We heard you: First Avenue just isn’t working consistently, and riders are feeling the very real effects of the Seattle Squeeze. Unfortunately, the squeeze is going to be with us for the next few years. Giving you a consistent bus experience is our goal and that’s what we’re striving to do. Which is why, starting Monday, September 9, Metro is shifting former southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct routes from First Avenue to Fourth Avenue South.

In the best conditions, First Avenue is the fastest pathway to get buses from downtown to West Seattle and Burien. But when the transportation grid is strained due to construction, an increase in cars around the stadiums, Friday afternoon ferry traffic, or a traffic incident, First Avenue crawls to a near stop. That takes time out of your day and keeps our buses from getting out of downtown.

Metro Managing Director of Service Development Bill Bryant and SDOT Director of Downtown Mobility Heather Marx speaking at media availability on service revision for First Avenue to Fourth Avenue South
Metro Managing Director of Service Development Bill Bryant and SDOT Director of Downtown Mobility Heather Marx spoke to members of the press after announcing the plan to move former Alaskan Way Viaduct buses off of First Avenue and on to a new pathway that goes from Second Avenue to Fourth Avenue South.

There are few alternatives, but the best option is a shift to Fourth Avenue South. Making the alternative pathway work meant analyzing travel times and consistency, weighing the impact to other routes that travel through the central business district, and determining where buses slowed down and required attention. That took time but was necessary to ensure the revision would work.

Our evaluations determined that a pathway that took Second Avenue (via Columbia Street) to Second Avenue Extension South to Fourth Avenue South was viable. Speed times were slightly slower under normal conditions, but the consistency improved dramatically. This new pathway appeared to have little effect on the travel time of other nearby routes, and we were able to identify areas that could be addressed directly by our partners at SDOT.

Below is a map showing the long-term service revision. Note that this is not permanent: when Alaskan Way is open to buses, we’ll be making a permanent shift to that route. Also note that the northbound routes are only temporarily rerouted. While northbound routes have been slower post-viaduct, they are much more consistent.

Beginning start of service September 9, southbound routes that used to travel the Alaskan Way Viaduct will no longer travel First Avenue. Instead, upon servicing the regular stop on Third Avenue and Columbia Street or Marion Street, buses will travel south on Second Avenue, continuing to Second Ave South Extension, stopping only at a new temporary stop on Second Ave Extension between S Washington and S Main streets. Buses heading to West Seattle will turn right at Holgate and then left at First Avenue S and the other routes heading south will turn right on Edgar Martinez Drive S, right on Colorado Avenue S, and then left on Alaskan Way S. Additionally, Washington State Department of Transportation is closing Dearborn Street for up to 10 days for construction. That will require a temporary short-term service revision for inbound/northbound routes that used to travel the viaduct via Fourth Avenue South, including the 21X, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, and the RapidRide C Line. The service revision is scheduled to begin September 12 through September 21. Routes will return to SR99 and First Avenue for those inbound/northbound routes on September 22.
Between September 12-21*, northbound routes are temporarily rerouted to take Fourth Avenue South while Dearborn Street is closed for viaduct demolition. That means you may be exiting the bus at stops at Prefontaine Place South or James Street during that ten-day period.

We appreciate your patience and feedback while we worked to find a solution that worked for all our riders. We look forward to buses moving more consistently on this new pathway.


*Pending viaduct demolition project conclusion