King County voters endorse faster rail transit planning in advisory ballot on November 8, 1988.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2695
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On November 8, 1988, a King County advisory ballot issue asks citizens, "Should public funding and development of a rail transit system to serve the residents of King County be accelerated so that service in King County can begin before the year 2000?" Voters answer "yes" by a better than two-to-one margin of 390,161 to 180,152.

The advisory ballot was championed by newly elected King County Council Members Ron Sims, Cynthia Sullivan, and Greg Nickels (b. 1955). They were responding in part to a June 1988 public opinion survey by the Puget Sound Council of Governments (PSCOG, now Puget Sound Regional Council) which reported that business and citizens regarded development of rail transit to be the region's highest transportation priority.

At the same time, PSCOG's long-range "Multi-Corridor Study," had bogged down in conflicts between Seattle and suburban representatives over transportation priorities, development pacing, technologies, and potential rail routes. The advisory ballot was intended, in part, to prod participants into moving faster. The vote also leant credibility to successful efforts in 1990 to pass needed state laws for regional transit services and growth management.


Walt Crowley, Routes: A Brief History of Public Transportation in Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993).

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