You’ve heard that this is a huge month for Metro and Sound Transit and the City of Seattle. Not only is University Link light rail opening (March 19), Metro is restructuring service (March 26) to make better, more frequent connections for riders. Also, Metro is implementing the extension of the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union as part of voter approved Prop 1.

Purple timetables will soon be on the street, but our online resources are king. You can see route changes that might affect you on our service change website. Customer service folks also are available (206-553-3000) to help with trip planning and any questions you might have. Also, there are maps showing the network of service near the University of Washington and Capitol Hill stations, and Sound Transit’s ULink info page is chock-a-block full of info for the launch of train service to Capitol Hill and UW.

Key to all of this is helping people make sure they are informed and ready for the changes in service, as well as understanding that using an ORCA card allows for free and easy transferring between buses and trains.

Overall, tens of thousands of people across Seattle and King County will soon benefit from better integration of Metro and Sound Transit service that connects more riders to expanded light-rail service. An estimated 80,000 daily bus riders will see buses coming more often at more times of the day on designated corridors in Northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill, with better local service connecting neighborhoods with the new light rail stations. Metro’s bus changes will deliver more reliability and frequency, helping more people commute or make spontaneous trips without needing a car.

As part of restructuring service, three dozen routes will see changes in Northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill. The more frequent grid of bus service will triple the number of households in Northeast Seattle neighborhoods near 15-minute service. The changes will double the number of Capitol Hill households near 12-minute service. This launches a new era of transit options that will help people reduce driving and meet our climate goals.

Key Metro bus route changes for Link, Northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill

  • New or improved connections to University of Washington Link Station on existing and new routes 31, 32, 45, 48, 65, 67, 71, 73, 75, 78, 372 and 373.
  • New or improved connections to Capitol Hill Link Station on routes 8, 10, 11 and 49, and on unchanged routes 9, 60 and the First Hill Streetcar that will also connect with Link.
  • Route deletions or replacements: Routes 16, 25, 26 Local, 28 Local, 30, 66X, 68, 72 and 242 are deleted and replaced by other service options.
  • Improvements on routes 64X, 74X, 76 and 316.
  • Increased frequency on routes 8, 12, 48, 49, 65, 67, 70, 73, 75 and 372X;
  • More reliable service on routes 8 and 48. Often delayed by traffic, these routes will each be split into two shorter routes: Route 8 will be routes 8 (Seattle Center to Mt. Baker) and 38 (Mt. Baker to Rainier Beach); Route 48 will become routes 45 (Loyal Heights to UW Link Station) and 48 (U-District to Mt. Baker).
  • New route 62 creates new east-west connections between Sand Point, Wedgwood, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Green Lake, Wallingford and Fremont.
  • New route 63 connects NE Seattle neighborhoods with South Lake Union and First Hill employment sites.
  • New night and weekend service on routes 8, 12, 67, 70 and 372X, and
  • Route 43 is retained with 30-minute peak period only service on weekdays.

Extending RapidRide C and D lines

In the third phase of service additions resulting from Seattle’s Proposition 1, Metro is extending the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square. Metro has maps and details online.

Improvements were made at stations and stops along the new C Line extension in South Lake Union, and the busiest locations will soon include new customer information kiosks with real-time arrival information and off-board ORCA card readers.

Ridership on Metro’s six RapidRide lines has grown 53 percent over predecessor routes since the first line launched in 2010. RapidRide C Line alone has grown 94 percent since service increased in 2011, now over 9,000 weekday riders. RapidRide D Line, launched in 2012, has increased 61 percent, with over 12,000 weekday riders.

Suburban King County Metro bus improvements

Metro is making service and reliability investments to more than three dozen routes serving suburban King County and parts of Seattle, drawing on WSDOT grant funds, City of Seattle partnership funds, diesel savings and higher than projected sales tax revenue collections.

  • Added trips: routes 77, 101/102, 120, 179, 190, 214, 216/218/219, 240, 255, 301, 316, 372 and RapidRide E Line.
  • Reliability improvements: 101/102, 105, 111, 114, 128, 131/132, 166, 167, 168, 177, 178, 179, 180, 190, 192, 193, 216/218/219, 240, 245, 257, 268, 269, 277, 301, 309, 311, 316, RapidRide E Line and improved frequency on Route 915.

Sound Transit route changes

Several Sound Transit routes also will see service adjustments March 26, including routes 522, 541, 542, 550 and 554.

  • Route 522 will serve a new pair of express stops on Lake City Way NE.
  • Routes 541 and 542: A new peak route 541 will operate between the Overlake Park-and-Ride and the University District via the University of Washington Link station, with buses every 15 minutes during morning and afternoon peak commutes. Combined with Route 542, which will have new midday service between Redmond and the University District, there will be buses every 7-8 minutes between Overlake and the University District along the SR-520 corridor during peak commute periods.
  • Route 550 arriving in Seattle from 3-6 p.m. weekdays will travel westbound on Fourth Avenue instead of the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Westbound trips outside of weekday afternoon peak hours, and all eastbound trips to Bellevue, will serve the transit tunnel as usual.
  • Route 554: Twelve new trips will be added, so buses will come about every 15 minutes during the morning and afternoon peak periods.

ORCA cards and transfers

As Link light rail expands and bus service adjusts to create better connections, having an ORCA card becomes the best way to take advantage of the improved network. Riders can choose several options for monthly passes, or load money onto an ORCA card. A variety of ORCA card types are available for youth, senior, and disabled, as well as the ORCA LIFT card that provides reduced fares for income qualified adults. Details are online, at ORCA ticket vending machines and key retail locations around the region, or by phone at 206-553-3000.

King County Metro, Sound Transit, the City of Seattle and the University of Washington worked together to make it as easy and convenient for riders to use this improved, more frequent, more reliable network of bus routes.

Riders will experience convenient transfers between frequent buses and light rail trains. Also, stops are being relocated at key transfer points to shorten walk times. Local transit agencies, Seattle, and the University of Washington are coordinating to create better wayfinding, signage and passenger information, and as well as improved shelters and lighting at stops.

Free Wi-Fi in the Downtown Transit Tunnel

King County Metro Transit has installed Wi-Fi in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to enable customers to access the Internet, bus apps and trip planners to check schedules and see bus arrival times while they are in the DSTT. Customers also will be able to use this publicly available Wi-Fi network on tunnel bus platforms at Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square and International District Station. An estimated 25 users will have optimal Wi-Fi service at each end of a tunnel platform at the DSTT stations.

Starting in mid-2016, cell service will be available in transit tunnels and underground stations.