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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Buses will keep rolling through downtown on Third Avenue

7/27/2007  10:55:00 AM

Buses will keep rolling through downtown on Third Avenue
Successful program will continue when transit tunnel reopens

SEATTLE - Based on the outstanding success in moving buses quickly and efficiently through downtown, Mayor Greg Nickels today announced that local transit agencies will continue to use Third Avenue as a priority corridor when the transit tunnel reopens in September.

The decision to continue prioritizing bus service on Third Avenue during peak hours will allow King County Metro Transit to reorganize surface bus routes and balance transit traffic across downtown. Eighteen bus routes will move to the tunnel when it reopens.

"By every measure, using Third Avenue for buses has been a very smart move," said Mayor Greg Nickels. "With tunnel work coming to an end, this is a tremendous opportunity to improve transit service downtown and help people get where they are going quickly and efficiently. It is one more step toward becoming the most climate-friendly city in the country."

The transit tunnel is on schedule to reopen on Monday, Sept. 24. Eighteen bus routes are moving into the tunnel, and Metro is reorganizing other bus routes on surface streets to further improve mobility through downtown. Several bus routes are moving from First, Second, Fourth and Fifth Avenues to Third Avenue to take advantage of transit-priority operations. New stops are being added on Columbia and Seneca Streets to help buses move more efficiently between downtown streets and the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

"I applaud the mayor's decision," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "It is increasing our bus capacity at a time when demand for more transit service is on the rise. During the tunnel closure we've actually increased downtown ridership by 10,000 boardings. This is good for congestion relief and important to our efforts to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to global warming."

A recent report by Metro monitoring transit performance during the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel closure confirms that operating Third Avenue as a transit-priority corridor during peak commute hours (6-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m.) is keeping traffic moving better throughout the downtown core. For that reason motorists will continue to have unlimited access to Third Avenue between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., evenings, nights and on weekends.

The report released last week found recent bus travel times on downtown surface streets improved by 26 percent since September 2005. Participation in programs supporting alternatives to driving alone has increased as well. During the same time period, more than 6,700 people and 150 businesses have joined Flexcar, and 1,650 downtown employees have registered at Rideshare Online to join vanpools and carpools.

Metro Transit and the city of Seattle are working with the Downtown Seattle Association to identify investments to make Third Avenue an even better place to shop, work and live. The focus is on improving public safety, trash collection, urban design and measures to track progress.

To read the monitoring report visit: For more information on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and Third Avenue operations visit:

Visit the mayor's web site at Get the mayor's inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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