After several discussions and meetings, the Public Affairs Council decided to take a neutral position on the Sound Transit 2 measure on this November’s ballot. The Chamber is asking its members to review the package to determine for themselves the best course of action.
The 15-year mass transit package will increase express bus and commuter rail service in a three-county area, including Pierce County, and add 55 miles of new regional light rail to the existing system.
If passed, Pierce County residents can expect improvements to regional transit services in Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Sumner and will potential include expanded parking, pedestrian improvements at or near existing stations, additional bus/transfer facilities for feeder stations, bicycle access and storage at stations, and new drop-off areas for increased ridesharing. In addition, bus and commuter rail service will be expanded, although light rail from here northward will not occur in this package.
The price tag for this measure is estimated at $17.9 billion, which will be paid through a half-of-one percent sales tax increase (about five cents on a $10 purchase) and the continuation of existing Sound Move taxes (a 0.4% sales tax and 0.3% vehicle license tax).
Supporters state the new package will enable greater economic development through the improved transportation of goods and employees; will allow better growth management; could cut car and truck travel as much as 30 percent; expect reduced carbon dioxide pollution by nearly 100,000 tons a year and will likely save consumers $41 million annually in reduced fuel costs if voters approve the plan and commuters switch to transit
Supporters estimate the number of riders will double to 110,000 from the 55,000 riders who use Sound Transit every day due to the 1009 opening of service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tacoma International Airport.
Critics contend the new package cost much more than expected, ridership will not increase, and this package will ultimately do little to remove cars from roadway congestion. Some critics would rather see more funding for rapid bus service to obtain a bigger bang for the buck.
More information on this package can be found on the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at http://www.tacomachamber.blogspot.com/. [See below for the links.]