Friday, May 13, 2005

A Billion Here...A Billion There...

Pretty can smell the rat:

Sound Transit says a March report overestimated the cost of a possible bus-only, high-capacity transit system for the Eastside by about $1 billion because the authors misunderstood some key information from the state Department of Transportation.

The mistake accounted for half of a whopping $2 billion drop in the cost estimate for an Eastside "bus rapid transit" (BRT) system that Sound Transit released yesterday.

Critics have charged that the March report, on future transit options, was biased to favor light rail over BRT, a bus network that mimics many features of rail.

....Sound Transit is beginning to piece together another package of projects to submit to urban King, Snohomish and Pierce county voters, perhaps in November 2006. Rail-versus-BRT on the Eastside is shaping up to be a major battle.

....It estimated the capital cost of an Eastside BRT system, using freeway high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes, at $4.4 billion to $5.8 billion in today's dollars, compared with $4.6 billion to $6.2 billion for a light-rail system.

....Yesterday, Sound Transit released a much-lower estimate for BRT: $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion.

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