Westlake & Dexter stop
Westlake & Dexter stop

SDOT’s Transit division is restoring and rehabilitating a pair of old streetcar stops, which, with the passage of time, have become rather dilapidated bus stops. One is in the Rainier Valley, for which a community meeting was held last week, and another is just outside Fremont, at the intersection of Westlake and Dexter, for which the meeting is this at 6:00 PM this Thursday at History House of Greater Seattle, in Fremont.

The Fremont shelter probably lost quite a bit of ridership in the September 2012 service chance, when Route 40, which runs through the heart of Fremont, replaced Route 17, for which this stop is the closest to Fremont. Still, the stop continues to serve about 50 riders per day, despite its current sad state. Getting this stop shipshape, ideally with better lighting and real-time arrival information, would be a real service to riders.

35 Replies to “SDOT Restoring Old Fremont Streetcar Stop”

  1. Doesn’t Route 40 operate twice as often (every 15 minutes weekdays/Saturdays) than the route it replaced (Route 17, every 30 minutes)? so how can this stop lose ridership? (of course, Route 17 stayed on the south side of the Ship Canal and crossed over at Ballard Bridge, while the Route 40 crosses over at the Fremont Bridge).

    1. The theory behind Bruce’s comment is that now people can catch the 40 at the central Fremont stop, whereas before they would have crossed the bridge to get the 17 at the pictured stop. I’m a bit skeptical, because I think most of them would have just caught the 26 or 28 rather than crossing the bridge.

      1. If the 17 was five minutes out and the 26/28 were >7, you were always better off crossing the bridge. Even if only, say, 5% of Fremont riders did so, 5% of the number of boardings at 34th/Fremont is a significant fraction of 50.

      2. As a daily 40 rider (who mostly rides about an hour after peak), I see quite a few people boarding and alighting on the south side of the ship canal.

        My best guess is that they are transferring to the 31 and 32, and do not want to ride the bus across the bridge in the wrong direction just to see their connection pass them by.

      3. Sure, and some are walking to/from houses in the northeast corner of Queen Anne. I’d guess most of the people that use free Westlake parking as a P&R do it farther south, but I guess it’s possible some do it there.

        The stop also would have had some activity from Fremont-Ballard riders before the 40 took that over, but only exiting.

      4. I always used to get off at the stop before this when headed to Fremont. Partly to save the next two lights on the bus (and because jaywalking at Florentia was surprisingly easy), and partly because the Dexter bus stop was a trash-strewn, rat-infested Mad Max environment where more often than not you’d be let off the back door into 3-foot tuft of prairie grass.

        I’d hesitate to call this shelter a valuable historic artifact, but any attention paid to this corner that helps to make it feel like it exists in the city — rather than in one of Seattle’s liminal no-man’s-lands a stone’s throw from our urban centers — is a good thing.

  2. Metro’s guidelines for shelters require a minimum of 50 daily riders for the stop just to consider having a shelter. Lighting and real time info are seriously expensive, and I would question allocating those resources to a stop with such low ridership, instead of any number of other stops which each serve far more riders.

    1. agree- There have to be dozens of stops in the U district with orders of magnitude more riders that would be a better use of real time info. For instance, Brooklyn and 45th St always has crowds of people waiting during rush hour, and it doesn’t even have a printed schedule posted. That seems like a better location to target for upgrades.

    2. Yeah, that little comment on the end of the article seemed off to me too. Fix it up (it does have some historic value after all). But investing in new equipment and lighting would be a huge waste for such low ridership.

  3. I’m confused about jurisdiction. Is SDOT funding the rehab b/c the stops belonged on the old, city-owned trolley line? Or, is this just interagency cooperation? Who is normally responsible for building and maintaining stop shelters?

    1. Metro is mostly responsible for the construction and maintenance of their own shelters, but SDOT frequently spends their own money to construct new shelters, benches, realtime signs, bus bulbs, and other facilities improvements on routes the city has identified as important — essentially giving Metro free stuff, to benefit Seattle transit riders.

      As others have pointed out, this stop isn’t one that would generally get a shelter, but given that there’s a semi-derelict historic one here, which is arguably worse than no shelter at all, it’s getting rehabbed.

    2. Hey, Ryan, speaking of ownership, if city owns the Interurban Statue across the canal, why not move it to a Fremont location where the South Lake Union route will have a Fremont stop on its way to Ballard? Just extend the canopy, add some benches, and wire and plumb it for an espresso stand.

      Mark Dublin

  4. The stop here looks like it was built to serve southbound Westlake and northbound Dexter. The Dexter stop has been moved well south of here (as has the southbound one), perhaps to get out of the way of the intersection.

    I can’t see how any money spent on utilities and maintenance for real-time arrival systems would be well spent in this location. This streetcar stop survived basically because nothing else was going on at this corner. Nothing continues to happen there all day and night, and with the terrain and street layout nothing will keep on happening there forever.

    1. Isn’t there some manner of channelized street vehicle being planned in that general vicinity in the near future?

  5. I saw what looked like a vintage train stop shelter in the parking lot at the corner of Spokane St. and East Marginal Way. I expected both these posts to be about that. Does anyone know what that is about?

  6. The old trolley stop in the RV actually looks kind of cool. The path going through it connects through to Seward Park Ave. in a place where the street network is otherwise broken up. Comments in the linked article about it include historic photos of an even older shelter there.

    1. The Rainier Avenue shelter could be very nice, but it is located in what is currently the roughest part of the RV. It also doesn’t work as a transfer point to any other bus line, although with 200 boardings a day, it is a busy stop. The fact that it’s impervious to vandalism is a plus. What it really needs is a new roof and some landscaping..

    1. B-b-b-but I was told by commenters on this blog that streetcars can’t possibly handle the grade of Dexter Avenue, and that’s why the Not-So-Rapid Streetcar must use Westlake Avenue! Those photographs must be LIES!

      1. Has anyone ever seriously claimed Dexter’s grade as a reason not to send a streetcar down it?

        The real reason not to send a streetcar down Dexter is that building an at-grade, in-traffic streetcar to Fremont is stupid.

        If for whatever reason we decide to blow our money on a streetcar, connecting existing tracks to Dexter would ensure that the streetcar would use Dexter where it’s slower (from the bridge to the Mercer backup) and Westlake where it’s slower (in the Mercer backup and south of there); also the jog between Westlake and Dexter would be the cause of really bad delays in congested traffic.

      2. It would also put the trains where the people are—and where they’re already being left behind by buses.

        There is a huge demand between Amazon HQ and Fremont/34th in the evening rush. Actually, 36th/Evanston might even be the more popular endpoint. We can fit way more people on an articulated streetcar than we can on a 40′ Orion coach.

      3. “There is a huge demand between Amazon HQ and Fremont/34th in the evening rush.”

        That demand would be completely met by 7.5-minute service on the 40 corridor, without the need to waste capital funds that should be used on grade-separated projects, and with much faster travel time than a Dexter streetcar.

        Dexter is dense, but, unlike central SLU, won’t ever get more dense. Dexter residents working in SLU already have a very good choice with the 26/28 and a short walk.

      4. I just fail to see how sending trains weaving between Westlake and Dexter solves the riders’ problem. If trains were already heading out of downtown on a route conducive to exiting via Dexter, great — Dexter is much faster through SLU and isn’t a long walk from Amazon.

        If we need to solve a capacity problem between downtown, Fremont, and Ballard during the PM rush we can do it without the expense of tearing up the whole street for rail. If we’re going to spend the money to build rail and buy trains we should buy some speed and reliability with that money.

      5. It would not have to weave.

        Here’s an idea of what I’m talking about. Note that the new line passes by both the new Amazon HQ and the Gates Foundation.

        I’m explicitly not trying to solve transit to Ballard with this idea. I’m solely trying to increase peak capacity to Dexter Ave and lower Fremont. This would be an in-city workhorse line, not a Pony Express. That’s what Link is for.

        As far as increasing density on Dexter, Holland is doing just that with the currently-fallow site near Dexter and Highland. And there is plenty of development opportunity to the north—parking lots, one-story commercial, single-family homes.

      6. What on earth would that accomplish that the 26 and 28 don’t, particularly if you made them more frequent?

        I’m not that interested in spending big bucks on capital projects to be stuck with the same slow service we have now. Save the money so we can build more grade-separated things that really will make a practical, rather than atmospheric, difference.

    2. Many older lines would be a single track line in the median, what we would now call a left turn lane. This separated the streetcar lines from auto traffic somewhat. There is a nice obliging left turn lane on Dexter, but I don’t know if anyone would tolerate mixing through streetcar traffic with left turn traffic through there.

      1. The three-lane part of Dexter isn’t the part that needs a traffic bypass. Traffic flows unimpeded from the Nickerson intersection to Mercer with rare exceptions, and bus bulbs already allow buses to avoid the delay of pulling out and back in to traffic. Bypasses are needed in the places they’re hardest to get at-grade: approaches to the Fremont Bridge, SLU, and downtown.

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