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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Disappointing SLUT

posted by on December 12 at 14:00 PM

Reader “Kinkos” writes:

Just got back from “riding the SLUT.” Useless. We got off after two stops and took the 8 back up the hill. Aside from the four traffic lights we had to wait for between the first and second stops on the line, the SLUT also crawled along at maybe 2mph. Many others mutteringly abandoned the worthless voyage as we did. The most telling thing of all, though, was the stuff they were giving away—Seattle Streetcar bumper stickers. The greatest moment of marketing irony or something more sinister? Yes, a lot of people will indeed be sticking those bumper stickers on the back of their cars—to remind them of the first and last time they ever took useless public transportation in Seattle. Someday we will have real, rapid, mass transit in Seattle. It just won’t be any time soon after this disaster. I predict that the SLUT experience will torpedo public perception of rail for a long, long time to come. Good luck on Transit in ’08.

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I was just down there at Whole Foods. Not surprisingly, the SLUT cars were packed. Packed with people who, like Kinkos implies, are likely one-and-done.

The coolest thing about it, however, is the electronic board telling riders when the next streetcar is due. I would like to see this technology added to all bus stops.

Posted by DOUG. | December 12, 2007 2:10 PM

Why the pessimism?

At $50 million and $2 million a year we could expand SLUT to a 100 mile system which would only cost $2.5 billion plus $200 million a year to operate. That's only another $4 billion over twenty years. Or $ 9 billion total.

For a system totally just as fast as a bus!

Posted by unPC | December 12, 2007 2:10 PM

See, Paul Allen gets REAL train sets for Christmas (thanks, City of Seattle!! You shouldn't have.)

Posted by Lake | December 12, 2007 2:12 PM

Oh dear, a ride on the very first day of a streetcar's operation didn't meet expectations. Nothing can be done about it now and there's no possible way to make improvements. Better mothball the whole thing. Why were we the only city in the entire world to build a streetcar line? Just to dash kinkos' hopes? It's just cruel.

Posted by MvB | December 12, 2007 2:13 PM

I took it today as well. It took forever to get to Whole Foods from Westlake. It was the first and last time for me. Walking would have been nearly as fast, or a cab.

Fuck the SLUT! Fuck her real good! HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

Posted by Just Me | December 12, 2007 2:14 PM

Too slow.

Hope they decide to build an elevated light rail or monorail instead.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 12, 2007 2:15 PM

Just Me @ 5

Too late, she (along w/Hallivulcan) has already started fucking us.

Posted by Mr. X | December 12, 2007 2:16 PM

@1, Metro has that on a couple of bus stops in North Seattle on the #48 and another route. It is pretty cool but no idea why they did not expand that on some of the other larger bus stops or P&R's around the area. Like the bus area at UW on Campus Parkway or even in the bus tunnel.

Posted by Just Me | December 12, 2007 2:23 PM

Should they start to take suggestions for alternatives, may I suggest "People Mover"? I mean, it worked in Detroit...

Posted by Chris B | December 12, 2007 2:28 PM

The 5-some of haircuts and calf-length coats who were all smiles and handshakes at the corner of Fairview and Harrison by the SLUT barn an hour ago looked pretty pleased with themselves.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 12, 2007 2:35 PM

Part of the problem is Westlake--the street is timed for maximum signal delay. I learned to avoid it soon after I moved to Seattle, after watching four signals turn red right as I reached the intersection. One problem with rails: no detours. You build a line down the slowest street in downtown, you get stuck at lights.

Posted by Ian | December 12, 2007 2:35 PM

I love living in the city / I love living in the city / My house smells just like a zoo/ It ís chock full of shit and puke/ Cockroaches on the walls/ Crabs are crawling on my balls/ Oh, but I'm so clean cut/ I just want to fuck some slut/ I love living in the city/ I love living in the city/ Spent my whole life in the city/ Where junk is king and the air smells shitty/ People puking everywhere,/ Piles of blood, scabs and hair/ Bodies wasted in defeat/ People dying on the streets/ But suburban scumbags they don't care/ They just get fat and dye their hair/ I love living in the city/ I love living in the city

I love living in the city

Posted by Lee Ving | December 12, 2007 2:41 PM

You have to hand it to Seattle, though - a charmed city doing all the right things, but totally fucking it up.

Posted by ah seattle | December 12, 2007 2:42 PM

If the SLUT does torpedo public perception of street-rail transport, then at least the $7000/foot we spent building it will have served some useful purpose.

Posted by David Wright | December 12, 2007 2:44 PM

Ah, the irony. Remember that the monorail was supposed to be operational in ... December 2007. Thank you, Joel Horn, for screwing it up.

Posted by irony | December 12, 2007 2:45 PM

We have such a special kind of hell...

Posted by K X One | December 12, 2007 2:46 PM

@15 god thats is depressing

Posted by vooodooo84 | December 12, 2007 2:48 PM

Ah well, in the end, don't ALL sluts disappoint?

(And on a completely unrelated note: can anyone in The Stranger IT Dept. PUHLEEZ explain to me why I have to constantly type in my name & email & URL - why won't SLOG remember me?)

Posted by COMTE | December 12, 2007 2:50 PM

Nothing worse than a slow slut.

Posted by Packratt | December 12, 2007 2:55 PM

i will personally purchase a drink at next month's SLOG happy or whatever it's called for whoever takes the best seattle streetcar bumpersticker photo. how doomed do you have to be as a public transportation agency to be giving out f'ing bumper stickers to your customers? how about gas cards? big plastic-wrap ads on the SLUT that say "DON'T RIDE ME" - drive your car!!

this has been one of the roughest years in seattle memory - the sculpture park, the death of pike/pine, and the SLUT.

Posted by kinkos | December 12, 2007 2:57 PM

The real problem is it's too long.

1.3 miles is way longer than what you need to have a ribbon cutting photo, or to show the mayor riding it for 3.5 seconds on the 5 o'clock news.

Posted by unPC | December 12, 2007 3:02 PM

@15, I totally forgot that the Monorail was supposed to be up and running this month. FUCK that is super depressing. But honestly it probably would have been a couple of months later given that all projects of that sort are late. But still... we could have had a monorail. Now we just have a SLUT.

So, time until the SLUT runs someone over and kills them? I give it a month! Any takers?

Posted by Just Me | December 12, 2007 3:09 PM

Chris B @9:

You must have a lower threshold for "worked" than I do. From Wikipedia: "Average ridership today is currently around 7300 people a day, still well below capacity of 24,000 an hour" and "the city was subsidizing the system $3.00 for every $0.50 rider fare". The Detroit People Mover is probably the most useless major rail transit system in the world.

Posted by Fnarf | December 12, 2007 3:20 PM


At 2.5 MPH, the scene of the slut running over a pedestrian would be similar to that scene in Austin Powers where the guard is run over by the ponderously slow steamroller.

The making and marketting of the "I was creamed by the slut" t-shirts would be finished before the guy was hit.

Posted by Packratt | December 12, 2007 3:24 PM


At 2.5 MPH, the scene of the slut running over a pedestrian would be similar to that scene in Austin Powers where the guard is run over by the ponderously slow steamroller.

The making and marketting of the "I was creamed by the slut" t-shirts would be finished before the guy was hit.

Posted by Packratt | December 12, 2007 3:24 PM

ach.. sorry for the doubleply.

Posted by Packratt | December 12, 2007 3:26 PM

I just got back from riding it and despite other user comments I don't think it was all that bad. Yes, it's not a fucking bullet train but it is faster than walking or waiting for a half an hour for a freaking bus.

From the conversations I over heard on board, many who otherwise wouldn't take public transit will take this. Yes running a bus down the same route would be cheaper (and probably a minute or two faster) but you wouldn't have nearly as much ridership.

Rail transit (even along a busy street, although this isn't ideal) has many advantages: smoother ride, easy boarding (no paying to board), coolness factor which will lure more people to take this thing than other forms of public transit.

BTW, San Francisco has many streetcar routes than run in a similar manner as the SLUT. Hell the SLUT is an exact copy of the streetcar they have in Portland!

Posted by Chris | December 12, 2007 3:26 PM

That not paying to board advantage is good for one month...

Posted by K X One | December 12, 2007 3:42 PM

Olympic Sculpture Park was so damned when there were too many people on its opening weekend. Too crowded. Couldn't really get a feel for it.

Obviously the park was a failure.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | December 12, 2007 3:44 PM

Ken Schram doesn't like it:

Posted by raindrop | December 12, 2007 4:27 PM

Excuse a poor Chicagoan her ignorance, but it your little trolley thingee actually called SLUT? All this time I just thought ya'll were being snarky.

Posted by chi type | December 12, 2007 4:33 PM

Don't you people realize the value (yes, over the long term) of having fixed rail? Unlike other transit choices, such as buses, buses in priority lanes, etc., the streetcar ain't goin' nowhere. Those rails are in the ground and it shows a commitment to transit. Maybe in 5, 10, 20 years Westlake will be one big pedestrian/transit corridor. It's possible! We have a start with the streetcar, so stop bitching and start riding and walking.

Posted by andy | December 12, 2007 4:34 PM


When I went to UW (~2 years ago) there was a TV right by the HUB bus stop that showed when the next buses were coming, don't know if it's still there though.

SLUT = South Lake Union Transit, the streetcar's (nick)name.

Posted by 202 | December 12, 2007 5:08 PM

They got off after riding the SLUT for two blocks!?!

Posted by xx | December 12, 2007 5:10 PM

@32, about "the long term": yeah, like the last time the region was covered in streetcar tracks -- look how permanent that was. Ever wonder why Interurban Avenue is called that? Or why that statue in Fremont is called "Waiting for the Interurban"?

Posted by Fnarf | December 12, 2007 5:49 PM

The streetcar in Portland (the inspiration for Seattle's) is just as slow, so this should not have been a surprise to anyone. It looks supercool but it's faster to get out and walk. Hell, I bet an old guy with a walker could outrun it.

Posted by chris | December 12, 2007 5:51 PM

@35 Yes, I do realize that. But how long did we have streetcars in many American cities? 30, 40, 50 years? Even longer if you include horse-drawn rail vehicles. Rail can have a significant AND lasting impact on the built environment in that amount of time. How do you think Wallingford (and many other Seattle 'hoods) got going and stayed alive as dense urban neighborhoods?

Posted by andy | December 12, 2007 6:22 PM


Welcome to mass transit folks. More expensive and much more trouble....

Might as well pave over all the stupid tracks and add another traffic lane or build the stupid monorail, at least it wouldn't stop at a light..

Posted by M167A1 | December 13, 2007 3:39 PM

I wonder what the economic impact on the SLUTS that work the South Lake Union area will be now that the City has put in their own S.L.U.T on the street.

Posted by Pacific Grove Phlash | December 13, 2007 3:51 PM

@27, Yes SF has many surface level streetcar lines, and we bitch and moan about how often they get disrupted by double-parked cars, traffic and the like.

When the newest line, the T-Third, opened in April it was considerably slower than the 15 line bus that it replaced. Traffic officials were afraid to give the streetcars signal priority in some trains packed with people were stuck at red lights around the Caltrain station and the ballpark.

Even after some tweaking in early summer, people are still begging for the 15 line to be reinstated.

Posted by Mike | December 15, 2007 11:56 PM

I haven't ridden yet, but it is clear that walking is much faster. Seeing it in action is eye-opening...

Another first in Seattle yesterday-see KOMO news-guy ran a red lite and "rear-ended a lingering SLUT" :)

Posted by Jack | December 20, 2007 2:31 PM

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