Our Sponsors:

Read more »

Our Members

Many thanks to Samuel Hahn and Andrew Gabel some of our many supporters.

ALL MEMBERS »

Sounder train gets a lackluster start in Lakewood

Sound Transit has added train service to Lakewood and South Tacoma, but so far the turnout is less than inspiring.
Sounder ridership

Sounder ridership Sound Transit

Sounder at King Street Station in Seattle. (Sound Transit)

Sounder at King Street Station in Seattle. (Sound Transit) None

After more than a decade of planning and anticipation, on October 8, Sound Transit (ST) began Sounder commuter rail service to and from Lakewood, adding a full eight miles south of the double-deck trains' previous terminus in Tacoma. Initial ridership has been underwhelming.

In the first 17 days of revenue service, a total of 237 passengers boarded the five daily trains, on average, at the two new stops, South Tacoma and Lakewood. Prior to the release of the actual data last week, ST had forecast 380 to 530 daily boardings within the first two years of operation.

To reach that anticipated level in October of 2014, by which time a planned sixth round-trip will have begun, ST will need a 60-125 percent increase in ridership. By comparison, the first two years of service to Everett, on the north Sounder route, saw ridership growth in the 50 percent range, also with the introduction of one new train [See graph.]

“It'll take a while for people to get in the flow of things,” was the reaction from Stuart Scheuerman, who chairs ST's Citizen Oversight Panel (COP), a committee of volunteers appointed by the ST board. “I'm sure it'll make its quota, if not exceed it.”

“Not bad,” Sounder operations manager Martin Young rated the ridership, emphasizing that the forecast figure is for two years out.

“It's still too early to cast doubts on the service,” cautioned Lloyd Flem, executive director of All Aboard Washington (AAWA), the state's passenger-rail advocacy group.

As to how ST might get the figures to the forecast level, AAWA president Loren Herrigstad said, “My biggest concern is that Sound Transit is not designing Sounder stations for our Puget Sound climate. They’re designing stations as if we were warm and sunny California."

In his capacity as president, Herrigstad has toured the Lakewood extension, but when traveling to Seattle he bypasses the new stations to pick up the Sounder in Tacoma. "The South Tacoma shelters are very light and not adequate. The Lakewood station has almost no place to wait under when it rains, except in the parking garage. There's no restrooms at either Lakewood or South Tacoma, no heated waiting area, and no place to get a snack or a coffee, nothing. The Lakewood Station garage does have three restrooms, but they're for the ST Express and Pierce Transit bus drivers only."

“We would probably have some opposition from taxpayers” about building more elaborate facilities, Young responded, “when that's just not the way we do it in transit.” Sound Transit service planning manager Mike Bergman noted that the trains pull in at Lakewood at least a few minutes early, and are open for use of their facilities, or to get out of the wet, as soon as they arrive.

The less-than-stellar figures won't help Sound Transit in the wake of recent grousing over the performance of the more lightly trafficked north line service. Last year the Sounders' recovery ratio – that is, the percentage of expenses defrayed by fares – stood at a respectable 32 percent for the south line, but only 11 percent for the Everett route, according to a September COP report. 

Although it notes that ridership on the north route has been averaging only about 140 passengers per three-car train, the report, in its own words, was “not suggesting that Sound Transit dismantle the existing north Sounder service,” the report gave that eventuality at least some credence merely by mentioning it.

By contrast, the per-passenger-mile cost of the Lakewood trains, even if their ridership remains as is, may mark an improvement over the cost of their predecessor Sounders, which only went to and from Tacoma. It's a matter of a few extra miles of service without a whole new train. The increased ridership, while not huge, spreads out costs.


Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!

Comments:

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 8:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Lakewood is just a way station on the road to Olympia.

jabailo

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 10:27 a.m. Inappropriate

The Seattle Times noted last October 6 that "Sound Transit estimates the new [Lakewood] segment will bring in 750 to 1,000 more passengers a day, in addition to the nearly 9,000 who already travel the route."

Author C.B. Hall above reports that each of the five trains saw 237 boardings at the two stations. Five times 237 equals 1,185 riders, well over the quoted forecast of Sound Transit reported in The Times.

I'm wondering here if "segment" is being confused with "train."

Could it be that the five morning trains from Lakewood, leaving in the weekday morning interval 4:42 AM to 6:37 AM, are in fact drawing 237 across all five trains, in other words, an average of 47 people per northbound morning train that rolls into Freighthouse Square from Lakewood and South Tacoma?

jniles

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 2:23 p.m. Inappropriate

I've just been informed by transit insiders that if the five daily Lakewood extension trains were drawing 237 passengers each, we would be seeing fireworks shot from the roof of Sound Transit headquarters.

jniles

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 4:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Here's a message I just received from Sound Transit Media Relations:

Quote:
- Between Oct. 8, when service on the Lakewood Extension began, and Oct. 31, Sound Transit station agents took hand counts of morning ridership at the South Tacoma and Lakewood stations.

- Morning ridership averaged 155 riders at the Lakewood Station; average daily ridership at Lakewood totaled 310 for the morning and afternoon commutes.

- Morning ridership at both stations combined averaged 239 riders, which equates to 478 total average daily ridership (morning and afternoon) on the extension.
Unquote

Notice that morning counts are being doubled to get all-day counts, fair enough. The "239" number from ST closely matches the "237" number from C.B. Hall.

We thus have confirmation that 237 is the approximate count of all passengers boarding at both Lakewood and South Tacoma stations across all five morning northbound trains. Thus, there are lots of empty seats left when the trains reach Tacoma Dome to continue on the long-established South Sounder run up to Seattle. All aboard!

I've been reminded by colleagues today that it takes a little time for a new train line like the Lakewood extension to reach its potential, despite the publicity about the forthcoming train that has been provided since 1996. I used to think 18 months after opening would be enough time for ridership to hit its stride, but I've been reading in a recent Sound Transit report to the Federal Transit Administration that Seattle light rail "maturity" in its rider count is going to take over ten years. I've even heard Sound Transit Board members say that we should wait 100 years to assess the benefits of our new trains.

jniles

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

Why aren't there more people outraged at these absolutely abysmal ridership numbers? Is anyone actually surprised that the boardings for Lakewood are as low as they are? It's a small city. In the best case scenario we are getting perhaps 1,000 cars off the road, and at what cost? This is money that could and should be spent more effectively, perhaps on BRT. Even the projected ridership over the next 20 years comes out to a staggering cost per rider.

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 12:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Scott asks about Sound Transit’s ridership:

Why aren't there more people outraged at these absolutely abysmal ridership numbers? . . . Even the projected ridership over the next 20 years comes out to a staggering cost per rider.

You’re missing the point. Ridership is irrelevant, as is the “cost per rider”. That is because unlike any of its peers Sound Transit hauls in grossly excessive amounts of new regressive tax.

It doesn’t matter if ridership on any of its buses or trains decline from the current low levels; it confiscates way more new tax revenue than needed for whatever capital and operations costs it chooses to incur.

You understand how Sound Transit is financed, right Scott? The unaccountable board pledges to collect its new local taxes at or near their maximum rates while any of the long term bonds remain outstanding. It will haul in something on the order of $700 million in tax revenue this year, and that amount will grow every year until about 2054 (when the last of the ST2 bonds might be retired). That means Sound Transit will confiscate about $85 billion of regressive tax revenue from this small region JUST as security for the holders of the approximately $8.5 billion in bonds it plans on selling between now and 2024 or so.

That’s why ridership is irrelevant – Sound Transit taxes far too heavily. As there are no taxpayer protection provisions, and no way for people to vote the boardmembers in to or out of office, the whole point is for that unaccountable municipality to tax people as heavily as possible irrespective of any need.

Here’s an example of this aberrant financing technique “in action”: the 2009 bond sale. On September 10, 2009 the Sound Transit boardmembers set a new tax collection policy for that government. They adopted a new local law that contained an irrevocable pledge to confiscate sales tax throughout the district at or near a .9% rate through 2039. That was the first time the ST2 sales tax rate was pledged to a long-term bond. The boardmembers made that irrevocable tax collection pledge via Resolution 2009-16. That new local law will result in Sound Transit hauling in about $22 billion of sales tax from this region merely as security for a single $300 million bond.

Here is the link to this 2009-series bond sale “official statement” that was filed with the SEC:

https://fortress.wa.gov/cted/lgcdpbuc/ViewBondDocument.aspx?Name=OS&BondFormId;=3699

That document details that one $300 million bond sale. As you can see from the cover page, this punishing scheme was designed by Goldman Sachs and its local enablers (the lawyers and financiers who get rich setting up punishing tax scams like this). Sound Transit will be issuing at least $7 billion (face value) in bonds later, over the next 12 years or so, using this same kind of abusive tax pledge to secure that future debt.

No peer bus and train services provider harms the public financially that way.

It’s not like Sound Transit possibly could need anything close to so much tax revenue over the next four decades. Take TriMet – it has dozens of miles of new light rail, a growing bus system, streetcars, etc. and it imposed NO new local tax revenue and has issued NO long-term bonds secured by sales tax or car tab taxes. It uses appropriate financing techniques, leveraging federal grants and imposing modest taxes on local businesses (the primary beneficiaries of light rail).

Now do you understand why ridership is irrelevant to Sound Transit, Scott? It’s the abusive taxing scheme.

crossrip

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 7:35 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip wrote: "It’s not like Sound Transit possibly could need anything close to so much tax revenue over the next four decades."

Since 1999 King County Metro has spent $4.126 Billion in local tax dollars just running buses and buying buses, plus a few bucks thrown in for the South Lake Union Trolley.

Sound Transit has installed new rail lines, built tunnels, strung electric wires, built an elevated structure, plus run services. During that same 13 years Sound Transit has spent $5.693 Billion in local tax dollars. They've spent about $1.5 Billion more than Metro, only Metro isn't building anything.

Building things costs money. This is not to say that there hasn't been some waste at ST and they they don't need to be watched like a hawk, just like everything else that gets built around here including highways.

As for Trimet, they're not building tunnels and miles of elevated structures for their light rail trains. Their geography is far less complicated.

All data from the National Transit Database.

ahblid

Posted Thu, Nov 22, 9:02 a.m. Inappropriate

As for Trimet, they're not building tunnels and miles of elevated structures for their light rail trains. Their geography is far less complicated.

The differences in geography between here and the greater Portland area have absolutely zero bearing on the abusive financing plan the unaccountable board members of Sound Transit are putting into place. Your argument to that effect is completely meritless.

Light rail is dirt cheap for people in the Portland area because proper financing techniques are used, not because its landscape is amenable to rail.

There is a very complex light rail construction project underway there now that is in several ways comparable to East Link. A new bridge across a big river is a part of that extension. Planning for that project began years after the East Link planning commenced. That light rail extension will be in operation in 2015 however, and all Sound Transit is saying is that it has no idea when East Link will be operational. The ST2 ballot measure said East Link would be operational in 2020, but now that date is 2024 or later.

Here's a story about how TriMet is getting this complex and very expensive new light rail project done in a reasonable time frame using no new regressive taxing:

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/TriMet-marks-oneyear-milestone-for-PortlandMilwaukie-lightrail-bridge--29298

Sound Transit won’t even BEGIN construction of East Link until 2016 (at the earliest), and the plan for opening it to service recently was pushed back by four years (until 2024, at the earliest).

Here is some more information about that new light rail line TriMet is building out, which includes a new multi-purpose bridge across the Willamette river:

http://trimet.org/pdfs/pm/PMLR_Fact_Sheet_February2010.pdf

Part of what that document says about the appropriate financing plan being used there is this:

“Project funding

“Project costs are approximately $1.4 billion. The Federal share is expected to range from 50 to 60 percent ($710 to $850 million) of the total costs. To date, $412.5 million in local, regional and state funds have been identified for the project.”

That’s how all the sensible peers finance light rail. TriMet arranges large federal grants to pay for most of it, then they tap other sources that DO NOT include massive new regressive tax hikes.

The people in and around Portland that have been getting light rail build-outs for the past several decades (they’ve got 53 miles of it and many stations) have not paid ANY new local taxes for their transit. There are 125,000 daily boardings of TriMet's light rail -- the approximately $6 billion in regressive tax revenue Sound Transit has confiscated since 1998 only has resulted in a light rail system with about 25,000 daily boardings.

What's staggeringly abusive are the bond sale contract security terms Sound Transit's completely unaccountable board uses. Those are described in my posting above. Those would put our small region on the hook for something on the order of $85 billion of regressive taxation over the next forty years. Go ahead "ahblid" -- try explaining why crushing tax costs on that scale might be justified. No other train and bus service provider imposes an abusive financing plan on its community that is anything like that.

crossrip

Posted Thu, Nov 22, 12:01 p.m. Inappropriate

Funny, I don't remember talking at all about "abusive tax plans." Never mentioned it once. All I said is that your declaration regarding the amount of money ST needs was nonsense. What they are spending is more than in line with other transit agencies.

And I'm sorry, but geography has a lot to do with things. Yes, building the bridge added considerably to the cost of the Milwaukie line, even though the entire cost of that bridge shouldn't even get charged to the light rail project, since other services will be using the bridge too.

However, building a bridge is nothing compared to drilling a tunnel. Tunnels are the most expensive form of construction, on average double the cost of building an elevated line. NY City is spending $2.1 Billion to extend the #7 subway line by about 1.4 miles and add 1 station.

Next, as shown at the link below, the tax for Trimet has been increasing yearly.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/portlandafoot/5106340418/

With regard to getting Federal funding, as shown at the link below, the first two light rail lines received 74% federal funding back when the Fed was more generous with grant. They did the Red line with NO federal funding, and all other lines since then have seen subsequently lower percentages of Federal funding as Congress has gradual reduced such funding to levels around 50%. This despite the fact that the Fed still provides about 90% of highway funding.

http://trimet.org/pdfs/publications/factsheet.pdf

ahblid

Posted Fri, Nov 23, 9:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Whoa . . . looks like we’ve got a live one:

All I said is that your declaration regarding the amount of money ST needs was nonsense.

I’ll show you how I derived it then, using a Sound Transit document. You can explain to everyone why you call it “nonsense”.

The staggering tax costs the unaccountable Sound Transit board members are itching to impose on this region are a function of the unprecedented bond sale contract security terms they use. The most recent indications are that staff will push the board to sell about $8.5 billion in long-term bonds (about $1.5 billion have been issued already). The proceeds of those sales would be used to cover the majority of the approximately $13.5 billion in anticipated “ST2” project capital costs.

Securing that mountain of debt would be irrevocable pledges by that municipality to confiscate scores of billions of dollars of regressive tax revenue. That’s unlike any financing plan employed by any peer bus and train services provider.

Disagree with any of this so far, “ahblid”?

This is a closely-held dirty secret. Sound Transit’s management, financiers, and lawyers know the scope of the abusive financing plan and they are not disclosing it.

We can get a sense of the magnitude of the staggeringly bad taxing scheme targeting people here from this Sound Transit document:

http://crosscut.com/static/static_file/2010/04/20/soundtransit1.pdf

That is from early 2010. It shows that through 2040 the tax collections necessitated by the bond sale contract security pledges will be over $44 billion.

Those projections were prepared before the significant downward revisions of the tax revenue forecasts for the near term, but the $44 billion figure as of 2040 may still be accurate. Those recent near-term lowered tax revenue revisions from Sound Transit staff mean: 1) the bulk of the bonds would need to be sold later than what was anticipated for that document, 2) the amount of debt outstanding in 2040 will be greater than what the footnote shows (“$4.9 billion; Interest Balance = $2.1 billion”), and 3) there won’t be the reserves as are shown on that exhibit, which could have been used to pay off bonds on an accelerated basis in the 2040’s.

That exhibit also shows the annual tax collection level in 2040 at the $2.3 billion level. That massive level of taxing will need to continue for about 15 years after that, due to the bond sale contract security pledges Sound Transit uses which require it to continue taxing at or near the maximum rates while any of the bonds are outstanding. That means the tax costs to the public of financing the approximately $13.5 billion of ST2 capital costs could well reach $85 billion.

You call my estimate in the posts above of the $85 billion tax needs of Sound Transit “nonsense”. Let’s see your estimate of those tax imposition needs, and they you can try arguing they are reasonable and in line with how peers finance light rail. Good luck.

Incidentally, those TriMet documents you reference reinforce my argument: unlike Sound Transit its peers use appropriate financing techniques (public/private partnerships, lots of federal grant money, no bonding secured by “Sound Transit style” tax confiscation security pledges, state grants, little or no new local regressive taxing, modest taxes on businesses, etc.).

crossrip

Posted Sat, Nov 24, 9:19 a.m. Inappropriate


. . . Where’d you go, Twinkie? You denigrated my postings as “nonsense”. I supported everything in them -- try proving any of those assertions are incorrect.

Let’s see your stuff. Using Sound Transit documents estimate the tax costs to the public of that municipality’s abusive financing plan for its capital projects.

crossrip

Posted Sun, Nov 25, 9:36 a.m. Inappropriate


. . . Estimate the tax costs of Sound Transit’s financing plan for its capital projects. Then attempt to justify those, however you want.

You could attempt to justify this unprecedented, staggering tax confiscation scheme in light of the peers’ financing plans, Sound Transit’s own budgeting documents, or any benefits to our community you can quantify.

Show us you apprehend reality.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 7:05 a.m. Inappropriate


. . . Lots of people want to believe your assertion that Sound Transit’s staggering tax costs are reasonable and justified.

The last person around here to argue Sound Transit was worth it was Greg Nickels, and that was over four years ago:

“Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said the project would create at least 66,000 direct and indirect jobs.”

http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/383847_soundtransited.html

Pick up the torch Nickels dropped and try running with it.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 4:55 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip wrote: "Where’d you go"

Guess you didn't get the memo that this was a holiday weekend.

crossrip wrote: "You denigrated my postings as “nonsense”."

I didn't "denigrate" your postings as nonsense, I denigrated one statement by you. However, I will proceed now to denigrate more of what you've posted.

crossrip wrote: "The staggering tax costs the unaccountable Sound Transit board members are itching to impose on this region are a function of the unprecedented bond sale contract security terms they use. The most recent indications are that staff will push the board to sell about $8.5 billion in long-term bonds (about $1.5 billion have been issued already). The proceeds of those sales would be used to cover the majority of the approximately $13.5 billion in anticipated “ST2” project capital costs."

Not one word of your explanation disproves my statement. You claimed that "It’s not like Sound Transit possibly could need anything close to so much tax revenue over the next four decades.". Nothing in your entire post disproves that Sound Transit doesn't need that money to build what it has been tasked to do.

All you've done is to lay out a bunch of claims about how things may or may not be financed. But it doesn't disprove my post where I showed how ST can and will need that money to do what it has been tasked to do.

You can call it abusive taxing until you are blue in the face, but it doesn't change the fact that the projects will cost money to build. And you haven't proven that the amounts of money claimed to be needed by ST to build things are indeed excessive for the task.

crossrip wrote: "That is from early 2010. It shows that through 2040 the tax collections necessitated by the bond sale contract security pledges will be over $44 billion."

False! It does not show that at all. It shows that ST will collect $44 Billion in tax revenues. But it does not show that it is because of bonds. Yes, no doubt some of that money will go to bond payments. But some goes direct to operations, some goes direct to actual construction costs, and again some will go to bond payments.

crossrip wrote: "no bonding secured by “Sound Transit style” tax confiscation security pledges"

False! Trimet uses bonds secured by income from the payroll taxes.

Here's just one story.

http://www.kgw.com/news/TriMet-to-vote-Wed-on-700-million-in-bonds-111524064.html

crossrip wrote: "modest taxes on businesses,"

Go talk to those businesses, they don't think that those taxes are all that modest. Last year they totaled to around $250 Million. Trimet serves an area of 560 square miles and a population of 1,489,796. Sound Transit got about $580 Million. But they serve an area of 1,086 square miles and a population of 2,762,363, both about double of Trimet. And guess what? They collected about double in taxes.

That said, yes I do agree that Trimet seems to be better at securing Federal & State help than does Sound Transit.

ahblid

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 8:24 p.m. Inappropriate


All you've done is to lay out a bunch of claims about how things may or may not be financed. But it doesn't disprove my post where I showed how ST can and will need that money to do what it has been tasked to do.

No, I derived a likely tax cost, based on that 2010 Sound Transit document. Here again is where I set out the anticipated tax cost of financing the bonds staff suggests would be sold: “That means the tax costs to the public of financing the approximately $13.5 billion of ST2 capital costs could well reach $85 billion.” You ignored that estimate, and you failed to offer your own estimate of the tax costs.

Go ahead, try showing Sound Transit would need anything like $85 billion of tax revenue between now and the mid-2050's.

[The 2010 Sound Transit document] shows that ST will collect $44 Billion in tax revenues. But it does not show that it is because of bonds.

All of that $44 billion (through just 2040) WILL be confiscated because of the tax collection pledges that are the security specified in the bond sale contract terms. It makes no difference whether or not that much tax revenue is needed; the bond sale contract terms will require collecting those regressive taxes at or near the maximum rates while any of the bonds are outstanding. Stop playing stupid about how Sound Transit secures its bonds. You are insulting everyone reading what you post.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 10:21 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip wrote: "You ignored that estimate, and you failed to offer your own estimate of the tax costs."

I didn't ignore. I wasn't discussing taxes. I was discussing what it costs to build a transportation system.

crossrip wrote: "All of that $44 billion (through just 2040) WILL be confiscated because of the tax collection pledges that are the security specified in the bond sale contract terms. It makes no difference whether or not that much tax revenue is needed; the bond sale contract terms will require collecting those regressive taxes at or near the maximum rates while any of the bonds are outstanding. Stop playing stupid about how Sound Transit secures its bonds. You are insulting everyone reading what you post."

I'm sorry, but the only one playing stupid is you if you believe what you wrote above. If all of that $44 Billion goes to pay off bonds, then Sound Transit will cease to operate! It's real simple, as they need some of that money for operations. And the amount needed for operations will grow with each new line added.

The chart details that $20.7 Billion goes to operations and maintenance. I'll back out $8.3B of that for fares collected and Fed operating support, but that still leaves $14.4B of that $44B that cannot go to paying off bonds.

So believing that all $44B is going just to bonds is naive at best!

crossrip wrote: "TriMet’s share of that new project is only 5%."

So what? You're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but the ship is still sinking. Yes, the Fed is paying more for that line. But whether the taxpayers get taxed by Trimet, or the city, or the state, or the Fed; they're still getting taxed for that light rail line. And all but the Fed, are doing it with bonds.

But the Fed doesn't pay until certain milestones are completed and then they send a check for what was accomplished to get to the milestone. That means someone local generally, although sometimes its the state, took out bonds that were guaranteed by the Federal monies.

crossrip wrote: "Around here for a far less useful light rail system the people (mostly) would pay about $85 billion in sales taxes"

It's only less useful because Seattle got started building things later and because people like you slow things down by opposing everything. Which also drives the overall costs of the project higher. After all, who do you think pays for all those lawsuits?

By the way, there are still plenty of anti-rail/anti-Trimet people down in Portland who claim that their light rail system is useless.

crossrip wrote: "Why don’t you try explaining why Sound Transit’s unaccountable board members are imposing an abusive regressive taxing scheme like that?"

Almost every transit board in the country is setup the same way, appointed by politicians. It's done that way so that you can't blame the politician for anything. And most people somehow seem to forget about it the next time they have to vote for the politician.

As for explaining "abusive regressive taxing", there is no way to explain that to you. You've already made up your mind and wouldn't care what anyone might have to say on that matter. Sorry! But that's the truth. Anyone who repeats that phase as many times as you have here isn't looking for an answer.

ahblid

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 7:36 a.m. Inappropriate

Almost every transit board in the country is setup the same way, appointed by politicians.

NO other local government in this country is set up like Sound Transit, with three directly-elected boardmembers and 15 political appointees.

Moreover, NO other appointive-board local government in this country was delegated by any state the extraordinary discretionary governmental powers -- including the unchecked heavy regressive taxing powers, the unlimited bond-issuing powers, the unfettered design/build/operate powers, etc. -- that our state legislature delegated to regional transit authorities via the 1992 enabling statutes.

You really are shameless . . ..

crossrip

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 12:39 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip wrote: "NO other local government in this country is set up like Sound Transit, with three directly-elected boardmembers and 15 political appointees."

Sound Transit isn't a local government. And having the ability to tax people does NOT make it a local government.

But Sound Transit is set up like many other local transit agencies, where again the idea was that it gives the politicians cover, which is what I said. And there are other transit agencies that do have taxing powers.

If you don't like the way that ST is setup, then vote the elected officials who appoint the ST board out of office. And make it clear to the newly elected officials that they too will be sent packing if they don't fix how the ST board is put together.

But you're blaming the wrong people here. The ST board is doing what the people who appointed them want them to do; not to mention that by and large they're also doing what the voters wanted them to do. If you don't like how things are being done, then fix the problem at the top where it started, the legislature.

ahblid

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 1:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Sound Transit isn't a local government. And having the ability to tax people does NOT make it a local government.

Sound Transit is a local government. It is a municipal corporation created by the state legislature that possesses governmental powers. Sound Transit is a local government for EXACTLY the same reasons old-Metro was deemed to be a local government in the 1990 Cunningham opinion (that opinion held old-Metro had an unconstitutional structure).

If you don't like the way that ST is setup, then vote the elected officials who appoint the ST board out of office. And make it clear to the newly elected officials that they too will be sent packing if they don't fix how the ST board is put together.

Even if people voted the three county executives out of office there is no way people ever could exert any control over whom the new county executives appoint to that board. Moreover, state statutes prescribe the governance structure, so the county executives can not "fix how the ST board is put together."

The legislature should change how Sound Transit's board is structured. Senator Margarita Prentice (representing the 11th District in south Seattle) and Senator Maralyn Chase (representing the 32nd District north and east of Seattle) are two of the four sponsors of a bill last session that would get at the heart of that structural problem. SB 6499 would change Sound Transit’s board from its current appointive format to a directly-elected five-person board:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2011-12/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/6499.pdf

crossrip

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 1:38 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip wrote: "Sound Transit is a local government. It is a municipal corporation created by the state legislature that possesses governmental powers. Sound Transit is a local government for EXACTLY the same reasons old-Metro was deemed to be a local government in the 1990 Cunningham opinion (that opinion held old-Metro had an unconstitutional structure)."

Sorry, but NO, it is not a local government. ST can't make and pass laws; ST Board is not elected; ST does not have courts in which to try the accused. ST is not a local government.

crossrip wrote: "Even if people voted the three county executives out of office there is no way people ever could exert any control over whom the new county executives appoint to that board. Moreover, state statutes prescribe the governance structure, so the county executives can not "fix how the ST board is put together.""

Do you even bother to read what other people write? Or do you just like to assume what you think they wrote?

I thought I was quite specific when I said "If you don't like how things are being done, then fix the problem at the top where it started, the legislature."

ahblid

Posted Wed, Nov 28, 7:53 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip,

Following up on your claims about the old Metro: "Sound Transit is a local government for EXACTLY the same reasons old-Metro was deemed to be a local government in the 1990 Cunningham opinion (that opinion held old-Metro had an unconstitutional structure)", here's the real truth.

Judge William Dwyer did NOT declare Metro a Local Government. For the purposes of his decision, he did use the words "defacto government"; but that does not indicate a true, normal government in the sense that Seattle or Kind County are local governments.

And the crux of his opinion and decision for ordering the restructuring or disbanding the old Metro was based upon the fact that representation for the people was unbalanced based upon the appointment structure of the board.

Because of how things were setup, voters in areas like Auburn, Kent, Redmond and Renton had 4 times as much clout on the board as King County voters did. All that was needed was to re-balance how board members were appointed and to ensure that each local area participating in Metro saw the correct ratio of board members to voters for that area.

In other words, under old Metro a board member from King County represented 144,000 voters, while a board member from Auburn for example represented only 30,000 voters.

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File;_Id=2705

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910414&slug;=1277305

With an 18 member board, and 10 of those members being from King County the area with the highest population, it's clear that Sound Transit has avoided that problem. Now if populations shift some in the coming years, then perhaps King County will have to give up a seat or two to outlying areas. But it is clear that they learned from the Metro situation and that there are no parallels here.

ahblid

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 8:40 p.m. Inappropriate


That said, yes I do agree that Trimet seems to be better at securing Federal & State help than does Sound Transit.

Here’s a story from an Oregon news outlet from earlier today about that new light rail extension project I addressed in the posting above:

http://www.kxl.com/11/23/12/Big-Day-for-Portland-Milwaukie-Light-Rai/landing.html?blockID=648585&feedID;=10446

Part of what it says is this:

************
About the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project

The 7.3-mile project is the region’s sixth MAX construction project to be built and extends from the terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at Portland State University in Downtown Portland to South Waterfront, SE Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County.

About the project:
7.3 miles
10 stations
The first of its kind multi-modal bridge will carry light rail, buses, bikes, pedestrians and a future Portland Streetcar extension over the Willamette River, but no private vehicles.

TriMet’s share of the $1.49 billion project is less than 5 percent.

Opens in September 2015

Expands the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations

************

Around here for a far less useful light rail system the people (mostly) would pay about $85 billion in sales taxes ON TOP OF a like amount of sales tax revenue that Metro hauls in. Down in Portland they pay no regressive taxes for their bus and light rail systems. TriMet’s share of that new project is only 5%. What’s Sound Transit’s share of East Link? 100%? Why don’t you try explaining why Sound Transit’s unaccountable board members are imposing an abusive regressive taxing scheme like that?

crossrip

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 1:13 p.m. Inappropriate

. . . Maybe Brian McCartan (Sound Transit's CFO) could address some questions about its financing plan, including the expected tax costs, the alternatives it might explore with the legislature to reduce those massive regressive tax costs, the reasons for the rise in expected bond sales that we've seen over the past year, etc. Obviously such issues are well above the pay grade of this new PR agent.

crossrip

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 7:28 a.m. Inappropriate

Crosscut readers: let’s critique the work-product coming from this new PR agent for Sound Transit that began using Crosscut this month.

Is the quality of the information he provided to the public at this site good enough? Is he responding appropriately to questions and concerns about that municipality’s financing practices?

Based on his responses above, I give him a “D” grade. That’s mostly because 1) he plays stupid about the consequences of the Sound Transit’s board’s use of pledges to collect regressive taxes at or near the maximum rates as security in their bond sale contracts, and 2) he does not address issues presented to him, but instead posts about irrelevant facts and brings up unrelated issues. Plus, he’s got a bad attitude.

Maybe this is all we should expect, given how the board is comprised of political appointees who are entirely unaccountable to the people subject to their whims and extraordinary governmental powers.

crossrip

Posted Tue, Nov 27, 12:29 p.m. Inappropriate

I've got a bad attitude?

I'm not the one calling people "twinkie" and other names. I'm not the one criticizing people for not answering questions, while ignoring questions that you were asked by others.

I gave you facts, you provided insults. The weapon of choice for those without facts!

ahblid

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 12:29 p.m. Inappropriate

crossrip -- thank you for the interesting information. It seems to me, however, that if people aren't outraged in the first place about being taxed for a system they'll likely never use, then they should at LEAST be outraged at the absolute squandering of it on what by all accounts if a completely ineffective use of those dollars!

Why not invest in transit modes that people will actually use instead of wasting my tax dollars to bring crappy rail service to crappy cities? Put transit and infrastructure in places where people actually use it!

Wow, "shockingly" low ridership numbers in Lakewood and Mukilteo? I am shocked, shocked I tell you that this small, sparse, anti-transit cities are posting lackluster ridership numbers!

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 1:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip:

You assert, "It’s not like Sound Transit possibly could need anything close to so much tax revenue over the next four decades."

Are you kidding?

Sound Transit is on record with the Puget Sound Regional Council as being 4.7 billion dollars short at current tax rates just to complete the second phase of its multi-year master plan that will require more billions. See http://www.psrc.org/assets/8789/Oct11_Transit_Finance_101012.pdf

There's a phase 3 planning workshop for the ST Board of Directors on November 29th: http://www.soundtransit.org/About-Sound-Transit/News-and-events/Calendar/Board-Workshop-on-ST3-11-29-12.xml

As for later phases, have you not seen the future Seattle subway map created by the Sound Transit fan club, 1,600 members? http://thesunbreak.com/2012/05/08/seattle-subway-we-want-it-all-and-we-want-it-now/

An abusive taxing scheme is needed to support abusive spending on a 100-year old conception of future urbanization... there are those among us who seek the equivalent of the 1911 Virgil Bogue Plan: http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/BoguePlan1911.htm

Abusive spending is required to shield the University of Washington from vibration and electromagnetic fields as the subway line goes underneath its campus, and abusive penalties will be paid out if (likely when) the mitigation doesn't work: http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/UWimpacts/CETA-uwMIAPublicComment.pdf

Our new governor starting in January is fully committed on record to making light rail construction and operation keep on going on ... there will be extravagant spending to engineer and maintain the eight CESURA structures, short for Curved Element SUpported RAil, on the I-90 floating bridge that is planned to get light rail from Seattle to Bellevue.

I don't see any particular limits on the amount of money Sound Transit will consume, absent taxpayer revolt, perhaps fomented by the ongoing propensity of the agency to implement services -- like an early morning train from Lakewood -- that attract far fewer people than in the forecasts used to justify the spending.

jniles

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 1:41 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't see any particular limits on the amount of money Sound Transit will consume

As always, the financial beneficiaries of that municipality's taxing and spending practices appreciate your sanguine blandishments.

crossrip

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 2:11 p.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip:

And Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Billions and billions of pages on the Internet, a collective memory for the planet, and Google reveals nobody has ever yet, until now, used the phrase "sanguine blandishments." I'm honored.

Now, what does your entire sentence mean?

jniles

Posted Wed, Dec 5, 5:55 p.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip:

I'm impressed with your knowledge of ST's revenue planning and excess, so am reaching out to you with a suggestion on collaboration for the civic good.

As you may know, Sound Transit and its lobbyists are going to be in Olympia starting January trying to gain more revenue authority or even revenue grants from the state, even though the agency has plenty of taxing authority and tax revenue already, again, as you know. As an example of ongoing avarice, the ST CEO is on record from last July as wanting a share of future highway toll revenue.

The ST Legislative Agenda for the next session is posted at http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/about/board/motions/2012/Motion%20M2012-85sr.pdf . It will be approved by the full Board at its next meeting on December 20.

For the sake of taxpayers and the economic health of the region, there needs to be a strong push back on the idea that the agency is short of money.

What say you and I, or just you, or just me with your help, write up something short and sweet and factual to put in the hands of all legislators that makes the case that ST has plenty of our money already and should not get any more via new State legislation?

Once in hand, I've no problem spending a midday period in Olympia walking a one pager (double sided on colored paper for visibility) to be dropped at every legislator's office. Not many citizens of the State do that, and I've found it makes a strong impression.

Then, subsequently, I can testify to the appropriate House and Senate Committees to reinforce the documented message at the appropriate time.

I can set up a private electronic collaboration space between us that preserves your anonymity if you prefer to remain so.

If you want inspiration that not every legislator likes Sound Transit, watch the reaction to the COP defense of the SAO audit toward the end of the I-900 legislative hearing video record at http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID;=2012111008.

Reply to me here, or to jniles@alum.mit.edu on my suggestion.

jniles

Posted Thu, Dec 6, 8:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for your suggestion John. Here's the thing though, I'm reasonably confident the state legislature won't be inclined to delegate additional general taxing authority to Sound Transit's board this session. After all, it's already got untapped revenue sources (LID authority, payroll tax authority, revenue bond authority, it could seek federal grants for projects like East Link, etc.). The legislators in Olympia are not stupid.

crossrip

Posted Thu, Dec 6, 10:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip:

I too have heard that transit funding of any kind is unlikely to come out of the legislature, but the drumbeat of intent is there. Note this document from the ST3 planning session of a week ago: http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/about/board/Discussion%20Items/2012/14-WashingtonStateTransportationPackageOverview.pdf

jniles

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 8:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Posting for C.B. Hall:
To jniles:

The Seattle Times figures reflect usage in both directions, i.e. the people getting on in Lakewood or South Tacoma (whom Sound Transit actually counted) plus an assumed number of persons getting on southbound and getting off at Lakewood or South Tacoma. The latter ridership has never been counted, but has been assumed to be equivalent to the former. The total of the two is what the Seattle Times article referred to. I chose to refer to the boardings, as actually counted and as forecast by ST, at the two stations. If you want, you can double that to get the two-way figure, which is well short of the forecast as published by the Times.

We have now restated the sentence you referred to, to make it clear. Thanks for pointing out the error.

- C.B. Hall

Posted Wed, Nov 21, 10:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Tell me who was surprised by this pronouncement? Nobody with a working brain.

Djinn

Posted Thu, Nov 22, 12:45 p.m. Inappropriate

There is a unique opportunity on Black Friday, November 23, for Seattle area train buffs to ride south on Sounder from King Street Station all the way to Lakewood, and then return the same day. A single-day round trip to Lakewood is not normally possible.

On this special day, trains are scheduled to depart Seattle for Lakewood at 7:40 AM and 2:30 PM. Full schedule at http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Alerts/Day-after-Thanksgiving.xml.

The first one of these offers the opportunity for a full day in Lakewood. The second one requires re-boarding to return to Seattle right away unless you want to stay for the weekend.

There are the usual station stops along the way for these Sounder trains, which are mainly intended, as usual, to support round trip travel from Pierce County and South King County to downtown Seattle.

jniles

Posted Sat, Nov 24, 10:02 a.m. Inappropriate

That there is no direct, reliable light rail link between Washington's largest city and the state capital, even for commute hours, is a shameful travesty. Get cars off I-5!!

Charlton2

Posted Sun, Nov 25, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

I notice during a stop-over in Salem, Oregon that Salem and Portland are essentially auto-linked. Apparently, state legislators are not that interested in ordinary people showing up to testify and observe what does and does not happen.

afreeman

Posted Sun, Nov 25, 5:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Do the math, if you can. Even if they run full, the trains will never be anything more than a drop in the bucket relative to I-5 traffic. In the end, it's not about traffic on I-5. It's about a choo-choo train fetish that's been successfully sold to voters.

NotFan

Posted Mon, Nov 26, 5:01 p.m. Inappropriate

NotFan,

Well yes, if no more lines are built, then yes it won't do much for traffic. But if the system continues to expand, much like it does in Portland, then it will most certainly have an impact on traffic.

Down in Portland in 2011 they moved 215,384,677 passenger miles by light rail train and 219,728,219 passenger miles by bus; a dead heat.

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, one of the nation's leading experts on traffic, if Trimet went away drivers in Portland would encounter an extra 5.581 million hours in delays. And they'd incur an extra $114 Million in costs due to wasted fuel and lost productivity.

And light rail accounts for half of those numbers.

http://mobility.tamu.edu/files/2011/09/portl.pdf

Bottom of page #7

ahblid

Posted Thu, Nov 29, 10:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Portland's system is a fraud and a financial albatross, and it will bankrupt that city. Most of the rail lines replaced prior bus service that was just as fast but cost only 10% as much. Alas, the white yuppies of Portland, like white yuppies everywhere, regard themselves as too good to ride the bus. Because they hold the keys of power they were able to raid the treasury to cause the bus lines to be replaced with trains.

Now, as operating costs rise (and that's not even counting the wave of maintenance that will start hitting in about a decade), Portland enters a harsher cannibalization phase. Bus service is being cut to preserve the trains. That squeeze has only just begun, but it will be relentless. No matter that Portland's buses serve many more people with no other options than the trains do. They are the wrong people -- too dark, too poor, tragically unable to tell a real espresso from a McFlurry -- and the "progressives" of Portland will ignore them for as long as they can.

But time, decline, and eventually poverty march on. It will all come crashing down in 10 to 20 years. Meantime, it's been 15 years since the city of Portland has created a single net new private sector job. The public treasury there, and in fact in the whole state, is running on fumes. Even the social service agencies and other government offices that have been keeping Portland afloat have hit their limits. And there are only so many 20-somethings who can be crammed into one house, times 1,000. All hipster dreams come to an end, even Portlandia's.

But hey, the New York Times loves the trolleys and the "locavore" food. Doesn't hurt that it's happening in a place that, demographically, is the last vestige of 1950s America: lily white, but appropriately modest about it. As for the food scene, like all high fashion it will soon enough move to where the money is in the Portland area: the suburbs outside of the reach of MAX and the trolleys. Remove your blinders and take a drive around the area, if you dare. You'll see.

Do some fearless research rather than the usual self-justifying "progressive" crap, and you'll quickly see that every single word I've written is true. Oh, and by the time Portland goes the way of Oakland, California, the New York Times will long since have moved on. As someone who spent almost 20 years in the East, I am alternately shocked and amused that so many "progressives" in the Pacific Northwest have such a craving to be anointed by the Eastern worthies that they'll do things that are so obviously and egregiously stupid as pouring billions and billions of dollars down the rat hole to build fixed-rail transit in Western cities where it has never made one iota of sense.

"World class," you say? World class stupid and gullible.

NotFan

Posted Fri, Nov 30, 9:19 p.m. Inappropriate

NotFan,

Here's some "fearless research" for you.

Maintenance costs for trains are always lower than for buses, even as the trains age. Trains simply have fewer moving parts and go longer between failures than do buses.

Additionally, the buses are not 10% of the costs of rail. With the fact in mind that Portland buses barely move people any further than light rail, in 2011 Trimet spent $93,399,347 operating light rail trains and $222,887,559 operating buses. That's not even close to 10% in either direction.

That data comes from the National Transit Database; not Trimet.

http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2011/agency_profiles/0008.pdf

And the bulk of that isn't because of lower maintenance costs, the bulk of that is because you only need 1 operator for 2 rail cars, but 1 bus driver for every bus. I've never found employment data for Trimet, but Salt Lake City however does provide some.

Out in SLC they saw 15,333,491 rides taken on LRT and 21,560,358 rides by bus, or about 6 million more rides by bus. To accomplish that, the LRT division needed 425 employees and the bus division needed 950. That's where the real savings for rail comes from!

And that's why bus service is being cut, because it costs Trimet 43 cents per passenger mile for LRT and $1.01 for the bus. And again, salaries and maintenance are the big reasons for that. After deducting what the riders pay via the fare box, the taxpayers get to pick up 24 cents per pax/mile for LRT and 77 cents per pax/mile for the bus.

Age will hurt LRT a bit, but not nearly as bad as you'd like us to believe. The average age of Trimet's fleet is already 14.2 years, older than the average age of the buses in fact. Down in San Diego, the average age of their rail cars is currently 19.9 years and they have 1 rail car less than Trimet. Despite that fact, San Diego spends even less than Trimet operating it's LRT; $60,395,048 in 2011.

http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2011/agency_profiles/9026.pdf

I'm certain that part of the lower operating costs in San Diego is due to the fact that they've got a better union contract than does Trimet. But the point stands that age isn't driving up the costs like you think it will.

Next, you mention spending billions and billions. Agreed, they do spend billions, both on buses & rail. Only Trimet & Portland have spent more money on buses. I went to the National Transit Database once again and pulled the reports for Trimet from 1996, the first year available, through 2011. I then proceeded to add up both the operating costs and the capital costs for both rail & the buses. During that 15 year period between '96 & 2011 inclusive, Trimet has spent $2.905 Billion in total on light rail. Trimet has spent $3.111 Billion all in on buses.

So if Trimet stops building any new LRT lines once they complete the Milwaukie line, with an operating spending gap of more than $100 Million each year, in less than 10 years the taxpayers in Portland will have spent a Billion more on buses than they've spent on light rail.

And please don't misunderstand me, buses can never, ever go away totally. They are a necessary and needed part of the the transportation system. But they need to be relegated to a secondary role that supports the cheaper & more efficient light rail.

Unless of course you're one of those people who actually likes higher taxes.

Moving on, it's not a class or race thing either. It costs the same amount of money to ride a bus as it costs to ride a train.

Oh, and here's one more thing you got wrong!

You said: ""World class," you say? World class stupid and gullible."

I never once mentioned anything about "world class".

ahblid

Posted Thu, Nov 29, 11:03 a.m. Inappropriate

That's going to be a tough one until Amtrak and/or Sounder can be rerouted off the tracks by the water from Pt. Defiance to Nisqually.

Of course, the proper way to do it is to build new tracks, tracks designed for the 21st Century...

...like that's going to happen while are schools need a 7% boost in funding just to meet the court mandate.

Goforride

Posted Fri, Nov 30, 12:57 a.m. Inappropriate

21st century tracks for a 19th century technology? Come on, can't you people at least get your metaphors straight?

NotFan

Posted Fri, Nov 30, 9:25 p.m. Inappropriate

I hate to tell you this, but cars & buses are also 19th Century technology. If using 19th Century technology is bad, then I guess we should throw away our cars & buses.

By the way, today's trains are far more modern and have more technology in them than do our cars. God forbid I have a heart attack while driving my car, it typically will keep moving until it hits something or someone. The same is true of a bus, unless a passenger jumps up to save the day.

If the operator of a light rail train is somehow incapacitated, the train automatically stops itself.

If a bus driver runs a red light, odds are good he's going to hurt someone. The computers on today's light rail trains will stop the train before it ever passes a red light.

ahblid

Posted Thu, Nov 29, 10:59 a.m. Inappropriate

One way to look at these ridership numbers is that for once, we are putting infrastructure in place and letting the demand catch up, rather than try to throw something together in some sort of panic.

Our interstate highway system was horrendously overbuilt for demand in the '50's, '60's, and '70's and that God it was.

Imagine if there were an article in the late '60's talking about how little used I-5 was compared to its capacity.

Goforride

Posted Fri, Nov 30, 8:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Interesting point about I-5 being little used in the late 1960s. I wonder if that was true. I didn't live here then so I don't recall, but I just found this picture in the Seattle Municipal Archives of what appears to be a comfortable level of daytime use of the Ship Canal bridge in 1970: http://ow.ly/fJrDW When I started driving on I-5 in the early 1980s it seemed well used, though not as congested as today.

The first Seattle Forward Thrust heavy rail rapid transit vote was in February 1968. We could look up if freeway congestion was an issue in the election, in which the transit did not achieve the required 60 percent of voters in order to authorize the construction bonds.

jniles

Posted Thu, Nov 29, 7:49 p.m. Inappropriate

"I've even heard Sound Transit Board members say that we should wait 100 years to assess the benefits of our new trains."

Naturally. Those people think money grows on trees.

Posted Thu, Nov 29, 7:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Lack of parking is the biggest reason riders won't ride. Increase parking, and trains will fill up.

"ST is planning to reduce its three-car Everett trains to two on some trips late next year, and move the freed-up cars to the south line service."

Posted Fri, Nov 30, 11:23 a.m. Inappropriate

I agree with Herrigstad about the lack of shelter at Sounder stations. I take it everyday and am often packed in with many others under a 10 foot canopy trying to stay dry on rainy days.

Public transportation costs money and I'll gladly continue paying those tax dollars to build more. I'd go without a car if I could, and I believe a lot more people would too if it were just easier to get around. The amount of stress I save myself every day from not driving in traffic is well worth the cost.

jonnymo99

Posted Wed, Jan 29, 10:08 p.m. Inappropriate

OK, I think we have it right: 239 represents ALL of the passengers on ALL trains from Lakewood to Tacoma.

Now, for the bigger--much bigger question: C.B.Hall writes that ST paid BNSF $33 milllion for EACH of the nine train trips southbound from Seattle (and less for EACH of the northbound). Does that mean that ST paid $600 million for the south and somewhere less than that for the northbound routes? (I believe that they did.) This makes a huge difference from C.B.'s percentage of $33 million--by a factor of nine big ones.

There is a transportation expert (whose name escapes me--but then, what doesn't--I'm slow and fat) who contends that because ST plunked down over $600 million for the right to use BNSF's track, the passengers actually cost soemwhere north of $100 PER RIDE.

I am sorry to say it, but this is an extremely bad piece of reporting. In addition, there is no mention or accounting for the additional costs associated with busing train travelers around landslides. While Kimberly Reason of ST said there were "200 landslides' the past year, ST has reported to the Feds that they comleted 97% of their trips and 98% were 'on-time' vis-a-vis the entire Sounder system.

Finally C.B.Hall's reporting that there are '140 passengers per three car train' (there be two trains northbound) does not jib with ST's reporting that they are getting 1,300 daily trips (though their numbers are buried in goobly-gook and obscure reports).

Dick Falkenbury

Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

Join Crosscut now!
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us »