A detailed analysis of a recent long-range transit planning study conducted by Sound Transit was published on April 25, 2005 by Richard C. Harkness, a member of the Technical Committee of the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives (CETA) and an Eastside resident.
The Sound Transit study that Harkness examines is entitled Issue Paper E.1: I-90/East King County. This issue paper is intended to define the high capacity transit options for this large and wealthy part of the Puget Sound Region and to estimate their comparative cost and likely performance in the future.
Harkness finds the Sound Transit analysis to be quite deficient and in need of substantial revision. He has focused his analyses on five points as follows:
The Issue Paper falsely implies that bus rapid transit (BRT) would not attract as many riders as light rail.
The Issue Paper misrepresents the relative costs of light rail relative to Bus Rapid Transit-on-High Occupancy Vehicle (BRT-on-HOV) lanes.
The Issue Paper provides no substantive reasons why a BRT-on-HOV system could not meet all the future transit needs of the Eastside.
A major study of transit alternatives has already been done for East King County in the form of the I-405 Corridor Study. That study examined various high capacity transit alternatives including light rail and BRT running on HOV lanes. The Preferred Alternative was BRT on HOV. There was no light rail whatsoever in the I-405 Corridor Studys Preferred Alternative.
Sound Transit appears to have ignored the results of this study, and has expended public resources plowing the same ground all over again. Sound Transit with its clearly established light rail bias has reached a diametrically opposite conclusion as to what transit options will best serve the Eastside.
A detailed analysis of these five points is presented in 18 pages of analyses, and is illustrated with text and data from the Issue Paper. Twenty-nine specific questions are presented that need to be answered to enable the conclusions of this study to be properly revised.
A sample of these questions is as follows:
The Issue Paper provided a comparison of total cost for each
alternative. Why did it not
How much, if any, of the total cost of the light rail alternative
was for High Occupancy
What was Sound Transit's reasons for including the cost of
improving the HOV lanes
What specific requirements would the HOV/BRT not meet?
Why did the Issue Paper conclude that HOV/BRT could not satisfy
the needs of the
It is critically important that a sound basis be developed for making the huge transit system investments (e.g. $6.85 billion for the rail alternative versus $1.8 billion for the HOV/BRT alternative) that are currently being planned for the Eastside sub-region.
Harkness recommends that Sound Transit Board Chairman John Ladenburg direct the Sound Transit staff to provide answers to all of these questions and make the results widely available to the public and all relevant elected officials in the Puget Sound Region.
|Download the East King Issue Paper two-page summary from Sound Transit. It provides maps of the study area and the route structures of the six scenarios examined.|
|Download the full East King Issue Paper from Sound Transit.|
|Download the results of a revised Sound Transit East King alternatives analysis that recognizes some (but not all) of the issues in the Harkness analysis and reduces BRT costs by $2 billion.|
|Download the Sound Transit formal response letter issued over one year later in July 2006.|
A previous analysis of Sound Transit's faulty transit planning study practices by Harkness is also available on-line, entitled "How Sound Transit Abused the Planning Process to Promote Light Rail".
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Last modified: February 07, 2011