Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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Milestones 1990s


  • State Legislature passes Growth Management Act and High Capacity Transit Act, and Congress adopts Americans with Disabilities Act and Clean Air Act, all of which affect future transit planning.
  • Metro joins with Pierce and Snohomish County transit systems to form Joint Regional Policy Committee and supervise planning of new Regional Transit Project.
  • Metro launches Seattle-Tacoma Express under contract with Pierce Transit.
  • Mercer Island City Councilmember Fred Jarrett assumes chair of Transit Committee.
  • Penny Peabody defeats Zimmerman to chair Metro Council.
  • In September, U.S. District Judge William Dwyer rules Metro Council unconstitutional.
  • The 1.3-mile long Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel opens on September 15, on time and within 10 percent of its budget.
  • Puget Sound Council of Governments adopts "Vision 2020" regional growth and transit plan on October 25.
  • Waterfront Streetcar line is extended to Union Station and the International District.

Photo of bus traveling through tunnel, 1990.
Bus traveling through tunnel, 1990.


  • North Base opens in Shoreline.
  • University of Washington students and faculty approve "U-Pass" plan.
  • Council of Governments reorganized as Puget Sound Regional Council.
  • Legislature passes Commute Trip Reduction Act, and Congress adopts Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, both of which encourage transit use.
  • Metro agrees to share downtown Seattle bus stops with Pierce Transit.
  • The E-3 (South) Busway opens between Royal Brougham and Spokane Street in Seattle.
  • Plan to merge King County and Metro fails narrowly on November 5.
  • Peak fares increase to $1 and $1.50.
  • Total ridership now at 74.6 million.


  • King County Councilmember Greg Nickels assumes chair of Transit Committee.
  • Peabody resigns as Metro Council chair because of illness, and Tom Kraft is later elected to succeed her.
  • Recommended plan and draft environmental impact statement for Regional Transit Project released.
  • Metro employees begin participating in the "cultural-change process" to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.
  • American Public Transit Association (APTA) names Metro Transit best major system in the nation for the second time.
  • Voters approve merger of Metro and King County on November 3.
  • Peak fares increase to $1.10 and $1.60.
  • Ridership reaches 75.6 million.


  • Metro Council votes to buy new natural gas buses. The order is later canceled by King County Executive Gary Locke, who approves purchase of 360 clean-burning diesel buses.
  • Final Regional Transit Project plan approved by Joint Regional Policy Committee on May 28.
  • Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties vote to join Regional Transit Authority (RTA, future Sound Transit) on June 22, July 6 and July 8, respectively.


  • Bike racks installed on all Metro coaches.
  • In December, Metro debuts transit information online in Riderlink. The web site was later renamed Metro Online. Riderlink becomes an umbrella site for the Puget Sound region's transit systems.


  • On March 14, voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties reject the Regional Transit Authority's first plan for a $6.7 billion, three-county system combining heavy commuter rail, light rail, express buses, and expanded HOV lanes.
  • Metro initiates a Six-Year Plan to reconfigure service to serve multiple destinations rather than consider Seattle the hub for most transit trips.


  • Metro becomes a division of the King County Department of Transportation. Paul Toliver appointed first director of DOT. Rick Walsh - a third-generation transit worker - named Metro Transit General Manager.
  • A leaner $3.9 million "Sound Move" plan passes on November 5.
  • Metro forced to cancel all service for the first time in its history after multiple snowstorms leave more than half the fleet of 1,100 buses stuck in the snow or otherwise out of service.

Photo of Rick Walsh, 1996.
Rick Walsh, 1996.


  • In Seattle, voters approve Initiative 41 which creates the Elevated Transportation Company to build an extension of the existing monorail system that will link the four corners of the city to downtown.

Monorail at Westlake Center, 1962 rendering. Postcard
Monorail at Westlake Center, 1962 rendering. Postcard.


  • In the worst bus accident of Metro's 25-year history, a passenger shoots and kills the driver of a bus crossing the Aurora Bridge north of downtown Seattle. The driver, the gunman and a passenger die.
  • Peak fares increase to $1.25 and $1.75.

Photo of Mark McLaughlin
Metro Transit Operator Mark McLaughlin
killed in the line of duty on Nov. 27, 1998.


  • Voter approval of Initiative 695 in November eliminates the state motor vehicle excise tax, a major source of Metro Transit's annual operating funds. The following February, about 160,000 hours of transit service are cut, and an additional 70,000 additional hours postponed.

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Updated: Dec. 11, 2002