With the passage of Proposition 1, the Sound Transit package, Kent residents will soon start to see increased express bus routes, potentially new routes and a “ramped up” Sounder rail service, according to King County Councilmember Julia Patterson.
“That’s probably the first thing voters will see,” said Patterson, a supporter of the measure. “Regional bus service will increase.”
Residents in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approved on election day the $18 billion ST2 package. The package will reusult in increased spending on public transportation with money raised through an additional 0.5 percent increase in sales tax.
More than 57 percent of voters approved the measure. In the 33rd District, which includes most of the city of Kent, nearly 53 percent of those heading to the polls voted for the measure.
When fully implemented, the plan calls for a increase of about 25 percent in express bus service, including the 560, 565 and 519, Patterson said.
According to Sound Transit Spokesperson Linda Robson, increasing bus service is the “top priority out of the gate” for Sound Transit. While changes to existing service could happen soon, Robson said in an e-mail that new service would most likely not start until the June service change.
Also in the next few months, the Sound Transit Board will meet to discuss purchasing additional trains and cars for Sounder service, as well as upgrades to the stations themselves to accommodate the longer trains.
Patterson said she did not expect any closures at stations while additional platforms were being constructed.
When completed, Sounder service will increase by 65 percent, including four new routes over the next five years, increasing the total to 13 round trips each day (with a midday trip planned as well).
Along with additional bus routes and increased Sounder service, the new proposal includes three additional light-rail stops along Kent’s West Hill and a larger overall light-rail network around the region.
“That means people from the West Hill of Kent will have access to 55 miles of light rail,” Patterson said.
A similar transit package was part of the larger Regional Transportation Improvement District proposal which voters defeated in 2007. Patterson said the difference this time was the smaller size of the package, as well as the realization by voters that the region needs an alternative to roads.
“I think that’s something people are beginning to understand,” Patterson said.
She also cited a 1968 vote in which residents voted down a transportation package that she said would have led to a system much like the one voters approved this past week. Patterson said if voters then had approved it, the work would not only be completed by now, but the bonds would already be paid off.
“The really great thing about the vote last week is our children won’t have to repeat this story,” she said. “I think that vote was a real expression of generosity to the next generation.”
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