The Desire for the First Hill Streetcar

The First Hill Streetcar (FHS) recently celebrated its first anniversary. As with all things that are new and growing, we took a closer look at the operation in this first year. In 2016, we looked at opportunities to improve the service and, as a result, SDOT is recommending some ways to improve speed and reliability on the FHS line.

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First Hill Streetcar on Broadway at Pine St

We identified three segments on the FHS line where improvements could be made to increase speed and improve the reliability of the streetcar, including:

  • Along Broadway from Pine to Marion
    • Restricting pedestrian crossing for right-turning cars, clearing the lane during peak PM hours
    • Adding transit signal priority
    • Adding a southbound Business Access and Transit lane, converting center lane to a through lane
  • Along Yesler from Boren to 14th
    • Restricting PM peak left turns
    • Re-timing signal at Yesler & 12th
    • Adding a “Stop Here” sign, improving stop bar visibility
  • Along Jackson from Occidental to 14th
    • Removing 6-7 off-peak parking spaces near the stop
    • Adding transit signal priority
    • Synchronizing eastbound-westbound signals to give priority to streetcar

SDOT plans to implement the changes this summer.

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Seattle Transit Riders will get more Late Night Bus Service this Fall

In September 2017, Seattle will more than double its service investment between 2 and 5 a.m., establishing new late-night connections throughout Seattle, and providing late night cross-town transit options for the first time ever.  Currently, Seattle fully funds the Night Owl Network (routes 82, 83, and 84) after a Metro service reduction in fall 2014.

These investments are possible through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) and the passage of Prop. 1 in November 2014 by Seattle voters.

NightOwl1 2-13-17Seattle will provide a simple, easy-to-use late-night network, balancing the needs for service on high-ridership routes while providing coverage across the city.  To do this, SDOT proposes the following investments:

  • Replace current Night Owl routes 82, 83, and 84 (funded by the City of Seattle) with two late-night round trips on the following routes: 3, 5, 11, 70 – serving neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Central Area, Eastlake, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Queen Anne, and University District. Other routes already provide late-night service to areas such as South Seattle and West Seattle.
  • Seattle-funded late-night service on routes 65 and 67 serving Northeast Seattle areas including Lake City, Children’s Hospital, and Northgate for the first time.
  • Seattle-funded cross-town connections from Ballard to the University District on route 44 and from Mount Baker to the University District on route 48. These investments expand late-night bus travel options for riders without having to go through downtown and diversifying travel options to, from, and through the University District.

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To compliment this network, Metro will fund the following:

  • Add two late-night round trips – at about 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on route 120 serving Delridge.
  • Provide hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies.
  • Extend Route 124 from Tukwila to Sea-Tac Airport after 1 a.m., increasing options for travelers and workers.

As with all STBD investments, SDOT will monitor the performance of these service investments to ensure we are providing the best system for our riders.  The map shows the Night Owl investments that will be implemented in September 2017.

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These service investments are included in the September 2017 Service Change Package Ordinance that has been transmitted to the King County Council.

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More than 70% of Downtown Seattle Commuters Choosing Not to Drive Alone

A new Commute Seattle survey shows that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters opt for transit, ridesharing, biking, walking and teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. CS survey graphic 2-9-17

That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35% in 2010 to 31% in 2014.

Commute Seattle 1Employers see the value of a good transportation system. Downtown employers have invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits. Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95% of the increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.
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In addition to private sector investment, voter-approved initiatives TransitNow, Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), and the Levy to Move Seattle have provided funding for new transportation options for downtown commuters. These include City of Seattle and Metro coordinated service expansion of the RapidRide C and D lines, and implementing the 2nd Avenue and Westlake protected bike lanes, which enhance safety and bike capacity to and through downtown.

These results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30%, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.


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We got snow! Here’s what we did

In preparation for the Snow event on Monday February 6, we put our response crews on 12-hour shifts, that began on Sunday evening. Our trucks started treating streets and elevated structures. By the time you woke up on Monday to find out kids had a snow day, here’s what SDOT crews had already done.

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Early morning Monday:

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Pine Street

  • Mayor Murray visited SDOT Charles Street Maintenance facility to chat with local media and Maintenance Division Director Rodney Maxie about our Winter response.
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Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Maintenance Operations Division Director Rodney Maxie with media.

  • Crews treated elevated structures and overpasses with salt.
  • SDOT hand crews treated pedestrian routes.
  • Our Incident Response Teams responded to traffic incidents.
  • SDOT tree crews cleared downed trees and branches obstructing streets, such as W Mercer Place.
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Tree down at W Mercer Place east of Elliot Ave

By Midday:

  • SDOT crews continued to patrolling snow and ice routes, plowing and treating as needed.
  • SDOT tree crews continue to respond to downed trees in the right of way.
  • We replenished our materials in preparation for the evening.


  • Gold & Emerald routes were mostly bare and wet going into the PM commute.
  • Protected Bike Lanes were also clear.

Monday overnight into Tuesday:

  • 30 trucks worked overnight treating the Gold and Emerald priority routes for the Tuesday morning commute.

Good job team! Safe Travels Everyone!

Check out our Winter Weather Home page that has lots of useful information that can help you prepare before snow falls next time.

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Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families

Immigrant_Refugee-Sign-263x300The City of Seattle recently hosted an event called Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families, offering free legal services and other information to families who are new to our country. The City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) estimated that more than 1300 people attended.

SDOT and other city agencies were there to offer their services. SDOT’s role at the event was to address any transportation-related questions individuals or families had about getting around Seattle. Several local businesses and organizations were also there to offer services and information, from bank accounts to labor standards.

Bike and public transit routes, parking information, and help navigating the City contribute to a safer, more equitable transportation system for everyone. To connect with English and non-English speakers, SDOT offered this information in a variety of languages. We also provided information on the City’s Youth Orca Program, which offers Orca cards to income-eligible youth who live within a 2-mile radius from their school. SDOT works to ensure that all residents have access to transportation to help them get to work, home, and school. Follow us on Twitter (@seattledot) for the latest information.

According to OIRA, about 380 individuals got help with immigration consultations, 500 people attended “Know Your Rights” training sessions and more than 800 people volunteered their time for immigrant and refugee families at the event.

Mayor Ed Murray released a statement regarding President Trump’s Executive Order limiting immigrants and refugees from specific countries from entering the U.S.: “We are an inclusive, welcoming city for all – including our immigrant, refugee and Muslim friends, family and neighbors. Refugees are already the most strictly vetted group of immigrants entering the U.S. and President Trump is threatening to turn them away at a time when there is the most need. That is not who we are – we will continue to stand up for our values and with all our residents.”

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First Hill Streetcar First Anniversary

This week marks the one year anniversary of the First Hill Streetcar! Ridership projections are right on track with original projections. The First Hill Streetcar is currently averaging 78,000 monthly riders and 3,050 average weekday riders.

SDOT will be celebrating this first anniversary by offering free rides on the First Hill Streetcar all weekend, Friday, January 27 through Sunday, January 29! We encourage you take a free ride and explore the many shops, businesses, and restaurants in the Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, First Hill, Yesler Terrace and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

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There are 10 stops on the First Hill Streetcar line connecting diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, while also serving major medical centers (Swedish and Harborview), institutions of higher learning (Seattle Central College and Seattle University) and major sporting venues (CenturyLink and Safeco Field).

This is a great chance to be a tourist in your own city, explore the museums and attractions of the Chinatown-International District, or attend the Lunar New Year celebration on January 28 and 29.

The First Hill Streetcar is part of the Center City Connector, a segment of Seattle’s streetcar system that will link the South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines, creating a system that will connect over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods in Seattle’s Center City. The streetcar system is projected to carry more than 20,000 average weekday riders.

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HALA for Transit Improvements

As we begin the new year, we continue our efforts to make Seattle an affordable and vibrant city for all its residents, including conversations and adjustments to the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

On January 10, 2017, we attended a neighborhood HALA meeting at Optimism Brewing on Capitol Hill. One hundred people came, and we were there to answer questions about city parking policies and the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The Madison street BRT will provide enhanced public transportation between First Avenue downtown and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

We will continue to participate in citywide conversations around HALA and joining people in their communities for scheduled meetings to make giving feedback more accessible. We are using technology to gather input on HALA objectives, such as keeping our communities affordable and accessible.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

Mercer Corridor: the new street, transit islands, and protected bike lanes.

The Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to achieving this objective by improving safety for all travelers, maintaining our streets and bridges, and investment in reliable, affordable transit options for our growing City. The meetings serve as an opportunity to learn about resulting transportation projects and programs in your neighborhood while providing us with your knowledge of our city.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

Improvements such as these provide riders with wait times for buses.

The next meeting, on February 4, 2017, will provide another opportunity to learn more about HALA and transportation issues in southeast Seattle communities. We will be there to discuss a Parking Management Proposal for changes to parking in and around Columbia City.

For more information, visit the City of Seattle HALA page.

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Seattle Supports Youth ORCA

Seattle’s Youth ORCA program began thanks to the efforts of Rainier Beach High School students. In 2015, students at the school led a march and a town hall, to raise awareness about the 2-mile walk zone for school district-issued ORCA cards. These activities led City Council to set aside $1 million annually for five years from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District for Youth ORCA.

In 2016, the program reached a milestone – making 3,000 cards available to high school students!


The Youth ORCA program distributes ORCA cards to high school students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools that live less than 2 miles from their school. Program participants must also be income-eligible. This is the first full school year that the Youth ORCA program is in operation (September 2016-June 2017). The program has distributed more than 2,000 ORCA cards this academic year.

A Youth ORCA card provides free transit for the entire school year. Cards are valid for King County Metro, Sound Transit, King County Water Taxi, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, and Seattle Streetcar.

As of January 2017, program participants saved $200,000 on 132,000 transit trips.

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Big Benefits from Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District

In 2014, Seattle voters approved Proposition 1 to expand Metro service and transit programs for Seattle residents. By increasing the vehicle license fee to $80, and sales tax by 0.1%, we generated about $45 million per year for 6 years (2014-2020) towards creating a more connected and accessible city. Just one year later, investments in Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District (STBD) are already paying off.stbd1

The Year 1 Performance Report outlines our current transit landscape, investments, and results from STBD’s first year, as well as our commitment to transit service and transportation equity. There’s also background performance data on Seattle’s transit services, Vehicle License Fee Rebate ($20 back for income qualified households), ORCA LIFT (50% off trips for income qualified households), and Youth ORCA (free ORCA card for income qualified Seattle Public School students) programs.stbd2

Additional information about the Year 1 Performance, including a full list of investments, frequently asked questions, and financial information is available at

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Move Seattle Wins in ST3

Voters in the Puget Sound region recently approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3), the $54 billion plan to fund light rail, commuter trains and bus-rapid transit.

While most of the attention was focused on 62 miles of light rail that will be added to our growing network (Seattle to Ballard and West Seattle), there are some early wins in the plan for the Levy to Move Seattle.

The approved funding package includes $65 million to improve speed and reliability of existing transit service in Seattle. $35 million will be dedicated to improving Seattle’s Rapid Ride C and D Lines. SDOT will work closely with Metro and Sound Transit to construct roadway, traffic signal and other improvements to both of these high ridership corridors.

The remaining $30 million of the funding will provide critical matching funds for the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project, another Move Seattle commitment and one of the seven future Rapid Ride corridors that will be constructed during the life of the 9-year levy.st3

ST3 also includes funding for a new light rail station at Graham Street in Southeast Seattle. The Levy to Move Seattle included $10 million to help build this important station and passage of the ST3 package will make this a reality for residents and commuters in this neighborhood. Additionally, ST3 includes funding for a station at 130th to improve light rail access in North Seattle.st3-2

ST3 also includes several million dollars for improved station access at our existing light rail stations to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. SDOT will be working with Sound Transit to identify and construct these projects and we will keep you updated as the planning for ST3 work progresses.

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