Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel Releases 2007 Year-End Report
|Dick Chapin, COP Chair
Paul Wiesner, COP Vice Chair
Sound Transit’s 15-member volunteer Citizens Oversight Panel (COP) presented its 2007 report to the Board Thursday. The Panel found that Sound Transit’s progress in delivering the regional transit system was good in 2007. Capital projects are moving forward, and ridership growth on Sounder commuter rail and ST Express bus service continues to be strong. Despite numerous challenges that the agency faced, COP found that this is a mature, effective organization with an accumulation of knowledge and skills that greatly benefit our region.
There were challenges and disappointments as well. The biggest setback in 2007 was the failure of voters to approve Proposition 1. Also, project schedules and budgets were again affected by the continuing tight construction market in the region and various other factors. The Panel called out three areas in particular to the Board’s attention today:
- The Need to Improve Capacity and Access to Transit Services. As ridership has grown on Sounder and ST Express, some routes are reaching capacity with standing room only.
- Transit Operating Costs. ST Express and Tacoma Link net operating costs both grew 10% in 2007, double the 5% growth rate that Sound Transit continues to assume for future year planning purposes.
- Transition from Capital to Operations. COP expressed concern about the start-up of Central Link and the complexity of coordination created by the fact that operation is not entirely in Sound Transit’s control.
- COP Chair Dick Chapin, of Bellevue, told the Board that these challenges do not detract from the successes. “Sound Transit is a thriving organization with strong leadership and management,” he reported.
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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.