Hear what John and Calvin have to say about operating and maintaining the Seattle Streetcar system.

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I was hoping to see something about streetcar ridership. Many times I ate at Pho Bac at 14th & Jackson, and being a transit nerd I always looked at the streetcar going by, in both directions. Never once saw more than a dozen riders. Same observations when I rode it myself.

And does SDOT really call them trains? A single-unit streetcar is…a streetcar, and car is the proper shorthand for streetcar. (But if ST can call the Tacoma streetcar light rail, I guess anything goes re transit terminology)


You know, you have to eat at Pho Bac at all different times of the day, if you want to make observations at all scientifically. Anyway, I believe that they acknowledge unspectacular ridership, but that’s just a reason why they need more rails, because what’s missing is that full serpentine route through the city that everyone wants to ride.


Actually, I agree with you on tying together the two streetcar fragment lines. Make a useful whole out of them. But it sure looks like throwing good money after bad…but sometimes that’s what you need to do.

But I’m still curious about the low ridership numbers; how big a ridership hole we have to dig out of. I’ve got an inquiry in to SDOT asking for boardings per revenue hour for each car line.


That was meant to be ironic. A long winding route like that isn’t the attraction that it’s made out to be, and if Durkan has put on the back shelf to die, probably a good thing.