Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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Milestones 1980s


  • Gerald Haugh named new transit director.
  • C. Carey Donworth retires as Metro Council's first chair and is succeeded by Dr. Gary Zimmerman.
  • King County voters reject additional percent transit sales tax on September 16, but narrowly approve second request on November 4 increasing transit's share from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.
  • Two-zone fare system raised to 50 cents and 75 cents.
  • Metro Central Base expansion completed.
  • Annual ridership at 66.1 million, more than twice the annual ridership Metro had inherited in 1973.

Photo of Central Base, 2002.
Central Base, 2002.


  • Metro establishes Downtown Seattle Transit Project and signs agreement with Bellevue to build transit center and expand services.
  • Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association (MEHVA) is founded to preserve the rolling stock from Seattle and King County's transit heritage.
  • Puget Sound Council of Governments launches new light-rail transit study.
  • Annual ridership at 66 million.


  • Metro imposes first 10-cent surcharge on peak-hour fares in February. Off-peak fares remain at 50 and 75 cents, while commute-time trips are raised to 60 and 90 cents.
  • Ron Tober named new transit director.

    Photo of Ron Tober
    Ron Tober

  • Waterfront Streetcar enters service on May 29 between Pioneer Square and Pier 70.
  • Annual ridership at 63.6 million.

    Photo of Waterfront Streetcar, 1982
    Waterfront Streetcar, 1982.


  • Metro Council approves downtown Seattle transit tunnel and use of dual-propulsion buses.
  • Metro takes over Seattle-King County Commuter Pool.
  • American Public Transit Association (APTA) names Metro Transit best major system in the nation.
  • 85 percent of the population in King County lives within five blocks of a Metro route.


  • Alan Gibbs becomes Metro executive director.
  • Metro Council establishes a historic bus fleet and appoints MEHVA as the curator.
  • Annual ridership at 65.7 million.


  • Peak fares increase to 65 cents and $1.
  • Bellevue and Aurora Village Transit Centers open.
  • Metro establishes an arts program to incorporate public art into its construction projects, particularly in the downtown tunnel.
  • First "Driver Appreciation Day" is held.
  • Annual ridership at 64.8 million.


  • Metro signs "Eastside Action Plan" to expand suburban services and agrees to share downtown Seattle bus stops with Snohomish County's Community Transit.
  • Annual ridership at 63 million.


  • Boring of downtown transit tunnel begins on March 6.
  • MAN articulated trolley buses enter service (but must be recalled for one year to repair braking problems).
  • Discovery of contractor's use of South African steel prompts Metro Council to adopt formal anti-aparheid policy.
  • New park-and-ride lots open in South Federal Way and the Renton Highlands.
  • The Mercer Bus Base (originally North Seattle Base) near the Seattle Center closes as the expanded Metro Ryerson Base opens as an operating and maintenance base.
  • Metro negotiates Vanpool agreement with Boeing to provide ridesharing options for Boeing. It adds 750 daily riders and 98 vans to Metro's Vanpool fleet.
  • Annual ridership declines to 61.4 million passengers.


  • Main downtown transit tunnel excavation finished on April 8.
  • Houghton Park-and-Ride in Kirkland opens in April.
  • Seattle City Councilmember George Benson assumes chair of Transit Committee.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation cites Metro's maintenance program as the best among public transit agencies.
  • Paul Toliver named transit director in October.
  • King County voters approve advisory proposition to accelerate rail transit planning on November 8.
  • Revelation of purchase of South African granite for transit tunnel prompts investigation.
  • Peak fares increase to 75 cents and $1.25.
  • Metro employees team up in the "Drive for Excellence" campaign to implement their own ideas to increase ridership. Results exceed the goal.
  • 3,000 people respond to a 9-week marketing campaign offering free "test-ride" kits.
  • Annual ridership rebounds to 67.6 million.

Photo of Paul Toliver, 1987
Paul Toliver, 1987.


  • "Granite-gate" scandal leads Alan Gibbs to tender resignation in February, although Metro Council exonerates him of any violation of anti-apartheid policy.
  • Dick Sandaas named new executive director in September.
  • ACLU and four citizens file suit on October 29 challenging constitutionality of Metro Council representation.

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Updated: Dec. 11, 2002