‘Red paint’ — SDOT collecting feedback on Broadway transit lane proposal

SDOT is planning to make one lane of southbound Broadway transit only from Pine to Madison (Image: CHS)

Seattle Department of Transportation officials are in the middle of “community outreach” for the addition of a proposed four-block southbound “Business Access and Transit” lane on Broadway.

The planned summer 2018 project is part of a roster of improvements SDOT reps discussed Tuesday with the Seattle City Council’s transportation committee on efforts to speed up the city’s streetcar lines. You can learn more about the plans and provide feedback here. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Poetry on the First Hill Streetcar

Sunday, riders on the First Hill Streetcar found some new voices joining the automated messages about upcoming stops and reminders to hold the handrail.

A special Lunar New Year edition of King County Metro’s Poetry on Buses program brought “Asian and American Asian local aspiring poets” to the streetcar route connecting Capitol Hill to Pioneer Square via the International District.

The program has placed more than 350 poems on buses and streetcars, Metro says.

Thanks to interruptions by each announcement of an upcoming stop, arriving at the stop, next stop, and a stop requested, Sunday’s readings had their own peculiar rhythm that was just odd enough to be appropriate for the First Hill Streetcar which has suffered indignities from construction delays, to a sliding incident after losing braking power, to ongoing jokes about the route’s slow performance as it shares lanes with motor vehicle traffic.

Still, the route presents an alternative way to visit Chinatown and the ID — if you aren’t in too much of a hurry. Continue reading

Moving on from streetcar extension plan, city also ditches Broadway bike and street improvements

At the end of 2016, CHS reported that a $28 million plan to extend the First Hill Streetcar north on Broadway — and, in conjunction, improve the streetscape and extend the street’s protected bike lane — was put on hold by City Hall and changes in the Capitol Hill business community. 2017 was supposed to be a year for revisiting the plan.

No need. $3 million worth of planning for an extension and the street changes will remain packed away and some of the millions already collected from grants to make the construction happen is now being handed back.

“I would describe it as indefinitely deferred,” the Seattle Department of Transportation’s transit and mobility director Andrew Glass Hastings tells CHS. “That project is pretty much designed. That design is still useable should we decide in the future, in conjunction with stakeholders up on Capitol Hill.” Continue reading

First Hill Streetcar fleet ready to return to Broadway after repairs

IMG_0029-600x400 (1)The Seattle Department of Transportation announced late Sunday night that a fix was identified and executed and the First Hill Streetcar will be back in action Monday morning starting at 5 AM — albeit at a speed-restricted 7 MPH through the stretch where the March 1st sliding incident occurred:

Prior to returning to service, the entire fleet of vehicles had a modification installed, tested, and documented individually. The modifications and operating orders have been reviewed and approved by the required safety officials. With these modifications, operating orders, and safety approvals in place, the vehicles are safe and operational for return to service. Continue reading

With no plan for return of service, First Hill Streetcar slide latest problem in $27M batch

Engineers may have pinpointed what failed on car 405 but the near-term fix — and the paperwork — to get the First Hill Streetcar line back in action could take “weeks,” the Seattle Department of Transportation’s head of rail told a city council committee earlier this week. In the meantime, Seattle officials are beginning to look into whether the streetcar’s manufacturer should be on the hook for the cost of lost service on the line which serves around 3,000 riders a day between Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Broadway.

“If we find out it’s a manufactured error, what sort of recourse do we have about asking for them to compensate the city for this loss of service?” Seattle City Council transportation committee member Rob Johnson asked. Continue reading

Service on hold after First Hill Streetcar lost power, slid two blocks down Broadway


SDOT detailed the incident for media at the ID maintenance facility late Friday — gold culprit car #404 lurks in the background

The First Hill Streetcar lost power Wednesday morning on Broadway with an operator and two passengers on board helpless to stop it before coming to a fortunate stop at Yesler. There were no collisions or injuries in an incident that has prompted officials to keep the service closed until more can be learned about why car 405 — the gold streetcar — failed.

The early hour of the 6:07 AM incident and good fortune left the roadway clear of obstacles for a streetcar route that shares lanes with vehicular traffic.

Andrew Glass Hastings, the Seattle Department of Transportation’s director of transit and mobility, called the failure “an electromechanical malfunction” and said inspectors have isolated the problem to a circuit breaker-like load contactor that shut down the vehicle’s power to its operational system. Continue reading

As First Hill Streetcar turns one, Broadway business owners mixed on extension

img_1880When CHS broke the news late last year that the City of Seattle was pressing pause on the planned two-stop extension of the First Hill Streetcar on Broadway and that the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was supportive of the decision, we heard from a few Broadway business owners disappointed in the news. Next week, the First Hill Streetcar turns one. We’ve talked with a few of the businesses up and down the street and found owners and managers torn over the benefits of more public transit on the street along with better infrastructure for pedestrians and bicycles versus the chaos and cost of constructing the extended line.

“Automobiles and cities are natural enemies,” David Schomer, owner of Espresso Vivace, tells CHS. “When you add transit and take out automobiles, people come out… the city becomes safer.” Continue reading

Unofficially, 3,000-plus daily First Hill Streetcar riders


The trams aren’t as full as they were during the free preview days like this scene from January but, unofficially, First Hill Streetcar ridership is right on track (Image: CHS)

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-1-49-08-pmAs CHS broke the news about the First Hill Streetcar’s extension plans being put on hold by the city, here is a look at just how many people are riding the 2.5-mile line every day.

Data provided by the Seattle Department of Transportation shows that the streetcar line served more than 3,300 riders daily in October and that ridership appeared to have been slowly climbing since the streetcar’s early 2016 start of service. In addition to the many delays in beginning service on the route, SDOT had to tackle a bug with its automated passenger counters that left the department without access to the information. Continue reading

Seattle City Hall presses pause on Broadway streetcar extension

January marks the one-year anniversary of the First Hill Streetcar

January marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the First Hill Streetcar

broadwaystreetcar_factsheet_090315_optionb-01-306x550The proposed project to extend the First Hill Streetcar beyond Denny on Broadway which would add two stops — one at Harrison and one at Roy — is in limbo.

Support from Broadway businesses is lacking for the current design and the financial plan, and with the neighborhood adjusting to the light rail station and the First Hill Streetcar, the Seattle Department of Transportation has stepped back from the extension with the intention to revisit the plan with stakeholders sometime in 2017.

Unless the plans change, the support SDOT is looking for likely won’t be there.

“If we want to see Broadway thrive … the streetcar is actually the best way to undermine that,” Sierra Hansen, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce executive director told CHS. Initially, the chamber supported the project, but that’s no longer the case. Continue reading

At memorial for fallen bike rider, call for safety changes near First Hill Streetcar tracks

A memorial service was held Monday night to honor Desiree McCloud, who died in May after crashing her bike along the First Hill Streetcar tracks. But Monday’s remembrance was more than an opportunity for friends and family to gather with the community to remember the 27-year-old. Following the memorial, city officials met with walkers to discuss improvements that could be made to the stretch of E Yesler along the tracks where McCloud lost her life.

The dangers posed by the First Hill Streetcar tracks need solutions as soon as possible, friends and loved ones said.

“I feel personally convinced they were at least involved,” said one friend who was biking with McCloud at the time of the crash. “It seems clear to me that the design is very poor.” Continue reading