ST3: Preliminary Assessment
Putting things in perspective
To assess the sanity of Sound Transit's latest funding request I compared it to the amount of money Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, BC spent on their system lines completed by the close of 2014 along with the daily rides provided. All costs have been converted to US $2014. The $50 billion reported in the news is in year of expenditure dollars, after inflation, and also include spending beyond planned ST3 tax increases.
This insatiable thirst for taxpayer money is driven by bizarrely expensive projects such as Sound Transit's March 2016 ST3 proposals.
How much is too much for rail?
How much does rail have to cost before it's too expensive to justify? Are rail projects which cost $1 million in capitol spending for each daily round trip rider carried too expensive? That is in addition to the recurring cost since fares recover about 31% of the daily operating costs in 2015. What about $10 million per daily round trip rider?
For comparison purposes the Community Transit Swift BRT "lite" line cost $14,800 per daily round trip rider in 2014, 33 times less than the ST3 Sounder to Dupont . I discuss this in the Bus Rapid Transit BRT When Costs Matter section of my website. Shame on You Sound Transit for Misleading People About Speed
Express Buses on a HOV lane controlled to ensure a free flowing traffic are faster then a train making 15 additional stops.
It's not your mother's bus
While Sound Transit presents light rail as the comfortable alternative to buses the facts are that the ST Express buses are much more comfortable with reclining high backed seats than the hard backed rail car seats.
Sound Transit Explodes Cost of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The ST3 145th & SR522 BRT proposal is similiar to the Community Transit develope Swift I running down highway 99 in Snohomish County. Neither of them are true BRT systems and both serve similiarly congested highways. Of course since ST3 is proposed by Sound Transit it's proposed cost is 24 times as much per mile as Swift I. .