About Seattle Transportation Benefit District

Seattle was the fastest growing city of the last decade. With that has come many challenges and opportunities on our path to building a more livable, inclusive, and accessible city. A robust and reliable transportation system available to all is foundational to our vision of a thriving, growing city.

In 2010, Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 123397, creating the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) in the City of Seattle. STBD is administered and governed as part of the City's regular business. Washington State code allows cities to create transportation benefit districts for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements. This tool is available because inflation has eroded the local share of gas tax and past ballot initiatives have eliminated other traditional sources of funding.

How much do you contribute & what does it pay for?

The current STBD includes a $20 vehicle licensing fee (VLF) applied when you pay your car registration and a 0.15% sales tax. The sales tax is the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase. Currently the VLF funds maintenance and preservation, as well as safety and enhancements to our existing transportation system and contributes about $8 million annually. The sales tax was approved in November 2020 by voters and generates roughly $39 million annually over six years to fund transit service, capital projects, and transit access programs like ORCA Opportunity. 

In 2020, Seattle collected a $60 VLF as part of the now expired STBD. Funding was not used while the Supreme Court considered the legality of I-976 which would have cut vehicle licensing fees statewide. In October 2020, the initiative was rejected freeing up about $23.7M. This one-time funding resource is expected to fill existing transit project and STBD program gaps in a geographically equitable way. The final proposal is being submitted to the Seattle City Council for approval in March 2021. For more details on the current proposal, read our presentation to the Seattle Transit Advisory Board.