Again, I think light rail to the airport is wonderful, but it isn't cheap. Per household for our region is close to $700 per year in taxes and fees in support of ST.
Where'd your $700 figure come from? It's actually much higher than that.
Just consider Sound Transit 3. The tax area for that program includes about 1.1 million households. The cost will be $53 billion. Since the work is spread out over basically the full funding period, I think they largely avoid financing costs, but even that, over the 25 project period, works out to over $1900 per household per year.
You don't notice how bad it is, though, because it's spread across so many different funding sources that you don't normally think about, including federal taxes.
The Seattle light-rail system, compared to those of other metros, is a joke. Portland got it right, Seattle got it very wrong. Considering that half of the metro area has zero light rail service.
I don't understand this logic at all. Do you expect that light rail is just supposed to appear overnight to your doorstep? It's a long haul to get rail to a city that dragged its feet on the matter for decades. The network is growing and is doing so on schedule.
Seattle's is growing, but definitely not on schedule, nor on budget, except the inflated revised budgets and schedules - Northgate to Lynnwood, for example, was approved at a cost of $1.5 billion, but Sound Transit has largely stopped talking about cost. In the few places it's mentioned publicly, they usually say $1.5 to $1.7 billion, but their requests for US DOT grants disclose an expected cost of over $2.3 billion. At least that segment's cost hasn't exploded as badly as the UW extension did, although I guess there's still time to mess up.
I'm still trying to figure out if the connections will ever, even 20 years from now when the currently planned work is supposed to be completed, be comparable to what Portland is nearing completion of. When I lived In Portland, I could walk a couple blocks to a bus stop. In 15 minutes, I was at the transit center. It was usually less than a 10 minute wait for the train, and then I was at the door to the terminal in another 30 minutes.
From UW to Seatac alone on Link takes 45 minutes, and it drops you off over 1/4 mile from the terminal. Even as an able-bodied person I find that to be an aggravating hassle when I've got more than a single checked bag.
Part of the time difference is because Portland Max has split routes that run either through dowtown to the west side, or skirting downtown to the airport. In Seattle, you have to go through downtown, with the accompanying train crowding and frequent stops. Since they planned to cram everyone except Tacoma passengers through downtown, without sidings to allow the use of express trains that could skip downtown stops, that is not going to get any better once the East side, West Seattle, and Ballard spurs, plus the Everett extension are added.
Currently, they're below 2/3 of their originally planned ridership for 2010, despite more population growth and worse road traffic than forecast. Those factors should have driven more traffic onto light rail, but it's just not providing the value it was supposed to.