stealth streetcar

Did you hear about the new First Hill Streetcar? Didn’t think so. Sound Transit is making real plans, but not many seem to have noticed. It will run from the International District up Jackson to 12th, north to Boren, then all the way to John on Broadway. Apparently an extension north on Broadway to Aloha is also being considered.

The rationale is that it will make up for the First Hill light rail station that got the ax because we’re to cheap to do it right. So if you’re bound for First Hill, one day you’ll be able to get off light rail at Broadway and Denny, come up and finish your journey on a street car instead of a bus.

I like streetcars but can’t help feeling some ambivalence over this one. It would be great for business on Broadway, no doubt. But it doesn’t seem like money very well spent in terms of the numbers of people it will serve. And the argument that it will be a catalyst for focussed new development doesn’t really apply since most of the route is already densely developed.

It will be interesting to see how the community reacts when this project gets closer to being real. The perceived success of the SLUT (South Lake Union Trolley) will likely have an influence on the public’s appetite for more streetcars.