Help Us Develop A Better Regional Transit Plan

Sadly, Sound Transit is doing a poor job of providing us with a region-wide rail transit system, despite the vast amount of our sales tax money that it continues to spend. Fortunately, we ordinary citizens can do something about it.

The Problem:

Sound Transit's initial light rail line from Sea-Tac Airport to the University of Washington is already more than a decade behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.1 Moreover, its poor choice of route means that it will still be considerably faster to take a bus between downtown and the airport.

Its newest plan is essentially the same (except for the elimination of the roads portion) as its previous plan (Proposition 1), which was soundly defeated by the voters last November. Its defects are remarkably similar to those for the currently-under-construction line, including a poor choice of routes, exorbitant cost to taxpayers, and the fact that it will take many years or decades for construction to be completed. It is a plan that will greatly benefit large construction contractors, but it will do little to improve mobility, reduce congestion or fight global warming. Fortunately, there is a good chance that this disaster will be rejected again by the voters this coming November 4.

The Better Plan:

There is nothing wrong with rail transit. It works extremely well in all of the world's great cities -- and in many smaller ones, too. It can work here too, if we would only let it by using some common sense in our transportation planning.

Eastside Rail Now! has developed a preliminary alternative regional rail transit plan. It is based on what citizens from throughout the region have told us they really want, what would be most effective in helping solve our growing congestion and pollution problems, and what is most cost-effective. As compared with Sound Transit's plan, it features a very large increase in route miles, a much quicker startup of service, greatly improved inter-regional equity, and the possibility of substantially lower overall costs.

How You Can Help:

There are a number of ways that you can help to further refine and promote our plan, including:

(1) Make constructive suggestions regarding routing, technology, cost reduction, financing, amenities, coordination with neighborhood improvements, etc. Please send to regionalplan at eastsiderailnow.org

(2) Inform your friends, neighbors and colleagues. Let them know that an alternative plan is being developed and encourage them to express their opinions and provide ideas. You might even want to discuss our plan at your neighbor association meetings.

(3) Contact government officials (via phone, e-mail and snail mail) to tell them that you are unhappy with Sound Transit's poor planning, extravagant expenditures, delays, etc. and that you want them to implement our plan.

(4) Vote "No" on Sound Transit's ballot measure on November 4 in order to send a strong message to government officials that we deserve and expect much better work from them. For more reasons to vote "No" if you want improved rail transit, see 29 Reasons to Vote "No" on Proposition 1.

Why we can succeed

That we can succeed is evidenced by the fact that we have already scored major accomplishments. For example, Eastside Rail Now! and other organizations have exposed much of the waste and incompetence (or worse) in transportation planning in the region and have helped defeat Proposition 1 last November. And we have stopped King County Executive Ron Sims' ill-conceived plan to scrap the Eastside railroad, thereby facilitating its use as a key component of a comprehensive regional rail transit system.

1Prior to the 1996 vote that authorized its first construction phase (ST1), Sound Transit proclaimed that it could construct a light rail line from the north end of the University District to south of Sea-Tac Airport as well as develop a commuter rail and regional bus service by 2006 for $3.9 billion, adjusted for inflation. The projected cost for the light rail alone was roughly $2 billion. More recent projections are for the 15.6 mile segment from downtown Seattle south to the airport (and minus its originally promised additional station south of the airport) to be completed by 2009 at a cost of $2.7 billion, and for the 3.15 mile segment from downtown north to Husky Stadium (and minus the originally promised additional stations at First Hill and in the heart of the University District) to be completed by 2016 for an additional $1.8 billion. The stations south of the airport and in the University district (which would be much more useful than the Husky Stadium station) have been delayed until a future phase. The total projected cost for the originally promised first phase system (exclusive of the abandoned First Hill station) currently stands at $6.2 billion, already far in excess of the original promise. Moreover, the completion target has been extended by 14 years to 2020.

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This page created September 17, 2008.
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