Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Seattle seeks to merge streetcar lines

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced plans Monday, June 3, 2013, to connect two separate streetcar lines with a link through the city’s downtown, dubbed the Center City Connector.

An analysis by the Seattle Department of Transportation indicated that a streetcar was the best mode of transit for the need, and would connect South Lake Union Streetcar, already in operation, and First Hill Streetcar, currently under construction.

A $900,000 Federal Transit Administration grant helped fund the study, with $300,00 in local funding also used.

"One rail car can hold 160-plus people and if you can string together two or four at a time, you're talking about moving a lot more people with only a single operator and that's a lot more than buses can carry," McGinn told local media.

SDOT estimates by 2030, city transit will carry an additional 8,000 people per hour into and within the downtown area. SDOT also stated 20 two-car or 10 four-car trains could handle the same load at far lower construction and operating costs than comparable bus options, McGinn said.
Two potential alignments have been selected for further study: 1st Avenue and along 4th and 5th Avenues traveling in the same direction as traffic on each one-way street. Both alignments would connect to the Westlake transit hub, connecting the South Lake Union and eventual First Hill streetcars.Westlake Center also is served by buses and Link Light Rail.