There are only 12 more days for the public to weigh in on Metro’s proposal for expanding and improving late-night bus service in Seattle. The proposal would offer new transit options for those getting to or from jobs, the airport and nightlife between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Metro has about 40 routes with some level of late-night service throughout King County. Of these, 20 provide trips after 2 a.m., including three Night Owl routes that loop through some Seattle neighborhoods only between 2:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. The Seattle Department of Transportation funds all service on Night Owl Routes 82, 83 and 84, and partners with Metro to fund additional night owl service on the C and D Lines.
The public is encouraged to review the proposal and offer comments via an online survey until Oct. 30. The survey is available in English, Spanish and Chinese. Metro and SDOT staff are meeting with groups that represent workers and other riders who depend on the service and will ride buses late at night to talk to riders about the proposal and get feedback. Public comments will help shape a final proposal, which could go before the County Council later this year. If approved, it will take effect in September 2017.
Metro’s draft proposal would replace the three Night Owl routes with late-night service on regular, all-day routes that serve the same areas. The draft proposal also includes new after-hours bus service to Sea-Tac Airport for travelers and workers, for whom there currently are limited options after 1 a.m. It also includes hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies.
While overnight ridership represents a small portion of Metro’s total ridership, it has increased by 20 percent in the last five years. Metro conducted a first round of public outreach last spring and developed the latest proposal after hearing from more than 2,600 transit users. Among their highest priorities were better transit options for:
- Workers in jobs with non-traditional work shifts such as health care and many segments of the service industry.
- Travelers and workers heading from downtown to Sea-Tac Airport after Link closes.
- Customers enjoying Seattle’s nightlife, including music and arts venues.
- Those who are experiencing homelessness.
The proposal would make several changes, including:
- Replace current Night Owl routes 82, 83, and 84 with two late-night round trips – around 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. — to each of the following routes: 3, 5, 11, 70, 62 and 120.
- Extend Route 124 all the way to Sea-Tac Airport after 1 a.m.
- Improve late-night transfer connections between buses in downtown Seattle.
Current Night Owl routes do not match daytime routes, which some riders find confusing. To improve awareness of late-night bus service, Metro will work to improve customer information related to late night service options.