Skip Navigation

CEO Corner

Joni Earl

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 March 27, 2015


U Link on the way  

The University Link light rail project, more than 93 percent complete, is on schedule to open first quarter 2016 and remains about $150 million under budget.
That was the good news given to the Sound Transit Board on Thursday.

The U Link project extends the existing light rail service 3.15 miles north with stations at Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

As was discussed Thursday, one of the unique parts of the project is a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will directly connect Link's University of Washington Station to the upper campus and the Burke-Gilman Trail. Sound Transit is working with the UW and state Department of Transportation to pay for and build the bike/pedestrian bridge. Construction of the bridge is going very well. So well in fact that Dow Constantine, King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair, asked that Sound Transit continue working with its partners to open the bridge as early as possible, perhaps this summer.

Regional Day Pass

Several months ago I told you about a pilot program for a Regional Day Pass that makes it easier for tourists and visitors to use transit.

Now, the transit agencies participating in the ORCA smart card system are proposing a permanent Regional Day Pass that would include two new ORCA pass products - an $8 Regional Day Pass for adult riders and a $4.50 Regional Day Pass for ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit holders.

These new products will be accepted on bus, light rail, commuter rail, streetcar and foot ferry services operated by Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit. Local residents can also purchase the regional day pass anywhere ORCA cards are sold.

We're asking for your thoughts and comments on the products.
Call 888-988-6722 / TTY Relay:711
Attend a public hearing before the ORCA Joint Board on Monday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m. at King Street Center, 8th Floor Conference Center, 201 S. Jackson St., Seattle.

Link closure coming up  

Just a quick reminder that the downtown Seattle section of the Link light rail line will be closed this weekend for system upgrades as we prepare for the start of U Link service early next year.

Trains will operate normally between the Sea-Tac Airport and Mount Baker stations. Special free buses will connect at Mount Baker Station, serve a temporary stop near Stadium Station and then make all normal downtown tunnel stops.

Sound Transit street teams will be out in force this weekend helping riders.

See more details on the shutdown.

FTA Quarterly meeting

Wednesday at our Union Station headquarters was the quarterly meeting between Sound Transit and the Federal Transit Administration. This was the 64th such meeting between the two agencies.

We thanked the FTA for its help in our securing a $1.3 billion federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan that will provide lower interest rates and allow us to expand our bonding capacity. The TIFIA loan lets us borrow money at a lower cost than assumed in our current financial plan, freeing up an estimated $200 - $300 million in financial capacity. It will also result in a significant savings in debt repayment costs through 2058.

As in the past, the meeting Wednesday went very well and we value FTA's continued oversight.

Mike Harbour, Sound Transit Acting CEO

The Sound Transit Board on Thursday:

  • Approved an interagency agreement with Pierce Transit for the operations and maintenance of the Tacoma Dome Station for the period through Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Extended the existing interagency service agreement with Community Transit through June 30, 2015.
  • Extended the date of the Northgate Link Extension $5 million funding commitment for the Interstate-5 pedestrian/bicycle bridge at Northgate to Feb. 1, 2016.
  • Amended the Adopted 2015 Annual Administrative Capital Budget from $765,059 to $1,114,559 for a fall restraint system at Union Station.
  • Appointed Ms. Robin Gold, Mr. John Harrison, Mr. Don Monroe, Dr. Mildred Ollée and Mr. Michael Williams to the Citizen Oversight Panel for a term of four years beginning April 2015 and expiring April 2019.
  • Reappointed Mr. Philip Lovell and Mr. Harold Wirch to the Citizen Oversight Panel, to serve a second term of four years beginning March 2015 and expiring March 2019, and reappointed Ms. Annette Bailes to the Citizen Oversight Panel, to serve a second term of four years beginning May 2015 and expiring May 2019.