The Seattle Times today had an article discussing two alternate uses for the 7 cent hotel/motel tax: expanding the Washington State Convention Center or refitting Key Arena. I don’t really care which gets built, but the first plan raises an interesting transit question. That Convention Center station is part of downtown Transit Tunnel, but is not a Link station. What will happen to it in the event that Link trains become so frequent buses need to be taken out of the tunnel?

The on/off ramp from the I-5 express lanes is useful at very least, and expanding the convention center – as some in the state want to do – may not be a bad use of the airspace above the convention center. Another crazy idea I once thought about was putting a streetcar barn there, assuming more streetcars are built in the city. The current SLU barn, really only holds about three or four cars. What are other good uses of that space?

A last, little thing from the article:

Ceis said redirecting a portion of the 7 percent hotel tax could prove more palatable because it is collected only in the city of Seattle and primarily from out-of-town guests. (King County hotel rooms outside of Seattle are charged a 2.8 percent tax for the convention center.)

Although the convention center’s hotel-tax money is not part of the state’s general-fund budget, lawmakers have raided it before.

Two years ago, the Legislature grabbed $65 million from the convention-center account for the general fund — redirecting surplus hotel-tax funds to pay for other state services.

If Seattlites want to get riled up about being ripped off from a tax standpoint, look to this tax, especially if it’s being spent on the state’s general fund.

7 Replies to “Barely Transit Related: Convention Center”

  1. Currently, some buses that run through the tunnel use the Convention Place Station as a layover point. It could be converted to be used exclusively for that purpose, taking some CT and ST buses off the street where they currently lay over.

    1. The time frame isn’t obvious, but I think even when U-Link opens, a lot of buses are going to have to move out of the tunnel, and by the time North and East Link open, there won’t be room for buses. Trains will be coming through the tunnel with peak headrooms of 3 minutes or so, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for buses.

  2. The Convention Place station will be perfect for a future Intracity Link Line. It would be a hybrid LRT/streetcar line (like Tacoma Link). It could run through the tunnel all the way to Convention Place and from there connect with the SLU tracks – which should then have a spur going west in a dedicated BAT lane of Mercer to Seattle Center and Lower Queen Anne.

    1. It won’t be possible to fit additional trains into the tunnel once East Link is running at full capacity.

      1. If busses are out of the tunnel, is it possible there would be room to add another set of tracks through the stations with a middle island for boarding? The stations have a really wide roadbed.

        Even though there would still only be one track in each direction going through the non-station portions of the tunnel, this might increase capacity. We certainly don’t need more than 30 seconds of space between any two trains going through the tunnel if they then split off onto separate tracks/platforms in the stations for loading/unloading.


  3. I would rather Husky Stadium get money before the Key Arena, but I am prejudice. If the money went into the Convention Center, and truly benefited transit, I’d vote for the convention center.

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