Tacoma Urbanist

Feb. 12, 2008 at 12:30am

TSC: Streetcars Must Be on Next Sound Transit Proposal

Today, Tacoma Streetcar put out the following press release in regards to the next Sound Transit Proposal:

As Sound Transit debates a 2008 ballot measure, Tacoma Streetcar has voted to support a ballot measure that includes an intra-city expansion of Tacoma’s existing downtown LINK streetcar system.
“This is a unique opportunity to implement much overdue investment in Tacoma’s neighborhoods,” stated Board President Morgan Alexander. He further asserted “a Tacoma LINK extension connecting our neighborhoods will give voters the best bang for the buck in our great city.”

Here's the letter from Tacoma Streetcars.

The proposal makes sense and has been gathering momentunm for quite a time in Tacoma.

A great many neighborhood, civic and business groups have endorsed adopting streetcars.  Tacoma certainly is not going to be benefitted by a yet another remote road project in the county.

Today, the Tribune weighed in via The Bus Stops Here blogger Andrew Austin:

This is good news for transit in Tacoma. The Streetcar is gaining widespread community support and taking a stand on local transportation issues. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with Sound Transit's proposal 2008 (or later) ballot measure.
The streetcar issue has gained alot of support over the last two years.

Here's a partial list of supporterss of Tacoma restoring its streetcar system I know of:

1) Hilltop Action Coaltion

2) Tacoma News Tribune Dan Voepel: "Count me in"

3) City of Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson in Tacoma City Parking and Mobility Strategy (page 7) (States that streetcars should connect neighborhood business centers)

4) Tacoma City Council vote on 1/15/2008 adopting the City Managers Tacoma City Parking Strategy (page 3 resolution 37375).

5) Tacoma Streetcars by letter

6) North End Neighborhood Council by letter

7) Tacoma Transit and Parking Committee by report - with representation from Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, New Tacoma Neighborhood and many others.  (5 Meg file)

8) Former City Councilmember Bill Evans

9) Former City Councilmember Tom Stenger (May 26, 2006 article)

“If you look at our historic business districts, it’s all about where the streetcars ran,” said City Councilman Tom Stenger. “It was our pattern of doing things until World War I, when we started to build the asphalt system for the automobile.”

Stenger requested the legislation to get started on streetcar research. If it passes as expected, the city’s engineering division will work with Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and neighborhood and business district representatives, said district manager Steve Shanafelt.

10) Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg (May 26, 2006 article)

“We’ve talked about it in the capital committee at Pierce Transit,” Ladenburg said. A streetcar network “is the next step for the city. As you begin to urbanize and get people into higher density, you have to think about transit.”


The next Sound Transit proposal can provide fuinding for the streetcar system, a transportation system that can actually help the city as it once did.  They are going to come up with some type of  their.  Here's something that is a tried and true method to help the city in a great many ways.  In hindsight, it was probably good that Proposition No. 1 failed so it could be improved.

Sound Transit is already proposing to have the streetcar network (LINK) connect to TCC.  That's a start.  However, what it really needs to do is to connect the neighborhood mixed use centers as suggested by Tacoma Streetcar and the city manager.

Streetcars are increasingly being utilized by cities.  There is no need for Tacoma to wait any longer.  This is Tacoma's chance for funding the streetcar system.  Seattle is expanding their streetcar system and Everett is even considering one (a city with less than half of the population of Tacoma and with a low density).

Here's a good article on the rise of streetcars in the nation:

Streetcars are making a comeback in many U.S. cities

But they are making a comeback in several American cities, and more have plans in the wings, projects largely development-driven to revitalize sagging urban areas, and to serve a population segment, often baby boomers, choosing to move back to the cities and to simplify their lives when they do.

Reasons for the demise vary but include National City Lines, formed by General Motors, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum and Firestone tires. It bought up more than 100 lines in the 1930s and 1940s in many of the larger cities and dismantled them...

The streetcar Renaissance stems from planners who see them not only as people-movers but as engines of urban development dealing with, and encouraging, a gradual demographic shift back to cities by people, often older, who like the convenience, miss interaction absent in the suburbs and want to rely less on cars.

Nice work Morgan.  Let us know how we can make sure Tacoma Streetcars are on the next Sound Transit ballot measure.

comments [2]  |  posted under sound transit, streetcars, tacoma, washington


by morgan on 2/12/2008 @ 10:06am
Great post Erik - thanks! One little thing everyone can do is contact their city council member and the Sound Transit Board to let them know you want to see more streetcars! Their email addresses can be found on the Tacoma Streetcar website: www.tacomastreetcar.org

by Erik on 2/12/2008 @ 10:58am

The more I learn about Tacoma's history, it appears many of its wounds were self inflicted. Removing its once vast streetcar systems was one of them.