Sound Transit’s annual Citizen Oversight Panel report is always a good read. Written by an unpaid group of interested and technically qualified citizens who are given inside access to the agency, the report won’t satisfy Sound Transit’s most dedicated detractors, but is usually a candid assessments of agency problems without too much press-release happy talk.
This year’s entry focuses a lot on internal organization issues that don’t directly impact riders much. However, it does mention ” the need for better systems to handle service disruptions and [how] the agency actively responded to this need with increased staffing and new procedures, especially in Central Link.”
We’ll have to see, but at this point I’d have to give them an incomplete. The reaction to service disruptions has undoubtedly improved, but it’s only with tonight’s track work that we’ll see if ST is following through on its reported commitment to make Link usable during maintenance times.
The COP also has some issues with cost reporting, ORCA customer service, and the delays in picking an East Link alignment, including the final EIS that was supposed to be done last year.
The appendices are especially interesting for in depth progress reports. U-Link and East Link are below the jump.
For example, for U-Link:
The overall U Link project began with 176 days of schedule float. Due to inclement weather near the end of the year, ST granted four additional days to the contractor for this delay, reducing the project float to 172 days. U Link continues on schedule to begin service in September 2016. The project is also within its estimated baseline budget of $1.948 billion. The project began with $422 million in contingency funds which have been drawn down to $383 M. The contingency draw-down rate is slower than construction progress, an encouraging sign.
For East Link, there are four big risks:
- Bellevue’s $150m commitment to a tunnel has not identified a funding source, and ST’s financial situation makes finding the other half difficult.
- Bellevue’s disagreement with ST over the B segment: ” While the ST Board has the ultimate decision authority to select the best alignment… the City Council has the ability to create road blocks, delays and added costs for the project.” This is expected to use up most of the project contingency.
- Technical concerns about placing rail on the I-90 bridge, which can be explored by construction of a prototype track on an expansion joint.
- The Washington Supreme Court, which should rule soon and which ST can do little to affect.
There’s much more on Sounder extension, transit security costs, and Link ridership in the report.