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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Seattle Times Should Recommend PSRC Audit Sound Transit

The voters’ approval of ST3 exemplifies what happens when a well-funded campaign is allowed to promote Sound Transit's "solutions" to the area's transportation problems unfettered by any need for veracity.  Sound Transit claims “the tally reflects frustration with bus and car commutes that routinely take an hour from Federal Way to Seattle, or 80 minutes from Everett to either Seattle or Bellevue”.  

Yet the Seattle Times in a front-page Nov 4th article concluded ST3 would not reduce congestion. The best they could say was the plan “offers an escape from traffic misery for people who can reach the stations on foot, on a feeder bus, or via park-and-ride”. 

The only way to reduce congestion is to dramatically increase the 10% of commuters who already use transit on the area’s major roadways.  ST3 doesn’t include the billions needed to add tens of thousands of parking spaces required for access to transit, and light rail routed through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) doesn’t have the capacity for the ridership needed to significantly reduce congestion.

It was the Seattle Times who urged the legislature to pass the $15 billion, 15-year transportation package Sound Transit expanded to $25 billon and 25 years (and longer?).  Their Nov 4th article “suggests” they have “reservations” as to whether it will alleviate the “frustration with bus and car commutes”.  (Though not mentioned in article, I-90 commuters will likely be "frustrated" when Sound Transit closes center roadway without demonstrating outer roadways can accommodate cross-lake vehicle traffic.)  

Thus, the Times surely has an obligation to recommend Sound Transit be audited.  The Puget Sound Regional Council’s transportation planning organization includes 20 staffers, several of whom are presumably familiar with Sound Transit's light rail proposals.   Have them audit Sound Transit’s current plans for all their light rail extensions.   Will they attract the increased transit ridership needed to significantly reduce GP lane congestion?  

Will 4th lanes added to I-90 Bridge outer roadway provide capacity needed for vehicles when center roadway is closed?  Do they concur with Sound Transit estimates that fare box revenue will cover 40% of light rail operating costs and that light rail ridership will increase from 24 million in 2020 to 84.1 million in 2030?  Especially since failure to do either will likely result in a huge subsidy required to cover the shortfall between fare box revenue and operating costs.

The PSRC calls itself “the regional transportation, economic development and growth management planning organization for central Puget Sound”.  The Seattle Times needs to recommend they audit Sound Transit.  My guess is they will conclude the following:
1)    The billions Sound Transit is planning to spend on their light rail "spine" will not significantly increase the 10% of commuters who currently use transit on I-5 and I-90 corridors.
2)     Sound Transit plans to use the light rail spine's limited capacity for former I-5 corridor bus riders will severely restrict light rail access at UW and Capital Hill stations.
3)     The Sound Transit East Link extension will do nothing to ease the I-90 corridor congestion.  It will increase I-90 Bridge congestion by closing the center roadway for light rail with half the current bus capacity and forcing all cross-lake vehicles onto the outer roadways without ever demonstrating adequate capacity.

It's not clear how Sound Transit would respond to the audit.  What is clear is the audit will eliminate any "surprise" awaiting the the area's commuters.

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