The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sounder North will be a dismal financial failure

Nov 2004
Sounder North Costs Per Ride

Calculations of "cost per ride" for Sounder North, based upon Sound Transit estimates of capital costs, O&M costs and ridership estimates. All cost and ridership estimates are from Sound Transit's 2005 financial plan (as of November 2004), adjusted to 2005$. The cost-per-ride outcomes assume that all riders are new riders to transit, and it also assumes that 100% of the capital investment is of benefit to those riders.

Annualized Capital Cost is calculated per FTA guidelines. That annual cost is constant throughout the life of the project and does not vary with ridership. The primary set of O&M annual costs represent a 22-year average from service inception (2004) thru 2025, as do the ride estimates. The average total cost per ride during that 22-year period would be $70 of which the rider pays about $2.50 leaving $67.50 for public subsidy. Annual public subsidy = $67.50 x 2 rides/day x 250 days per year = $33,700.

But current costs per ride are far greater than the long-term average. The column highlighted in bright yellow shows the calculations for the current 2005 year: Cost per ride - $276; rider fare - $2.46; public subsidy - $273.44 per ride = $136,700 per year.

The cost per ride falls dramatically as more train runs are added and ridership supposedly soars. Just as we are finding for Sounder South, I believe future ridership is significantly overestimated. The rest of the sheets show the supporting calcs converting ST YOE$ estimates to 2005$ estimates. The 2005$ estimates were then summed and averaged.

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.