Most of the attention this weekend will be focused on Sounder trains, Sound Transit’s heavy, high-speed commuter rail system.
But there also is some sign of movement on the Tacoma Link system, the local light-rail line that uses lighter cars and runs on city streets.
The 1.6-mile Tacoma Link line runs from the Tacoma Dome Station to the Theater District, with six stops along the way. Trains run every 12 minutes during the day and last year carried about 1 million riders.
Voters in 2008 approved an expansion of Tacoma Link as part of the $17.9 billion Sound Transit 2 ballot measure. As a result, Sound Transit is in the midst of an “expansion alternatives analysis” for Tacoma, to identify and study alternatives for new routes and station locations.
Between now and spring, Sound Transit (in cooperation with the City of Tacoma and Pierce Transit) will study options and eventually come up with a preferred alternative for expansion.
The study also is supposed to produce a financing plan with potential funding sources – most likely federal grants.
Sound Transit’s finances have suffered heavily during the recession because of lower tax revenue. Last year, the agency was grappling with a $3.9 billion shortfall. Overall revenue at the end of the first quarter of 2012 was $14 million below budget.
That’s put light-rail expansion on hold elsewhere. The light-rail line from Seattle south to Sea-Tac Airport was to have reached Federal Way in 2023. Sound Transit now estimates it will take at least until 2040 to get that far.