Who will ride the First Hill streetcar? Broadway people

On Wednesday, CHS reported on the planned start of construction this spring for the First Hill streetcar line connecting Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square. Way back in December — right before the holidays making it easily put aside — the Seattle Transit Blog took a look at exactly who will ride the First Hill Streetcar. Some of this equation might still be more fully filled in as the uncertainty of a possible north Broadway extension is peeled away — we’ll have more on the political and planning process behind the extension soon — but the examination is pretty interesting:

The streetcar will do its only good work facilitating intra-local trips on Broadway.  The streetcar will provide meaningful new connectivity between Capitol Hill Station and Pike/Pine, Seattle U, Swedish, the new Yesler Terrace, and Little Saigon.  The 9 is too infrequent, and the 60 too circuitous, to provide good service between these points.

Beyond Broadway, the streetcar is an expensive disappointment.  Its routing will be circuitous, it will be slow, and it will redundantly waste its highest demand corridor (Jackson St).  

Long story, short, the route will do a good job uniting Capitol Hill Broadway with First Hill and Central District Broadway. Yay for us. But give the whole essay a read for a peek ahead into the near future — and possibly more ammunition for the fight to extend the line north to Aloha.


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17 thoughts on “Who will ride the First Hill streetcar? Broadway people

  1. I live near the 15th Ave Safeway, and work at Harborview. It is a 25 minute (purposeful) walk. The transit that exists now does almost nothing for me. If I walk down to Broadway and Thomas, and catch the 9 within a minute or two of getting there, it maybe knocks 10 minutes off my trip. The 60’s detour along Madison means that it saves me no time at all.

    Pretty much the only time I bother with a bus is if I know I can catch the 9 just right (it’s easier coming home, because the stop is much closer than at the other end) or if it is raining hard enough to make standing under the shelter and waiting worthwhile. (It rarely is.)

    So for me, the streetcar (which I assume will run much more frequently than the 9) is a big improvement. That said, I really have no idea how many people have my commuting pattern. I can think of maybe a half dozen people I see regularly on my walking route.

    It might be a boon for folks in and around Yessler Terrace if they want to come up Broadway for nicer grocery stores.

  2. In the same week I received an email from Metro saying a new US House Resolution would gravely cut funding for public transit across the nation, I’m reading about a new streetcar that will service what would appear to be a somewhat narrow population segment of the city. While Metro is chopping up the #2 that services a far broader swathe of the city. What’s wrong with this picture? Why are we diluting the ever-diminishing transit pot with a new toy train? If I’m missing a vital point in this, please educate me (and I mean that sincerely, I’m not being snide. This time.)

  3. One nice thing about the streetcar is that its operating hours will be far greater than the current available service.

    This will be especially noticeable on Weekends. Currently the 9 is weekday only (and 99% of the runs are normal weekday only (not holidays)) … the 60 craps out at around 7 or so on weekends meaning that if you live on First Hill or Yesler Terrace you will have to walk/drive/bike/taxi home after going out for dinner/drinks.

    With 15 minute frequency all day, every day … the streetcar will improve things quite a bit (especially at night/bad wx days)

  4. the reason the First Hill Streetcar exists is because Sound Transit had to scrap the First Hill Link station (which would have been at Summit/Madison St) in order to guarantee Federal Funding from the Bush Administration due to their less-than-wise requirements for transit project funding.

    Since a station was promised … this was the alternative decided upon and voted upon.

    The changes to the route 2 are completely different issue … mostly of improving the overall service levels by removing the slog through downtown and making the lines more efficient. Service will be improved and the only change really will be that you will have to transfer to another bus … like 99.9999% of all bus trips anywhere in the world … something that has been discussed ad nauseam on the seattletransitblog.com

  5. That’s a really good point.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking down Broadway on the weekends (because sadly I often work then) and have to point out to people waiting for the #9 that it isn’t running that day.

  6. For those who fly, it will provide a valuable connection to the airport until light rail gets up and running. Take the streetcar down to the ID station and hop light rail to the airport. Practically a grown up city!

  7. I disagree with those who will be using it most. Most old people on First Hill don’t really know what a blog is, if there was any kind of survey…

    I don’t think we should forget that its called the First Hill street car, because it many people work and live on first hill, and they will be using it.

  8. I was so looking forward to being able to get from First Hill to King St. Station easily with luggage. On the other hand, the #60 works for this with either a transfer or a medium sized walk downhill on the way down and a transfer on the way up. Metro has added service to the #60 recently and it works better than it has in the past.

    However, I think you’re right about this. Is there any way to have another say?

  9. Why not walk to 19th for the 12?

    Because that’s 5 blocks downhill in the wrong direction.

    I can walk to B’way and Madison in ~15 minutes.

  10. B, rest assured, the streetcar is designed specifically for people like you. It replaces the planned Link light rail stop that was to serve the employment centers on First Hill (i.e. hospitals and clinics). Sound Transit scrapped the First Hill station and decided to go directly to Broadway due to the need to receive federal funds to help pay for University Link. The feds cited technical uncertainty with the soils under First Hill as making that station too risky for them to grant funds towards. Sound Transit’s compromise was to include funding in the 2008 ST2 vote for a streetcar that connected First Hill with both the new station at Capitol Hill and the current one in the ID.

    Given how smoothly the TBM operations have been for U-link so far, I wonder if Sound Transit is having second thoughts about scrapping First Hill. It would have been a very useful place for a station. I guess the silver lining for you is that the streetcar will get you closer to Harborview than the proposed Link station would.