Streetcars Undergoing Maintenance in 2005 (King County – Flickr)
Benson Streetcars in 2005 (King County – Flickr)

King County Metro announced Friday that it has officially sold three of the five George Benson Waterfront Streetcars to the city of St. Louis for $200,000. The vintage streetcars have been idle since construction of Olympic Sculpture Park in 2005 razed their sole maintenance facility.

Metro has been looking to sell the cars for some time, and St Louis first expressed interest back in 2012. Metro is looking to expand its Sodo bus bases to accommodate a rapidly growing fleet, and they are also on the hook to repay $205,000 in FTA grants if the streetcars are not returned to service in some form.

In the agreement announced yesterday, Metro will retain ownership of the two cars but SDOT will store them elsewhere (location TBD) for an additional two years to buy time for a private venture called “Friends of the Benson Trolleys” to fundraise enough to retrofit them for a potential return to service. Though the waterfront alignment is likely permanently closed – and some of the Pioneer Square trackage has been removed and/or paved over – SDOT has indicated a willingness to mix vintage and modern cars if/when the Center City Connector is built. The high-floor, non-ADA compliant streetcars would need significant work to be able to share platforms with the South Lake Union and First Hill lines.

The private group Friends of the Benson Trolleys is led by a high-power group of current and former executives, increasing their chances of fundraising success. They include:

  • Tom Gibbs, Former Metro General Manager
  • Ben Franz-Knight, Executive Director of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority
  • Don Blakeney, Vice President of Economic Development at the Downtown Seattle Association (and former Executive Director of the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area)
  • Tomio Moriguchi, Chairman of Uwajimaya
  • Frank Shrontz, Boeing CEO from 1986-1996

At press time the group did not have a fundraising page that I could find. Stay tuned.

The full release from King County Metro is below the jump…

A citizen campaign is underway to maintain the presence of the George Benson streetcars as part of Seattle’s new streetcar network.

The private venture, Friends of the Benson Trolleys, is launching a two-year fundraising effort to retrofit the streetcars so they can operate on Seattle streetcar tracks and be placed in service alongside the modern cars.

The remaining three cars have been sold to the city of St Louis and will be placed into service on the heritage trolley line that will serve the Delmar Loop district and University City, Missouri. The city’s Loop Trolley District will pay approximately $200,000 for the trolleys.

“While we would prefer to have all five cars return in Seattle, we believe that if we can put the remaining two cars back in service we will honor George Benson’s legacy and provide a link between the historic districts in Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market,” said former Metro General Manager Tom Gibbs, who has long advocated for the Benson cars. Gibbs and other advocates are leading the Friends of the Benson Trolleys effort and will immediately begin a fundraising campaign to bring the cars back into operation.

The waterfront streetcars – originally operating along the Seattle Waterfront and the Chinatown-International District – have been stored in a warehouse in SoDo since being taken out of service in 2005. In support of the citizen-led effort, Seattle has agreed to help store the remaining cars for two years pending the outcome of the private fundraising campaign. For now, ownership of the vehicles will remain with King County.

The Benson streetcars, originally constructed in Melbourne, Australia, were brought to Seattle in 1982 by Seattle City Councilmember George Benson to operate on Seattle’s waterfront.  In 1990, the line was extended through Pioneer Square to Chinatown-International District and the cars were further retrofitted with funding from the Federal Transit Administration. In 2005, the streetcars were forced out of service by the construction of the Olympic Sculpture Park, which required demolition of the maintenance barn that housed them. Since then various proposals have been made to put them back in service, but that has proven difficult due to lack of funding and construction related to the Central Waterfront, Seawall, and Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement projects.

King County Metro has stored the vintage Benson streetcars for more than a decade, but the old warehouse is in poor condition and its site is needed for bus base expansion to serve King County’s growing transit needs. Continued storage of the cars would have necessitated an expensive move and a new warehouse. In addition, last year, the Federal Transit Administration informed King County that if the streetcars are not put back in service soon, Metro will need to repay the federal government’s remaining investment in the cars of about $205,000.

“Metro is very proud of our history with the Benson streetcars, but we need to balance that with our obligation to serve the people of King County with efficient bus service as our region continues to grow,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond.

The City of Seattle is currently planning a Center City Connector primarily on 1st Avenue that will link the Westlake terminus of the South Lake Union Streetcar with the Pioneer Square terminus of the First Hill Streetcar. Seattle has indicated that it is open to a mix of vintage and modern streetcars, but does not have funds available for restoration of the vehicles. The city has agreed to store the cars for up to two years to give private interests the opportunity to raise the money needed to upgrade the Benson streetcars to meet modern operating standards and ADA requirements.

Advocates for putting the vintage Benson streetcars back in service have worked hard over the past decade to find a way to run them on the streets of Seattle again.

While an agreement has been reached to bring the three trolleys to St. Louis, there are still several details to be worked out regarding the move and storage of the remaining two streetcars.  The goal of all parties is to get the Benson streetcars out of the warehouse and to achieve a win-win-win solution that will keep at least part of the rich heritage of the vintage cars in our region.

73 Replies to “Metro, SDOT Keep Two Benson Streetcars for Future Use”

    1. Also, there’s no *freaking* way these things will run on the 1st avenue line. Sounds like they’re playing lip service so they can say “we tried” and eventually sell the last two.

    2. Like most streetcars, their currency is sentimental value. Even as a streetcar skeptic I admit it’d be fun to see them back on the streets occasionally, especially if privately funded.

      1. That’s it exactly. None of our streetcars are a good value from a public transportation standpoint, nor will they ever be. But they are cute. These are even cuter.

      2. Remember, all you need with buses is paint.
        Paint for the roadway, paint for the bus.

        When they ran the FREE ….. Route 99 Bus that looked EXACTLY like the trolleys, with their snappy paint job…

        the public flocked to the waterfront like schools of fish to ride them.

        The were stuffed to the gills !!

        Yessireee.

      3. @Zach,

        It’s ok to be a streetcar skeptic, but I my experience streetcar skeptics fall into two categories: 1) those who recognize the need for bigger solutions like LR or subway and are impatient with half steps, and 2) those who for whatever reason have never seen a bus that they didn’t love. Neither is the correct approach when evaluating SC’s.

        SC’s are not a substitute for LR or subway, and they aren’t intended as such. Nor are they a good substitute for buse on long thin routes or on suburban service. But there is a niche on dense urban routes with high demand where SC can be a better solution than buses.

        And not all the pluses of SC are directly related to transportation. Quality ultimately sells, and SC’s are considered to be a quality solution which can avoid many of the negatives of buses.

        But we will get to see very soon when the FHSC opens. I personally think their opening date is a bit too aggressive and I am worried about startup and in service problems (hasn’t goon that we’ll so far), but I generally suspect that it will be a success and will be expanded. Thank gawd it is finally going to open.

    3. San Francisco has a mix of vintage streetcars on its F line. In the evenings only the 1950s streetcars run for baseline service (and are as fast, smooth, and quiet as modern streetcars in my amateur opinion), but in the daytime some 1880s and 1920s streetcars also run (slower, bumpier, and louder).

      So if two Benson streetcars are added to Seattle’s fleet, the effect will be similar: you’ll see them on some runs but not all of them, and you won’t know which streetcar you’ll get at any particular time unless you know the run schedule.

      1. The right thing to do is the sell or gift them to Muni. They’ll be run in regular service as they were meant to do.

        By the way, Muni does run some the Milan cars at night also. There are more in the daytime, but some do run. I rode one just a month and a half ago fairly late in the evening when Fisherman’s Wharf was closing up.

      2. Accessible stops that support modern and historic streetcars are… not trivial. In that case it looks like the two platforms are both high-floor but different heights, because San Francisco. Or maybe it’s that the platform for the historic ‘cars is mostly low (for access to steps), but one of the doors uses level high-floor boarding? I’m not a SF train expert.

        I’ve never been on one of the Benson ‘cars, I’ve only seen the abandoned stops… so I don’t know whether boarding is level from their platforms or requires more steps. Maybe a long enough platform could have a ramp for level boarding of Benson ‘cars and a flat section long enough to cover all the doors of the modern vehicles. It’s not like we’re going to run long vehicles on the CCC.

      3. The right thing to do is the sell or gift them to Muni. They’ll be run in regular service as they were meant to do.

        I agree. It’s been painfully obvious Seattle/Metro was never going to do anything with these other than keep them locked up where nobody could benefit. Kudos to St. Louis. Maybe it’ll take some of the sting out of losing their pointyball team. Send them on their way with a couple of boxes of old Sonics memorabilia.

        I wonder if the Seattle Center would be willing to take them on? Or, I’d love to see one or both incorporated into a Transportation Museum. Perhaps a display at King Street Station?

      4. I’ve never been on one of the Benson ‘cars, I’ve only seen the abandoned stops… so I don’t know whether boarding is level from their platforms or requires more steps. Maybe a long enough platform could have a ramp for level boarding of Benson ‘cars and a flat section long enough to cover all the doors of the modern vehicles.

        The photo posted here shows a car at a typical platform:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/08/12/waterfront-transit/

        That’s why places from Memphis to Saint Louis want this particular car design: it is really easy to make it into something that is wheelchair accessible. The ramp at this station is behind the shelter, but if you look at the few remaining stations you will see that there were ramps at most of them.

        To make this work at a platform, you would have to plan the station a bit. What TriMet did at the mixed Vintage Trolley / MAX platforms was to put the raised platform for Vintage Trolley in a place where the MAX doors would never be positioned.

        This should not be hard to do with the Central City Connector. Take a look at a First Hill Streetcar:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Hill_Streetcar#/media/File:First_Hill_Streetcar_vehicle_on_display,_March_2015.jpg
        An entire segment of the car on each side has no doors at all. Just put the raised platform for the vintage cars there.

        For that matter, put the platform there, and put another door hole into the side of the First Hill streetcars so they can board and detrain at the raised platform as well. It would at least give them another door opening.

      5. and as a side benefit, Seattle gets to add to it’s ‘City of Transit Oddities’ credentials.

      6. Al Dimond, the streetview you linked is of one of Muni’s few stations that is served by both light rail and the historic streetcars. The more substantial platform on the far side of the track is for the light rail vehicles, which are high-floor with level boarding and doors on both sides.* The near side of the track is served by the historic streetcars, which are high-floor with onboard steps. Typically they only pull up to the sidewalk-height portion, but for ADA boarding needed they serve the mini-high platform and deploy a manual bridge plate.

        For theoretical platforms shared between modern streetcars and Benson streetcars in Seattle, it would seem that only the nearside setup from the Muni platform would be needed. The modern cars (low floor/internal steps) currently operate fine with a slightly raised curb. The Benson cars could be minimally accommodated with a single mini-high platform at its service locations. Possibly, they could instead be retrofitted with some sort of internal or external stairs and operate at typical modern streetcar stops, but that might not be ADA compliant.

        In Portland, they ran a (replica) “Vintage Trolley” with onboard stairs as a special service on the MAX and Portland Streetcar right of way. To be fair, legacy MAX platforms already had mini-high platforms, but as far as I know the Portland Streetcar stops did not. On that basis, it must’ve been OK with ADA in some way.

      7. * The Muni light rail vehicles are high floor but actually have stairs inside that are raised and lowered mechanically. In the subway and at newer surface stations, they raise the stairs to accomplish level boarding at a high platform. For most of the older surface sections, they lower the stairs to create steps up to board from the curb — or even just from the street surface. In those non-high-platform areas, there are occasional mini-high platforms that allow ADA boarding at a single door, but those platforms are few and far between in those segments.

  1. This was so badly handled, metro, the city and the county all killed an asset to the region a long time ago

    1. Yep. ,isn’t it amazing, we took out a working and popular piece of rail infrastructure to build a sculpture garden? And the art even sucks.

      It was a big loss. I’m still amazed.

      1. Seriously, which one was a bigger draw? I would bet money more people came down to the waterfront for the streetcar then people do for the sculpture garden.

      2. The streetcars were clearly a tourist draw; the sculpture garden probably isn’t.

        But your local *aristocracy* decided what they wanted, and the public be damned.

      3. Why couldn’t they have incorpoated the maintenance facility into the park? Or built the park over it or something.

      1. Metro presented plans that would have allowed the streetcar maintenance barn to co-exist with the art park to the advantage of both, but SAM’s response was simply to state that it was not acceptable for the streetcar maintenance barn to be on site. Period, end of discussion… The Gates family felt that it would degrade the atmosphere of the art park to have such a mundane facility in the vicinity of the sculpture garden, and of course they won out over the masses….

    2. The Benson streetcars were slower than a bus (the streetcar’s fault) and limited to 20-minute frequency (because of the single track). So they weren’t very effective transit mobility, they were mostly a tourist attraction. I rarely rode them because of the infrequency and speed; I walked instead.

      Once I had a friend from Melbourne, Australia visiting, and I took him for a streetcar ride. He had grown up in Australia but had spent the past several years living in Hong Kong and working all around the Pacific Rim. When we were on the streetcar he told me, “Wow, this reminds me of my childhood!”

      1. Remind us, Zach, what is your problem with streetcars? Many other developed countries have run quite a lot of them for over a hundred years.

        Mostly funded with government money, though the excellent SF F-line museum is funded by a non-profit. It also runs Melbourne cars, along with others from here and overseas in regular service.

        On Market Street, F-line cars with poles and shoes share the positive wire with trolleybuses. Between base and Market Street, I’ve seen a “Benson Car” run same line as regular LRV’s with pantographs.

        It’s true streetcars don’t handle steep grades well- though Strassburg has a cogwheel mecanism, and Trieste a cable-grip. The Strassburg cars also push flatcars with bike racks.

        As we can do, MUNI uses streetcars on level streets like Market, and trolley buses for the many steep hills with very heavy passenger loads.

        But seriously, Zach- why not use streetcars here in same way?

        Mark

      2. Currently, the Class W are limited to 40 km/hr speeds in Melbourne.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W-class_Melbourne_tram#Today
        That’s about 25 mph, and really the 99 never got much about that when it was operating on Alaskan Way anyway. So, I really don’t see the limited speed as being a problem.

        The single tracking shouldn’t have been that big an issue. There were 5 cars and several passing sidings. The line was only 1.6 miles long.

        To me the issue looks more along the lines of sufficient interest to make it a useful service, just like the 99 that came afterward, and just like the current 99.

      3. Most of my memories of the waterfront streetcar were waiting with a gaggle of tourists at one of the stops and reassuring people that, yes, there really was a streetcar and, no, it wasn’t just an abandoned station. Eventually the streetcar would trundle along and we’d all marvel at how we could have walked to our destination in less time.

        Which is similar to my experience on the South Lake Union streetcar. I like the idea of streetcars, but I have yet to see one in reality, in America, that matches my expectations. I remember the streetcars in Amsterdam being great and very useful.

  2. This concept works great in San Francisco. I don’t see why we should shy away from making it work here, particularly once we knit together the two lines (though based on lack of overhead wire on Cap Hill line, not likely to make much sense Pioneer Square to Cap Hill).

  3. As one of the top three antique streetcar experts on the eastside, these relics of the olden days should either go to MOHAI or be sold the Orient Express (Andy’s Diner) in the SODO. Just like the Bubbleator, their day has come and gone.

    1. OK Mr Smarty Pants. Where did the last Pacific Electric (Seattle to Everett) streetcar end up?
      Hint, all but one were scrapped and burned.
      Hint-Hint, being from the Eastside should help you.
      Last-Hint: You could still eat lunch in it – last I heard.

    2. I miss the Bubbleator. I think it would be great if we could retrofit it to get people out of some of our deep bore tunnel stations.

    3. The bubblator is now in Redondo, in somebody’s yard, serving as a greenhouse. Article. Other relics from the World’s Fair are similarly in private hands.

      Perhaps it could be the elevator for the Redondo light rail station.

    4. Maybe they can be hung in suspended animation across the foyer of the Bellevue Art Museum, like the white Tauruses used to be in SAM, dedicated to our Sam, whose expertise spans subjects most of us have never even heard of.

      1. Really, Sam, the Ford Taurus of that model year was a good car. But for suspended streetcars, I’d get both an SF cable car and one of those Trieste cars for visitors to see grip technology, and a Strassburg car for the cogwheel.

        For an artistic treatment of a simple mechanical object, upstairs there’s something called, I think, Buddha II. It’s a brass casting of a commercial wall-mounted urinal, which really is an economical well-designed device.

        The original regular one, Surrealist Andre Duchamp bought to outrage the Church by arranging it so it looked like a religious statue meditating. The brass one has a serious functional problem.

        Weighing four hundred pounds, as soon as mounted it would tear itself of the wall and go plummeting through the Earth to China, with suitable sounds from website dedicated to Mad Magazine’s greatest cartoonist, Don Martin.

        Whose career peaked about the time the Taurus did. Thanks for the idea.

        Mark

  4. I view the entire event – the way in which the process worked towards the result that a cherished, useful piece of infrastructure was ripped out – as an example of how easy it is for poor decisions to be made when it comes to “our waterfront”. Imagine how useful it would be to, in one fell swoop, both reduce traffic and provide a way for tourists to see more of the waterfront and connect to the rest of the city… Look for more suspect decisions in the not too distant future.

    1. The waterfront has been an embarassing sequence of botched, stupid, idiotic, someone-should-be-fired-for-this decisions, from ripping out the streetcar to the “deep bore tunnel” to the eight-lane surface expressway. Even the seawall rebuild is being done in a questionable manner which probably won’t work.

      It would be a good idea to:
      (a) Kill the deep bore tunnel project now and fill in the hole
      (b) Tear down the viaduct
      (c) Tear out the road and redo the seawall in a secure manner (i.e. behind the existing seawall)
      (d) Put a road and a streetcar back on top after building the new seawall

      But noooooo.

      1. The seawall is designed well. I don’t thin you’d get a benefit from keeping the old wall. These walls aren’t just the part you see, they are large underground structures.

      2. The repair job is jet grouting in between the timber piles, apparently. I’m no engineer, but this doesn’t seem to have been previously used for structural support on this scale.

        Hope it works! If it gets eaten by gribbles, you’ll be redoing it again within my lifetime.

      3. Nathanael, there’s no reason a streetcar line can’t be added in the future. If the soils and geology will hold a street, they’ll hold a car-line.

        I do think that for public safety, the Viaduct should have come down in 2012, when Governor Gregoire said it would. Before a certain fault-line doe if for us.

        But might be a good idea to get with a tunnel engineer and discuss the construction of the Sea-Wall. Work underground has a lot of complexity.

        Especially where the ground is basically water with a little dirt in it, which in turn contains a lot of things that should be hanging right up there with the Tauruses. I’m surprised Bertha hasn’t yet hit a steamboat.

        Though maybe that’s next, But seriously, I think you can really find an engineer for a conference. However, you have to remember that while an engineer will tell you the structural and financial implications of any course of action, by professional ethics, there’s one thing he won’t tell you:

        What you SHOULD do. Reason why true artificial intelligence can’t exist, and belief in it shouldn’t. Ethics and basic humanity will pull an engineer off a misbegotten project.

        But a machine will diligently do precisely the stupidest job that the worst meth-addicted human to get at its controls while escaping a competing meth-cook will do.

        So before the interview, might want to read up on what meth does to a human being even if his “works” don’t blow up on him.
        Book “Winter’s Bone” accurate, though Hollywood was to chicken to use it.

        Mark

    2. It may have been cherished but it wasn’t very useful as transit, as I said about. It bothers me when people say the waterfront streetcar was so wonderfuland must be preserved at all costs. Should we also preserve the curlicue routing of the 3N because it’s historical, and the insanely slow 3/4S that I don’t know how the residents put up with it? (I took the 27 instead whenever I could.) The transit network doesn’t just have to look nice, it also needs to transport people in a timely manner, and the space taken by the Benson streetcar was space that couldn’t be put to more effective and cost-effective transit, and precluded any other transit on Alaskan Way.

      1. Yes, the old streetcar line was really nothing more than a slow moving tourist attraction, but it could have been upgraded to serve the Sculpture Garden and the waterfront. Imagine a double-tracked line that delivers a constant stream of tourists to the SG and also serves the other businesses along the waterfront. Instead we just pulled the plug on the whole thing.

        Incorporating the maintenance facility into the Sculpture Garden should have been a part of the design challenge and it could have been an interesting facet of the Garden. There also once was a plan to extend the waterfront streetcar to the Amgen (soon to be Expedia) campus. Any chance of reviving that plan?

      2. Mike, on the Waterfront line, how fast does a streetcar ever have to go? Very likely motors and gears can be adjusted for city street speeds- which is all these cars will ever need.

        However, for the whole project, the line could have been laid out much better for efficient operations. Single track is always a problem.

        But I think I remember that the system never had the communications single-track absolutely needs. Anybody reading this ever drive the Benson cars?

        Mark

      3. It should go as fast as regular buses, so at the same speed as cars. Otherwise it’s unattractive for transportation. That’s a problem transit has generally, and streetcars in particular.

  5. Sure would have been nice to have a readily extensible trolley line to serve waterfront, thomas street, amgen/expedia in interbay and the cruise ship terminal.

    Would’ve helped ballard-downtown planning for ST3 also.

    1. psf, go to the tenth floor of the Downtown Library and ask for archives on the streetcar project.

      You’ll see some detailed plans for extending the Benson line in both directions. One even postulated connecting with the South Lake Union like through a tunnel.

      So the world’s top engineers considered a much longer line possible. Some human just has to decide it’s worthwhile to do it.

      Mark

  6. I am a big fan of modern smooth-running streetcars. I rode the Benson cars often and they were a nice tourist and waterfront amenity, but the ride was jerky and clunky, not to mention not ADA accessible. I don’t understand the “historical to Seattle” aspect. They were from Melbourne, Australia and still had the local Melbourne advertisements. It’s not as if old Seattle streetcars (which I guess were all destroyed) had been resurrected to see the light of day once again. As to the SAM sculpture park, I am a fan of that one also. IIRC, a new car barn for the streetcars was to have been built near Occidental Square but, for a variety of reasons, never materialized. The old car barn at the north end of the line was an ugly corrugated structure. There was a parking lot and empty, still contaminated unusable land nearby, which had once been an oil terminal. The area is much better served today as an open-air park. The line would have had to shut down in any case shortly after the sculpture park opened. If the private friends of group wants to spend the money on ADA accessibility and other improvements so the cars can run on the new Central connector line, all the more power to them.

    1. Lightning- which incidentally is a lot better name than LINK- it’s worth a trip to see San Francisco’s F-line (world’s greatest website!). One day as a passenger will show you a lot. Including fact that our Melbourne cars work just fine on a modern system

      Which their steel-wheeled Breda fleet never has, in addition to destroying the same track that all the historic cars handle just fine. Incidentally, Melbourne cars originally had very steep steps- so MUNI had to raise floors to platform height.

      And also put a raised boarding platform at the end of every streetcar stop in the city. Not the whole platform- I think about a fourth of one. SF LRV’s have stairs raise and lower mechanically to serve both old-fashioned curb-height platforms and wheelchairs same-car-same-stop.

      But as for the Sculpture Garden, I’ve been told by an artist I trust that for a million dollars, the car-barn could have been incorporated into the bomb-proof bridge over the tracks. If done by some real architects and artists, a first-prize winner in the world of both.

      I wonder…where’s the First Hill line’s maintenance shop, and might it have some more room? Otherwise, since a 500 bomb won’t even chip that bridge, the Air Force might be willing to harmlessly re-install our car-barn into the structure for target practice. And also so their pilots don’t have to look helplessly at present atrocity and not be able to help the innocent.

      Mark

      1. And only about one stop in six to eight on the “classic” lines are ADA accessible. You’re correct that when a wheelchair boards the car has to double-stop in order to align with the raised platform, but far from every stop has one.

        The T-Third has raised platforms throughout, so it’s ADA accessible at all the new stations south of Mission and Embarcadero. And of course all the Metro Stations are ADA accessible because the trains are in high platform mode as far as their respective tunnel portals.

      2. I really liked those old street cars and could never understand why they were taken away, as they would have made a great connector to the sculpture park from the ID and the waterfront. Who were responsible for their removal, and why?

      3. Do you mean Who, as in “Who are the Good Ol’ Boys in the background making the moves?”

  7. If San Francisco can operate dozens of antique streetcars on the F Line, surely Seattle could accommodate a half-dozen of them operating along the waterfront. But no, the waterfront project has been under the control of folks with too limited vision. Instead we will get charmless little shuttle buses, more at home at an airport than a grand new waterfront.

    1. @RDP,

      Concur 100%.

      The loss of the WFSC was very shortsighted. I have nothing against the sculpture garden (mainly because of the park and the great views), but surely there could have been a way to do the sculpture garden and retain the WFSC. If there was “vision”.

      But there was no vision, and therefore we lost the WFSC.

  8. “And the art even sucks!”

    DJ, and Lazarus, I’m sorry for all the mean things I’ve said about your comments over the years. You’ve summed up this matter in a fiftieth of the words I always need.

    As a taxpaying citizen of the United States of America, if I’d known those cars were going to be pulled from service and left in a warehouse for seventeen years, I’d have insisted that my government give them to the MUNI F-line in 2005, where they could either be sold or operated.

    And fine Seattle $250, 000 per car to show that cheapness, laziness, and indecision have consequences beyond being a less than mediocre city. Right now, the huge rubber eraser in the garden really symbolize what Seattle and its art museum deserve.

    About “museum” streetcars: Their real purpose is to learn and remember design lessons across the years. Like simple machines that’ll take decades of every conceivable abuse- except 17 years of mold.

    But now Bertha can finally earn her keep. Her years of delay give us time to restore the only usable transit system to the renderings wherever exactly the tracks fit.

    With a cliff between the park and the city, the First Avenue line needs a spur, which can share its facilities. How else will passengers travel park’s whole length- golf carts or Route 99 buses restored to a standard Seattle street?

    Pioneer Square pavement? Jackhammers beat cheap pavement any Thursday. Notice stations are still there. Is catenary still there? If not, our overhead crews can probably put it back.

    For our whole line, maybe the non-profit running SF’s historic system’s heritage F-line could open a Seattle branch.

    Because best thing about the F-line is its lesson that you get what you’ll build, and keep what you’ll fight for.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Losing the Fun Forest, only to gain another one on the waterfront, Big Wheel, etc. has been a travesty. Losing the Benson trolleys yet another travesty. The replacement route 99 doesn’t even run on weekends. Public transit along the waterfront is non existent. I do like the genuine industrial vibe the sea wall work has restored to the area.

    1. Here’s the transit design study by the waterfront renovation consultants. It outlines four transit alternatives on Alaskah Way: vintage streetcar, modern streetcar, battery-powered bus, or battery-powered minibus. The latter two are most likely now. The bus would more or less follow the old streetcar route, but the study also mentions a possible extension to Seattle Center, which a streetcar could not do because the hill at Broad Street.

      1. and have the same ridership as the current 99 route.

        I say we should get the bubbleator back, put it on wheels, and run it up and down the waterfront.

  10. If we’re really serious about providing meaningful transit options to the waterfront, how about this: build a 3-block pedestrian tunnel west out of University St. Station. With a connector, the walk between the waterfront and the Downtown Transit Tunnel could be almost flat, compared to the status quo of having to go all the way up and down again.

    1. Good idea, — although I am not so sure I’d feel very safe walking three blocks underground in that area, or underground anywhere downtown for that matter.

      1. Strangely enough, the far more crime-ridden (and lovely nonetheless) city of Rio has stations with very lengthy underground tunnels connecting stations with their scattered exits, and the ones I used (Cantagalo, General Osorio) appeared quite clean and pleasant. I did not feel unsafe anywhere I used public transit; to be sure, I did not use it everywhere but I did make use of both train and bus.

        The lengthy corridors often have kiosks and tiny shops to help “activate the space,” but as these are only open during the day their existence is not the only reason they are usable. There were occasional law enforcement personnel and–probably the biggest factor–cameras throughout with signs clearly indicating that the stations were under surveillance. Seemed to work–at least the stations were clean and relatively nice.

  11. Display (store for free) one of the cars in the cafeteria/gift shop building at the sculpture park. When the park first opened, the building exhibited photographs of the people who hung out at the parking lot around the car barn, but any mention of the streetcars themselves were strangely absent.

    Up until now I thought I had shot video of and in the cars, but now I see they stopped in 2005 and I didn’t get a digital camera until 2006. Dang.

  12. In what way were these not ADA accessible? All the stations appeared elevated to floor level to me.

    Making these ADA accessible should not be that big a deal. TriMet had several ADA stops for the Portland Vintage Trolley.

  13. Obviously LIGHTING has not ever ridden the George Benson Memorial Waterfront Streetcar. There were ADA accessible. Yes, I admit that the old car barn was ugly. However, the Seattle Art Museum REFUSED to incorporate a possible car barn into the park overpass, therefore they get the lions share of KILLING OFF the WFSC. King County did not follow through of getting a car barn in the Pioneer Square area. Seattle, well, they have marching orders to James Corner Field Operations (the Waterfront Seattle design consultant) NOT to put any streetcar in any proposed artwork (though as someone put a link of transit options that Waterfront Seattle did in 2015). Kept hearing that Jitneys would be the mode of choice. Either way, buses or jitneys are in the share lane of traffic and will get stuck in traffic during certain times of the day (Major events, Cruise Ship arrivals and departures @ Pier 66, rush hour, etc). Guess the city did not want to waste the space for an exclusive streetcar ROW. What a big loss and mobility.

    SAM could redeem themselves by helping the private group that is trying save the 2 remaining trolleys with a SIZEABLE monetary contribution (hey, the CCC will be going by the main SAM building at 1st and University).

    I wonder how George Benson is sleeping in his grave, he is probably been rolling since 2005.

    1. SAM is too busy sipping chardonnay at private cocktail openings of rich donors and art snobs self congratulating themselves about a $12 million acquisition of paint splattered bowling balls in a fish tank

  14. outside Seattle concept: between Woodinville and Totem Lake via the wine district on NE 145th Street.

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