Seattle Votes to Massively Expand Its Rapid Transit System

  • As of late Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, Seattle-area votes are still being counted, but it’s clear that Proposition 1, better known as ST3, has won.
  • On the back of a successful two station expansion earlier this year, voters in the Puget Sound counties of King, Pierce, and Snohomish have approved one of the largest transit packages in U.S. history.
  • The $53.8 billion measure is expected to be built out over the next 25 years and will do A LOT:
    • Adds 62 new miles of grade-seperated Link Light Rail over 37 new stations, compiling a 116-mile regional system, five times larger than it is today.
    • Adds 2 new Sounder Communter Rail stations and greatly expands span of service.
    • Creates 3 new Bus Rapid Transit lines and upgrades existing express bus service.
  • Read the entire plan here.
  • Sound Transit’s light rail system is projected to serve around 600,000 daily riders, up from today’s roughly 70,000.
  • When fully built-out, 93% of the region’s jobs will be connected by the mass transit system.
  • The bulk of the plan’s cost comes from capital projects, in particular, for the construction of a second downtown Seattle subway tunnel. This will be needed to relieve expected capacity-crunching crowds in the current tunnel.
  • ST3 would be paid for with a 0.5% sales tax increase (bringing us to 10.1%), $0.25 increase per $1,000 in property tax (totaling $9.52), a motor vehicle excise tax of 0.8%, and a rental car tax of 1.372%.
  • The Seattle Subway advocacy group jestingly pointed out that the average cost per person is virtually the same as an annual subscription to the Seattle Times, a noted ST3 opponent.
  • Seattle is not the only American city that’s voting on transit. According to Streetsblog USA, there are 78 local transit measures on the ballot nationwide, including Los Angeles’ $102 billion metro expansion.

    A Link train running along Interstate 5 in Tukwila, south of Seattle proper. Photo by Joel Rogers | joelrogers.com.
    A Link train running along Interstate 5 in Tukwila, south of Seattle proper. Photo by Joel Rogers | joelrogers.com.
Sound Transit's fully built out transportation system. Image by MassTransitNow!
Sound Transit’s fully built out transportation system. Image by MassTransitNow!

Feature photo of Seattle’s Capitol Hill station opening by Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions.

Author: Nicholas Efthimiadis

Seattle grown. Avid skier and occasional ski racer. Passionate about all things urban (particularly transportation & housing). University of Washington 2016 graduate: BA in Economics and a minor in Urban Design and Planning. Extensive experience in fictitious cartography and sand-city molding.