We’re Getting a New Streetcar!

Good news Seattle commuters: looks like we’re getting a new streetcar. But the question on everyone’s mind is: will this one come with a funny acronym and novelty t-shirts too?

Mayor McGinn’s office announced in a press release this morning that the Center City Connector has selected a streetcar as the preferred mode of transportation for the project. The two alignments selected for further study would run on First Avenue, to serve through Uptown, and a Fourth/Fifth Avenue couplet, which would help connect to the Westlake transit hub and other streetcars around town.

“More jobs, housing, and businesses are coming to downtown Seattle, and we need more high capacity transit to meet those needs,” said McGinn in a statement. “The Center City Connector is another important step forward in building a rail network that connects our neighborhoods to each other.”

The transportation powers-that-be are still working out whether mixed traffic or a dedicated lane would be more advantageous for each route, but they said in the release that “in November, a locally preferred alternative will be identified with a final alignment, and will be followed by creation of an implementation plan as well as a finance plan.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation said the street car would be the best mode of transit for this project, citing estimates of an additional 8,000 people downtown Seattle transit will have to carry by 2030 in the morning peak. According to the press release:

“This is equivalent to approximately 150 additional buses per hour on downtown streets and would require the equivalent of two new bus-only lanes. Alternatively, if this demand was met using rail vehicles, 20 two-car or 10 four-car trains would be required (assuming 160 passengers per car). Since a train can carry more passengers than a bus, the labor costs for operating trains are lower than for buses. This analysis also took into account future Sound Transit rail operations in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.”

If anyone is interested in viewing details of Seattle’s Center City Connector, there will be an open house on Thursday June 6, from 5:30-7:30 at the South Lake Union Discovery Center at 101 Westlake Ave North. The public will be allowed to ask questions and give feedback, like won’t we all be riding hover boards to work in 2030 anyway?

 
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