Tacoma Urbanist

Mar. 25, 2008 at 12:07am

More Seattle Love For Tacoma Streetcars

Tacomans are not used to Seattle media, blog or otherwise being very supportive of Tacoma.

That is why it is nice to see the highly read and respected Seattle Transit Blog has discussed Tacoma Streetcar issue three times in the last week.

Last night, they gave their strong support of including a Tacoma Streetcar network in the next Sound Transit proposal as well as their analysis of why this makes sense.  They even link the efforts to keep Russell in Tacoma with implementing a streetcar system in Tacoma.

Its a good read.  Nice to have Tacoma Streetcar support from the Seattle transportation community:

Even More Tacoma Streetcars

I've been thinking more and more about the Tacoma streetcars, and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. So Pantograph Trolleypole pointed out that Portland built six track-miles of streetcar for $56 million. In the latest ST2 proposal, Sound Transit looks like it might invest $222 million on express buses in the South Corridor.

If equal proportions come from South King and from Pierce, and assuming Pierce is 60% of the population of the South Corridor (it's a bit more) that would be $141 million for Express Bus. At that price, it's almost 18 track-miles of streetcar, enough for a 6th Ave extension, a Portland Ave extension, and a lot more. That doesn't event include the Tacoma General Hospital extension already planned. Here's another analysis comparing a potential Tacoma streetcar system's cost to ones being built in New Orleans and Washington D.C. The cost in that piece are less than the Portland system.

Consider the economic importance of keeping employers like Russell Investments in Tacoma, and the opportunities to add new employers in Downtown Tacoma, and I think the investment might payoff more in the long run than express bus service.

I don't know whether the modern streetcar proposal would get Federal funding, and it may take more funding sources than just cutting express bus, but I'm coming around to the idea that there are ways to make a larger streetcar investment work out for ST2 for Tacoma.

comments [4]  |  posted under tacoma


by morgan on 3/25/2008 @ 10:26am
I don't like posing the streetcar question as one of "either or." (ie either streetcar OR light rail to the airport). I think there could be something for everybody in ST2, or at least more than was offered in the defeated ballot measure last fall. That something could be streetcars and increasing the current level of service (ie more Sounder both ways).

If Sound Transit wanted to think long term though it would be creating small "starter" streetcar lines that could be expanded and upgraded as demand rises.

by Erik on 3/25/2008 @ 10:30am
There are alot of reasons streetcars make sense for a city. One that has not been discussed much is it reduced the need for a big transfer station for the trains.

Right now, people are driving in to take Sound Transit and parking with a huge parking garage and parking lots. A streetcar system allow people to be gathered up closer to were they live.

Sound Transit is going to make their decision soon as to whether they should want to try to place something on the ballot this year and what will be in the proposed package.

It will be interesting to see if there is enough in there for Tacoma residents to support this time.

by michael g. on 3/25/2008 @ 11:05am
It absolutely should not be an either/or question between streetcars and good express buses/trains to Seattle.

I work in Seattle, and finding a decent job in my field in Tacoma is very unlikely in the foreseeable future. My wife works in Tacoma, which is why we decided to live here. If commuting options to Seattle don't steadily improve over time, we're both out of here! Columbia City in south Seattle would work just fine for us, but as long as it's feasible transportation-wise, we'd prefer living in Tacoma. I doubt we're alone in that situation, and I doubt we're alone in being big supporters of intra- and inter-city transit.

by Brotha E. on 3/25/2008 @ 12:28pm
I can't wait for the fight over who's gonna get the first extension from TG. MLK vs 6th ave