Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published September 9, 2009 at 12:11 AM | Page modified September 9, 2009 at 1:01 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Mayor seeks loan to keep South Lake Union streetcar running

Ridership is up on the South Lake Union streetcar, but that hasn't averted a big funding gap to operate the line.

Seattle Times transportation reporter

Ridership is up on the South Lake Union streetcar, but that hasn't averted a big funding gap to operate the line.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced Tuesday he will ask the City Council to approve a $1.45 million loan from other city accounts to continue operating the streetcar. The money would be repaid between 2018 and 2023.

That's in addition to a $2.2 million loan the City Council approved before the line opened in December 2007.

Because of the recession, less advertising and sponsorships are being purchased for the streetcars and stops, city officials say. Advertising income sank from $401,325 last year to $249,000 for this year.

Another problem: King County Metro Transit, which runs the trains, will not begin covering three-fourths of the $2 million annual operations costs (as agreed in a city-county contract) until Sept. 19 — about 2-½ months later than planned.

The streetcar recently was awarded $314,000 in federal stimulus money for maintenance, but the cash has not yet arrived, said Nickels spokesman Alex Fryer.

Fryer said fare enforcement will increase. Spot checks to catch those trying to ride for free seem virtually nonexistent now on the 1.3-mile streetcar route — unlike Sound Transit's 14-mile light-rail line, where roaming security guards demand proof of payment and issue $124 citations. Also, officials are trying to set up the streetcars to accept the ORCA regional fare card by spring, Fryer said.

Streetcar opponent John Fox, of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, said the city "inflated" its revenue projections before the line opened to match rising costs.

Ridership is up even as regional transit use has decreased about one-tenth since a year ago.

Streetcars have carried an average of 1,367 people a day in 2009, about 100 more than last year, Seattle Department of Transportation statistics say.

For weekdays only, the average is 1,531 riders — roughly one-fourth of what an in-city bus such as the 43 (University District/Capitol Hill) carries.

Ridership should jump to 4,210 daily boardings in 2012, when the new Amazon.com headquarters is finished next to the tracks, Fryer said.

But such growth seems questionable if trains continue to arrive every 15 minutes; using the streetcar today is often not much quicker than walking. Asked about this, Fryer said the city would consider putting its third train (now kept on standby) onto the tracks at peak times, if demand is high.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

More Local News headlines...

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

advertising


Get home delivery today!

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

Advertising

Video

Marketplace

Advertising