Why the Streetcar Beat Out "Green Lines"

Matt Fikse calls attention to a Seattle transit plan, which has few drawbacks but has been left to die by officials. Why the streetcar beat out the Rapid Trolley Network.
March 26, 2009, 8am PDT | Judy Chang
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"Planners developed routes, cost estimates, and ridership projections for several alternatives. The summary, with the prosaic title 'Scenario Development Documentation, Portfolio 4.3', was included in the mountain of documents prepared for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Stakeholders group - to little notice. It is, for all intents, a road map for the Green Lines.

Its conclusions are breathtaking: Metro estimated that a Rapid Trolley Network would increase ridership by 60%, from 24 million to 38 million annual riders, while reducing overall emissions 60% over diesel buses and practically eliminating tailpipe emissions.

The kicker? The report calls the Rapid Trolley Network plan the best transit value in town, bar none: "The estimated marginal cost of $1.24 per new rider is lower than any other improvement." Total capital cost of the Rapid Trolley Network was pegged at $142 million including new passenger amenities, new extensions to Madison Park, connections to the Othello and Henderson Street light rail stations, new connector routes through the Central District, Downtown, and along Denny Way."

"Where has such a good idea gone? Nowhere, mostly. This underscores a problem with the deep-bore tunnel selection for the Viaduct replacement: ideas that had been associated with the Surface/Transit option - ideas with practical benefits independent of the tunnel - now seem to be on the back burner if not altogether dead."

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Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in Crosscut
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