Waterfront Streetcar now "The Benson Line"
King County's celebration of the 20th anniversary of Metro's historic Waterfront Streetcar last Saturday included its renaming as the "George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line." See a gallery of photos from the past (right) and from the event.
Transportation has always been close to the heart of George Benson. As a Seattle City Councilmember from 1974 to 1993, and a member of the old Metro Council, Benson took the lead on ensuring countywide bus service, construction of the Downtown Seattle Bus Tunnel, and preservation of the Monorail. He initiated Sunday bus service connecting Seattle’s major parks, Pioneer Square and the Ship Canal Locks. He negotiated the agreement with the Urban Mass Transit Administration to rebuild and expand Metro's electric trolley system in Seattle. In recognition of his legacy, he was inducted in 1997 into the Hall of Fame of the American Public Transit Association.
But of all his projects, Benson is most closely associated with Metro's Waterfront Streetcar. It began with his dream to reinstate the historic streetcar line. With single-minded dedication, Benson tracked down authentic W2 Class streetcars in Melbourne, Australia and bought them for $5,000 each. He recruited hundreds of volunteers to restore and transport them across the Pacific Ocean. When obstacles were encountered, Benson kept everyone on track, so to speak, and never let the project be derailed.
Service in the Emerald City began along the 1.6-mile line on May 29, 1982, and since then the Waterfront Streetcar has provided residents and tourists with outstanding, convenient, fun transportation and a moving history lesson. Benson has been universally proclaimed as the "Father of the Waterfront Streetcar."
That's why last Saturday, at the streetcar's 20th anniversary celebration in Pioneer Square, King County Executive Ron Sims officially designated the Waterfront Streetcar as the "George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line," or more simply, the "Benson Line."