First Hill Streetcar

First Hill Streetcar

Streetcar 402 after the line's inaugural run, January 23, 2016
Type Streetcar
System Seattle Streetcar
Status Operating
Termini Pioneer Square, Downtown Seattle
Capitol Hill Station, Capitol Hill
Stations 10
Line number 96 (not used on headsign)
Website First Hill Streetcar
Opened January 23, 2016 (2016-01-23)
Owner City of Seattle
Operator(s) King County Metro
Character Street running, in mixed traffic
Depot(s) 8th Ave S & S Dearborn St, Seattle
Rolling stock Inekon Trio Type 121
Line length 2.5 miles (4.0 km)[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead lines, 750 V DC
Route diagram
Broadway & Roy (2017)
Broadway & Harrison (2017)

Link light rail Link light rail (Capitol Hill)

Broadway & Denny
Broadway & Pine
Broadway & Pike
Broadway & Marion
Broadway & Terrace
Yesler & Broadway
14th & Washington
12th & Jackson
to maintenance facility
7th & Jackson

5th & Jackson

Link light rail Link light rail (Int'l District/Chinatown)

Sounder commuter rail Sounder & AmtrakAmtrak (King Street Station)
Occidental Mall
to Center City Connector (2018)

northbound / outbound only stop
southbound / inbound only stop

The Seattle Streetcar—First Hill Line, commonly called the First Hill Streetcar, is a 2.5-mile (4.0 km)[1] modern-streetcar line[2] operating in Seattle. The line connects the Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the International District neighborhoods in central Seattle. It is one of two lines in the developing Seattle Streetcar system. Construction of the line began in April 2012,[3] and was completed in June 2014, but delays in the delivery and testing of the streetcar vehicles delayed the opening of the line[4][5][6][7] to January 2016.[8]


First Hill is considered a regional destination due to its concentration of major medical facilities and Seattle University. It was to be served by a deep-bore Link light rail station as part of the North Link project. Due to high construction and engineering risk, Sound Transit removed the station from the North Link preferred route in July 2005. The First Hill Work Program did a study to evaluate alternative transit options to connect First Hill to the regional transit system. Neighborhood residents, institutions, and business owners strongly preferred a streetcar.[9] Sound Transit plans to have 10 stops on the line.[4]

The $134 million[3] line is funded as part of the Sound Transit 2 mass transit expansion ballot measure approved by voters in November 2008. It was approved by the Seattle City Council in December 2008.[10] Sound Transit developed an interlocal agreement with the City of Seattle for the City to design and construct the transit line.[11] Construction began in late April 2012,[12] and the line was originally scheduled to open in 2015.[4][6]

There had been a debate on the exact routing of the First Hill streetcar line. A community group petitioned the city of Seattle to run the streetcar down 12th Avenue, 2 blocks east of Broadway. The First Hill Improvement Association, however, wanted the streetcar to run down Boren Avenue, turn right on Seneca Street and back to Broadway to bring it closer to the core of the neighborhood.[13] The City selected a route on Broadway.

The line opened with a soft launch on January 23, 2016, with 2 weeks of free rides until the grand opening on February 13, during the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown.[8][14][15]


First Hill Streetcars under construction

The streetcars are being built by Inekon Trams, of the Czech Republic, the same company that built the vehicles for Seattle Streetcar's South Lake Union line. The vehicles are based on Inekon's bi-directional 12-Trio model, but are a variant that is designated as Trio model 121.[16]

The First Hill Streetcar line will require six streetcars (five in normal operation and an additional operational spare) for the initial segment. The Broadway extension will require at least one additional car in order to maintain the desired service frequency. Of the initial six cars, three were assembled at Inekon's facilities in the Czech Republic and the remaining three were assembled locally in Seattle by Pacifica Marine.

Unlike Seattle Streetcar's original fleet of streetcars, used on the South Lake Union line, vehicles serving the First Hill Streetcar line operate using the overhead wires for the outbound/northbound/uphill leg and under battery power for the inbound/southbound/downhill leg of the route. Production fell behind schedule due to design safety as well as component supply issues, and this delayed the line's opening[7] until early 2016.

All streetcars were delivered in 2015 and began testing the required 310 miles (500 km) for each vehicle that year.[17]

Route and stops

The southern terminus, on South Jackson Street at Occidental Avenue in Pioneer Square

The First Hill Streetcar line begins at South Jackson Street and Occidental Avenue in Pioneer Square. The line continues east on South Jackson Street, stopping at 5th Ave in the International District near the International District/Chinatown light rail/bus station, and at both 7th and 13th Avenues. The line then turns north on 14th Avenue South, stopping at South Washington Street before turning west on Yesler Way. After a stop at Yesler Way and Broadway, the line turns north onto Broadway, stopping at Terrace, Marion, and Pike/Pine streets before terminating near the Capitol Hill light rail station at Broadway and Denny Way.


Each of the station platforms features an inlaid map showing each of the stops and their corresponding elevation above sea level. The actual station being depicted is marked with an embedded LED light. Each station offers a shelter with seating as well as real-time arrival information and off-board payment using ORCA Card. In addition, ticket machines (TVMs) will be installed at each stop.

Broadway extension

Currently, funding has been secured for the design work on an extension to north Broadway[18] which will include a new stop at Broadway & Harrison St and a new terminus at Broadway & E. Roy St. In addition, the extension of the line will also include extending the Broadway Protected Bike Lane all the way to E. Roy Street.

Center City Connector

In 2014, the City of Seattle approved the Locally Preferred Alternative for the Center City Connector via Resolution 31526[19] which will connect the First Hill Streetcar Occidental Street terminus to the South Lake Union line via dedicated streetcar lanes on 1st Avenue. The Federal Transit Administration has since approved the City of Seattle’s request for entry into project development.[20]


Name Neighborhood Landmarks and connections Notes
First Hill Streetcar (2016)
S Jackson Street & Occidental Ave S Pioneer Square Connections to Washington State Ferries, King County Water Taxi. Serves Occidental Park, Waterfront and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Northbound only; southern terminus
S Jackson Street & 5th Avenue S Chinatown/International District Connections to Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel at International District/Chinatown station and to Sounder commuter rail at King Street Station. Serves Uwajimaya
S Jackson Street & 7th Avenue S Chinatown/International District Serves Wing Luke Asian Museum, Kobe Terrace
S Jackson Street & 13th Avenue S Little Saigon/International District Serves Little Saigon/International District
14th Avenue S & S Washington Street Central District Serves Central District
Yesler Way & Broadway Yesler Terrace Serves Yesler Terrace. Shared with King County Metro routes 27 and 60.
Broadway & Terrace Street First Hill Serves Harborview Medical Center. Shared with King County Metro route 9.
Broadway & Marion Street First Hill Serves Seattle University, Swedish Medical Center Shared with King County Metro route 9.
Broadway & E Pike Street Pike/Pine Serves Seattle Central College. Shared with King County Metro routes 9 and 60. Southbound only
Broadway & E Pine Street Pike/Pine Serves Seattle Central College. Shared with King County Metro routes 9 and 60. Northbound only
Broadway & E Howell Street Capitol Hill Connection to Link Light Rail at Capitol Hill station. Serves Cal Anderson Park. Northern terminus
Broadway Extension (2017)
Broadway & E Denny Way Capitol Hill Connection to Capitol Hill station of Link Light Rail. Serves Cal Anderson Park. Northbound only
Broadway E & E Republican Street Capitol Hill Serves Seattle Public Library (Capitol Hill Branch) / Capitol Hill Business District. Shared with King County Metro routes 9, 49 and 60. Northbound only
Broadway E & E Harrison Street Capitol Hill Serves Seattle Public Library (Capitol Hill Branch) / Capitol Hill Business District. Shared with King County Metro routes 9, 49 and 60. Southbound only
Broadway E & E Roy Street Capitol Hill Serves North Capitol Hill Business District. Southbound only; northern terminus

See also


  1. 1 2 "First Hill StreetCar Construction - Frequently Asked Questions". Seattle Streetcar. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  2. First Hill Connector project description (PDF)
  3. 1 2 Gutierrez, Scott (August 6, 2012). "How the streetcar construction is already changing First Hill". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 "First Hill Line - Project Overview". Seattle Streetcar. September 24, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  5. Lindblom, Mike (September 23, 2014). "First Hill Streetcar delayed: Line is ready, streetcars are not". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  6. 1 2 "First Hill Streetcar delayed until 2015: New plan would move more rider revenue to Seattle". Capitol Hill Seattle blog. September 23, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  7. 1 2 Lindblom, Mike (December 2, 2015). "Almost ready to ride: tours of delayed First Hill streetcar line begin". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  8. 1 2 Lindblom, Mike (January 22, 2016). "Seattle's First Hill Streetcar to open Saturday with free rides". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  9. "First Hill Streetcar". Sound Transit. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  10. Mulady, Kathy (December 8, 2008). "Council OKs streetcar network". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  11. "First Hill Streetcar Project Schedule" (PDF). Seattle Streetcar. Winter 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  12. "City of Seattle and Sound Transit Break Ground on the First Hill Streetcar" (Press release). Sound Transit. April 23, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  13. FHIA Letter to Seattle Councilmember Jan Drago (PDF)
  14. "All Aboard The First Hill Streetcar". The Capitol Hill Times. Pacific Publishing. January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  15. "First Hill Streetcar begins service amid firecrackers and lions". Northwest Asian Weekly. February 22, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  16. "Inekon Group zahájil výrobu tramvají pro USA" [Inekon Group starts production of trams for USA] (in Czech). Inekon Group. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  17. Green, Josh (October 15, 2015). "Testing ramps up on First Hill Streetcar". KING 5 News. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  18. "Broadway Streetcar Information - Project Overview". Seattle Streetcar. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  19. "Center City Connector - Project Overview". Seattle Streetcar. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  20. "Center City Connector - FTA Approval" (PDF). Federal Transit Administration. Retrieved July 21, 2014.

Route map: Bing / Google

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