SDOT Photo (Flickr)
SDOT Photo (Flickr)

UPDATE 1:31pm: The first train will be “approximately noon” on Saturday and service will be free until the Grand Opening.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 1.32.27 PM

UPDATE: 1:15pm:

SDOT has officially announced the launch in a media release, and The Stranger and Seattle Times also have more details.  We are still awaiting details on when the first train will be (other than ‘midday’), the duration of the fare-free period, a published weekday or weekend schedule, and the details of the Grand Opening festivities. From SDOT:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is excited to announce promotional service on the First Hill Streetcar Line will begin midday on Saturday, January 23. This “soft launch” will feature free rides to introduce the new service, and will be followed in the weeks to come by a grand opening and community celebration.

Funded by Sound Transit, the First Hill Streetcar connects the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Little Saigon, Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square. The First Hill Streetcar line is just one part of the Seattle Streetcar system that will help provide new mobility options, support economic growth, and strengthen connections in the urban core.

Thank you to the communities, neighbors, and businesses along the line for bearing with us during construction and testing. We appreciate your patience and support. We are excited to see you on the First Hill Streetcar discovering Seattle’s neighborhoods and attractions, commuting to work, and linking to other modes of travel. Learn more about how to ride the streetcar. Stay tuned for details on the grand opening events to follow.

[ORIGINAL POST, 11:00AM:]

Though less than 24 hours away and with no official word from SDOT, the First Hill Streetcar might, just maybe, launch Saturday morning.

Multiple sources speaking anonymously to STB described a relatively chaotic process behind the scenes, with agency staff unable to confirm as of Thursday if the Saturday launch will proceed. News of a sudden ‘soft launch’ angered community groups who had been planning launch festivities for over a year, prompting an apologetic internal letter on Thursday from SDOT Director Scott Kubly that is still the only evidence of the planned launch. Capitol Hill Seattle obtained a copy of the letter this morning:

Dear Community Partners,

I understand that in the past couple of days there might have been confusion caused by news of a soft launch of the First Hill Street Car (FHSC) this coming Saturday. This news might have been confusing because it was unclear whether this soft launch was in lieu of the grand opening celebrations that SDOT had been working with community and neighborhood partners to plan.
I want to clarify that the intent for this coming Saturday is not to replace the celebratory events we want to hold in our neighborhoods, but to ensure that a soft launch of the FHSC is successful and we can ensure that the streetcar is in fact operational. The attached letter articulates SDOT’s commitment to this process and our continued interest in working with our community partners to finally celebrate the successful opening of the FHSC line.

Tomorrow [Friday], SDOT will be contacting the media to announce the soft launch on Saturday. We anticipate this will generate some media attention about the soft launch, but it is our intent to work with you, our community partners, to make sure that the grand opening celebrations are where we concentrate the most media attention.
If you are interested in joining us for the soft launch, your presence and participation will be welcome, but again, I want to reiterate that we are not intending Saturday to be anything other than a soft launch of the FHSC.

Sincerely,

Scott Kubly
Director
City of Seattle Department of Transportation

Director Kubly will be presenting at the city council’s Sustainability and Transportation committee at 2pm today, and we’ll update this post when more information becomes available.

111 Replies to “First Hill Streetcar Launches January 23”

  1. As one of the “Community Partners” I can confirm that the First Hill Streetcar will begin operation (for the public) tomorrow

    1. I remember taking my first ride on the SLUSC and seeing a guy wearing a “Seattle Monorail Project” t-shirt. The irony was that it was on the exact day that Joel Horn had promised that the monorail would start operations.

      Of course the monorail was long shutdown, and the SLUSC was in operation.

      Ah, those were the days…..

      Will probably ride the FHSC myself this weekend, because there is a really good restaurant at the northern terminus.

      1. Instead of The Restaurant At the End of the Universe, it is merely the Restaurant At the End of the Terminus. I’m more of a Dick’s guy, and that’s the good enough restaurant there.

  2. Not to spoil anyone’s party plans, but Director Kubly’s letter indicates that a new testing phase begins Saturday. That does not mean the public will get to start riding.

    I think what is really beginning Saturday is full schedule testing.

      1. They do. CapHillBlog basically linked to the letter apologizing for the confusion instead of the letter announcing the start of passenger service.

        So it is a go tomorrow, unless things completely meltdown of course….. Nothing surprises me anymore on this project.

  3. There is some indication above that the grand opening party needs to align with the operation of the streetcar. A timely party would be nice, but full operation of the streetcar as soon as possible should be the only priority for many reasons.

    Related to this, I’m having some difficulty understanding why Sound Transit can’t give us a date for the opening of the Capitol Hill and UW stations at this point. I really hope that it’s not being delayed for party planning.

    1. ST will not be delaying the start of U-Link opps to plan a party. That you can be assured of.

      ST will however choose a date that they know they can meet from both a technical and an operational POV.

  4. I hope that this thing becomes a case study required for all public policy graduate students. The mistakes on this would easily fill a semester. I would think that diagramming the decision tree logic on this would be a revealing lesson on how not to design a useful transit project. This is an expensive and slow amusement park tram.

      1. Considering that the streetcar appears to operate at the same speed if not slower than a bus, it’s usefulness to transit is certainly open to question.

      2. Well, most transit in Seattle is slow buses, and people still use them. It’s not amazing like Link, but I’m sure it’ll get some use. It has consolidated stops so that’s one way it’s better than an ordinary bus.

      3. @Stuart,

        +1. When most people are used to transit being bus based its not like they will expect that much more in terms of reliability from other modes.

        This service will be better than what most people are used to for transit, and that should make it successful enough.

        It’s not like it is LR however, but it was never intended to be.

      4. >> It’s still useful to get from Broadway & Madison/Cherry/etc to Link.

        Other buses do that (60, 9, 49). We really should think of these things like buses. They carry roughly the same number of people and run just about as often and about as fast. Does this new bus route add something? A little. It basically connects Broadway to Jackson west of I-5. Nice, but hardly worth celebrating.

    1. My guess for ridership will be an inverted normal curve based on age. Youngens with parents on one end and 40+ year olds on the other, with the min point reflecting the 20-40 year old speed walkers. Will be interesting to follow as they add the additional street car segments.

      1. It is bound to get people that would also be willing to take a bus. In other words, let’s say you are on Broadway after just leaving the Link station. You are headed south several blocks. You simply take the first bus headed that way, and if it is a streetcar, so be it. I think there will be a fair number of riders who do this.

      2. You simply take the first bus headed that way, and if it is a streetcar, so be it.

        As far as I could tell the buses don’t share stops with the streetcars so you’re going to have to make a decision. Why would a 20 something take the plebeian bus when they can ride a streetcar with panache?

    2. Also worth considering is the possibility of the Jackson portion of this route to get exclusive transit lanes. This is one of the options possible for the route 7 RR+ upgrade.

      The more exclusive lanes this system can get, the more useful it will be. We’ve already spent the money, there’s no harm in re-organizing street priority to improve utility. Especially if it could be combined with other (bus) projects.

      1. I like that idea a lot. In my opinion there is nothing special about this route. It really isn’t that good, compared to most bus routes. It changes directions and actually loops back upon itself. As a standalone route, it just isn’t that good. But there are segments that are great, and these segments are shared by bus routes. The combination of routes along some of those segments argue for special treatment. Shared transit lanes are the way to go for much of this route.

      2. Too bad it wasn’t designed for this center transit lane possibility several years ago by having island stops that allow for right side doors. Now the needlessly complex solution is to buy a fleet of left door buses that will only run on some routes like a RR+ 7 to allow center transit lanes on Jackson (no luck for the 14 & 36).

      3. A BRT/Streetcar set of lanes would still be a great improvement. The 7 carries over 13,000 people right now, despite being stuck in traffic and having no special treatment. The 36 is also a big hauler, just not as big. The 14 is pretty small in comparison. The 14 and 36 combined are about equivalent to the 7. I could easily see the 36 being converted some day into a RapidRide+ route (given the fact that it shares part of the 7 and carries so many people).

    3. I hope that this thing becomes a case study required for all public policy graduate students. The mistakes on this would easily fill a semester.

      I think there is a lot going on with Seattle transit that could easily keep public policy graduates busy. The Spine — possible West Seattle rail — lack of stations between the UW and downtown — and this (meant to replace one of those missing stations). Not to say that they are perfect, but Vancouver BC will be the “Gallant” to our “Goofus”.

  5. @TheStreetcar tweeted that service will start midday Saturday (“Approximately 12pm”), and service will be free until the official launch. You should add this to the article. Unfortunately I’m out of town Saturday, but maybe I can come to the official launch.

    1. Ah, so the Grand Opening will be a celebration of the beginning of fare collection. :~(

      Do have to pay fares on the SLUS yet?

  6. Is there any estimate on travel times between stations? Obviously this will depend on traffic and fluctuate wildly, but I have no idea how long a streetcar trip might take between, say, Occidental Mall and Seattle University.

    1. Best estimates I’ve seen are 18 minutes with no traffic, 30 minutes in peak traffic, and 21 minutes with normal midday traffic.

      1. Google says transit right now is 18-26 minutes; walking 25 minutes. Roughly speaking about a 4 mph average speed. That seems embarrassing but actually it’s not that bad; welcome to the big city! Driving is 8 minutes (without traffic). Add the time spent looking for parking and walking and you’re back up to 15-18 minutes or more at peak. The big difference is the SC is a moving sidewalk that serves all of the destinations along the route. It’s not designed to be a point to point people mover.

  7. I think something is happening before the 11 or 12 noon opening as Occidental Mall has no parking signs up for the whole morning, perhaps some sort of scaled down grand opening.

  8. Does this mean I can ride FHSC on Monday the 25th ? Don’t need to be on the first car or get a free ride.

    1. We’ll slingshot around Hopvine, using the “gravity” of some IPA or something!

      My brother says he was once on a bus that stalled climbing Queen Anne, and they had to get all the passengers off in order to get it moving on the hill, to a point where they could load everyone and actually accelerate. They jettisoned the Lunar Module on the way back down, and it ended up crash-landing in the sculpture park, where it stands to this day…

      1. @Al D,

        I think you mean “specific gravity”. Some of those IPA’s out there are pretty strong these days…..

      2. Huh. I had no idea (until just looking it up) that a beer’s “gravity” was actually related to specific gravity… I’d just heard the term tossed around surrounding high-alcohol beers. Perhaps one of those Belgian tripels would produce an even greater effect. Will have to try later today FOR SCIENCE.

      3. That’s funny, Al — Great comment.

        As far as specific gravity and all that, that is how they determine the alcohol level. They put in a little device and see how far it sinks. Works for home brew as well as bigger batches (cheap and easy).

      4. Works for home brew as well as bigger batches (cheap and easy).

        I like my beer like I like my streetcars, cheap and easy :=

  9. Does anyone know if a PugetPass will cover streetcar fares? It’s unclear on the website; it just says you can use an ORCA card.

    1. It works on the SLU car, so I imagine it would work on FSH as well.

      For the first two weeks though its free.

      1. Before the SLU streetcar had ORCA readers, merely having an ORCA card was sufficient fare. But I believe the stations have had ORCA readers for several months now, so it’s the same as RapidRide: tap at the reader or pay a $124 fine. I’m really surprised the website hasn’t been updated. That could be used as a defense against the fine, although one wonders if a judge would accept it.

    2. From the Seattle Streetcar website:

      “ORCA cards are accepted as proof of payment on the Seattle Streetcar.”

      You might not even need a PugetPass, but I’ve learned to verify with staff via email rather than depending on the website, which sometimes contains legacy info.

      Speaking of which, the bottom of the front page proclaims January 23 as the Grand Opening, in contradiction to the information right above it.

  10. The Best thing that can come of this is to prove that we should never build another street car line.
    We need to invest in BRT and grade separated transit. Think of how many bus lines could have been improved for the money spent on this one line. I hope that if and when the center city connector is funded that it is BRT and not rail.

    1. The CC is basically already getting funded and it’s going to be more streetcar. Its not clear if any other lines will ever happen after that though.

      For the record, we are already investing in BRT and grade separated rail, and will have the chance to vote for even more grade separated rail in November.

    2. The Center City connector will make both of the existing streetcar lines better. It needs to be streetcar.

      1. I agree. And, except for minor extensions of existing lines, it should be the last streetcar built in this city.

      2. It makes no sense as a BRT connector, true.

        It might make sense as a joint BRT/Streetcar corridor though. I can imagine a few of these new BRT lines with center running busses sharing the corridor, taking some stress off of 3rd.

      3. Agreed but would be ideal if it could also be used by buses to take advantage of its dedicated lanes, stops and north-south transit capacity thru downtown

    3. @Fil,

      There is a pre-existing streetcar plan that consists of 5 lines more or less centered on the urban core.

      At this point it probably makes sense per the streetcar system to complete the Center City Connector (with WSF tie-in), the Broadway Extension, and probably the U-Dist extension. After that core system is complete it probably makes sense to gain some operational experience and asses the economics using real data.

      The original assessment asserted that SC was marginally less expensive to operate than buses, and that the infrastructure costs were basically a wash. If real data turns out to support that conclusion, than building more lines might be in-order. But we need real data first.

    4. Think of how many bus lines could have been improved for the money spent on this one line.

      This is what kills me. The half-hearted defenses (“not completely useless for all trips”) utterly collapse the second we think about opportunity cost.

    5. “There is a pre-existing streetcar plan that consists of 5 lines more or less centered on the urban core. ”

      It’s not as four-sure as that. The Transit Master Plan in 2012 identified three “high-capacity transit” corridors and recommended streetcars for two of them (Westlake and Eastlake) and BRT for the third (Madison). The City Center Connector was addressed in a different section, on downtown circulation. But the TMP was not the final word on whether they’d be streetcar or bus. The TMP had streetcars because the McGinn administration favored streetcars. But the TMP doesn’t say when or how these corridors will be realized; it’s more like ST’s Long-Range Plan in that regard. It doesn’t prevent a future council from building it differently. The EIS process for federal grants requires an unbiased consideration of all reasonable alternatives, which for rail corridors means buses. The Murray administration is less convinced about streetcars, and SDOT has switched to BRT for Roosevelt, and Move Seatttle designated Eastlake and Westlake as RapidRide+ corridors. SDOT’s first action after Move Seattle was to amend the TMP to add the RapidRide corridors, and I assume it withdrew the streetcar corridors at the same time.

      So that leaves the CCC as the only ongoing streetcar project. I’m not sure where the Roy and Aloha extensions in Capitol Hill stand. There have been increasing suggestions to exercise a CCC option and add a branch on 1st Avenue to Seattle Center, but so far they haven’t been officially accepted.

    6. If by “is” you meant “was” (there was a pre-existing streetcar plan that consisted of 5 lines), then you seem to have the timing reversed. The First Hill Streetcar was planned in 2007 for the 2008 ST2 vote. The Transit Master Plan with other lines wasn’t made until 2012. The previous TMP may have said something about streetcars but I doubt it; it was still assuming the monorail would be built. In any case, the First Hill Streetcar was not planned in the context of a citywide network (no citywide network would plausibly propose that routing as the answer for east Seattle). The FHS was planned in the context of losing the First Hill light rail station and wanting a substitute. The FHS goes to Capitol Hill Station and International District Station, so in that sense it’s a substitute in the eyes of its proponents.

    7. I agree with the sentiment Fill (the streetcars have been a waste) but I’m not sure what to do. We could completely abandon this. We could tear out the rails, sell the cars and be done with it. That would allow us to add bus routes that are more straightforward and appropriate (since buses can go up steep hills). But that would be very expensive and politically embarrassing. Very few politicians want to admit they made a mistake, even if it was a previous administration’s mistake. Just look at the silly nonsense surrounding the Benson streetcars. Those things only carried a handful of people, and were replaced by a damn good park connecting our most urban area, yet people miss those things for some reason (clang, clang, clang …). Hell, I miss the little choo-choo that used to run through Woodland Park, but I don’t think they should bring it back. So even if it did pencil out to replace this (and it probably doesn’t) we are probably stuck with this thing (for political reasons).

      The CCC might be putting good money after bad, but it is likely the most popular section. Every similar bus (and now train) is very popular. Of course it is. It is one end of downtown to the other. So even though you could achieve the very same thing with buses, unless you get rid of the streetcars, you might as well finish the job. Think of it like fixing a flat tire on a Yugo. It is tempting to just dump the thing, but you are still better off fixing the tire and making do. We are in too deep.

      The only other place where I would ever consider adding a streetcar is through the Seattle Center (on Thomas). When Bertha is done and the 99 tunnel project is complete, the street grid will be connected east of the Seattle Center. A bus or a streetcar could travel along Thomas from Eastlake to Queen Anne Avenue (and then head north). I would prefer BRT, but a streetcar might be the only way to convince the Seattle Center folks to build something like this. A bus running through an area some consider a park is one thing, while a streetcar is another.

      1. The only other place where I would ever consider adding a streetcar is through the Seattle Center (on Thomas)…
        a streetcar might be the only way to convince the Seattle Center folks to build something like this. A bus running through an area some consider a park is one thing, while a streetcar is another.

        I don’t know that area but I’ve been wondering/hoping the Seattle Center would become a stake holder in restoration of the Benson Streetcars. They never were serious transportation. They were a toursit attraction that added something to our historical waterfront that is now shops instead of a working waterfront with wharfs. Are cable cars a critical component of SF public transit or do they exist because the city has a soul. FWIW, today I headed out looking for the FHSC from Pioneer^2 and figured I’d just see the tracks; oft quoted as why a streetcar is superior to a bus. I don’t buy that line of thinking but when I first thought that I had “found my way” I was dissapointed to realize what I was looking at was the old tracks from the Waterfront Streetcar. They still have the stop down there which I’m guessing is a tombstone only visited by the bus in drag.

  11. I’m approximately pleased that this soft-launched service will start roughly when they estimated it would and will be mostly present at somewhere-in-the-neighborhood of midday to broadly provide some ballpark enthusiasm and near-interest in the project.

    Probably.

    1. I’m voting for the last car to be named P.T. Barnum to acknowledge the great sales job to trade a station for this. As P.T. loved to say,
      “There’s a sucker born every minute”

  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Coming

    1919. The end of a war that killed a fighting-age generation and left Europe looking like Detroit does now. And to an Irish poet, a celebrated ancient religious event is now repeating itself. With nothing to celebrate and a future to fear dreadfully.

    In context or out, best lines for this discussion: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.” This election, any doubt? And “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. Even when you spell it “center”…Anybody want to argue about that?

    But transit-builders, workers, and managers need to remember, that leopard or giant woolly mammoth, along streetcar track, every beast has got to be followed with a flat shovel.

    Mark

  13. But… even looking across a wrecked world fully of justifiably despondent people, mercifully no 1919 poet could imagine a world consisting entirely of parking lots both two-dimensional and linear. Talk about beasts that have to be followed by bulldozers whose drivers need haz-mat suits!

    Look. Right now, a whole country-full of living patterns is re-arranging itself with same intensity as created present system with the end of World War II. Changes now just barely getting started to rebuild the streetcar systems that future cities are now going to need.

    There’s nothing wrong with this car-line that can’t and won’t be upgraded. Though I doubt we’ll see it roll over and sink like a certain piece of Interstate. Our crews can hang the other wire when its need proves itself. And reserving existing lanes for transit is politics, paint, and police.

    The Channel Tunnel project featured screaming arguments simultaneously in English and French in top offices. While miles away and under an ocean, their own jack-hammers kept hundreds of Irish workers from being distracted from the upstairs screaming as they cut passages by hand.

    Best measure for rebuilding our streetcar system is to turn a lot of the work over to the Metro historic vehicle association. Except think of this one as a piece of transit history just beginning, rather than years after its demise. Any operating work-site is always loud enough to drown out interoffice screaming in any language.

    Mark

  14. Pretty clear to me it needs signal priority at Yesler/Boren and Jackson/Boren/14th/Rainier intersections… spent a lot of time waiting at signals. Today isn’t a huge traffic day but I’m unfortunately waiting to witness that test come Monday.

    A little annoying when the streetcar turns from Yesler to Broadway about 14 minutes into its journey from Occidental Mall, it feels like you are almost back in Pioneer Square yet you’ve just spent all this time swinging through Little Saigon.

    1. Let the ‘Great Race on Jackson’ begin.
      Many more buses along Jackson, with good sight distances, will be a good test of human behavior.
      Wait on the Streetcar, or one of those buses I see coming too.
      Wait on the curb, or head for the island.
      Maybe position yourself between a bus or streetcar stop, and let the drama play out for a while. No hurry as this race unfolds in slo-motion each day.

    2. Does it really take 14 minutes to get to Yesler/Broadway? According to Google Maps, that’s only 1.4 miles. Which would give it an average speed on that stretch of 6 MPH. That’s terrible :(

      1. That’s what it was this morning, I’ve only ridden it once one way so far, I was on the next car to leave Pioneer Square after the mayors car and it is the first day afterall so perhaps this isn’t the best sample to take. I will be riding it daily to/from work so I will keep an eye on the times.

        I had previously made the trip from Capitol Hill TO Pioneer Square via Pine Street buses transferring to the tunnel at Westlake, that took me about 22 minutes +/- 3 minutes door-to-door. Returning I would not take the tunnel because of the relatively poor transfer from Westlake or Convention Place tunnel stations to Pike street buses. I would go via 3rd Avenue surface bus Yesler to Pike, then transferring to Pike buses, that would be about 25 minutes, again +/- a couple minutes depending on the transfer or delayed buses. So that is the competition for me. That said, this streetcar is much less about Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square riders, that is what Link is for in 2 months. This is primarily for the neighborhoods between International District and Capitol Hill Stations.

    3. Can we all say “Signal Priority” as loudly and clearly as possible??? I waited through three cycles for the left at 14th and Jackson – simply unacceptable in the 21st Century.

      1. Yeah, they need to work on signal priority. The SC really isn’t all that frequent so there’s no reason it should ever have to stop going up hill at Boren.

      2. Signal priority is more important than exclusive lanes, IMHO. Denny to First Ave. yesterday was 25 minutes, many of those minutes spent waiting at red lights.

  15. We’re streetcarin’ in style now!

    I rode it southbound at noon. The car was pretty full with several standees. I saw Charles B, but he said everybody else had already ridden and were at the north end with the mayor. It was raining and the windows were steamy so I couldn’t see much. It seems larger and roomer inside than the SLU streetcar, and it has TV screens listing the next three destinations. It feels smoother than a bus and it doesn’t stop every other block unlike a certain other streetcar, so I think people will ride it just for that; it beats walking up and down hills. However, the pauses for stoplights in several parts of the 14th Avenue detour are noticeable; you have to have patience with them (or live in Yesler Terrace). A lot of people got off at 5th & Jackson, which suggests they were doing daily trips rather than just riding the train. I got off at the end at Pioneer Square, and then visited the waterfall at 2nd & Main.

    Then I went to the Columbia City library and Costco, and discovered I had a book waiting at the Capitol Hill library. So I rode the streetcar northbound around 3:30pm. The windows were clear now so I could see out. The only technical difficulty I saw either trip was that for the first few stations northbound, the station signs didn’t work: it kept saying “Pioneer Square”:. That was fixed after a few minutes. My northbound trip was less full, but almost every seat was filled and there were a few standees. (People don’t think about going upstairs to the higher level, they just stand in the lower level.)

    1. I too was NB on the Banana Boat leaving Pioneer Square at 3:43. Standing room only for the entire route. I actually took the inbound SC from “Little Japan” so I could have grabbed a seat during the 10 min layover but wanted to see what it felt like standing. The track is smooth as butter. The starts and stops are a bit jerky; you really want to be hanging on and I notice some people weren’t tall enough to reach bars/straps in areas near the center doors.

      Why did they call it Little Japan or Japan Town instead of International District. Very confusing. And I wish they had cut back the pedestrian plaza at Link ID Station at put the stop there instead of a block east (two blocks from King Street from which I guess you can just walk the wrong direction at catch it at Pioneer Square.

      Being a country bumpkin I took the 255 into town. Planning to catch the SC at Pioneer Square I figured I should get off in the Bus Tunnel at Pioneer Square. Hey, at least I know that if I’m going to UW I don’t get off at University Street; the school moved from that site several years ago (like about 100). Anyway, seems like more name confusion. Actually, I really don’t see why the terminus wasn’t just done at the Link ID or King Street Station. I think at King Street they could have put in a center stop and it would be no farther from Link than where they located the center platform at 5th & Jackson.

      I clocked 17 minutes Pioneer Sq to Swedish. That’s pretty fast for Japan to Sweden via Saigon! I clocked 22 minutes end to end which includes a currently scheduled really long dwell time at 5th & Jackson. I don’t know if this is the operational schedule but each car (they were running I think four cars) is running a 1 hr loop with dwell time of ~10 minutes at Pioneer^2.

  16. I was on the streetcar leaving Pioneer Square ~1:30. It was somewhat more jerky than I expected, but less so than a bus; I’ve probably just gotten used to Link. Traffic was less than I’d feared, but we still needed to wait at several stoplights – I guess we’ll see how it is during rush hour.

    Unfortunately, the bike hooks don’t really work. First, it’s really hard to get the hook around the wheel; you need to manhandle it around into place. And, second, my bike was too tall for it in the first place – I ended up just setting it in the wheelchair space and holding it up through the ride.

    1. The bike racks are something I questioned immediately. I actually stood in the bike area on the trip from Pioneer^2 to the CH end and then grabbed a seat for the downhill slide. The bike racks are nice to hang onto but they didn’t look very functional. The big question to me was, at least on the car I was on (and I heard other people saying there are differences between the cars?) why did they put the bike rack on the side with single row seating. A bike sticks out way farther than a jump seat and being right next to the main double doors is going to block the aisle big time! Come on folks, Seattle knows how to do bike racks and coffee; what’s the deal here?

      No bikes when I was riding but lots of wheelchairs and walkers. The level boarding and quick ramp deployment I think are going to be a big win given the area this line serves.

      1. Glad to hear that about the wheelchairs and walkers. I didn’t see any on my trip, and I was a little concerned – they got so close to level boarding but still needed a ramp!

      2. they got so close to level boarding but still needed a ramp!

        I know subways around the world get by without but the ramps are really short, I’d guess about 18″. The trade off is you don’t have to listen to incessant “Mind the Gap” recordings. Right now the SC seems to be running excessively long dwell times at at least some of the stations. The doors close but the SC doesn’t move. Somebody comes up and pushes the door open button on the outside. I couldn’t see if the ramp stayed deployed until the SC was really ready to move or if it went in and out every time the door opened. Either way, the ramp deploys so quickly it’s not a hit on time. That’s distinctly different from buses. It also appears that there is no operator assistance involved in moving seats and strapping down wheel chairs which is also a big operational improvement over buses.

      3. On both my trips I saw somebody put a bike in the rack. It did seem to be more often than I usually encounter.

  17. I guess in the month or two before Capitol Hill Station opens for Link, the streetcar is still faster 7-49 thru-route all the way from the International District to Capitol Hill, or transferring between buses at Westlake or Convention Place Stations. In another two months, this use case will go away.

    On a separate note, does the streetcar really shut down operations at 7 PM on Sundays, or did that plan eventually get nixed.

    1. The 7/49 through-route will go away in March. I miss the 14 that I used to take to the Chinatown groceries, but am gladf the 7/49 is available evenngns/Sundays for now. But the streetcar will replace it, as long as you remember it ends 7pm Sundays (I think I saw a schedule yesterday that said that).

      By the way, I just read :”Beating Seattle’s Grey” by Heather McAuliffe, about SAD and natural light etc, and I got to a page about a Tiger Mountain hike that sounded suspiciously like a transit hike, and there was your picture! So I looked at the author’s picture in the back and it was indeed our Heathter the historian! Thank you Heather for the book.

    2. Yep. Definite improvement. My wife who doesn’t drive and takes the bus everywhere really liked it.

      It will be interesting to see how things improve once they build the Broadway Ext and the Center City Connector.

  18. From KOMO’s website on the streetcar, one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read from Seattle’s mayor.

    “We’re decades behind, but this is another small step to catchup and be a true leader in transit in America,” Mayor Murray said.

    We’re decades behind everyone else, and our streetcar is a very small step in catching-up to others, but we’re well on our way to being leaders in transit in America? Huh??

    1. It makes sense if you realize the first clause has a different frame of reference than the last clause. In the first clause, we’re far behind where we should be, or the optimum built environment, and far behind Europe and Canada. But in the last clause, we’re ahead of most of the US. We’re like fifth or sixth in the country for ridership per capita, transit commuting downtown, even just jobs downtown, mikes of bikeways and P-patches and bioswales, etc. When groups like Rail~volution come around, they highlight things that some of us consider minor achievements or failures, like the SLU streetcar, or RapidRide, or Link to Lynnwood. But that’s because 90% of the country is far behind even those. E.g., with ineffective bus service that’s essentially coverage-only and not even that in many neighborhoods, few jobs downtown, etc.

      Recently I found out a colleague was from Dayton, Ohio and goes back annually. I said I’d heard Dayton was one of four cities in North America that still have trolleybuses Ithe others being Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco). She said she wouldn’t know because her family lives in a suburb and people don’t go downtown much there; there’s few jobs or anything in downtown Dayton. She also said that when she was growing up, her entire county did not have any transit at all.

      1. Recently I found out a colleague was from Dayton, Ohio and goes back annually. I said I’d heard Dayton was one of four cities in North America that still have trolleybuses Ithe others being Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco).

        Correction: it’s 1 of 7. There are also trolley-bus systems in Boston, Philadelphia, and Mexico City. Edmonton had them until a few years ago.

        If she lives in another county, she almost certainly doesn’t have transit access to downtown Dayton (which still has over 25K jobs downtown, and many thousands more at two colleges and a major hospital within 1-2 miles of downtown.) That downtown Dayton is both economically dead and very dangerous is widely believed amongst the anti-urban suburbanites of this region, but it’s less true than they imagine it to be. The local transit agency is a one-county affair (with special permission to go to Wright State University, across the county line), and suburbs in other counties not only don’t want to pay for transit, they’re willing to fight very hard to keep it out, even at considerable expense:

        http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/08/transportation-discrimination

  19. Rode it this afternoon from end to end northbound after a Zeitgeist coffee fix. Enjoyed the ride through some unfamiliar neighborhoods. Much more enjoyable than riding through SLU. Not fast, but it’s not always about speed. Only wish the north terminus at Broadway and Denny was coordinated to be closer to the northbound 49 bus stop, having to walk two blocks n pouring rain is a bit too far for some of us old folks.

    1. >>Only wish the north terminus at Broadway and Denny was coordinated to be closer to the northbound 49 bus stop<<

      Have they not reopened the northbound bus stop at the funeral home parking lot yet? I know they closed it down a couple years ago, I assume for all the construction.

      1. Nope. No stops for the northbound 49 between the Egyptian and John. Two heavily-used bus stops, especially the one right in front of Seattle Central, were removed to make room for the street car tracks, Smurf turds, and bike lanes. Could all have been better planned, somehow.

  20. I have a question about this route after looking at a map. Why does it not use 12th Avenue instead of 14th Avenue? Simply looking at a map, it makes no sense.

      1. 12th and Jackson is one of the most complicated trolley overhead locations in the system. Adding the SC and a stop there was just asking for trouble.
        Lots of it!

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