Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prop. 1 Survey Released

Sound Transit Commissioned Moore Information to make a post-Prop. 1 survey earlier this month. The results were not terribly suprising, I'll make a summary of the ones that stuck out to me:

Most people (72%) support expanding light rail. Not suprising, Seattle leads the way with 84% supporting it, while the rest of the subareas are between 65%-72%. I was suprised to see that Snohomish is the most pro-light rail region after Seattle.

Every Subarea supports future transit packages focusing on light rail over express bus service (52%-62%). Seattle leads the way on this side again. This shows that BRT may be popular amongst talking heads, but not the man on the street. That guy knows better.

Every region supported splitting roads and transit (70%-77%), and every sub region other than Pierce County (only 31%) support a mostly transit package in the future over a mostly roads package.

Every region also supports a series of smaller individual ballot measures for specific projects rather than large comprehensive packages (53%-65%). I reckon this is because people vote know on confusing packages with long time frames and large bills.

65% of people supported the light rail package in Prop. 1, though only 53% of people would have voted for it on its own with 38% against, and 9% undecided. Suprisingly, the roads had a similar result, with 50% for it, 10% undecided and 40% against. Seattle and Snohomish(!!!) were most for the package 73% for Seattle, and 70% for Snohomish. East King was least for it, with only 54% supporting it.

Only Seattle (43% vs. 49%) supports safety and maintance for roads over Capacity, safety and maintence. East King is most for more capacity (69% vs. 29%), but every other subarea is around 56~58% for capacity as well as maintenance, and 35~39% for just maintenance. This shows the Sierra Club side is in a mild minority outside of Seattle.

Another weak point for the Sierra Club/Ron Sims argument is that a minority supports congestion pricing, with only Seattle (53%) being more than 50%. Congestion pricing is going to be a really tough sell.

Sound Transit is more favorable overall than WSDOT, but less favorable than the local agencies (Metro, Pierce Transit, and Community Transit).

Amazingly, Light Rail North and South were the most important issues after Fixing unsafe roads and bridges. Even replacing 520 fell short of that. Light Rail East was important to only 55%, but still more important than widening 405 with it's $11 billion dollar price tag. Yeah and people say transit is expensive.

Amazingly, the $157 billion tactic didn't work well against prop. 1, because as many people (16%) thought it cost less than $10 billion as tought it cost more than $100 billion (11%) Most people just didn't know 67%. That what happens when 10 different numbers float around.

The final blow is that people hate sales taxes. Only 23% of people support using sales taxes to pay for transportation projects. Of course people hate taxes, but the MVET was the most popular with 51% of people supporting it. Unfortunately, there may not be much that can be done on this front, Sound Transit doesn't have much taxing authority beyond sales tax.

In all, the poll makes a good case for smaller incremental packages, with small taxes that aren't sales taxes and without roads attached. Let's hope it gets on the ballot next year.

Update Here's the a summary, and the full results. Thanks to Bill LaBorde for the link, I was going off a hard-print out.

What's interesting about the board minutes, is that they authorized $1.5 million to PB Americas to come up with more planning for a phase two, which shows they are serious about getting it back on the ballot!


John said...

I love your blog, thanks for the post! Where's this survey info posted?

daimajin said...

I don't know yet where it is, I'll link to it as soon as I find one.

James said...

For what it's worth, my wife, who only voted for it reluctantly after some serious lobbying on my part, kept coming back to the (1) "forever taxes" part of the plan and the (2) so much of this is nowhere near us/doesn't do enough to fix Federal Way's problems. (Assuming FW's problems can be fixed.)

I know building new things have to be maintained, but if my wife isn't alone in her concern, maybe that's something else that could be broken out separately, the build-out expense versus the maintenance expense.

I can appreciate the grand gesture of an overarching plan as well as the administria-nightmare of many tax zones, but why not provide decent transit to the areas willing to vote for it instead of letting pockets of grumps spoil it for everyone?

(Yeah, next you'll tell me that Federal Way is one of those such pockets of anti-progress. Maybe if they saw a light rail running past their town with no stops they'd change their mind.)

James said...

Sorry for double-posting, but I'm curious... I saw some of the more recent alternatives, but were any other intermediate alternatives considered, like light rail spurs that run east-west to connect more areas with the sounder? (With the eventual plan of connecting those spurs together in a north-south fashion?)

Bill LaBorde said...

The toplines and pollster memo can be found here on the ST board meeting agenda.

ST does not now have MVET authority, but it did. Since I-776 passed it can only continue to collect MVET to pay off bonds from ST1. But, it would only take an act of the legislature to restore that authority. And remember, I-776 failed with voters in the ST taxing district.

Also, smaller incremental packages are virtually impossible for the ST board to propose to voters because of the terrible sub-area equity policy. The board could fix this by amending the policy to allow long term borrowing between subareas. Or, better yet, get rid of sub area equity once and for all.

daimajin said...

You're spot-on Bill.

Sub-area equity forces Sound Transit into bizarre choices like building light rail to Tacoma where it isn't hugely useful or building huge sounder stations even though they can't increase sounder service.

Matt said...

A thought:

You say that the "$157 billion tactic didn't work well" because people were so incredible confused about the actual price tag.

But perhaps wasn't that exactly the point of all the outrageous number-mongering? By obstructing the picture of what these transportation investments would look like and what they would cost, most people simply couldn't bring themselves to support the measure. This despite the fact that in the post-election survey results, it seems that the package was actually pretty well aligned with what the region actually wants (if maybe the format of the proposal was too confusing to garner their support).

In any case, great post, thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

If you say "tolls" instead of "congestion pricing" people are for it, as was shown in the Sierra Club poll.

In general, this poll lines up pretty well with Sierra Club findings: a separate transit bill would have passed (53% in this poll, 52% in the Sierra Club poll), and in both, global warming concerns were enough to kill Prop 1 (the Sierra Club poll put a finer point on this by asking more specific questions).

RailRoaded said...

"The board could fix this by amending the policy to allow long term borrowing between subareas. Or, better yet, get rid of sub area equity once and for all."

If the vote was closer, and there was better organized grass-roots support for light rail in Seattle, the political issue of subarea equity could be overcome.

But the election was not close, and pundits + local media still value cheapo political fights over actual policy/benefits, so eliminating subarea equity would simply give light rail opponents even more they need any more in this car-loving transportation-illiterate region...