2014 was a turbulent year for Seattle transit riders. After two votes on transit funding, and a reduction in service hours across the entire county, and the deletion of one of Capitol Hill’s historic trolleybus routes, 2015 should prove to be a much more positive year for transit riders all around the Hill. Here’s a look ahead at what is to come in 2015.
- The First Hill Streetcar to begin service: After problems in the manufacturing of the streetcars themselves, Seattle’s second modern streetcar line connecting central Capitol Hill to parts of First Hill, the Central District, Yesler Terrace (soon to be redeveloped by Vulcan), Little Saigon and the International District will soon be running.
- “The best bus service Seattle has ever seen”, according to city council member Tom Rasmussen. With the passage of prop 1 in November, Seattle is set to spend $45 million on improving bus service in 2015, with many of the high-ridership routes to be receiving the money in Capitol Hill. Service increases will occur in two phases, with the first in June, and the second following in September. Nearly every single route that runs through Capitol Hill will receive additional service hours to either increase frequency, improve reliability, or decrease overcrowding. The most prime targets for this funding are routes like the 2, 8, 49, 10 and 11: Capitol Hill’s workhorse routes.
- The return of the 47 bus: This past September, West Capitol Hill lost a bus route that had run along Summit and Bellevue Avenues since its days as a streetcar beginning in 1909. With the June service change, service will once again return to this corner of the Hill.
- The completion of Capitol Hill Station: Light Rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2016. But that doesn’t mean that 2015 will be static for the construction site that has been occupying a central piece of Capitol Hill real estate half a decade. The completion of the station means that the transit oriented development planned for the site can move forward, including a permanent home for the Broadway Farmer’s Market currently calling Seattle Central College home on Sundays. This project will entirely reshape Broadway and bridge a disconnect between northern Broadway and the booming Pike/Pine area.
- Metro reorg: The opening of Seattle’s biggest light rail station in 2015 will also have enormous impact on the transit network beyond rail. As occurred in the Rainier Valley with the opening of Central Link, Sound Transit and Metro Transit will be spending 2014 determining the best way to serve the Capitol Hill and UW stations with bus service. This very well could mean a complete reorganization of the Hill’s bus system. Meetings have already begun to decide to what this will look like.
2015 looks to be one of the most interesting years for transit on the Hill in a long time. Things will likely look very different at the end of the year than they do now: a fact that is surely exciting to Hill residents old and new.