The Puget Sound Regional Council is an association of local governments and state agencies in the central Puget Sound region of Washington State. It serves as a forum for developing policies and making decisions about important regional growth and transportation issues. Its objectives include “Manage and administer transportation, growth, economic development, and data and analysis planning work programs” and “Support the Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board”. The PSRC FY2014-2015 budget includes $29.3 million in revenue with $15 million from federal and state grants and $10 million from carry-over of previous grants. The PSRC includes a staff of 19 to deal with transportation issues.
The Sound Transit 2008 DEIS referred to a PSRC 2004 document “Central Puget Sound Regional High Capacity Transit Corridor Assessment” to “establish a basis for more detailed planning studies and environmental analysis”. The document compared the capacities of bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail (see 12/08/13 post). Light rail trains operating at the same frequencies as buses had greater capacity because light rail cars could accommodate more riders (148 vs. 90).
The problem is the required 4-minute intervals between trains (per PSRC) limits their number to 15 per hour through the tunnel with half of those available for cross-lake service. ST trains will likely be limited to two cars each (12/08/13 post), but even if they manage 4 cars, the peak capacity (8880 riders per hour (rph)) will be a fraction of the DEIS promise of up to 24,000 rph. It’s inexplicable the PSRC would allow ST to continue to make these absurd ridership projections in the 2011 EIS. Particularly in view of the fact the ST 2008 and 2011 EIS documents never considered two-way bus lanes on the center roadway capable of up to 1000 buses per hour in each direction.
This lack of PSRC oversight may be due to their requirement to “Support the Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board”. The transportation policy board is headed by Claudia Balducci who has used her position on the Bellevue City Council and Sound Transit Board to advocate for cross-lake light rail. Whatever the reason the result has been the PSRC is largely responsible for hundreds of millions in federal grants to ST with over $600 million over the last four years: Money that could have been put to far better use in dealing with the area’s congestion.