Seattle Celebrates Largest Metro Expansion in 40 Years

Today Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated increased King County Metro bus service in Seattle. The increased service riders now enjoy are a direct result of Seattle residents passing Proposition 1 in November 2014. The first increase went into effect in early June with more services coming in September.

“Thanks to Seattle voters, we’re one step closer to getting the transit system the City wants and needs,” said Murray. “Expanded transit options helps us grow our economy, reduces traffic and protects our environment. Residents and visitors are now seeing more bus service, reduced overcrowding and increasing reliability.”

Proposition 1 allowed the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro to add 9,000 service hours per month in June and will add 9,000 additional hours per month this coming September. These new hours will be added to both weekday commute and off-peak periods, enhancing services to 85 percent of in-city routes. In total, 223,000 bus hours will be added annually to existing bus service.

“Metro’s record ridership—nearly 121 million last year—shows the strength of our economy and a transit service that adapts to constant growth and change,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By putting more service on the road in partnership with the city, and making it accessible to those who need it most through ORCA LIFT, we ensure that transit works better for everyone.”

SDOT’s route improvement identification process was designed to meet the demands of a growing city and an always-on economy that requires trips for work, shopping, recreation, and other purposes outside of traditional commute hours.  The new transit is the equivalent of more than 50 buses operating 12 hours per day, 365 days per year.

“As a regular rider of the Route 41, I am enjoying the benefits of added transit service during my daily commute,” said transit rider and North Seattle College employee Darryl Johnson. “By using funds provided in Proposition 1, this expansion is improving bus rides of everyone who works or studies at our college.”

In addition, in-city transit is now more accessible for everyone, and more affordable for low-income residents through King County’s ORCA LIFT program, which provides up to a 50 percent discount on fares for income-qualified riders. Starting this summer, in addition to enrolling people in the Utility Discount Program, the Seattle Human Services Department will also be able to connect eligible people in Seattle to a variety of affordability resources including the $20 car tab rebate program and the ORCA LIFT card.

“Transit is often the only option for many of our lower-income residents,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “Especially when combined with the new ORCA LIFT card, the additional service that is now available makes transit more viable, reliable and affordable for Seattle’s low-income communities.”

In total, the route improvements expand Seattle’s portion of Metro’s system by approximately 15 percent. They are funded through a combination of car tab fees and a 0.1 percent sales tax that will annually provide $45 million over the next six years.

“I enjoy working with Metro because it is a great job and I get to be part of a team providing an essential community service to King County,” said Metro Bus Operator Eric Jones who carries afternoon commuters on the 28 Express from downtown to Ballard and North Seattle. Eric was hired earlier this spring as part of Metro’s recent hiring blitz to implement new service in the city of Seattle.

Seattle routes with added, restored or revised service, or adjustments to improve on-time reliability: 1, 2, 5, 5E, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15E, 16, 17E, 18E, 19, 21, 21E, 24, 25, 26, 26E, 27, 28, 28E, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57, 60, 64E, 66E, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74E, 76, 83 Night Owl, 99, 120, 125 and the RapidRide C & D lines. In addition, the Proposition 1-funded Regional Partnership program is helping fund new commuter Route 630 from Mercer Island into Downtown.

View the All Aboard infographic or visit www.Seattle.gov/Transit for additional information.