Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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For current proposed changes to service, visit the Proposed changes to service page.
For the latest service change rider alert, visit the Service Change page.
For current news, visit the News page.

Significant transit service changes are coming to downtown Seattle on September 24, 2005

On Sept. 24, 2005, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel will close for approximately two years so that Sound Transit can retrofit it for use by both buses and light rail. During the two-year closure, all bus routes that currently run through the tunnel will be brought up to the surface and will operate on downtown Seattle streets. For this reason, the closure will affect not only routes that currently use the tunnel, but also those that already operate on surface streets downtown.

To keep buses and traffic running smoothly during the tunnel closure, Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit, the City of Seattle, and Community Transit are implementing bus service changes and a $16 million package of downtown street projects. Changes include the addition of transit-only lanes to several city streets, restriction of general-purpose traffic on Third Avenue during peak commute hours, and improved bus movement and passenger loading throughout the Central Business District. New bus shelters are also being installed, and existing ones upgraded.

Please consult this information to determine how routes you use may be affected by the coming transit service changes in down-town Seattle. If you can't find the information you need here, you can look for more details on Metro Online or call Metro's Rider Information phone line at 206-553-3000.

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Look for new route information in September

Sept. 10-New route and timetable information will be available from Metro's online Trip Planner. For information about service on or after Sept. 24, be sure to enter the appropriate day and date.

Sept. 12-Metro's Rider Information phone line, 206-553-3000, will begin providing help in planning trips that will occur after the service change.

Sept.15-Special Rider Alert brochures and new red timetables will be available on buses and at Metro information racks, work sites, and libraries. The special Rider Alert brochure will also be available on Metro Online.

Sept. 23-New timetables will be available on Metro Online by close of business.

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Why these changes are being made

King County Metro Transit and its tunnel project partners have several reasons for planning this dramatic service change in downtown Seattle. With the bus routes that have been operating in the tunnel moving up to surface streets, our goals are:

  • To keep people moving through downtown as efficiently as possible;
  • To balance bus and passenger volumes on streets and at bus stops in coordination with general traffic flow;
  • To avoid bottlenecks and reduce bus volumes at key intersections; and
  • To reorganize routes that already use downtown surface streets in order to make them run more efficiently.

In order to meet these goals while also meeting the challenges posed by the tunnel closure, Metro will use a new "alternating stop" pattern on Third Avenue, similar to the pattern it currently uses on Second and Fourth avenues. There will also be downtown routing changes to approximately 70 Metro and Sound Transit bus routes during the tunnel closure.

Preparations during Summer 2005

In preparation for the tunnel closure and its related service changes, the City of Seattle has already completed several street projects designed to speed the flow of buses downtown. Construction projects on Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue South, Ninth Avenue, Prefontaine Place South, and Olive Way have altered traffic patterns and parking/loading zones to keep buses and traffic moving efficiently and safely during the tunnel closure. The city also added "contra flow" traffic lanes-transit-only lanes that go the opposite direction on an otherwise one-way street-to parts of Fifth Avenue South and Ninth Avenue. These new lanes will be used mostly by buses to get through congested areas.

The September service change

The service change on Sept. 24 will add about 21 bus routes to Seattle's downtown surface streets each weekday, and put up to 140 additional buses per hour on downtown streets during the morning and afternoon commutes. All riders who travel to or through downtown Seattle should check the new schedules for the bus routes they use, as it is very likely that these routes will change in some way even if they do not run through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.

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Access Transportation

Due to heavier traffic volumes and a reduction in the number of loading zones, Access Transportation riders who travel into downtown Seattle may also be affected by the tunnel closure. Please contact the Access call center at 206-205-5000 (TTY Relay: 711) if you have any questions.

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Westlake Pass Sales Office moves to Rainier Square

The downtown Seattle Metro Pass Sales Office is being relocated to Rainier Square in mid-September. The new location, on 4th Avenue between University and Union streets, sells PugetPasses and provides timetables and brochures for Metro Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, and Sound Transit. The Pass Sales Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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For more information

You can get general information now about the service changes by calling Metro Transit Rider Information. Specific trip planning help will be available after Sept. 12.

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Produced by Community Relations and Communications
King County Department of Transportation
201 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA 98104-3856
September, 2005

Sept. 6, 2005