APTA | Passenger Transport
The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis November 2, 2012
Forward   |   Calendar   |   APTA Home   |   Advertise with Us
Seattle Streetcar Program Expanding as Initial Segment Approaches 5-Year Anniversary
By: Ethan Melone, Rail Transit Manager
The city of Seattle has developed a modern streetcar line that serves its South Lake Union, Denny Triangle, and Downtown Retail Core neighborhoods, and is now in various phases of planning and construction for expansion of its streetcar network.
The initial streetcar segment provides local transit service, connects to the regional transit system, supports economic development, and contributes to neighborhood vitality. The $53 million South Lake Union line started operations in December 2007.
The line has exceeded initial ridership forecasts: average weekday ridership increased from 1,000 in the first months of operations to nearly 3,000 daily riders by Fall 2012. The project also has been successful as a catalyst for private investment in South Lake Union, with more than $2.5 billion invested since the streetcar was approved for construction in 2005, and an additional $3 billion in the development pipeline along the alignment.
Local businesses funded a demonstration program in 2010 to increase service during the afternoon peak, and subsequently extended this operating support through 2014.
Amazon.com moved to South Lake Union in 2009 and is increasing its presence along the streetcar line. The company recently proposed to fund the purchase of an additional streetcar and 10 years of operating support for increased all-day frequency as part of the public benefit offset for its development plans in the area. 
In November 2008, voters in the Puget Sound area approved “ST2,” the public transportation expansion plan for the region. This measure builds on the Sound Move plan approved in 1996 to expand light rail, commuter rail, and express bus service in our region.
The ST2 Plan includes funding for the First Hill Streetcar connector project, which links employment centers to the light rail system via connections on Capitol Hill and in the International District.
Construction of the 2.5-mile First Hill Streetcar line began in April 2012. Final assembly of the six-vehicle streetcar fleet will take place in Seattle, with operations set to begin mid-2014. The project includes two unique features: the vehicles will have an on-board energy storage system, allowing for off-wire operation, and the alignment incorporates a two-way cycle track to safely integrate bicycle and streetcar modes in Seattle’s Broadway corridor.
Seattle recently secured local funds and federal grants to complete planning, environmental review, and preliminary engineering for the half-mile Broadway Extension, which would expand the reach of the First Hill line through the Broadway commercial district.
With an FTA planning grant, Seattle has also begun alternatives analysis for the Center City Connector, which will connect the South Lake Union and First Hill lines through the city’s central business district. Seattle is also partnering with Sound Transit, the regional public transportation agency, to study mode and alignment options for a seven-mile corridor to northwest Seattle that could operate with light rail or streetcar. This Ballard to Downtown line is projected to serve as many as many as 26,000 daily riders. 
Most recently, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has proposed funding in his 2013 budget to begin planning another potential streetcar corridor, the University/Eastlake line, which could serve up to 25,000 daily riders.
Each of the new streetcar lines under evaluation was recommended in the city’s Transit Master Plan, adopted in the spring of 2012.


This map shows the proposed streetcar routes in the Seattle area. 

« Previous Article
Return to Top
Next Article »
» Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is looking for a transportation logistics manager. [More]
» The city of Charlottesville, VA, seeks a transit manager. [More]
View more Classified Ads »
TO PLACE AN AD: E-mail or fax the requested date(s) of publication to: ptads@apta.com or FAX to (202) 496-4898. Mailing address is: Passenger Transport, 1666 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006. Ad copy is not accepted by phone. DEADLINE: Noon, Monday, one week prior to publication date. INFORMATION: Phone (202) 496-4819.
© Copyright 2011 American Public Transportation Association
1666 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 496-4882 • Fax (202) 496-4321
Print Version | Search Back Issues | Contact Us | Unsubscribe