Rendering of the Center City Connector on First Avenue
Rendering of the Center City Connector on First. Courtesy of Seattle Streetcar.

In a classic holiday-Friday news dump, yesterday afternoon Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office released a summary of the long-awaited third-party report on the Center City Connector. The summary, prepared by Big Four accounting firm KPMG rather than a consultant with specialized transit expertise, brings both good and bad news for the CCC project.

The headline number that drove immediate coverage, total capital cost, is definitely bad news. KPMG’s estimate is sharply higher than previous ones. For the project as planned before the Mayor’s March stop-work order, the total capital cost is now estimated at $252 million, up from $198 million projected in fall 2016. KPMG also studied a scenario where the CCC operates with lower peak frequency, reducing vehicle requirements, and found that the capital cost was not much lower, at $242 million. The city has not yet identified any funding source to cover the difference in the event that the project goes forward. The summary breaks down the increase into a few broad categories, but it is difficult to tell from the chosen categories how much of the increase is attributable to planning errors by the city and how much stems from the sharply more expensive construction environment that has also bedeviled Sound Transit and private projects throughout the area.

The sharply increased capital cost weakens the argument previously made by some CCC supporters that the cost of canceling the project is almost as high as the cost of building it. The report identifies the capital cost of a no-build option, including needed utility work and already-completed design and planning work, as $55 million. FTA has tentatively committed a further $75 million, which the city would most likely lose if the project weren’t built. The difference in expected capital spending between the no-build and build options is now $122 million, roughly twice as much as expected using previous estimates.

On the other hand, the summary is positive about nearly everything except capital cost projections. It paints a picture of the CCC as an operationally effective transit investment. In the kerfuffle between SDOT and Metro over operating cost projections, KPMG largely sided with SDOT, saying that SDOT estimates were consistent with similar systems nationally. KPMG also largely agreed with SDOT’s high ridership projections for the project, which streetcar critics have attacked for a variety of reasons. Finally, KPMG took pains to say that operational issues related to the increased length and weight of the vehicles purchased for the CCC are resolvable, although studying and resolving them explains a small part of the capital cost increase. Coverage of the CCC work stoppage ordered by the Mayor dwelled heavily on these issues, raising the specter of the CCC cars being multimillion-dollar white elephants; those worries seem overblown.

Increased capital cost, as any follower of Seattle transportation knows, has rarely sunk other types of projects. The Mayor’s heightened scrutiny of this project in particular is a bit puzzling. The cost of the unnecessarily pedestrian-hostile, car-centric Lander Street overpass increased from $140 million to $188 million during the planning stage, without any similar level of concern. Sound Transit is managing around nine-figure overruns on Federal Way Link and Lynnwood Link without any prospect of having to cancel those projects. The Highway 99 tunnel project has incurred nearly half a billion dollars of overruns to date, and will be opening to car traffic in a few weeks. Overruns are common on major projects, especially during economic booms, and are rarely sufficient to make a good project not worth building. One wonders how much of the increased scrutiny of this project comes from windshield perspective.

Shortly after releasing the summary, Mayor Durkan tweeted: “Moving forward, I am eager to hear from businesses and community members about this project.” Supporters and opponents alike should take her up on the offer by calling (206) 684-4000 (although, as of late Friday night, her office voice mailbox was full) or emailing her at

100 Replies to “Mayor Durkan Releases Summary of Streetcar Study”

  1. “The cost of the unnecessarily pedestrian-hostile, car-centric Lander Street overpass increased from $140 million to $188 million during the planning stage, without any similar level of concern.”

    Freight mobility. It’s seen as essential for retaining industrial jobs.

      1. Oh, my mistake. They changed the sidewalk and bike path to the north side so the ‘Buckers WON’T have to cross Lander twice. That is a significant improvement.

    1. “Freight” means exclusively trucks (ignore rail and water) and policies that are outright hostile to pedestrians and bikes (as if a truck can’t ever apply it’s brakes between point A and B for the safety of other road users). Then cloak it in a simplistic, almost Trumpian, freight equals jobs mantra (real “jobs” being only male-dominated factory/industrial jobs). Clearly some jobs and people matter more than others.

      Amazing that Seattle swallows it completely hook, line and sinker.

      1. Right. There are probably far more jobs in Starbucks’ headquarters than the sum total of all longshore, rail, and truck shuttle operators in and around the Port.

        But those Starbucks people are just more tech bros and sisters, and making them cross Lander twice between SoDo Station and the HQ building is completely worth not spending $4 million to provide a north side sidewalk on the bridge.


        I realize that only a minority of workers at Starbucks walk from SoDo Station, but it’s yet more evidence that “jobs” have a hierarchy.

      2. Correct on my original reply. The sidewalk has been moved to the north side so the Starbucks folks won’t have to cross Lander twice. That is a big improvement.

      3. The US has more freight rail than Europe, and Seattle is a major node for container ships. So we’re not slouching. I don’t know if all the freight tricks are justified, but since theyre a minority of total shipments I wouldn’t worry about it. Some of the trucks are for regional delivery. Nobody around here believes the Trumpian “blue-collar jobs are the only manly jobs”. But they are living-wage jobs and they keep our economy well rounded. Putting all your eggs into one sector is a mistake.

    2. I can’t seem to find where this Lander cost increase it. Does someone have a link?

      Also, isn’t the Port paying for any increase?

    3. Right way and a wrong way to do everything, Mike. Too much time with a CDL for a license, maybe, but if I had to be at close quarters with anything rubber-tired , hands-down worst is a car. Worst visibility for the driver, less for training.

      In fast-moving traffic, really good to be able to flash headlights at the driver ahead of me and ease off on my accelerator while he swings into my lane at right following distance, without either of us having to slow down.

      But we’re talking about an overpass, not the Cascades. Won’t damage the structure when we’ve got transit good enough that people would rather be standing up on transit moving 70 than stuck in a car going no place.


    4. There are a number of Metro buses that serve West Seattle and Vashon that have used Lander from 1st to 4th in the past and I assume they will use the overpass once it is completed.
      I’ve spent a number of trips in a 21 waiting for trains along with the 21 in front and another 21 coming up in the rear as the 100 car freights lumber past at a slower than walking pace.

      1. before 2011 and the loss of 1st Avenue to transit due to two AWV projects (e.g., a SCL vault at Cherry Street and the WOSCA detour), Route 21 served 1st Avenue. if the CCC Streetcar was discontinued after its pause, Route 21 and several others could use 1st Avenue. Route 50 could use South Lander Street.

      2. A mile-long freight train takes 3 minutes to pass, at 20mph. The benefits of the Lander St. overpass are exaggerated.

      3. On the pedestrian safety score, barriers that come along with the bridge making it harder for inebriated individuals to commit suicide by train is a good thing, in my book. Moreover, I expect pedestrian traffic between SODO Station and businesses on 1st Ave to increase significantly once the bridge enables pedestrians to not have to walk across live railroad tracks.

        The bridge isn’t inherently anti-pedestrian-safety. The lack of a southern sidewalk on the bridge is. Seriously, how much did the City think it saved by cheaping out on the second sidewalk, when future jayrunning injury and wrongful death lawsuits will force the addition anyway? It’s one of those times where the City assumes pedestrians will backtrack when they encounter a deadend on the sidewalk along which they are walking, instead of darting across an arterial to get to the other-side sidewalk. The decision to cheap out on the second sidewalk is what puts the project in the Zero Vision column. The several minutes it will cost to backtrack to the other sidewalk are enough of a nuisance that jayrunning will be the natural choice for many, similar to how people will jayrun at an intersection where the path they are trying to cross is the only one at that intersection without a crosswalk.

        I’m pretty sure the retrofit will cost far more than installing the southern sidewalk in the first place.

      4. If push comes to shove, a wide sidewalk on one side with good separation is still better than narrow sidewalks on both sides, right up against the road. At least the side with the sidewalk is the side with the Link station which will help some. Ultimately, this is a false choice – does Lander really need two car lanes in both directions?

        Also exacerbating things is SDOT’s tendency to time the traffic signals to make crossing the street involve overly excessive waiting. If crossing the street legally could be quicker, there would less temptation to jaywalk.

      5. >> A mile-long freight train takes 3 minutes to pass, at 20mph. The benefits of the Lander St. overpass are exaggerated.

        That assumes it is going across at 20 MPH. It is quite common for trains, especially in a crowded area like downtown, to go forward, stop, slowly go back, stop, then creep forward again. I’m sure anyone who has ever been in that area has experienced considerable delays. I live nowhere near there and rarely go there, but I’ve experienced it. It is quite common.

      6. “It’s one of those times where the City assumes pedestrians will backtrack when they encounter a deadend on the sidewalk along which they are walking, instead of darting across an arterial to get to the other-side sidewalk.”

        Like the Beacon Hill project.

      7. RossB, I lived 26 years on Beacon Hill and that Lander St. crossing was part of my regular travels. Those back and forth movements are rare, and they don’t involve the mile long freight trains (often coal trains these days, sadly). Closures due to trains were infrequent, and rarely for more than a couple of minutes.

  2. So a Quarer-of-a-Billion Dollars for a 1.2-mile long streetcar line, that won’t do anything that a bus could do in a much more cost-effective way given the same right-of-way (which could be established virtually overnight)

    1. Will the streetcar be side-running or center-running on 1st Ave? Center boarding platforms still require either contraflow bus lanes or both-side-boarding buses (nearly impossible to acquire) to be able to get the same priority as a streetcar.

      Of course, the cheaped-out legs of the line on the SLU and FHSC have plenty of side-running length, where random vehicles bring the line to a halt by parking or dwelling on the tracks.

    2. I would like to know what ever happened to the low cost quick streetcar track construction, it used to be “3 blocks in 3 weeks”, that was how fast and minimally invasive the construction was. Now it seems to have morphed into another bloated budget time consuming process of scope creep picking up everything in the transportation system plan within a mile.

      1. @poncho

        The problem isn’t the streetcar, the problem is program management. That is why everything SDOT touches is going over right now. They just can’t say “no” to anyone requesting an add on

      2. On the one hand, you want SDOT to only rip up the street once. On the other hand, it can get to the point where commingling a bike lane and an entire downtown street rebuild with drainage. You get nonsense like the Seattle Times $12M/mile bike lane muckraker articles. At least the new report acknowledges that there should be a separation between the costs of the transit project and the utilities project.

        At least the issue of possibly incompatible geometries was discovered earlier than Miami’s Intermodal Center Amtrak Station–for which they only discovered the platform is too short for Amtrak trains *after* it had already been built.

    3. @spin,

      Ah, because a bus can’t do everything a streetcar can do. That was a myth put out by GM to kill streetcars and sell more buses.

      1. Exactly what specific function does a streetcar serve that cannot be served by a bus?

        Give me $250m and I’ll move more people, more reliably, and with greater flexibility with bues that you ever could with a streetcar.

      2. No Spin: It’s actually closer to $100M, and you still have to buy the busses and find enough drivers and build and design the bus right of way–cost unknown. You will definitely NOT move more people more reliably if you cheap out on the ROW.

    4. Name me a single office building downtown that couldn’t have been built crappier, less efficient, and uglier for a lot less money. Or, as it worked out, a lot more money. Not to mention homes in Medina and Laurelhurst. And what’s anybody need a house for at all? First residents of Kansas dug a hole!

      Not to mention worst dollar for dollar weapons trade-off in history. Those little olive-colored folding shovels deadlier at arm’s length in a trench than an AR-15. Try doing that with a toilet! And not an inch of plumbing. Also, never once had every single part of it break down on Magnolia, with a big puddle of drinking water right downhill!

      Too bad soap doesn’t come in crates anymore. Because I remember some kids in my alley in Chicago, most excited drivers and pit-crew I’ve ever scene, adjusting the ropes that would’ve been a lot cheaper than the steering wheel some idiot demanded for the Indy Five Hundred.

      Google “Soap Box Racer.” “Plastic Bottle 500” not there anyplace! And since our tails fell off due to global cooling, we did just fine dragging stuff with sticks. They even worked on top of the glaciers! In other words: Any way we can crowd-fund Cascades tickets to Portland?

      Will solve the Jusasgoodas problem.

      Mark Dublin

  3. $200 million could go a long way towards shoring up other Move Seattle projects elsewhere in the city.

    This is too much money to spend on a few blocks downtown that already has 3rd Ave. and the bus tunnel just two blocks away. Red paint bus lanes on 1st would be great, but we don’t need a streetcar.

    1. Seriously? A few unlucky routes exiled to 1st Ave will get the red paint treatment, while the Grand Metro Armada on 3rd Ave does not?

      Will the Historic Showbox District even allow parking removal?

      1. Seriously? A few unlucky routes exiled to 1st Ave …

        Kind of a twisted argument you got there. WE NEED TRANSIT ON FIRST. WE NEED IT. WE JUST DO!

        OK, let’s move a couple buses onto Third.

        Noooo! That would be terrible for those buses! No one wants to be sent to First!

        Seriously, the whole thing is silly. We should add bus lanes onto First, and move a few buses from Third to First. That still leaves a constant flow on Third Avenue. Now make sure that the buses you moved also cross Third. That way, someone can hop off their bus if they are headed to Third. It really isn’t that complicated if you start with the perspective of solving transit mobility problems instead of just building neato projects.

    2. Or this could have been designed to also accommodate buses to share the transitway but I’ll spare you all since it’s exactly what I’ve been harping on about Madison BRT as far as floating right door islands.

      1. There are left door hybrid artics available. What’s not available are dual motor, left-door articulated trolleys made in America.

    3. It’s not just a few blocks downtown. Building the connecting link in the system improves the line all the way from SLU to Cap Hill. That is what the line does. It improves the economics of the entire system.

      1. Ah, the sunk-cost fallacy rears it’s head again!

        Yes – buying a tuxedo will really enhance the usefullness of the top hat and cumberbund I bought.

        OR – I could just admit I made a mistake in buying a top hat and cumberbund and sell them on eBay, or even drop them off at the Goodwill.

      2. With respect to connectivity, let’s take the lines one at a time.

        For the First Hill line, nobody is going to ride the thing all the way around south to Jackson and back north, with the detour east to 14th, on top of it. Certainly not when direct-route buses exist as an alternative, including the 2, 11, 12, 49, and future Madison BRT, not to mention Link, itself from CHS. That basically leaves a few blocks of Jackson as the only piece of the existing First Hill line that could plausibly connect to the CCC in a way that’s “on-the-way”. But, those same few blocks of Jackson also have the 7 and 36 which each go up 3rd, within two blocks of all the streetcar stops. Combined, they already run more frequently along Jackson than the streetcar does.

        Now, the north line. With all the turns and station stops, and stoplights along Stewart in shared lanes (the exclusive lanes don’t begin until the streetcar actually reaches 1st), you’re looking at about 5 minutes to get from the existing streetcar terminus to 1st and Pine. You could walk from 5th/Olive to 1st/Pine in about those same 5 minutes. Those going from SLU to somewhere further south, say Pioneer Square, already have the C-line and the 40, which, combined, run quite a bit more frequently than the streetcar does.

        Other than appeasing people too lazy to walk two blocks from 3rd to 1st, or too snobbish to ride a bus with riffraff on board, what’s the point? Who is actually benefiting enough to justify $250 million.

      3. The system. Ha. First time I’ve heard this called a system. Is that what the kids are calling really bad routes these days — they system? Yesterday I caught the 24 from Emerson to Elliot. North, south, north, south — I couldn’t tell where the bus was headed — man, what a system.

      4. I *never* get on the 24 at that stop. I always walk east, at least to the gas station where I have the choice of getting the 24, after it’s finished with it’s detours, or the 33.

      5. So, there it is. I don’t think it’s at all wrong for people to avoid buses if they think there is “riff-raff onboard. Of course the city needs to provide transit for poor people, even those who smell.

        But the folks who live in $800thousand dollar condos aren’t going to ride with them. Since ttha, directly or indirectly, pay a LOT more property tax than do most people, maybe the City can splurge on something that meets their standards. The folks in Portland certainly appreciate — and use — theirs.

        You can ride it too if you want to take a short hop.

      6. Wow. OK, let me get this straight:

        The rich deserve their own special boutique form of transit, because, after all, they work harder than everyone else, and pay more taxes. Oh, and the rich who decide to live in Belltown or Pioneer Square have no interest in rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed, which is why they live there, instead of, say, Medina. It is important that we build this enchanting little public transportation option just for them. Oh, and somehow, magically, the streetcar repels those who lack the appropriate finances to use such a special form of transport.

        How absurd. People who live downtown — rich and poor — want good public transportation. The streetcar would be an improvement, since it would provide service on First Avenue. But that doesn’t mean that folks wouldn’t be just as happy — or happier — if they rode a bus down First.

      7. @asdf2 — When I was a kid I used to ride the 24 (I haven’t rode it in years — my little anecdote was fictional). Once I remember someone getting off the bus at 28th, then jogging down the hill to catch it again (with transfer in hand) on 34th. It was late at night, so not many riders were effected, but the bus driver chewed him out. Anyway, compared to the streetcar path, the 24 actually makes sense. The 24 is a coverage run in an area that lacks enough density to warrant a more straightforward set of routes. It is also an area with very little traffic and few traffic lights. In contrast, the streetcar is the opposite. It runs in a very congested area with large numbers of people. There is no excuse to have such a poor routing — it should be replaced with a much better, much more efficient set of buses.

        Speaking of routing, has anyone noticed a glaring difference between the Madison BRT project and the streetcar. Obviously there is the fact that Madison is a straight shot — the type of route that transit experts recommend. But there is another interesting difference: Madison should lead to lots of other improvements, while the streetcar won’t. If you have fast frequent service on Madison (six minutes all day long) then you can see some of the obvious cascading changes. You still have to cover Madison Park, so that means the 11 should be sent towards CHS and then downtown. That means Madison Park residents get a nice connection to Link, while retaining their one seat ride to downtown. They also get a great connection to anywhere on Madison. The 43, or course, is finally killed. Folks in Montlake can transfer to the Madison BRT if they want to get to that end of downtown, or the 11 or 8 if they want to get closer to Pike. The 12 becomes unnecessary as well, which is service that can go into something more useful, say, a route crossing Madison. Run a bus from South Lake Union to Mount Baker via Boren (or closer to the hospitals if it avoids the traffic). At no additional cost this little restructure has made a major difference to the region, and you will of course see big increases in ridership as a result.

        In contrast, what will the streetcar bring? What buses will be cancelled, or altered to take advantage of this very expensive addition? From what I can tell, nothing. It is an extremely expensive, poorly designed coverage route for an area that deserves better.

    4. The streetcar is for people who live downtown to use, NOT commuters. Its competition is not “more buses”, it’s Uber and Lyft, full stop. The folks who live in South Lake Union and Belltown (which is an obvious candidate for an extension up First) don’t have to worry about a $7 Uber fare to Pioneer Square, to say the least. This is why the Pioneer Square merchants were fine with the disruption of construction.

      But as I said, the folks living between Stewart and Mercer don’t want vomit on their $200 shoes and so are much less likely to take a bus from farther away especially in the evening when they go for entertainment.

      The streetcars in Portland are much fuller in the evening than the buses are, for just this reason: the other people on the streetcar “act like me”, so its a safe space. There aren’t people orating at a room full of adoring listeners in their heads or snoring away.

      This is an investment to support the lifestyles of a significant portion of the City’s residents. It’s a significant portion that produces significantly less greenhouse gas per person on average than those who live in places like Ballard or West Seattle. Those places are getting multi-billion dollar Link lines which will speed them past the less desirable places where homeless people live. The City should make a similar investment in the mobility of people who are bringing life and activity to the central city 24 hours a day.

      1. So, what you’re saying is that even though we have a near constant stream of buses traveling through downtown from areas outside of downtown, we need an *additional* transportation corridor, just for trips from one end of downtown to the other end, just to accommodate people who are too snobbish to ride a bus because their might be “undesirables” on board. And that accommodating such people (who are more likely than not to ride Lyft/Uber regardless of what transit investments we make) takes priority over all other public transportation projects in the city that those $200 million could go towards instead.

      2. >> The streetcar is for people who live downtown to use … Its competition is not “more buses”, it’s Uber and Lyft, full stop.

        What??? You want to build transit that can’t compete with buses? Seriously? You want to spend a quarter billion dollars on a niche form of transit that only appeals to those who own $200 shoes and are afraid of buses?

        Man, no wonder Sawant opposed it.

      3. “The streetcar is for people who live downtown to use, NOT commuters”

        Commuters also go from one part of downtown to another. They take lunch during work. They do shopping on the way home from work. They live on Capitol Hill, where not everybody is so rich they can spend $14 per day on Lyft.

      4. Of course other people can use it to make those same hops. But if you want to avoid downtown being choked with Uber and Lyft trips, you need a nice local circulator.

        Keep up the class war resentment and your natural allies living downtown will turn against transit.

      5. Also, remember that the service on 2nd, 4th and 5th will essentially dry up when ST and CT service is truncated to Link. The C and D won’t go through downtown, so it’ll essentially be the trolleys and Aurora-Westlake corridor RapidRides left on Third by 2035. Will the 120 (RR J?) even go downtown?

      6. @Richard — Right, when Link eventually gets to Ballard, it will only be buses from Queen Anne, Belltown, Fremont, Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, Aurora, Wallingford, Westlake, Eastlake, the entire greater Central Area (Capitol Hill, C. D., First Hill), Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, Georgetown, South Park, White Center, and maybe some of the surrounding southern suburbs like Renton. Yeah, so other than the bulk of our transit system, not too many buses. The good news is that none of those places are growing and Seattle has shown no interest in adding bus service, nor has Metro moved the buses around after they truncate them. Downtown will be practically deserted, just like when they added the bus tunnel and we’ve had nothing but cars on the streets ever since.

        Sorry, but the idea that we will somehow have only a few buses downtown is ridiculous. For every 41 taken off the street, Metro will add back an ‘E’, or a 40. Link isn’t going to cover all the combinations, and it even skips some of the key ones. If Link was built from the inside out, then I could see the sort of thing you describe happening — buses taken off the street just because they aren’t needed as much anymore. But with no subway service for areas like First Hill and Belltown, that just won’t happen.

      7. I thought the report made it pretty clear that the streetcar would be a good transit investment on it’s own–full stop.

        It’s not only downtowners, but tourists and convention goers and stadium event goers. A lot of these people are taking Uber/Lyft now. Many taking POOL or LINE–which can be even worse with making the multiple turns on a one-way grid in downtown. Makes things a heck of a lot easier for ferry commuters and hospitality commuters in the tourist areas, too. Look, the myriad of busses passing through downtown *just aren’t working* for these people, great as they are for commuting from outside of downtown. Whether these riders would be wealthy people or not, I don’t really care! Just get that car off the road.

  4. I’ve seen other reports putting the frequency plan at 10 minutes peak, 15 minutes off-peak. I believe that’s just for the SLU and FHSC tails. The plan, IIRC, was to have the two “lines” overlap to create 5-minute headway during peak and 7.5- (or was it 10?) minute headway off-peak.

    Even that plan is a disappointing cheap-out, with not enough streetcars (one of the cheaper capital elements of the project), and probably not enough base space planned. If the CCC is going to rescue the FHSC and SLU from uselessness, the tails need frequency, too. Every time I even think of catching the streetcar, the thought of waiting 15 minutes for it, vs. walking or taking something else, deters me.

    1. If you want good frequency for the same amount of money, you need a good grid. In the long run we need a major restructure for the area, with buses that go straighter. Since a streetcar can’t be part of a decent grid, it will just gets ignored, just as the monorail will eventually be ignored. Run a few trains to please the tourists, but from a transit perspective, it will be irreverent.

      1. would not the intended CCC riders be better off with about 40 bus trips per hour per direction on 1st Avenue rather than 12 CCC trips? save many millions and get better circulation! avoid a Seattle budget shortfall over service subsidy. the bus network between March 2019 and Northgate Link needs pathways. The SR-99 routes need 1st Avenue in the fall 2018. Seattle decides on the degree of priority on 1st Avenue. if Seattle wants a streetcar in 2023, let them find the funding then. but there are many better projects to fund throughout Seattle. all three Seattle streetcar projects have been pretty dumb.

      2. Every tourist taking the train is not using a car. How does this not count as “transit?” Traffic congestion is not just from locals, either. Tourism happens.

  5. Isn’t it interesting that this massive pause on the project is largely responsible for the cost increases? We need to build this thing now – the ridership projections show that.

    1. Yep. Mayor Durkan is clearly working to create her own narrative on this. It is highly disappointing.

      Almost game time. Nuff said for today. Go Dawgs

      1. A little role-playing here. You just became the first Seattle mayor to follow the one that just left. Director throws his folding chair through the wall and says: “Cut, Cut, Cut, Jennie, can’t have a bleep half an hour long! Let’s take it back to where Ed says “I’m outta here!” OK, Ed, leg over the window sill and “Roll Em!”

        If she’d just spent fifteen minutes with the transit lobby, we’d all be on same page of the consultant’s report how soon global warming will make every toilet along CCC go off like Old Faithful when the tide comes in.

        Could be tourist thing in Pioneer Square, like the Gunfight at the OK Corral. But there’d be a
        howling voice vote to impeach a Mayor who took nine minutes too long to release the consultant’s report.

        It would be good to know who-all she has been meeting with in person besides transit advocates, streetcar or bus. But that’s not the point. Considering how little motion Seattle’s streets are going to contain if we don’t get those lanes, we’re not nobody. If we wanted to be shined on and brushed off, there’s still a stand downstairs from Third Avenue door at Macy’s.

        So has anybody commenting of posting here gone to her office and politely asked for a meeting in person? Repeated with another visit every working day, each time with slightly more people? Starting to include Mike Lindblom, Erica Barnett, and Alex Tsimerman?

        Sorry (since her office isn’t in Pioneer Square around 1900, you can’t say “Madam Mayor” ) but if you were Richard J. Daily we’d have grade separated, a subway, AND streetcars ranging from the old “Peter Witt” cars to PCC’s. AND LINK would be read and green, go 90 miles an hour, and have white table cloths in the RESTAURANT car! And no pigeon would go without a pistachio nut.

        And you’d have to give us all jobs so we don’t vote for Carrie Moon or Nikkita Oliver next time. Only consolation is that since you’re the Mayor you can’t send yourself to Angle Lake for the contempt every successful mayor needs for Wise Guys!

        Mark Dublin

  6. Two thoughts:

    1) I sure would like to hear what the replace in any potential repeal and replace plan of Mayor Jenny Durkan… because I sure could make a case for dealing with Seattle’s transit deserts with the money first. Transit deserts as mention in Seattle Met and for more of a generalist view,

    2) Furthermore, I generally have came around to not liking streetcrawlers. I’ve rode both of Seattle’s lines, and Portland’s loop. Nothing a streetcrawler does that an electric bus can’t do – and better – because of lack of protected lanes. Need more transit protected lanes!

  7. The ridership numbers leave me scratching my head.

    1. What’s different? It appears that the build ridership is not even three times the existing ridership. The two lines today suggest about 5,000 daily riders so that the CCC appears to add about 15,000 daily riders.

    2. Of those riders, how many are new to transit? Between Third Avenue buses, Link at 3-5 minutes and RapidRide C to SLU, some or most of the riders have great options and would be on those other transit vehicles. There is a localized First Avenue demand but what is it?

    3. Stepping back a step, it there a north-south transit capacity issue after 2023-2025 but before 2035 or not? Shouldn’t those ridership numbers not grow proportionally each year as they do in the presentation? If One Center City is so concerned about capacity during the maximum constraint period of 2019-2021, why should a project that won’t open until 2022 be built during this time period — especially when its construction adds to the problems during the constraint period by pushing cars to other streets with transit on them and adding construction vehicles?

    1. The construction problems are the best reason not to build the CCC at this time. But it’s not a reason not to build it ever. In fact, it should include the First Avenue extensions in both directions operated at six minute headway, resulting in headways through the trunk portion of three minutes.

      And then the SLU cars and their associated buses should get Red Lanes both directions on Westlake.

      Take a look at this Google Earth image of the intersection of Westlake and Denny:,-122.3385515,3a,60y,180h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s0AgOoW8epNYnW1_BSKj_MQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

      There are five times as many people as there are cars facing south and if you twirl around to face north the street is almost empty. Make Ninth one-way southbound and Westlake one-way northbound except for the contraflow but/streetcar lane and you have a workable access to Westlake on north through the neighborhood.

      1. I should have said “all the way from Stewart to Mercer. They do already exist for a couple of blocks each side of Denny. Right turns should be prohibited at Denny though, because of the huge pedestrian use.

      2. “The construction problems are the best reason not to build the CCC at this time. But it’s not a reason not to build it ever….”

        Indeed. May as well save some money and build it ten years from now.


    I used to be able to spell better than anybody else at Eugene Field Elementary School. Meaning that of everybody that used to live in Chicago, no excuse for misspelling the name on the above link. Which can get you killed no matter how long he’s been dead.

    Though say what you want about Chicago politics, before Dell replaced Sheaffer as a data entry instrument, anybody who knew, like, somebody in County Records could for a small consideration assure that no one would be denied their right to vote on the irrelevancy of not being alive.

    So don’t want to find myself the only one on an ‘el platform around midnight with a lotta ice around, and the motorman can’t see real good who just fell on the tracks. And the wind blew real hard which could be really bad for somebody in the habit of not being careful.

    Somebody else please forward the link to Cary Moon. Failing the WASL on spelling means stay off the Monorail at night in the winter too.


  9. >> raising the specter of the CCC cars being multimillion-dollar white elephants;

    The whole thing is likely to be a white elephant in about 20 years. Just look at the trend. Bus ridership is skyrocketing. Metro is truncating routes in response to Link’s expansion. Seattle has shown that it eagerly wants to spend money on transit, having recently voted twice to spend money on buses and bus projects. Both the Link based truncations and the increased funding have lead to much better service. Thirty minutes used to be standard in this town, now it is fifteen. Buses like the 67, which is not exactly fast nor straightforward and doesn’t even go downtown manages to run every ten minutes at noon. Downtown is flooded with buses — so much so that we don’t know where to put them. We have such high demand and funding for bus service that we can’t hire enough people to drive them. Meanwhile, we demand more. The mayor announced that left turns are going to be banned on Third Avenue all day long while cars will be off limits from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Off board payment will be the norm for every bus at every bus stop there. Yet everyone is horribly disappointed, wondering why we can’t get more. We are constantly getting better and better bus service, using it, yet we want more. We are in the midst of a virtuous transit cycle.

    The buses aren’t going away. They will fill this city, and blanket downtown. Or course they will run on First, and they will run on Westlake. They will run on Broadway as well 12th. They will provide new connections that would have sounded crazy a few years ago, but seem long overdue now, like a bus on Boren connecting First Hill with South Lake Union.

    At the same time, Metro has obviously moved more towards a grid. Gone are the days when they would cherry pick a particular combination while forcing much of the city to transfer downtown. If a bus deviates from a straight line, it is to avoid traffic — doing the opposite would be silly.

    Given all that — this stands out like a sore thumb: This is too short, and too squiggly to work with. Metro will, of course, work around it. You can expect to see service on Broadway (that doesn’t make a button hook to 14th). You can expect to see service on 12th, just because it makes sense to have it. If there is a transit lane on First then of course you will have various buses using it, for no other reason than because it allows for faster operation and relieves the pressure on Third Avenue.

    At that point, the streetcar line will seem silly. You really have to be a tremendous transit pessimist to assume that such a poorly designed project — with a bad mode and a bad route — will provide a key service in the future. It is like a slow, slogging version of the monorail. Sure, it is better than nothing, but eventually it will become nothing more than a tourist attraction, as there will be much better, more frequent and faster ways to get around town.

    1. Ross,

      I don’t think the defects of the map are as self-evident as you suggest. Look at it as three distinct lines in an interconnected system. 1) – SLU/Pioneer Sq., 2) Pioneer Sq./Int’l Dist./Yesler Terrace, and 3) Yesler Terrace/First Hill/CHS. Those are some pretty straight lines. It is incomplete, to be sure, but seems like a worthy project.

      1. 1) Already connected by the 40
        2) Already connected by the 7 and 36
        3) Already connected by the existing First Hill streetcar (the CCC won’t do anything to improve these trips).

      2. Look at it as three distinct lines in an interconnected system.

        Which is part of the problem. Each is tiny, and the first and third are in opposite directions!

        Much has been written about the weaknesses of circulators as well as routes that are short, squiggly and looping (even using that exact wording). That pretty much describes the route exactly. Jarrett Walker dedicates several sections of his book to the subject and has repeated the idea on the web ( and

        Of course it works for some short trips, but when you reduce the number of trips for which it works, you make the system inefficient. Imagine if the streetcars were pulled out, and in their place you connected a couple buses via First Avenue (the 7 and 70) along with a bus route that went from Mount Baker to South Lake Union via Boren. There is just a lot more trips that are suddenly dramatically faster and yet it actually costs *less* to operate than the streetcars. You basically get the 7 and 70 for free, and the Boren bus is shorter and faster than the streetcar line that goes back and forth. Can you really say that the CCC suddenly makes any trip dramatically faster?

        Perhaps it isn’t obvious. Just consider a trip from Yesler Terrace to Yesler and First. The CCC would provide door to door service. Yet walking would be faster! You could get off the streetcar, walk to the other side, then pick up the exact same streetcar! That means that any trip that involves going from First Hill to First Avenue (or South Lake Union) would be silly. In all cases, you would be better off taking a different bus, or simply walking.

        That is not a mode problem, but a routing problem. But the only reason we are stuck with the routing flaws is because of the mode! For a very long time buses have gone up Queen Anne and then wiggled around at the end of the route (back when Queen Anne had a high school). It really doesn’t make sense to do that anymore, so Metro changed it. It cost a little bit to move the wire, but really wasn’t that expensive. Heck, just the other day the 8 got a nice little improvement, as the city carved out a lane just for the bus (on Denny, close to the freeway). But both of those projects would have been extremely expensive if they were rail, which explains why no one has bothered to do anything about the button hook on Yesler that makes that streetcar so slow. It is too expensive to fix even the simplest of routing flaws.

  10. I’m always amazed at how many of the supposed transit activists or transit supporters here are against a project that would provide dedicated transit ROW through downtown and would allow for more effective use of two centerpiece transit lines in the city on an under-served corridor.

    The ones who keep suggesting a bus bridge between the two extant streetcars are particularly confounding.

    1. Thank you – no sensible Transit supporter would be against this project. ROW through the heart of the city is what you want!

      Honestly, I’m ok if they decommission the two other streetcar lines – they very flawed. This is finally one that makes perfect sense and would be a major missed opportunity not to continue with.

    2. Chris, best way to think about transit as a tool-kit, rather than a set of categories. The work at hand here is to provide a dedicated transit right of way through Downtown. What’s the right tool? Perfectly legit for equally qualified and well-meaning professionals to disagree about which tool is best for this particular job.

      I think one of the worst among many bad thinking habits in this country’s politics is to see a flag where there should be a blueprint. Or a game marker where there should be a machine. One reason I keep stressing a whole program of necessary public works projects involving actual things to be built, as a way to replace an argument with a set of jobs.

      Fact that sanitary waste always flows one direction and has to be pumped into the opposite is probably nature’s best example of the most productive way of thinking about anything you want to build.


    3. I haven’t read anyone opposed to “dedicated transit ROW through downtown.”

      Everyone loves that the Link is grade separated through downtown, favors closing Third Avenue to cars so that buses move more efficiently, and supports bus-only lanes wherever we can get them.

      “Dedicated transit ROW through downtown?”

      I’d cheer from the rooftop if curbside parking were permanently eliminated on every arterial in Seattle so that those lanes could be used for dedicated transit right-of-way!!!

      What I’m opposed to non-grade-separated rail right-of-way.

      Having the Link at-grade on MLK was a big mistake, and streetcars are an even bigger mistake.

      The CCC might make the existing dysfunctional streetcars a bit more effective – but only because they are already incredibly ineffective given the investments made on them.

      According to a related article on Crosscut: “… ridership [on the two existing streetcar lines] is below initial estimates. And operating costs have exceeded what was predicted and revenue recuperation has underperformed. The two lines that are currently operating carry more than $17 million in debt.”

      At a quarter-of-a-billion dollars to build and $16m – $24m per year to operate, the CCC is a boondoggle in the making.

      Again, give me (or just about anyone…) $250 million dollars for transit infrastructure and $16m-$24m per year in operating costs, and we’ll move more people, more efficiently through that same corridor than a streetcar ever will.

      1. Exactly. Everyone wants the right of way. But it doesn’t make sense to carve out expensive right of way downtown, and then run a bus every five minutes on it at best. Not when you have *more than enough* buses on Third Avenue. Oh, but not just any bus, a special streetcar, which is the same size as a bus, but special. It has the ability to get stuck more often, and stick to its existing route in perpetuity, despite the fact that everyone knows it is stupid.

        So that means that either we are stuck with a flawed, underused investment, or Metro starts running buses down First. My guess is the latter. Hard to imagine Metro (and Seattle) will just let those lanes be underused. They will add bus service there, along with more service on Broadway, Boren and 12th. When they do all that, ridership on the streetcar will collapse. People will take it only when they miss the more frequent bus, or when they just want to go for a joy ride.

      2. NoSpin, suppose you’re the one that has to make this decision:

        Rainier Valley is now at starting point for at least twenty years of development. Giving us enough passengers to merit rail, but not yet enough to either afford or demand grade separation, but ten or fifteen years will take care of that.

        We also know that at the time we have to leave grade, tunnels and structures will be a lot easier and cheaper to build than they are now. Would you really have your people sacrifice the good things about four miles of at-grade rail for the intervening years?

        But most important- any chance that our at-grade period will both attract us passengers and steadily improve our operations to the point that when we can finally leave grade, we’ll be a long way ahead of where we’d have been if we’d stayed with buses all those years?

        “Failure”‘s got a very strict definition to me. Absolutely no way to make something worth its cost. Ever. Look at the rendering! I see a curb lane in both directions. And none of the cars on top of them bolted or concreted to the pavement. And average new resident anywhere on the line definitely doesn’t consider cars freedom.

        Full transit mall or not, shouldn’t take occupation martial law to get enough automobiles out of the way and signals adjusted that streetcars will only have to stop alongside platforms. Same with whole rest of the line, SLU to Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square to the International District to the end of Broadway..Unless it’s code for “a Lot of Work We’ll be Proud Of”…”Failure” doesn’t Fit the Facts.


    4. I’m always amazed at how many of the supposed transit activists or transit supporters here are against a project that would provide dedicated transit ROW through downtown and would allow for more effective use of two centerpiece transit lines in the city on an under-served corridor.

      Because it is a lousy project! I don’t know how else to explain it. The routing is terrible. The mode is terrible. The cost is terrible. Everything about it is terrible. I don’t know why people defend such terrible projects on the basis that they are “better than nothing” when doing so only results in us getting stuck with crap. The streetcars are not “centerpiece transit lines” – they are obviously flawed lines that happen to have an inferior mode (causing them to be slower, less flexible, more dangerous, etc.). If they were bus routes, they would have been altered or killed years ago.

      The problem with adding a terrible rail project is that you are stuck with them. Create a bunch of stupid routes and you can redo it fairly easily. But with rail, it costs a bundle to move the tracks, and folks just endure the stupidity (look how no one has bothered to consider removing the button hook). When this is built, it will be even worse — a silly, squiggly circulator in a city that doesn’t need it. It is a small town attempt at transit in a city that outgrew that thirty years ago (when it built a freaking bus tunnel). It is a tiny little bit of Tacoma in the middle of Seattle. It will cost a lot of money, and be obsolete within twenty years. Year by year, the city is adding more and better bus service. The routes are becoming straighter, designed to work better together. Like the monorail thirty years from now, the streetcar will cease to play a role in the public transportation landscape, but be attractive only to those who just want to go for a ride.

    5. The DSTT was probably the zenith of the region’s fetish for cheaping out and sending buses to do rail’s job. But the urge never really went away.

      1. Ross, what’s the oldest age of every terrible thing you list above, especially if it’s an artic or with something else terrible coupled to its back bumper? Demolitions is a precision science now. So name me the largest obstacle made out of anything in the way of Streetcar One whose location is incurable forever.

        But TLjr, I’m really looking forward to a six part posting about your part in the project, to fill in all the gaps in my own memory. Because watching all that underground grooved rail go by through my own windshield, seemed more like we were hauling nine years worth of rail passengers ’til Train One even got here.

        Who wouldn’t have waited ’til Uber and Lyft were invented to finish the Arboretum Freeway. For starters.

        Now you didn’t hear this from me, but the cheap-out claim was to cover up what we really paid the world’s top rail engineers. Who us dozen advisors suckered into believing that a rail tunnel could use buses just because we never hit any walls. We also never teased German dual-mode drivers for needing big roller-levers on their steering.

        But honest, man, that was all just a warm-up. When, which is always not “If” a hi-speed ST- rounds a curve just as Seattle’s last light starts saving electricity….Your hard-hat and megaphone will be waiting for you. Ross is frantically looking for them right now. Frank, make him write it!

        Mark Dublin

      2. @TLjr — What??? The bus tunnel was the greatest transit achievement in the Northwest. More people have saved more time because of the bus tunnel than have ever saved time with the trains. It forms the best part of our subway system, and is one of the parts of it that doesn’t involve “cheaping out”. It has working escalators and extra stairs. Stations that are located in logical places, and don’t require long journeys just to reach the platform (as with Mount Baker and UW). It has decent stop spacing, and plenty where they make sense, unlike Link, which managed only one station between the UW and downtown (while getting rid of the perfectly good Convention Place station).

      3. The DSTT took the cost of the tunnel off Link’s bill and may have made the difference in getting Link approved or not making it a surface route like MAX. Also the tunnel was a lot less expensive to build then.

  11. Wonder if anybody’s noticed this about the picture: There’s a cost free way to speed up every motorist’s ride to work. Put a streetcar stop right at the parking garage where the car will spend the day, and car’s owner will get a faster transit ride past the exact location in the picture.

    Whoever did the rendering…good work!


    1. Mark, regarding your picture comment, as you have said, right of way is key. so, a bus rider with priority through traffic would get that fast ride. the bus network could provide better frequency and shorter waits.

  12. A couple of things in response to all the comments:

    1) Let’s talk about 3rd Avenue buses in the future. Metro’s Long Range Plan has sharply reduced service on 3rd as of 2040, because so many local routes in other parts of town will rely on Link for downtown connections. There are only 10 routes on the central section of 3rd in the plan, and they are rough equivalents of the following:

    RR E
    1 + 14
    3N + 3S
    70 + a bit of the 7
    150 but express

    Even assuming higher frequency on all of them, that is going to be a major decrease in through-downtown surface bus capacity. It will have the effect of pushing people toward Link for some trips and the CCC for others.

    2) I feel like I have to shout, because no one is hearing me, although I’ve said it several times in the last week: 3RD AND JAMES IS NOT A PLACE PEOPLE WILL GO. They will catch Ubers before waiting there, and doubly so in the dark. Yet that is where you are requiring anyone leaving Pioneer Square to wait in the 3rd-only scenario. This is not about people being snooty or not wanting to ride a bus with “riff-raff.” It’s about the fact that 3rd between James and Yesler is now the most dangerous block in the city, followed closely by the block of Yesler between 2nd and 3rd, and neither shows any signs of changing. Many, many people, most of them not rich, will ride happily from 1st and Yesler but eschew 3rd and James.

    3) The CCC will basically make our streetcar into the Portland streetcar. The Portland version is slower than molasses and quite squiggly but connects nearly all major central destinations. And people love it. It has great ridership, takes ridership away from buses in the same corridor, and has spurred more development than you’d expect. After watching this sort of effect in action both in Portland and in some European cities I think part of it is superior comfort of rail vehicles; part is negative social connotations people attach to buses; and part of it is a level of comfort with the predictability of something rolling on visible rails. The CCC’s bread and butter will be short and slow trips within downtown. There are many of those, and it won’t matter that someone who knows every bus stop in the city could make them a few minutes faster by bus.

    1. the unfunded network of 2040 is only slightly relevant. the network that is funded now and has no where to go in fall 2018 (AWV) and spring 2019 (DSTT) is imminent. so, right of way is a critical opportunity cost. there will be more room in downtown for the CCC in 2023. Seattle has many other transportation projects that need the CCC millions and would produce more value with them. SDOT has agreed to by longer cars that need costly modifications to the operating bases; that will add to the capital cost. so, the local capital is a critical opportunity cost. the CCC operating plan is flawed by relying two unreliable tails for each trip and by relying on farebox revenue for service subsidy with the Seattle budget as backup. so, operations is a critical opportunity cost. the transit network, Link and bus, already connect the two existing lines well enough.

  13. 1) So that is 12 buses (and still doesn’t account for buses like the 26 and 28). Fair enough. So, assuming every bus runs every ten minutes off peak, that is 120 buses per hour or an average of one every 30 seconds. Seems to me someone on Third Avenue will have a pretty easy time catching a bus, while someone on First Avenue may have to wait seven and a half minutes for a streetcar (and hope it wasn’t delayed on First Hill).

    2) First of all, cities change. Not too long ago, the sleaziest part of Seattle was First Avenue (read Still Life with Woodpecker for a wonderful description). But assuming what you are saying is true forever and ever — so what? That isn’t the transfer point. This is: If I am riding the 7 from Rainier Valley, and the driver keeps going to First Avenue but I want to go up Third, that is my transfer point. There is no reason why — after the buses aren’t so full on Third Avenue — that all of the buses you mentioned don’t cross Jackson. Why wouldn’t they?

    3) part is negative social connotations people attach to buses; and part of it is a level of comfort with the predictability of something rolling on visible rails. OK, now it is my turn to shout. PEOPLE LIKE OUR BUSES. We love our buses so much we built a freaking tunnel for them. People like our buses so much that we are one of the few cities in the U. S. that actually has increased usage of the buses. Seattle voted to bail out enhance our bus system while the rest of the county didn’t. We voted to give money to a transportation project that specifically allocated money for buses and excluded the streetcar (for fear that including the streetcar would kill the proposal). Despite billions and billions spent on our subway system — and the fact that it now covers the most important segment — and old, reliable, very popular bus service was eliminated in favor of the trains — bus ridership dwarfs rail ridership. People associate our buses with mobility — the ability to get where they want to go — not something negative.

    This attitude is really provincial. I just came back from a lovely European vacation and do you know that they had? Streetcars! Oh, it was just precious — we need something like that in our town. Nonsense. Those European cities with streetcars you saw — they were huge, and have existed long before you could run a bus down the road. The few exceptions are in places that are orders of magnitude bigger than Seattle (places like Paris) that actually need huge vehicles, because if they run the buses every couple minutes, they can’t carry enough people. Heck, our plan doesn’t even involve that! They aren’t going to run the trains very often — nowhere near the point where trains make sense (even if they were bigger than our buses, which they aren’t).

    This is a big city now — we need to stop pretending we need cute little circulating streetcars (to spur growth?). We need real, sensible, cost effective transit solutions. The streetcar — as poorly designed and expensive as it is — just isn’t it.

    Once again, I ask the same question I’ve asked repeatedly. If this was a bus route — would it stand a chance of surviving a sensible restructure?

    1. Aach, I hate when I do that. Bad math on the first item. I started thinking about peak, then off peak, and then … bad math.

      Here I go again. 12 buses, with each bus every 10 minutes is 74 buses an hour. So a little less than one bus per minute off peak (and a lot more than that during peak). But 74 buses an hour is still a lot better than 8 streetcars an hour and Third Avenue will likely continue to be the corridor with the shortest effective wait time (typically less than a minute). I doubt you will ever have to wait longer for a bus on Third than you have to wait for a Link train.

  14. Build it. Two separate streetcar lines are such an embarrassment. Rider projections prove this will work.

    1. From Crosscut:

      “Also clouding enthusiasm for the new line are the city’s two existing lines. Although ridership has increased on both in recent years, ridership is below initial estimates. And operating costs have exceeded what was predicted and revenue recuperation has underperformed. The two lines that are currently operating carry more than $17 million in debt.

      How much faith can we have that, as you put it, “rider projections prove this will work” when the projections for streetcar ridership have a failure rate of 2 for 2 thus far?

      Streetcars are a bad transit investment. They don’t deliver anything that other modes cannot deliver more efficiently given the same level of investment.

  15. My fear is that she will cancel the streetcar and funnel any saved money to something non-transit. I.e. homeless and/or affordable housing.

    1. There is no saved money; it’s a cost overrun. If she goes ahead with the streetcar she’ll have to find additional unbudgeted money for it.

  16. The CCC (by \completing the streetcar network) serves 2 main engines of Seattle commerce:

    1. Tourism. 40 million visit Seattle annually- and often spend more in a day than most residents do in a normal week. There should be a tourist friendly way to circulate them through the main areas of downtown commerce. Ideally the extended downtown (Sodo-Pioneer Sqr-downtown-Denny-SLU-Seattle Ctr-LQA-1st Hill-Cap Hill.) The current plan accomplishes much of this, and extending the line up 1st to Belltown would cover the rest (or adding in an equally tourist friendly Monorail ride.)

    2. Job growth in tech. I know people love to hate on tech people (I am not one BTW), but it makes sense to invest in a reliable network that goes from the densest residential neighborhoods to the current and emerging tech centers. These are basically the same areas listed above, plus Westlake to Fremont. And I think the expectation is that Yessler Terrace will morph into a combination of SLU and Belltown in terms of job growth and residential inflow, so that part of the Streetcar will become more viable with time
    … And in defense of tech workers, those working in Seattle tend to choose to use transit and live in denser neighborhoods that lead to a less car-centric lifestyle. I see nothing wrong in investing in transit to help them accomplish this (at very least a good bus route from 1st Hill to SLU.)

    A lot of people are making this into a moral argument (CCC is somehow only for elitist or it is somehow immoral to spend transit dollars on projects that benefit people who either generate revenue (tourists) pay a lot of taxes(downtown workers.) On the flip side, Durkan is making this a financial argument, that the costs are too high. And my response is that there will be a disproportionate commercial benefit from a legit streetcar network.

    1. Let’s look at the actual location of the platforms! It isn’t as useful for tourists as pitched.

      1. There is no stop at SAM. Link Univerdity Street is just as convenient for tourists.

      2. Link entrances are at least a block away, and/or require crossing two streets. The best Link connection is at IDS, and that still mean that Link riders must cross streets twice. The median stations mean that all riders must wait to cross the street half of the time.

      3. The Pike Place stop is perhaps the easiest for tourists to use, and it’s north of Pine Street.

      4. The Pioneer Square options are on Jackson or north of Cherry. The heart of Pioneer Square’s district south of Yesler has no stop.

      5. All of this is on top of the additional delay to allow for for pedestrians at the three turns in the road. Those signals cannot be easily pre-emoted to make the streetcar faster.

      From a lofty perspective, it looks good for tourists but the reality is that it’s not that great.

    2. “it makes sense to invest in a reliable network that goes from the densest residential neighborhoods to the current and emerging tech centers”

      I don’t want to pile onto the streetcar, but think like a passenger. Have you ever taken the streetcar from Broadway to Jackson? It often sits for 30 seconds before turning at Bwy & Yesler, 14th & Yesler, and/or 14th & Jackson, making the detour even bigger than it already is. There’s a significant amount of stop-and-go between Yesler and Denny, and on the SLU line it stops every single block at a traffic light between Westlake and Denny. Commuters notice this and start looking for any alternative to the streetcar. Those on Broadway will notice the 8 and Madison RapidRide, and those on 1st will notice the buses on 3rd. Not all of them will go to the buses but many of them will, and that will significantly affect the tech-commuter ridership.

Comments are closed.