Cost Exceeds Benefits in Sound Transit’s ST3 Light Rail Expansion

Many – but not all – local elected officials in the central Puget Sound region are asking voters to approve a $54 billion, 25-year mass transit tax and spending plan. The proposed plan seeks to construct a light rail expansion in an attempt to combat the congestion crisis on Puget Sound’s roads and highways.

Sound Transit, the company responsible for the expansion, claims that the benefits of the multi-billion-dollar Sound Transit 3 (ST3) light rail expansion will exceed costs of construction, operation and maintenance after a half century. However, they can only do this by assuming highway congestion reductions, that all its other environmental documentation reports, will not happen. If congestion reductions do not happen, light rail expansion costs exceed the sum of all other claimed benefits, according to the officially approved methodology.

Ultimately costs will exceed all benefits for this project. With reasonable and responsible assumptions, the point in time when cumulative benefits are worth the cost moves from 2071 – as calculated by Sound Transit – to well beyond 2071, if ever.

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