SEATTLE - On the first day of the midday shutdown of Seattle's South Lake Union Streetcar, Brian Murphy walked to lunch instead of catching a ride.
"It's frustrating. It limits our areas where we can actually eat lunch," Murphy said.
He usually takes the streetcar every day, which is something fewer people are doing.
That's because streetcars are so often stuck in traffic.
"I've gotten on at the end of the line and it's taken almost 15 minutes to get to the next stop. That's ridiculous," said Seattle resident Mark Miller.
The work that started Monday is designed to make streetcar and bus service faster and more reliable.
Crews will lengthen platforms to accommodate more buses and prepare to make one lane each direction on Westlake Avenue transit-only, except for right turns.
The change comes in March. Read more about the improvements.
"We hope that will make it possible for a lot more people will choose transit to come to South Lake Union because right now it's sort of overwhelmed with cars," said Ethan Melone, rail transit manager for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Metro's Rapid Ride C line will start running on the new transit lanes in March, bringing bus service to downtown and West Seattle every seven to 12 minutes.
But even some dedicated transit users wonder about the impact of kicking cars out of two lanes.
"You take away a lane from anywhere that's already bad, it's just going to get worse," Murphy said.
The streetcar service reductions run through March 26.
Service will continue during peak commutes Monday through Thursday, stopping for construction from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Fridays, service will stop after 9 a.m. and not resume until the morning commute Monday, allowing much of the work to happen on weekends.
While the streetcar is not operating, transit riders can use existing Metro bus service between downtown Seattle and South Lake Union.
Route 40 serves Westlake Avenue and Westlake Avenue North and Route 70 serves Fairview Avenue North.
Both routes operate approximately every 15 minutes on weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.