Criticizing Sound Transit or light rail is not the same as criticizing voters

April 3, 2012

It is easy to criticize Sound Transit officials because their record of performance on light rail is so poor. But does opposition to light rail disparage voters because voters have twice approved Sound Transit’s plans?

Former Congressman Jay Inslee thinks it does and recently criticized Attorney General Rob McKenna (both are candidates for Governor) over remarks Mckenna made expressing his long held skepticism over Sound Transit’s light rail plans.

The title of Inslee’s press release is, “McKenna continues his stand against progress, voters and light rail.”

Voters eventually approved Sound Transit’s light rail plans in two phases in 1996 and 2008. Yet, we have to consider Sound Transit officials’ poor record of performance on delivering what they promised to voters in those elections.

I have covered those failed promises extensively. Here are just a few examples:

Light Rail, One Year Later: A Train of Broken Promises

PSRC says light rail will carry half of what Sound Transit told voters

State Auditor agrees to investigate Sound Transit’s (problematic) forecasts

Sound Transit misleading voters, again

Sound Transit's bait and switch

Sound Transit officials missed their ridership target by a mile!

Sound Transit Officials Exaggerate Benefits of Light Rail across I-90

But don’t just take my word for it:

State auditor's office looking into Sound Transit's practices, Everett Herald

Federal Way says it's getting the 'shaft' on light rail, Seattle PI

Federal Way mulling ways to leave Sound Transit, Tacoma News Tribune

State auditor will examine Sound Transit performance, Seattle Times

Critics question Sound Transit's eastside light rail cost estimates, KING 5 News

Transit train wreck: The case against more light rail , Crosscut by Fmr, WSDOT Sec. Doug MacDonald

It would be one thing if voters were getting exactly what they were promised, but they are not. Once Sound Transit officials receive higher taxing authority, their promises magically fall apart and voters are left holding the bill. Criticizing Sound Transit or light rail is not the same as criticizing voters.

This is why it’s time to Make Sound Transit Officials Accountable through a Directly Elected Board of Directors. Voters would finally be able to reward officials who make good decisions, and punish those who make bad ones, through regular elections.

Based on Sound Transit’s pattern of overpromising benefits, underestimating costs and unilaterally changing the scope without another public vote, I’m also skeptical of what light rail, and everyone else should be too.