Rantz: SDOT’s out-of-control streetcar the latest embarrassment

Mar 5, 2017, 6:04 AM


Seattle's streetcar is out of service until further notice. (Jason Rantz, KIRO Radio)

(Jason Rantz, KIRO Radio)

After ignoring countless press requests, the Seattle Department of Transportation, late Friday, held a press conference on the mysteriously cancelled First Hill streetcar. We quickly learned why they were avoiding requests for comments. Apparently, we have a streetcar named “Desire-Not-to-Stop” in circulation. As KIRO 7 reports:

Seattle Department of Transportation is shutting down the city’s streetcars on the First Hill line after one streetcar lost power and rolled downhill for 2 1/2 blocks.

The First Hill streetcar on Wednesday morning had an electromechanical malfunction, which means it lost power. A break was put into place, but the car continued to roll down the hill at about 20 miles per hour until it stopped near Broadway and Yesler Way.

How no one was injured or property damaged is as elusive a mystery as (originally) why the streetcar service went dark in the first place. In fact, the only thing that seemed to stop the streetcar was a curve in the track!


I’m a fan of light rail and streetcars but this is the latest embarrassment to come out of the poorly managed SDOT, which apparently refused to be forthcoming about the incident when it happened. Instead, they hoped to bury the news at a late-afternoon press conference on Friday night, which they only held because the press kept asking them for details.

What a lemon this whole system seems to be. We learned in September 2015 that the project, originally intended to operate in early 2014, was delayed because of water damage to the streetcars inverters. How is SDOT ordering and testing these streetcars? They seem to love the idea of a streetcar system; just not the safe and efficient operation of one.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Rantz: SDOT’s out-of-control streetcar the latest embarrassment