Tuesday night brought the first marquee event night for the First Hill Streetcar as its first day of fare service coincided with thousands of Seattle Sounders fans headed for CenturyLink field for CONCACAF Champions League tilt with Mexico City’s Club America.
Saturday, the new line was celebrated with an International District lion dance and ceremony after a few weeks of no-charge “promotional” service.
While the test of public transit is probably best measured in the day in, day out improvements it can bring to commutes and errands, sporting events and the like can be a gateway drug of sorts that brings out the more casual public transit rider — and create a few public transit addicts.
Tuesday night’s service got off to a bit of an inauspicious start after a car crash briefly blocked the line on Broadway but things appeared to have gone smoothly from there on out.
SDOT officials, in the meantime, are guiding the streetcar in the dark. ORCA card data has a “30-day lag” and the wireless network that will eventually report rider totals to SDOT HQ “is not activated yet while we work out some network issues,” CHS is told.
“Manual ridership counts” from the First Hill route’s free promotional period, though, revealed an “estimated average weekday ridership” of approximately 3,000 per day.
Meanwhile, the Sounders tied 2-2 and will have their work cut out for them in the second leg of their quarterfinal match-up Wednesday, March 2 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The Mexicans, by the way, converted their streetcar lines to light rail in the late 1980s.
Capitol Hill’s light rail service begins in 25 days.