Spot on. Thank you for this one David.
Ha - good to know you hold our ol' hometown in the same low regard as I.
The difference is, of course, that one can make a pretty good argument Cranley may have been correct. The Cincinnati Streetcar is slow and largely useless, and has predictably terrible ridership. The CCC is a much better project, with likely ridership 10X greater than Cincinnati.
There’s definitely no excuse for the tardiness of those study results. Businesses in Pioneer Square are totally screwed right now and we need answers one way or another right fucking yesterday.
If Durkan didn't inherit the problems of SDOT created by Scott Kubly, there would never have been an investigation in the first place. If you want to put the blame of current SDOT problems you have to blame that piece of shit conman Kubly. Durkan is not a great mayor, but she wasn't around when the false numbers were originally proposed for this project. Kubly knew the real costs, and he pushed the project forward to our council. They can barely do math and Kubly knows that. He got away with lying on his resume, why would he stop. Everyone should have known there are serious street upgrades that need to be done on a 100 year old street. But it seemed like a complete surprise when it was brought up. She would have come under fire if she didn't complete an investigation. So either way Kubly screwed the tax payers. He is now making money off the bikeshare idea he promoted while fucking up dowtown streets. Whether you bike, walk, take transit or drive, he screwed us all. But don't worry, you will get your streetcar. You just might have to wait.
"Mayor Durkan Is Hell-Bent on Killing the Center City Connector"
Thank God - regardless of how she's doing it. Lies and bad decisions got us into this mess, and I'm perfectly fine with lies and good decisions getting us out.
Streetcars are the worst of all possible tranist options - stuck in traffic just like everythign else, but using more costly infrastructure and without any flexibility.
The top justification for the CCC is the sunk-cost fallacy of leveraging the SLUT and First Hill Streetcars, each of which were huge mistakes in and of themselves.
Need to get from Westlake to Pioneer Square? There's Link lightrail and nearly a dozen bus lines to chose from!
Tourists need a way to get from Pike Place to Pioneer Square? Then why was the waterfront trolley ever decommissioned, and why isn't restoring that a better option than a damned streetcar?
A bus can meet any demand that a streetcar can - at a fraction of the cost, without costly infrastructure, and without being locked ionto a rail-defined route.
We don't need shiny new toy trains - we need cost-effective transit solutions.
I'm with @6, @7, @8, and @9. Stick your dumb streetcar where the sun don't shine, David Cole and the rest of you dumb ass transit cultists. Run buses and be done with it.
A sensible woman doing a sensible thing. Seattle doesn't need a little toy train. It's a ride for the tourists and lazy techies.
Okay okay I understand that you really wanted the streetcar and feel cheated that it's getting canceled. That's a perfectly legitimate argument to make.
But can we please refrain from comparing our lesbian, liberal mayor to Donald Trump, just because she's doing something you don't like? That kind of hyperbolic insult doesn't really work to anyone's benefit, other than sowing pointless vitriol in local politics. Mr. Cole, I'm sure a qualified journalist such as yourself can express your distaste for Mayor Durkan's administration without comparing her to a cheeto-colored fasicst.
List of transit systems which use non-standard gauge:
BART (SF), SEPTA (Philly), New Orleans, Metro (DC) - it's a bit more than a "small handful" of exceptions. In NYC, there are some tunnel bore differences that make it difficult to share tracks between LIRR, MNRR, NYCT, and Amtrak uses, even though the rail is the same. This is important because they're doing maintenance work frequently and reroutes aren't uncommon.
@3 I lived in Cincinnati for a short period of time. I once walked from Downtown up to UC campus via Vine street. My coworkers were flabbergasted - it's the roughest ghetto I've ever been in.
A year or two ago, I happened to meet two cute 20-something white girl comedians... and they lived on Vine street, the same blocks I'd walked up and were terrifying even to this (then) 20-year old black guy, back in the early 00s. Where the streetcar is now.
Likewise, I remember visiting Portland and the Pearl District before the streetcar. It wasn't dangerous like Cincy was, but it had the whiff of a shittier version of 1980's Belltown. Now it's a gleaming (and problematic, I'm sure) neighborhood, with tons of business, people, money trading hands, etc.
Streetcars aren't really about ridership.
Most of the bicyclists I know hate the streetcar. Most cycling advocates including Cascade would love to see it fail and still blame the mayor. Another group of hypocrates making decisions for 750000 people while bribing the likes of Mike O'Brien. That way they don't have to look like they are anti transit while promoting their 3-4% group of Seattle commuters.
This might have been more convincing if it contained at least 80% less bile.
“This taco tastes terrible — what a Trump surrogate!” “The weather today sucks — how dishonest and conniving!” “Why can’t I stay up and watch TV, mom — my educated guess says this is probably most likely dictatorial!!”
@13 - almost all of your examples of "transit systems which use non-standard gauge" are completely irrelevant to this discussion.
BART in the SF Bay area isn't a streetcar - it's grade-separated mass rapid tranist. Apples and Bowling Balls.
My understanding of SEPTA in Philly is that it's pretty much their version of BART - a regional rail system, not a streetcar.
The system in New Orleans is based on extensions of the original century-old Saint Charles Avenue Streetcar, which was retained as a quaint historic novelty when the rest of the system was dismantled. It runs mostly on medians along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, but does run in streets along some stretches. It is not grade separated, and is a classic example of why streetcars are a bad transit option: they move no faster, and frequetly slower, than the surrounding vehicle traffic.
Metro (DC) is also grade-separated light-rail, not a streetcar.
I'd be thrilled if we were building a BART, SEPTA, or METRO - but that's not what we're talking about.
Emulating anything New Orleans does makes about as much sense as locating a major metropolitan city below sea-level in hurricane country.
@15 bicyclists hate CCC because tracks kill and injure bicyclists. The worst thing about cycling in Portland is all the streetcar tracks.
@18 And that just confirms my comment that that Mayor Durkan is not the only one against the CCC. There are probably more. If the bicyclists are against it then the title of this article should be Seattle Bicyclists and Mayor Durkan are Hell-Bent on Killing the Center City Connector. It is ok if you are right. I actually agree with you on some of it. Just have the guts to admit that you are part of the hold up.
“This past spring I compared Mayor Durkan’s decision...”
We commenters at that post compared your claims to reality. Your claims lost. They haven’t improved with time. All of the objections stated by commenters then have been reiterated here, and are all still valid. Seattle does not need a major construction project snaking across downtown to install a trolley line which would, in operation, replicate existing services — but only painfully slowly.
If we just must must MUST spend more money on a trolley, then re-build the First Hill Streetcar to turn west from Broadway onto Yesler, and terminate at the Pioneer Square Tunnel Station. Then maybe it might serve some fraction of its intended, oringinal purpose.
I completely regret voting for Durkan. She is pulling a lot of garbage moves lately like hiding these studies from us. She is taking moves from the Trump playbook.
That was a great read!
NO rail of any kind (streetcars, LINK, or those little mining cars in the Indiana Jones movies, or whatever) should EVER run at grade level on the street. It's idiotic, and we have known that for years. I don't know how much it cost San Diego to separate the Laurel Street intersection after the fact (the level crossing was a traffic disaster on a major road to the airport) but it was a huge project. We're eventually going to have to spend a fortune to get the Rainier Valley segment of LINK off the road too so that it can run at the speeds it should. Could have/should have saved $$ doing that right the first time. A streetcar is even worse- we're not talking about a few intersections where it has to wait but the whole damn thing sits in traffic. It's not like downtown traffic here is ever going to get any better, and the streetcar is going to get less and less useful as it gets slower and slower.
We're a big city now. Let's fucking act like one and build the grade-separated lines that will actually do some good. And don't even think of putting the Ballard LINK line at street level.
And yes, a a cyclist I hate these things. People will die as a result of additional streetcar tracks. That is on the City.
@23, You do know that the streetcar was to have reserved lanes on First Avenue, right? Oh, gosh, I didn't understand that you love to bloviate about things before you check on them.
@25: We already have a way of getting from the First Hill Streetcar terminal at Fifth & Jackson to the SLUT terminal at Westlake: the downtown tunnel. Even if the Connector trolley had dedicated lanes the entire way, it could not move faster than tunnel traffic.
Yeah, @25 - what @26 said. Just get off the streetcar at 5th and jackson. Cross the street. Walk down into the bus tunnel. Wait five minutes for a bus. Ride up to Westlake Station. Get off the bus. Ascend to the street. Walk at least two blocks to the streetcar station at Westlake and Virginia. Wait 10-15 minutes. Catch the streetcar.
Total travel time: a breezy 30 minutes! You’re welcome, people of Seattle! Another civic solution courtesy of tensor, who reminds you that there’s no problem you can’t solve that he can’t condescendingly tell you has already been solved.
@25- You do know that even vehicles in reserved lanes have to stop for intersections, don't you? Oh gosh, I forgot you can magically avoid intersections. Too bad streetcars can't. If you have a solution for that I'd love to hear it. Somehow i don't expect you will have any constructive input, given your previous nasty and sarcastic response.
My point is that any rail-type system that has to stop for traffic is going to be slow from the get-go. Not to mention that we are seeing more and more cars stopping in intersections (gridlocking) all over downtown as traffic gets worse, which makes the prospect for a streetcar being any kind of efficient even worse. Let's not waste our money on things that are never going to move people quickly. Seems like a no-brainer.
OK, let me get this straight. Mr. Cole is upset because the mayor has decided to study the issue in more detail after discovering that the previous administration hid various aspects about the streetcar from the public. She hasn't decided to cancel it, but she has simply asked for more study. Yet she catches shit for that?
David reminds me of a guy that can talk endlessly about the horsepower, torque and hauling capacity of his shiny new truck, yet has no intention of actually hauling or towing anything with it.
He has completely ignored the whole point of streetcars -- where they actually do have value -- while spending paragraph after paragraph whining about losing streetcars of dubious value. It isn't hard to find essays about streetcars, but I think transit expert Jarrett Walker did a good job here: https://humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html.
In this case, it comes down to one issue: capacity. Do we have a situation whereby a bus, running every three minutes or so, simply can't handle the number of riders. The short answer is: Fuck no. Not even close.
But let's assume that isn't the case. Assume, for a second, that we really do need to move tens of thousands of people each hour along a corridor that doesn't currently warrant a bus route. The streetcar would have to be significantly bigger than a bus, and running buses would have to be too expensive. As it turns out, neither is the case. The streetcars we have right now are no bigger than our buses (they can't carry more people).
But hey, no sense letting reality get in our way, let's pretend the streetcars are really big. Is it cheaper then, to run a streetcar every five minutes or so, rather than a bus every two minutes?
In short, no. That is because First Avenue is not an isolated, stand alone corridor. Seattle is an hourglass, and every day people funnel into the central downtown core. Along with the light rail line underneath the street, we have hundreds of buses that run along Third Avenue every day. Those buses carry more people than our entire light rail line (about 100,000 or so). We have so many buses that there is actually a surplus there. While it is great to be able to take a ride from one end of downtown to the other with no waiting, the huge volume of buses is actually a problem. There are simply too many, and they crowd each other.
Which is why the whole notion of serving First Avenue with a separate, stand alone, limited and poorly designed route is silly. We already have hundreds of buses traveling on Third. These buses are not exclusively serving folks who want to get from one end of downtown to the other, but do double duty by connecting neighborhoods to much of downtown. The 7, for example, serves riders in Rainier Valley. But if you happen to be in downtown, and just want to head up the road a mile or so, it works as well as anything. It is simply one of the many, many buses you can take to get to the other end of downtown.
Thus moving a handful of buses over to First would accomplish everything the streetcar would, and then some. It would mean more frequent service along First Avenue. It would mean better connections to other neighborhoods. All the while, it would save money because it would simply involve moving a bus line, not creating a new one. It could, if we wanted to, provide the same sort of fast service along First Avenue that the streetcar would. Imagine running the 7 and the 70, for example, along First Avenue. The buses would run more often than the proposed streetcar, and provide much better connections.
That means that moving a few buses would provide faster, more frequent trips to more places than the streetcar. David Cole is right to be worried that the mayor has decided to study the issue -- because it will likely show that the proposed streetcar is stupid, and there are better alternatives.
@17 It's a direct response to an assertion in the article. It's the definition of relevant, nobody died and made you Judge Judy.
The obsession with track gauge by supporters of the stupid streetcar is remarkable. It is only mentioned once in the mayor's press release -- 1 bullet item out of 18. It is as if someone said Trump is a paranoid, racist, misogynistic and incompetent man with small hands, then someone responds by saying "His hands aren't small! God Damn it -- they are normal size, you fucking liar!".
Most of the items are things that are way more likely to be a problem, or are already known to be. But the key parts of the report are toward the end:
"She has also asked SDOT to evaluate additional mobility alternatives in order to understand the transportation benefits that would accrue from either a streetcar or an alternative mode of transit. ... To ensure full transparency and accountability in this project, the City will be releasing the KPMG report to the public once finalized. ... No final decision will be made until budget, feasibility, and community impacts are understood. "
If they really do that -- if KPMG really looks at alternatives for serving First Avenue -- then my guess is that the choice will be obvious: run buses on First Avenue instead of the streetcar.
Nobody likes her.
Not the Suburban commuters who drive alone.
Nor the urban “centrists” who see her lies, and grasping for higher office at their expense.
Nor the liberal homeowners she never helps.
Not even the Socialist young voters.
For she is, like Bertha Landes before her, Seattle’s One Term Mayor.
Hopefully this is accurate where it says they were aiming for the end of August... http://durkan.seattle.gov/2018/07/an-update-on-the-center-city-connector/
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