About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sound Transit's Other Debacle

One of the more interesting Sound Transit publications are their ridership reports they publish quarterly.  For example they provide costs per boarding (cpb) and boardings per trip (bpt) so costs per trip (cpt) can be determined.   The numbers for a Sounder Train for 2011 were $12.71 cpb x 379.98 bpt= $4829.54 cpt.  

The northern line (Everett to Seattle) made 8 trips per day for a total of 2080 trips per year (assuming 260 commuter days) and total cost of $10,045,443 for the year.  The total number of commuters for the year was 233,674 so the cost per commuter ride was $42.99.  Sound Transits 2012 budget document (more on that in a late blog) estimates the average Sounder commuter paid $3.05 per trip in 2011.  Thus ST lost $39.95 per trip or $79.90 for each riders round trip or $20,774 per rider per year. 

The small print at the bottom of the report explains these costs do not include depreciation (presumably significant on $4-5 million train cars).  They don’t mention the costs associated with the nearly $500 million ST invested to initiate the service.    

Sound Transit’s ST 510 provides bus connections between Everett Station and Seattle (5th and Pine) every 10-15 minutes from 5:20 to 8:31 AM with the same return frequency from 2:26 to 5:28 PM.  (Less frequent service is available from 4:10 AM until 11:00 PM.)   ST’s ridership reports Express bus ridership costs, on average, $7.06 cpb of which riders pay (per budget document) $1.73.  Thus, ST subsidizes each bus rider $5.33 per trip or $2771.60 per year. 

To be fair, very few commuters will use public transit 260 days per year.  However, it doesn’t take a CPA to figure out which option is better cost wise.   Commuter rail takes 59 minutes from Everett to the King Street Station.   It takes 56 minutes for ST 510 route from Everett Station to 5th and Pine in Seattle; much closer to most commuters final destination.  It’s no wonder about 1 million riders used ST510 in 2011.  (Their report combines ST510 riders with ST512 riders which goes via Lynnwood so exact ST510 number not known.)

ST should be asked to explain why they continue with this service.  Those who want to commute by rail from Everett to Seattle and back also have Amtrak as an option.  It leaves Everett at 10:02 AM and returns at 6:50.  Not as attractive time wise put available if needed.

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