This Times piece on the streetcar seemed really positive until I read this bit: “Will these newcomers pay $1.50 at rush hour to take a short trip, at an average 9 to 10 mph? The city should find out soon after the streetcar’s grand opening in December.” Ouch! 9 mph? That’s pretty slow, about half the speed of driving.

I have to get numbers, but I wonder how fast the Portland Streetcar or any of San Francisco’s Muni lines are on street level. I remember reading the T-Third Street in San Francisco would go up to 25 mph at street level, but I couldn’t find a link to that article.

The rest of the article is positive, however:

Streetcar boosters point to nearby stories of success.
Sound Transit’s free streetcar in downtown Tacoma beat expectations by averaging 2,835 trips a day, or triple what a downtown bus carried.
Portland’s streetcar carries 9,000 riders a day and has steadily extended its route. Officials call it a “development-oriented streetcar,” because the project helped transform an old railroad yard into the trendy Pearl District.

The City has plans to extend the streetcar up Eastlake to the U-District in the future. My concern is the 15 minutes between cars and the 9 mph will make the streetcar too slow to ride, and would discourage streetcar developments in the rest of the city. Let’s hope it’s a huge success.

4 Replies to “Streetcar Looking Positive”

  1. You can count me in paying my 1.50! Especially when it is rainy and I don’t want to walk downtown. Also, considering that as of now, not much traffic on Westlake. It will move faster that 9-11 miles. People just want to be pessimistic (sp?). It is ok, like the Tacoma version ST has, we will show them! Then those that doubted will have to come up with a story of why they doubted.

  2. It sounds like 9-10 mph average, including stops. I don’t think that’s so bad for an in-city trip — the 15 minutes between streetcars is a greater concern.

  3. That’s about what Portland’s streetcar runs at: 13 minutes daytime, 14-20 minutes off-peak.

    9-10mph is great for getting to/from a place for lunch or between destinations in SLU – it’s really not faster than a car in many cases, simply because of parking time.

  4. The benefits of being able to expand this system is going to be worth it as well. It seems that besides expanding to the U district, they were possibly taking it to Chinatown? I don’t know where I read that, it seems it may have been on King County Metro website or something, but I think that this would be nice too! There is so many options, that I think it will definitely pay off in the long run. I will definitely enjoy using it.

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