Map of the Seattle Streetcar system. Click to enlarge. (City of Seattle)
Map of the Seattle Streetcar system. Click to enlarge. (City of Seattle)

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has announced via a letter to Community Partners, that the long-delayed, long-awaited First Hill Streetcar will begin service to the public tomorrow (Saturday, January 23rd); trains will starting picking up passengers midday.

This will be a “soft launch” to make sure that there are no problems with actual passenger service before the official opening ceremonies that will be held in various neighborhoods along the route.

Rides on the First Hill Streetcar will be free for the first few weeks or so until the official grand opening ceremony, according to Scott Kubly, Director of SDOT.

UPDATE [3.30pm]:
Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Director Scott Kubly will make brief remarks to the media and public beginning at 11am at the Pioneer Square station at Jackson & Occidental, followed by the first trip which will occur around noon. The first departure from Capitol Hill will likely occur 10-15 minutes after the first Pioneer Square departure, according to Seattle Streetcar spokesperson Ethan Malone.

First Hill Streetcar Operating Hours

Monday-Thursday5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Friday5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Saturday5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Sunday10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Streetcar Frequencies On Weekdays (Monday-Friday)

5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.18-25 minutes
6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.10 minutes
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.12 minutes
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.10 minutes
6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.10 minutes
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.18 minutes
9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.18 minutes
11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.18-25 minutes

Here is the letter sent by SDOT to the Community Stakeholders:

Dear Community Partners,
I understand that in the past couple of days there might have been confusion caused by news of a soft launch of the First Hill Street Car (FHSC) this coming Saturday. This news might have been confusing because it was unclear whether this soft launch was in lieu of the grand opening celebrations that SDOT had been working with community and neighborhood partners to plan.

I want to clarify that the intent for this coming Saturday is not to replace the celebratory events we want to hold in our neighborhoods, but to ensure that a soft launch of the FHSC is successful and we can ensure that the streetcar is in fact operational. The attached letter articulates SDOT’s commitment to this process and our continued interest in working with our community partners to finally celebrate the successful opening of the FHSC line.

Tomorrow, SDOT will be contacting the media to announce the soft launch on Saturday. We anticipate this will generate some media attention about the soft launch, but it is our intent to work with you, our community partners, to make sure that the grand opening celebrations are where we concentrate the most media attention.

If you are interested in joining us for the soft launch, your presence and participation will be welcome, but again, I want to reiterate that we are not intending Saturday to be anything other than a soft launch of the FHSC.

Scott Kubly

City of Seattle Department of Transportation

For real-time location information for the First Hill Streetcar line trams, please click here.

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Gordon is a native New Yorker who wisely chose to leave the Northeast in the early 1990s. A past resident of Belltown, and Queen Anne, he currently calls First Hill home. He is a board member of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) as well as the FHIA Transportation Committee Chair and is constantly looking for ways to improve transportation up the hill.

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What time does the first car depart tomorrow, and from which terminal? I want to be on it.