The city has released its preliminary analysis of the various streetcar alignments, and the data isn’t good for alignments west of Broadway. Both cost more to build, have worse travel times, and higher operating costs. It seems unlikely that the city will move forward on these options, despite intense lobbying from local hospitals. On the other hands, those routes do have slightly higher ridership potential.
What’s a bit more surprising is that another Broadway Two-Way option seems to have come back from the dead. SDOT seems to be proposing one Broadway Two-Way route that runs the entire line on Broadway and another with an 11th Ave couplet. The former option wasn’t included in December’s round of public meetings and it’s good to see a fully two-way Broadway alignment back on the table. That option would be the cheapest and have the best bicycle integration.
There is slightly bad news for the 12th Ave couplet alignment (which we’ve editorialized against). That couplet has the lowest ridership potential range of any option, perhaps reflecting the accessibility problems that occur with a couplet that’s pretty well separated. The alignment also has poor bicycle interaction since 12th Ave is a major north/south bike corridor and a slightly higher cost band.
Update 10:45 am: Tony the Economist has posted a great comment that helps explain why the ridership potential numbers are so similar:
Those ridership projections are not “riders” they are “potential riders”. The three routes are too similar to each other for traditional ridership models to evaluate the difference between them, so SDOT is using “trip generation within 1/4 mile” as a proxy. The higher “ridership” numbers with the Boren alignment represent higher built densities (i.e. more trip generation) to the west, but those numbers do not take into account the fact that folks living farther to the west may choose to ride the bus or even walk to downtown rather than use the streetcar and they don’t take into account the faster travel times with the Broadway alignment, which may increase ridership despite the slightly lower density.
In addition, the numbers could actually over-represent 12th Ave couplet riders since none of the facts of riding the alignment — including its smaller walkshed — are really considered in a ridership potential model.
Update 3:45 pm: Tony further informed us that the reduced walkshed is factored into the 12th Ave couplet ridership potential, since SDOT takes the midpoint between each station. I don’t think the incline of the hill is taken into effect, but that would likely have a small impact.