What can we achieve with more funding?

A vehicle license fee of $80 annually has been proposed in Seattle, and the Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee is forming ideas for how to use this potential extra revenue toward improving walkability!

With new sources of funding come new opportunities – both to complete much-needed community projects, and to build a greater sense of community.  

Posted by Megan RisleyAugust 3, 2011

The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC-III), with representation from business, transit, pedestrian and bicycle organizations, has spent the past several months deliberating on the best approach for spending up to $27.2 million that could be generated from implementing an $80 vehicle license fee as part of Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District.

The Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC-III) has come up with a package with benefits for all modes. The Committee recognizes that transportation needs are large, and they suggest bringing a proposal for an annual Vehicle License Fee (VLF) of $80 to Seattle voters as early as this November.

The CTAC-III proposes a few key focal points for spending the VLF revenue: 

Connecting neighborhoods to transit:

  • Pedestrian improvements such as curb ramps, sidewalks and crossing enhancements help connect those dependent on King County Metro to get to common destinations and remove barriers to mobility. Such connections should also be made with the Sound Transit Light Rail system to ensure pedestrians have safe and easy access to the majority of the city.
  • Making school zones and routes to school safer for kids on foot is especially important now due to the proposed reduction in bus routes the Seattle School District is considering.

Improved access to underserved communities:

  • Constructing sidewalks, bike lanes and more walkways in low-income neighborhoods will help bring safety and health to these communities.  Improvements in current conditions should also include safe street crossings and a more integrated network of pedestrian pathways.

Since it costs about $8,000 a year to own a car (and that’s without any major bodywork or repair), offering transportation options is the most inclusive approach to meeting a city’s needs for getting around.  Non-drivers do face an uphill battle, as America’s neighborhoods and cities are increasingly designed for cars, but the revenues from the VLF will provide the Seattle with the ability to improve its transportation options beyond the automobile.  In fact, in these challenging economic times, one of the most progressive things a city can do is offer its population an accessible, comprehensive transportation system that is not dependent on automobiles, which more and more people cannot afford.

 Of course, the VLF alone will not provide enough funding to support all of the much-needed improvements to Seattle’s pedestrian transportation system; therefore further study of other resources is necessary. CTAC-III supports examining other sources of funding, such a tolling or other system based on usage.  CTAC-III hopes to help begin building on a vision common to most Seattle’s residents: healthy, sustainable lifestyles with safe, strong communities, and by putting our money where our feet are is one way to invest in achieving that vision.

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