Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly told KING 5 this morning that the First Hill Streetcar, which was supposed to launch in 2014, will start service tomorrow morning. And service will be free during the launch.

For some strange reason, SDOT seems to want to surprise everyone. Capitol Hill Seattle got its hands on a memo from Kubly to community organizations describing Saturday as a "soft launch." There's been no official announcement, and SDOT didn't immediately respond to a request for clarification. [UPDATE: See the official announcement below.] To make things worse, a reader of the Seattle Transit Blog had this maddening exchange with the agency this morning. Every citizen—whether you have some official media credential or not—is entitled to a basic level of transparency from the agencies that work for them. That's not what this looks like:

Here's a map of the route:

City of Seattle

UPDATE 11:54 a.m.: At long last, the official announcement from SDOT!

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is excited to announce promotional service on the First Hill Streetcar Line will begin midday on Saturday, January 23. This “soft launch” will feature free rides to introduce the new service, and will be followed in the weeks to come by a grand opening and community celebration.

Funded by Sound Transit, the First Hill Streetcar connects the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Little Saigon, Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square. The First Hill Streetcar line is just one part of the Seattle Streetcar system that will help provide new mobility options, support economic growth, and strengthen connections in the urban core.

Thank you to the communities, neighbors, and businesses along the line for bearing with us during construction and testing. We appreciate your patience and support. We are excited to see you on the First Hill Streetcar discovering Seattle’s neighborhoods and attractions, commuting to work, and linking to other modes of travel. Learn more about how to ride the streetcar. Stay tuned for details on the grand opening events to follow.