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King County Metro Waterfront Streetcar

201 S. Jackson Street

Seattle, WA 98104-3856

Mike Voris

(206) 684 162 


Seattle's Waterfront Streetcar is one of the oldest such lines, having been established in 1982. It was the brainchild of Councilman George Benson, who spearheaded its development as a catalyst on which to base the restoration of Seattle's waterfront. It has been in continuous operation since its inauguration. The original line used abandoned rail tracks of the Burlington Northern along the Elliott Bay waterfront. Subsequent extensions have been made to take the line to the Pioneer Square area and on to connect with the International District,


The line is 1.75 miles in length. Approximately two-thirds is on former Burlington Northern Railroad trackage adjacent to a parallel arterial roadway (Alaskan Way), which also serves the waterfront area. This trackage was rehabilitated, and passing sidings were added, since the line was single track. An overhead electric power system was added and a small maintenance facility built at the north end of the line. The extension through Pioneer Square to the International District operates over new track laid in the street. Three streetcars from Melbourne are used. There are nine stations along the route, and the line is fully accessible.


The line is operated seven days a week, with service approximately every 20 minutes from 7:00 AM until 6:30 PM. The fare is $1, which allows one to get off and on any number of times for a 90-minute period, after which another fare is required. Ridership for June 2000 was about 1700 passengers per day. For the first six months of the year, the line has experienced an increase of 6.74% over 1999.


The Waterfront Streetcar is operated as route 99 of King County Metro, which is the transit agencywhich operates bus service throughout the Seattle area.

Operating Costs and Funding:

The Waterfront Streetcar is operated as part of the King County Metro system, and operating costs are not available separately.

Capital Costs and Funding:

The project has been funded as part of King County Metro’s transit improvement program, and capital cost breakdowns are not available.

System Benefits:

The Waterfront Streetcar allows visitors to access a large number of venues along the waterfront, including parks, shops and restaurants. Since parking in the area is often difficult, cars can be parked one time for an entire day of sightseeing and partaking of the various attractions. The 90-minute fare is also conducive to this type of activity. Over the past year or so, there has been residential development along the north end of the waterfront. As a result, the system is carrying a larger number of commuter and work-trip traffic, with estimates as high as 50%.

System Problems and Issues:

Because of the single-track nature of the majority of the line, service frequency cannot be significantly improved, since the passing sidings are extremely short.


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