1st & Pike in 1930 with Streetcar Tracks (Seattle Municipal Arhives)

The Center City Connector project took another step forward with the recent publication of its Environmental Assessment (EA) documentation. A 30-day public comment period began Monday, with emailed comment accepted at centercitystreetcar@seattle.gov

The EA process is a slimmed down version of the more familiar Environmental Impact Statement. Agencies proposing projects unlikely to have significant impacts may opt for the smaller study, and assuming a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), the agency may proceed without further review.

If the proposed $75m federal funding contribution comes through (60% of the project’s cost) SDOT would begin construction late next year, with a 12-24 month construction period that is deliberately squishy at this point. The EA proposes breaking the work into 4 phases, working from Pioneer Square northward to SLU. The length and exact phasing of construction would be determined later in a delicate dance with major, concurrent impacts such as removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, uncertain timelines for the opening of the Deep Bore Tunnel, and completion of the Waterfront and Seawall projects. These challenges will also ostensibly be answered in the forthcoming Center City Mobility Plan, and like the increasingly delayed Center City Bike Network, it seems possible that construction mitigation and coordination needs have the potential to slow things down.

ST3 + CCC-01
Graphic by the Author

If built as planned, the two current streetcar lines would both be extended to overlap with one another for combined 5 minute headways (or more accurately, 12 trains per hour). Trains from First Hill would travel to SLU but stop short of Fred Hutch, returning via a new turnback track on Republican Street. Trains from Fred Hutch would terminate at 7th/Jackson, using the non-revenue access to the Charles Street OMF facility to turn around.

Given the U-shape of the proposed streetcar network, any trip longer than a few stations would likely be faster by bus or Link, but the project still has some potentially significant advantages. It would provide highly visible front-door service to Pike Place Market (and thus be a hit with tourists), it would provide a better transit connection to Colman Dock (currently awkwardly accessed by Link), and it would serve the heart of Pioneer Square (unlike the 3rd/Yesler “Pioneer Square” Link Station).

Unlike the poorly performing First Hill line, all new trackage would operate with full transit priority. Even those of us (myself included) normally sympathetic to arguments against streetcars can rejoice when right-of-way is taken for transit, whatever the mode. A traffic-calmed, streetcar-laden 1st Avenue just sounds downright pleasant compared the largely transit-free thoroughfare today.

138 Replies to “Center City Connector Takes Another Step Forward”

  1. Surface rail that has to wait at traffic lights is a yuge waste of money. Any surface rail should be built like a real rail line – with crossing gates.

    1. no need for crossing gates — traffic light priority + separate ROW is a tried and true urban rail approach from dozens of EU cities where is forms an important backbone for trips shorter than regional.

      The thing missing until now has been ROW separation. The traffic crossing provides potential reliability issues — and for regional rail like LINK that is unacceptable — but for urban rail like SS, this is just fine.

      Crossing gates makes this incompatible with urban landscape and would never be built.

      1. Without enforcement, it will be worthless. Just go stand at Mercer and Terry, where the streetcar has a “separate ROW”. During rush hour, the SLUT typically has to wait two or three light cycles because drivers use its ROW as a secondary turn lane.

        And even if you can solve the separate ROW problems downtown, we are still stuck with the terribly designed SLUT and FHSC portions on either end.

        If the City insists on throwing money at this solution in search of a problem, instead of other very real problems, they should make it a standalone line, up and down 1st Ave, as a tourist line.

      2. @RR – the interesting thing about the use of the ROW on Terry is that when the police were directing traffic in the area, they pushed driver into that lane thereby creating a culture. It needs to be changed back somehow.

    2. In general practice in the streetcar world, Donde, trains the size of LINK are generally given gates. For street rail in city streets, there’s neither room nor need for them.

      Don’t know for sure, but will bet that if you get your car hit by a tram, you’ll not only get a very large fine, but also have to pay for the damage to the streetcar.

      But main thing is that in Europe, people near tracks wearing shoes or riding on wheels grown up knowing that when the bell rings, they step aside. Often they don’t even look up. Good reason to encourage people to take their children on streetcar rides often and young as possible.

      Mark

  2. Will busses be able to share the First Ave transit lanes? If there are dedicated transit lanes and TSP in the corridor then I think it might make sense to move a few routes off of 3rd and onto 1st (since 3rd is way overcrowded as-is). This likely would only be possible for the new RR routes (e.g. 120, 7, 40 etc…) since they will need center doors.

    Personally I particularly like the idea of the RR 7 and 40 using 1st ave, because the 40 would then share a continuous common corridor all of the way from SLU to King St, and likewise the 7 would share a common corridor from Westlake to Little Saigon.

    1. This is not uncommon, but with 5minute headways on 1st you’ll run into capacity issues quick and begin to take toll on reliability. But a few lines in the ROW would likely be just fine.

      1. We’re neither pioneering new horizons nor running into capacity issues with 5-minute headways. Many surface rail lines operate with frequencies of 1 or 2 minutes. Toronto, San Francisco, Berlin, Melbourne, and Budapest to name a few. There is tremendous capacity available on this new line.

      2. We are running de facto two minute headways in the transit tunnel, at least at peak hours – generally there’s a Link train, followed by a 2 or 3 bus platoon 2 minutes later, another 2 or 3 buses 4 minutes after the train, and a Link train at its scheduled 6 minute interval after the first train.

        I’m not getting the impression that anybody either in operations or standing on the platforms is freaked out about that. There’s a noticeable gap between each group even at two minutes.

    2. All the stops are center boarding so new buses would have to be purchased to run on 1st.

      1. Project planners have said left side doors would be used if it happened and as many of us know some are planned to be ordered for some lines. I just don’t get ordering fleets of custom vehicles for a few lines because of a few abnormal design stops. Design stops for the widest variety of vehicles as possible.

    3. In metro’s long range plan only around 5-10 lines are left on 3rd by 2041. By 2025 metro will have already moved several lines, so I doubt metro would be willing to move lines down to 1st when overcrowding on 3rd is a short term problem. Plus 1st is just far enough away that many riders would probably not be willing to walk 2 block up/down a steep slope.

      1. Yes – fewer line on 3rd but the lines that do remain have much higher frequency than they do today. E.g. if you have 10 lines each with 10 min frequency that’s a bus every minute. You could easily balance a few routes off and have a bus/streetcar at least every 2.5 minutes in each corridor.

      2. Yes, but there are those of us that have the reverse problem–we have to walk uphill to get out buses home.

      3. Quick personal perspective-check, QA: LINK ride from IDS to UW Station. Half block before CPS, your train goes into a time-warp from the quaint old-fashioned Seattle-Underground #2 into 21st century rapid transit.

        Pretty much same time-frame as DSTT opening to now. Good chance boring equipment will be able to handle second DSTT to Fremont via Queen Anne in less than the two months it took to bore first DSTT.

        But my favorite almost-definite is that somebody will either find or replicate mechanism for the Queen Anne Counterbalance. Putting north end terminal at either Seattle Pacific University, Ballard, Fremont, or all three.

        Also just remember: people like us are already working on transit for 2041. Watch it.

        Mark

    4. Madison BRT would share a station with the streetcar at 1st/madison, IIRC. Madison BRT will have left-side doors for this and its first hill stations.

    5. It could make sense to shift the post-viaduct RapidRide+ C and 120 to shadow the streetcar’s 1st Avenue route, since the C follows the streetcar up to South Lake Union. A current issue with the new Westlake Ave corridor is that the streetcar, C and 40 all follow different routes/stops in downtown.

    6. You beat me to it. I was going to start by quoting Zach:

      Even those of us (myself included) normally sympathetic to arguments against streetcars can rejoice when right-of-way is taken for transit, whatever the mode.

      Agreed. Five minute headways (assuming that can be achieved) for even part of the line is great, especially if it comes with its own right of way, off board payment and level boarding. Sound great to me. This is an area where ridership should be great (assuming the trains don’t get delayed elsewhere). Lots of people ride the first train or bus in the transit tunnel, and get off before it leaves the tunnel (about 10% of Link riders, last time I checked). This will be better, because it avoids the deep tunnel.

      But acceptance of mode cuts both ways. It would be silly to use this exclusively for rail. Five minutes is great, but chances are, this won’t work like clockwork (there are simply too many things that can go wrong with a streetcar). So a four minute wait turns into a fifteen minute wait turns into a “never again” moment. Riders walk to an adjacent street, and grab the first bus that comes by. It isn’t fast, but the wait is measured in seconds, not minutes.

      As mentioned, this can’t handle both a regular bus and a streetcar. Even if this had right side boarding, that is a bad idea. You delay the off board vehicle with a regular bus. So the answer is to run some of the new BRT buses along the same line. As Frank mentioned, Madison BRT will share a stop. That is a good start, but only a start. I can think of a couple ways this could be made better:

      1) Combine the C and D again. The streetcar runs on 1st, and the D starts on 1st, only to dogleg to 3rd. Avoid the dogleg and keep going all the way to SR 99. If the streetcar runs smoothly (doesn’t encounter any traffic) then you just eliminated one of the big reasons for splitting the line (congestion downtown). This would also require running expensive dual sided doors on a long run, where they are only needed in a handful of stops. But if work is done to fix up the corridor(s) elsewhere (add center running stops) then this would be a very nice option.

      2) Keep the current C and D, but run them on the streetcar line. This is just a variation of the first idea. It wasn’t just congestion downtown that motivated Metro to split the lines, but congestion elsewhere. This eliminates that problem. It would also mean that one could be done before the other. For example, I could see adding some center running through Belltown and lower Queen Anne (on the D) well before the C had similar treatment. So now running the D on the streetcar line makes a lot of sense.

      3) Combine two of the RapidRide+ corridors (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/) that are planned for the area. Roosevelt BRT (Corridor 7) and Corridor 3 (Metro 7) look to be tied together anyway. So having them share their middle section with the streetcar would make a lot of sense. That is, assuming the streetcar section is where they want to go.

      I don’t mean to harp on the weaknesses of a streetcar, but I’m afraid that one of them has shown up again. It isn’t easy to move it. The city is trying to figure out how best to run the Roosevelt BRT in South Lake Union. They want exclusive lanes, and will probably get them. But they may not get them on Westlake, but get them on Fairview. This is no big deal, in my opinion. What matters is speed. But it also means that there is a distinct possibility that the streetcar may travel slowly down Westlake, while the BRT runs quickly down Fairview. It would be nice to just move the streetcar, but we can’t.

      Fortunately, the new tracks (along 1st) would have transit priority, which means that at worst the BRT and streetcar could overlap there. Better than nothing (and a lot better than just a streetcar line).

      1. What if you put regular buses there, but had them pull into the curb lane when making a stop?

      2. I agree – we’d be fools not to use downtown transit lanes to their full capacity. Not just because it would be wasting space, but also because a lane used to full capacity means negligible wait times. The proposed rapidride integration is a great idea. (I’d lean towards keeping the lines split for reliability’s sake, but the important thing is that buses using the lanes have offboard payment).

        The downsides of streetcars are real, but substantially mitigated by having exclusive ROW. Much less likely to block the streetcar with a car if a car isn’t supposed to be there in the first place.

        Especially if exclusive ROW covers not just 1st but the whole interlined portion (it doesn’t, does it?) there’s another way this line is better than the streetcar norm: turnbacks at either end of the interlined area. If a car accident blocks the train on Broadway or Westlake, streetcars can just turn back at Little Saigon or Thomas.

        Those turnbacks provide other operational flexibility. We can’t move the tracks to fairview without throwing away our in-street investment, as you say, but we could boost frequency (and reliability) on the central section skipping both ends and using the Little Saigon and Thomas turnbacks. No construction needed.

      3. “Five minutes is great, but chances are, this won’t work like clockwork (there are simply too many things that can go wrong with a streetcar). So a four minute wait turns into a fifteen minute wait turns into a “never again” moment.”

        That sort of thing has happened at least once a week across my entire experience with Seattle buses. It’s not quite “never again” but it does make me very, very skeptical of people who think any amount of bus investment whatsoever is going to solve our transit problems or convince people who have any choice in the matter to switch from cars to transit.

        Given the choice between terrible bus service and terrible streetcar service, I’d still choose terrible streetcar service, because at least the ride will be comfortable when it finally arrives. Being able to read a book or an article on my phone without having to keep a barf bag handy is actually kind of a big deal.

        “Riders walk to an adjacent street, and grab the first bus that comes by. It isn’t fast, but the wait is measured in seconds, not minutes.”

        That would only happen in the transit tunnel, where you can actually be confident that the random bus you’re looking at is actually going somewhere you want to go. Anywhere else, you have to know the route already, or you’re just playing roulette with your next couple of hours. Me, I generally have something I want to do with that time that isn’t riding around on various buses trying to get back to somewhere I recognize so that I can find my way home, so there’s no way in hell I’m walking around the city trying buses at random in hopes they’ll take me where I want to go. No way. I’ll call an uber instead.

        Streetcars, though, that’s easy, like anything else on rails. There are only so many rail lines, so it’s easy to know where they are and where they go, and you can be as close to certain as life ever gets that the rail car you’re looking at is going to keep going on the same tracks you currently see it sitting on, because that’s how the technology works. The only question is whether it’s an express that might skip your stop – but of course you have that problem with buses too, so it’s a wash in our notional scorecard here.

      4. That would work too (as long as they don’t block the streetcar).

        It would sort of wind up like the Portland transit mall that way., only you straight line the streetcar rather than have the lane weave the transit mall MAX line has.

      5. Mars’ comment hits on why rail can be popular with tourists. The odds of being able to reverse your trip are a lot easier if you know that the transit is tied to a fixed route. I’ve taken the subway in many cities around the world, but do a lot more research before I get on a bus.

      6. @Mars — That sort of thing (a delay long enough to make you give up on a bus) has happened at least once a week across my entire experience with Seattle buses.

        Once a week is way too often in my experience, but I have had buses (the 73 for example) that were notoriously unreliable. It would take way too long to get from downtown to the U-District. So when I made the transfer (in the U-District) it would often result in a huge wait, and me looking for other buses to take.

        But the whole point of spending huge amounts of money on BRT is to prevent that from happening. I’m not saying you can set your watch to it, but my guess is Madison BRT will run buses very close to six minutes apart all day long. I’m guessing the longest gap will be eight minutes (and that will be rare). It will be as reliable as Link. There are plenty of buses that run well on parts of their run, but few that do that the whole way, because none of them have the dedicated lanes that our new BRTs will have (they also don’t have off board payment or level boarding). The streetcar will have the same thing, but not for the entire way. As EHS said, the turn backs will help immensely, so it is possible that this will solve the problem. Time will tell, but I would bet on a BRT bus being way more reliable than this streetcar (its just way too easy to block a streetcar).

        “Riders walk to an adjacent street, and grab the first bus that comes by. It isn’t fast, but the wait is measured in seconds, not minutes.”

        That would only happen in the transit tunnel, where you can actually be confident that the random bus you’re looking at is actually going somewhere you want to go. Anywhere else, you have to know the route already, or you’re just playing roulette with your next couple of hours

        That is unlikely to be a problem. The main reason to take this is to get from one end of downtown to the other. There is a chance you can get on the wrong bus, but your odds are pretty good that you won’t. You learn pretty quickly which buses to take and which ones not to take.

        Streetcars, though, that’s easy, like anything else on rails. There are only so many rail lines, so it’s easy to know where they are and where they go, and you can be as close to certain as life ever gets that the rail car you’re looking at is going to keep going on the same tracks you currently see it sitting on, because that’s how the technology works.

        Right. Unless it doesn’t. Imagine you are standing on 1st and Madison, and want to head to 12th and Jackson. You know, where the tracks go. You get on the train and it soon comes to a halt. This train uses the turn back and ends a few blocks from where you started. When this is built we will only have one streetcar line, and you have to actually read the sign (OMG!) to figure out where it goes.

        I really don’t get the argument that we need to spend millions of dollars on an obviously less reliable and less capable technology because people can’t be expected to read a schedule or because they want a smoother ride. I want to get to where I want to be and not spend most of my time waiting for the damn vehicle, or waiting forever for the damn thing to move. I could care less if the thing is a train, bus, boat or gondola. I think I speak for the majority of transit users when I say that.

      7. Argg, I thought I closed the italics, but I guess I didn’t. The paragraph starting with “Right. Unless …” should be in normal typeface. So should every paragraph after that.

      8. Mars’ comment hits on why rail can be popular with tourists. The odds of being able to reverse your trip are a lot easier if you know that the transit is tied to a fixed route. I’ve taken the subway in many cities around the world, but do a lot more research before I get on a bus.

        So that explains why there is no Ballard spur. We wouldn’t want to confuse the tourists (OMG — I thought the train was going to Northgate, now I’m headed to Ballard. Oh no!).

        If the main reason we built these streetcars is to attract tourists, then I wish people would say so. Because I think you would immediately get a lot of people wondering why the hell we are doing that. Why spend money on a tourist attraction in a city that is close to full employment and has huge unmet needs when it comes to transit and other public services? That makes sense for some cities (like, I don’t know, Tacoma) but makes no sense at all for Seattle.

        Oh, and given the popularity of the streetcars so far, I think more tourists are taking the buses than the streetcars. I doubt it has had any effect on tourism at all.

      9. RossB: for me it still comes down to the fact that the worst-case streetcar scenario you’re describing sounds like my normal, everyday bus-riding experience, plus all the banging, rattling, shaking, and swaying that come with rubber tires and articulated axles running on imperfectly-maintained streets.

        It’s not fair to compare an actual, feet-of-clay streetcar against an imaginary, gold-standard bus network. When I compare Seattle’s actual, real-life streetcars against its actual, real-life buses, streetcars come out ahead, because they are both slow and unreliable, but at least rails offer a smooth, comfortable ride where I can reasonably kill the time I’m unfortunately wasting with a book or something on my phone, something I can never do on a bus.

        When I compare potential future streetcar experiences to potential future bus experiences, I think of all the transit experiences I’ve had in different cities around the world, and the verdict is still clear: streetcars *might* suck, but buses *always* suck. I don’t care how nice BRT could be in theory; I’ve never seen a nice bus line done in practice, and therefore I do not believe it will happen here.

      10. Actually, those long-haul ST express buses that stick to the freeways are pretty damn comfy. Smooth enough for a map until you get off the freeway, which usually means you’re almost there.

      11. Also, I wasn’t speaking hypothetically when I talked about having tried to take a random bus in hopes that it was going the right direction. I commute from the Pioneer Square area to Madison Valley, and am unfortunately not wealthy enough to park my car where I work, so I have to take the bus. Before the Capitol Hill Station opened, that meant I would shuttle back and forth between Pioneer Square Station and Westlake, in the bus tunnel. I got used to hopping on any old bus and expecting that it would stop at all the tunnel stations.

        One day I somehow got the idea, possibly from reading STB, that 3rd Avenue was a sort of aboveground analogue of the bus tunnel. Obviously there’s no way I’m going to memorize all the hundreds of bus routes passing through downtown, but I thought perhaps I could just hop on something on 3rd that was going the right direction, hop off further down 3rd, and save myself the trouble of descending into and ascending back out of the bus tunnel.

        Yeah, that worked twice. The next two times I tried it, the bus went haring off into the wild blue yonder long before it was in the right part of town. The second time, it was getting onto SR99 before I noticed. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I’ll never do it again.

        A streetcar might unexpectedly stop short, sure, especially given the double-overlap design being proposed for the CCC, but again, that is a normal feature of bus routes so far as my experience with them goes. When I lived further south in the CD and commuted downtown on the #3, I never knew whether it was going to actually take me home or stop short and dump me off to walk the rest of the way, because there are two different #3s and only one of them actually travels the whole #3 route.

      12. 3rd Avenue works as a transit mall but you obviously have to know the routes. You don’t have to know all of them, just a few frequent ones for the area you want to go to. For instance, the 7/14/36 overlap from 3rd & Pine to 12th & Jackson, and one of them comes every five minutes or so. (Evenings Union is better than Pine because the 7/49 are joined and bypass the Pine Street stop.) Likewise going north, the 1/2/3/4/13/24/33/D go to Belltown and different sides of Seattle Center (West, South, or East).

      13. Thank you for the information. I am afraid it is no longer especially relevant now, though, as I only have to deal with bus #8 since Capitol Hill Station is open. I’m curious, though – how did you come up with that list of routes? The bus system is so complex I have no idea how one even begins to understand it.

    7. Amen, Ive been harping about this since I first heard about this project. It seems so logical and at least design it to be a possibility down the road. The latest answer I’ve heard from a project designer is yes they can use the lanes but they cant use the stops!!!! They also use it as an opportunity to talk about frequency with two lines overlapping which is not the same.

      Future proof it with center lanes with right side door floating platforms

    8. https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/26697266710/in/dateposted-public/

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/26697266740/in/dateposted-public/

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/26697266770/

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/26902335481/in/dateposted-public/

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/26902335501/in/dateposted-public/

      San Francisco MUNI has made “Joint Ops” work for a long time. Standard traction power overhead for trolleybuses has negative wire to left, positive to right.

      So if positive wire is positioned slightly lower than negative, streetcars can contact positive wire with either trolley-pole mounted with either shoe or wheel or pantograph.

      Note that MUNI’s Bredas have narrower pantographs than hours- suitable for lower-speed street running.

      Don’t know if it’s possible for vehicles of different voltage to share wire- doubt it. Also, pretty sure that if Metro hung special work like MUNI’s, enraged mob like out of a Frankenstein movie would tear it down before somebody lost a pole and did the job for them.

      That said, I think KCM should go for a Federal grant to have all Atlantic Base drivers sent to San Francisco to drive the 24 Divisadero for a month. Dewirement and getting stuck under dead wire would fade into transit history.

      Mark

      1. Actually yes, the 750 vdc for the streetcars, and the 700 vdc for the trolley coaches is a nominal voltage. It may run anyway from 600-700 depending on how far away from the feeder/substation you are. The streetcar is the same way. Of course you can also order them to run off 700 from the factory and not have that problem to begin with. But that is all water under the bridge, along with the pole vs pan debate. SDOT wanted pans and they wanted the fancy batteries. Now watch as ten years from now they have to put new batteries in everything or string up a bunch of trolley wire and put poles on the cars as the batteries and the fancy technology is dying and expensive or impossible to repair/replace.

  3. It’s funny to read this just a day after the article about ridership on the First Hill portion of the line. Are we doubling down on a system that doesn’t work or do the current pieces of the system seem a bit disjointed because this critical link between them is missing?

    As the system becomes a complete loop it does seem more useful, but the trip time is a big problem. It would have to take an hour to get from SLU to Broadway. The simplicity of the service potentially does a disservice to tourists. If you want to get to Broadway from the ferry and you take the first option you walk across it will take you half an hour, but just a couple blocks up the subway will get you there faster. What if you invested in the streetcar-only all day pass?

    I can see this being useful for people just going from Pike Place to Pioneer Square. It would be really useful if the fare was free so tourists and downtown workers could just jump on and off without worrying about passes.

    1. This is the missing piece to make the system way more useful, and productive. Work is needed on FHSC to make it reliable and faster but I’m confident these fixes will come.

      I was a real skeptic of the FHSC but I am gung ho for the 1st ave. This is the one that makes a ton of sense.

      1. What is needed to make First Hill more useful is some basic signal priority or something to make the line faster than walking (yes, this is where we are at now). An extension along first avenue hardly helps first hill riders at all. If I wanted to go from Seattle University to downtown north of Pioneer Square, it would take over 30 minutes, versus a 15-20 minute downhill walk, 8-15 minute ride on the 12 (reliability is heavily dependent on traffic on madison, but still always faster than FHSC), or an 8-10 minute ride on the 2.

        After that is done, make it so that the streetcar can use the trolley wire for the entire length of the line (how they couldn’t have foreseen the problems with the trolley wire north of Madison is crazy), and make stops on request only (It takes a LONG time for the streetcar to slow down and speed up), and make a schedule that has some basis in reality. Then we can see if the CCC will be of any benefit to first hill riders.

      2. @AlexKven It makes no sense to me as well why they *chose* to use pantographs instead of trolley poles. In fact, SDOT chose to use pan’s instead of poles which is how the ridiculous battery hybrid car came to be. I will admit that it works, although I have to wonder about the long term. Attaching a trolley pole to a streetcar is noting new, and Toronto is doing it with their newest bombardier cars right now. Had they done this, in my opinion the line would have been open two years earlier and there would have been a cost savings as well (shared substations with KC Metro Trolley Coaches – a minor voltage difference but nothing substantial. 700 nominal vdc for the trolley coaches, vs. 750 vdc for the streetcars)

    2. >> Are we doubling down on a system that doesn’t work or do the current pieces of the system seem a bit disjointed because this critical link between them is missing?

      Both. A streetcar is not ideal, obviously. All it takes is a bit of construction, an accident, a stalled car or some debris in the road and the streetcar is stuck. A bozo that think he has cleared the tracks hasn’t, and there is nothing the streetcar can do (except honk). Those are just the temporary problems. Changing a route because you realize (after the fact) that it just doesn’t work is very expensive. Moving wire isn’t cheap either, but it is still a lot cheaper.

      But we built the streetcar line. We left out the most productive part, by far. The extensions (the parts that are already built) make it nicer. So I wouldn’t really think of this as saving the other lines (making them more useful) but the other way around. Does it make sense to build a streetcar down First, knowing that we get a bonus streetcar on either end (Westlake to the north and Jackson to the south)?

      Tough call, really. If it was me, I would cut bait. I would call the streetcar a failure, and just move on. I would keep them (we might have to, or pay back some money) but pretty much ignore them from a planning perspective. In some cases (like Jackson) the streetcar would benefit from BRT improvements that are likely to happen (as the 7 is converted to BRT). Westlake may or may not be used by the Roosevelt BRT, but I wouldn’t worry about it.

      But I can also see why people want to leverage what is already there, even if what is there will always be flawed (in the case of First Hill) or likely be flawed (in the case of Westlake). It is like having a closet full of great Beta VHS tapes. Buying a cheap Beta VHS player kind of makes sense.

      1. Oops, I should have said Betamax (turns out VHS is the other format, not a generic term for videotape). Anyway, you get the idea (and I sure wish there was an edit feature here).

  4. It’s a bummer to see them going forward with the huge top space in between the Madison and Pike ST stops. Stopping at university would have been great for access to the art museum.

    1. Yeah and the new Pioneer Square stop is so far north up at Cherry, and is a block or tow from Madison stop. Meanwhile like 6 blocks to the previous stop at Occidental. Poor stop locations.

  5. Does anyone know the status of the extension of the First Hill streetcar north to Roy? Is it scheduled to be part of the new construction? Zach, do you have info on this?

  6. Will connections between the streetcar and Link be improved at Westlake? I think this is one of the worst part of the current system – one of the key ways to make the system more useful is to make transfers easier. But with the current design I assume people will still have to cross one or two streets just to get from the train to the streetcar (depending on the direction?)

    1. It would be awesome to see escalators from the streetcar terminal to the mezzanine at Westlake, but I highly doubt that’s ever going to happen as nobody in power seems to care much about minimizing differences between transit modes, much less easing transfers overall.

      1. Yeah a block long foot tunnel under 5th northward to an entrance in McGraw square would be awesome.

    2. In terms of improving the physical connection, no. The Stewart Street alignment will be a long block from Westlake, and the platform at McGraw Square will be used only for northbound trains, while southbound trains would stop on at a new stop on Stewart adjacent to the Westin. On the west end of the Westlake platform at 3rd, it would be 1.5 blocks to the planned stop on Stewart between 2nd/3rd.

      In terms of way finding or pedestrian priority between the two, sure there’s lots that could be done.

      1. There could be a connection to the new north-south platform at Westlake that’s part of ST3’s green line. This will sit directly under the current Westlake station, but perpendicular to it. Our 400 foot platforms would put the north end of the new station somewhere around 5th and Olive. This is a deep station, so escalators could easily be routed toward the streetcar stops.

    3. This is a big problem at the south end, as well. That “King Street Hub” looks nice on paper, but connections between the streetcar, Link, Sounder and Amtrak require several street crossings and are very poorly signed.

      1. Tunnel to WFSC oops I guess that’s gone and Seattle streetcar are good, king street station both Amtrak and sounder is poor at best.

  7. This is a perfect example of why environmental review for projects in Seattle takes longer and cost more than in many other cities. The Kansas City Streetcar EA is 23 pages long. This one is over 300 pages, which is ridiculous for an EA. Most EISs aren’t that long, in fact the SEPA regs suggest an EIS should be less than 75 pages.

    1. The document size really doesn’t make the project take much longer or cost a whole lot more relative to the total cost of the project.

      What makes projects take longer and cost more is indecision.

      1. Not in my experience. More detail results in more back and forth between the consultant and agency to refine the document, more consulting dollars and increased exposure to public comment saying that portions of the analysis are incorrect. Add that to the Seattle public process and you almost always have a project that takes longer to get to a decision point than other places in the country.

        CEQ recommends keeping EISs to less than 150 pages under NEPA, when you have an EA that’s over 300 I find it hard to believe you’re not significantly increasing cost and process time considering it’s supposed to be less detailed than an EIS.

      2. Yes, and responding to feedback. Quite often the really long EIS is better, because it manages to cover everything. What can really cause a delay is when an EIS is written, but doesn’t mention something that comes up in review. Then there are lawsuits, which can really take a while (e. g. the missing link on the Burke Gilman).

      3. If you do a good job in scoping you don’t have to include everything, but the issue here isn’t an EIS it’s writing an effective, efficient environmental document. The FTA has lots of guidance on how to shorten these and there are even Categorical Exclusions available to agencies for fairly large transportation projects.

      4. Subrookie, when a project is going to cost more than $100M – and especially if it will be over a billion – the cost of an environmental document is pretty nominal.

        Omitting information from a document can sometimes hurt your schedule more than including it.

        I am not going to defend this particular EA, but I will say that page count is not a good measure of effective or efficient. A document needs to tell the story of a project accurately, communicate it clearly so readers can understand it, and be transparent as possible so people can know how you reached your conclusions.

        Scoping is important, but scoping never really ends in the NEPA process. Issues can be raised at any point. You still need to touch all the bases and proactively address issues in your NEPA document that may not have emerged during the formal scoping period.

        Anyway, this EA is not driving up the cost of the project or lengthening the schedule dramatically — unless they screwed something up pretty badly. I think that is unlikely.

      5. Sure the cost of the environmental documentation isn’t large compared to the project construction cost, but if people are looking for ways to make the review more efficient and reduce the time spent on getting through the NEPA process this is a good example of where to start.

        There’s a reason that many federal agencies, including the FTA, FHWA, BLM, etc. are looking for ways to make these documents shorter and more concise. The attitude that more is better is one reason that we are where we are in the implementation of NEPA. Most documents I see for public projects and even many I’ve written are overly technical, too long and include extraneous information. I think people think defensible means more information when legally you only have to say that the resource impacts were analyzed and considered. Essentially, will there be an effect, yes or no. You want more put it in a technical report. Sometimes that conclusion can be made in less than a paragraph.

  8. Given that the termination of the First Hill line was put in SLU before the ST3 proposal to go to the exact same place, wouldn’t in make more sense to change the turn back in SLU to instead stay on First and go through Belltown?

    It’s as if SDOT and ST live in separate, parallel universes when it comes to streetcars. Heck, SDOT didn’t even put where Link stations are on the FHSC maps!

  9. Good gawd, it looks almost like a transit map for a real city!

    Now we just need to build it (maybe with a few minor tweaks here and there)

    1. Are you sure? I see Pinehurst in there. Or is eliminating that one of the “minor tweaks here and there”?

  10. Zach, it’s a nice graphic that is closer to a useful schenatic than those produced by the agencies. With that in mind, is there a reason that Graham Street is missing from your map?

  11. Separate ROW is better than not, but it doesn’t help much when it only covers part of the line. Streetcars can (and will) get stuck elsewhere in the system because of some badly parked vehicle or box-blocking traffic.

    The “purple” trains are going to struggle badly at rush hour on Broadway, so this line could end up being more like 10-minute headways on the 1st Ave section. Longer headways and short walking distances isn’t good for ridership.

    1. To me this extension is much more about the SLU through to Jackson corridor than the rest of the FHSC line. The Broadway segment may be forever hampered by the poor decisons we made when building it.

      SDOT can make some pretty reasonable improvements to the yellow like that might make it as useful as Portland MAX downtown.

      The purple line on the other hand is pretty much screwed. I wouldn’t be suprised if the purple line gets truncated back to Jackson if any LQA /Uptown extension is ever built.

      1. Agreed (see my other comments). Jackson is a major corridor, and is featured prominently on one of the RapidRide+ corridors (it is corridor 3 listed here: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). So, basically, Jackson could be improved for the BRT, and this part of the streetcar run just comes along for the ride.

        The rest of the First Hill streetcar is likely doomed. The button hook is terrible — there is only so much they can do. They might be able to make Broadway better, but that would be expensive, and since the other problems won’t go away, I doubt it will be worth the money.

        Westlake is a bit more complicated. Roosevelt BRT considers it, but they also consider Fairview. From what I have read, Fairview has fewer contingencies, and would simply be faster (less shared roadway). So it is possible they will simply make the improvements to Fairview, and not worry about Westlake (that would be my choice).

        So I could easily see a combination of fast service (BRT and streetcar) along both 1st Avenue and Jackson. Maybe even Westlake. But that is about it.

      2. Check out the graphic on page 27 of the transportation section. SLU ridership more than doubles b/c of the CCC extension. The core of the CCC is more popular still. The effect on Broadway is almost nil.

        The CCC is about downtown capacity and making the SLUT useful; there’s a bonus on Jackson, too. But for Broadway, this is not.

      3. Agree that SLU-Sounder/Jackson is probably worthwhile, though I am skeptical on the execution seeing how streetcars have worked so far.

        With Broadway I can’t help but wonder if the cycle track became the primary goal of the project instead of reliable streetcar service. The roadway isn’t wide enough for 2 streetcar lanes, 2 general lanes, and a wide cycle track. Since the cycle track was touted as being “free” by avoiding utility relocation it stayed. 2 lanes had to be open to cars unless SDOT wanted to radically change the grid there. Math worked against streetcar lanes, leading to what we have today.

      4. Personally I think they just screwed up the planning for the streetcar. I think SDOT didn’t care, or didn’t want to ruffle too many feathers. Just look at the route and ignore traffic and see if it makes sense to anyone. There are a lot of weird, screwy routes within our system, but that has to make the top ten. If a cab driver drove that way you would wonder what the hell he is doing. Left on 14th, then left on Yesler, then right on Broadway. What are you doing man — are you lost?

        There was talk of running this on 12th, but people wanted to run it on Broadway (because streetcars are cool). The city didn’t have the guts to say no, or find a different route. Their hands were tied in part because of mode — some of the possible routing can’t be done with a streetcar. I think they basically said “fine, if that is what you want” and just went ahead with it.

        Meanwhile, they sure as hell made sure the cycle track was done right. The bikers got screwed because of the choice of mode, and are being pushed out in general downtown (I can’t help but wonder if the lack of progress in building bike lanes downtown is because the city is thinking they will need those lanes soon for transit). So the least they could do is built something decent in the way of bike lanes there.

        Contrast that with Madison BRT. One of the first things they decided was to put the bike lanes on a different street. Of course, Madison is a very steep street, so there wasn’t much push back. In this case it is much the opposite. The focus is on the transit, not the bikes. Besides, unlike the streetcar route, there are no BRT tracks to trip you up and break your bones. So, don’t expect too many complaints about what they add there in the way of bike infrastructure (anything they add for bikes is a bonus).

      5. It might make sense if SDOT prioritized the bike lane, and that’s why the FHSC is so bad on Broadway – but the bike lane isn’t much better. It connects to nothing, is hilly, and turning from the bike track to a side street often involves crossing the streetcar tracks at an uncomfortably dangerous angle – it is not a good piece of biking infrastructure. Go to twelfth, where the cycle track should have been, and you will see that far more cyclists use that street, despite the fact that Broadway has the protected bike lanes and far mor business activity.

  12. Why is north Belltown continually left out of transit accessibility? Thousands of us live in north Belltown. Imagine living on Elliott and having to hike uphill to 3rd for a bus? Not every one in this area is young.
    While the rest of the city benefits from various transit opportunities things just get worse for us in north Belltown. And, even worse isn’t the no. 8 bus slated to move from Denny to Mercer in the distant future?

    1. Belltown could be serviced if the CCC had an additional extension to LQA/Uptown. Its not precluded, but not many folks are advocating for it yet.

      If you want some rail for Belltown, I suggest you contact your city leaders and let them know.

      1. The plan mentions it as a possible extension in a later phase. It wasn’t included in this phase because of the desire to get to SLU and connect to the SLUT, and the cost of the Seattle Center branch in addition to the others.

    2. I very much agree. There isn’t much useful that can be done about the hills down to Elliott and Western; the pedestrian chaos at Pike Place and Western is too great to run a bus through there reliably. But certainly you shouldn’t ALSO have to walk over to Third. I hope that the First Avenue portion of the CCC will be extended up First and through LQA to the Lower Queen Anne station of Link. It wouldn’t be able to have exclusive ROW north of Denny, but if it can through the central core it certainly can between Stewart and Denny.

      1. Totally agree. I wonder if it is best to push for a Belltown extension with ST3, arguing that Belltown isn’t getting rail, or to wait until the CCC is done, because Seattle is currently throughly disillusioned with street cars, but will not be when we get one with length and exclusive ROW.

      2. Isn’t that the problem, though? We provide services and/or infrastructure improvements to those who YELL THE LOUDEST. Seems like a group of rational, data-driven transportation planners would be inclined to fit a line through one of the densest neighborhoods in the city.

    3. Split the line at the Pike Place station and have the First Hill trains go north to Seattle Center on 1st?

      Resurrect the 99 as something more frequent?

      1. Ressurect the 99 back on the waterfront with imported Australian streetcars. If we can’t get the ones we sold back, buy some more.

    4. I wouldn’t worry about the streetcar. What I would worry about is the RapidRide+ corridors (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). This is where the big improvements in transit mobility will occur for the next few years (well, that and Link building what they are planning on building). Unfortunately, Belltown (or north Belltown if you will) doesn’t fair that well either. So, you make a very good point. The best thing for that area is the Roosevelt BRT, which basically just skirts Belltown, going down Stewart and up Virginia.

      One possibility (that I mentioned up above) is to have the D go down 1st. This would make a lot of sense, when the other improvements are made to 1st. This avoids the dogleg, and would take advantage of the new transit lanes (which would hopefully be extended farther north). That makes a lot of sense to me for various reasons, and would be a big improvement for the most densely populated area in the state (Belltown).

      1. Hard to say. The deviation to lower Queen Anne might be justified, it might not. But if it is, then I would just keep the current routing until 1st and Broad, but just keep going on 1st. It is a walk up from Alaskan and Elliot, but you are still a couple blocks closer. That also means that once the bus is on 1st, it stays on 1st.

        If you wanted the bus to skip lower Queen Anne, then things get interesting. You could basically keep going the way you would if you were driving to West Seattle. Once the viaduct is torn down I have no idea what the best way to do that is. If they add lanes on Alaskan, then maybe that is the way to go. As long as there are other buses (BRT buses) on 1st, that might be the way to go. I could see the C and D hugging the shore (assuming it could do so without congestion) while the Roosevelt/Rainier Valley BRT runs down first (along with the streetcar). Normal buses run down 3rd. That sound very nice, actually.

      2. The 1505 from Metro’s LRP could be a good candidate to move to 1st, I suppose. It’s something like the 3S plus 13. 1st would need about a half mile of overhead wire between Lenora and Broad, but a frequent service on 1st through Belltown would be nice.

      3. You wouldn’t want to shore-run because then the walkshed of the bus stops is limited, right? Running on 1st seems to provide much better service.

        To me, the ideal long term plan is to extend another Streetcar line up along 1st and turning up Queen Anne & 1st after Denny and going all the way to Mercer, possibly running on different street North/South like SLU does – I’ve walked this many times, it’s flat enough for streetcars. You could then have 3 streetcar routes with super high frequency in the Central core.

        Once that service has been extended to LQA, the D line can skip LQA and run dow Elliott to 1st. \

      4. Alaskan is further from stuff, but a faster road with fewer intersections. It might wind up being better for more people’s travel time to have it there.

        It can be a time consuming slog to cross all the streets and find a staircase to climb between the waterfront and 1st though. It would be nice to have some sort of transit on both.

        The big issue with Alaskan is probably the railroad crossing by the Sculpture Garden. You don’t want to throw random 20 minute delays into any transit route.

        It’s unfortunate Western isn’t a better street further south.

    5. You are right to speak up about this, Deborah.

      The SDOT streetcar service plan evolved before the ST3 alignment to SLU was defined. It does seem overkill to have a new subway and a second streetcar line serving the same corridor — when an area as dense as Belltown could be served instead. Of course, ST3 has a different opening date and a fatal flaw or vote failure could doom the Northwest-SLU-Ballard line.

      Another key but undiscussed design refinement is putting the switching tracks down now to allow for a continuation up First Avenue into Belltown, even if the line is not included in this funding application. It seems stupid and short-sighted to build a streetcar to turn from First Avenue without laying this switching capability.

      I don’t have any pull with the STB editorial writers, but I’ll be sure to send a comment during the comment period. You may want to submit a comment as well, and maybe get your neighbors or neighborhood information to insist that SDOT refine the project now that ST3 is on the table.

      1. Again, I wouldn’t worry too much about the streetcar(s). BRT is likely to be faster and more reliable. The CCC leverages what exists already, which for better or worse does not include Belltown. Making a connection between the two streetcar routes has merit. Extending it outward to places like Belltown (or even worse, adding yet another set of curves to serve it) does not.

    1. Looks like about 35,000 in 2035, compared to about 11,000 if just the existing two streetcar lines were operating then.

      1. Thanks! That’s a screaming cheap 25k/day. Of course, it will offset walking more than driving, but still totally worth it: if people choose it they prefer it, and if they do so to the tune of 25k per day, clearly the benefit provided is significant. The increase in downtown livability is well worth it, from an increasing transit/decreasing SOV use perspective – and same for easing some of the burden on link through downtown.

      2. Yeah, but you would get the same benefit (and then some) by running BRT. It would be cheaper, too (I would guess).

  13. I’m still saying NO to this 1st Ave streetcar with ‘median’ stops from left lane ROW. I substitute a “loop” from Westlake west on Lenora to 1st, turn south then east on Pike to 6th Ave north to Westlake. On 1st Ave a ‘curbside’ stop. New model low-floor trolleybuses ‘straight’ from Old Town to Queen Anne. Finally, a 4th/5th Aves couplet to Jackson makes the ‘connector’. Further west, the streetcar turns north on 1st Ave then west on Yesler as proposed A single stop could be in a median on 1st or possibly Yesler. I just can’t see the 1st Ave as the safer and more effective route. The ‘loop’ would have curbside stops.
    Yadda Yadda. Wha? Huh? Streetcarz kewel man, like ya know, cuz, like, ya know, wah?

  14. Instead of having two stations named “Harrison”, naming the one on the Ballard line “Aurora” seems like a better idea to me.

  15. Of course a streetcar is slower than other modes of transportation. That’s what a streetcar is – it’s not a high-speed train.

    A freeway can move a lot more cars, a whole lot faster, than a residential street. But I don’t want to live on a freeway.

    The First Hill Streetcar was never designed to be a way to get from Capitol Hill to the International District. It was approved by the voters as a way to get people from First Hill to the nearest light rail station, after the First Hill Link Station couldn’t be built.

    1. It still would have been a lot better and more useful with its own ROW on Broadway. Not building even SLU quality on Broadway is a decision I think we will regret for a long time indeed.

      1. I voted for the option to run it on 12th in one direction and on Broadway in the other, but I got outvoted, and I can live with that.

        I have no complaints about the First Hill Streetcar, and I realize I’m in the minority, and I can live with that, too.

      2. @Al Dimond
        Admittedly its not ideal, but at least we were able to give the SLU line exclusive transit lanes at all.

        First Hill will probably never have exclusive lanes of any kind on Broadway.

      3. So you think we’d be closer, all things considered, to the sort of business district we want Broadway to be, with Westlake’s street design?

      4. @Al Dimond
        We’d be closer if we had built exclusive lanes instead of ample protected parking.

      5. Yes, more 5 lane arterials please! On the other hand think or all the people who won’t be getting diabetes cause they are walking in competition with the street car on the way to their MD appointment.

    2. Modern streetcar lines anywhere else in the world are never built in shared lanes if they are built completely from scratch. Average speed on such lines are about twice the average speed as new streetcar lines here, and thus their ridership is quite high.

      The idea isn’t to be high speed, but to be useful transportation. If transit isn’t time competitive with driving then everyone will continue to drive.

    3. Approved by the voters? Say what? I don’t remember that election.

      Anyway, no one is saying or expecting a streetcar to run as fast as a subway. They are basically saying two things. First, the streetcar route is poorly designed and lacks needed infrastructure improvements to work effectively. Second, a streetcar is a stupid choice of mode (especially for this city). The two go together. It is obvious by now that the streetcar route up First Hill is a mistake. The button hook using 14th is stupid. The route should be moved. But doing so is extremely expensive. It also can’t be moved too much, because streetcars can’t go up hills.

      Contrast this with the Madison BRT. This has center running lanes most of the way. If more need to be added, they will. This means that stops will be added in the middle of the street, but that is about it. There is no need to dig up the rail and put it back down again. At worse you move some overhead wire (it isn’t clear whether that would even be necessary). Unlike the streetcar, it will be very fast the day it is built, and can easily be made faster in the future.

      1. It wasn’t a direct election. It was a deal between the city and SoundTransit.

        I would urge anyone that questions the ability of normal adhesion trains to climb hills to please visit Mukilteo, and the trail that runs uphill from the Soundsr station through a little park along a place the park interpretive signs call Japanese Creek. Here, you get a great view of the BNSF branch line that climbs the very steep hill to Boeing. Up this hill the BNSF moves loaded dead weight in freight cars with no powered axles.

        It may not be preferable for streetcars to go up steep hills, but they can go up hills that are steeper than they are being asked to climb on the First Hill line. 7% can be done, 9% is the steepest light rail line in North America, and 13% is the steepest grade on an adhesion steam tourist railroad in the USA. The Santa Tereza streetcar in Rio climbs some steep hills in places too.

        A standard streetcar will never be able to reliably climb the 23% grade faced by the old routing of the 10 in downtown Seattle. However, they don’t have to be pancake flat either. If a useful streetcar line is to be built in Seattle it may mean equaling a few world records. That doesn’t make it impossible.

      2. So, looking at the area, I would say that a logical route for this streetcar is right up Yesler. That is way more direct, avoids a traffic mess, and means only one turn. Can the streetcar go up Yesler? I doubt it.

        Even if it could, it is simply an inferior technology. It lacks flexibility, both on a day to day basis, and long term. If this was a BRT route, my guess is people would already by talking about moving it. Get rid of the button hook to 14th and who knows — maybe move it off of Broadway. Yes, that is expensive and a bit disruptive, but nothing like moving rail. Speaking of Broadway, my guess is Broadway is not done with development either. What happens when construction forces cars to change lanes (as it does all over the city). A flagger can’t exactly wave a streetcar into the next lane. Accidents, debris, stalled cars, they all add up to day to day delays. Oh, and the tracks hurt people. Plenty of bikers are going to go down, and get hurt. Many, many more will have to weave back and forth to avoid doing so. All this and it costs more too.

        For what? For a smoother ride? Big deal. Millions take shaky, bumpy subways every day because they are faster, more frequent and more reliable. That is what matters to the vast majority of riders (obviously, judging by the ridership numbers). Why should we spend millions to endanger the lives of bike riders so that a handful of people get a slower, more unreliable, yet smoother ride?

  16. How are people supposed to get the 3/4 of a mile from the dt Seattle shopping dist to Pioneer Square in the mean time? There are only 80 Link trips a day, and only hundreds of more trips on buses connecting the two neighborhoods via the tunnel, and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th avenues, not to mention dozens of new Pronto stations and millions of dollars in new bike lanes.

    PS, let’s make the STB great again. Vote Sam for President of the comment section!

    1. I somewhat sympathize with Sam in this case as it looks like duplicative service. The reality is that a lot of those routes get pretty crowded as they get closer to downtown Seattle. The 33 winds up with a pile from Magnolia, but then picks up even more as it goes through the north end of downtown.

      If a local route can take the Belltown passengers, then the longer distance routes can do what they do better. If it were just a few passengers getting on in Belltown Wyatt you say makes sense, but in reality there is so much more demand than what the longer distance routes are able to handle that additional service would be helpful.

      You don’t want to run a bunch of empty buses to Outer Magnolia just to serve all the riders in Belltown, but that type of thing is what you get if you add enough 33 capacity to serve its route plus all the stuff being built in Belltown.

  17. Not a fan of the overlapping yellow and purple lines. Just make the whole thing one line with 5-minute headways during the day. It couldn’t require more than another two streetcars compared to this silly plan. And Broadway is a significant enough street to justify 5 minute service.

    To be useful a transit route needs to be fast and/or frequent. If it’s going to be slow (and it looks like the Broadway part will always be slow), at least make it frequent.

      1. That won’t be a problem. SDOT is replacing all of the old SLU cars, and the new orange one already has offwire capability.

      2. Huh? Can you explain this comment. Are you saying there will be two different types of streetcars.

      3. There are currently two types. SLU cars don’t have the battery capacity to operate without an overhead wire. First hill cars have to in order for them to access the shop building and on Jackson.

      4. @Chris Cee
        There are currently two types of streetcar in our system: ones that have batteries and can run with no overhead wire for some time and the older ones that cannot.

        There are only three of the older, no battery cars, and they are only on the SLU line.

        As part of this CCC project, those three cars will be sold and replaced with the new type.

    1. Oh and much of the CCC will not run on overhead wires, they’re doubling down on this battery thing.

  18. Enormous waste of money that completely overlaps current service and takes away from non-motorized forms of transit. If you want to build something effective better connect South Lake Union and Capitol Hill, don’t duplicate the many services that serve the downtown corridor.

  19. Ross – do you think true BRT is feasible on 1st Ave through Belltown and up to Seattle Center? Also, once it hits the CCC on 1st there’s no room for BRT, right? So would it just end there?

    1. The exclusive lanes are designed for both streetcars and buses, if a bus line should be wanted in the future.

      1. So long as it is a custom bus with left doors or a regular bus that doesn’t make any stops downtown. Why not floating right door island platforms that can used by both streetcar and normal buses?!?!?

      2. Left door buses will become common, on RapidRide Madison and 45th at minimum, and probably others beyond that.

    2. What Mike said. That is kind of the point (as mentioned above). If you are going to build exclusive lanes, then you want them to be used to their fullest, and one streetcar line doesn’t achieve that. It makes sense to share this other vehicles that can take advantage of the route (and our new BRT buses with dual sided doors can).

      As far as the rest of the route (on 1st and Queen Anne) I honestly don’t know. If this is taking lanes on 1st south of Westlake, then it seems like it can take them north of there.

  20. Well we bought the cow and now we own it, so might as well make it tourist friendly too eh? I live on 1st hill, use the cycle track and the FHSC so I’m a yesIMBYer. Now we just need to get rid of all the f’n cars on Broadway and let the choo-choo do its thing. So expand baby, expand.

  21. This is how you do a streetcar line:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/39017545@N02/15100998726
    Center running with right door floating islands.
    -Easy to convert center lanes to transit-only (future-proof), all it took was paint and signs (or built from the start as a transitway)
    -Stops and exclusive lanes can be shared with both normal buses and streetcars
    -Simple and cheap design
    -Tracks are as straight as an arrow and centered on the street, they are overdesigned to jog and curve around the street like Broadway around turn lanes or leave weird gaps in street space

  22. My last comment good warning for the future: DSTT took two YEARS, after a year relocating utilities. Including the plumbing-pipe that got accidentally yanked out of the King County Courthouse.

    This mistake carries a warning: Did Star Trek ever do an early rush-hour transporter malfunction?

    Mark

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