West Seattle streetcar? Start thinking up the acronyms now


Per the P-I, city councilmembers officially voted this morning to spend money on studying six possible streetcar lines to follow the SLU…etc., including one that potentially would head out our way. (Interesting history culled from a websearch: The county looked into studying a WS streetcar more than two years ago, says this link; and of course The Junction takes its name from the fact two streetcar lines crossed there.)

51 Replies to "West Seattle streetcar? Start thinking up the acronyms now"

  • David February 5, 2008 (1:14 pm)

    I don’t care if it’s street car or light rail, so LONG as it doesn’t just plod in the same stuck traffic on the West Seattle bridge. The monorail was going to go ABOVE the traffic (like a subway goes below) so it would NEVER depend on traffic accidents, road construction, etc. That’s the ENTIRE point of mass transit, it has to exist OUTSIDE of the traffic constraints, otherwise it’s a “bus on rails”. Can you imagine if New Yorks subway just run on surface streets, having to wait at every traffic light and intersection? It wouldn’t work…period.

  • RobertSeattle February 5, 2008 (1:28 pm)

    Never Going To Happen

  • villagegreen February 5, 2008 (1:30 pm)

    What would be the advantage of a trolley over a bus? Seems like a trolley might even be slower than a bus, unless it’s out of traffic.

  • djake February 5, 2008 (1:42 pm)

    Robert, I’d have to agree! as with David also, this entire region has a major leadership void when it comes to making some really obvious decisions

  • I Heart Jiggers February 5, 2008 (1:42 pm)


  • I Heart Jiggers February 5, 2008 (1:44 pm)

    Over to

  • I Heart Jiggers February 5, 2008 (1:45 pm)


  • I Heart Jiggers February 5, 2008 (1:46 pm)

    Motor on
    Everyone to

  • chas redmond February 5, 2008 (1:47 pm)

    Well, one of the advantages which driver’s ignored when the South Lake Union Trolley went operational is that the transit-way (read: street) is prioritized for transit. This means that cars trying to cross on Mercer are disadvantaged to the tune of two or three additional lights they must sit through. The city’s DOT recently was asked that question and their answer was “transit has a priority.” So, even if this went over the bridge which is used by cars, the implied directive in this is that the cars would be un-prioritized. Imagine one whole lane in each direction dedicated to the streetcar – cars could use that lane when the streetcar wasn’t there, but the streetcar would have priority use. I imagine there’d be a period of adjustment aided by SPD. Just a thought.

  • OP February 5, 2008 (1:49 pm)

    David makes an excellent point. Any alternative transportation has to exist outside of traffic constraints, otherwise the advantages to taking it are lost.

    The S.L.U.T. (I’m sorry, I just can’t resist) is more of an ode to early 20th-century transportation nostalgia than it is an effective means of transportation.

    But let’s not lose the spirit of the thread:

    B.U.R.T. (Build Us Realistic Transportation)
    B.U.S.T. (Build Us Something Tenable)

    And finally: B.U.R.P.T.P.W. A.U.A.T.A.G.P.W.P.W.T.W.C.T.A.S.B.O.O.T.D.(A.N.I.C.A. M.G.O.I)

    (Build Us Realistic Public Transportation That People Will Actually Use And That Actually Goes Places Where People Work, Then We Can Talk About Spending Billions of Our Tax Dollars (And No It Can’t Involve A Monorail. Get Over it.)

    Not very catchy, and it won’t look good on t-shirts, but you get the point.

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  • djake February 5, 2008 (2:04 pm)

    it seems to me, from an outside viewpoint, that it doesn’t really matter what they come up with. If any particular group of any kind opposes it and we can’t gather unanimous, unequivocal, absolute support to every concievable detail, then there is no one with enough leadership guts to bring it to completion, no matter how brilliant and comprehensive it is. We’ll see how creative and cooperative everyone becomes when the viaduct, without warning, becomes unusable.

  • JumboJim February 5, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    Ok djake,
    What do you have in mind for this leader to decide? We all know Greater Seattle needs to fix its traffic woes. So what is the answer?

    Any leader who has to tackle this will either have to have the backing of the majority for a specific plan, or will have to move forward without the backing of the majority. Either way is difficult – yes, I know we elect them to do those tough jobs, but a fickle electorate, who fund one part of a project, then pull out on another part of it, make things nearly impossible.

    Eventually it may take that leader who has in mind what they see as best for the region and then goes ahead and does it, consensus or not. The big problem is how will they get funding for anything without majority public support? Seems to me that’s where the state needs to step in to help, as gridlock from Arlington to Olympia is a real economical-ecological problem.

  • djake February 5, 2008 (2:30 pm)

    JumboJim, exactly my point…the fickle who fund part and pull support mid-stream. I don’t have an answer except to have someone who can plow ahead with the common good in mind rather than the common perception. Good points!

  • Julie February 5, 2008 (2:34 pm)

    I am horrified that this is seriously being proposed. Does the city council truly believe that what we’re begging for is nice, slow transit?

    Let’s see: at the new streetcar’s average overall speed of 6 mph, we could get from the Junction to Downtown in, oh, 36 minutes or so?

    And the 54 takes, what, about 25?

    And you can drive it in under 15?

    Jan Drago, please could you explain to me why it’s worth the money even to study this?

  • old timer February 5, 2008 (2:37 pm)

    It’s just what we need – a trolly stuck (for whatever reason) in the middle of a traffic lane, unable to move left or right, even an inch, to avoid some obstacle.

    Maybe it’s time for secessionist talk again?

    Oh for the days of Jeannette Williams and Scoop Jackson!
    People then new how to get stuff done!
    I’ll go back to my room now.

  • Al February 5, 2008 (3:01 pm)

    The trolley will be slower than traffic and buses unless the trolley is given a dedicated right of way over general traffic. That’s the problem with the current trolley (and I do ride it). The trolley does have to wait its turn at each light, and it comes to a full stop unless it hits a green. The point of mass transit is to give transit and transit users a faster ride than auto traffic so people say, “Hey, look how convenient and fast the trolley is while I am here stuck in traffic in my car! Maybe I should try it!” Not “Hey, look at me in my car consistenly getting to/from work faster than mass transit and being able to more conveniently get around! Why should I use mass transit? It just hinders my driving routes and is a huge annoyance!”

  • P February 5, 2008 (3:02 pm)


  • picklemom February 5, 2008 (3:03 pm)

    I am so tired of taxpayer dollars being paid to expensive consultants for unnecessary studies. The main appeal of a trolley is that it’s cuter than buses. There’s your study. I will invoice City Council for $250,000.

  • Al February 5, 2008 (3:12 pm)

    The information posted on the PI states the link to West Seattle will begin “South from Jackson Street, possibly along First Avenue to West Seattle.” Um, hello? That goes NOWHERE but to the lawyer/city offices. Then you have to get on a bus to get anywhere else, or walk if you work close enough. It doesn’t seem like there will be a “core” that will link the trolley lines. You may be able to get to Capitol Hill however…maybe.

  • John M February 5, 2008 (3:43 pm)

    So now California will have Regular Metro, Sound Transit, RapidRide and a Trolley. All of West Seattle must live within walking distance of California and the junction.


    If you’d said “and not the monorail” you could have billed them $375,000.

  • chas redmond February 5, 2008 (4:00 pm)

    now, on to the acronyms:

    West Seattle Modern Trolley (WSMT – WazMutt)
    West Seattle Urban People-mover (WSUP – WazUP)
    Westside Electric Street Trolley (WEST – WEST)
    Streetcar to You Live Where? (STYLW – style)
    It Ain’t Monorail But It Could Work (IAMBICW – iambic)

  • JIggers February 5, 2008 (4:11 pm)

    I am sick and tired of these pet projects that the Mayor is endorsing. Its a waste of tax payers money. The Mayor doesn’t ride public transportation so what does he care. He has no clue in how to make Metro/public transportation more efficient. A trolley on rails doesn’t improve a gawd damm thing in this city. Somebody please stop the insanity. Its cheaper to put more buses on the street to help cut wait time than to build stupid trolleys.

  • Julie February 5, 2008 (4:21 pm)

    chas: Iambic, because it limps! Hee, hee!

  • JIggers February 5, 2008 (4:52 pm)

    I wonder what close friend of the Mayor is gettng paid for the study?

  • Jim February 5, 2008 (4:58 pm)


  • Jim February 5, 2008 (5:00 pm)

    I Can’t spell…


  • WSeattle_sept2006 February 5, 2008 (5:05 pm)

    Ok, without causing a riot…please provide serious responses only.
    1. What was the failure of the monorail project based on? Who was(were) the most ardent detractors?

    2. Could the trolley system be built as a hybrid system? For example, at street-level on 1st avenue and then perhaps a new system for the WS bridge?

    3. As for previous comments about voting and re-voting and studying and re-studying, I agree that there seems to be a need for strong leadership and some concrete decisions made. Perhaps, I am naive, but while the monorail would have been expensive, it may turn out to be the less expensive option in hindsight. The cost of building supplies and labor are high and continue to rise, which only increases the future cost of any transportation option that would eventually be built.

    4. Don’t even get me started on the viaduct. I supported the tunnel option because that option (1) included a replacement of the FAILING seawall, (2)to the replacement of the FAILING viaduct, (3)provided for automobile transportation separated from pedestrian (4)increased property values and views for most downtown areas.
    Perhaps running the trolley along the waterfront to West Seattle and north to Ballard (over the concurrently constructed tunnel) is the best option.

  • Todd in Westwood/S.Delridge February 5, 2008 (5:37 pm)

    Ohhh, I get it now. That is why the city does not want to spend any money on streets. Just build them a trolly, take away their parking, and never repair the potholes.

  • chas redmond February 5, 2008 (5:40 pm)

    We could also name some proposed lines:

    Lincoln Park Limited (would serve Fauntleroy Dock)

    Three Junctions Limited (Admiral, Alaska and Morgan)

    Westwood Valley Limited (Westwood and Delridge areas)

    Avalon Express (would take transfers and zoom no-stops to LRT station at King Street)(possibly using magic)

    The economic analysis and sustainability component of this idea are the next areas to be researched by SDOT and they’re to report back to the Transportation Committee of City Council on that aspect in May. Don’t worry, they’re not picking your pocket just yet.

  • yo February 5, 2008 (5:43 pm)

    Is it possible to remove off-topic posts such as the Ron Paul post?

    That’s what the forums are for?

  • jenv February 5, 2008 (6:20 pm)

    amen yo! take it to the forums, ron paul!

    and YAY for the W.H.O.R.E!!

  • Jack Loblaw February 5, 2008 (7:36 pm)

    Please remove the off topic post !

  • JIggers February 5, 2008 (7:43 pm)

    I think we need to call roto rooter again..

  • Bob Loblaw February 5, 2008 (7:46 pm)

    How about both topics together?


    Sorry, gotta go eat. Not much time to devote to this.

  • Jack Loblaw February 5, 2008 (7:59 pm)

    Brother Bob… that was very cute !

  • JIggers February 5, 2008 (8:01 pm)

    LOL Bob..

  • JoB February 5, 2008 (8:21 pm)


    … oh wait, that’s a suggestion, not a name for another cute but ineffective transit option.

  • miws February 5, 2008 (8:39 pm)

    old timer, Don’t forget Maggie!






  • miws February 5, 2008 (10:03 pm)

    Okay, this one’s a bit of a stretch, but I had to make it work. This is imagining METRO converts their entire diesel fleet to pure biodiesel. (Cooking oil/grease) and that there would be a major transfer point between the buses and the trolley.





  • m February 6, 2008 (9:08 am)

    Please tell me this is a bad joke; this idea is so ludicrous I am questioning my sanity right now. This is a just a glorified bus that moves slower, could never be augmented to fit changing needs, and would slow down all the other transit around it. Those seem like ‘fatal flaws’ to me- can I have $375,000 now??? Only in Seattle…

  • JIggers February 6, 2008 (11:42 am)


  • PrayingMan-tis-i February 6, 2008 (1:09 pm)





    (and need to be voted out as soon as possible)



    I propose we set up an initative to study each study to see if it can be voted on by the public. Then if it can, have the public vote and do the opposite of what they want.

    Typical Seattle.

  • JW February 6, 2008 (1:27 pm)

    Is the Seattle city council aware of Rapid Ride? Ostensibly, they’re duplicating routes – not just here, but to Ballard as well. The quotes in the PI article make it appear they’re innocent of this knowledge.

    Not feeling that strong confidence in our elected leaders…

  • JM February 6, 2008 (2:46 pm)

    Even if there are dedicated rights-of-way for the streetcars, they would end up being little more than buses on rails if they plod along at the same grade level as surface streets, subject to the same traffic signals & delays. I see no virtue in spending money on what would essentially be buses on rails that would do little except take away already limited street capacity from vehicle (& even bicycle) traffic. Save the $375K Seattle & apply it toward the viaduct replacement that’s so badly needed.

  • SLK February 6, 2008 (3:03 pm)

    Would it be possible to have streetcars (or busses for that matter) in dedicated lanes, and then either synchronize the traffic signals with them or have a separate signal? Then they would automatically get the right-of-way and would not be subject to the same traffic delays as the other vehicles. Something (other than cuteness) has to make the streetcars more attractive than busses currently are.
    It’s discouraging to see so much negatively about ANY proposals for public transportation – be it the monorail, RapidRide, or now the streetcar. There are no easy answers here, but in my opinion the worst thing is to fight everything so that NOTHING gets done.

  • chas redmond February 6, 2008 (3:44 pm)

    In answer to JW, yes, City Council is aware of the other factors. They instructed SDOT to return in May with construction impacts, utility impacts, traffic impacts, coincidence with existing and planned KCMetro routes (including RR), relevance to a Link station, and outlay and maintenance and operations costs. Stay tuned – or stay tuned out, depending on which side of the Seattle method coin you’re on. I jokingly refer to the real Seattle city slogan as WE PREFER PEOPLE IN CARS. There are many times when it’s not a joke.

  • chas redmond February 6, 2008 (3:45 pm)

    How do I know – I watched that whole morning of Transportation Committee activity on Seattle TV online (don’t even need a TV) and was also doing other stuff at the same time. Nice that City Council meetings are streamed – your tax dollar at work.

  • Bob Loblaw February 6, 2008 (3:49 pm)

    Two words: Flying. Cars.

  • m February 6, 2008 (4:38 pm)

    I think most of the people posting have negative opinions because this is the worst possible mass transit idea out there. Street cars are the SLOWEST option available to move people around (the street cars might as well be pulled by a team of horses). How fast can those things even go? Probably no more than 20 MPH. A bus trumps that and it has potential to adapt to rider demand and location. Wasting $375K to figure this out is a travesty.

  • liws February 6, 2008 (5:47 pm)

    People will NOT get out of their cars and ride the bus because transferring and waiting for their next bus is not an enjoyable otpion in the cold when you have your own car. Why would you want to wait and wait when you have a car? Bus routes and times are horrid in Seattle.

    Mr.Mayor, do you ride public transportation? I bet that maybe you don’t need to and really don’t know how it is to wait and wait in the cold for the next bus to come along.

    What makes you think that a train on a trolley will run faster than a bus with mobilty? You live in WS so why is it that their is only a #56 that serves Alki area from downtown on a slim time plan.

    The simple solution is to add more bus times and add new routes thru out the day with the buses you have in storage to cut the wait time down in half. We are not San Francicso, so lets not start building rails down the streets so you can say oh look how cute that is.

Sorry, comment time is over.