FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 3, 2003
Coalition for Effective Transportation
P.O. Box 33045
Seattle WA 98133
206 365-CETA (2382)
Contact: Maggi Fimia
Many Hurdles Yet Before Sound Transit Receives Federal Approval
Sound Transit has many bridges to cross and apparently millions more to spend for lobbying and public relations before actually securing this recently announced money in the Presidents 2004 budget. The "Highly Recommended" rating reflects ridership numbers which are mainly existing Bus Tunnel riders and only about a 25% contribution from the Federal Government. That's how some Federal Transit Officials can justify this continued support.
Congress will have the final word on whether or not this project will actually get this appropriation. It is also less than half of what they need to actually build the 14 mile segment. That final word does not happen until after the Federal Transit Administration Inspector General issues his final report, the Senate Appropriations Committee approves it and the Office of Management and Budget says OK.
The new Chair of the Appropriations Sub-Committee, Congressman Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) agreed in 1997 to $1.6 million in federal funds for a Bus related project in Oklahoma City on the conditioned the funds were not used for a proposed elaborate and costly rail system.
In the meantime, two law suits are pending in the Courts, the State legislature is considering a series of bills which include doing a performance audit, having a directly elected board, requiring a revote on this shortened plan, reprogramming the money to Bus Rapid Transit, Monorails and Vanpools or dissolving Sound Transit all together.
Sound Transit has spent $2.2 million since 1997 on lobbyists (12/20/02 Eastside Journal), and recently approved another three year contract with a DC lobbying firm for $1,200,000. Last year alone, Sound Transit spent $9.7 million dollars on marketing, public relations and lobbying. Another $404,055 was spent on dues and memberships spread around dozens of agencies and organizations, including $173,487 to the Puget Sound Regional Council and $15,000 to Transportation Choices Coalition.
According to Sound Transit's own financial plans, this first segment has little room for error and no resources for extensions without a major increase in the taxes, significant borrowing from the Eastside taxpayers, or delaying extensions decades into the future.
"If this is such a good project, why is it now over three years behind schedule, before any construction has even begun, and why does Sound Transit need to tens of millions of dollars on PR firms and lobbyist and memberships to convince us?" said Maggi Fimia, Co-Chair of CETA.
The Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives is a regional, bipartisan group of transit supporters who support reprogramming the Sound Transit light rail dollars to more cost effective alternatives which could include bus rapid transit, monorail and vanpools.
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