Who are we?

The UW Pass or Fail campaign is a collaboration between community groups, environmental and social justice organizations, faith communities, labor unions, and student, staff and faculty groups at UW.  Join the coalition today.

  • 350 Seattle

  • American Association of University Professors - UW Chapter

  • ATU 587

  • Beacon Hill United Methodist Church

  • Church Council of Greater Seattle

  • Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC)

  • Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle

  • Ethiopian Community in Seattle

  • Futurewise

  • Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI)

  • MLK County Labor Council

  • Puget Sound Sage

  • Roosevelt Neighborhood Association

  • Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council

  • Seattle Human Services Coalition

  • SEIU 1199

  • SEIU 925

  • SEIU Local 6

  • Sierra Club

  • Teamsters Local 117

  • Transit Riders Union

  • UAW 4121

  • United Students Against Sweatshops

  • University District Community Council

  • The Urbanist

  • UW Faculty Forward

  • UW Young Democrats

  • Wallingford Community Council

  • Washington Community Action Network

  • WA State Nurses Association

  • WFSE 1488

These organizations delivered the following letter at the UW Board of Regents Meeting on May 9, 2018:

May 9, 2018

Dear    UW Board of Regents and President Ana Mari Cauce; 
              UW Medicine Board and CEO Paul G. Ramsey; UWMC Executive Director Geoff Austin; 
              Harborview Board of Trustees and Executive Director Paul S. Hayes:

As a major employer and a cutting-edge educational, research, and medical institution, the University of Washington has the opportunity and responsibility to be a leader in the wider community.  We, the undersigned, join together in urging that UW immediately adopt a policy of fully subsidizing unlimited transit passes for all UW employees starting in fall 2018. 

Full transit benefits are already a standard best practice for major institutions throughout the Seattle area.  For example, King County, the City of Seattle, Microsoft, Swedish Hospital, and Seattle Children’s Hospital all provide unlimited transit passes for their employees.  All state employees in King County, excepting educational institutions, receive fully-subsidized transit passes.  So do workers at the UW-associated Valley Medical Center, University Physicians, and Northwest Hospitals.

Unfortunately, the University of Washington lags far behind its peers.  For workers at the UW Campuses, UW Medicine, and Harborview Medical Center, the UW currently covers only 19% of the employee pass cost, with parking fees covering 23% and pass holders covering 57%.  The employee cost for the UPASS has grown by 114% since 2008, currently costing $150 per quarter. 

The unwillingness to fully fund transit benefits for all UW employees demonstrates an unacceptable lack of commitment to climate goals, congestion reduction, and workers’ quality of life.  

Over a third of commute trips by UW employees are still taken in single-occupancy vehicles.  Road transportation represents two thirds of Seattle’s climate-changing carbon pollution, according to a 2017 report by the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment.  As climate instability intensifies, lowering these figures by incentivizing transit use is becoming an urgent matter of climate justice.

The detrimental effects of the UW’s policy choice will only increase as the Seattle Campus expands, growing by 13,000 people during the next 10 years.  Although the UW claims there will be no negative unavoidable traffic and transportation impacts, an Environmental Impact Statement concludes that with an additional 6,195 single occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips per day by 2028, 9 of 13 U District intersections will be gridlocked and three others will be near gridlock with massive transit delays.

Unlimited transit passes have a proven and positive effect on commute behavior.  According to the 2008 Seattle Urban Mobility Plan, “universal transit passes are usually extremely effective means to reduce the number of car trips in an area; reductions in car mode share of 4% to 22% have been documented, with an average reduction of 11%.  By removing any cost barrier to using transit, including the need to search for spare change for each trip, people become much more likely to take transit to work or for non-work trips.”

We want UW to be a climate leader and a transit champion, not a low-road employer.  We ask you to do the right thing and provide full transit benefits for all UW employees starting in fall 2018.