Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seattle Streetcar Ridership Over Mark

Seattle Streetcar over ridership also...
2008 ridership on the Seattle Streetcar reached 347,000 riders on October 1, surpassing first-year ridership three months ahead of schedule.
H/T Brian at STB

13 comments:

AJ said...

It doesn't have its own right of way, this is clearly a fabrication.

Cavan said...

Why is it a fabrication? Streetcars as supposed to server super-local transportation needs.

cjh said...

AJ, you're a bit of a douche.

The main (continuing) argument against the design of streetcar lines like the SLUS as opposed to MUNI (or even legacy streetcars like in Toronto and Boston or, hey, the now closed historic waterfront streetcar) is that it is an inefficient use of resources. Not that electrified transport is bad or that they can't sustain greater ridership than buses. For two-thirds of the per mile capital cost of MUNI style streetcars and something like 8 times the cost of a trolley bus line, you get something whose passenger miles is uh, currently about the same as a trolley bus through the area, less than half of a MUNI style line (?).

If that's not enough for you, the city whose knob you constantly polish (Portland) figured this out and is giving its streetcar extensions dedicated and transit preferred rights of way (shocker!). This is especially important for lines that aren't just going to be free local circulation (you know the SLUS charges for its service, correct?).

AJ said...

cjh, your zeal for the topic is amazing. You can't just buy up ROW, you can't just plow rail-only lanes everywhere, especially for local use. They're only inefficient if you move the goal posts further than they ought to be.

Amazon.com is one of the biggest users of flexpasses in Seattle. What do you think is going to happen to ridership on the SLUS in 2010?

cjh said...

I'm not moving the goalposts, you tool and you, as usual, don't address the actual argument.

There is no need to plow anything unless you have some moral reservation about cars losing pavement. I'll keep using Portland as an example because it will make you cry. You can very well do something exactly like MAX in Portland and have the streetcar run in a transit reserved lane (like MAX). It will cost political capital, but SDOT owns the damn streets already so the monetary costs aren't anything on the order of LINK. We're talking about paint and rumble strips (you're already "plowing" rails through asphalt) and sure, people will violate it from time to time but most of the time, you magically (!) have fewer cars in the way of your electric transit. So, it's faster and on time more often as a result of dealing with far fewer variables.

Look as a cute people mover, whatever, who gives a wet fart, it does that job fine. I don't regret that the city spent money on electric transit either. The public-private partnership and LID financing are even models of for getting money for stuff like this. But currently on hold "streetcar network" stuff drives me up the wall because the expectation is obviously (obviously!) to have them act as medium capacity transit on already maxed out bus corridors. Heck, even extending the SLUS up Eastlake turns it into something more than a mere people mover. If you don't have reserved or, I pray, exclusive rights of way the

And yes, sure, when Amazon.com opens their headquarters ridership will increase a bunch. Ridership on bus lines will also substantially increase in that corridor for exactly the same reasons. That is not an argument for a particular form of mass transit so much as it is an argument that zoning for density and mass transit have a symbiotic relationship.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Hey guys, I like disagreement and discussion, but not the name calling. Please be civil.

cjh said...

Well, that was poorly edited.

The last two paragraphs should read:
"Look as a cute people mover, whatever, who gives a wet fart, it does that job fine. I don't regret that the city spent money on electric transit either. The public-private partnership and LID financing are even models for getting money for transit improvement (and tying transit to zoning for density). But the currently on hold "streetcar network" stuff drives me up the wall because the expectation is obviously (obviously!) to have them act as medium capacity transit on already maxed out bus corridors. Heck, even extending the SLUS up Eastlake turns it into something more than a mere people mover. If you don't have reserved or, I pray, exclusive rights of way, it is basically a really nice bus (whose capital costs thump even the electrification of bus lines).

And yes, sure, when Amazon.com opens their headquarters ridership will increase a bunch. Ridership on bus lines will also substantially increase in that corridor for exactly the same reasons. That is not an argument for a particular form of mass transit so much as it is an argument that zoning for density and mass transit have a symbiotic relationship.

AJ said...

cjh, you're angry and I get that-- but rail is not a perfect system. It can't always be put where and how you want it.

Of course, pushing it further will get it reserved in places, but do you honestly think the thing exists to go 60 miles an hour? Or even 40? Yes, you hit it on the head with "cute people mover", which is exactly why it works as an investment.

cjh said...

If you think by my posts that I think rail needs to be perfect before it can be built, then you're putting words in my mouth. Which is, again, par for the course with you as I've noticed. As the enemies of transit do it, then some supporters are bound to sink to the level of Kemper Freeman and craft beautiful strawpeople.

I don't care that much about 60 mph or even 40 mph, but faster than city street rush hour traffic, how about that? Substantially faster than buses (I'll try to find the number but I believe that Metro buses average a bit under 10 mph)? On time much more often than buses (I take it you haven't noticed that both the SLUS and the core stretch of the Portland Streetcar are late very often during rush hour)? Less subject to the vagaries of traffic than buses (see previous aside)? Let's try to maximize all of those factors so that the capacity available will actually be used rather than lying fallow.

And how, then, do you maximize those factors? I think the simplest solution should be rather obvious.

This is a starter line that was half paid for by a local billionaire, let's learn from its mistakes and shortcomings (and the growing pains and mistakes of other streetcar networks) and not pretend that it is all champagne and caviar just because it is on rails and has a pantograph. After all, cities (and the City of Seattle in particular) are going to need to spend a lot more money to bring transit capacity up to snuff.

cjh said...

And anyhow, why do YOU want cute people movers when what the (imminently walkable) City of Seattle needs is a massive capacity upgrade for medium haul routes? All the single digit routes are packed, packed, packed. Most of the teens aren't much better. How about that 43? Or 44? 358? Any of the West Seattle routes. And so far we aren't even talking about routes that will see some relief when LINK is extended but will likely still have busy local service needs (the 70s).

Of course, I am an actual frequent user of both Sound Transit and Metro (and was when I lived in Bellevue, too) while you have admitted elsewhere that you just don't ride transit now that you live on the Eastside. So my priorities are perhaps a little more, how do I put this, practical?

AJ said...

cjh: I don't live on the eastside.

I think the Streetcar is not a long distance solution and I don't pretend it should ever become such. It's for people to go from downtown to Eastlake, SLU to downtown, SLU to Eastlake, etc. etc. It will go to UW but it won't be for people to race downtown, it'll be students working and living in SLU, students heading to Eastlake.

Look at the First Hill Connector: It goes between two Link stations. It's for people to go halfway down or halfway up, but nobody is going to ride it from the ID to Cap Hill.

Streetcars are not for bus riders like you, it's for people who live close to work, last mile dispersal, things like that. My one friend who works in SLU rides it all the time since it takes forever to board a bus at rush hour.

But if you think it costs too much and does too little, that's fine by me. I'll still ride it and I support a network of'em.

cjh said...

Fine, you don't live on the Eastside but you don't ride transit often by your own admission on the Seattle Transit Blog.

Anyhow, your whole argument is a huge ass red herring because you perceive any impatience with "cute" people movers as an attack on rail and even denser city design. Of course, if you took time to think about the issue you'd see that mine (and people like m1ek's) object to these "streetcars" because it IS being used as a substitute for a real capacity upgrade. There is no way that you can argue that the proposed Ballard line, for instance, is not intend as a substitute for (most of) the 15. Even the proposed University line would replicate the non-express 70-74 service (where the busiest stops are still clustered toward the end of the route). It would also replicate part, but not all, of the free UWMC shuttle. And even so, why should the city spend lots of money on moving around office drones who are too lazy too walk or too racist/classist to ride a bus? Eventually your cute people movers will eventually be beat up and, barring a total transformation of society, be ridden by the same smelly homeless people who currently ride the 70 between the U District through SLU to downtown.

Anyhow, even if they were only intend for the purpose for which you imagine them there is no reason that they would not be benefited from traffic segregation as well. This is a ridiculously simple lesson that we don't need to relearn since, if you'd open your eyes, you'd see that European cities that use trams/streetcars learned it a long time ago. Why waste time starting from square one in streetcar design? Especially since the original streetcar routes themselves are, mostly, currently preserved in the (packed) bus routes numbered less than 30.

Oh, and yes, denigrate "bus" riders. Which is not surprising as you don't seem to care for them, as you have proposed eliminating Eastside routes as the main way to save money on several occasions. Since these routes are predominantly ridden by the poorest Eastside residents and workers (maids, laborers, receptionists, etc.), you are basically proposing class warfare. There really is nothing like making the poor poorer by forcing to spend money on car ownership in order to simply perform their jobs.

AJ said...

You're ridiculous, talking about lazy office workers, the homeless and then crying class warfare. And you say the Ballard line is replacing the 15, which goes a mile to the west?

The reason I don't take transit much to get to work is because it's generally crowded and I work in Belltown, so why not walk?