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Zero emissions bus in Seattle
JONATHAN LAWSON
Seattle's Proposition 1: Yes to transit!

Transit is essential. Not only do many people rely on trains and buses to get to and from work or school, to visit family, or to run errands, but transit also plays a critical role in reducing our climate and air pollution. At a time when we’re dealing with the combined harms of wildfire smoke and COVID-19, we know we need to address the climate crisis and clean up our air—and to do this, we need more transit, not less.

That is why Climate Solutions has endorsed Seattle Proposition 1, which will invest in essential bus service, create greater affordability for transit riders, address the West Seattle transportation crisis, and ensure that our transit system is efficient and reliable. Proposition 1 will renew and modify a measure that is set to expire, providing our community with key transit investments over the next six years. Seattle voters: make sure you look all the way down your ballot, and vote yes on Proposition 1.

Vehicle transportation is responsible for the largest share of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions, and most of that pollution comes from personal vehicle use. Seattle will not meet its goals for reducing emissions—addressing climate change and improving air quality—without reducing our dependence on personal vehicles. That means expanding transit and access to other non-polluting transportation options.

Unfortunately, emissions from the transportation sector have remained relatively steady over time; it’s clear that investing in clean transportation options is crucial. Climate Solutions’ recent research on cutting transportation pollution shows that the best path forward includes both a significant shift from personal vehicles to transit, walking, and biking, and electrifying those vehicles that remain on the road. Investments in transit also improve our health and our safety while cutting climate pollution.

The availability of clean transportation options in our communities is also a question of justice and access to opportunity. Data show that lower-income Seattleites are more likely to use transit than higher income groups. According to the city, “the ten Metro routes with the highest daily ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic all serve higher percentages of communities of color.”  Furthermore, for a variety of reasons, not everyone has access to a car or the ability to drive. For some community members, access to transit is truly necessary. Everyone should be able to get where they need to go, including people with disabilities, students, and others who may not drive. Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of downtown commuters used transit to get to work, and even though some of us are working from home these days, others of us are not due to the nature of our jobs. Transit remains a critical service.

In 2014, Seattleites recognized the necessity of funding transit and overwhelmingly passed a measure similar to Proposition 1; that measure will expire at the end of this year. We cannot allow these investments to lapse and let down those of us who rely on transit, and we cannot step away from our commitment to build a climate-friendly transportation system. Let’s reiterate our commitment to a more sustainable, equitable, and healthier city and make our way to the bottom of the ballot to vote yes on Seattle Proposition 1.

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Author Bio

Leah helps develop and implement policies that will accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy, with a focus on the transportation sector. She joined Climate Solutions in January 2019.

Prior to joining Climate Solutions, Leah was the Senior Program Manager of Built Green, a green home certification program in Washington State. In this role, she collaborated with public and private partners to expand green building incentives, conducted studies on the benefits of green building, and promoted the program to builders and the public.

Leah holds her Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, with concentrations in Environmental Policy and International Affairs. She received her B.A. from Kenyon College in 2010. Leah is a Jackson Foundation Leadership Fellow, an alum of Leadership Tomorrow, and a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.

As a volunteer, Leah serves on the Executive Committees of the Sierra Club Seattle Group and Washington State Chapter as well as the Jackson Fellows Leadership Committee. She also collaborates with Russian environmental activists, translating their work into English. With the rest of her time, Leah enjoys long-distance running and bicycling, adventuring, and practicing her Russian.