As you heard earlier this morning, Greg Nickels (the Mayor of Seattle) came to our blog’s meet-up last night. After delivering a speech detailing is 21+ year history of trying to bring rail transit to the region, the Mayor asked the audience for some questions. Here are the more interesting facts we found out:
- Nickels said he wasn’t “convinced” about a 12th avenue streetcar rather than one that runs along Broadway. He implied that it wouldn’t serve the same area that the original First Hill stop promised in Sound Move would have. But he said there is time to look at 12th, and that the city should.
- The First Hill Streetcar may not pursue federal funds because it can delay a project for years and the city is attempting to open the line ahead of the planned 2016 date.
- But the 1st Ave (ID, Belltown, Lower Queen Anne) Streetcar will pursue federal funds and will be started during his next term if re-elected. This line will link the First Hill Streetcar and the South Lake Union Streetcar.
More after the jump!
- The Waterfront Streetcar is unlikely to come back and instead the above 1st Ave streetcar will serve that corridor. Nickels said the Waterfront line wasn’t for commuters and citizens as much as tourists, and that the historic streetcars have issues stopping on even some of the moderate hills around Pioneer Square.
- While a West Seattle extension of light rail is something the Mayor would like to see and is an obvious route to build, he said it’s quite a ways off given that we haven’t completed the spine yet. Patience, transit enthusiasts!
- Nickels predicts the next Sound Transit election will be in 2016. ST3’s revenue source could be a sales tax extension (not an increase) plus revenues from a cap-and-trade program.
- The Mayor re-iterated that Bellevue will have to fund its own light rail tunnel, and right now the ST Board and the city are working to identify a revenue source.
- Nickels opposes the 40/40/20 rule that Metro applies to new service hours. That rule puts 20% of new service hours toward Seattle and Shoreline and 40% to the Eastside and 40% to South King County. It also stipulates that new service between the suburbs and the city will count 50% against Seattle.
- Finally, the Mayor thanked the blog and its readers for our support of the ST2 plan last year and our legislative outreach in this past session.
It was great to have the Mayor be our guest last night and we appreciate his deep commitment to transit issues.