There is no North American equivalent to what the Seattle Department of Transportation has proposed as a new transit method for getting from Ballard to downtown Seattle.
For reference, one would have to go all the way to eastern France.
Seattle's new Transit Master Plan includes a potential new streetcar-style tram that would pick people up in Loyal Heights and take them through Fremont and into downtown.
The trams would be lighter than light rail, heavier than buses, and able to be used as both a commuter for downtown workers and a "circulator" for getting people around downtown once they're there.
After presenting the plan to the Seattle City Council on Tuesday, SDOT Strategic Adviser Tony Mazzella caught up with Seattle Weekly today.
"In North America, there isn't really a version of streetcar that we're really looking at as an example," he says. "In Portland, their streetcar operates as a downtown circulator and their rail operates as a commuter. What we're talking about is a version of rail that would serve both markets."
The example Mazzella gave is the Lyon Tramway in Lyon, France.
The Lyon Tramway actually dates back to the late 1800s, when the horse-drawn carts pulled French people from their cafés to their crêperies? to their brothels.
The modern tram in Lyon was built in 2001, and, like almost every public-transportation method in Europe, is awesome.
Mazzella says that the Ballard streetcar route could become the most popular transit corridor in the city, with an estimated 26,000 daily riders by 2030.
Here is the proposed route.
Building such a system would cost about $327 million, but Mazzella says he's "extremely confident" that the city could get "considerable federal funding" to help pay for the plan.
Getting federal funding, however, requires time--lots of it. And Mazzella says it would be at least seven years before all the federal cash could be wrung out.
Paying for the system with local dollars could speed up the process significantly. But as we all know, no transportation plan in Seattle is ever speedy.
Here's the full report (which is actually a preview of the finalized draft which will be released in September).