Beacon Hill light rail station, closer to completion
Beacon Hill Station at the surface, photo by flickr user litlnemo

Beacon Hill Station’s platforms are 49 meters underground, or 160 feet. That’s pretty deep, and it gives some idea of why the station construction has taken so long. I’ve been trying to get into that tunnel for years now, but I’ve got just 7 weeks to go in any case.

In 1949 two big transit-related legal rulings came down from the courts. In the first, the sentence came down in the Great American Streetcar Scandal. Each of the defending companies in the United States v National City Lines was fined $5,000 and each director was fined $1. In the second, United States v Capital Transit Co., the Supreme Court strengthened the Federal Government’s right to regulate and effect public transit under the Constitution’s Interstate commerce clause. These powers eventually enabled the creation of the Federal Transit Administration.

15 Replies to “49 Days”

  1. Oh, that’s my picture. :) I took that several weeks ago, so the station already looks a little more finished than that. It’s so close to reality now — I can’t wait!

    1. Yeah, I passed by last week and you could see the 4 elevators’ glass doors. That’s right, there are full-height windowed doors for an elevator shaft 49 meters deep. They probably did that for security reasons so there are no blind spots.

      1. Also gives the bums and transients a smoother surface to pee on as opposed to steel or aluminium which can warp or have dents thus causing a ricochet.

  2. And now GM, the company that conspired to kill urban rail transit, is going bankrupt and the American taxpayer will end up holding the majority of stock in the company. I understand why politicians want to protect autoworker’s jobs – especially after protecting the jobs of bankers, but I’m feeling screwed (again) none the less.

    1. Think we can get Uncle Sam to retool one of the Gm plants that is closing as a LRV manufacturing plant, and another as a HSR coach manufacturing plant?

      1. Oh, thank you Paul.

        Perhaps our state could repurpose some of the old Boeing-Renton plant to get into this industry?

    2. GM still has a part in the transit bus manufacturing market. Allison, a division of GM, designed the parallel hybrid system for Metro’s hybrid buses. That’s why you see the GM logo on the roof of every New Flyer DE60LF.

      1. GM divested Allison a couple of years ago. From what I read it is owned by the equity groups Onex and The Carlyle Group.

        I’ve been wondering why Orion’s been picking up more orders for their O7 hybrid lately… I think I know why.

  3. Off topic but I noticed that the banner ads on this site changed from auto stuff to selling tickets for the London-Paris Eurostar.

    1. I’m seeing one from

      As for Eurostar, let them pay for it. They should be the ones figuring out their target market (this was brought up in a previous discussion when someone said they saw an ad for a Hummer limo service in Florida on this blog)

  4. Is there a more recent photo of the Beacon Hill station so we can see the finished product?

  5. Nice article on the Spanish experience in the NYT:

    “Here in Lleida, a town of 125,000 in northeastern Spain surrounded by plains that produce half of the country’s apples and pears, the inauguration of a high-speed route to Madrid in 2003 cut the journey to the capital to two hours from five and a half, and the extension of the line to Barcelona last year halved that trip to one hour.

    Ángel Ros, the Socialist mayor of Lleida, said the AVE had transformed the town. The number of tourist visitors has increased by about 15 percent, he said. Demand for business conventions has risen 20 percent each year, and the city is building a 50 million euro ($70.5 million) convention center. The 13th-century town hall is in the midst of a 100 million euro public works project to transform the area around the railway station with gardens, bridges, a shopping center and parking lot.

    “The AVE is a high-end railway, and simply by virtue of being on the route, your city becomes a high-end destination,” Mr. Ros said.”

  6. Taken For A Ride, the eye-opening 1996 documentary about the Great American streetcar scandal, is fast-paced, extremely well-researched, and engaging — albeit infuriating. It’s well worth the time to search for a copy and watch it.

    Unfortunately, at a hefty $50 including shipping the DVD is relatively unaffordable for casual home viewing.

    Luckily, Taken For A Ride is available through the Seattle Public Library (VHS), King County Library System (VHS), and the University of Washington (VHS, Seattle/Odegaard and Tacoma). (Neither Nexflix nor Blockbuster stock it.)

    1. May I also recommend highly:

      “This was the Pacific Electric”

      which covers the demise of the “Red Car” in Los Angeles very well.

      Was it GM and Big Oil? Not entirely. Remember that these were private companies, really utilities. Highly regulated in what fares they could charge, they also had to pay alot of property tax as well as maintain the roads in which they ran, even if those were being used by cars and increasingly, municipal (public) buses that competed with lower fares. Also the laws that split the power companies from street railways as well as requirements for wooden bodied cars to be scrapped with any funding being made available for replacements killed the electric rail transit we had in many places, including Seattle.

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