Kirkland (Seattle)

Urban cable car as bus-feeder?

Kirkland is an eastern suburb of Seattle. It is separated from the US metropolis by Lake Washington. The city has around 49,000 residents – and soon perhaps also a cable car.

The portland cable car serves as a model for Kirkland – only the dimensions should be smaller. Photo: GANGLOFF


The cable car should connect the Kirkland’s transit center with a future Sound Transit bus line. Its supporters believe that by building the cable car, construction of new roads and bridges can be avoided. Its route would be approximately 1.6 kilometers long and lead from Interstate 405, on which a station will be built for the new express bus transit, to the city center.


“We’ve been looking at streetcars, aerial cableways and funiculars as possible alternatives to further development of the road system,” City Manager Kurt triplett told a local radio broadcaster, KIRO 7. It is not the rst time that the city is considering such an idea: “We are currently looking for model cities in Europe and South America with an aerial cableway or funicular,” continues Triplett.


A cable car would be cheaper and require less space than new roads and bridges. “Passengers would be able to avoid tra c congestion in a reliable and economical way,” believes the City Manager. Operators of the Sound Transit bus line are certainly open to the idea of a cable car that would serve as a feeder for their station. The city’s decision in favor of the cable car would also provide the possibility to build a stopover at the nature recreation area Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail.


According to Triplett, however, the cable car’s dimensions would not need to be anything like those of the Portland cable car (see the photo above): “It’s not our goal to transport thousands of people – rather move people continuously every ten minutes.” Apart from the e ciency and cost savings connected with the cable car compared to the construction of new roads and bridges, its advocates put forward yet another argument: its likely great impact on the city’s im- age.


“A cable car could give Kirkland its own unique identity,” agree local ra- dio broadcaster moderators, Tom and Curley. City management now wants to carry out a preliminary cost estimate. The plans for the cable car should be published this year. The timeframe for subsequent steps is prexed by the establishment of the bus line: its operation on Interstate 405, promising 10-minute intervals between buses, is expected to begin in 2024. ts