West Coast voters are poised to pass two of the biggest transit measures the nation has seen.
Mass transit was the big winner in Tuesday’s election, with Seattle and Los Angeles both on track to approve multi-billion-dollar transportation packages that promise to bring relief to some of the country’s most congested roadways.
Both proposals remained too close to call on Wednesday morning, but Sound Transit 3 was leading with 55 percent overall approval as of Tuesday night, while Los Angeles’ Measure M was leading 70 to 30 percent (it needs a two-thirds majority to pass).
Here’s a look at how the two plans compare with one another:
They’re both big — really big
L.A.’s Measure M includes $121 billion for rail and bus rapid transit and more than a dozen road projects. Sound Transit 3 is a $54 billion plan that adds 62 miles of light rail and two major bus rapid-transit lines, among other transit improvements.
If passed, both plans would bring trains to areas with big ridership projections. In Seattle, the Ballard station is expected to see 52,000 daily boardings when it opens in 2035. The Los Angeles Metro Transportation Authority estimates up to 75,000 people a day would ride the future West Santa Ana Branch Line, connecting downtown L.A. with cities in the county’s southeastern corner.
They’re both going to take awhile
Neither rail system is going to happen quickly. In Los Angeles, 64-year-old Emilia Mata rides three buses to her factory job. She’d be 89 by the time a train station opens along her commute.
“God knows, I’ll probably be dead,” she told the Los Angeles Times, laughing.
Los Angelenos are looking at a 40-year wait for all of Measure M’s projects to come to fruition, although some segments are expected within the next decade.
Puget Sound residents will also need to pack their patience. The first light-rail expansions under ST3 wouldn’t be finished until 2024, and Issaquah wouldn’t see light rail until 2041, when today’s kindergarteners are in their 30s.
Different tax structures
Los Angeles’ Measure M is being funded through an indefinite sales-tax increase of one-half cent that’s projected to bring in $860 million a year. The measure also calls for a 1 percent increase in 2039.
Sound Transit 3 would be paid for through increases to property, sales and car-tab taxes. The median household in urban King, Snohomish and Pierce counties would pay $326 next year in new taxes, plus $303 in existing Sound Transit taxes that voters passed in 1996 and 2008. Go here to calculate what you’ll end up paying.