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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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September 22, 2005

The Allen Tramway

I watched some of the hearings at the Seattle City Council on the proposed South Lake Union streetcar. What I saw—about half an hour—was mainly business owners in the area who liked the idea of more service. The biotech company Rosetta was one, and Athena Partners was another. The woman from Athena Partners—a group that raises money for women’s cancer—seemed to say that the streetcar would reduce cancer because it would get people out of their cars. It's amazing what people say when they get in front of politicians. The woman from Washington Conservation Voters said the streetcar was good for the environment because it would increase air quality. This sounds plausible, but it really doesn't make a lot of sense. If you are setting out to increase air quality, would you spend $47 million on this streetcar? I doubt it.

The smartest statement, I thought, was from a man named Monte Holmes (I hope I have the name right; I heard it on a video-streaming connection) who said he had been born in 1929 and remembered the old Seattle streetcars. “They were not that popular,” he said. “Progress was to see them go.” Holmes seemed to be a bit baffled about why anyone would spend tens of millions per mile to bring them back.

I think streetcars are kind of fun, but I don’t take them seriously as transportation investments. The streetcar is a bauble to promote real estate development in South Lake Union, and its No. 1 beneficiary is Paul Allen.

Respond to Bruce.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at September 22, 2005 06:35 PM



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