build Healthy, Sustainable Communities – Washington needs a more efficient transportation system that supports affordable and healthy neighborhoods that connect people to jobs, their community and each other.

The Public Transportation Problem

According to the Transportation for Washington campaign, “local transit funding sources are too limited to meet ridership needs and too volatile to withstand economic changes.” Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the ‘volatile funding source’ referred to here is the statewide motor vehicle fuel tax that, according to the most recent Washington State transportation revenue forecast, is becoming a less viable revenue stream than previously projected.  As ridership increases and revenue decreases, it will be difficult for many transit agencies that rely on this funding source to meet their ridership demands.

One Potential Solution

In order to solve the transit problem, Transportation for Washington proposes a Local Transit Act (LTA), which would “create new local voter-approved options for transit investments.”   This means four potential funding options:

–          Progressive Motor Vehicle Excise Tax based on vehicle value;

–          Vehicle License Fee based on annual mileage;

–          Fuel Efficiency-based Tax that rewards clean and efficient vehicles;

–          Local Sales Tax on gasoline.

These local funding options would require voter approval and independent oversight to ensure agency accountability.  The campaign believes this system would not only create a more dependable funding source, it would also allow local municipalities to decide which – if any – funding sources they would need depending on the demand for transportation in their communities.     

Why we support this campaign

With all this talk about funding transit with fuel and vehicle licensing taxes you may be wondering why Feet First has joined this campaign.  Since we empower community leaders and motivate policy makers to take actions that promote and enhance walkability, we have an obligation to make sure pedestrians are considered each step of the way.  Since an effective transportation system relies on good pedestrian connections, we feel that our voice is essential in building a system that accounts for safe walking routes to neighborhood bus stops and transit centers.  Chances are, if you’re riding the bus or taking the train, you’re also going to be using the sidewalk at some point during your trip.  Of the fifty seven organizations and individuals who have shown their support for this campaign, Feet First is the only organization that is focused on pedestrian advocacy.  If the Transportation for Washington campaign expects to increase transportation choices for all Washingtonians, Feet First has an obligation to remind campaign leaders that pedestrians must be considered as well. 

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Oran Viriyincy under the Creative Commons license.

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