Frequently Asked Questions
When was this project approved?
In November 2008, voters in the Puget Sound area approved “ST2,” the mass transit expansion plan for our region. The ST2 plan included funding for a First Hill Streetcar to link the First Hill employment and residential center to Sound Transit’s Link light rail system via its Capitol Hill and International District stations.
Who is managing this project?
The City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is the lead agency responsible for the First Hill Streetcar.
What is the project’s estimated cost, and how is it being funded?
The total project is estimated to cost $134 million. Sound Transit is providing $132.8 M to the City of Seattle via an interlocal agreement with the balance funded through partnership agreements with Seattle utilities.
Where will it go and how many stops will there be?
The streetcar will operate on Jackson between Occidental & 14th and on Broadway between Yesler & Denny via 14th & Yesler. It will connect the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Chinatown/International District, and Pioneer Square and serve employment areas, medical centers (Harborview, Swedish and Virginia Mason), institutions of higher education (Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University), and major sporting event locations (CenturyLink and Safeco Fields). Passengers will be able to board at any of the 10 stops shown on the First Hill Streetcar map (http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/images/project_area_map_lg.gif).
What is the total distance of the First Hill Streetcar route?
2.5 miles end to end from Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny.
What transportation systems will the First Hill Streetcar connect to?
Riders will be able to connect to Amtrak’s intercity passenger rail service, Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder regional train service, regional and local bus lines, local bike networks, and ferries and water taxis.
What will the hours of operation be, and how frequently will streetcars arrive?
- Monday - Saturday
5 AM -1 AM
- Sunday & Holidays
10 AM - 8 PM
The streetcar will run at 10-minute intervals during peak hours (Monday through Friday 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM), 12 minutes midday and Saturdays, and approximately 15 minutes at other times.
How many people are expected to ride the First Hill line?
Rides are expected to exceed 3,000 per day.
Will I be able to use my ORCA card on the streetcar?
Yes, the ORCA card will be the primary payment system.
How much will it cost to ride, and how will I purchase a ticket?
The fare will be established by the Sound Transit Board of Directors and is anticipated to be similar to Link Light Rail and Metro peak hour fares. Riders without ORCA cards will be able to purchase single ride tickets at a fare box machine located on the station platform.
When did construction begin, when will it end, and when will service begin?
The construction of the First Hill Streetcar started in April of 2012. The anticipated completion and beginning of operation in the late summer or early fall of 2014.
What are the typical hours of construction?
Typical weekday work hours are 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 7 days a week. There are also many instances of night work both on weekdays and weekends.
How will bus routes and schedules be impacted by construction?
Bus service will be maintained within the project area during construction; however, certain bus stops may be closed or relocated. Buses may also be rerouted during weekend work when streets are closed. Advance notice of changes will be provided to riders via Metro. Information about changes to Metro’s stops or schedule can be found online at Metro’s Alerts Center at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/rr/alertscenter.html, or by phone at 206-553-3000.
What are the primary elements of construction?
- Move, protect, or install underground utilities: Water, electric, sanitary, storm and gas lines near the track will be relocated or protected. Track drains, catch basins and several new underground storm water detention facilities will be installed to improve area surface water drainage.
- Excavate for the streetcar track way.
- Construct streetcar tracks.
- Rebuild street and sections of sidewalk
- Permanent traffic markings and street restoration: Includes platform finishes, street markings and landscapes.
- Track, car and systems testing.
- Begin operations.
What should I expect during construction?
Streetcar construction impacts will include:
-Long-term parking and loading restrictions around work zones
-Full intersection closures on nights and/or weekends
-Bus stop closures and relocations (King County Metro will post rider alerts)
-Short-term water utility interruptions (Seattle Public Utilities will provide advance notice)
-Nighttime and weekend work
-Sidewalk and pedestrian detours
What is the construction schedule?
Start of Utility Construction
Start of Track Construction
Complete Track & Roadway Construction
Late summer or early fall 2014
Start of Streetcar Service
To find out more about the construction timeline, click here.
How will bicyclists be impacted during construction?
During construction bike riders should expect:
-Shared lanes with general traffic
-Grooved pavement and raised castings
-Open trenches, steel plates and exposed streetcar rail
-Increased truck activity and traffic stoppages
How will the First Hill Streetcar benefit bicyclists?
In addition to welcoming bikes on board, the First Hill Streetcar will provide:
-A new 2-way bikeway on Broadway between Yesler Way and Denny Way
-New road surfaces
-Bike friendly drainage grates
-More green bike lanes to highlight areas where bicycles and cars cross paths
These changes will enhance safety and mobility and improve bicyclists’ riding experience.
To learn more about the First Hill Streetcar and biking, go to http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/fh_bikes.htm.
Are there any other streetcar projects on the horizon?
The City has identified priorities for improving transit in the Transit Master Plan. SDOT will be pursuing these projects as funding becomes available. Currently, SDOT is studying alignment options in the Center City that would improve transit from Pioneer Square or the Chinatown/International District to Seattle Center or Lake Union Park. This study, funded by a $900,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, will initially investigate what kind of transit would be best – streetcar or improved bus service - and on which streets it should operate (SDOT is also beginning study in Fall 2012 of an extension of the First Hill Streetcar to the north end of Broadway, click here for more info).
Additionally, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle are developing a partnership to study a transit corridor that would connect northwest Seattle (Ballard) to the Center City. This joint effort will consider a range of alternatives, from a regional light rail extension to rapid streetcar or bus-rapid transit.
You can follow the progress of these and other transit planning projects on the City’s Transit Master Plan website
Are there any possible extensions to the First Hill line?
Yes. In addition to studying a Center City alignment that would connect with the First Hill line in Pioneer Square, the City of Seattle is looking into extending the route to the north end of Broadway. Funding has been secured for environmental review and preliminary engineering of this extension. The Broadway extension would add around 500 riders per day and would serve the commercial corridor of Broadway.
How can I find out more about this project and receive construction updates?
Weekly project updates are available on the First Hill Streetcar website, or you can join our listserv to receive updates by email by going to http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/firsthill.htm. You can also reach us by phone or email.
Engage with us online!