Sound Transit governance
Holding Sound Transit Accountable
Sound Transit has yet to build the entire proposed line promised with its first tax increase in 1996, yet the agency continues to receive about $5.5 million per day in local taxes, after Sound Transit 2 in 2008 and Sound Transit 3 in 2016. Cost overruns, decades of delay and an unaccountable Board of Directors have plagued the spending program - resulting in a growing call to bring accountability to the agency.
Promises made during Sound Move, the 1996 tax increase to fund Sound Transit's 21 miles of light rail and Express Buses, are still not complete. Besides completely missing the voter-promised 2006 deadline, the public still has yet to see light rail all the way to the U-District, Brooklyn Station. Yet, despite those failings, Sound Transit officials continue to erode other protections provided in the ballot measure - namely - Subarea Equity.
To gain support on the Eastside for a rail line that would largely pass them by, Sound Transit officials promised "Subarea Equity." Subarea Equity essentially means that taxes and fares raised in each of the five subareas of Sound Transit's district would be spent in that district, not just from Sound Move taxes, but from any future tax increase to boost rail spending. Unfortunately, Subarea Equity is no longer what was promised to voters. As reported by the Washington Policy Center:
"Sound Transit Spokesman Geoff Patrick says, 'As long as a ballot measure identifies where the funds originate and are spent, Board members can define equity in whatever fashion they believe serves constituents.' He went on to say, that 'a future ballot measure doesn't have to use the same approaches as past measures.' In other words, 'equity' can mean whatever the board wants it to mean - and even their chosen definition does not have to be consistent over time."
As the East King and Pierce subareas continue to subsidize the three remaining subareas, the ETA strongly believes Sound Transit officials should restore true Subarea Equity to restore accountability to spending.
See our latest Subarea Equity research for more information.