Tag Archives: trolleys

Could electric trolley buses on Beacon Hill be endangered?

Electric trolley buses such as this one (downtown) have been a common sight on Beacon Avenue for decades. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.
Electric trolley buses such as this one (downtown) have been a common sight on Beacon Avenue for decades. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.
If you live along the northern part of the 36 bus route, you probably know that many of the buses on that route are electric trolley buses. The trolley buses are good neighbors to have around; they are quiet and don’t spew exhaust or contribute to global warming. Currently, Metro is facing a big budget gap, and there have been rumors that this may mean cutting back on electric trolleys or removing them entirely.

In an interview with Seattle Transit Blog, short-term County Executive Kurt Triplett said they have “3 years to make that decision” because the existing trolleys have that much service life remaining. Commenter “serial catowner” posted a skeptical reply:

Having seen some of this stuff go down in my previous life, I can tell you right now you’re in extreme danger of losing the electric trolleys–and getting them back wouldn’t be easy.

The process is disarmingly simple- first, when you ask, they tell you “Nobody’s thinking of that”. And then, suddenly, it’s all “Well, that decision was made long ago, there’s nothing to be done about it now”…

…If they weren’t quietly preparing to jettison the ETBs, Triplett’s answer would have been “No, of course not, we’re not going to lose the only buses we have that can keep running when oil prices go up”.

A follow-up comment from an anonymous “transit voter” struck home:

Serial Catowner has it correct. Just remember the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line, how it met its demise. The long knives were out, and they found their mark.

We don’t claim to have any inside knowledge on what Metro’s plans are for the trolleys, and anonymous commenters on a blog are not necessarily reliable, but it seems to us that if you like the electric trolleys that run on Beacon Hill and elsewhere in the city, it would certainly be a very good time to let someone know how you feel. You can email County Exec Triplett at kcexec@kingcounty.gov or use the mailing address and phone number on his website. You can also contact King County Council members Larry Gossett and Dow Constantine, who each serve part of Beacon Hill. Constantine is running for King County Executive, so contacting him with your concerns on this issue may be particularly important.