History of Proposition 1

2014

Seattle voters approved Proposition 1 as part of the STBD to fund the purchase of increased Metro service and additional transit programs for Seattle residents. This voter-approved funding measure included a $60 vehicle license fee and 0.1% sales tax increase to improve transit availability and access for six years (2015-2020).

2015-2020

How people are commuting

From 2015-2020, Proposition 1 contributed to a major expansion of access to frequent transit service for Seattle residents, including:

  • Added over 8,000 weekly transit trips on King County Metro routes and invested in 350,000 service hours across weekdays, nights and weekends (about 8% of Metro's overall transit service network.)
  • Expanded access to frequent, reliable transit by growing the portion of households within a 10-minute walk of transit service arriving every 10 minutes or less from 25 percent in 2015 to 70 percent in 2019
  • Revised the Night Owl service network to improve 24/7 service, supporting those who work late or rise early. 
  • Improved transit connections and reliability to meet emerging needs, ensuring that there is a bus every 15 minutes or better during peak times.
  • Launched programs, like ORCA Opportunity for students and low-income seniors, that provide free access to transit to ensure that transit remains the backbone of mobility for all Seattleites, no matter your economic status
    • This included providing all Seattle Public Schools high school students with access to transit year round, by expanding transit passes to 7,000 students that grant them service all 365 days of the year, and summer passes to nearly 5,000 additional students.
  • Piloted a program and partnership with Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to distribute approximately 1,600 free 12-month ORCA cards to low-income SHA residents
  • Supported community-based programs and trainings to increase mobility and access to transit for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income people, including an effort to train seniors on how to use the variety of transit options offered in Seattle.
  • Read our annual reports

July 2020

Council Bill 119833 endorsed a Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) proposal to replace the expiring 2014 measure. The new proposal included a 0.15% sales tax (i.e. the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase) anticipated to generate roughly $39 million annually over six years to fund transit service, capital projects, and transportation access programs like ORCA Opportunity.

November 2020

This replacement Proposition 1 passed in November 2020 by 80% of people voting and demonstrated expectations of a future where everyone gets back to work, and we make real progress on the climate crisis. 

In 2020, Seattle also collected a $60 VLF as part of the expired Proposition 1. 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 filled existing transit project and STBD program gaps in a geographically equitable way. The final proposal was approved by Seattle City Council in early 2021. For more details, read our February 2021 blog post.

April 2021

Collection of the new sales tax started April 2021. Read about our work in 2021 and beyond.