Sound Transit leaders today congratulated Seattle-area voters for giving future generations a regional train system. Proposition 1, the $17.9 billion measure to expand light rail, commuter train and bus service, won easily, despite the national economic slump.

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Sound Transit leaders today congratulated Seattle-area voters for giving future generations a regional train system.

Proposition 1, the $17.9 billion measure to expand light rail, commuter train and bus service, won easily, despite the national economic slump.

“It was an act of great generosity to our grandchildren,” said transit-board member Julia Patterson, a Metropolitan King County Council member from SeaTac, during a news conference inside the Sodo train-maintenance base.

The 34 miles of additional light rail, to Lynnwood, north Federal Way, and the Overlake Transit Center, near Microsoft, aren’t expected to be finished until the early 2020s. The theme of serving future generations sounded at odds with the official campaign motto: “Mass Transit Now.”

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Vice Chairwoman Claudia Thomas, a Lakewood City Council member, tied the win to that of President-elect Barack Obama, saying both outcomes gave hope to young people. “We are on the right track,” she said.

Mark Baerwaldt, treasurer for Notoprop1.org, said he doesn’t have any insights as to why the measure prevailed.

“Certainly not what we expected at all, but so be it, and that’s kind of the end of the story.”

An increase in express-bus service will begin next year, followed by four more Sounder commuter trains south of Seattle from 2011 to 2015. Funding comes from extending an existing sales tax, and adding the half-cent increase from Proposition 1, for the next three decades or more.

In other transit measures around the country, California voters approved $10 billion to partially fund a bullet train, while Honolulu voters approved a $5 billion elevated light-rail line.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com