Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff highlights Sounder progress as he details Sounder South expansion plans to Congressional subcommittee

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Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff testified yesterday before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on "Challenges and Opportunities for Commuter Railroads." Rogoff noted Sounder’s 30% ridership increase since 2014 and talked about Sound Transit’s plans to expand Sounder South service with more capacity and perhaps higher frequency.

The voter-approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3) measure committed more than $1 billion to expand Sounder service, lengthen trains and improve walking and biking access. By 2025, Sound Transit will begin planning to expand Sounder South 8 miles from Lakewood to two new stations in Tillicum (near Joint Base Lewis-McChord) and DuPont by 2036. The budget for the extension to DuPont is $370.5 million (2018$).

"Commuter rail is an expensive enterprise because of the operating and capital costs inherent in putting the service out each day. Unlike our light rail system, for commuter rail we must negotiate for track access with Burlington Northern Sante Fe, paying millions for each track easement. That said, the return on investment for commuter rail is tremendous for the working families who ride it." Rogoff told the subcommittee. "With our rapidly growing regional economy, to the extent that there is affordable housing to be found anywhere in our region, it is to be found in cities like Everett and Tacoma and the cities in East Pierce County that are served by Sounder commuter rail."

Rogoff said Sound Transit will apply to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program for funding to add a second track between Tacoma and South Tacoma that will remove chokepoints for Amtrak, Sounder and Tacoma Rail freight trains. 

The full written transcript of CEO Rogoff‘s testimony can be found at https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Testimony-Rogoff.pdf. The video of the entire congressional hearing can be found here

CEO Rogoff’s testimony begins at 32:17 of the hearing video.