Advocates for Better, Faster, and Cost-Effective Transit to more communities sooner announce NoST3.org
At Sound Transit’s June 23rd Board Meeting, People for Smarter Transit announced the formation of a bipartisan coalition of political leaders, citizen groups, transit riders, environmentalists, and concerned individuals who will be working to educate the public about the issues and concerns with the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) system plan and to promote faster, better, and cost-effective transit to more communities sooner. The coalition welcomes others to join.
Unless Sound Transit holds off putting ST3 on the November ballot, People for Smarter Transit will be actively campaigning for a No vote on ST3 based on the following concerns:
1) Traffic will increase. It does not solve the traffic problem. Sound Transit’s own planners, on June 6th, presented a ridership analysis that indicated ST3 will add 205 thousand new one-way transit boardings in 2040. Even if this number is correct, this represents just 1% of the officially forecasted 19 million vehicle trips that will take place by 2040.
2) Taxes that negatively impact low income & fixed income families increase. ST3 will significantly raise property taxes, the car tax, and bring the sales tax to over 10% in King County – forever. ST3 increases Sound Transit’s sales tax by 55 percent, from 0.9 cents to 1.4 cents, and nearly quadruples its vehicle-license tax, from $30 to $110 per $10,000 of value.
3) It is the most expensive way to attract new riders. It will cost over a half million dollars per new rider, since ST3 will cost $54 billion and only provide 102 thousand new round-trip riders.
4) Real Estate developers, lawyers and construction firms pushing this plan. The Yes campaign (run by Transportation Choices) is funded by corporations that will directly profit from ST3’s $54 billion tax. The majority of donors to Transportation Choices (Sound Transit’s Yes on ST3 campaign organization, known as "Mass Transit Now") are transit industry corporations that directly benefit from Sound Transit projects through multi-million-dollar contracts.
5) "It consumes the oxygen in the room." (Senator Reuven Carlyle March 24, 2016 Seattle Times).
Basic, critical maintenance of our existing infrastructure ignored. There has been little discussion about the opportunity cost of hitting taxpayer wallets for so much money to achieve so little benefit. This proposal goes after funding that should be used for schools.
6) There are faster, safer and more cost effective ways to solve the region’s transportation challenges. ST3 has allocated 86% of its budget to low-capacity light rail, and yet we are in the midst of a transportation revolution with higher quality & capacity bus service, flexible van pooling, internet-dispatched ride sharing, car sharing, and zero-emission vehicle automation, to name a few.
The coalition was pleased to learn that many of its concerns were also expressed by The Seattle Times Editorial Board in its June 18, 2016 essay titled, "Hold off on Sound Transit 3 ballot measure — give discussion time". Many projects have not been sufficiently researched and presented to the ST Board, the independent Expert Review Panel and the public before the system plan approval today to be put before the voters.
Sound Transit has played, ‘hide the ball’ with the most basic information on the costs and benefits of their $54 billion ask. The June 20, 2016 letter from the Expert Review Panel states, "The ST3 system plan has a series of appendices. The panel received a draft of Appendix C, titled, ‘Benefits, Costs, Revenues, Capacity, Reliability and Performance Characteristics’, today. Because we have not had time to review the document thoroughly, we will provide any comments regarding this document in our final letter."
This is irresponsible and screams "done deal."
For more information on People for Smarter Transit, go to www.NoST3.org. The web site details the concerns listed above, offers a tax calculator for individuals to see Sound Transit’s impact on his or her own tax situation, and ways to join and donate towards the coalition.