The Sound Transit 2014 budget continues their idiotic approach to meeting our area’s transportation needs. About $400 million of their planned $1.1 billion expenditures are for Prop 1 extensions voters approved in 2008. ST has already spent about $1.5 billion of the $18.7 billion ($2007) needed to complete the extensions by 2023. Completing the extensions will require they spend about $2 billion annually ballooning their current $300 million yearly deficit unless they find other revenue sources.
The end result from the ten years of potentially $2 billion annual deficits will be Central Link extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way costing far too much to operate for any rational ridership prediction and an East Link light rail system without the capacity or the accessibility needed for cross-lake commuters.
East Link confiscation of the I-90 Bridge center roadway will increase congestion for the vast majority of I-90 commuters forced to use outer roadway because of insufllcient light rail capacity and the limited capacity and access of the South Bellevue light rail station. The fact those living along the route will face disruption from several years of construction and a lifetime of noise from light rail operation makes it even more objectionable.
A more rational public transportation system would avoid all of these problems. The Central Link operating expenses could be avoided by limiting light rail to a "trunk line" between the University and SeaTac. The Lynnwood extension would be replaced by a T/C at the University light rail station. It would provide an interface between light rail and 520 bus rapid transit (BRT).
Eastside residents could benefit from 520 BRT service to the T/C from their local P&R to fast, reliable light rail service into downtown Seattle. Seattleites could benefit using the BRT return routes to dedicated drop off points near where they work on east side. The added ridership would justify 2-car trains every 4 minutes with the ability to increase capacity by adding cars if needed for peak commute.
The Federal Way extension could be replaced by added parking and improved access for the Tukwila station. More riders would be attracted if alternate trains skipped half of the stops along the route reducing transit times. Eliminating East Link would allow trains every 4 minutes so each station would have service every 8 minutes similar to existing frequency.
Replacing East Link light rail with BRT would increase the cross-lake capacity from two 148-passenger rail cars every 8 minutes with the capacity from a thousand 80-passenger buses every hour. It could be operating in 2015 not 2023 at a fraction of light rail cost. BRT could provide express connections into Seattle from every eastside P&R rather than the South Bellevue light rail station. The thousands of additional transit riders would reduce congestion throughout the east side. By any rational standard this truly is a “no-brainer”.
The bottom line is unless Sound Transit is stopped they will continue to “invest” money they don’t have in Central Link extensions too expensive to operate and East Link extensions without adequate capacity or accessibility. Doing so when the area's congestion is currently the 4th worst in the country is "insane".