Sound Transit’s board has seen the future, and in addition to carrying millions more riders than ever before, it is about crafting an affordable ST 3 plan – with more regional connections – to put before voters in 2016.
Sound Transit marketed special service to Seahawks games. Light rail ridership has been growing by over a million riders a year and is slated for additional growth with new service to Husky Stadium in 2016.
Last week Sound Transit released a poll indicating that 70 percent of its voters would support building an additional 30 miles of light rail – finally connecting many of the region’s major cities.
Will the state legislature and the Governor give voters that choice?
So far, Governor Inslee says yes, as part of his transportation proposal.
Today, the House Transportation Committee held the first hearing on legislation needed to help make it happen.
King County Executive Dow Constantine told the committee that “better transit is an urgent matter” and this is a “pivotal moment” for the entire region. He noted that the region is expected to grow by another 1+ million people, to 5 million, by 2040, putting more pressure on the transportation system.
He said his two big priorities as Sound Transit Chair are “accountability and integration,” and that Sound Transit ridership increased from 30 to 32 million in 2014.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland told the committee that ST 3 is “an issue of economics. It is good for the entire state of Washington and the region” to better connect Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.
The Senate has yet to schedule a hearing on a bill, but ST 3 authorization is commonly expected to be part of a comprehensive transportation proposal being developed behind the scenes.
Last week the PSRC’s Executive Board endorsed legislation to authorize ST 3. PSRC plays a supporting role in the effort to vote on ST 3 in 2016.