Either the plan has changed or the First Hill Streetcar testing is ahead of its delayed schedule. Monday night, Broadway — apparently — had a surprise visitor.
“Did you see #TheStreetcar on Broadway last night? Low speed test completed as we continue startup prep,” the streetcar’s promotional Twitter account bragged.
“Hey All, Did you see Streetcar on Broadway last night?” SDOT’s account teased.
CHS didn’t see it. So it’s possible the First Hill Streetcar’s landing on Broadway was faked. But here’s what CHS wrote in March as we got a look at the new trains under construction and being prepared for testing at their International District trolley barn:
Don’t expect to see the streetcar on Broadway until very late in the testing process this summer. SDOT officials say the testing won’t make it up the Hill until there are three or four cars ready for service conditions. At that point, SDOT can begin a process of mimicking standard service. An official said at that point, the streetcar needs to perform as planned for about two weeks. Once it passes that test, the new trams — including our special hot pink car — will be ready for business.
There’s been no announcement of an acceleration in the plan to start service so we’re betting the low-speed test was just a little more ambitious than how planners described the process back in March.
Construction of the streetcar tracks was completed in 2014 along with the construction of the Broadway bikeway. When service begins, the First Hill Streetcar will have ten stations along a 2.5 mile route from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way and will connect Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill. The streetcar project will cost somewhere around $130 million. Sound Transit is footing the bill as part of mitigation for being unable to construct a First Hill station as part of the U-Link light rail project. The light rail project along with Capitol Hill Station is slated to open in early 2016. The station, too, is showing signs of coming to life.
CHS reported earlier this month that city planners are eyeing a local tax to help pay for a planned $25 million northern extension of the streetcar and bikeway up Broadway to Roy. Like it does along the rest of the route, the Broadway extension tracks would share traffic lanes with motor vehicles and buses. Meanwhile, sponsors are lining up to advertise all over the First Hill Streetcar system.
When it does start running, streetcars will arrive at the 10 stops every 10-15 minutes from 5 AM to 1 AM Monday to Saturday and 10 AM to 8 PM on Sundays and holidays. Fares will be set by the Sound Transit board. The South Lake Union line’s adult fare is now $2.25. First Hill Streetcar fare is “anticipated to be similar to Link Light Rail and Metro peak hour fares.” Riders without ORCA cards will be able to purchase tickets at fare box machines located on station platforms.
— Mike Bjork (@SD70MACMAN) May 20, 2015
Meanwhile, another new creature of public transit has been spotted in the wild around Seattle. Be on the lookout for Metro’s new trolleys. CHS wrote about the new tricked-out fleet of Metro trolleys here late last year. Maybe you can ride one to Metro’s Capitol Hill open house Wednesday night:
Link Connections: Metro Public Meeting @ Capitol Hill
WHEN: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – 6:00 pm @ 6:00 PM
WHERE: Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, Jaffe Room 1432 15th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122
Learn about and comment on Metro’s proposal to change bus routes in Seattle with the start of Link light rail to Capitol Hill and UW at Husky Stadium. Sound Transit staff will also be available to answer questions about and take comments on their proposal for change.
UPDATE: SDOT has posted details and video of the short test:
The Streetcar made low speed test runs last night and traveled from the Maintenance Facility Yard and proceeded north on 8th Ave S, and entered the mainline at S Jackson St, then traveled west to the end of the line. The streetcar then reversed direction and proceeded outbound on the “on-wire” track to the other end of the line, changing to the “off-wire” track and returned to 7th Ave S and S Jackson St, and then returned to the Yard via 8th Avenue S. Please check out these video clips below.
Posted by Justin Carder on Wednesday, May 20, 2015