December 09, 2005
Sound Transit has released a Christmas wish list that would give Santa Claus an aneurysm:
If Sound Transit asked voters to pay for all the projects it's considering for its next regional package, the price would easily top $12 billion.
The actual list of proposed projects is here
. For all the money that has been spent, Sound Transit only serves "10 million riders a year
" (that translates to roughly 20,000 commuters a day). In a region of 3.2 million people, that's a negligible 0.6% of the population. Even the most productive of the multi-billion dollar projects will hardly make a dent in road congestion.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 09, 2005
12:08 PM | Email This
WHY IS SOUND TRANSIT RUNNING REDUNDANT EXPRESS SERVICE TO 9th & COMMERCE (4,500 annual service hours) , WHEN THE LIGHT RAIL ALREADY SERVES THIS EXACT ROUTE?
This impresses me as further evidence that ST has no intention of spending the public's money wisely.
Furthermore since ST has the Light Rail "up and running" why continue tying up traffic and tearing up the roads in downtown Tacoma by operating bus service that duplicates the rail
2. Don't bring up transportation issues. Those of us in Pierce County are still mad about the Narrows Bridge toll.
273 to 312 million for a light rail in Everett from the Everett Station to a community college? It would run in the middle of an already congested Broadway Avenue. It couldn't have any stops, so why is this even a project?
As Stefan says, it is a XMAS (er, Holiday) wish list.
Remember when you vote, that Gregoire says over and over this is not the time to raise taxes......
Vote Vote Vote!
The next election we can cripple her ability to ram all of her liberal agenda down your throats!
The whole point of any projects list is to ask for the world and then appear later to be "reasonable" and settle for the $2 billion you originally wanted anyway. Remember Locke's so called Blue Ribbon Panel on taxes a few years ago?
These are dangerous times for Washington tax payers. The drunken sailors in Olympia have a bankroll of an extra $1.5 billion burning a hole in their pockets. God forbid they give it back. So watch the lists come in and a whole new set of programs begin...all of which will require MORE TAXES to support in the years ahead.
6. Libertarian: As a former Olympic Peninsula resident, I am definitely sympathetic to your frustration. What really gripes me is that when the Peoples Republic of Seattle finally rebuilds the Alaska Way viaduct and the Evergreen Point floating bridge, there will not be any tolls. So you will get to pay for your own bridge with tolls, and pay for Seattle's bridges (via increased gas taxes)!
Get some real numbers, then your complaints will have merit. Comparing the number of riders to the entire population base is absurd. I doubt there would be many pre-school children nor extended care facility occupants out wheeling around the freeways at rush hour, or at any hour.
Sound Transit does have faults, and being critical of boondoggle budgets is valid, so don't get off focus by using dubious data. The real data is there, and more helpful
8. Lauren, The point is that ST serves/will serve a very small percentage of the overall population and an unimpressive percentage of commuters given its cost. If you wish to contribute to the discussion by providing more detailed numbers, I will be happy to post what you come up with.
Rightly stated, Stefan.
The $273 light rail in Everett is expected to attract a whopping 3000 riders a day. And here is an important point to remember- these costs do not include operation and maintenance costs when the stupid things get built, if ever. Typically, they will be just as much as the cost to relieve the debt service or more.
10. I see ST's waste while commuting every day from NE 6th Carpool only ramps on I-405, the construction of carpool only ramps on I-90, and the construction of carpool only ramps on 320th in Federal Way on I-5 (I see this one occassionally, but gets my blood boil nonetheless). I commute on I-405 every day, and I see a car/bus using the NE 6th ramp once in a blue moon. Why, oh why, would anyone want to build something in the tune of 10s of millions that would be used by maybe 100 cars a day? How many cars, exactly, are using these ramps a day anyway?
The 2004 Washington State GDP was about $238 Billion. Now lets just pretend that the government isn't entitled to take more than 50% in taxes and say the tax base is therefore $134 Billion. That means that after take home pay, Sound transit wants 10% of the remaining pie to build projects that only benifit two groups, politicians and the 3% or so of people that use public transportation.
How does anyone justify taking so much from the majority and giving it to the minority? That's theft, it's wrong, my only consoliation is that the liberal baby boomers are old and I will spit on your graves.
12. C. Oh - I agree with you, but I think the purpose of those carpool ramps is not for carpools. It is taking taxes paid by drivers and converting it to public transport - bus ramps. The NE6 exit on 405 just happens to run into the Bellevue bus depot. The one on I5 at 320 coincidentily goes into a park and ride. I'm not sure where the one on I90 goes, but I could take a guess.
Has anyone here put 2 and 2 together here with this headline and Stefan's other headline today "Transparency in government"?
Itís in Sound Transitís best interest to make sure that you, the taxpayers, know as little about how much money is going where in order to dodge the tough questions they know they canít answer. Trouble is that , last November, with the passage of the widely-popular Initiative 900, the performance audit initiative, taxpayers are DEMANDING complete accountability of their tax dollars. Does it not make more sense to add just a bit more paper to the car tabs renewal form to allow full disclosure in where your taxes and fees go?
This is all a shell game. Once the govenment stops showing you where your tax money is going, they will assume you wont give a rip once you are forced to pay this bloated tax bill.
It would be interesting to know what percentage of the annual operating costs of Sound Transit riders generate. Just because ST says there are 10 million riders per year doesn't make it so. Often, these local Transit Systems provide their own statistics unaudited or the audit is not even a glancing blow.
What would be real interesting is to know:
How much has been invested in ST over the years into Capital Projects?
What is the annual depreciation on the system and the rolling stock?
What is the annual operating costs?
What % of these combined costs is covered by users?
What is the annual Government Subsidy??
My guess is we could have bought every regular rider a new Mercedes annually and still have enough left over to fix the existing highway system without a GasTax increase!
Mass Transit folks are experts at cooking the books! It's there mission in life....FREELOADERS!
I know this is probably too much to ask of these people, but I will ask anyway.
The next time you engineer a two way train, could you please make sure the build out includes enough room between the tracks so that the trains can pass each other, side by side, withoug colliding and causing even more damage that tax payers have to pay for?
Actually, I would think that having specialized infrastructure that exists 'primarily' for buses makes more sense than 'light rail'. I've sometimes wondered what would happen if a state were to build busways and make them be membership-only restricted access roads with memberships priced and restricted to prevent conjection. Thus, unlike rail lines that could only serve a few people, the busways could support more mass-transit users (including those whose buses would use the busway for only part of the trip), and also a few high-paying customers who wouldn't mind paying $100 or even $200/week to save 15 minutes' daily commute.
Although rail can sometimes have higher passenger capacity than roads (the London Metro running 30 trains per hour at peak carries a lot of people) I would think road could often have more utilized capacity.
I'd bet dollars to doughnuts, the engineers were forced by managers and politicians to squeeze the monorails into their current configuration. Bad management trumps good engineering.
Believe it or not. There will be tolls on the floating bridge for 520. If it does not get enough money watch it go to I90. It is part of the plan to get the billions of dollars for transportation. We are looking at not only 12 billion for Mass Transit but 15 to 20 billion for roads. Think about it 30 billions or more for transportation. They are going to tax everything they can. And in this case Mass Transits projects get priority over roads. The Seattle special interests in global warming will not pay a dime for roads until they have every mass transit project built. And when they find out it takes ever more money to complete their projects they will divert funding away from Highways to ensure that their projects get funded. Just like the light rail we voted for spent every dime before one inch or rail was laid. They will only cry for more money so they can fix the roads. It is all a shell game.
Eventually they will tax the jobs away from the area. ANd transportation will fix itself by having less people on the roads because the jobs are not available. Then the smaller population will have to be taxed more to keep all the mass transit projects solvent. Not one Mass transit project in this area runs at a profit. For each Mass transit project completed 30 to 60% of the annual operating costs are paid by the tax payers. Not only are we funding massive mass transit projects. THey will take more money from the budget. I guess we should be putting the City and county parks up for sell for developers. Because they will not be able to pay the 10 million dollars a year to keep them in shape. Mass Transit will demand billions of dollars a year for operating costs. We have to cut somewhere right.
19. How does anyone justify taking so much from the majority and giving it to the minority? That's theft, it's wrong, my only consoliation is that the liberal baby boomers are old and I will spit on your graves...
Have a brew first, Dan.
I'm hesitant to weigh in on this given that I differ from most visitors to this site on mass transit, but I'm with Lauren/duhh on this one. Stefan is the one who originally posted on the topic. The onus is on him to provide actual statistics, say perhaps, percentage of commuters served rather than total population (and beter yet, percentage of commuters on the corridors Sound Transit serves).
Percentages of the total population are a straw horse in debates about transit. So for that matter is Stefan's breakdown of ridership by day rather than weekday. Sound Transit had a two fold purpose when it passed: 1) provide short-term congestion relief, mostly via regional bus routes, and 2) make investments in long-term infrastructure such as light rail and commuter rail where the immediate payoff is less profound (and obviously more controversial). We can debate the later point all we want, but on the first point there is real success.
Take for example weekday ridership (which is where the focus on Sound Transit's resource are for obvious reasons). That statistic is easily found at:
At that link you can also dig into past ridership reports that break down ridership by individual routes...where one can see what appears to be strong, steady ridership growth on any number of routes that focus on services for commuters during rush hour. And if you're on the freeway where those routes go during rush hour, you can see crowded buses running up and down I-5, across 520, up and down 522, etc.
I'm all for a real debate about transit, and holding to account where transit has failed (like the cursed monorail), but let's have a discussion on the merits.