Sound Transit receives 34,706 survey responses, 2,320 written comments on ST3 Draft Plan

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Board members hear preliminary report on public input and results of telephone survey reflecting support for major regional transit investments

The Sound Transit Board Executive Committee yesterday heard a preliminary overview of nearly 35,000 responses received through Monday providing input on the Sound Transit 3 Draft Plan.

“The overwhelming public interest we’ve heard during the past month confirms that residents continue to want solutions for our region’s rapid growth and chronic congestion,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By far the most frequent and insistent message is support for completing transit expansions as quickly as possible. Our top priority will be looking for ways to improve project timelines wherever possible as we move toward a final plan.”

Public input received following the March 29 start of the comment period included an online survey that generated 34,706 responses. Approximately 1,250 people attended seven open houses that were held across the region, and Sound Transit presented to more than 50 local jurisdictions and organizations. The agency received a total of 2,320 written comments from individuals and more than 90 letters from jurisdictions and organizations.

In all, 90 percent of the self-selected respondents who took the non-scientific online survey stated they strongly (80 percent) or somewhat (10 percent) support continued expansion of Sound Transit’s system of light rail, commuter rail and express buses.  Light rail expansion was the most highly supported transit mode, with 80 percent of respondents deeming it urgent (65 percent) or somewhat urgent (15 percent).

Alongside the public input, staff also commissioned a scientific phone survey to help guide development of the final ST3 plan. The survey of 1,000 voters in the Sound Transit District, which was conducted by EMC Research April 20 through April 30 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent, indicates that 76 percent of voters strongly (58 percent) or somewhat (18 percent) support expanding mass transit.

A presentation summarizing both the online and phone survey results is available in the document library at soundtransit3.org.

The phone survey also sought reactions to specifics of the $50 billion ST3 Draft Package that the Board released for public input in March. Sixty-five percent of respondents reflected they strongly (30 percent) or somewhat (36 percent) supported the draft package in a question that described the associated tax increases. Following further questions about the costs and timelines for completing projects, 59 percent of respondents strongly (24 percent) or somewhat (35 percent) supported the draft package.

Last week Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff briefed the Board on work that is underway to identify options for speeding up projects where feasible. He emphasized that at every open house the agency heard loud and clear the desire to speed up projects.

“The two major factors influencing project timelines are the time it takes to plan and build projects, including intensive work with local jurisdictions, and the time it takes to generate sufficient revenues through taxes, bonding and grants,” Rogoff said. “While we will continue to be very straightforward with the public about what it takes to build these major investments, we are optimistic we will be able to deliver some improvements to project timelines.”

Following today’s preliminary overview of public input, staff will develop a more detailed report analyzing the 2,320 written comments received as well as 17,378 responses to an optional open-ended question in the online survey.

By adding 58 miles of light rail with stations serving 35 additional areas, ST3 would establish a truly regional 112-mile system stretching from Everett in the north to Tacoma in the south and from Redmond and Issaquah in the east to Ballard and West Seattle. The draft plan responds 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.