Thursday, December 6, 2007

Proposal for a Seattle Streetcar Network

Some profs over at the University of Washington have done a report on how the streetcar network in Seattle can expand into 5 different neighborhoods. Their proposal doesn't give costs but lays out the amount of development that could possibly contribute to a local improvement district (LID) and TIF to pay for the expansion. The corridors would connect a larger part of the downtown to the light rail system thats currently under construction and provide a push for development close to downtown. Very interesting stuff. The Seattle Times has more. The graphic below shows the lines from the study.


M1EK said...

And once again, streetcar vulgaris raises its ugly head. 5 streetcar lines which are stuck in traffic aren't worth as much, added together, as is ONE that has its own lane.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

So here is a question. If business owners are going to cry bloody murder over taking their parking spaces or a lane (See Berkeley BRT) and the corridor will have to wait until 2050 to get to the engineering or never be in consideration for a light rail line, would you just leave it as bus if you have a chance to improve and densify with a streetcar? I appreciate your opinion Mike as it always represents the best case light rail expansion in dedicated lanes which is preferred. I'm just wondering what your threshold for no improvements is given the politcal nature of transit decisions. I mean if the corridor wants to pay for it, why not let them?

M1EK said...

Because it destroys the brand.


You need to look at this from the perspective of a _passenger_, and not just a tourist - somebody who lives there and owns, let's say, a fabulous technological device called a "watch" with which they can tell how quickly the trip takes versus their car (or versus the bus they used to take).

Building rail in a shared lane is a waste of time in 99% of cases in this country - the ONLY time it makes sense is with Manhattan-level parking costs, and even there, the beneficiary is not the passenger, but the transit agency (slightly lower operating costs).

"improve and densify with a streetcar", by the way, isn't going to happen in Seattle - they'll densify as soon as the zoning allows, and a stuck-in-traffic streetcar won't make a lick of difference. Like Austin, they have a tremendous amount of pent-up development demand which is being held back not from a lack of rail transit, but from a lack of will to overcome stupid zoning.