Yesterday’s PI had a story about streetcars. There are a few things I’d like to point out:
“The South Lake Union Streetcar reportedly costs $180 per hour to operate, compared with about $120 for a Metro bus.” This is an intentionally misleading figure. Trains of any kind generally have a higher capacity than a bus, encourage dense transit-oriented development, and are usually much more enjoyable to ride (no potholes in steel rails!). A streetcar will almost always have higher ridership when compared to a bus with the same service, and will always encourage more people to try transit. The measly $60 difference is insignificant.
“About 30 people boarded the purple streetcar between 12:30 and 1:30.” Anti-rail advocates are always quick to mention the SLUT’s “light” ridership, ignoring the fact that the South Lake Union area is under heavy redevelopment. The city’s 20 year grown target for the area is to add 8,000 new residential units, and we’re already 19% of the way there in just over three years! And don’t forget that Amazon.com is planning to move to the area, which will bring thousands of jobs. I also heard that on the 4th of July, every train from Westlake to SLU Park was completely packed for a good three hours.