It's like Groundhog Day for Sound Transit. Another day, another round of mudslides forcing the cancellation of the Sounder north commuter line between Everett and Seattle. The latest hit Monday night, halts service until at least Thursday. And more KIRO Radio hosts are getting on board with calls to kill the service for good.
It's old hat for Dori Monson, who's been critical of the line since Sound Transit first paid $368 million for rights and upgrades to tracks, stations and trains. That's after officials initially estimated the costs at $65 million.
"Here's the problem. The numbers were a lie. They lied to us to get the money. They knew they weren't going to have riders," says Dori.
Ridership remains far below initial projections, with a mere 1,125 passengers making the trip each day as of October. Officials had estimated between 2,400 and 3,200. With taxpayers subsidizing each passenger trip to the tune of $29, Dori says it's time for leaders to simply pull the plug.
"Take like one-one thousandths of the Sound Transit employees and tell them 'Hey, it's your job every morning go up to Everett, pick these people up in a mini-van and drive them to work.' It will save hundreds of millions of dollars for people."
He's not alone in calls to kill the service. Even staunch transit supporters Luke Burbank and Dave Ross now say the floundering service should be scrapped, mudslides or not.
"It pains me to agree with Dori Monson on something like this, it does, I don't like this feeling. But I feel like this is just a boondoggle right now," Luke says.
But Sound Transit continues defending the service, and insists it isn't going anywhere. Spokeswoman Kimberly Reason argues ridership in October saw a 33 percent increase in October over the same month the prior year, and passengers are slowly but surely taking to the train.
"As the economy has recovered, slides not withstanding, people have been hopping back on board the train," Reason says. "It's not a waste of money. We are going to continue to operate the service, period. We need to figure out how do that."
It's hardly a compelling argument for Dori.
"If you have three riders and you go to four that's a 33 percent increase. Pretty good. Yay."
Reason says mudslides have forced the cancellation of 134 Sounder north line trips since November, by far the most ever.
"Our last record in terms of number of trips canceled was about two years ago and it was only 70 and in previous years it's been far less than that."
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