ST3 Rail

Sound Transit 3 (ST3)

Sound Transit 3, abbreviated as ST3, was a ballot measure passed during the November 2016 elections in Seattle, Washington, proposing an expansion of the regional public transit system. The $53.8 billion Sound Transit 3 plan proposed expanding the existing Link light rail system to the suburbs of Tacoma, Federal Way, Everett and Issaquah, as well as the Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard and West Seattle.

The proposal was unlike anything I have ever seen, with Sound Transit seeking incredible sums of money first and then trying to figure out how to spend it., with an absurdly expensive rail expansion into low population density areas. Their own data showing the proposed cost per rider served said it all.

References & Calculations

a. ST1 Promises for 2010 $32,337 * 2 (2014$)/roundtrip rider from Sound Transit Light Rail Extreme Costs chart, Sound Transit Seattle Light Rail Promises vs. Reality, ref. p)

b. ST1 Reality in 2015 $182,000 (2014$)/roundtrip rider from Sound Transit Light Rail Extreme Costs chart, Sound Transit Light Rail System Key Facts & Data

c. Sound Transit 3 Draft Plan, March 2016, Rail Project projected performance parameters and basic calculations

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$500,000 to Move One Daily Bus Rider to a Train

How much does rail have to cost before it's too expensive to justify? Are rail projects which cost $1 million in capitol spending for each daily round trip rider carried too expensive? That is in addition to the recurring cost since fares recover about 31% of the daily operating costs in 2015. What about $10 million per daily round trip rider?

For comparison purposes the Community Transit Swift BRT "lite" line cost $14,800 per daily round trip rider in 2014, 33 times less than the ST3 Sounder to Dupont (a rural area). I discuss this in the Bus Rapid Transit section of my website.

References & Calculations

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Increased Travel Time Over Express Buses

A train which makes 5, 10, or 10 additional stops is slower than an express bus running on a lane where traffic is controlled to ensure high speeds.