Seattle Streetcar (image: Joe Kunzler)

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has paused work on the Center City Connector (CCC) and several other projects as the city wrangles a steep revenue deficit. The pause appears likely to further delay the start of service. But the recession also threatens the longer term future of the streetcar. Needed revenues from the rideshare tax are less likely to materialize, and there is sharpened competition for scarce general fund resources.

All told, the paused projects are expect to reduce SDOT spending this year by $58 million, or 8% of the $739 million budget. That roughly fills this year’s budget gap for SDOT. SDOT’s revenues are expected to fall short of plan by more than $50 million, including an expected loss of $13 million in general fund support, a $20 million shortfall on parking tax revenues; and at least $7 million less in street use fees. SDOT’s near term options are constrained as they are continuing projects already in construction. At the same time, the West Seattle Bridge is unexpectedly failing, setting SDOT up for a costly repair bill, or even more costly replacement.

The Center City Connector would connect the South Lake Union and First Hill streetcars through downtown Seattle. The project was funded in the budget passed in 2017, but then placed on hold in April 2018. After identifying a series of design flaws and cost underestimates in the plan, an independent review added $88 million to the estimate in the budget, and potentially more if assumed FTA grant funding were to fall through. But the city nevertheless determined to get the project back on track, taking two steps to move the project ahead.

First, a $9 million provision in last year’s budget advanced work on reworking the design. That work was to have been completed this year and would set the project up for federal grant applications later this year. Those will presumably now be delayed with implications for the project delivery schedule. The streetcar was expected to start service in 2026.

Second, last year’s budget addressed the larger revenue shortfall with a tax on rideshare trips. Most of the expected revenues through 2025 are split between affordable housing and for the streetcar. Before passage, the council amended the spending plan resolution to allow a range of other transit expenditures including purchased service, a voucher program for transit, and the West Seattle-Ballard Link project.

We should now question how much of this funding will materialize. The revenue target assumed rideshare trips in Seattle would nearly double by 2025 over pre-COVID levels. That was already aggressive, and assumed almost no impact from expected “minimum wage” regulations. Those will make rideshare more expensive for customers, adding maybe $4 to a typical $12-14 ride. Instead, the pandemic tanked rideshare demand, with bookings reduced 80% in April and likely to stay depressed.

The streetcar will need to compete for those diminished revenues with other transit uses in the spending plan, with the affordable housing that was to have been supported by the same rideshare tax, and with the full range of revenue-challenged general fund spending priorities.

Already, Council Member Lisa Herbold has signaled her intent to cancel rather than defer the streetcar further. Herbold has been a long term skeptic of the CCC, and unsuccessfully attempted to eliminate funding in the past. With so much turnover on the Council since 2017, and newly constrained funding for everybody else’s priorities, she may make more headway in this year’s budget cycle.

Planned Center City Connector alignment (image: SDOT)

47 Replies to “Center City Connector on hold again amid fresh funding gaps”

  1. The federal government has figured this out: Deficit spending is not, in and of itself, a sin. Even the most “conservative” Republicans in Congress don’t give a darn about having an ongoing debt. The balanced budget canard is only trotted out to go after projects politicians don’t like, and then it is abandoned when the politicians get their priority (like billions in tax giveaways to their campaign funders, sadly a top priority of the two-party Sithdom). The same is pretty much true here, except Boeing, Amazon, etc, have long since gotten out from under paying taxes here. I’m not saying money grows on trees. But it does seem clear that avoiding a tax fight is the real priority. (And in the case of the CCC, my district representative would still oppose it even if were 1/10 the cost, given its utility as a geographical and cultural stalking horse / dog whistle.)

    I’m not saying the CCC is a top priority, but between going after that and not doing anything to get emergency bus service or bus lane priority for West Seattle, or even help for more bike lanes, my district representative is getting an “F” on transit issues. It’s not even like she is fighting for pork for her district. It’s more that she has taken the conservative (SOV supremacy) side in a culture war.

    People may not have noticed, but she hasn’t just fought against the CCC, but also tried to run up the tab, delay shovel-readiness as long as she can, and reduce the financial viability of West Seattle Link.

    1. Thanks, Brent. We’re not really on different sides over what CCC will be part of. We just have to figure out how to put them in separate budgets. A “World-Class-Dynamic Development District” that’ll include both CCC and its two co-segments, the Waterfront, the Victoria Clipper and as much of Victoria DC as wants to join.

      Really no rush about Lisa, either. Her replacement still has four to six years of college, or maybe a couple of terms in the Armed Forces, before she, or he, will consider themselves ready for public office. Been warned to cool-it-on-the-links, but I think I’ve found the political party you and Howie Hawkins really need to rejuvenate:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_Republicans

      Greatest thing this movement has to offer is their proven willingness to not only keep Arms, but also bear them, at the controls of the gun-turrets of battle ships as they dealt with a certain politician’s original Base. You remember Jim Ellis, don’t you? Your side gets credit for both a future and a past. The buses you’re advocating, CCC and its other two segments will absolutely need to already be running for the streetcars even to work.

      Mark Dublin

      Mark Dublin

    2. [Lisa Herbold has] not doing anything to get bus lane priority for West Seattle

      A quick Google check finds this to be bullshit: https://tinyurl.com/yd3wp49a (scroll down to bicycle lanes). She was endorsed by Washington Bikes that wrote:

      On Council, Lisa Herbold has demonstrated leadership on active transportation issues. Herbold has helped hold the city accountable to following through on key transportation projects in her district – including the Georgetown to Southpark trail and retaining bike improvements within the Delridge Rapid Ride project.

      Oh, and if you think the bike community supports the streetcar, you are delusional. The deadly threat to bike riders is one of the reasons the streetcar should be killed and replaced by bus service, even if it wasn’t such a boondoggle. It is odd to say we are for Vision Zero, except to accommodate a quaint but ineffective streetcar.

      As far as “emergency bus service”, I’m not sure what you expect. She has pushed for bus lanes (https://tinyurl.com/y9j9736b) and bus service, although she hasn’t always been successful (https://tinyurl.com/yb2rttff). There is a reason why she got the endorsement of the Transit Riders Union.

      The reason she has opposed the streetcar is in part because of that disconnect. How can you justify a terrible project that will do very little to improve transit mobility in the city, while folks in Alki have a slow, two-seat ride downtown? Her approach may seem parochial — focusing only on her area — but given the high cost and overall weakness of the streetcar line, as well as the overall density and proximity of Alki, it is the right position. The city would be better off running the 56 all day and eliminating the streetcar (although you could say that about almost any bus improvement).

      1. You couldn’t even quote me right. Enjoy arguing with your strawpile.

        Do you really agree with Herbold that the priority for the low bridge is legally getting more cars onto it?

        Yes, I am aware she got the endorsement of TRU. STB even rated her higher than her general election opponent. All her opponents managed to run to her right, somehow. That in no way guarantees there won’t be a pro-transit progressive in the race three years from now. Meanwhile, progress on West Seattle Link will suffer, West Seattle bus riders will have to look to Mosqueda and Gonzalez for help, new West Seattle housing will be fought with piles of amendments and consultant studies, and SOV drivers will get concierge service to get places to park for free on any public right-of-way in her district.

      2. I quoted you right. I simply put Herbold in block quotes because that is who you were obviously referring to (I thought maybe you forgot who your city council member was). You wrote that say she is “not doing anything to get emergency bus service or bus lane priority for West Seattle”. I simply broke that into two pieces. Neither is a strawman. Are you backing off on either claim? Do think Herbold has done nothing to get bus lane priority for West Seattle?

      3. Here is what I actually said: “I’m not saying the CCC is a top priority, but between going after that and not doing anything to get emergency bus service or bus lane priority for West Seattle, or even help for more bike lanes, my district representative is getting an “F” on transit issues.”

        Georgetown-to-South Park is a pedestrian trail, which I suppose some bikers might use, but I haven’t seen it. I’ve walked on it. I’ve seen a handful of others walking on it, too. It didn’t interfere with car lanes, so it was safe for Herbold to allow it to proceed.

        I haven’t followed the block-by-block intracacies of which modes gets what priority on Delridge, but I do remember the Admiral Way Bike Lanes that almost happened, PBUT.

        The emergency bus lane priority on the lower (West Seattle) bridge was enacted by Mayor Durkan. Since then, Herbold has been “asking questions” about why bikes, buses, freight, and emergency vehicles were given such priority. Clearly, her questions are aimed at trying to remove such priority. As pork lord for her district, I suppose that is her perrogative.

        When push comes to shove, Herbold sides with SOVs and anyone concern trolling against a transit, bike, or housing project. Sans such resistance, she is glad to take credit for the project. Well, except the CCC, where she *is* the concern trolling resistance to the project, and is under the misimpression that she doesn’t have constituents annoyed about her going after a transit project not in her district. If she truly believes in the gerrymandered politics she advocated for in the City, she should follow Sawant’s lead on what to do with the CCC.

    3. I live in Helsinki nowadays. It has 10 streetcar lines. I can assure you that I find it a lot safer to bicycle here than I ever did in Seattle.

      1. The way the SLU streetcar is setup is about the worst possible arrangement for cyclists. They put the streetcar in the right lane, shared with cars, forcing cyclists to choose between 1) riding in the left lane and being passed by cars on the right, 2) riding on the streetcar tracks and risk getting their tires caught, 3) riding on a sidewalk, filled with pedestrians, at 3 mph, or 4) avoiding Westlake Ave. entirely.

        Worse, they managed to add turns to the route, making a block of Terry Ave., too, impassable to cyclists. And, of course, all those diagnonal crossings on cross-streets, such as Stewart and Valley. The mere fact that the streetcar tracks even exist force cyclists off the flattest, most direct route between downtown and SLU, all for a form of “transit” that is slower than a bus, has less passenger capacity than a bus, and runs a route that is largely duplicated by two very frequent bus routes (the 40 and C-line).

        Including average wait time, a typical ride on the SLU streetcar is about the same speed as walking. If you walk fast and go through those extremely long red lights when there are no cars coming, walking might actually be faster.

  2. Dan, you’re doing your job, addressing a damaged economy by reporting the facts. The same way that for both Covid and the chronic loathsome and contagious illness that produced current Executive Branch, the brave, honest, and talented people shrugging off slander and working on a cure.

    But here’s Lisa Herbold’s problem. She’s too old to kill a civic project that was born before she was. A combined linear business district that’ll include Broadway, the International District, Pioneer Square, and South Lake Union.

    And the final completion of a Waterfront that’s gotten nothing but more mediocre since the sneaky and dishonest removal of a world-class streetcar line that not only provided the line-haul service able to keep a neighborhood alive, but connected Victoria BC with the world via IDS and Sea-Tac Airport.

    George Benson and Tom Gibbs, you’re watching your replacements spend their eighteenth birthday at their computer, re-arranging the education that’s fallen out from under them, and if they’re already in student government, prepared to take the seat in the State Legislature that the law guarantees them at 18.

    For Seattle Transit Blog this morning, my greatest goal is a strong permanent influx in participation by these very people. Because for whatever ails anything of mine, it’s wrong to say they’re working on the cure. They are the cure.

    Mark

    1. “a world-class streetcar line that not only provided the line-haul service able to keep a neighborhood alive”

      I avoided the streetcar most of the time because it was infrequent and slow. It was not world-class. World-class urban transit is not single-tracked, comes every ten minutes or less, and doesn’t crawl slower than a bus. The reason the waterfront team didn’t want the streetcar there is that two tracks would cut significantly out of the land available for the bioswale, pedestrian and bicycle paths, linear park, and widening the boardwalk sidewalk. The total additional land is only the width of the viaduct. The waterfront is not high-ridership; a bus will be fine. Most cruise-ship passengers took shuttles or taxis or had friends with cars meet them.

      1. Well, to each their own. It’s a big Blog. The transit system I put in a lot of overtime building, and plan to finish my days working on, looks at low ridership as something that needs to be cured, not accommodated.

        Though City Councilman George Benson got us the cars, I doubt he had the final say on where the tracks went, and what got priority over the trains. Lot of drivers would’ve gotten used to being the ones who had to wait a minute or two instead. Would’ve been good if truckers had been on the design team. Hands-on professionals can figure out things office people will fight instead.

        If I was on Jeff Bezos’ retirement instead of mine, I’d buy you a flight to Oslo. Maybe he could do an endowment for STB contributors. Couple minutes at City Hall Plaza and you’ll “feel” Fact One of streetcars: for plaza situations, pedestrians are a justifiably a lot more comfortable two feet away from a streetcar than a bus. Zero lateral variation.

        If most cruise-ship passengers take shuttles or taxis or have friends with cars pick them up, it means the rest of transit needs to get off its posterior (minding Social Space) and make sure they don’t have to spend all that time stuck on freeways to and from.

        When COVID’s gone NO-VID, might celebrate with a multi-Agency ORCA “Tap-Dance” to South Lake Union, invite Jeff to espresso at Kakao (Republican/Harrison car stop), and discuss funding for a signature program to send people high-school-age and up, and also Special Needs by virtue of being elected, to lands with powdered carbon and copper and steel in their DNA.

        Since we’re talking desperately-needed industrial employment, in addition to transit-driving jobs, we might also get our PCC-2020 plant with its own Waterfront Streetcar Stop. Early Waterfront poster showed Elliott Bay as a bracelet. Meaning tracks from Magnolia to Alki.

        Though if the Disaster so Dear to So Many Hearts is in fact our future….Promise I’ll buy Jeff his coffee and give him car-line number and stop for the homeless shelter.

        Mark Dublin

      2. A streetcar can fulfill either mobility needs or other purposes (placemaking, real-estate incentive, tourist attraction). My focus is on mobility needs. We need to look at the entire city’s mobility needs, not just where two legacy streetcars are. The concentration of people downtown is between Third and Sixth Avenues. First Avenue is somewhat peripheral. Alaskan Way is very peripheral because it’s almost a dead end on both ends and there’s nothing west of it. Nobody goes to Alaskan Way for general north-south mobility; they go to it only if they’re specifically going to Alaskan Way. That’s not a large number of people; a frequent bus can adequately serve it.

        For non-mobility purposes, we should not invest in streetcars until all the city’s transit mobility needs are addressed, transit is competitive with driving throughout the city, and the car mode share for all trips is below 50%. We’re a long way from that.

  3. If the CCC is going to be deferred, the design work should still be done this year to get the project closer to shovel-ready, to be positioned to take advantage of federal funding or an economic upswing.

    Has there been any discussion around the economic recession cooling off our red-hot construction market? One of the chief affordability problems facing SDOT and other transit agencies was the rapid cost inflation due to intense competition in the construction sector. In theory, an economic collapse solves this problem. I’m curious when this will manifest in project bids.

  4. Hopefully this lead to the end of this misguided project. It was a bad idea for so many reasons — not just the mode. Yet people have fought for it largely out of nostalgia, not reason. The less we spend on it, the more we can spend on more important things. Let’s hope we have money to spend on those more important things.

    1. Agree, 100%. Between walking, Link, buses down 3rd Ave., the 8, the 40, the C-line, and the existing streetcar segments, there are already plenty of mobility options for getting around within downtown and plenty of options for traveling between any pair of streetcar stations in comparable travel times. To spend $50-$100 million of scare city transportation funds to, maybe, shave 1-2 minutes off a few of these trips, while basic bus service in the rest of the city is being gutted is completely irresponsible.

      At this point, the number 1 priority for the city, with respect to transit, should be to keep the existing buses on the road, and the fiscally-motivated service cuts, right as people start returning to work, to a minimum. We cannot afford to throw transit money into projects that are motivated more by nostalgia than actual transportation.

      I will also not at all be sorry about being able to continue to bike down Stewart St. and 1st Ave. downtown without tripping on streetcar tracks and having to go to the hospital.

      Where I do disagree with Lisa Herbold on many issues (she’s not nearly as supportive of bike/pedestrian projects as I would like, and too focused on pleasing car drivers), I do support her on killing off the misguided streetcar and re-directing the money elsewhere.

      1. “Mis….GUIDED.” More than any other kind of project, first demand on transit is concentrated, experienced, long-term and second-to-second guidance.

        For what it’s worth, on the subject of transit history’s two most worthless machines, Breda buses and Breda streetcars shared their every fault point by point. Rail and road, a Breda broke everything it touched. But none of them ever either wrote their own specs, or took delivery despite their studied bid-non-response. For their every level of guidance, their coach steering was almost as bad as their brakes.

        Another truth about guidance, that both transit and authority in general had better start to learn if it wants to live. With the operator at the controls, accelerating, braking, or turning, on every move, only thing passengers “feel” is the operator’s strong controlled confidence. Little design exercise, though: Bus and streetcar, unlidded cup of coffee on the dash, which drink reaches terminal puddle-free? Applies to the grand scale too.

        So I’ve got a question for Councilmember Herbold and her constituents and supporters. From what I can see, transit the length of the Waterfront is line-haul-free. Fondly recalling Thailand, no problem with pedicabs and vans. Strong names and dashboard ornaments should be mandatory. More than one Deity loves to see His own Fiercest Tiger carrying tourists.

        But Seattle’s claim to its planetary location, let alone “Class” demands it get back that electric-propelled connection between Sea-Tac Airport and Victoria BC that the Waterfront Streetcar used to provide from Fifth and Jackson north, serving Pioneer Square via Main Street, and north on Alaskan Way.

        Let Jay Inslee get the credit for providing the negative wire on the State’s dime to fight Global Warming. And at the other end of the Waterfront, new battery pack should solve another problem. Wire over mainline rail at Myrtle Edwards, scary.

        So good thing that a new ETB can drop poles for the hill-climb, and re-wire on First, headed for either Seattle Center or Pioneer Square. Considering the simplicity and the equipment already available, should be touchstone budgetary example for Seattle’s COVID-fighting world.

        Give me that and I’ll leave the groove-rail World Business District to future Mayors and City Councilmembers as soon as they get out of high school, college, the Marines, the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force. Or, since minimum age is right, high school. Who will also name the tri-sectional streetcar to be named for Tom Gibbs. Look him up.

        Mark Dublin

  5. Worried for your safety, Ross. Those allegations that Seattle bike-riders are too lifelong lame to handle the grooved rail that every Oslo cyclist is born knowing….regular or rough-terrain, an angry bike-tire leaves a telltale tread across its victim.

    Though maybe its only noticeable from the driver’s seat of a 60′ trolleybus, but the mistaken theory that buses can get around obstacles can leave them waiting half an hour to actually do it. Fact that “Business Access-type Transit” is always buses pretty well says it. Because buses CAN leave their so-called reserved lanes (however slowly) they’ll always have to.

    When voters give a streetcar its own lane, it’s got the clout to keep it. The transit-advocacy lobby our system deserves and demands, should also be able to arrange special deals with Icelandair for fact-finding excursions to Oslo Norway and Gothenburg Sweden. If plain truth hurts somebody’s eyes…for a good optician it’s a two-minute adjustment.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I don’t normally respond in bold, but I think this is a really important distinction that gets lost all the time, and is literally a matter of life and death:

      European Streets are different!

      It has nothing to do with experience. The reason they have fewer accidents is because they take all the safety precautions necessary to prevent accidents (https://altaplanning.com/wp-content/uploads/Bicycle_Streetcar_Memo_ALTA.pdf). If you honestly think that streetcars are not a hazard, I think you should read that report. Let me just quote a few parts of it:

      International research demonstrated definitively that tracks are considered a major hazard for bicyclists; multiple sources in every country confirmed this.

      Solutions:
      The following solutions were identified by multiple sources in multiple countries:

      •Separated facilities are universally preferred, usually in the form of a grade-separated “cycle track”1, but sometimes in the form of a parallel low-traffic bicycle route.

      •Center-running or left-running streetcar tracks and platforms are strongly preferred for bicycle safety

      •Bicycles must be integrated into streetcar planning processes from the earliest stages

      •Facilities should facilitate right-angle turns by bicyclists (creating a “box turn” or “Copenhagen/Melbourne left turn,”; see explanation in footnote 1).

      •Lowering vehicle volumes and speeds on streetcar streets can create safer conditions for bicyclists.

      The point being that if are biking in Seattle, see the streetcar and think “it is just like Europe”, you are making a huge — potentially grave — mistake. We have not taken the steps that European cities take to reduce the risk of an accident. Nor will we, because of cost, available land, and disinterest in lowering traffic speed.

      It is not a matter of education or experience. Toronto has had generations of experience with the hazards of streetcar tracks, yet researchers found that 32% of injured cyclists had crashes that directly involved tracks. According to UBC researcher Kay Teschke, a three-fold increased risk of injury was observed when cycling on routes with streetcar or train tracks. That’s because they haven’t done much either.

      Theoretically, we could spend a bunch more money and reduce the risk of bike accidents. But we won’t! We aren’t even spending the money for existing risks, yet you want to introduce something that “multiple sources in every country confirmed are a major hazard for bicyclists”.

      This would all be worth it — the huge sums for the streetcar along with the huge sums to mitigate the risk to bicyclists — if this streetcar provided something that a bus can’t. That simply isn’t the case.

      1. “The good Earth—we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”

        You’ll pardon me if it’s worth my own life that Kurt Vonnegut’s epitaph for the Planet Earth gets chiseled on the tombstone of somebody else’s country. And at least some other region’s transit system.

        Somebody’s misplaced my second chisel-date, so I’ll just have to abide the first. Which leaves me with a serious recollection between us and Europe in general. What the Douglas DC-3, the original Jeep, the 1951 Olds 98, the 1952 Chevym and the PCC Streetcar all had in common was that we designed and built them and Europe didn’t.

        And though I’ll give a Base-load of secessionist slave-craving traitors some credit for effort- still waiting for Hawaii to get Yamamoto Naval Air Station- we’re still holding a country of three hundred thirty million people together without an internal border check-point. How many times over same time- periods of history has civilized cultured Europe torn itself to screaming bleeding shreds?

        My country’s worst existential danger of all right now is the yelling, window-smashing jettison of our most critical power on this planet: steady concerted long-term effort in the interest of what’s best about us. Hadn’t been for that since first our boots hit Normandy, Europe would’ve been Bosnia with ear-laps. Lately- Italy, Holland, and Hungary have different words for “Nazi”, but meaning’s squared with precision instruments.

        Well damn! my chisel just chipped the stone. Because what we have got is a voting-age cohort of people whom I daily see, by their own character, bravery and sense, repairing with their own hands the breakdown of our every formula, agency, computer program and system. Every single one of whom I speak with and write to, I give STB’s e-mail.

        Since thanks to half a dozen of them who just got me my wi-fi back then Comcast blew my card-number and shut me down, I’m back online. With a long and stretching COVID-proof agenda to start putting “Them” generally In “Charge. “Primed with the knowledge that if age 18 can’t give them college, existing Link, ST, and IT can commute them to the Government job they just got elected to.

        Meantime, make it a point to not only know my politicians names, make sure they all know mine. Starting as of now with some initiatives directed at a permanent transit presence in the School System and vice versa.

        And for a kick-off, maybe the bicycle community itself can help me out. Are you going to let anybody put it out online that what Norwegians seem to know in their DNA, Americans (sniffle) can just never LEARN?! Next time we’ve once again got elementary schools, know I won’t lack for dare-takers to prove OUR ten year olds certainly CAN learn to handle streetcar tracks on a bike. And also teach their elders without embarrassing them.

        And since the superior ride-quality of any streetcar over any bus not only makes on-board reading a pleasure but like anything smooth saves on maintenance…..can we at least put that mitigation out for bid?

        Mark Dublin

  6. What happens to the Madison BRT station on 1st? That was going to share a center station with the CCC, is that station still funded? Will SDOT need to lay a 1/2 block of rail to avoid closing the stop a few years later?

    1. My understanding is that it use a curbside stop initially. If center running buses (or trains) ever run on First Avenue, it would be trivial for the bus to switch to the other stop. Because it is a bus.

  7. Cue the usual arguments by the usual cast of eight. Can’t folks save electrons and just Link their posts from 2017?

  8. please note that the Durkan-Sam Z SDOT had no plan for the service subsidy needed for the CCC. that is another big issue. Councilmember Herbold follows this.

    the two streetcars are already connected by a robust network of Link and bus service. the SDOT ridership forecast showed almost no riders would want to use the CCC to connect between First Hill and 1st Avenue; there are better options.

    while the federal government can deficit spend, Seattle cannot. the funds needed for CCC design, construction, and operation have much better uses. the right of way on 1st Avenue could be used better as well.

    1. This is an important point. Most rail transit projects are generally supposed to replace bus service (not add another route to operate) unless they relieve nearby overcrowded services.

      I’d much rather see Seattle build new Link station tunnel entrances and corridors and new escalators and elevators to make it easier to get to Link station mezzanines and platforms from the west of Third Avenue.

    2. eddiew, we both go far enough back that I think you can understand this: the streetcar line I want is not going to “replace” anything mentioned.

      Except automobiles whose owners finally decide they’re done paying for fuel and insurance so Dave Ross and Ursula can report they’ll be stuck for another hour.

      Every streetcar in its very own completely signal-pre-empted lane. In addition to the lanes already used by transit. On tracks set in well-maintained road-bed that will let vehicles pass an actual test of an open cup of, well, iced coffee on the dashboard or anyplace else flat. Example that once established will spread.

      The linear business district, which I wish Jack Benaroya could be around to help realize, will be as much cultural and educational as commerce. Name change usually leaves the building standing. SAM’s already along the tracks. Remind me if Seattle’s got a Contemporary one yet?

      In An Economy And Repaired Racial Situation The Like Of Which Our Country Is Going To Die If It Does Not Finally Get. In his own “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King raised the possibility he wouldn’t live to see it come true. Agency responsible for its “Guidance” is silent on any of our own dates of employment.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark, the streetcars built and planned by Seattle under mayors Nickels, McGinn, Murray, Burgess, and Durkan are not the ones of your European dreams. they are sad and wasteful ones.

    3. “almost no riders would want to use the CCC to connect between First Hill and 1st Avenue”

      Durkan’s vision is people riding from Pike Place Market to MOHAI, Jackson Street, and First Hill. Those are tourist-heavy trips that aren’t well served by transit now, if you think Seattle is large enough to need more north-south transit than on the Third Avenue corridor. And south of the market there’s a steep hill between 1st and 3rd.

      Most of the STB powers that be seem to want the streetcar because of the long-term center transit lanes, which the city would not pursue for a mere bus route. It’s doing it on Madison but it’s unlikely it would do it on other bus corridors, viz. how all the other RapidRide+ corridors have been watered down.

      My beef with the streetcar is we need to start with where are the city’s overall greatest transit needs and what’s the most cost-effective investment that could adequately serve them. First Avenue is not the city’s biggest transit need, streetcars on First cost more than their benefit, and if we do consider streetcars they should get transit-only lanes everywhere including Jackson Street and First Hill. The only exception should be short narrow historical segments like Pioneer Square, where First Avenue is too narrow for transit lanes. But those segments should be short or it throws into question the value of the project.

      1. the Link and bus network can provide all those trips with existing service subsidy. trust the grid.

        for many decades, 1st Avenue had robust bus service. to make way for the AWV replacement project, routes 15, 18, 21, 22, and 56 were shifted to 3rd Avenue in 2011. in 2012, routes 10 and 12 were taken from 1st Avenue to improve reliability after the AWV detours led to gridlock approaching the Columbia Street on ramp. in 2013, the utility work for the CCC took out routes 62, 99, and 125. 1st Avenue has two-way electric trolley bus overhead between Stewart and South Jackson Street and connections with Lenora, Virginia, Pine, Pike, Union, Madison, and Marion streets. between 1940 and 1963, 1st Avenue in Belltown had overhead and ETB service. if the CCC were not in the way, Seattle and Metro could use 1st Avenue for may bus trips. Seattle could provide priority for those buses.

        Seattle has provided bus lanes and BAT lanes in many places: Westlake Avenue North, Aurora Avenue North, Wall-Battery streets, Columbia Street, Midvale, Spring Street, 6th Avenue, 3rd Avenue….So, they have been willing to help bus flow and not just streetcar flow.

        the CCC streetcar has died of its own fiscal weight. it is about the opportunity cost. what else could Seattle do with scarce capital, service subsidy, and right of way, and what benefits would the alternatives bring?

      2. “Seattle has provided bus lanes and BAT lanes in many places: Westlake Avenue North, Aurora Avenue North, Wall-Battery streets, Columbia Street, Midvale, Spring Street, 6th Avenue, 3rd Avenue”

        I’m taking about continuous transit/BAT lanes the entire length of the street, not a scattered block or a few blocks here and there. The A and E have in South King County and Shoreline. Westlake Avenue has them for several blocks; that’s the best example. Columbia Street has them because that was part of the deal replacing the Viaduct. The ones for peak expresses are good but a distraction: what we need is local routes that have transit priority their entire length, or at least 90% of their length. One reason there’s so much demand for light rail is that it gets this level of priority, while the city keeps failing to give it to buses, even when we pass a levy to create high-quality bus routes.

    4. “Durkan’s vision is people riding from Pike Place Market to MOHAI, Jackson Street, and First Hill. ”

      Let’s, take it one at a time.

      Pike Place Market to MOHAI – walk two blocks to 3rd and ride either the 40 or C-line.

      To Jackson St. – walk two blocks to 3rd and take almost any southbound bus – or take Link. Or, just walk down 1st.

      To First Hill- walk to blocks to 3rd and take the 2, 3, or 4. Or, walk three blocks south and take the G-line.

      We have so many transit needs throughout the city that are much more pressing that catering to a few tourists downtown who are too lazy to walk two blocks, or who absolutely insist on rails because they are overcome by bus stigma and don’t want feel “poor” riding it.

      Get the basic buses working first. If at some point in the future, buses down 3rd are being overwhelmed by tourists walking over from 1st, then we can talk about the streetcar. But, with 3rd Ave. buses running more often than once per minute, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

  9. Can the CCC, bring back the 99 for service in Belltown and on 1st (and up the hill so disabled people don’t have to navigate private escalators/elevators), and call it a fucking day.

    1. There was a shuttle created a couple years ago that is essentially the 99, but it was run under a private brand, rather than Metro. Don’t know if it’s still running, though.

      Of course, whether waiting for it actually gets you up the hill more quickly than just taking elevators, I’m not sure.

      1. The waterfront shuttle ended October 2019 according to Google. It was funded by WSDOT as viaduct construction mitigation.

      2. This is exactly what the Waterfront Streetcar can do if the equipment assigned to it is a trolleybus signed “Route 99”, but leaving “Essential” “Unmentioned.”

        “Nostalgia?” Too bad all the resources are going for COVID. Throws Shade on the real villain named “Electrolyte Addiction!” Age three anyplace like Chicago and your blood-stream’s a sludge of talcum-powder made of carbon and copper. So you’re only “alive” thirteen feet from nearest positive wire centerline.

        It’s be merciful if we have a full battery-powered bus fleet that run the 99 a whole shift without having to be “pulled” for a charge. Does Bellevue have some of those? Because if we do, I’m not going to bother George Benson’s spirit about wire-on-the-Waterfront for its own sake.

        However……Bus only lane…..Well the streetcar DID get one, didn’t it? Just sayin’, just sayin’. What’s the deal?

        Mark Dublin

      3. I’m fine with the idea of bringing back the 99 as a bus route (but, not now, while the destinations it serves are all shuttered by COVID). But, we don’t need a streetcar for that. The CCC also doesn’t even serve the waterfront, which a #99 bus would.

  10. Busses are cheap when you implement them cheaply, e.g., just slap up bus stop signs and allocate bus hours. And if you’re satisfied with the ridership of the former Route 99, that’s OK. But if you’re talking about ridership that is 30% higher than the busiest bus route in the Puget Sound region (Route E) which is spread over 14 a mile route (vs. under 2 miles for the streetcar) and still struggles to avoid leaving people behind, you need either the streetcar or an *equivalent* bus service, which SDOT studied and determined wasn’t actually much cheaper than the streetcar.

    1. What are you talking about? Neither Alaskan Way nor First Avenue will have ridership higher than the E. At most these routes would go from Seattle Center to Intl Dist or SODO, and would only attract people going to destinations within that area. And if you’re talking about the proposed CCC routing, it would not serve Belltown nor Seattle Center so those markets are out, and there’s less demand for a U-shaped route that serves only part of 1st Avenue.

      1. Battery-assist trolleybuses could do a two-way loop using the Waterfront for one leg and First Avenue for the other, crossing the train tracks at Broad, and maybe including Seattle Center. Or not.

        Mark Dublin

  11. As a transit rider and resident of Belltown, and before that Waterfront Landings on Alaskan Way, all I can do is lament for the good old days of ca 2,000. More residents somehow equates to less public transit on 1st and Alaskan Way. I’m old and fortunately still able to drive but having grown up in London in a car less family I enjoy using public transit.
    A dedicated small shuttle bus going from 1st and Denny along 1st to the ID would help, even if only hourly. I get that there will be fewer tourists downtown this year, but hopefully someone is planning to resurrect the 99, which ran on a very short schedule, or something similar for next year.

    1. Metro’s 2025 and 2040 plans have no transit on 1st Avenue. The CCC and a waterfront route are not part of that structure: the CCC is Seattle’s baby, and the waterfront shuttle is part of the waterfront plan. (Although no specific waterfront service has yet been identified or funded.) These may end up being operated by Metro but that depends on future negotiations and specific funding.

      1. Thanks, Mike. Considering the Waterfront Project’s handling of the streetcar in particular and transit in general, their non-participation is best news in a long time. Jackson is train-wired and First bus-wired, so both are ready to go from there.

        Would like the Waterfront Streetcar’s route restored between Myrtle Edwards and IDS via Main and Fifth, but again, could easily be both electric and wireless. I forget if First carries any trolleybus overhead north of, say, Virginia. But battery progress could make it not so much my grandfather’s wire as, well…. mine.

        But best news of all is for my long-linear commercial-cultural district and its really Essential means of transportation. Since nobody else wants Pioneer Square, First, and the Waterfront, no entrenched objection when the time finally comes. Will also allow enough time to get the Port on board this time, instead of hostile.

        Mark Dublin

      2. those 2025 and 2040 plans took direction from Seattle and it had the CCC Streetcar on 1st Avenue. that is circular. in a similar fashion, in 2008, the Mayor Nickels Central Line streetcar was in all the transit scenarios and Metro’s rapid trolley scenarios could not use 1st Avenue. top down.

        today, Link, Seattle streetcars, Metro bus, and most intra King County ST bus routes are operated by Metro.

    2. Who’s are your City and County Councilmembers, Deborah? Get their online addresses tomorrow morning.

      Mark Dublin

  12. Transit advocate or foe, one must concede that building a short-range streetcar during a recession is outright foolish.

    Axe it.

    COVID has served as another example of how slow government is to adapt to the people’s needs. There is a plethora of transit projects that should have been already completed or began construction by now, the CCC being one of them. Now a potentially culture-changing crisis may have jeopardized the opportunity to ever getting these projects built.

      1. From what I’m seeing of the generation who are going to build it, Ness, the ones whose high school graduations are being canceled for all this month for lack of a school, and are inheriting the West Seattle Freeway of a Government we’re leaving them….

        Thing you and I need to remember is that on the date they break ground, by the eighty-year lifespan that Scripture more or less guarantees us, what Mother Nature herself will need to terminate is both of us.

        So I’m on the phone right now making inquiries how I leave it in my will to have the line, and the magnificent linear city it’ll serve, named after you. Any objection, nobody will know what you’re talking about.

        Mark Dublin

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