Eastlake is a very strong corridor for high-capacity transit that has both high, long-distance ridership and good efficiency metrics. The proposed route would begin at Roosevelt station, absorb and improve the SLU streetcar (if rail), and use a 4th/5th Avenue couplet to complete its run through downtown. Routes 70 and 66 would be eliminated. These operating savings help give the Eastlake streetcar the lowest net operating cost per new rider, at 65 cents per head.

For the rail option, weekday ridership is strong (25,000 a day in 2030, only 1,000 less than Ballard) and the $253m capital cost is substantially lower than Ballard. Using my preferred cost-effectiveness metric, Annualized Net Cost per New Rider, BRT is the second most effective corridor/mode combination in the study at $2.28. Rail is fourth overall (behind the First Ave streetcar) at $2.73, while “enhanced bus” has the worst ratio in the entire study at $5.83.

In general, there is not exclusive right-of-way for this corridor, except for downtown and perhaps Fairview/Eastlake.

142 Replies to “TMP HCT Analysis (IV): Lowest Operating Cost”

  1. I think the line should start at Greenlake proper … not the Roosevelt station

      1. Why would you want to absorb only part of a ridership corridor? Sometimes you have to duplicate service, but you generally don’t want to split ridership like that, unless one specific piece of the corridor is overloaded and the rest isn’t.

      2. The 48 ridership drops off significantly after it crosses Aurora heading west. If the Eastlake Streetcar could reach Aurora, the remainder of the 48’s path could be recoupled with another path, e.g. turning north to Northgate.

      3. Don’t fall into that trap. There’s always something adjacent to the project at hand. Worry about getting something done now, and if it’s built, expand it if it makes sense.

      4. A potential continuation of this streetcar up to Aurora and 85th, and then on up Aurora, might impact the corridor analysis for ST2’s north corridor.

  2. also … would this route really work with the current 3-segment trams? I’d think that the traffic could warrant longer trams (the SLUT’s are extendable with additional segments) … but of course all of the SLUTs platforms would have to be rebuilt

    1. You’d only really be rebuilding 2 stations at Mercer and Denny. The Westlake and Aloha stations would need to be rebuilt to be through stations anyway. Note that the rail option for Ballard/Freemont via Westlake has the same capacity issues.

      As for increasing capacity the two options would be longer trams (both Skoda and Inekon make longer 3, 5, and 7 section trams) or coupled trams.

  3. It’s interesting that this line is so productive. By 2030 Link will have been in operation through a good chunk of this corridor for ~10 years. Is there any analysis that indicates an eastlake line would cannibalize Link ridership?

    1. Additional local service almost always generates additional ridership in both the local corridor and in the express corridor. If anything, it would cause higher Link ridership by allowing more Eastlake residents to transfer to Link.

      1. I think the line would need more stops along Eastlake to really generate ridership from the neighborhood. Say 1/2 mile or even 1/4 mile stop spacing. Stopping at just Lynn between Aloha and Fuhrman isn’t enough to eliminate parallel local bus service along Eastlake.

    2. I really feel like we’re suffering from the “focus on the endpoints” issue here. This doesn’t duplicate Link at all.

      1. It’s so people don’t have to take Link downtown then backtrack. It’s FOR the people who live between U-District and Westlake that don’t live on Capitol Hill. I think it’s a great idea. At least Roosevelt or Brooklyn station to Westlake.

      2. I know I might take this line for most of my 66 trips that don’t go further south than downtown. The one drawback is that the 67 might still get merged into the mega-70-series line, so I might be stuck taking a long walk, backtracking, or walking up hilly, longer-than-it-looks 45th to Link if I’m going to Capitol Hill or south of downtown. (That, or effectively maintain my current patterns.)

        (That is, if I’m still living in this neighborhood when this and North Link opens, which might be unlikely.)

      3. Morgan, you’d also have the option of traveling to the Roosevelt station and transferring to Link there. Given the walk it might just be a wash time wise.

      1. The 70 went through a stop-reduction program about 6 months ago or so.

        The 70 ain’t going away, even in the bloodbath 600k scenario. More likely the 66 and the 25 will go away, replaced by 70 service every 10 mins. The through-routes downtown would be changed: 14N abolished, 14S paired with the 1, 70 and 36 paired.

      2. This routing would have only two stops in the Eastlake neighborhood, compared to 3 on the 66. The one at Eastlake & Aloha really serves SLU, not Eastlake. On the map it looks like only five blocks from Lynn to Galer, and six blocks Lynn to Fuhrman. But some of those “blocks” are 2-3 blocks long, and there’s a hill in the southern part. That skips all the apartment buildings and small businesses in between, which are what make up a lot of the 70’s ridership.

    1. I see little point in making this line an express along Eastlake. Link already will provide express service between downtown and the U.

      Maybe the long-term plan is to make it express until North Link opens, and then add a few stations on Eastlake?

  4. It seems like one or two more stops would be warranted in Eastlake if they actually want to replace the 70 and get a lot of riders from those apartment buildings. Overall this looks like a good line, although for most people Link will make more sense. The main market will be people living around Roosevelt, UW, and Eastlake who work in SLU, or people living in SLU who are going to UW. This will save them doing a forward-backward movement to get where they’re going.

    I would support the Ballard line as a much higher priority, since UW and Roosevelt are already getting Link while Ballard suffers from packed buses all the time. The Ballard line would also be a new route, while in this case a great deal of improvements could simply be made to the 70. Turning the 70 into BRT-lite, with wider stop spacing, better platforms, and some exclusive right of way, could obviate the need for a streetcar in this corridor. Ballard, on the other hand, has such huge opportunity for land use development and exclusive ROW that a streetcar would be a good investment.

    1. The market could also include people working in Eastlake (assuming more stops along Eastlake) — there are some office buildings at Hamlin, a few at Lynn and a good number around Fairview, not to mention NOAA, though NOAA will presumably be gone by the time a streetcar could open.

    2. I think, actually, the main market would end up being people living in Eastlake and working downtown.

      1. That’s only true if they add a couple more stops. The map only shows one stop in the whole Eastlake residential area.

      2. That one stop is in the middle of the densest part. You’ll get a lot of riders there!

    3. There’s a lot of demand between SLU and the U-District, I, and quite a few of my coworkers, used to make that trip 2 or 3 times a day in addition to commuting. As SLU and the University continue to expand I can only see the demand increasing. There’s already been a significant increase in the amount of lab space on Eastlake just north of Zymogenetics, and the Hutch is planning on nearly doubling the size of their campus. Dendreon recently moved in to some vacant Zymogenetics space and there’s a new biotech building in the works on Eastlake just north of the Hutch. The Puget Sound Blood Center is also in the process of renovating the old Gates Foundation headquarters on Eastlake and will be moving most of their research personnel there.

    4. Oh, the Eastlake stops will get added. The two-stop proposal is just a negotiating tool to make sure the final number is fewer than the ridiculous situation with the 70.

      1. Hmm. Good point. Starting from only one stop makes having three stops seem more palatable.

  5. Is there any sensible route to connect this to Ballard? Keep going northwest around Greenlake, and then over 80th to Ballard? Is that possible?

    1. It doesn’t make sense to push that now before you’ve funded the thing in the first place, no. ;)

    2. I don’t think there’s a sensible way to do it without also building the Ballard/Fremont/SLU route too and turning it into a circle route. Which would be cool and all, but money doesn’t grow on trees.

  6. I’m a bit worried about what this would do to possibly degrade Eastlake as a bike corridor. For some reason they only show the configuration on the University Bridge in the B segment and not Eastlake.

    I occasionally use Eastlake on my bike, and my only real complaint is some of the potholes northbound close to the bridge. My worry would be that the rails would end up in the safe cycling zone. I just don’t think there’s the space for both.

    1. FWIW, streetcars are a bike commuter amenity. Wheel it on, take a stretch break, wheel off. Don’t arrive at work ready to break a sweat.

      If you are riding through Eastlake for scenic or recreational value, Eastlake Ave may not be the best path already. I get it that there are bottlenecks where dedicated bike ROW should be considered, with or without the streetcar.

      I also get it that, this time around, the City needs to work with the biking community.

      1. I feel like cyclists were well accommodated when designing First Hill. Ask the same questions and get people involved, and I’d imagine there will be a similar result.

      2. PA wasn’t greasing the tracks on the FHSC. I’m worried he’ll steamroll the public process on this streetcar since it will clearly benefit Vulcan’s properties.

      3. For reasons that aren’t worth starting a fight here about, I think local-stop transit is a pretty limited bike amenity, and I think urban cycle tracks are mostly a pretty lousy alternative to riding on the road. And there isn’t a very good alternative to riding on Eastlake for getting from U District to SLU/downtown — even recreational riders want efficient routes sometimes.

        But it’s not worth starting a fight over those things, because the corridor recommendation isn’t mode-specific, and we won’t have the money to worry about streetcars up this way for a long time.

      4. I sometimes travel down the Eastlake corridor to do shopping at REI. I currently make nearly all such trips by bike, as besides providing exercise, it’s really the only option (possibly excluding driving, depending on the parking situation) that accomplishes the trip, door-to-door, in a reasonable amount of time. While the streetcar will be an improvement over the existing buses, when walk/wait time are factored in, the bike will continue to be faster and more fun, so I will continue to care about being able to bike down Eastlake safely.

        The city working with the biking community looks great on paper, but the fundamental problem is the street simply isn’t wide enough to accommodate the streetcar, bikes, and parking, all in separate lanes on both sides of the street. Sharing a lane with streetcar traffic is much more dangerous than sharing a lane with car traffic because the tracks can cause you to fall, even when there’s no streetcar.

        If SDOT were willing to to ban parking on at least one side of street, there would be plenty of room for bikes and streetcars to coexist. However, I’m resigned to the notion that whatever car parking there is along Eastlake is going to be a sacred cow, which means that unless we’re prepared to demolish buildings to widen the street, we can have a streetcar, or we can have a bike route, but we can’t have both. Given the choice, I’d prefer leaving Eastlake a bike route, building the streetcar on some other corridor, and looking for ways to make the bus service on Eastlake better. For example, how about a 66 every 10 minutes, replacing the 70, or a proof-of-payment system to speed up boarding.

      5. Since the bike lanes went up outside my home on Roosevelt, I’ve been paying more attention to bike facilities. Say what you will about them, but it seems odd to me that Eastlake doesn’t even have so much as sharrows.

      6. Eastllake does have sharrows … South of Lakeview. Unfortunately they are painted in such a position that if you ride in that lane position, drivers think they can pass without moving into oncoming traffic and give you about six inches of space. I actually sent SDOT a note about it and got a negative response. Honestly sharrows make more sense on low volume streets where there isn’t space or no necessity to have real bike facilities. If you put them on a busy thoroughfare, they space needs to be designed so so car drivers are encouraged to safely pass (hopefully without annoyance).

    2. Get nearby addresses for those potholes and report them! SDOT relies exclusively on citizen reports for this kind of thing, and they prefer to fix them while they’re still small. It’s much more cost effective for SDOT that way.

      Often, potholes that are not directly in front of someone’s house don’t get reported until they grow to swallow the entire street.

  7. Only problem with this is you’re forced to continue local bus service from the Ave to Northgate, in part duplicating the streetcar. Was a terminus near 45th St considered? It seems to me that your two best options for a terminus are the U-District and Northgate, but maybe I’m missing something.

    These ridership numbers seem high to me. I don’t know enough about the methodology to critique it seriously, but I note that in 2009 the 70 had 3.5k daily riders, the 66 had 2.5k and the 67 had 2k. Now, that misses the night-Sunday Eastlake traffic on the 7x locals, although it also includes long-haul riders to Northgate who won’t be served by this streetcar, and who’ll either be on Link or the duplicative bus route that’ll need to exist.

    Not saying they’re wrong, it’s a long way from 8k to 25k and I’d be interested in how they get there.

    1. The 66 from Roosevelt to Northgate seems like the only local service you’d still need.

      1. Roosevelt seems like a pretty bad terminus, though – where do buses lay over? It’s also kind of an odd place for even a transfer point.

      2. I’m guessing the 66/67/68/71/72/73 service would be replaced by the proposed 80 with no-stop express from DSTT to Campus Parkway, then limited and/or local stop service between Campus Parkway and Northgate. When North Link opens I’d expect the 80 to turn at Campus Parkway instead of going downtown.

    2. “Not saying they’re wrong, it’s a long way from 8k to 25k and I’d be interested in how they get there.”

      You have to also include SLUT ridership and new riders gained from the extension to KSS.

      1. I think people asking the “where does the ridership come from” question just don’t realize what incredible density of residential units exists along the west edge of the U-district and on Eastlake.

      2. Um, so why aren’t they riding the bus now? This streetcar won’t be that much faster or reliable as it has almost no ROW. Rail draws more ridership, all other things being equal, but not double the ridership.

        What I’m saying is that I’m interested to see their assumptions about land-use changes, population growth etc. that went into this model. If the model assumes that swapping the 70/66 for the streetcar is going to massively boost ridership vs an improved trolley, it’s retarded.

      3. More importantly, having all this high-capacity transit ought to allow the U-District, and UW itself, to build upward. If we want UW to continue to be a world-class university, it needs to stop resembling the University of Arizona and start resembling Columbia University (in Manhatten).

        Still, I can’t help but think we should just build the streetcar up to 42nd for now, and consider alternatives for where it would go next later. It might make more sense to run it down to UW Medical Center and on out to Children’s. But if we commit to building up to single-family Roosevelt, we’re stuck, and haven’t even gotten Roosevelt to agree to enough density to justify a Link station, much less Link+Eastlake Streetcar.

        For that matter, will Eastlake or any other neighborhoods be asked to agree to densification around streetcar stations?

      4. There are plenty of surface parking lots within 3 blocks of the Brooklyn/45th Link station that could be redeveloped. There are already towers there (Deca Hotel, UW Tower, etc.) so more would be welcome.

      5. I don’t think UW becomes a world class university by building upwards. It does it by hiring world-class faculty who can get world-class research grants and draw in the cream of the crop students. Building design doesn’t seem to have that much to do with it. See, for example, my alma mater–the George Washington University in DC, which has practically zero open space (its quad is all of one city block by one city block), which is an OK school but certainly not a world-class one. Compare that with Harvard.

      6. Um, so why aren’t they riding the bus now?

        Have you been on the 70 lately, Bruce? They are. This is about increasing capacity beyond what the buses support.

      7. Brent,
        If you look at Roosevelt and 11th/12th between the bridge and 65th it isn’t built to densities anywhere near what even current zoning allows. There are quite a few parking lots and a large inventory of run down 1/2 story commercial structures and dilapidated single family homes. While the Roosevelt neighborhood might object to further upzones between Ravenna and 65th along Roosevelt and 12th they aren’t likely to raise much of a stink about upzones further South as long as it isn’t grossly out of scale. The zoning South of 50th and especially 45th is already pretty intensive and could probably be increased further without too much public protest.

        As for Eastlake it has seen quite a bit of development without much in the way of additional amenities. At this point there are few lots likely to see any redevelopment.

    3. They are riding the bus now. A lot of people live around 50th and 55th and take all these buses to UW and Roosevelt, not to mention Greenlake, Northgate, and Eastlake. It makes sense to extend a streetcar to 65th, which is the end of the high-density area. It doesn’t make sense to just stop at 50th like the 70 does, and force everybody north of there to take the long-distance routes. That’s why the short 73s terminate at 65th, not 45th.

      1. I think Bruce’s point is that if they are riding the bus now, they’re counted in the 8k riders. To increase to 25k riders, you need 17k new riders who aren’t riding the bus now.

        I do think Bruce undercounted, though. He didn’t include the current SLUT ridership, which is somewhere around 3k. This estimate also includes the 4th/5th couplet, which I think was expected to bump the SLUT ridership to 10-11k, so that might be a better SLUT addition estimate. And there are some other additions: the 70 probably has some Amazon employee traffic now that it didn’t have in 2009. You could get some additional ridership from people living north of 50th and working in the SLU core (since the 66 runs pretty far to the East of Westlake). And maybe there are some folks in Eastlake who would take a streetcar but not a bus. 25k is a lot, but it doesn’t seem crazy to me.

      2. There are two different measurements you can make. For some purposes only “new riders” can be considered. But the impact of the line is “all riders”. HCT should be seen as a natural upgrade once ridership in an area reaches a certain level. Upgrading/consolidating the 70/66, 48-south, and 15/18 are worthwhile whether or not they generate “new riders” and “development”. Having one frequent route with signal priority is better than several scattered routes, and it’ll improve the quality of life of those who have already chosen to be part of the solution in where they live, and the existence of the line will encourage more people to do that whether in that neighborhood or elsewhere, and it’ll make vistors feel better about Seattle as a city that takes transit seriously rather than as an afterthought.

    4. I’d be interested to see in writing where the projections come from, but I’m betting this is because all along this route will be getting a lot denser in the next 20 years.

      The west half of U-District has barely begun redevelopment from the parking lots that are all over (check out the Seattle Design Review website for the apartments and hotel proposals along 11th, 12th, and Brooklyn). SLU is only maybe half built out (probably less than half). Those are the Urban Centers which already have dense zoning, and add to that the Urban Villages of Eastlake and Roosevelt which will have much of the lowrise single family or townhomes replaced with apartments. The only question in my mind is whether it will be midrise or highrise.

  8. As much as I wouldn’t mind seeing something done on Eastlake, this just seems bizarre to me.

    A route largely paralleling LINK, and terminating at two intermediate LINK stops, yet clearly can’t accurately take into account LINK ridership accept with wild guesses using projections seems like a flawed study. Their is clearly going to be some cannibalization going on.

    The Fremont/Westlake/Ballard streetcar seems to make much more sense.

    1. What’s bizarre is thinking this parallels Link, which is leading you to ask confusing questions.

      Nobody who lives along Eastlake can walk to Link. Nobody who lives in the SE portion of the U-district can walk to Link. And nobody who works in SLU can walk to Link. But these are some of the highest density residential neighborhoods in the pacific northwest. Of course they’re going to generate ridership.

      1. Ah, but not that many people actually live in or travel to Eastlake. Really. Its entire population is <5000, and it is negligible as an employment center north of the current streetcar terminus. Is every single resident going to use the thing 5 times a day?

        That 25,000 figure can only come from including the current SLU streetcar in "total weekday ridership" and/or envisioning a huge number of students making unnecessary 1-stop trips on it. Neither of which a worthwhile investment makes, no matter how well the "efficiency metrics" crunch based on that 25,000.

        There's nothing inherently evil about this proposal; I just can't see it being any kind of priority in our transit-starved city.

      2. I work in SLU and I can walk to Link.

        Just about anybody in the U-district can too.

        So you are just talking Eastlake, which though dense, isn’t that dense.

        So stretch the SLUT to the bridge, and call the job done. But at the same time put in much more deliberate bike infrastructure. Riding it today, every like had a pack of 30 bikes waiting at it. It’s a major corridor, and if they fcuk it up like they did Westlake, it will be unforgivable.

      3. Nobody in the SE portion of the U-district can walk to Link? Isn’t that where Brooklyn Station is going to be?

        People in all these corridors *can* walk to Link. They won’t because Americans aren’t fit enough to walk for more than 20 minutes, but they could.

      4. “So stretch the SLUT to the bridge, and call the job done.”

        Yeah, that’d be great. Another streetcar that almost goes somewhere.

      5. Brent,

        Why would you expect anyone, even fit non-Americans to walk for more than 20 minutes to get to a Link (or any other metro system) stop? I enjoy walking, especially in Seattle, where the weather tends to be cool and the neighborhoods inviting. But a >20 minute walk to Link probably means an hour+ commute each way (once you factor in waiting for the train, transit time, destination-side walking, etc.), which is probably a lot longer than my other options.

    2. This actually likely increases Link ridership, by making it easier for people to access Link.

      When you can reach more places using the network, it increases ridership on all the other network elements.

      1. Try again, Martin.

        This is a network.

        This proposal is like isolating that part of the map where two tram lines flank the subway but not bothering with the whole rest of the map.

      2. Seriously, whose access to Link is this facilitating? A couple of thousand Eastlake residents? Lazy people who would backtrack 15 blocks to Roosevelt station rather than walk 6 blocks to Brooklyn.

        Also, European trams work as short-to-medium feeders because there are a whole lot of them and they come near-constantly. But who waits 15 minutes for a train to save a 10 minute walk? Seriously, who does that?

      3. d.p., you’ve had a number of smart, informed people make solid points to you, and you’re handwaving because you came in with a differing opinion.

        A lot of the ridership here comes from SLU<>Downtown, remember. You didn’t make these arguments against the ridership increase of the 4th-5th connector, but it’s included here as well. They’re only saying the northward portion would get another 10k or something.

      4. Ben, the “good efficiency metrics” people still have a great deal more explaining to do.

        So now we’re using the already-suspect 4th/5th corridor estimates to arrive at numbers to support an extension 8 times in length, through a corridor with a precisely one-block walkshed in either direction, and ending up as a neighborhood circulator of little necessity? Even though the two new portions have to contend with all of the current streetcar’s bottlenecks between them?

        Martin suggests that the numbers make this not only a wise corridor, but a priority corridor. I strenuously dispute that conclusion, and I don’t particularly trust the numbers used to arrive at it.

        Prove me wrong. “This is a network” — which, with pointless frequencies and few connections, it really isn’t — proves nothing.

      5. Connecting the SLUT to ANYTHING will increase it’s ridership. Currently unless you work within about two blocks of it’s terminus it’s worthless. Run it to Brooklyn station with enough stops between and now it connects to something on both ends. People can go more than one direction from U-district to downtown, and everyone between Westlake and Brooklyn have decent transit. We seem to want to design transit around here as if people just go from the hinterland to the castle and back. Connect BOTH ends to somewhere and watch people flow across it.

      6. d.p.,

        It’s part of a network, and if you have a plan in your back pocket that gets us anywhere near Prague that I can vote for, I’ll support that too. To the point I was making, do you or do you not agree that this will boost Link ridership?

      7. d.p.,

        Go back to Part I of this post and tell me where you disagree with the methodology. Because right now I’m more inclined to believe N/N’s systematic study than your Kentucky windage guess as to where people want to go.

      8. d.p., we don’t have the money at the moment to build the entire network all at once. Instead we are going to have to do it piecemeal. I think it is unproductive to oppose this just b/c it won’t give us a full network. What it will do is give us MORE of a network, and help get people to and from Link.

      9. Martin and Matthew…

        Checked every link in every TMP analysis post. Poked around SDOT’s TMP site. Could not find any information on how they arrived at their ridership estimates.

        But even if we take their findings at face value, do you really believe that a few cents difference in cost per “new rider” is actually the best way to assess priorities? Independent of total ridership, quality of current service, and redundancy with nearby corridors?

        It was this sort of warped cost/benefit and “new rider per $” obsession that torpedoed the First Hill Link station — it could have been built, though it would have been expensive, and it would have made life a whole lot easier for thousands of transit riders. It was torpedoed because insufficient “new” ridership jeopardized federal funding.

        No, Martin, I do not believe an Eastlake streetcar will contribute to Link ridership. No one in their right mind is going to wait up to 15 minutes for a <10-block feeder in the U-District that fails to even directly connect. I have, in the past, said that I think a smaller, cheaper North U-District Link station around 55th would have been a good investment to help city-ize that part of the city. But the transfer penalty makes this alternative stupid.

        Eastlake won't contribute much to Link ridership. It is literally two blocks wide, houses fewer than 5000 (according to census records), and has but a handful of restaurants and businesses… and it's not even really being served.

        This frequent 66 rider finds that line's stop placement perfect: far apart enough to make it fast, but not so far as to make the walk a burden. The streetcar only serves two or the 66's four stops; most of those (scant) potential riders will suddenly be 10-12 minutes walk from this not-even-exclusive-ROW "Link feeder." Which, at the risk of repeating myself, doesn't connect directly with Brooklyn station and goes through many a SLU bottleneck before reaching Westlake. If anything, this will send more Eastlake trips back into their cars.

        But it seems like nobody’s basing the “cost per new rider” metric on this segment anyway. Do you have any proof that the current ridership cited to prove demand isn’t just the through-ridership that will, by definition, be diverted to Link? And it sounds like most of the new ridership is expected on the couplet downtown, conflated with the Eastlake extension for no better reason than that a 7-mile line sounds more impressive than a 1 mile downtown connector and Eastlake is the cheapest lengthy line to build, skewing the average cost down. No matter how you squint, this math is fuzzy. But if you’ve got the raw numbers, I’d love to see them

        This city has a track record of transit inertia. Getting it to make even minor operational changes is like pulling teeth, and getting it to build permanent transit infrastructure is like playing midwife to a reptile that only reproduces once in a hundred years. Everything I’ve learned about Seattle in my half decade of living here tells me that “supporting a project just to get something, anything, built” is deeply counterproductive.

        Here’s what we have lined up for our streetcars: multiple feeder lines that never stray more than a mile from the rapid transit, merely perform functions that the rapid transit should have performed in the first place, and aren’t even frequent enough to serve that feeder purpose well; plus one brand new corridor, which unfortunately turns out to be a criminally insufficient quasi-high-capacity line that any observer of Seattle precedent knows will pre-empt any real Ballard rail from being built for the next hundred years.

        As I said just above, the European cities that seem to be inspiring our streetcar fetishism have spent decades moving away from trams as long-distance transit modes. Their subways are their arteries; their trams are the capillaries. Like capillaries, their throughput is small but ubiquitous, and they connect to everywhere the blood needs to go. This Eastlake proposal, fuzzy numerical justifications notwithstanding, does not carry blood anywhere needed; it’s more like a hemorrhoid.

      10. dp,

        Try clicking on “ridership, efficiency, and greenhouse-gas metrics” in part I.

      11. Not sure why you’re so down on Eastlake, d.p. It’s about 5 blocks wide at Lynn St (6 if you count the houseboats) but it already has the zoning to get much denser in the next 20 years. The growth target for Seattle in that time is 120,000 people–I don’t think it’s out of the question that Eastlake could go from 5000 to 20000.

      12. Martin,

        I had clicked on that link. It explains their general methodology, but provides no numbers whatsoever.

        We have no idea what “existing corridor ridership” means — anyone who’s ever used the evening 71-73 slow boats to Hades knows that only the smallest fraction get on or off on Eastlake. Are all of those through-riders (future Link users) being used as a false base line? Who knows!?

        “Change in density” and “unmet travel demand” are also pretty pie-in-the-sky. How can we accept the validity of their estimates without even knowing what those estimates are?


        I like Eastlake. I like going there and wish I had more excuses to do so (I mentioned the 66 semi-express’s ideal stop spacing in my last post). But if your ridership expectations presume that a 26-square-block, mostly single-family neighborhood is going to will with unbroken density — and that neighborhood is located in fundamentally density-averse Seattle — then I have a gorgeous floating bridge I’d love to sell you!

        It all just makes me very sad for Seattle’s future. Present transit here is a present nightmare, and I’d rather it not remain a permanent nightmare. But when I imagine heading to Little Saigon or to LQA or to Eastlake after all of these streetcars have been built, I can’t help but picture myself still needing to walk most of the time. Because all of the corridors are slow+infrequent. And they’re slow+infrequent because they have been fundamentally misjudged. And when I get to Madison or E Boston or Harrison and the streetcar comes rumbling by two minutes after me, I can’t help but wonder where those investments could have gone that would actually have made a difference to this city’s transit disaster.


        I guess I take issue with this whole “TMP HCT Analysis” project-prioritizing series. The rankings are clearly attributable to wildly subjective statistical hypotheses. Hell, SDOT themselves seem reluctant to release a ranked list of priorities the way you have taken it upon yourself to do.

        And for good reason. I’m always talking about how this city’s transit lacks connectivity, how the transfer penalty to anywhere is 5x-8x what it should be. Lowest operating cost doesn’t matter if it doesn’t serve a priority connectivity need. “New riders per $” is a ridiculous metric if no Lowest operating cost doesn’t matter if it doesn’t serve a priority connectivity need is being met. Total ridership is, naturally, important. But improved speed and throughput along exiting corridors — which will obviously attract more riders anyway, lots of them new — is paramount no matter what the other metrics say.

        More on this in the Madison trunk corridor post…

      13. d.p. –

        Where do you get the impression that Eastlake is mostly single family? It’s mostly low-rise, but single-family is definitely the exception rather than the rule.

        (That said, the fact that it’s already largely multi-family and it’s still only 5,000 people suggests it’s unlikely to get much beyond 8,000 in the near future.)

      14. dp,

        I have absolutely no idea where you’re gleaning any sort of absolute priority for either corridor or mode in these posts. In fact, each one has expressed the ways in which you can spin just about any corridor or mode as the best one.

        SDOT will later release mode recommendations, but isn’t going to issue corridor priorities in any case.

        I can’t parse the key sentence in your last paragraph at all. N/N had a pretty exhaustive look at which corridors had enough demand to get treated at all, and then what subset deserved the HCT treatment. The 12 non-HCT corridors are going to get standard bus priority treatments, but those aren’t out yet.

      15. From walking around (and from poking around Google street view as a refresher just now), I’d estimate it’s about 50% single-family and 50% low-rise multi. Which is certainly better than a lot of this city.

        I can certainly imagine that the dumpier mid-20th century bungalows will give way to new multi-unit construction — more likely low-rise than even mid-rise. The owners of the grander, early-20th century houses will likely hold on to them and appreciate the rising property values. So maybe half of the single-families will be supplanted.

        I think a 60% increase in the neighborhood population — 8000-ish, as you suggested — is a reasonable maximum expectation.

      16. Martin,

        I guess I just think it’s weird to take 4 modes within 4 unrelated corridors and start ranking all 16 combinations for efficiency, and that it’s naive to think that doing so doesn’t implicitly posit unrelated ideas/needs/approaches-to-connectivity as competing against one another for priority treatment (better/sooner).

        My last sentence can be boiled down to “there’s nothing abstruse about our needs.” We need projects that fix speed, that fix connections, that fix real and psychological mobility blocks. “I am here; I need to go there; can I do that easily and quickly on transit or should I just get in my car?”

        That brings new riders. That turns transit occasionals into transit regulars.

        Here’s the contrast: wonky “new rider per $” metrics make the 4th/5th couplet downtown look great on paper. But even all those new riders can’t justify more than 10 minute frequencies, or 15 at night? — that’s a pretty lousy level of service just to cross downtown. Maybe the metrics that made that look good need to be treated with some suspicion!

      17. Why is it weird to compare all of the different corridors and modes? We clearly have limited transportation dollars. At some point someone has to decide which of these get built and which don’t, or at least the order in which they’re built. I don’t see why we should avoid that sort of prioritization discussion here, though I didn’t get the impression that that’s what Martin was trying to do with this series.

      18. A clarification/addendum (inspired by David’s question):

        I think Seattle and the region have a long, unfortunate history of treating corridors in isolation. The problem with looking at 16 options (4 modes x 4 corridors) and saying “this gets 10,000 riders and costs only Y dollars so let’s choose it over something else” is that you wind up blowing all of your money on a handful of corridors that might only yield 20 or 30 or 40,000 single-purpose riders, with no flexibility and no cross-usage.

        That’s precisely how you don’t build a network. That’s precisely how you don’t transition from an auto-focused city (+ cummute/special-occasion transit) to one with transit usage in its blood.

        The metric I would like to see is one that analyzes connections and through-trips enabled by a project. How many daily trips will use this segment as part of a larger journey? Specifically enumerate how many of them would have been: A)impossible; B)arduous; C)slightly less bad under prior conditions.

        No corridor is worth tens or hundreds of millions just for their immediate neighbors, and the many frankly shouldn’t be asked to pay for something that primarily benefits so few. But if a corridor truly contributes to system integration, then the widely shouldered expenditure is worth it.

        All of the metrics discussed in this five-part series are about corridors in isolation. We haven’t learned a thing about what should be our foremost concern.

      19. d.p., did you view the entire presentation? Prioritization is to be given in September. Even before Nelson/Nygard give their pronouncemnt, I can see that the CC2 corridor is synergystic with both corridor 8 and corridor 11. It makes sense that CC2 would be priotitized over 8 and 11.

        Also, there’s nothing wrong with taking an incremental approach to the implementation. After CC2, you could extend the SLUT along Fairview and Eastlake, then add a spur on Westlake. You could save the decision about how to cross the ship canal for a later day. It is a 20 year plan, after all.

      20. I’m not sure why d.p. has said SLU is within walking distance to Link. Would their best route to the UW or points north involve backtracking on the existing SLUT to downtown and Link? Maybe. Would people near Stewart and Denny have a shot at walking up the hill to Cap Hill station if they’re able-bodied? Maybe, but asking someone to walk from, say, Fred Hutch to Link seems a bit excessive.

        Oh wait, “in a REAL city it’d be nothing.”

      21. Morgan, I did not say that no one along the Eastlake corridor would benefit from this, nor did I say that Eastlake needs no transit improvements.

        Here’s what I believe:

        – There is an awful lot of duplication with Link along the route (same endpoints + the entire northern 1.5 miles of the route).

        – Given the level of duplication, I am distrustful that much of the estimated ridership actually require this line. (There’s a difference between using something because it’s there and actually needing it.) My hunch is that the ridership along the unique corridor is a fraction of the hypothetical total.

        – Even if you think “using something because it’s there” is a valid justification for the duplicative portions, I don’t actually believe many will make the choice to wait for something so infrequent for their last-0.5-mile needs.

        – This corridor is less likely to serve a connective purpose for a plethora of Seattleites. There’s a difference between serving 25,000 different people for various reasons at various times and serving the same exact 25,000 individuals every single day with no variation and no benefit to others. The former is a better value than the latter.

        – I never said Eastlake has no ridership needs and couldn’t stand to see improvements. Replacing the ultra-local buses with an all-hour semi-express (with only the 66’s four Eastlake stops) should be done yesterday. It’s one of many corridors that should see such improvements. But as a priority or as a good value for rail investment — despite statistical manipulations to imply otherwise — I think it’s less vital.

        p.s. Stewart/Denny gets precisely no benefit from this proposal. Westlake station is barely 1 minute’s walk further than the Westlake/Denny streetcar. But really, if you want to help those people up the hill, you’ve got to fix our crosstown transit network (the 8).

      22. I never said you were saying Eastlake wouldn’t benefit from this. I said that you had said ONLY Eastlake would benefit from this, implying SLU is within easy walking distance to Link.

      23. Well, no one south of Mercer, is getting a better trip to the U-District out of this than SLUT+Link or walk+Link would be giving them anyway.

  9. Walking from Roosevelt/Campus Parkway to the campus area is going to be a tough sell. I’d really like to see this go onto Campus Parkway, then go up Brooklyn or the Ave (or both as a couplet), turn onto Ravenna Blvd and then up Roosevelt/12th to get to Roosevelt Station. That brings it psychologically closer to campus, takes it right past the Brooklyn/45th St Link station and draws in a much denser walkshed with a lot of commercial demand between 40th and 55th.

    1. I don’t know who’s studied this, but I know the walksheds for students are MUCH larger than the rest of the population. Most of the U-district already walks to class from as far as Wallingford – and this is many blocks closer.

      1. UW transportation has studies and data on this. I was looking at it a couple of days ago and off the top of my head it was something like 65% that lived within a mile of campus walked (2nd fastest), 15% rode a bike (fastest) and the rest were split pretty evenly between drive and transit (transit being slowest and least reliable because of wait time/headway). Between 1 mile and 2 miles it starts to shift away from walking in favor of transit and driving with bike share remaining fairly constant.

      2. Some anecdotes:

        My wife used to walk to and from UW from south Green Lake. She loved her commute, though she’s also said she’d probably bike if she were doing it again now.

        On the other hand, I used to commute to Eastlake from the U-District on the 70, and I’d typically see15-20 students getting on around 52nd and the Ave and getting off just before the 70 turns to Campus Parkway. A lot of students seemed to do this opportunistically — to walk along the 70 route and get on if one came along. It probably saved them a few minutes. This route would likely lose those riders.

      3. There is a fairly good sized chunk of students getting off the 66 at 42nd to walk to campus. For that matter the stop at Campus Parkway is right next to thousands of dorm rooms and a large classroom building.

        For that matter don’t forget the thousands of students parking in the vast Montlake lots and taking a pretty good hike up the hill and across campus to get to class.

        Would a stop right next to or even on-campus be better from ridership standpoint? Probably, but in general it is easier to convince students to walk a bit than other transit riders.

    2. I’m pretty sure this route (Eastlake-12th/11th/Roosevelt) was chosen because it is an existing commuter arterial pseudo-highway. Parking and left turns are not allowed in peak commute direction and signals are timed, so traffic ends up close to 40 mph in two lanes heading all the way to 80th or so. It actually moves more quickly than I-5 most of the time. Presumably the streetcar could be fairly rapid too. As the PDF notes, “Rail could operate in mixed traffic or a dedicated lane.”

      1. For the record, the two-way couplet ends right about at 75th, though there are transitions in both directions to/from Lake City Way (apparently this was the former route of what’s now 522 before I-5 existed – a bit like Highway 99E in Portland). The 66/67, though, continue up Roosevelt to 80th before turning onto 5th Ave NE; most motorists would use Banner Way to perform the same motion, but presumably the 66/67 is more interested in not having the walkshed cut in half by I-5.

    3. Definitely. I don’t know how useful it is to have it go to Roosevelt Station though because once it’s turned onto Campus Parkway and then terminated directly above Brooklyn station people could transfer to the Link just fine.

      1. So when I get on the SLUT at South Lake Union Park, I can either stay in place for 15 additional minutes to get from Brooklyn Station to Roosevelt Station, or spend 10-20 minutes leaving the streetcar, going downstairs, tagging my ORCA, waiting for a train, coming back upstairs, and tagging my ORCA?

        Which do you think I’ll choose?

      2. Are you actually suggestion that we don’t make efficient stations? LOL. Everyone wants a one seat ride to every single destination. If I think you had to choose between a Wonkavator or a decent metro system you’d choose the Wonkavator because it takes you directly to your door. The question is do we have to spend another $100 million dollars duplicating service we already have just because someone doesn’t want to spend a minute to go downstairs and tap their ORCA?

        The ONLY reason I can see to run this to Roosevelt Station is the number of stops. The Link won’t have any between Brooklyn and Roosevelt.

      3. Grant, I’m saying you need to stop thinking about nodes and start thinking about corridors. Transfers are far from zero-cost. Link provides the express service up the Brooklyn/Roosevelt corridor. This extension would provide the local service. And in many cases, it makes sense to remain on the local despite the availability of a transfer to the express.

        When I used to commute into Manhattan, I would always prefer to take the C from 34th to 86th rather than take the A to 59th and transfer, even though doing so would make it possible to catch either the B or C to 86th. Sometimes this had a measurable time penalty on my commute, but it involved far less mental and physical exertion.

      4. The point isn’t one person going from Lake Union Park to Roosevelt station. It’s one person going from Lake Union Park to 55th, and another person going from 50th to Roosvelt, and a third going from Campus Parkway to Roosevelt.

      5. Before reading this post my thinking was that an Eastlake streetcar might terminate somewhere near the campus, maybe on Campus Parkway, maybe near Brooklyn Station. It’s worth noting that U-Link and North Link will make Campus Parkway substantially less useful as a transfer point.

  10. My immediate thought upon seeing this was it’d be great if Sound Transit could ultimately connect this Eastlake line with the First Hill line. It seems like the First Hill streetcar could continue running down the hill on 10th and terminate at Roanoke Park. Riders wanting to transfer lines would only need to walk a couple of blocks from there over to Eastlake Ave (and vice versa).

    1. That would be a hellish walk across the interstate and down to Eastlake. Better would be to continue the streetcar all the way down to the University Bridge and meet up there, although the grade would be tough on a modern streetcar. In this case a trolley-bus works much better. Keep the 49, but have it go over to 12th in Capitol Hill and continue south to Beacon Hill.

      1. I’d be all for a trolley bus from the University Bridge up to Broadway. But I don’t necessarily think the walk from Roanoke Park down to Eastlake Ave would be THAT bad. Granted, I don’t know the area that well, and that hill would kind of suck. But people in Seattle are pretty used to walking up and down hills. I walk up and down Boren every day.

      2. Brian, you are mad if you think that anyone would walk that hill on a regular basis.

      3. I think the grade is OK for a modern streetcar. I’d mostly be concerned about the low density of the corridor between Roanoke and Aloha.

  11. This is a great route. It leverages our investment in the SLU and FH SC’s by connecting them via the downtown couplet, and it provides great service along Eastlake while providing an additional connection to Link at the Roosevelt Station. This route makes perfect sense for the next SC investment after FH.

    An alternative terminus might be to move it more to the east after crossing the bridge and terminate at the Brooklyn Station instead, but there is a lot of growth along Roosevelt/11th Ave. And the demand along that corridor is only going to get stronger when what is going on with UDPA plays its course.

    This makes sense.

    1. I agree. I love this route, especially in conjunction with a 1st Ave streetcar that connects to both this and FHS.

  12. Do I see few stops, complicated geography, and a congested corridor? This is a job for Gondolaman*. Start at the end of the streetcar, and hit point B on the map above. From there you could go right to the Ave, since you don’t have to worry about silly streets or waterways. From there I’d make a sharp turn and follow the BG trail to the UW station. It might not have as high of ridership, but it would be quick – about 3.5 minutes from Eastlake to the Ave. And it would get you from the UW station to somewhere useful like the Ave. We might even get UW to chip in, since it really would mostly serve university students.

    * unlike Spiderman who has to make his own rope and swing around on it wildly, Gondolaman travels slowly slacklining on power lines, while enjoying the view.

    1. Having troubles here Matt da E,

      Which one is the UW station, again? Is that the one on University Ave in the University (of Washington) District, the One at UW Husky Stadium or the one on University Street (near the original and UW properties). Or is the bus stop(s)at UW Bothell, or is it Union Station next to the UW Tacoma?

      I thought we agreed :-) Husky Stadium, U-District, Roosevelt, Northgate!!

      1. They should call it Brooklyn Station as originally planned. Brooklyn is a good name for a neighborhood–U District is not. U District just feeds the idea that the neighborhood is only for students. If they call it Brooklyn Station people might start using the old name again.

      2. ZW,

        Where on Brooklyn street is that station?

        Right smak-dab in the middle of the U-District.

      3. ST would have to license the logo. Also, the logo changes fairly often (although not soon enough to get rid of the current weasel). A real husky could be based on Canis Major if ST wants to run with the big dogs.

      4. Brooklyn station is a nod to northeast Seattle’s history. “U-District station”, while functional, is somewhat boring, and it would mean three stations with the word university in them. The majority of people at the poll during the last station meeting preferred U-district, but I still favor Brooklyn. (And Symphony for the one in the middle of downtown.)

      5. I keep feeling like people who support “Symphony” do so because they feel it’s the least bad option. I still favor “Seattle City Center” or “Financial District”; once U-Link opens Downtown won’t be a terminus anymore so we won’t need to append “Seattle” to Westlake’s name to serve that purpose.

  13. This route would definitely need exclusive right-of-way on Eastlake, as otherwise the bumper-to-bumper SOV stacked up across both lanes would jack up the transit times just as badly as the autos do the 70 and 66. Or some sort of handling for the bidaily SOV crush to and from downtown, apart from sit-in-it-and-enjoy-the-car-fumes.

    1. If they do BRT in the Eastlake corridor they really need to do something about the horrible condition of the pavement on that street. Of course part of the problem is all of the buses using the corridor shred the heck out of the street.

  14. One slight complication with the cost savings on this is that Link will make the 71/72/73 express routes unnecessary, so they might eliminate the 70/66 anyway.

    If we do extend the streetcar up Eastlake, another possibility to consider would be having the 71/72/73 replace the 49 and 43.

    1. They would never eliminate the 70 when Link opens! They have the same endpoints but are not redundant routes. People actually do live in Eastlake.

      1. I know, I live there in fact, but I don’t think they would run the 71-73 as express routes any more after Link opens. Right now, the 70 only runs when the 71-73 are running their express routes, and on evenings/Sundays the local 71-73 replace the 70. With Link, there would be much less need for an express bus between downtown and the university district, so it is likely that these routes would become always local. Then there may not be any need for a 70.

      2. You’ve got it backwards. There’d no longer be any need for a 71/2/3 at all when the 70 fills the same role as the 71/2/3 local. Keep in mind how much ridership on that corridor is between the U-District and downtown, and how the tails of those routes could be modified or deleted once Link is built out.

    2. Wait, wait, I’ve got a much more radical idea for what to do with the 71-73, not to mention the 48.

      Split the 48 into two routes, a north-south route and an east-west route. The east-west replaces the 71 — now Ravenna/View Ridge gets more frequent service with a transfer to light rail at Roosevelt station, or they can continue on toward Crown Hill. Maybe they still have rush-hour only express service, but they have to transfer to get to the U-district. The north/south part of the 48 is combined with either the 72 or 73, maybe both, or maybe one of them gets combined with either the 70 or the 49. This way we get substantial bus-hour savings out of Link. All the buses between Roosevelt station and the University district should be put on the same corridor so there is still high frequency bus service, possibly in addition to this streetcar.

      1. For the 72, my preferred option is to have one local route on 25th and Ravenna replacing the 72 and 68. The 73 and/or 48s would need to be REALLY frequent to serve all those intra-Ave trips, though.

      2. The 72 or 73 just don’t have the same demand as the N/S portion of the 48. Conversely given the ridership between the U-District and Mt. Baker station along 23rd/Montlake/Pacific/15th you really can’t serve that with the comparatively low frequency of the 72 or 73.

        A far better proposal is to eliminate both the 72 and 73 and increase frequency and service span on the 372 and 373 to match the 72 and 73.

        While I like the idea of combining the E/W portion of the 71 with the E/W portion of the 48 it appears Metro has different ideas. Their proposal is to merge the E/W tail of the 71 with the Greenlake to Fremont portion of the 26. Personally I don’t like adding yet more feeder routes that wind all over heck and back which tends to make them slow. I’d rather see grid-like N/S and E/W service that makes limited stops and turns as little as possible. The proposal for the 372 and 373 meets that criteria, the one for the 71/26 does not.

    3. It’s pretty clear that the 71/72/73 will be split when north Link opens (or maybe University Link, but that’s less likely). The expresses will be eliminated; the evening locals will be absorbed into the 70 or this new line. That leaves the northern tails. It looks like Metro favors absorbing the 72 into the 372, and the 73 into the 373, although they may not run full time.

      The 71 could be joined to the 48-north or to a new route to NW 65th. But the 48-north is so heavily-ridden I doubt they’ll change it. One idea in the budget-cutting spreadsheet was to join the 71 to the 26, with Roosevelt station in the middle. (Perhaps it would be truncated at Fremont if the Fremont line is approved.) I also hope they consider sending the 71-with-Roosevelt to Magnuson Park to replace the 30-east. But that may require attaching the Wedgwood tail to some unknown route, and I’m not sure what route that would be.

      1. NW 65th looks like a gap in the grid, but it’s not that navigable for buses as you get close to Phinney and the lake, and it’s closer to Market St than Metro usually allows for east-west buses in North Seattle. I’ve teased a NW 65th route that turns up Linden (allowing RR E to stay on Aurora) to Winona, than turns and heads up N 80th to NE 80th or NE 75th, inheriting parts of the 72 or 68, and ending in Wedgwood (or inheriting the 71’s Wedgwood tail).

        Apparently the plan for the 71-cum-26 was to eventually take a circuitous route to the U-District, with the 5 inheriting the 26/28’s Dexter routing. Sending the 71 to Magnuson Park would also require either replacing the 30’s routing on 50th, 20th, and Ravenna, or providing better service on 45th between 15th and U-Village than the 25.

  15. This image says “Stations”, whereas the Madison image says “Major stations”. So I wonder if they’re assuming it’ll have other stations, the way RapidRide has “stations” and “stops”.

  16. I’m having second thoughts about the 45th-to-65th segment. I do feel strongly that there needs to be a frequent route from 40th to 65th, and that it should have more than just long-distance routes (48, 66). But whether that should be attached to the Eastlake route is a different question. Splitting the 48 may be good enough, and is long overdue.

Comments are closed.