U.S. Streetcar Systems- Washington-Tacoma
Began operation: 2003
Route Miles: 1.6
Org: transit agency
John Smatlak photo
Tacoma is located about 35 miles south of Seattle, both cities being served by the Sound Transit regional transit system. Tacoma’s modern streetcar system opened in 2003, connecting the Tacoma Dome station (a regional bus and commuter rail hub) with Downtown Tacoma. Downtown is also home to a new convention center, museums, and a University of Washington campus. This relatively short line does not charge a fare and provides service on twelve minute headways throughout most of the day, with 24 minute headways off-peak and on Sundays. Two cars operate on the line at one time, with the trip from the Tacoma Dome station to the Theater District terminus originally taking only 7 minutes, lengthened to just under 10 minutes in 2011 when a sixth station stop was added. The fast, convenient service is currently (2Q 2011) attracting about 996,000 riders annually (source: Sound Transit).
The current is line is about half single-track and half double-track. Through downtown, the line is double track, with single track on the southern end towards the Tacoma Dome station. Most of the line is in either a center median or a reserved line, a condition which is reflected in its relatively fast running time. The single-track southern end of the line provides a good example of how bi-directional operation can be implemented on streets with relatively low traffic volumes. Some interesting active warning signs (as seen in the photos below) have been implemented along this section of the line.
In addition to the Link service, a grass-roots streetcar movement has emerged in Tacoma, generating interest in a city-wide streetcar network including a Vintage Trolley operation.
News and Updates
March 2012- Tacoma Link opened a sixth station along its line during September 2011. The new station at 11th & Commerce opens at a time when ridership on Tacoma Link is growing, increasing 16 percent in the last year to 3,330 weekday riders. Sound Transit is also working together with a local stakeholders group on an expansion study.
October 2009- Tacoma Link ridership continues to be strong, with 900,000 riders predicted for 2009 (source: Sound Transit). A visit in late September found the system running as efficiently as ever, the only noticeable difference being that the cars now carry interior and exterior advertising.