Back in February we talked about how the city would be studying a list of potential streetcar routes to connect various neighborhoods to downtown and each other. Now the results are out, and we’re left off the list. The closest line would run up Jackson from 5th, then over to Boren and north on Broadway.
I really feel like we get the shaft when it comes to transit. The #3 and #4 buses that connect most of the neighborhood to downtown have been standing-room-only for years, but Metro keeps putting all the new service hours out in the much less densely populated suburbs where they run mostly empty (note to Larry Gossett: what are you doing to fix this?). Plus the time it takes to reach even the closest part of downtown on a bus averages about 25 minutes, and on busy days can take up to 40 minutes (I can walk the route in about 45).
Light rail is also looking hopeless for the neighborhood – we’re more than a mile from any planned station. The closest one on Capitol Hill will have no useful transit connections to the CD, so you’re looking at a mile walk in the rain if you want to take advantage of that. And even the 50 year vision of light rail doesn’t include any service for this part of town.
And now we find out that we don’t even merit a little streetcar. Those will go to First Hill, Capitol Hill, the U District, and Fremont. Three out of four of those destinations are either already getting light rail, or in the case of First Hill they’re close enough to walk downtown anyway.
I’m all for increasing density around town – it’s the right thing for the environment, and if done intelligently it can be the right thing for the neighborhood. But there’s no way it’s going to work if the only way to get around is on the same old crowded and slow bus routes we’ve had for 50 years. And honestly, why should we continue to support transit ballot measures that offer us exactly nothing, forever?
Correction: As lavicat points out below, the Seattle Times version of the story describes the 1st Ave route as turning east on Jackson and up to 23rd. So I take a small part of my rant back, but that tiny sliver of service doesn’t doesn’t change a whole lot for me.