Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff on Tuesday participated in a virtual rally with other national transit leaders who are calling for the next COVID-19 federal relief package to provide funds for enabling transit to play a critical role in economic recovery.
The nearly half of commuters to and from downtown Seattle who relied on transit last year are a testament to the importance of investments by Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit and other local partners, according to a Sound Transit news release.
“Today, commuters need transit service more than ever to reach their jobs at hospitals, airports, manufacturers and numerous other essential services,” Rogoff said. “As virus threats begin to lift, they will need us to return to job sites and attend sporting events, universities, churches and social gatherings. The only way the transit industry will be able to move people and our economy is if the next federal response to COVID-19 is focused on replenishing the revenues that are disappearing all around us. During the last recession, Sound Transit projects were among the only construction efforts hiring tradespeople off the bench. Replenishing our lost revenues will be essential to our again being an engine to help fuel our region’s economic recovery.”
The rally coincided with the U.S. Senate returning to Washington, D.C. to debate the next coronavirus relief package. Speakers also jointly sent a letter to Senate leaders highlighting the urgency of further relief beyond earlier CARES Act funding that has been critical for communities around the nation. Last week, the members of the Sound Transit Board of Directors also sent each member of the region’s congressional delegation a letter urging action.
“The House committees have acted but it’s the sound of one hand clapping. We need the Senate to act,” Rogoff said. “For those who think this should be a state and local matter, we at Sound Transit get zero dollars from the state.”
Through a process called realignment, the Sound Transit Board of Directors will work over the course of the next year to determine which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects will need to change due to lower revenue projections, absent receiving alternative revenue.
Based on agency contractual commitments already in place, Sound Transit will focus future realignment actions on projects that are not already in construction or under contract. Major projects that are still moving forward right now, include but aren’t limited to light rail extensions to Northgate, Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Federal Way and the Tacoma Link Hilltop Extension.
Patrick J. Foye, Chairman and CEO, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
Alice N. Bravo, P.E., Director, Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works
Phillip A. Washington, CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Floun’say Caver, Ph.D., Acting General Manager and CEO, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Leslie S. Richards, General Manager, Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
Peter Rogoff, CEO, Sound Transit
Alex Wiggins, CEO, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
Kevin Corbett, President and CEO, NJ TRANSIT
Nathaniel Ford, CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Paul J. Ballard, CEO and General Manager, Denver Regional Transportation District
Robert M. Powers, General Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
Randy Clarke, President & CEO, CapitalMetro of Austin, Tex.