FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 15, 2003
Coalition for Effective Transportation
P.O. Box 33045
Seattle WA 98133
206 365-CETA (2382)
Contact: Maggi Fimia
SOUND TRANSIT DESPARATE TO SHOW PROGRESS THAT ISN'T REALLY THERE.
The news that Sound Transit promises to go to the Airport is seven years old. In 1996 Sound Transit told us their train would go to the Airport. In 1999, after much denial, they finally admitted they didn't have the money to complete the project. Now, they are admitting, with great fanfare, that they didn't even have a solid agreement with the Port of Seattle to site a station at the airport in the first place. They still don't have an agreement. What they have is an "Agreement in Principal." In government speak, that means; "Here are the principals we agree should be achieved when we actually work out the details." That's a long way to signing a contract. Sound Transit is also a long ways from having the money to even get there. The last numbers released were almost half a billion dollars to build the two miles from South 154th Street to the Terminal. The total cost for light rail in South King County (Downtown Seattle to the Airport) would be $1.3 billion, 2.8 times the "very conservative" cost represented to voters in 1996. If it's delayed beyond 2009 it will cost more. Executive Sims says that they have the dollars to get there by 2011 using money left over from the South King County sub-area and by changing their financial policies.
According to their own financial documents, however, we don't believe they have the ability to pay for this without substantial borrowing from the other sub-areas, raising taxes and/or delaying the project beyond 2011. The elected representatives and public from all the sub-areas, North King, South and East King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties should demand to see exactly where this money will come from and what implications it has for the other projects they want to do or could do? They are all co-signers to this project. Presently, all of Seattle and Shoreline and Lake Forest Park regional transit taxes are dedicated to go only to the 14-mile light rail project.
CETA calls for an independent, objective comparison of light rail with equal investments in effective alternatives. This has not been done to date. Many of these effective transit alternatives are ones which could be implemented quickly but lack the funding.
We recommend that in the meantime, at a minimum, Sound Transit add upgraded service to the existing Metro #194 route, which gets people to the Airport Terminal now, from Downtown Seattle in 30 minutes, even during rush hour, with one stop. More frequent service, low floor buses, space for luggage, high backed seats and several stops along the Airport concourse, could be provided at a fraction of the cost of light rail - which is looking more and more like it will never arrive.
CETA is a non-profit, bipartisan coalition of Puget Sound citizens and groups calling on Sound Transit to immediately cancel it ineffective and prohibitively expensive 14-mile surface light rail project or bring this new plan back to the voters. Many in the group were prior supporters of the project. They have recently released an Alternative package of Transit projects and services the could be implemented in the short, and long term to provide better service and attract more people out of their single occupancy autos.
Members include Emory Bundy, Maggi Fimia, elected officials, transportation/transit professionals and activists, Friends of Monorail, Freeway Monorail, community activists, bus riders and residents from all over the region.
See www.EffectiveTransportation.org for more information.
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