Public Interest Transportation Forum

Puget Sound Transportation Policy
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Mariya Frost of Washington Policy Center describes her discovery that Sound Transit has not been using the vehicle depreciation schedule it has been claiming in calculating MVET taxes on vehicles in its taxing district. This was revealed to the State Supreme Court in open session on September 10, 2019.

The Sound Transit 3 Mass Transit Guide: Voter Information mailed to all Sound Transit District households in October 2016 provided a misleading description of the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET, or car tabs) component of the ST3 three-part taxation scheme.  This error has come into view in a widespread public reaction to the higher car registration fees as implemented starting in February 2017.  This issue was outlined in The Seattle Times.  The educational organization Smarter Transit provided input to the public hearing record for a State Senate bill to adjust the MVET calculation to be what Sound Transit described, that is, based on "vehicle value."

 Under the organizational banner of Advocates for Regional Transportation Efficiency (ARTE), Dick Nelson and John Niles sought stronger State and Regional implementation of least cost planning analysis of high capacity transportation investments. In late 2016 a petition (pdf) for important implementation steps was rejected by Governor Inslee.

Richard Harkness, PhD, has assembled his work on public transportation cost-effectiveness in a new website  Scroll down to the section "Other Writing and Material."

The public policy question in the November 8, 2016 central Puget Sound election for the $54 billion Regional Proposition One program was voter acceptance or voter rejection of the ST3 tax measure seeking to raise three different types of taxes. Because the Sound Transit 3 Mass Transit Guide: Voter Information includes no description of the result of a majority vote rejecting ST3, the government-mandated mass mailing of this document amounts to a taxpayer-funded advertisement for voting "Yes" on Regional Proposition One.  If you word search the pdf of this mailer you will find the word ST2 mentioned just five times in small type.  This document should include a full page describing in detail the billions of ST2 expenditure over the next decade that will carry on to finish 50 miles of light rail if ST3 is rejected by voters.  This is how voters could have understood their options in the tax election.

 The annual future tax collections of the ST3 Plan extended out 30 years to cover bond repayments are shown in a table extracted from the Financial Plan of Sound Transit. ST3 taxes are required to be kept in place until the ST3 bonds are paid off, and Sound Transit does forecast billions in bond issuance during ST3.  Thirty more years of tax collections raises the cost of the ST3 program for $54 billion to nearly $154 billion. Sound Transit forecasts a tax roll back, which no U.S. rail transit agency since World War 2 has ever done, since rail agencies always have more need for resources than their tax streams allow.

 Follow-up public comment from John Niles to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Executive Board on September 22, 2016 referencing his earlier input to PSRC on the failure of the Sound Transit $54 billion ST3 rail expansion plan to conform with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

 Earlier public comment from John Niles to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) Transportation Policy Board on September 8, 2016 about the failure of the Sound Transit $54 billion ST3 rail expansion plan to conform with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan of the central Puget Sound region prepared by PSRC in cooperation with Sound Transit.

 The 2016 ST3 Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) has been released by Sound Transit and transmitted to Puget Sound Regional Council.  Click here for this document. The benefit to cost ratio is just slightly more than one, according to Sound Transit, and depends on the assumption that future highway congestion will be reduced by the existence of additional light rail, an assumption inconsistent with other Sound Transit assertions. PITF's John Niles subsequently examined the BCA closely and found that the monetized benefits of ST3 would drop below the cost if highway congestion benefits were reduced to be more consistent with the statements of Sound Transit and the Mass Transit Now campaign.  That work is posted here with the title "Cost Exceeds Benefits in Sound Transit’s ST3 Light Rail Expansion."

Opponents of the Sound Transit phase 3 tax plan, known as ST3, organized as People for Smarter Transit with a web site at

Pleadings to the court on ST3 from Will Knedlik, October 2016

Questions that should be asked about the Sound Transit Phase 3 Plan, called ST3, by John Niles, delivered to the Puget Sound Regional Council General Assembly, March 31, 2016.

April 12 draft outline of a 22 year planning, development, construction, and testing activity sequence for a new light rail line between downtown Seattle and the Ballard neighborhood...file type png, a scan from a document provided by Sound Transit management to the ST3 Expert Review Panel.

Historic 1940 video on the transition from street railroads to trolley buses in Seattle, "From Rails To Rubber."

December 8, 2014: The City of Bellevue and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission asked the State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to approve on October 30, 2014 the conversion of 1.06 acres on the western edge of the Mercer Slough Nature Park into right-of-way for the East Link light rail line. Here is background on that request, and documentation that the decision has been delayed until April, 2015.  Former Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson and others urged the Board to reject the request. The rejection was refused, and the conversion moved forward.

Feedback from John Niles to the Washington State Senate's Transportation Listening Session, October 15, 2013 

Sound Transit's July 2012 draft of the Link Initial Segment Before & After Study, in a format negotiated with Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  This version was submitted to FTA, but then following review another version was submitted by ST to FTA, dated April 2013 posted here. The FTA eventually used the Sound Transit inputs to produce the multi-agency consolidated report that was in December 2013 posted on the FTA website here. The Link Light Rail part of this report is on pages 30 to 35 of the FTA document transmitted to Congress.

Results of two surveys of travelers who cross Lake Washington between Bellevue and Seattle, measuring travel behavior before and after the imposition of tolls on the SR 520 bridge that used to be free.

Map prepared in year 2000 by the U.S. Geologic Survey "Showing Recent and Historic Landslide Activity on Coastal Bluffs of Puget Sound Between Shilshole Bay and Everett, Washington," that is, the bluffs above the BNSF railroad track that carries passenger trains from Sound Transit, Amtrak, and Washington State DOT.  (External Link) Includes this summary:

Landsliding on the bluffs between Seattle and Everett, Wash., poses a significant but intermittent hazard to private property and rail operations in the area. Recent landslides damaged several residences on the bluffs. Landslides blocked one or both tracks in about 100 places and came close to the tracks in about 30 more locations during 1996 and 1997. Although most landslides that temporarily blocked the tracks did not collide with trains, one large slide derailed part of a train and caused significant damage. Frequent commuter train traffic to be developed in the BNSF right of way under a light-rail (sic) plan adopted by Sound Transit (Sound Transit Resolution No. R2000-10) could increase exposure of passengers to landslides. These small, relatively light commuter trains might be easily derailed or damaged by impact of small- to medium-sized landslides. Additional data that would enable the operators of the commuter rail system to anticipate the onset of landslide activity might help them to avoid landslide-related accidents. Careful analysis of landslide probability and processes along the bluffs could aid in evaluating the need for other remedial measures.

(Picture of Sounder North along the waterfront tracks north of the Seattle Ship Canal was not part of the cited map, but rather found at, unknown photographer who was likely aboard a boat. The trains used are not electric "light rail," but rather commuter rail with diesel locomotives either pushing or pulling the train.  There is no doubt that a large landslide could push such a train off the tracks and into Puget Sound.  To the left is a picture of a landslide aftermath from January 1997 that pushed part of a freight train off the tracks along the same landslide-prone segment of track shown on the map.  The picture is found at

Front page of The Seattle Times on April 7, 2013, with headline, photos, and a story describing a landslide that derailed three cars of an Amtrak passenger train that was in motion along the way from Everett to Seattle.  These are the same tracks used Monday to Friday by the Sound Transit commuter train Sounder North. Headline reads, "‘It was like being thrown around like a rag doll’" which is a quote from a passenger. This quote is followed by a sub-headline, "PASSENGER TRAIN DERAILS IN CHRONIC MUDSLIDE ROUTE NORTH OF SEATTLE."  The story lead is:

Sounder and Amtrak customers are riding buses again rather than rail lines north of Seattle because of a mudslide that derailed a passenger train Sunday —the latest in what has been an exceptionally bad season for mudslides in that area.

A concise summary of just what the Transportation 2040 Plan from Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) reveals about the productivity of planned public transit investment, Plus additional analysis on the comparative cost of rail and bus from Jim MacIsaac, P.E.

Sound Transit light rail ridership forecasting documents prepared as part of planning for an extension of Seattle's Central Link rail spine from Northgate to Lynnwood, but also providing new forecasts for the entire contemplated light rail system.  Click here for a short version of the forecast.  Click here for a longer technical memo providing an explanation of assumptions.

Spreadsheet from Washington State Department of Transportation analyzing the probability of train-vehicle collisions at grade-level road crossings of the Point Defiance Bypass passenger railroad segment now being used by Sound Transit's Sounder to travel between Tacoma's Freight House Square and Lakewood via South Tacoma. The analysis is necessary to qualify 79 mph Amtrak Cascades passenger trains to use this segment. This spreadsheet is the detail behind the numbers published in the Environmental Assessment for the Point Defiance Bypass, in Exhibit 59, "Individual Crossing Accident Experience Predicted for Year 2030 Conditions."

Letter to Federal Railroad Administrator from PITF, November 8, 2012, on lack of disclosure about grade-crossing cumulative impact in the Environmental Assessment of the Point Defiance Bypass.

City of Lakewood, WA lawsuit against at-grade crossing of fast Amtrak trains in residential neighborhoods.

Not Best, Not Worst Nomination of Seattle Central Link Light Rail as Worst Transportation Project in America for a Sierra Club contest. This document responded to a solicitation by Sierra Club in March 2012 for a nationwide competition.  PITF assisted in the preparation of the entry. Seattle's light rail was NOT selected by Sierra Club as either "worst" or "best."   

Best or Worst? Check out whether the Seattle Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel was selected by Sierra Club as a "best" or a "worst." This future road tunnel under Seattle's downtown was the only project in Washington State selected by Sierra Club for either "best" or "worst."  This tunnel project eliminates an elevated state highway along the Seattle waterfront and reroutes this highway to pass under the Seattle CBD out of sight, with tolls required for passage, with fewer lanes than the Viaduct, and with fewer entrance/exit ramps in the center city than the Viaduct. The State DOT sums up environmental impacts in a short paragraph, but without reference to changes in traffic volume and delay following opening of the tunnel. The actual environmental effects of the change between the present road configuration with a viaduct and the future configurations with a tunnel and no viaduct, are now unknown and subject to toll levels and specific road configurations yet to be determined that will only be set after intense study and state legislative action.

Building a Better Bellevue Association's and Friends of Enatai's court filing in a lawsuit against Sound Transit's environmental action under NEPA on East Link light rail.  This suit was dismissed by a Federal judge.

Praise for Seattle's downtown Ride Free Area (RFA) from a 1980 book, Learning From Seattle, compiled by the Institute for Environmental Action.  RFA was still called Magic Carpet in 1980, and in this book it was called one of "10 Good Reasons for Seattle's Livability."  King County Metro in 2010 produced a study estimating the costs of eliminating RFA, which happened as of September 29, 2012.

 Photos (taken February 2010) and links describing Sevici, a short-term bicycle rental service in Seville, Spain. Citizens using the bikes are highly visible in Seville, usually not wearing helmets. JCDecaux is the large, multinational firm that put this service together in many European cities. A map of Seville shows where bikes can be picked up and dropped off. "There are 2500 bicycles available from 250 Parking Stations." The standardized bike design in Seville is described here.  A U.S. consulting firm that advises cities on these public bicycle services is Cityryde, home based in Philadelphia. Cityryde reports "shortages of bicycles at certain locations and shortages of free spaces to return the bicycles at other stations ... is a growing problem of larger systems..."  Clicking on the various locations on the Seville map illustrates in real-time the challenge of full stations in some locations and bike-less stations in others.  There are many traffic cameras in Seville at which may sometimes provide glimpses of these community bicycles in motion.

Sound Transit Federal Partnership Report for March 2012.  "This periodic publication highlights the important federal role as Sound Transit builds the regional transit system for Central Puget Sound."  20 page color PDF, 2.7 megabytes This report reveals on page 2 and page 15 that the spending on the Link Light Rail project between downtown and the airport has generated 31,033 jobs and 24,000 daily riders. Across all three rail services, Sound Transit has generated 38,500 average daily ridership in 15 years.

John Niles' testimony to Sound Transit Board on March 22, 2012 emphasized the superior cost-effectiveness of buses in Sound Transit's regional service delivery.

Educational materials on the Puget Sound HOV network and on Metro Transit RapidRide BRT developed by King County Government in March 2012 to make the point to Congress that defining Bus Rapid Transit as requiring separated, dedicated transit guideways leaves out consideration of a concept that works successfully around Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue: partially dedicated, HOV-style shared guideways for high-capacity transit.

Letter of April 14, 2011 from Washington State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond to Federal Highways Region 10 Administrator Dan Mathis describing steps taken to mitigate the effect of forthcoming tolls on SR 520, Seattle-Bellevue, for lower-income travelers. Part of the mitigation is a big increase in bus service.

 Puget Sound Regional Council's (PSRC) published map of the regional highways planned for tolling by 2040, as described in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan approved in May 2010 by the majority of elected officials in the Puget Sound region.  (jpg)

Puget Sound Regional Council Metropolitan Transportation Plan expectation for 2040 market share of cars, buses, and trains, and the spending shares between now and then to get us there, all on one page with two pie charts.

Handouts on Sound Transit and King County Metro performance relevant to Seattle Neighborhood Coalition presentation by John Niles and Emory Bundy on August 13, 2011

Full text of the Plan of Seattle. Report of the Municipal Plans Commission (1911) by Virgil Bogue, which includes one of the early designs for a subway network in Seattle.

Station Boarding Counts Sound Transit compiles and computes average passenger daily boarding and exiting counts of its customers at all the Link Light Rail stations. One year of data, provided to PITF by Sound Transit and covering February 6, 2010 through February 4, 2011, is posted here.

Track Bridge System & Prototype Project, Phase 1 Design Services, Track Bridge System document (1.7 meg pdf) that includes a description of I-90 floating bridge movement -- surge, heave, sway, roll, yaw, and pitch -- to be managed in the design for railroad track connections between land and the bridge. Extracted from a Sound Transit RFP for consulting services being procured in late 2010.

U.S. Government's Project Management Oversight report for the University Link light rail subway construction project, August 2010. Notes that the project is on time and on budget, but the riskiest part -- tunnel digging -- had not yet begun at the time of this repot..

Attorneys for Bellevue retail and commercial developer Kemper Freeman petitioned the Washington State Supreme Court in July 2009 to prohibit the Washington State Governor and State DOT from allowing light rail on highway lanes of the I-90 corridor between Seattle and Bellevue. (pdf page image file)  The legal argument is based on the Washington State constitutional requirement that gasoline fuel taxes, which partially paid for I-90 construction, are only allowed to support highway purposes. More documents from opponents related to this case are filed here under the case number 833494. Oral arguments from all sides to State Supreme Court were made in September 2010. The Court issued a decision on April 21, 2011 that did not rule on the Constitutional gas tax issue, but refused to block the light rail based on the arguments for taking action immediately. A summary of the ruling is posted by the Freedom Foundation, and here is a news report from KIRO radio that petitioners will continue to pursue the Constitutional issue.

Found on the web: an anonymously provided alternative and very critical view of how opposition to Sound Transit has been pursued.

Former Washington State Senator Jim Horn provides his perspective on regional road tolling in these slides from a talk he presented in Bellevue, Washington, April 13, 2011. The last slide includes his poetic creation, "The Rime of the Ancyent FreewayMan," patterned after The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

RFP document "Link Light Rail Operations Analysis" from Sound Transit (700 kb pdf) to procure consulting services in late 2010 to design an operations plan for light rail in the decades ahead.  Many interesting details on planned frequency of light rail trains, and location of a new maintenance yard. 

Special compilation of sections from the East Link light rail draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that are relevant to truck freight mobility in the I-90 corridor (5 megabyte pdf). 

Complete document archive for the independent review team that examined the technical feasibility of Sound Transit's light rail plan for crossing Lake Washington on the I-90 floating bridge.

Maps (pdf, 800 kb) showing the 2006 and 2040 transit networks in the computer model that provides the forecast of future transit ridership projections in the Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation 2040 Plan (external link).

Central Puget Sound region planned public transit investments by 2040 as determined by Puget Sound Regional Council, March 2010.  This is an excerpt of selected pages from "Appendix A – Transportation 2040 Alternatives Report" posted at

Resource Notebook provided by King County Metro staff on March 30, 2010 to the members of the Regional Transit Task Force in a single 22 megabyte pdf. A treasure trove of information on King County's bus transit network, including ridership for each route as of the end of 2009 on pages 43 to 57. Regional Transit Task Force is described here.

Seattle's Central Link Light Rail fare revenue in 2009, obtained via Public Disclosure Act request from Sound Transit in February 2010.

Reprint of Ken Orski's newsletter Innovation Briefs, May 19, 2010, "U.S. DOT’s Strategic Plan Stirs Controversy With Its Emphasis on 'Livability'"

Comment from John Niles on the pending $79 million allocation of Federal grant money to Sound Transit's well funded future railroad construction by Puget Sound Regional Council.  Sound Transit is getting 29% of Transportation Improvement Program transit funds in exchange for a 12% market share, a sharp contrast to the 88% share provided by county public bus agencies.  Instead these discretionary funds could be used to alleviate the current funding crisis in bus transit.

By special request, click here for Sound Transit's 2006 application to Puget Sound Regional Council for $15.75 million additional U.S. Government funding to complete Airport Link light rail by constructing a segment between Tukwila and the Airport that was eventually completed in 2009.  Claims are made about the expected performance of this light rail segment.

A memorial appreciation of the late Professor John "bus good, train bad" Kain by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and others in 2005. (external link)

Central Link Light Rail Operations Plan, July 29, 2008 (current as of late June, 2009). (pdf, 1.5 mb)

Transit operations and policy presentations at the October 2006 20th Anniversary Celebration of the California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) are on this page.  Particularly outstanding is this presentation "Thinking About the Future: Sustainable Transport" by Elizabeth Deakin, Professor of City and Regional Planning, University of California Transportation Center.

Geotechnical Considerations Report of March 2006 detailing the soil conditions under Seattle's Capitol Hill through which the University Link subway twin tunnels will be bored, 14 megabyte pdf.  Prepared by Shannon and Wilson, Inc.

U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration comments (pdf) on the East Link light rail draft EIS, mostly focused on the impact to the Interstate 90 corridor.

Comments by King County Metro Transit on the East Link light rail draft EIS, focusing largely on impacts to bus service between Seattle and the Eastside suburbs.  Part 1 comments of February 2009.   Part 2 comments of March 2009.

Criticism of the East Link light rail draft EIS (pdf) alternatives analysis prepared by PITF editor John Niles, noting that a strong express bus alternative should have been included, given the poor environmental performance and customer attraction of the preferred light rail mode.

Critical comments on the East Link light rail draft EIS (7 megabyte pdf) submitted to Sound Transit by Kemper Development Corporation, a property owner and commercial development organization in downtown Bellevue, Washington.

Exclusive posting on proposed Rapid Electric Trolley Bus Network: King County Metro's planning documents for a $125 million expansion of Seattle's electric trolley bus system: a one page summary (pdf) and a 20 page plan (pdf) covering "Portfolio 4.3: Rapid Trolley Network" provide back up to the story in the March 18, 2009 Crosscut story by Matt Fiske, "Good transit plan gone missing."  Metro's plan forecasts 12 million additional annual boardings for a capital investment of $125 million. Prepared as an alternative for mitigation of changes to the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but not adopted.

Complete document archive from Sound Transit Phase 2 Expert Review Panel examination of the Prop 1 tax increase for light rail expansion in the 3-county central Puget Sound region that passed overwhelmingly on November 4, 2008.

Description of the TCP/IP communications system (9 megabyte PDF) for Sound Transit's light rail network. "The Link Communications Systems shall be designed to transmit, receive, store, process, and display all non-vital voice, data, and video communications for the benefit of Link Operations, Link Maintenance, Link Security, Sound Transit Administration, customer service, the public, and other agencies as required. While specifically non-vital, many of the subsystems of the Communications Systems can be considered mission critical." 

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl's letter of July 23, 2008 to Washington State Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond providing assurances that "Sound Transit has responsibility for the cost and risk to construct and maintain electric light rail on the I-90 bridge."  This letter is also posted on the State DOT web.

Federal Transit Administration's letter of November 14, 2008 to Congress announcing intent to issue a $813 million Full Funding Grant Agreement for University Link.

October 30, 2008: Final Expert Review Panel letter to the Governor.  It notes that Proposition 1's promise of more immediate bus hours won't be completed until 2010, and that the promise of more Sounder South service will be fulfilled no sooner than 2011.

October, 2008:  The document Sound Transit mailed to every household in its taxing district to "sell" the Prop 1 tax increase for expanded mass transit.

October 12, 2008:  Jim MacIsaac's updated assessment of the Sound Transit Financial Plan

New Starts ReportThe 1996 Sound Move Plan covering Puget Sound regional high capacity mass transit, approved by voters in 1996. Downloaded from a previous version of the Sound Transit Web (1.1 megabyte pdf file). The abridged version posted by Sound Transit compiled in a pdf is here.

History: 1916 Map of the Seattle Municipal Street Railway (pdf) from Seattle Municipal Archives, with annotations showing source.  Also, the pdf has a reference to a web page at University of Washington showing the history and photographs of this system.  The last Seattle streetcar from this era ran in 1941. A concise history of this streetcar network prepared by University of Washington, with source documents named, is posted as part of its "Guide to the Seattle Municipal Street Railway Photograph Collection 1913-1940" at

University Link technical diagrams of the light rail tunnel route from Pine Street to Husky Stadium.  Shows the houses on Capitol Hill under which it passes, and the layers of muck that the bored tunnel tube will penetrate.  This is a 6 meg pdf file that is an extract from a document submitted by Sound Transit to FTA as part of the preliminary design for this light rail segment.

Comments of John Niles to PSRC Executive Board meeting of April 10, 2008 concerning PSRC review of Sound Transit's phase 2 plan.

Sound Transit's 2008 documentation of benefit-cost analysis of light rail expansion.

Comments of John Niles, CETA, to PSRC Executive Board meeting of May 24th, 2007 about Sound Transit Benefit Cost Analysis.

Sound Transit's summary results from a benefit-cost analysis of Phase 2 light rail in 2007 Proposition 1

Methodology description for Sound Transit's benefit-cost analysis of Phase 2 light rail in 2007 Proposition 1

Methodology description for Sound Transit's ridership forecasting for Phase 2 light rail in 2007 Proposition 1

Comments of John Niles in 2007 to PSRC Transportation Policy Board on Sound Transit's benefit-cost analysis for ST2.

Technical report from Puget Sound Transit Consultants to Sound Transit on light rail vibration analysis for North Link Light Rail under University of Washington campus.  Executive Summary Full Report.

Technical report from Sound Transit's consultants LTK Engineering on electro-magnetic field analysis for North Link Light Rail under University of Washington campus.  Executive SummaryFull Report.

Comment from CETA to Sound Transit Board on financial impact of liquidated damage payments agreed to by Sound Transit in connection with vibration and electro-magnetic field impacts to the University of Washington campus.

Sound Transit Phase 2 Plan (ST2) complete with appendices, presented to the Sound Transit Board of Directors on May 24, 2007 (4.5 megabyte PDF)

New Starts ReportUsing the University Link Financial Plan, Jim MacIsaac has summarized the cost of the Sound Move Phase one program through 2040.  The estimated taxes to be collected 1997 to 2040 sum to $27,764,000,000, or rounded, $28 billion.  This estimate assumes the MVET will end in 2028.  Here are the details in a one page pdf.

New Starts ReportThe University Link Financial Plan, June 2006, transmitted by Sound Transit to the Federal Transit Administration, reports on page 14, Table 9, that Sound Transit Sources and Uses of Funds, 1997-2020, Year of Expenditure dollars, total to $14,972,000,000, or rounded, $15 billion. Download the document in a pdf, obtained via Public Disclosure Act request, about 2.3 megabytes. The 1996 approval vote was for a ten-year Sound Move program that would cost $5 billion, Year of Expenditure dollars.

New Starts ReportWill Knedlik's sharp attack on Sound Transit and RTID misrepresentations, as handed out in February and March 2007 at "Roads & Transit" Open House events throughout the central Puget Sound region.

Barrier of the Lake Policy analyst Tom Heller uses satellite imagery to portray the physical challenge that Lake Washington poses to central Puget Sound regional transportation.  Lake Washington's outline is shown to scale superimposed on other prominent metro areas of the United States.

New Starts ReportFederal Transit Association summary of Seattle Light Rail Status as of November 2006 in the FY08 New Starts Report to Congress (pdf document).   

Pages from the FY07 New Starts Report on Sound Transit Link Light Rail.

"How to Overcome the Ten Barriers to Effective BRT Planning" by Alan Hoffman (pdf posted on The Mission Group website).  Published in the magazine Smart Urban Transport in February 2004.

Where is public transit headed in Europe?  Check this excerpt from the 2006 transportation policy review by the European Commission that illustrates only modest gains in market share for buses and trains through 2020 (pdf).

Audit document released by Sound Transit in September 2005 reveals problems with management of the light rail construction project along Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in the Rainier Valley of Seattle.

April 13, 2006 testimony of John Niles to Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation Policy Board that the North Link EIS data imply that the construction and operation of this railroad is a net contributor to greenhouse gas production (200 kilobyte pdf).

Special collection of Metrobus route maps for the University Link light rail corridor (1.6 megabyte PDF).  This is part of work in progress to specify a bus alternative to the Seattle Big Dig under Capitol Hill.

Op-Ed by Seattle citizen Tom Coad, member of Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives, "Grandiose Rail Schemes Do Little to Relieve Congestion" in the Seattle Times, February 21, 2006 (external link to Seattle Times)

July 2006: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire weighs in with a letter blocking the DOT Secretary from participating in Sound Transit's vote of preference for light rail on the I-90 bridge before impact analysis is complete (pdf copy is here).

Seattle's Future Transit Network -- map from City of Seattle

Top line results from Sound Transit's September 2005 public opinion survey asking for citizen views on how well the agency and its services are performing (564K pdf).  Questions are also asked about what Sound Transit should build next.

Puget Sound Regional Council provides answers to U.S. Department of Transportation on compliance with requirements to be certified as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the region.

Communications From Seattle Citizens to State of Washington High Capacity Transit Expert Review Panel

Letter from State Representative Ed Murray (D, Seattle) to Expert Review Panel, 10-20-05, asking for further study of how to serve First Hill now that the light rail subway stop has been eliminated from the Sound Move plan.

Economic Impact Studies      Puget Sound Regional Council staff was commissioned by Sound Transit to prepare summaries of the likely economic development effects benefiting the region from transit development activities. Assigned scope in Sound Transit Motion M2003-110 included job creation by the system itself, economic stimulation due to improved mobility, land use development activity around station areas, and improved national/global competitiveness.
Version One, with some calculated benefits, May 2005, pdf, 2.9 megabytes -- an intermediate product not accepted by Sound Transit and leading to rescoping.
Version Two, with no calculated benefits, June 2005, pdf, 2.7 megabytes -- final product accepted by Sound Transit, and released at the Board meeting on September 22nd.

Comments to public officials from Seattle citizen Don Padelford

Details of the planning of the I-90 high capacity transit alignment, including history, was published in two 2004 reports included in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Regional Transit Long Range Plan

Seattle Light Rail -- 1996 Promises vs. 2008 Reality

Intelligent TransportationTechnology Applications Available to Ease Traffic Congestion:  Link to USDOT Web.

Sound Transit Report Card, by Emory Bundy, April 2005.  The tone of this report is less optimistic than the one that follows.

Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel's own version of the 8 year report card issued by Emory Bundy.  Dated April 7, 2005, this report with an unabashedly positive tone despite numerous shortfalls in the agency's performance is titled Sound Move Year 8: Review of Progress Toward Achieving a Regional High Capacity Transportation System (250 kilobyte pdf file, shrunk from official 2.8 megabyte size by removing photographs from the cover).

LCP History How Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) handled Least Cost Planning (LCP) in the 2001 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.  Two specially compiled historical documents available here: (1) Brief mention of LCP in the published Destination 2030 plan, and PSRC staff's technical appendix (1.3 megabyte PDF)  and (2) Comments made by citizens during November 2000 during the EIS process for the MTP, and PSRC's response (3.5 megabyte PDF)

ExclusiveAnalysis of opinion survey indicating that light rail would sink the chances of voters approving a tax hike for regional transportation improvement. This includes the November 2003 survey questionnaire and raw "top line" results, previously unreleased by RTID.

$500 Million FFGA35 page Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) executed October 24, 2003 by FTA and Sound Transit (2.7 megabyte pdf).

Letter from Congress to FTA, October 23, 2003, listing conditions for the approval of Sound Transit's Federal funding for Central Link Initial Segment (pdf).

Letter from Sound Transit to FTA on October 2, 2003 providing assurances that subarea equity would not be violated under a particular hypothetical scenario of revenue reduction caused by Initiative 776 (pdf, external link).

Letter from Seattle citizens to FTA Administrator Jenna Dorn September 19, 2003 requesting opportunity to review and comment on Sound Transit's contingency plan for funding shortfalls that may result from Initiative 776 (pdf).

Letter from Congress to FTA, September 10, 2003, disapproving the Central Link FFGA (pdf).

List of members of the four Congressional Committees responsible for reviewing the Seattle Central Link Initial Segment FFGA before it was executed between Sound Transit and FTA.

Letter from Congress to FTA, July 28, 2003, noting that Inspector General recommendation of July 11 was not met by Sound Transit Board Resolution 2003-15 (pdf)

Letter from Congress to FTA, July 15, 2003, kicking back the Link Initial Segment FFGA for further work before Congressional review begins (pdf).

USDOT Inspector General audit report on Central Link Initial Segment, July 11, 2003 (external link)

Audio recording (Real Audio) of the January 16, 2003 debate on Central Link Light Rail between Sound Transit Chairman Ron Sims and former Washington State Governor Booth Gardner (external link to Moderated by Essex Porter of KIRO.  Begins at 8 minutes into the recording.  Jane Hadley of the P-I wrote a brief news report. This debate was stimulated by Governor Gardner's op-ed in the Seattle Times the previous November, "Sims should pull the plug on 'lite'-rail project."

Letter of October 2002 to Senator Patty Murray (pdf) from 26 Puget Sound region local government officials, requesting Federal funds for Central Link be reprogrammed to better transit alternatives.

Documents Filed in Citizens for Mobility Lawsuit Against Sound Transit Light Rail

John Niles briefs USDOT Inspector General in 2002 on why the Link Initial Segment is unacceptable as a stand-alone Final Segment (pdf).

Emory Bundy briefs USDOT Inspector General in 2002 on why the Link Initial Segment is likely to be the Final Segment (pdf).

Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives (CETA), co-chaired by Maggie Fimia and John Niles:

Travel times measured on Seattle area highways right now (external link)

Golden Oldie: Copy of the 1996 web site for the Regional Express campaign that sold Sound Transit funding to regional voters

Traffic Congestion: A Solvable Problem by Peter Samuel (external link)

PITF Letter to Federal Transit Administration on Link Light Rail Safety Concerns, June 2002 (PDF file)

Emory Bundy responds in detail to Glenn Pascall's "The Rail Transit Debate"

PITF Letter to Federal Transit Administration on Sound Transit's New Starts data submission of November 2001 (PDF file)

Metro magazine describes growing interest in bus rapid transit (BRT) as an alternative to light rail (external link).

Booth Gardner's letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta urging continued Federal diligence in review of Link light rail (Word document)

Mineta Institute reviews history of Sound Transit 1996 election victory (PDF file)

Royer's Link Project Review Committee says keep the bus tunnel for buses (PDF file)

Downtown Seattle Association says keep the bus tunnel for buses (PDF file)

Seattle Times April 2001 Editorial: "pull plug on light rail" (External Link)

Puget Sound Regional Council summary review of bus alternatives analyses conducted prior to 1996 (PDF file)

Letter to Puget Sound Regional Council in November 2000 noting that state-mandated least-cost analysis of alternatives was not carried out in the Destination 2030 Metropolitan Transportation Plan

Richard Harkness in December 22, 2000 Seattle Times: "If light rail won’t dent traffic congestion, why build it?"

Sound Transit Board considers Least Cost Planning in one of its first meetings, December 10, 1993 (pdf file of the meeting minutes).

From Rails to Rubber: 60 Years of Electric Trolley Buses in Seattle by Metro Employees Historic Vehicles Association. This short essay reviews why trolley cars were replaced with trolley buses in 1940s Seattle. (external link).

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Last modified: July 24, 2017