Mayor McGinn’s office announced last week that Seattle has selected Nelson/Nygaard, authors of the City’s Transit Master Plan (TMP), to conduct the federally funded $900,000 study of the downtown connector on 4th and 5th Avenues, which we discussed in detail last year.
The TMP argues that the connector is the most cost-effective streetcar line in terms of gaining new riders, although that’s largely a function of its length and it would presumably score worse in a passenger-mile calculation. It is also attractive because it links the two more advanced lines, is one of the cheaper streetcar options at $74m in capital, and is a necessary component of any line out to Fremont or up Eastlake.
Seattle’s next round of streetcar construction is supposed to be “rapid streetcar,” implying more priority treatments than the South Lake Union Line. However, observers of the First Hill Streetcar construction might be skeptical of SDOT’s fortitude in giving large transit investments the priority they deserve.