Sound Transit officials and the elected cheerleaders that support the agency were really proud over the fact that they finally managed to finish the University Light rail extension (a.k.a. U-Link). They celebrated their “accomplishment” with a ribbon cutting ceremony over the weekend.
Liberals from all over Seattle made an appearance, from Mayor Ed Murray to King County Executive Dow Constantine. And, all made wild claims about the project’s success. But, no one’s bizarre assertions surpassed those of Constantine.
Constantine claimed that the new extension is opening six months ahead of schedule and $200 million under budget. That’s only true if “on time” means 10 years late and “on budget” means at double the cost.
Constantine’s spin only works in an Orwellian sense, not in the real world the rest of us live in.
Let’s look at the facts. In 1996, when Sound Transit was passed, the promise to voters was that U-Link would be completed by 2006 as part of its 10-year plan in what was known as ST1 (the first phase of rail development).
Sound Transit officials, after making a promise they could not keep to voters, revised the plan in 2008, giving themselves more time and increasing the budget by nearly $2 billion (double the initial projections).
It’s easy to be six months ahead of schedule and $200 million under budget after you miss the deadline by 10 years and give yourself double the budget. But that’s really only possible in liberal government speak.
Constantine’s absurd claims reveal the troubling reasoning that has clouded the judgment of far too many Sound Transit officials. Of course, part of the problem is that an unelected, unaccountable body of local officials oversees the Sound Transit Board. These officials control a huge amount of taxpayer dollars. Yet, they operate unchecked by actual voters.
Perhaps in some strange sense of entitlement, Sound Transit officials think they can get away with deliberating misrepresenting the facts to the public. But, they cannot escape reality.
Time and time again, Sound Transit has proven itself untrustworthy. It has wasted taxpayer dollars and has repeatedly broken promises made in its first two spending packages—ST1 and ST2.
Now, Sound Transit wants voters to pass ST3. The new scheme is expected to extend existing light rail lines, all of which (as we’ve just pointed out) have been built, or are expected to be built, late and over-budget.
Based on past performance, there is no reason to assume that anything will change. If voters approve ST3, they would effectively throw good money after bad.