Citizen Oversite Panel gives Sound Transit high marks

The Citizen Oversight Panel (COP) appointed to monitor Sound Transit’s performance released its Year-End 2003 report last week.

The tenor of the report is positive, mentioning several very significant accomplishments. They include the start of service on Tacoma Link light rail, the achievement of the federal full funding grant agreement and groundbreaking on Central Link, and the agreements with the BNSF Railroad for Sounder service to Everett and Lakewood.

In addition to these large and visible successes, the agency met 26 of the 28 milestones it set out to accomplish in 2003. The panel also felt that public perceptions of Sound Transit’s leadership and credibility are improving. The COP report states 2003 was the best year Sound Transit has ever had.

Having noted the accomplishments, COP also reported a series of concerns, among them the significant cost increases of the Sounder program, the more expensive I-90 Two Way Transit project, and the delay in the selection of the North Link preferred route.

The panel stated that many of the cost increases and schedule delays were not entirely in Sound Transit’s control. However, members identified some lingering management weaknesses that remain to be addressed.

Despite the improving public perception of Sound Transit, COP members noted they still have concerns about the percentage of the region’s population that continues to view the agency unfavorably.

The Citizen Oversight Panel, an independent body comprised of 15 volunteer members from throughout the Sound Transit district, has been meeting for seven years. This is its fourteenth report. The full report, including information on the Panel’s members, evaluation process, and findings, is attached. The report will join COP’s previous reports on the Web at