South Lake Union Trolley – The Song!

That’s right.. first the T-Shirts by KaPow! Coffee 2 doors down from the Streetcar Operations and Maintenance Facility and now a local country singer came up with the song for the new Streetcar line in Seattle :D

Major Paving Complete for Sea-Tac’s Third Runway

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, December 10, 2007 – Major paving of the third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is now complete. This visual milestone is an opportunity for area media to take aerial shots of the new runway, which is scheduled to begin operations in November of 2008.

The major paving completion includes the main 150-foot wide, 17-inch think runway that stretches 8,500 feet long. Additional hand paving of the aprons and connections to the adjoining taxiways and construction of asphalt shoulders are still to be completed, along with painting, FAA certifications, signage and other preparations.

– Source: Port of Seattle

Northwest Airlines Announces New Non-Stop Service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to London Heathrow

Fourth new international service added this year

The Port of Seattle and Northwest Airlines today announced the start of new international daily non-stop service between Seattle and London, to begin June 1st. Northwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world; together with its partners, the airline provides service to more than 1,000 cities in 160 countries on six continents.

“We are very excited to announce additional non-stop service to London,” said John Creighton, Port of Seattle Commission president. “International routes offer increased trade, travel, and tourism to and from their destinations – so this is good news to our entire region.”

The announcement was made at a press conference today in the Sea-Tac Airport Conference Center. This is the fourth new international route announcement for Sea-Tac Airport this year. This brings the total number of non-stop European destinations from Sea-Tac to six: Air France to Paris; British Airways to London; Lufthansa to Frankfurt; Northwest Airlines to Amsterdam and London; and SAS to Copenhagen. Other international service from Sea-Tac includes six airlines with non-stop service to Asia, two to Mexico, and four to Canada.

Source: The Port of Seattle

South Lake Union streetcar on the past track

In honor of the South Lake Union Streetcar’s launch on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007, the Seattle Times has published an article detailing the history of Seattle’s streetcar service in the early 1900s.

Check out the article online.

Seattle’s streetcar history

Monday, December 10ths issue of the Seattle Times has a quick timeline of the history of Streetcars in Seattle.

Definitely worth a read.

Are Subways the New Urban Status Symbols?

Business Week asks the question. They mention the obvious reasons: crowding, energy costs, and standard of living. But they also point out that some “big city glamour” is involved in building transit, and that even places like Charlotte, Phoenix and Los Angeles are building Subways.

Except Seattle is special… But not as special as Rennes, France a city of 212,000 with density similar to Seattle’s and a full-fledged subway line.

If Rennes can build a subway, why can’t Seattle?

Five more Streetcars?

Here’s a Times article about more street car lines in the future. These conversations should be no big surprise to anyone here, since the city commissioned one study a few years ago.

Anyway this study was done by the UW Urban Planning department and paid for by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Their study shows that the neighborhoods with streetcars will develop quickly, and create a more permanent and fixed development.

Personally I love the idea of a Capitol Hill-Queen Anne line running along Denny. I worry about building one to West Seattle, however, because that would lower the inertia to build a proper rapid transit line out there.

What do you think?

Edmonds Station holiday open house:

On Saturday, Edmonds Amtrak Station has their annual holiday open house. If you’re interested in chatting with Sounder staff and learning about next year’s service improvements, or learning about the history of the Great Northern railroad that originally turned Seattle into a boom town, I recommend it! It’ll run from 9am-3pm.

The old freight half of the station was converted some years ago into a railroad club’s model train layout, complete with little towns and such. I don’t know if someone will be there, but during open houses they usually run model trains and talk about the history of the state.

Mayor wants all City employees on transit by 2009

According to the P-I, Nickels wants to give all 10,000 city employees transit passes (the $54 one-zone kind) by 2009, and start by subsidizing passes by $30 next year. The City now gives $15 per month to all employees.

It shows that Nickels doesn’t just talk when it comes to promoting transit. The article has this great quote from Sightline spokeswoman Elisa Murray:

It’s healthier and it’s safer: taking the bus is more than 10 times safer than driving a car” — which results in a fitter working environment, fewer accidents, fewer lost work days and increased employee productivity, Murray said.

Van Dyk Continues his diatribe against Transit

You can listen to his townhall talk here (seriously, how old is that guy?). I don’t think anyone is surprised to find out that Van Dyk was fired from the P-I “after an editor suggested he had already written his denunciation of a roads and transit levy.” The piece says “quit” but my insiders at the P-I say fired.

Bizarre Streetcar Piece

The P-I ran a bizarre article about the streetcar saying how its expensive and only as fast a bus, but may get a bunch of different riders:

Mari Stobbe, a manager at the nearby Autism Spectrum Treatment and Research Center who came in for coffee a short time later, also said she’d ride the streetcar. “I’d never take a bus. I’ve never been on a bus. I’ve never had any desire to be on a bus,” she said. “(But) the streetcar seems like it would have a different feel.”

That’s the stuff I like to hear. Imagine what real rapid rail transit would do.

And the streetcar also would help handle those moving into the 6,000 housing units and 3 million square feet of office space either recently built or coming within four blocks of the line, Seattle transportation director Grace Crunican said in the same briefing.

Anyway in the name of being “balanced” there is a bunch of stuff about how silly the streetcar is, and how “SLUT” is such a funny acronym. Yuk yuk yuk.

Walkable Cities

Dan Savage points out this MSNBC article about the most walkable cities in America. DC ranks first, with Seattle sixth. Dan is stunned that Seattle could be sixth without rail transit, but I’m not suprised. Seattle is built around dense urban villages, like DC is, and has a good commute pattern centered around a few job centers in the City that has allowed a few nice walkable neighborhoods.

Since the study is based on per-capita walkable places, NYC ranks very low, ironically because density is so high.

But I am in disbelief that Los Angeles could be ranked 12th. In Downtown LA, many of the side walks aren’t even wide enough to put a few people in a row on the side walk, and I rarely saw anyone walking down the street anywhere in the city. See the image, the side walk is no more than four feet wide.

What to make of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s analysis?

Cities were ranked by their walkable urban places divided by population. Seattle scored high, even though it’s the largest city in the rankings without a meaningful rail transit system.

Survey coordinator Christopher Leinberger, a real estate developer and visiting fellow at Brookings, said rail transit plays a “significant role in catalyzing walkable urban development,” with 65 percent of the walkable urban places being served by rail transit service.

Eastside Rail

Orphan road has been running a great series of posts about Eastside rail.

Make sure to read them.

Carless in Seattle has a fancy map that fits density over the bnsf line that shows what Ben and I have been trying to say, that the line is very far from employment centers.

Mt. Rainier Scenic in the snow

Had an eventful time at Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad on Sunday. I took time taking some photos but this one came out terrific!

Happy Holidays and stay dry out there!