While I’m busy bashing King County today…
Commenter Shotsix asked about the Waterfront Streetcar today. It’s something I’ve been wondering about myself, as it was a nice way to get down to the waterfront on a partially separated right-of-way. My brother-in-law is considering switching to transit to get to work and asked me about it. So I did a little Googling:
It looks like the Streetcar is dead. UPDATE: No it’s not. See below.
What drives me nuts about this is the lack of priorities. The city decides to build a sculpture park, and they have to move the streetcar barn. That’s fine, but a jurisdiction that actually prioritized transit would get the replacement facility constructed first, or at least finalize the plans for that replacement.
With typical skill, our fearless leaders had no such plan. Instead, their vague notions of a replacement got mired in Seattle process, and it’s taken so long they’d now rather wait to restore service until the viaduct replacement is done in the year 2175.
Meanwhile, its replacement, bus route 99, has one-fifteenth the ridership that the streetcar had. (scroll to near the bottom on the link).
UPDATE: Thanks to commenter “Pantograph Trolleypole”, who pointed out a summer post from this very same blog (D’oh!).
That gave me some new search terms, which pointed me to this newer (Jan 2007) article, which suggests that the trolley will return in 2009. Damn you Google!
Of course, that could still be a very short run indeed. If the viaduct rebuild is chosen, the new viaduct would swallow up the streetcar line. I’m no civil engineer, but I suspect the retrofit and surface/transit options could leave the streetcar unharmed.
UPDATE 2: Commenter Brian Bundridge, piling on, gives a more precise date of Summer 2009, just in time for light rail. Mea culpa, mea culpa!
But I don’t want to lose the larger point. Sculpture parks are not high on any citizen’s priority list. Regardless, to get one, they tore down part of our transit infrastructure with no replacement and no firm plan for one in place. These are not the actions of a leadership focused on transportation issues. The fact that they haven’t even started building the barn yet is outrageous.