If anyone knows just how important a ‘yes’ vote is this fall, it’s Jim Ellis.
He goes back to the 1968 transit vote that was part of another Ellis legacy, Forward Thrust, and one of his bitterest losses.
“We were ahead in the polls, right up to the last three weeks,” he said. “Then, some very clever ads came out, and one day General Motors showed up with a large trailer-truck. It had a huge window and inside was a chrome-plated jet engine, and the sign said something like, ‘This is the engine of the future. It will make buses faster than trains!’
“No one would ever put a jet engine in a bus, but people didn’t know that and we slowly lost the vote for transit. That was in 1968. If the people had voted for it — eventually it would have been 80 percent paid by the federal government — the system would have been finished in 1985, at three times the size of the one before voters this November. And the last payment for it would have been in 2008.”
Instead of General Motors, we have Ron Sims pushing the “buses instead of rail” idea. To think, we could have a 22 year-old rail system up and running today, if only the folks back in ’68 had had the foresight to make that investment.
My grandfather voted against Forward Thrust’s rail measure back in ’68. Why? It didn’t run a line from his home in White Center to the Renton Boeing plant. Not seeing the big picture, pops said “no” to Senator Magnuson’s free money. There’s still no rail from White Center to Renton. Maggie’s money, and our rail system, was put to good use.
Maybe pops thought they’d come back to the voters with another package a year later. Of course, they never did.