NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Sound Transit Board sends ST3 to ballot; Mass Transit Now campaign launches to pass it

Sound Tran­sit’s eigh­teen mem­ber Board of Direc­tors vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to adopt the revised draft ST3 (Phase III) plan and refer it to the vot­ers of urban King, Pierce, and Sno­homish coun­ties this after­noon, suc­cess­ful­ly con­clud­ing sev­er­al years of exten­sive plan­ning and pub­lic outreach.

Board Chair Dow Con­stan­tine thanked Sound Tran­sit staff for their hard work in putting the pack­age togeth­er, and declared that the cam­paign to pass the mea­sure (Region­al Propo­si­tion #1) would begin immediately.

“Sound Tran­sit 3 will dra­mat­i­cal­ly expand our light rail sys­tem, which is crit­i­cal to our region’s mobil­i­ty and our eco­nom­ic future,” said Constantine.

“A sin­gle light rail line can move 16,000 peo­ple per hour — [that’s] an entire new [express­way] of reg­u­lar car lanes. After decades of lag­ging behind on tran­sit, we final­ly have a chance to catch up. This care­ful­ly craft­ed, major mobil­i­ty expan­sion – six­ty-two new miles of light rail, plus high capac­i­ty bus and rail improve­ments – is exact­ly what the peo­ple of this region have been demand­ing. I urge every­one to join the Mass Tran­sit Now coali­tion – let’s make his­to­ry this November.”

Pierce Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Pat McCarthy and Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dave Somers added their enthu­si­as­tic sup­port at a news con­fer­ence short­ly after the adjourn­ment of Sound Tran­sit’s final June board meeting.

“The exten­sion of reli­able, pre­dictable light rail ser­vice from Fed­er­al Way to Taco­ma, addi­tion­al Sounder com­muter rail ser­vice, and the exten­sion to Taco­ma Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege means that Taco­ma and Pierce Coun­ty will now be reli­ably con­nect­ed to SeaT­ac, Seat­tle, and our entire cen­tral Puget Sound region. That is going to be a huge plus for the South Sound econ­o­my and for the qual­i­ty of life of Pierce Coun­ty res­i­dents,” said McCarthy.

“Pass­ing the Sound Tran­sit 3 mea­sure at the bal­lot is key part of ensur­ing that the future of Sno­homish Coun­ty will be bright,” agreed Somers, who became Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive last year. “Con­nect­ing Everett with the rest of the region through quick, reli­able light rail mass tran­sit will reduce con­ges­tion, boost our local econ­o­my and improve our qual­i­ty of life for decades to come.”

Eighty-five elect­ed offi­cials have already endorsed a YES vote on Propo­si­tion #1, and that list will be grow­ing in the com­ing weeks.

Here is an overview of the final Sound Tran­sit 3 plan:

  • Adds six­ty-two more miles of Link light rail with sta­tions serv­ing thir­ty-sev­en neigh­bor­hoods. The first ST3 sta­tions would open in 2024. If ST3 is approved, light rail would be expand­ed to the fol­low­ing places: 
    • Bal­lard
    • West Seat­tle
    • Down­town Redmond
    • Everett via Paine Field
    • Taco­ma via Fed­er­al Way
    • Issaquah
    • South Kirk­land
  • Improves ST Express bus ser­vice by mod­i­fy­ing I‑5, I‑405, SR 518, SR 167, I‑90 to allow bus­es to run on high­way shoul­ders dur­ing peak com­mute times, and add hun­dreds of thou­sands of addi­tion­al ser­vice hours
  • Cre­ates two new Bus Rapid Tran­sit lines: one to serve the I‑405 cor­ri­dor (Lyn­nwood-Burien) and one to serve the SR 522 cor­ri­dor (UW Both­ell and Wood­inville to NE 145th Light Rail Sta­tion); both would open in 2024
  • Cre­ates new tran­sit access park­ing in Ren­ton (with a new tran­sit cen­ter), Sam­mamish (with a new park & ride), as well as Muk­il­teo, Edmonds, South Kirk­land, Ken­more, Lake For­est Park, and Bothell
  • Expand Sounder com­muter rail ser­vice south from Lake­wood to serve new sta­tions in DuPont and Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM)
  • Extend the Taco­ma Link Street­car to Taco­ma Com­mu­ni­ty College

A com­plete list of projects and inter­ac­tive map is avail­able at

The total pack­age would cost $53.8 bil­lion and would be financed through a mix of sales tax­es, prop­er­ty tax­es, vehi­cle fees, and bonds. The typ­i­cal adult in Sound Tran­sit’s juris­dic­tion would pay about $17 more a month for the projects.

“If imple­ment­ed, the ST3 Plan is pro­ject­ed to up to quin­tu­ple Sound Tran­sit rid­er­ship from what it is today, increas­ing it from approx­i­mate­ly 145,000 each week­day to between 561,000 and 695,000 dai­ly rid­ers in 2040,” the agency said in a news release, in which it not­ed that express bus trav­el times are dete­ri­o­rat­ing due to heavy con­ges­tion on high­ways like I‑5 and I‑405.

“With ST3, the share of all tran­sit trav­el in the region on Sound Tran­sit rail lines will grow from 17 per­cent today to 69 per­cent in 2040. This means more than four times as much tran­sit trav­el will occur on vehi­cles that don’t get stuck in traffic.”

Research con­duct­ed by Sound Tran­sit shows that the region is hun­gry for more light rail and that the con­cern of most res­i­dents is how fast it can be delivered:

In a phone sur­vey that Sound Tran­sit con­duct­ed in April, 65 per­cent of respon­dents stat­ed they strong­ly (30 per­cent) or some­what (36 per­cent) sup­port­ed the ST3 draft pack­age in a ques­tion that described the asso­ci­at­ed tax increas­es. Fol­low­ing a ques­tion describ­ing the plan’s pre­vi­ous­ly pro­posed project time­lines, 59 per­cent of respon­dents strong­ly (24 per­cent) or some­what (35 per­cent) sup­port­ed the draft pack­age. The web­site includes a pre­sen­ta­tion sum­ma­riz­ing the pub­lic input and phone survey.

Oppo­nents of ST3 include many of the same cast of char­ac­ters who pre­vi­ous­ly opposed ST2 eight years ago. Those against the pack­age have sig­naled their cam­paign will be based on the premise that light rail is a bad invest­ment — the same argu­ment vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly reject­ed eight years ago.

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