New bus service rolls out across Seattle

Thanks to voter approval of Transit Proposition 1, today Mayor Murray and transit supporters celebrated the first day of expanded weekday Metro bus service in neighborhoods across Seattle. In just nine months, since the first round of Proposition 1 funded investments hit the street last summer, Seattle has seen the largest increase in transit service in more than 40 years.

“Thanks to the voters, today more than 70 percent of Seattle residents live within a short walk of frequent bus service,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Taking the bus has never been more reliable and convenient. Improved RapidRide service to Ballard and West Seattle, as well as bus only lanes through South Lake Union, are transforming the commute for thousands of workers.”

Seattle voters approved Transit Proposition 1 in November 2014 and provided the City of Seattle with approximately $45 million annually for the next six years to purchase additional bus hours from Metro to improve and expand in-city bus service. Instituted on March 26, these last service additions will improve the reliability of the two RapidRide lines while connecting riders to growing employment markets in South Lake Union and Pioneer Square.

Bus lines seeing more frequent and reliable service in this expansion include: improved connections and frequencies on many routes that serve the new light rail stations at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill; more reliable service on Route 8 to Capitol Hill and Mt. Baker, Route 38 to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South, Route 45 to Loyal Heights, and Route 48 from 23rd Avenue to the U District; new east-west connections on Route 62 from Sandpoint to Fremont; and new connections from Northeast Seattle to South Lake Union and First Hill on Route 63.

The City’s Transit Proposition 1 also funded the splitting of the RapidRide C and D lines, extending the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and the RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square.

Supported by infrastructure investments from the Levy to Move Seattle, the number of rush-hour transit trips has more than doubled on Westlake Avenue North due to:

  • New RapidRide C Line service, every 7 to 12 minutes from West Seattle via Downtown
  • More service on Route 40, every 9 to 15 minutes from Northgate via Ballard/Fremont to Downtown seven days a week
  • A shifted Route 40 to Westlake Avenue for ease of access and use
  • More peak time service for Route 70 from the U District to Downtown
  • More service with a reliable, shortened route for Route 8 from Seattle Center to Capitol Hill/Rainier Valley
  • More service on routes 26, 28, 62 and the E Line
  • Dedicated transit lanes on Westlake Avenue North
  • Transit stop upgrades such as real-time transit information signs, shelters and wider sidewalks

“South Lake Union is one of the fastest growing parts of our city. In the Center City 31 percent of commuters travel alone by car, while in South Lake Union almost half of commuters do so,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “For the neighborhood to continue to grow, we need to rapidly increase transit service and provide commuters better options than driving alone. This investment in transit and on-street bus facilities, with a bus or streetcar arriving every two minutes, is a major step.”

To ensure the reliability of the new service, SDOT changed the way Westlake Ave N operates so buses can get through heavy traffic more efficiently. Changes include:

  • North end – A southbound transit only lane on Westlake Ave N between Ninth Ave N and Valley St (by restricting southbound on-street parking between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.)
  • Mid-section – Transit only lanes on both sides of Westlake Ave N between Valley and Lenora streets
  • South end – A northbound transit only lane between Lenora and Stewart streets

“Our neighborhood has been growing exponentially and these transit updates are welcomed with open arms,” said Danah Abarr, executive director of the South Lake Union Chamber. “Just in time for spring, added bus service and improved streets will make getting around South Lake Union more efficient. This is a win-win for everyone – employees, residents and visitors alike.”

For more information on the project and a map, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/transitSLU.htm.