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.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Make Legislative Approval of Transit Package Contingent on Audit

I submitted the following to the Times in response to the Sunday opinion page article.  Since they are unlikely to print it I also am posting it.

Make Legislative Approval of Transit Package Contingent on Audit
The Special to the Times” editorial by Sound Transit officials about the $15B in additional funding to “Get the region moving” seems a lot like their earlier promises for Prop !.    It was funded by a .5% increase in sales tax that supposedly funded light rail extensions along I-5 from Mill Creek to Federal Way and across I-90 to Redmond.  They promised 110,000 riders daily by 2010, calling it a “gift to our grand children”.  They’ve since truncated the I-5 extensions to Northgate and Angle Lake and to Overlake on the Eastside.  Their ridership is 35,000 and they’ve already been forced to borrow $1.33B that will require $50M payments annually for 45 years for a light rail system whose total fare box revenue annually was only $16M.

Now they want to add an additional .5% in sales tax, .8% tax annually on cars and .25% tax on property on order to “build what the public wants”.   Any legislation allowing Sound Transit to ask for the additional taxes should  require they have an independent audit.  Force ST to explain when and where they intend to spend the money on extensions and how that will reduce congestion.  (The claim light rail can accommodate 12,000 riders per hour (rph) ignores the fact the PSRC concluded the tunnel limited light rail to 8880 rph with only half of that available for East Link)

What additional fare box revenue will the extensions generate since 80 percent of their riders will be transit riders transferring from buses that are unlikely to want to pay two fares?  Have ST explain after spending billions on extensions why the high light rail car operating costs ($23.04 per mile per car vs $10.00 on bus--2115 budget) won't make the additional route lengths along the bus routes they'll replace prohibitively expensive.  Particularly since even the Prop 1 extensions will require a huge subsidy to cover the shortfall between fare box revenue and operating costs (e.g $285M annually for East Link between Redmond and Lynnwood).

Use the audit results to let voters know ahead of time what they will get from the transportation package, what it will cost to operate, and whether that is really “what the public wants”.

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