CEO Corner


Our job is building a mass transit system that connects you with the Puget Sound region. As Sound Transit's CEO, I can assure you that everyone here - including our Board of Directors, staff and consultants - is committed to bringing you safe and reliable service.

Joni Earl, Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer

CEO Report for August 28, 2015


ST3 project list

The Sound Transit Board on Thursday approved a list of projects to be considered in the development of a Sound Transit 3 System Plan that could be before voters as early as November 2016.

The Board directed staff to complete a detailed analysis of the projects over the coming months. The project list includes, but is not limited to, extensions of the light rail spine to Everett, Tacoma and downtown Redmond; light rail extensions to Seattle’s Ballard and West Seattle areas; bus rapid transit on I-405; and an array of other potential investments including additional light rail extensions and improvements to ST Express bus and Sounder commuter rail services and facilities.

Check out the project list here. An interactive map of the projects will be available Monday at

The action by the Board on Thursday is one step in the journey towards bringing a ST3 proposal to voters. A lot of work and public process remains. Each of the projects will be thoroughly studied to generate estimates of ridership, capital operating and maintenance costs; travel times and reliability; potential for transit-oriented development; and other factors including benefits, needs and potential risks.

In early June, the Board kicked off public comment on a draft list of projects. That led to an unprecedented volume of public input and support with nearly 25,000 people taking an online survey. In addition, 1,025 people submitted written comments at meetings across the region and by email and mail. More than 70 local governments and organizations sent comment letters.

Research and technology

Technology is very important to Sound Transit riders. About 68 percent of our customers receive their schedule information online while 64 percent get information on their mobile devices. Those numbers will only go up. To keep up with the ever-increasing demand, our Research and Technology Program has several projects already completed, underway or in planning.

For example, the first phase of the improved Trip Planner and open transit data information projects are completed. Others in progress include an improved mobile website later this year, Link and Sounder real-time data and an open transit data developers’ portal. That transit data is available to software developers throughout the region to build applications like OneBusAway. We’re also working with King County Metro on a pilot project where passengers can purchase tickets on their mobile devices.

These and other projects help us to get good information to customers, so they can better move around the region. 

More ridership gains

Sound Transit passengers set another ridership record during the second quarter of 2015, with 8.8 million boardings -- the busiest second quarter in Sound Transit history. Average weekday boardings on our buses and trains was 118,000, a 6 percent jump over 2014.

Sounder commuter rail ridership was up 12 percent in the second quarter compared to the same time a year earlier. Link light rail ridership was up 6 percent, ST Express buses up 5 percent and Tacoma Link up 2 percent.

Wall of Fame honors Sound Transit

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Wall of Fame added some outstanding Sound Transit names this week. 

At the annual State Transit Association conference in Vancouver Tuesday, CEO Joni Earl became a 2015 Wall of Fame honoree and Jim Edwards, Deputy Executive Director of Design and Engineering, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award. Also honored was the ORCA LIFT team, which includes Brian Brooke, Sound Transit’s Research, Policy & Business Development Manager. 

Joni was honored for her 15 years of outstanding leadership at Sound Transit. Joni announced this spring that she is retiring early next year. Over her years at Sound Transit, she has earned respect and admiration both here and nationally for her accomplishments. That was clearly evident at the conference Tuesday where she received a long standing ovation from more than 500 attendees.   

Jim Edwards was honored for his exceptional work with WSDOT on Sound Transit’s Regional Express, Sounder and light rail programs. He has been a major player on all parts of our regional high-capacity system for the last 15 years. 

The ORCA LIFT team, which includes members from King County Metro, Sound Transit and King County and Seattle Public Health, successfully implemented the ORCA LIFT discounted transit fare program for low-income riders on Link and King County services. This program is one of only a few nationally and is the only program of its kind on a light rail service in the U.S.


--Mike Harbour, Sound Transit Acting CEO


The Sound Transit Board on Thursday:

  • Approved the submittal of the Transit Development Plan 2015-2020 and 2014 Annual Report to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
  • Approved an incidental use agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation for incidental use of the Totem Lake HOV direct access ramp by toll-paying vehicles to access I-405 Express Toll Lanes.
  • Approved a contract amendment with David Evans and Associates to provide additional final design services for the Tacoma Trestle Track & Signal Project in the amount of $919,033, with a 10% contingency of $91,903, totaling $1,010,936, for a new total authorized contract amount not to exceed $13,142,732.
  • Approved the acquisition of certain real property interests, including acquisition by condemnation to the extent authorized by law, and to reimburse eligible relocation and re-establishment expenses incurred by affected owners and tenants as necessary for the Lynnwood Link Extension.
  • Authorized an increase in the contract contingency with Turner Construction Company for the construction of the Capitol Hill Station, within the University Link Extension, in the amount of $1,500,000, for a new total authorized contract amount not to exceed $116,592,790.
  • Approved a contract with Stacy and Witbeck, Inc. to provide construction services for the Point Defiance Bypass project in the amount of $53,800,000, with a 15% contingency of $8,070,000, for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $61,870,000.
  • Identified a priority project list of candidate projects to be considered in the development of an ST3 System Plan, and directing staff to complete evaluation of projects on the list.