I approve this plan.

Now build the motherfucker.
That map is awful.
I approve of it, too, because it's more important to get it built than to make it perfect. But I have some questions. I agree with a previous poster that that looks like a lot of tight turns. And it seems odd to me that it takes such a circuitous route from Cap Hill downtown, and in fact never really goes all the way downtown at all. I guess the idea is to connect to rail at King Street. But I gather that the primary motivation for route selection is not running it where it's needed, but avoiding powerful interests who don't want it on their street.
The Broadway-12th Avenue Couplet is the best. From Aloha to Cafe Presse. Cool
I approve. I can't wait to ride the BUTT to the CLIT!
I'm actually ok with the streetcar not going into the heart of downtown. It's already easy to get from Cap Hill to downtown: by bus and by foot. but an easier way to get from Cap Hill to Pioneer Square/King St station (and a way to hook up with the airport light rail) would be incredibly welcome.

Agreed that the map is...less than user-friendly. At first glance my preferred route is the yellow one that goes on 12th and it looks like turns down Union. I share the concerns about all the right angle turns though.
If you're a medical commuter coming from the South it seems really ridiculous that you would choose that amazingly circuitous route over either the 2,3, or 4, which are much more direct and come way more often.

I wish it could be 2-way on 12th...
Downtown has below-grade transit running north-south, so all you really need is to connect with the downtown tunnel system and the rest of downtown is wide open. So I don't have a problem with the fact that the routes starts at King Street and go up into First Hill. Frankly, I like the idea that people can take the train in from outlying areas and access our excellent hospitals.

Other than that, two words: Bogue Plan The linked .pdf is a map of Capitol Hill as it appeared in 1911. The solid red lines are street car lines that were in place when the map was drawn; the dotted lines are lines that were under construction. This map is from a much larger map, located in the downtown Seattle library, of Virgil Bogue's 1911 proposal of a comprehensive transit plan for the entire Seattle Metro Area. Anyway, these are the streetcars we used to have. Most of them are still bus routes (notice the 14's distinctive route up Summit and down Bellevue was preceded by a streetcar that did the same thing).

It's funny and sad to me that after destroying such a comprehensive infrastructure we're now going to have to work our asses off to get it back.
I'm not sure about this. What does Baconcat think?
More on the Bogue Plan (it sounds awesome):…
The Bogue Plan included a train tunnel under Lake Washington to Kirkland and giant train station in South Lake Union.
@11 and a giant civic center around that South Lake Union train station, and a system of boulevards all over the region. It was an awesome plan.
It looks like it could easily go along the old waterfront trolley route as well. Imagine how pleasant it would be to have a trolley link from cal anderson to the olympic sculpture park.
Judah @8, yes, in 1939 they decided to destroy "such comprehensive infrastructure." Fact is, however, the old streetcar system back then had been neglected for years (remember the Depression...) and was literally on its last legs. Not to mention another World War on the horizon. Whatever we get back, will be much better in quality and longevity than what Seattle had before.
Has anyone kept up with Seattle Housing Authority's plan to rebuild Yesler Terrace? Are they planning any changes in the street grid that might lend themselves to a good streetcar route? I know they are aware of the FHSC project....

Interestingly, many people in 1939 didn't consider the new buses a significant departure from the trolley system. The electric trolley buses were referred to as "trackless trolleys" and were considered a technical improvement over the track trolleys because they were more able to maneuver in traffic. You can find literature about this kind of thing on the back of a 1941 tourism map of Seattle, which talked about the trackless trolleys as a sign of Seattle's expansive modernity.

It wasn't until the '60s that people started thinking of the trolley buses more as electric buses than as trackless trolleys.
It's the same all over the country. I remember in the 80s when they were first talking about building San Jose's light rail line, you could still see the tracks peeping out through the asphalt at a few corners.

You used to be able to take streetcars from Everett to Tacoma, and beyond.

The map also indicates some of the extensive ferry and boat network in both the Sound and the lake. Pretty much every town of any size up and down the Sound was accessible by a boat from downtown. I don't know the exact number, but I wouldn't be surprised if you could reach thirty destinations from downtown. The current ferry behemoths carry a lot of cars but cover much, much less territory.
Let's have a few votes on it before we kill it to satisfy the anti-transit donors, ok?
How does this help Seattle? seriously, I can't figure it out. Is this thing for real? Sure, the buses are crowded, but if we're talking money, is this the best use? Does this streetcar put transit much closer to people or move very many people? I have doubts!!!
@9: I'm afraid Baconcat is otherwise indisposed. But I'm a good Plan B, so here's what I think...

I want to screw a hot German guy.

There ya go.
Fuck you, Fnarf :-) JAYKAY!!!
Why in the FUCK does one of the options zig-zag all the way out to 15th??

If you want to send a streetcar down Jackson all the way east to Lake Washington, that's not a bad idea. But don't make First Hill riders go 6 extra blocks east just to go 3 blocks north and 6 blocks back (Broadway is equivalent to 9th)... that's stupid.
@21, @22: I'm not German.
$600 million for the network, and no improvement in travel time over a bus.

Dumb to not discuss it. You could add a few point to point express jitney busses for far less and have faster travel times, or just add a couple of Portland style gondolas over the freeway or even just some elevators from Harborview down and an underground moving sidewalk to downtown/King St. r Bwy and John station, it's all jsut a few blocks, no more than we walk in some subway connections back east or in many airports.
Seriously, how far is it from Harborview to the Third Ave. light rail tunnel? A few blocks?? Take the elevator, walk to the west a bit and hop on those light rail trains that should be coming along every 8 minutes, if you don't have the ability to just walk to King St. or Bwy/John from SU or Harborview.

But that would be if we want more mobility at lower costs; if the goal is to demonstrate bogue Plan Nostalgia/super Hip New Amsterdam Dedication to the Planet, Regardless of Actual Transit Mobility or Actual Greenhouse Gas Effects, well then, have at it with the meandering streetcar plan that does not produce any quicker travel times for anyone compared to walking, more busses or simple tunnels when we are just talking about a few blocks anyway.
Anything that connects rail to Broadway and runs frequently (at least every 15min) is a big fat win in my book.

Here's a vid that epitomizes the SLOG ethic.…

@27: Registering an account isn't part of the SLOG ethic? :)
25 FTW

If this isn't any faster than the buses and has to share the streets with them, it will actually slow buses down by increasing congestion on city streets.

Typical, we (Seattle) are going to fuck this up...
"Judah @8, yes, in 1939 they decided to destroy "such comprehensive infrastructure." Fact is, however, the old streetcar system back then had been neglected for years (remember the Depression...) and was literally on its last legs. Not to mention another World War on the horizon. Whatever we get back, will be much better in quality and longevity than what Seattle had before."

I've always wondered about this, I've heard differing stories from:
- the oil companies bought up all the tracks and tore them out to force everyone to drive cars to
- the city tried to make the streetcars pay for itself and when it couldn't scrapped it

This is the first I've heard that the tracks were in disrepair, partially due to the Depression, that would actually make a lot of sense.

It'd be great if The Stranger took on this story as a feature and gave us the real scoop on the demise of our streetcars...
What retard decided the map should be rotated 90 degrees instead of being oriented north/south vertically?
K X One @30, Oil companies may have been involved in other cities, but not in the Seattle street railway. The City bought the system early on (1920+/-) and yes, the system was expected to "pay or itself" as indeed all public transit systems did until the 1950's and later, when the public and public officials recognized that subsidies were necessary and appropriate.
I seem to recall reading somewhere that the high price of scrap metal in the lead-up to the war had something to do with it too -- either the tracks were too expensive to repair/replace or some cities decided to sell them for scrap. I can't remember the details. I know a lot of the timbers from our old system are still buried under the streets (saw a work crew digging a bunch up in the middle of University Ave a few months back), but the rails are mostly gone (the ones in the South Lake Union area are actually freight rails, not streetcar rails).
I'm a pretty huge supporter of all transit, but I'm wondering: why streetcars?

Are they more energy-efficient than electric buses? Can carry more people? Have a dedicated right-of-way, so can avoid other street traffic? Faster? More reliable? I've even wondered this with the Portland Streetcar, and that city is famous for its transit leadership. It seems like dedicating a lane solely to electric bus traffic would accomplish the same goal for far less overhead. And would be much more flexible to route changes, extensions, and improvements.

When (mostly) Vulcan built the SLUT, which is pretty poorly used, I was skeptical that it was little more than a marketing gimmick: pretending to do Transit-Oriented Development in a city that, for the most part, has dropped the ball on transit, especially in contrast with its smaller Northwest counterparts in Vancouver and Portland. Consumers (like me) who like that sort of thing can then be sold units that are "on a transit line!"

Now it seems like we have to expand the SLUT into a larger network for no other reason that to justify its existence. It's obvious why a dedicated right-of-way light rail or streetcar system would help Seattle. Or, even better, an actual rapid-transit system like that of San Francisco. But it seems like buses really do the job of the non-dedicated streetcar, especially in a town where so many buses are already electrified.

Can someone please explain this to me? And please excuse my ignorance, if it is ignorance.
@26... Everyone on this coast needs to stop thinking of 15 minutes as "frequent." Especially with on-street transit like the proposed RapidRide and streetcars, with enough variables to turn 15 into an overcrowded 20-25. Every 10 minutes or less (maybe 15 after 10:00 and on Sundays, but no more) or it's never going to be worth the investment.

@34... You're not entirely wrong -- Portland and SLU-style streetcars are about as inefficient as fixed-rail transit could possibly be, and I don't fully support the concept. But there are many advantages over electric buses...

...Some are administrative: The finite scope of a streetcar line and removal from Metro's worst-practices style of operations begets better attention to reliability (it may go slower, but it won't start out 10 minutes late) and pleasantness of experience (they actually clean the vehicle interiors, unlike Metro). The electric bus system helps keep Metro in their "50 branches, all unreliable, none running frequently" modus operandi. The effort required to put in streetcar routes should bring into focus the need for concentrated and frequent routing that is in easy walking distance of people's destinations but isn't so diffuse as to be discouraging in its uselessness.

...Others are technical: While trains use pantographs to draw power from the overhead wires, allowing uninterrupted movement even where tracks split, electric buses have to use old-fashioned trolley-poles to remain attached to the power source. These require near-full stops every time the wires split (ever wonder why your bus misses so many lights downtown?) and they seemingly pop off with the slightest jolt. Add to that the wheelchair-strapping-in requirement on buses, and note that Metro's entire fleet of electric buses are high-floor, with relatively little standing/maneuvering room, and you've got a recipe for something with NO resemblance to rapid/reliable transit.

@8... That streetcar-to-bus-routing legacy is actually part of the problem. Back when most of the city's population was concentrated along the streetcar spindles and hardly anyone lived further than Greenwood or Columbia city, and before Seattle spread out and became a 90% auto city (for any or all of the reasons suggested), each of those streetcars would have been running CONSTANTLY. There would have been enough demand for trolleys, say, every 3 minutes on Broadway AND every 5 minutes on Summit. With most of the population shifting to cars, yet all the routes remaining unaltered as buses replace them, frequencies dropped precipitously to the point where nothing runs frequently enough.

A Capitol Hill to Greenwood trip never would have been FAST using the streetcars. But at least one wouldn't have spent 30 additional minutes waiting for a connection. This, more than anything else, is why people today stay in their cars.

@7... The suggested streetcar routes are ridiculous and not very helpful to First Hill commuters, but the 2, 3, and 4 ARE THE REASON that we're looking for solutions for this mess in the first place. All three run too infrequently to serve a mass-transit purpose, all three are habitually late, all three meander up the hill so slowly that 10 minutes to go 10 blocks isn't at all unusual, and the 3/4 are two of the most unpleasant "crazy buses" in Metro's system. If it weren't for the steepness of the slope, NO ONE would get up First Hill this way.

@25... When the First Hill subway station was canceled (supposedly due to deep-bore soil issues, though it really had to do with not attracting enough "new/non-poor" transit users to sell to Bush appointees in the DOT), it immediately occurred to me that we should consider this: or this:

It could be built shallow (goodbye "soil issues") to serve the Madison corridor all the way from the Ferry Terminal to Broadway (though it should actually be under Spring or Marion to minimize construction disruption on the major arterial).

It would stop at the Alaskan, 2nd (for easy ramp access to 1st and underground pedestrian connection to light rail at University St. if built under Spring or Pioneer Sq. if built under Marion), 5th, 8th, Boren, and Boylston/Broadway.

Please wait...

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