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First Hill Streetcar service remains on hold while city investigates slide

The streetcar line’s restart date is unclear

A yellow streetcar with a LED display that reads “Broadway & Denny” picks up passengers SounderBruce/Flickr

The First Hill Streetcar line has been out of service since the beginning of the month, and it could be a while longer before it’s ready to carry passengers again. After a streetcar slid two and a half blocks, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) put service for the entire line on hold while they investigate—with no projected end date.

SDOT transit director Andrew Glass Hastings told the Seattle Times that they’ll need a county, state, and federal go-ahead before service resumes.

An electrical malfunction caused four separate braking systems to fail on the gold car as it passed Boren and Broadway just after 6:00 a.m. on March 1. As it would in parking mode, the wheels on the car locked.

The cars were built by the Czech company Inkeon, who are working with SDOT to diagnose the problem.

The streetcars are still under warranty, but during a Seattle City Council committee briefing last week, city project manager Michael James said it’s unclear what options we have for compensation.

This isn’t the city’s first issue with Inkeon. The line’s grand opening was originally scheduled for early 2014, but was pushed back, partially because the supplier missed deadlines. Service eventually started two years later, in January 2016.

During peak hours King County Metro is running a shuttle along the route, running 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. from Broadway and East Denny Way and half an hour later from Second Avenue South and South Jackson Street.