Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm is our guest for our monthly talk series on Tuesday, May 9 at 6:30pm. Register for the Zoom link and suggest a question below.
Timm took the reins in September after coming out on top in a national CEO search to replace Peter Rogoff. She left her post as CEO of Greater Richmond Transit Company in Virginia to take the top job at Sound Transit.
She enters at a delicate but momentous time for the agency. Sound Transit will open 25 new stations over the next three years, and it’s also planning Sound Transit 3 (ST3) expansion projects that will take its light rail network to 116 miles, plus more than 50 miles of bus rapid transit. However, the projects set to open in the next few years have been beset with delays due to construction defects and other issues. East Link and Federal Way Link don’t have a firm timeline as the agency addresses those issues. Tacoma T Line streetcar is opening at some point in 2023, the agency promises, but it is behind schedule due to construction defects.
ST3 planning is also running into snags, with the agency pushing headscratching options like a 14th Avenue station location far from central Ballard and struggling to build a consensus for a station in Chinatown. And the whole thing is getting more expensive across the board due to inflation and failure to manage costs by project planners.
And then there’s the whole crisis around ailing escalators, elevators, and service quality.
The Urbanist editorial board offered the new CEO a to-do list to get Sound Transit on course. Righting the ship will be challenging, but Timm has shown a willingness to tackle problems and listen to feedback, which are helpful signs.
For example, Timm responded to rider concerns and was able to accelerate the timeline to restore regular light rail service after a street-level jeweler-related construction mishap damaged the roof at Westlake Station. Sound Transit had announced a closure of the north platform that massively disrupted service that was to last at least two weeks, but with the reopening today, the disruption lasted only 10 days — a nice reprieve for riders.
Plus, Timm has responded with openness to advocates pushing her to study an Eastside-only starter line to open a portion of East Link sooner as construction defects along I-90 are fixed. The agency will be making a call on that front soon — and on confirming a Preferred Alternative for Ballard Link.
We’ll get into all those questions and hear about Timm’s vision for the agency.
Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.