Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel releases 2007 year-end report

Sound Move, the ballot measure that authorized Sound Transit, included a provision for a Civilian Oversight Panel. This fifteen member board monitors Sound Transit's activities and releases a report each year chronicling successes and failures.

This year's review found Sound Transit to be the capable and professional organization that we at NPI know it to be. Below are some excerpts form the report.
...Sound Transit continued to demonstrate that it is a mature, effective organization with an accumulation of knowledge and skills that greatly benefit our region...

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel reopened on time to the public and to bus travel. Construction was very much in evidence at the airport. The Central Link Initial Segment is now 85% complete and on schedule to open for service in July 2009...

Ridership was up 27% on Sounder and 10% on ST Express, both exceeding expectations...

The Federal Transit Administration conducted one of its regular triennial reviews and 21 of 22 areas examined were found to be in good order. (The single area of deficiency was facilities maintenance which the agency has since strengthened with new staff and a new facilities maintenance plan.)
While the overall report gave Sound Transit high marks, the panel did reference several setbacks and challenges. These included: the failure of Proposition 1, the need for greater access to transit, and rising costs for operations and construction.

The latter are likely outside of the agency's control as rising fuel prices and a continued high level of construction projects around the world are making it more expensive to build and run transit projects.

The first two, however, can be helped by putting a new ballot measure before the voters in 2008. This year is shaping up to be a watershed moment for the progressive movement and the Sound Transit Board should take advantage of that by presenting to voters a new proposal to extend our Link light rail system.

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