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CHS Pics | No score — yet — but Capitol Hill Sounders fans put First Hill Streetcar to work


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.


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Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
5 years ago

It’s great that Sounders fans are using the streetcar, but I suspect most of them will switch to the light rail line when it opens next month….much quicker route to the stadium.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Knudson

Yeah, that’s my feeling too. I used the streetcar for the first time the other day to get to Uwajimaya, and it worked great, though streetcar’s frequency was an issue. It was Sunday, the car was packed, but it only came by every 45 minutes or an hour. And it’s a little annoying that the Streetcar on Broadway sits there for 5 minutes or more before it starts rolling, unlike a standard bus that picks you up and gets going. And others have pointed out that it’s not timed with the streetlights. But once the Light Rail is up and running, I’m not sure what the point of the Streetcar is, unless your final destination is the east portion of the ID. The streetcar really should have gone further east into the ID/CD, where the light rail doesn’t go. Or better yet, a line through Denny that would connect to the SLUT. One can dream.

4 years ago

– The streetcar is best used for people entering and exiting in the middle. Little Saigon, Pratt Park, the new Yesler Terrance projects, Swedish, and Seattle U will all have better access to either ID/Chinatown Station or Capitol Hill Station now because of the streetcar. It obviously isn’t intended for end-to-end trips, as they knew that there would be a Cap HillID light rail starting up soon after the streetcar.