Sound Transit: Too much Money, Not Enough Riders says Former Issaquah Mayor

Spending 60 percent of the dollars on 5 percent of the population is not an effective use of funds regardless of the politics or our wishes.
— Rowan Hinds

Another former elected official has broken ranks with Sound Transit and exposed some inconvenient truths about ST3 costs and ridership claims. This time the opposition comes from none other than Issaquah's former mayor, Rowan Hinds (served as mayor 1990 to 1997) in an opinion piece published by the Issaquah Press.

Sound Transit board members either were not aware of the relatively limited utility of this expensive rail line, or they held their noses and voted for what they knew was a boondoggle.

Hinds writes, "Our current total public transportation spending is split: 60 percent on transit and 40 percent on roads. The biggest chunk of transit is light rail. As seen above, that 60 percent share serves only 4 percent of the ridership and is forecasted to reach maybe 5 percent with ST3. Spending 60 percent of the dollars on 5 percent of the population is not an effective use of funds regardless of the politics or our wishes."

For those keeping score at home, here is our tally in the ST3 Boondoggle Of The Century

  • Issaquah mayors in favor of ST3: 1 (the current Issaquah mayor and Sound Transit Board member, Fred Butler)

  • Issaquah mayors opposed to ST3: 1 (former mayor Rowan Hinds)

When one looks at the composition of the Sound Transit Board, one finds an odd situation in which cities with Sound Transit Board representation get rail projects and those cities without representation on the board get lip service. Some might refer to this as cronyism. We call it for what it is: business as usual at Sound Transit.

When one examines the lack of justification for Sound Transit prioritizing light rail to Issaquah, one can only conclude that the Sound Transit board members either were not aware of the relatively limited utility of this expensive rail line, or they held their noses and voted for what they knew was a boondoggle. 

Taking rail all the way out to Issaquah sometime in 2040 is a waste of billions of dollars that could be better spent relieving congestion now. Billion dollar bacon is not in the public interest.

Hinds also argues that perhaps it is time to change the Sound Transit governance process. We couldn't agree more.