Thoughts on King County’s Failed Proposition 1

While most of the coverage for Proposition 1 read nice, there was not a lot of data shown to back it up the claims.

This is frustrating because once you starting digging into the data, you find things like the fact that since 2001 operating costs per vehicle hour have increased 17%1 (when adjusted for inflation).

The $19.70 difference accounts for an additional $68.95 million in operations costs per a year (assuming 3.5 million annual service hours2 ).

Why are per hour operations costs increasing by 17%?

And then there’s the fact that only up to 60%3 of the presumed $1.3 billion4 that would be raised over 10 years with Prop 1 would actually go to Metro. The remaining 40% (and potentially more!) would go to “transportation improvements and to the county for unincorporated area road purposes.”5

This wasn’t a squabble over anyone trying to save a few pennies, I think there is some serious lack of fiduciary understanding and education going on with regard to how Metro operates. After the early returns showed the measure losing, Dow Constantine put it pretty well, “The voters are not rejecting Metro; they are rejecting this particular means of funding Metro.”

Danny Westneat also makes a good observation regarding the campaign itself:


But I wasn’t surprised it failed. Nobody explained what positive changes you’d get for your money, only what you might lose. This was electioneering by threat: Vote yes or I’ll shoot this puppy.

Now the anti-transit crowd will spin this as proof voters have had their fill of transit. And that officials should focus on roads next time.

I don’t buy it. If anything, it was the $50 million in yearly roads repair money in Proposition 1 that had the feel of a slush fund. What would it be used for? Nobody said. It was just to be spread like political butter across 40 cities and towns. The website of the campaign didn’t list a single specific road or bridge that would get fixed using this money.

Oran Viriyincy, a frequent contributor on the Seattle Transit Blog, has provided an excellent breakdown of the actual vote by legislative district as well as a cartogram.

" Prop 1 Election Night Results  By legislative district" by  Oran Viriyincy ( CC-BY-SA (
” Prop 1 Election Night Results By legislative district” by Oran Viriyincy
"Cartogram of KCTD Prop 1 Election Night Results" by  Oran Viriyincy ( CC-BY-SA (
“Cartogram of KCTD Prop 1 Election Night Results” by Oran Viriyincy

Given the huge amount of support in the Seattle area, I would suspect the planned Seattle-only initiative would pass overwhelmingly.


The proposal would raise $155 million from Seattle property owners over six years. Friends of Transit said that money would be used to buy back endangered routes from King County Metro.

Buses that spend 80 percent or more of their time operating inside Seattle’s limits would be eligible for the reprieve.

If the initiative is approved by the city clerk, supporters will need to gather more than 20,000 signatures to put it on the November ballot.

As an interesting side note, if all the districts that had a majority in support of the Prop 1 had double their turnout the the measure would still have failed, but only by 36 votes (out of 512184 theoretical votes), a 0.0070% margin.

Here’s the data: Prop1Votes.xlsx






Dateline: Kiev, Day 1 – Traveling, Again

Kiev, Ukraine
18 June 2009

Today was a travel day. It was nice not having to travel at nice for once. It was a short bus ride to the airport, which is just a few kilometers outside of Tallinn’s Old Town. The airport was quiet, just like Old Town. There was no line at the security checkpoint, which was good because I had to go through twice.

18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Tallinn, Harju County, Estonia

I normally don’t travel with my Nalgene. However, on this trip I have. I forgot that I had some water left in it and you’re not supposed to take any liquids through security1. The security lady kindly asked me to empty it out, so I had to walk back to the check-in area to find a place where I could dispose of my ever so dangerous liquid (I opted for the curb outside).

I went back through security, putting my now-empy Nalgene through the x-ray machine. I hurried through the metal detector and it went of this time. I was slightly puzzled as to why the metal detector had gone off this time, and not the last time. I went through the exact same metal detector as I did last time, and I had the exact same items on my person. It took a few seconds before I figured it out; however, I shall leave it as an excersive to you to figure out why (bonus points offered for the proof).

The plane ride out to Latvia was non-eventful. The medium turbo-prop was not even half filled, which was meant that I got an entire row to myself. Once we landed, I passed through Latvian customs, getting a Latvian exit stamp (although not entrance stampt) on my visa2.

Boarding the 737 to Kiev was delayed for unknown reasons, and then delayed again as there was a minor scuffle between a passenger and crew member. There was a of talking, and then the passenger definitively slamed his carry-on bag to the aisle. I don’t have the remotest idea about what the issue was, but I think it had something to do with the guy’s seat…although I can’t imagine what the issue was. The captain was called out to talk with the passenger. The captain was calm and collected and spoke bits of English and Spanish before returning to a less familar language.

18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70

The passenger was still refusing to cooperate though. The captain told the flight attendant to call the police, while the disgruntled passenger made his way to the very back of the airplane.

The police came, the passenger was escorted off, and we were on our way.

Going through Ukrainian customs is relatively easy, and far less stressful than Russian customs. Getting into Kiev and finding my hostel was a bit more tricky though. First, I had to find a bus to the central train station. A rather persistent taxi driver kept asking me if I wanted a ride, and I kept saying no…over and over. The bus ended up being a Grey Hound-style bus with no markings. I used my amazing powers of inference to determine that it may be going to the train station and later confirmed this, more or less, with the bus driver.

Unfortunately, the bus was making two stops this day (I actually suspect it makes two stops every day), and I got off the bus at the first stop. I went to go get my luggage, which was in the underbelly luggage compartment; but that involved basically stepping out into traffic. As soon as I tried to open the luggage compartment, the driver honked at me and explained that this wasn’t my stop…opps.

We get to the main train, my stop, and I go find the metro. It’s a short ride on the metro, which opperates the exact same way as the one in Moscow and St. Petersberg, although far less ornate on the inside.

I finally make it to the hostel around 5 or so, completely exhausted.

Some of the other guys in the hostel went out tonight. I joined them and actually had a pretty decent time. I didn’t get back until 4 in the morning.

  1. We shall save discusioning the absurdity of this rule for another day 

  2. Estonia and Latvia are part of the Schengen Agreement, Ukraine is not