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, December 3, 2013

Solving Metro Shortfall

 Recent articles in both the Seattle Times and the Bellevue Reporter have painted a dire picture for King County Metro finances.  Metro, with nearly 120 million riders annually, is apparently facing a $75 million shortfall that will force route changes losing up to 14 million riders annually.  County officials are considering offering a .1-.2% sales tax hike and a $60-80 car tab proposal to the public in early 2014 to cover the shortfall.

In the meantime Sound Transit, with 28.4 million riders, is spending money like the proverbial “drunken sailor”.  For example, in 2013, they budgeted spending $92.4 million expanding a Sounder Rail system that already costs nearly $40 million to operate, and has a projected annual ridership of only 2.8 million.  All to provide rides for those who “prefer” trains to buses.

Their 2013 budget of  $1.1 billion exceeds projected income by $264 million, at least the 3rd year in a row with a similar deficit.   The shortfall will increase dramatically when the $500 million spent in 2013 on light rail extensions expands to the nearly $2 billion required to complete the nearly $20 billion Prop 1 package over the next ten years.  When completed the
huge construction debt and increased subsidies needed to operate over the longer routes will create a perpetual financial “black hole” and do absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion.  

What’s really absurd is they are currently seeking “public” input on
“long term” improvements beyond the Prop 1 extensions.  It reminds me of a Mad magazine “What me worry?” attitude. 

This area supposedly has the “4th worst congestion in the country”.   Forcing Metro to endure their projected cuts will only add to the problem.  Forcing Sound Transit to redirect their projected spending on Prop 1 extensions to Metro is a far better way to reduce it than asking voters to approve another burdensome tax increase. 

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