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Dori: Video proof that no one rides Seattle streetcar at rush hour

The South Lake Union streetcar. (AP)

If you follow me on Twitter — and really, you should, because of story tips like this — a guy who goes by SeanQPublic posted on my Twitter page a video of the Seattle streetcar taken during rush hour.

The streetcar was completely empty. No, it was not out of service or returning to base. You can see from the screen on the front that it was bound for Westlake Center.

This reinforces the fact that transportation in our region is about one thing. It is not about moving people around, it’s about graft and corruption.

I believe that there are an awful lot of people in power who have gotten paid a fortune under the table to put a streetcar in Seattle. That is because it does nothing to help transportation. In fact, it helps destroy the transportation grid because it takes up lanes that could be used for cars.

Dori: Scott Kubly belongs in jail for streetcar going $100M over budget

Transportation reporter Chris Sullivan called the streetcar an “amenity” rather than a transportation solution.

“It’s really not a mass transit mover — never really has been. It’s pitched as it, but it really is, basically, a way to beautify your downtown,” he said, pointing out that even if the two lines are connected, people would likely take a bus rather than a streetcar from First Hill to South Lake Union because the bus cuts the distance.

Worse, it is a money suck. It was originally budgeted just under $150 million, and is now at $286 million and counting. So it is almost $150 million over budget, almost double the original estimate. Then there is the money it is losing in operating costs — currently $3 million per year, according to Sullivan.

“Over the next five years, it’s expected to lose $28 million,” Sullivan said. “And that’s with massive subsidies from King County Metro.”

Why is it losing so much money? Again, because no one is riding it. The city originally projected ridership at 24,000 people per day; the reality is just a quarter of that. Sullivan reported that the First Hill streetcar sees around 4,000 boardings per day, while there are less than 2,000 on the South Lake Union streetcar.

“It’s continuously dived in South Lake Union, while that has continued to be the biggest-growing neighborhood in the city,” he said.

In the time since it opened in 2013, he said, costs have jumped 30 percent, while ridership has fallen by 28 percent.

But, there is a lot of money to be made, and there is another very powerful entity behind the Seattle streetcar — big developers.

As Sullivan told us, the only real benefits to having a streetcar are for developers, because it increases property values near streetcar stops. The irony is, the people living in those expensive properties do not actually tend to use the streetcar.

“We’re seeing the people — where they have built those high-rises through Amazon and through South Lake Union — no one is riding it,” he said.

Now do you see what I mean? When Dow Constantine and Jenny Durkan tell us that they must sue the voters because we voted for $30 tabs, it has nothing to do with transit. It is so that they can continue to grease palms and have their palms greased with boondoggles like a streetcar. It is a completely obsolete system; a bus can do everything a streetcar can do, and for a much cheaper price-tag.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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