Meet the candidates: completed studies document estimated costs, ridership for potential Sound Transit 3 projects

Publish Date

Upcoming Board discussions will focus on priorities and size for November 2016 ballot measure; public input on draft package scheduled for spring

The Sound Transit Board convened a workshop today to begin discussing newly released study results for all of the Sound Transit 3 candidate projects. The results document options for more than doubling the reach of the regional light rail system, realizing the region’s longtime vision of a congestion-free transit spine and connecting the biggest cities throughout Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

The results will inform discussions in the coming months about the investments and size of a draft ballot measure the Sound Transit Board is scheduled to release for public input next spring before voter consideration of a final measure in November 2016.

“To meet the mobility challenges of our rapidly growing region it is our job to work out the right level of investment and mix of projects for the public to consider,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The decisions we make over the coming year will shape our region for generations to come.”

The study results, available through an interactive map at, span an array of key decision factors for shaping the ST3 measure, including the estimated costs and ridership for each project, as well as other benefits and assumptions. In August, the Sound Transit Board identified the candidate projects following extensive input through public meetings, an online survey and close work with local governments.

Sound Transit 3 will respond to strong region-wide support for additional mass transit expansions as the region’s population grows by an estimated million residents through 2040. The projected growth is equivalent to adding the current combined populations of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.

“Expanding transit will allow our region to manage rapid growth, keep our economy strong and protect our environment,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “An inclusive and just future for our region depends on more transit options.”

“We need to give regional commuters more options for avoiding the traffic nightmares that come from bad weather, overturned fish trucks and even minor accidents,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Everett City Council member Paul Roberts. “Light rail will create economic growth while protecting our environment. Even if we had the money and room to significantly expand traffic lanes in our most congested corridors, those lanes would just fill up and leave us with increased air and water pollution and global warming.”

The Sound Transit District is home to more than 40 percent of Washington’s population, more than 70 percent of its economic activity and 97 percent of its congestion. High-capacity transit investments are the best way — and in many cases the only way — to significantly expand transportation capacity in the state’s most congested corridors.

Today’s workshop included discussion of a range of potential investment levels for the draft measure that the Board will release for public input. The measure will be funded in part by new taxes that the Washington State Legislature and Governor authorized Sound Transit to propose to regional voters, including sales, car tab and property taxes that within the first 15 years could generate approximately $15 billion. Other funding for ST3 would come from federal grants, bonds, existing taxes, fares and other sources.

Potential funding options discussed at the workshop included:

  • Option 1: A 15-year measure that could generate up to a total of $26 billion.
  • Option 2: A 20-year measure that could generate up to $26 billion for use in the first 15 years and an additional $4 billion supporting other projects completed over the following five years.
  • Option 3: A 25-year measure that could generate up to $26 billion for use in the first 15 years and an additional $22 billion for other projects over the following 10 years.

The above financial capacity figures, which assume full use of the legislatively authorized funding authority, are based on current forecasts and will be updated during the ST3 planning process. While the durations of taxes vary under the three investment options, the estimated additional annual and monthly costs of the new taxes for a typical adult in the Sound Transit District are the same: approximately $200 annually or $17 a month.

Additional information on funding options for ST3 can be found at

In January, meetings of the Sound Transit Board’s Executive, Capital and Operations committees will give members the chance to talk about their priorities for the package. Those conversations will help inform discussion by the full Board on Jan. 28. Continued discussions in February and March will focus on shaping the draft plan.

Over the past 14 years, Sound Transit has developed a strong track record delivering mass transit investments. The University Link light rail extension, with new stations on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and near Husky Stadium, is on track to open in early 2016, ahead of schedule and approximately $150 million under budget. In 2016 Sound Transit is also on track to open its extension to Angle Lake, one stop further south from the airport.

In 2021 light rail service is scheduled to open to Northgate. By 2023 Sound Transit is on track to extend service further north to Lynnwood, south to Kent/Des Moines and east to Redmond’s Overlake area. The extensions are expected to increase overall weekday ridership to more than 350,000 by 2030.