Currently, Seattle has a 0.1% sales tax + $60 car tabs to help pay for about 300,000 hours in bus service annually. A new proposal is on the table for the November ballot: a 0.1% tax, without the car tabs, which would result in 80,000 hours instead of 300,000. Due to the loss in car tab revenue, it is possible that neighborhoods in the south end could lose their bus routes. This disruption would be devastating to our communities that have been pushed out of the city due to housing affordability issues.
The Seattle Transportation Benefit District (SBTD) is a sales tax created by the City of Seattle that creates revenue for transit service. As the SBTD sets to expire this year, the City Council is voting to continue SBTD so that there is a 0.1% sales tax. The revenue from this tax will fund fare affordability programs, such as the free youth fare, purchasing service hours from Metro, and alternative solutions for West Seattle Commuters. With the passage of I-976 last year, our transit infrastructure is facing a major deficit and could stand to lost 300,000 bus service hours – which will be devastating to communities of color and low-income communities reliant on public transit. SBTD is essential to not only maintaining transit infrastructure but also the quality of life for many of our communities
We understand that there might be an amendment to increase SBTD from 0.1% to a 0.2% sales tax. While we must acknowledge that any sales tax is regressive and disproportionately puts the burden on low-income and working class Seattle residents, our communities also stand the most to lose from transit cuts. Many of our essential workers are reliant on bus service hours and fare affordability. Knowing that our communities need affordable and expansive public transit, we support this amendment with the caveat that revenue raised from SBTD prioritizes bus service hours and the maintenance of transit routes on the south end (such as the 7, 36, and 106). SBTD must prioritize and meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities through a robust racial equity lens.
There are two ways to take action right now:
- Please urge your councilmembers to vote for the additional funds proposed by Councilmember Tammy Morales. Take 30 seconds to send them your letter of support using this form.
- Organizations and individuals can show support for SBTD by signing up to give public comment at the City Council meeting on Monday, July 27, at 2 PM (and/or provide written comment) here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/public-comment.