Walking by Seattle Pacific University early last week, I noticed that the trolley wire extension project appeared to have been complete, yet service has not yet been proposed for extension. We’ve been covering this issue since 2012, and earlier estimates had Metro hoping to complete the project in 2014.
The passing trolley wire at SPU allows Routes 3 and 4 to extend from Queen Anne to Seattle Pacific, eliminating their vestigial residential loops atop Queen Anne. It provides legible and frequent trunk service between SPU, Queen Anne, and Downtown, and it also atones for the 2012 loss of Route 17, previously SPU’s primary downtown access. Two years ago this week we reported that Metro had funds for design and construction, and it appears to be complete. But in an email, Metro’s Jeff Switzer tells STB that the routes will not be extended to SPU until March 2017:
Metro is planning to extend the routes 3 and 4 to SPU in March 2017 and will propose this as part of its 2017-18 budget. This extension creates a more robust connection between SPU and Queen Anne and it will provide better access to comfort stations for our Operators. Metro’s challenge has been finding the operational resources to fund this extension which roughly adds more than another full-time bus to the schedule.
Waiting another year for this minor change is mildly frustrating, but it’s good to know it’s being officially proposed. My own estimate of the operational costs for this are approximately 3,000 service hours, or roughly $500k per year. That’s a small but non-negligible outlay, and it is definitely eligible for a Prop 1-funded boost in future service changes. Let’s hope this stays on the docket for next year.