On May 5 at Sound Transit’s Executive Committee, Sound Transit Staff presented initial results of the ST3 Draft Plan public comment period that ended on May 2, and EMC Research presented the results of a separate region wide phone poll. After a Friday the 13th weekend, here are 13 takeaways from that presentation.
#1: Huge Overall Response
Puget Sound residents and their governments were more than willing to take a few minutes of their time to weigh in on what is clearly a pressing issue in their daily lives. Sound Transit received 35,000 completed online surveys and 2,300 written public comments, had 1,200 meeting attendees, and received formal letters from 90 jurisdictions or stakeholder groups.
#2. Central Puget Sound Dominates Responses
For all the political importance of completing the spine, only 20% of responses came from Pierce and Snohomish County combined, and 65% came just from Central Puget Sound, namely Seattle (45%) and the Eastside (20%). South King County accounted for only 6% of responses, less than the number of responses from out-of-district residents (8%).
#3. Voter Optimism is High
Puget Sound residents generally feel that things are going well, with 53-55% of voters consistently saying we’re “on the right track”, up 10 points since the recession ended in 2011.
#4. People Like Sound Transit
Sound Transit has consistently had a better than 60% overall approval rating since 2004, with support down slightly from its all-time high of 69% on 2014.
#5. Transit Votes Better Than Roads
In the phone survey, only 38% preferred highway spending to transit when asked to choose between the two, while 70% said expanding transit was either urgent or extremely urgent.
#6. Voters Instinctively Support Sound Transit Expansion
76% of voters approve of Sound Transit expansion in the abstract, and all 5 subareas have supermajority approval, running from a low of 69% support in South King County to 81% in Seattle. However, this level of overall support is also down from an all-time high of 85% in 2014.
#7. The ST3 Draft Plan is Less Popular, But Not By Much
After being read a description of projects in the ST3 Draft Plan (but without a timeline), package support drops from 76% to 65%.
#8. People Care More About Time Than Cost
Overall polling support remained steadfast after a description of costs and annual taxes were read to respondents, dipping only slightly from 65% to 63%. When project timelines were read, support dropped more significantly, from 63% to 59%.
#9. East King <3 West Seattle
East King’s highest rated priority in the phone survey was Link to West Seattle, higher than any Eastside Project, edging out even the assured extension to from Overlake to Downtown Redmond.
#10. South King Looks North
South King’s phone survey respondents rated both Boeing Access Road Station and Link to West Seattle more highly than completing the spine to Tacoma.
#11. Pierce Cares More About Sounder Than Link
Pierce County’s phone survey respondents prioritized Sounder extension to Dupont over Link to Federal Way/Seattle.
#12. Snohomish <3 130th St Station.
Though Paine Field did quite well in the online survey (likely because politicians ably got out the vote), on the phone survey it barely edged out support for Sounder parking and building 130th Street Station.
#13. West Seattle Edges Out Ballard
Surprisingly, enthusiasm for Link to West Seattle outperformed Ballard in the phone survey, even though Ballard trounced all in the online survey. West Seattle got high marks from four subareas, while Ballard’s interest seems more confined to Seattle.