This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
the P-I doesn’t like the idea of losing bus service to accommodate the SLU Streetcar:
“Ultimately, it is dollars,” Licata said, adding that while a Metro bus costs $104 an hour to operate, a streetcar costs $182. Plus, only 14 percent of the 83 segments that make up the city’s 61 transit corridors get bus service every 15 minutes for 12 hours a day, which is what the SLU streetcar will provide to a very limited number of users. True, getting a whiz-bang light rail service may free up some Metro transit hours, but we could sure use those hours for feeder buses to light rail stations.
We said it before, and we’ll say it again: Cost overruns for the South Lake Union Streetcar should be covered by the rather deep pockets of the businesses — a collective known as the Local Improvement District. The city and the county need as many transit hours as they can get.
The streetcar’s a good deal, but only because the local businesses are willing to tax themselves to pay for it. Otherwise, crawling down Westlake at 9mph doesn’t strike me as the best use of the city’s limited transit dollars.
There are other benefits, of course: by developing the South Lake Union area and attracting businesses, the project is increasing Seattle’s overall tax base, for example. But we shouldn’t have to rely on such second- and third-order benefits to justify the expense.