Sound Transit officials appear to believe it’s the waiting – not the staggering $50 billion dollar price tag – that has voters leery about their latest scam, Sound Transit 3 (ST3). The scam’s mind-numbing cost – it would be the largest tax increase in state history if passed – would take up to 22 years to complete, though the taxes go on forever.
According to liberal blog Publicola, “Voters are apparently more than happy to pay for light rail, but they’d also like to use light rail.”
ST3 has a timeline that stretches out to 2041, if everything goes on time and as planned. And, as we all know, Sound Transit doesn’t have a great track record completing projects on time and as planned.
But, that’s not something Sound Transit officials will ever admit. In fact, it’s something they quite often lie about.
Sound Transit planning director Ric Ilgenfritz recently told reporters: “We’re not going to say we can do things faster than we think we can. I understand people are not comfortable with these timelines, but we’re telling the truth to the public about what we think this stuff takes. We’re not going to bullshit anybody. This is what we think it takes to do the job and do it well.”
Publicola also notes that Ilgenfritz claimed voters have already to have “waited 20 years to complete ST1, and that it will be 17 years by the time ST2′s east link line to Overlake near the Microsoft campus in Redmond is finished” to help make his point.
Except that’s not true. Twenty years after voters approved the plan, all the promises Sound Transit made in ST1 (to say nothing of ST2) have yet to be fulfilled.
- In 1996, Sound Transit promised voters its light rail proposal in ST1 would carry 105,000 riders per weekday between Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport by 2010. Voters approved new taxes to fund ST1. In 2014, the agency announced it reached 33,000 riders per weekday or roughly one-third what it promised voters to obtain its original funding.
- Sound Transit promised voters it would complete its link light rail plan (Seattle-SeaTac Airport) by 2006. It opened in 2009, three years after the scheduled deadline. And, the line was much smaller than what was promised to voters
- In 1996, Sound Transit promised voters it would complete U-Link (light rail extension to Seattle’s University District) by 2006 as part of its 10-year plan in ST1. The agency only completed the extension March 2016, 10 years after the deadline – and at double the promised cost.
- Again, in 1996, Sound Transit promised to open a 45th street station in Seattle by 2006. Though it is a mere one-mile extension from the Husky Stadium stop, the agency only expects to deliver on its promise in 2020. To be clear, that’s FOURTEEN more years than expected for a one-mile extension.
- As part of ST1, Sound Transit promised voters that light rail riders would pay 40% of the cost to operate the line. By 2013, ridership fees only covered 28% of the cost, nearly a third below the level Sound Transit promised. The agenda now relies on taxes to subsidize light rail at a greater portion than promised– and long into the future.
- Based on a 1999 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its “starter line” (the original ST1 light rail plan), Sound Transit promised voters its costs would be $2.3 billion in Year of Expenditure dollars. Today that cost has been more than doubled. The latest projection places costs at about $5.3 billion in Year of Expenditure dollars.
If it’s not the hefty cost voters are worried about, it should be the fact that Sound Transit has a long and ongoing history of breaking its promises despite the pricey cost tag.
There has to be a campaign tag line in there somewhere. How about “Sound Transit – We can’t afford it, even if you’re telling the truth!”