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City of Seattle

April 25, 5:52 PM click here to comment > 9

Transit Master Plan: momentum continues to build for rail transit

Mayor Mike McGinn today signed legislation approving the Transit Master Plan. McGinn first announced the work to update the Transit Master Plan in May 2010, a decision driven by the need to better connect Seattle neighborhoods with high-quality transit, including expanded rail transit.

“What I hear from the people of Seattle is that they want more transit. And they want Seattle to plan and aggressively seek financing for expanding transit, including rail. This plan shows that we’ve moving in the right direction,” said McGinn. “The Seattle Streetcar has higher ridership than ever before. We just broke ground on the First Hill Streetcar. We want to link those two lines and expand our rail network in Seattle so that our neighborhoods are better connected. And we are partnering with Sound Transit to accelerate funding for a high capacity transit line from Downtown to Fremont to Ballard. That is what our Transit Master Plan analysis says we need to do. I thank the Council and SDOT staff for helping make today possible.”

Resulting from an analysis of the City’s current transit environment and future needs, the plan has six main strategies for enhancing transit within Seattle:

  • Plan, fund and build priority high capacity transit projects – identifies five corridors where investment in higher capacity transit, such as rapid streetcar, bus rapid transit or light rail, are needed for population and job growth;
  • Develop Center City transit to support Downtown growth and vitality – outlines space-efficient, sustainable modes of transportation to best accommodate Center City growth;
  • Continue implementation of priority bus corridors – highlights 15 bus corridors throughout the city for speed, reliability and transit stop upgrades;
  • Enhance Walk-Bike-Ride access where needs are greatest – describes how improving transit stops’ sidewalks, bicycle facilities and crossing treatments will help more residents use transit;
  • Improve transit information and system usability – outlines improvements to help riders take advantage of transit services, such as way-finding, station elements and electronic schedule information at stops;
  • Pursue funding to enhance transit service and facilities – identifies opportunities to grow funding to meet needed service levels and required capital investment.

Building from an extensive market analysis, review of future growth patterns, and evaluation of transit needs, the master plan identifies capital investment priorities for establishing a network of top quality, frequent transit services that meets the needs of most Seattle residents and workers. The plan evaluates and recommends preferred transit modes for high priority corridors and sets a framework for implementing corridor-based transit improvements in close coordination with other modal needs.

As a sign of the plan’s benefit to Seattle, a $900,000 Federal Transit Administration grant was recently awarded to the City to study a high capacity transit project, such as a rapid streetcar, through the heart of downtown Seattle. The Transit Master Plan shows that a rail system on this corridor could generate approximately 10,000 new transit riders in the Seattle Center City by 2030.

The adoption of the updated Transit Master Plan is just the latest in a series of recent signs of building momentum for building a transit network that connects Seattle neighborhoods with reliable service. Late last year, Seattle won a $900,000 federal grant, as mentioned above, to design and plan a streetcar to run through Downtown, connecting the Seattle Streetcar to the First Hill Streetcar. Soon after, Mayor McGinn, Councilmember Richard Conlin and others announced that the First Hill Streetcar vehicles will be built in Seattle, highlighting that investments in high capacity transit will bring living-wage manufacturing jobs to Seattle. The City is now working to finalize a Memorandum of Agreement with Sound Transit to significantly accelerate work to plan rail to Ballard, spending $2 million from the Sound Transit 2 package approved by voters in 2008 several years ahead of schedule. And this week saw the groundbreaking of the First Hill Streetcar, a line that the Mayor’s Office, working with the City Council, Sound Transit and other stakeholders, has extended beyond its original scope to better connect Pioneer Square to North Capitol Hill through First Hill and International District/Chinatown.

The Transit Master Plan was developed with feedback from King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit, the agencies that provide most transit service in the City of Seattle and whose partnership is critical to creating a seamless, fully integrated, and user-friendly system. In addition to seeking public input, a 25-person Public Advisory Committee and a technical team advised SDOT and its’ consultant, Nelson Nygaard, throughout the process. Completed through 20 months of work, the total budget to draft the plan was $800,000, including research, outreach and consultant support.

Created with input from the public and partner agencies, the plan will serve as the City’s blueprint for creating additional transit connections, faster and more reliable transit service like streetcars in Seattle. Developed by the Seattle Department of Transportation as a 20-year guidance document, it identifies the types of transit facilities, services, programs and system features required to meet Seattle’s’ transit needs through 2030.

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Comment from +wpsavage phelps Savage
Time April 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm

William Savage
many of us are interested to show how alternative energy /sharing can change the world for the better.. we just need the space (about 20′ by 20’…….) we believe our vision is as good as the Gates foundation !! If I could get the connections to the sustainability participants in last week’s opening for “the next 50” it would “greasse the skids” for me I have a successful solar project that is under $2500 and I want to display it . It’s portable and could be (should be set up for display with ;;perhaps;; a washing machine using the same water all day..for display… rsvp…
Will Savage
ferryboat engineer retired……
William phelps Savage (

Comment from Tim McGuire
Time April 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

All of us citizens over in West Seattle would love to see some lightrail over this way. Don’t forget about all of us across the river. 😉

Comment from nick
Time April 26, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for screwing west Seattle where is our rail im sick and tired of Ballard/north seattle getting all of the city’s attention while those of us who live in west and south Seattle get the scraps and stupid rapid ride buses instead of real mass transit

Comment from Michael Caci
Time April 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Shouldn’t the plan consider merging Sound Transit and Metro administrations, looking at significantly improving efficiencies? I would suggest an independent review of creating such administrative and legislative efficiencies.

Comment from Bob Hollowell
Time April 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Equipment MADE IN SEATTLE is a big plus.

Comment from Judith Hance
Time April 28, 2012 at 8:07 am

I know nobody who thinks streetcars are a good idea – too expensive, totally inflexible. while you are spending my tax dollars on them, bus routes are being decimated. I am almost 77 – I need the bus, not streetcars after I’m dead! And of course, don’t forget removing my options for getting through Seattle in my car! I realize that good sense will not prevail as long as we have our current mayor.

Comment from baderj
Time April 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

The signing photo shows the streetcar plan in the background with a red line running from South Lake Union along Fairview/Eastlake to the University District. At the public meeting at University Heights on the plan, community leaders, business men, and local organizations opposed extending the line to the University District by over 10 to 1. The University District has excellant METRO bus service to downtown. In five years, Sound Transit will have a station in the University District. A streetcar line will be duplicatory, very costly, unneeded, and slow travel. City officials need to listen to public opinion and drop all plans for running the Lake Union streetcar northward.

Comment from Susan Beardsley
Time May 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

“What I hear from the people of Seattle is that they want more transit.”

Unfortunately, riders on the #14 (Capitol Hill sector) will now be getting less service and a shorter route.

Comment from Amy
Time June 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

very expensive projects such as this are created to improve transport in the city and are completely unecessary! The bus service is a more reliable and effective option for commuters today.