More than 9,000 people sound off on regional transit expansion options

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More than 9,000 people responded to Sound Transit’s call for public feedback to help shape the future of mass transit in the Puget Sound region.

“The strong response we received to our call for input shows the urgency people feel about expanding our regional transit system,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “With light rail on track to open next year from Seattle to the airport we are making progress on regional transit, but people want more expansion in the years ahead. The public input we received will help the Sound Transit Board identify the top priorities for a revised plan.”

The public input shows strong support for expanding the regional transit system, a perspective that is mirrored in a scientific telephone survey in which the same questions were posed to 800 randomly selected residents. The results of both surveys are available at www.soundtransit.org/future.

In November 2007, voters turned down a large package of road and transit investments. Now, the Sound Transit Board of Directors is responding to the public’s support for voting on a transit-only measure by taking a renewed look at what transit service expansions can be accomplished soonest as part of a package with a lower cost.

The options under review span the entire region and focus on meeting current demand as well as future population and employment growth through a package of rail and express bus expansions, targeting investments for the right corridors. The package will build on the regional transit system voters launched in 1996.

Today, Sound Transit’s system of regional express buses, commuter rail and light rail carries about 50,000 riders each day, a number that will more than double following the 2009 opening of light rail service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport. Construction of that light rail line is moving forward on schedule and is now 85 percent complete.

Expansion of Link light rail between downtown and the University of Washington is slated to begin this year and be completed in 2016. University Link is projected to nearly triple the regional light rail system’s ridership to more than 114,000 a day by 2030. Last month, the Federal Transit Administration awarded the University Link project its highest rating for proposed transit projects in the nation, and $100 million for the project was included in the Bush administration’s proposed FY 2009 budget.

 

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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.