Controversy Erupts Over Seattle's Light Rail Party Planning Expenses

Anti-transit advocates in Seattle got ammunition this week from an article about the party thrown by Sound Transit to celebrate the recent opening of the light rail extension from downtown to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.
May 14, 2016, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Atomic Taco

"In all, taxpayers spent $858,379 for Sound Transit’s March 19 grand-opening party for the Capitol Hill and UW stations," reports Mike Lindblom.

Of that bill, $209,436 went to crowd management, $29,520 went to police overtime, $260,000 went to event management, and $130,198 went to a multi-media advertising campaign. In all, planning for the event took a year's time.

Inspiring the Seattle Times' coverage is the organization Smarter Transit, whose co-founder is quoted in the article talking about how the party was designed to launch the campaign for the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

Prior to Lindblom's critical take on the event's costs, the reports on the new light rail line had only been positive—noting the project's on-time and under-budget delivery, as well higher-than-expected ridership in its early days.

The Capitol Hill Seattle blog was quick to push back on Lindblom's article, noting that Sound Transit spends a lot of money for advertising, including a lot of money to Lindblom's Seattle Times. Capitol Hill Seattle blog's argument is that the Seattle Times coverage cherry-picked its evidence in the pursuit of a specific, anti-transit argument.

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Published on Friday, May 13, 2016 in The Seattle Times
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