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Sound Transit Financial Analysis and Model Redevelopment

Sound Transit asked WSP USA to assist with the development of the Central Puget Sound region’s second phase (ST2) of high capacity transit improvements. For over 160 individual projects, we completed a systematic process of project definition, cost estimation, ridership forecasting, project evaluation, risk analysis and financial projections. To support the selection of a preferred program of projects to carry forward to voters, we then developed a series of interactive financial tools to select and test program alternatives from sets of projects using a financial model that included existing and proposed expansion costs, fare, grant and tax revenues, and debt structuring.

 

A key element of the work was bringing agency planning and financial staff together in weekly workshops to test program alternatives using the financial model in “real time,” which allowed planning work to be steered toward financially viable outcomes. We also developed a new agency financial model that was initially used to test and corroborate results from the agency’s overall financial model, and later replaced that model as the new agency standard. 

In addition, our firm developed and documented a comprehensive benefit-cost methodology and then applied its analysis to the ST2 transit investments to demonstrate the program’s consistency with regional planning goals. The finance and economics expertise and applications that we brought to Sound Transit helped the agency secure voter approval for the $18 billion ST2 program in 2008.