Happy six-month birthday, Capitol Hill Station.
Mass Transit Now, the pro-Sound Transit 3 campaign, is using the half-year milestone since this spring’s opening of light rail connecting the Husky Stadium and Broadway to downtown to tout the local success both transit and economic of the service as part of its push for the $53.8 billion funding package.
“For the past six months, Capitol Hill businesses are thrilled to see an increase in customers using light rail to shop, dine and drink,” Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen says in a press release sent out by the campaign Monday. “Broadway and surround areas are abuzz with new visitors from around the city, region and world as folks realize they can travel to the coolest neighborhood from downtown in under 10 minutes.”
The push comes as debate around the ballot measure continues leading up to the November election. While support for a system that would extend light rail to Ballard by 2030, and West Seattle by 2035 seems likely to have strong support in Seattle, support around the rest of the region in cities like Issaquah varies. ST3 would create 62 miles of light rail, Sound Transit says, extending service to 37 new areas.
Transportation Choices kicked off its pro-ST3 campaign with a series of events around the region earlier this month including a party on Capitol Hill at Neumos with Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
In addition to the positive words from the chamber of commerce, the group included anecdotes from three-year-old Broadway cocktail bar Witness touting an increase in business since Capitol Hill Station’s March opening.
“Light rail to Capitol Hill has increased our business about 15% since it started running compared to last year,” Witness owner Gregg Holcomb is quoted as saying in the press release. “North Capitol Hill has been noticeably more vibrant this summer with increased foot traffic into the evenings and on the weekends.”
In June, CHS reported on the huge jump in ridership that followed light rail’s arrival on Capitol Hill — and the difficulty in measuring the subway’s economic impact. CHS also reported on the bittersweetness of light rail’s arrival on Broadway for some business owners aware that the line will bring more business — and, likely, higher rents.
The benefits for getting around the city and eventually the region, though, are hard to deny. Link light rail ridership leapt 77% in the second quarter of 2016, boosted by the new stations on Capitol Hill and in Montlake.
The push for more transit investment on northern Broadway, meanwhile, has slowed as a planned extension of the First Hill Streetcar continues to face opposition from some neighborhood businesses and landowners and doesn’t appear to be a cause officials are eager to pursue at this time.