Public transit contributes to healthy neighborhoods. It encourages pedestrian activity, smart growth, and economic development. The City is committed to making transit a more efficient, affordable choice for a wider variety of trips. We’re building projects and planning for the future.
Transit Master Plan
(click to enlarge map)
In April 2012, the City Council approved and unanimously adopted the Transit Master Plan (TMP). The TMP provides a long-range vision for the future of transit in Seattle. Learn more about the Transit Master Plan.
Transit Corridor Planning
The TMP prioritized several high-capacity transit (HCT) corridors throughout the city that will need more investments if we’re going to meet future demand. (click to enlarge map).
We’re currently working on five studies:
What is high-capacity transit (HCT)?
For Seattle, HCT consists of both rail and rubber-tired transit modes that can operate in exclusive right of way or in mixed traffic. The main goal of HCT is to provide faster, more convenient, and more reliable service for a larger number of passengers.
Seattle’s HCT corridors have the potential to be served by several types of transit. However, steep topography or constrained rights-of-way limit the available mode options for some corridors. The TMP considered three HCT modes, plus an enhanced bus service, when developing priority corridors:
- Rapid Streetcar – the rail mode considered for Seattle’s HCT corridors. It is envisioned to operate like European street tram systems. Rapid streetcars have higher capacity trains, greater priority over traffic, and operate at higher speeds compared with a local streetcar circulator, like the South Lake Union streetcar.
- Local Streetcar – the rail mode considered for Center City corridors. It functions as an urban circulator, has shorter distances between stops, and operates primarily in mixed traffic.
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – one of the two bus modes considered for HCT corridors. BRT combines a rubber-tired transit vehicle with the operating characteristics of a rapid streetcar. Diesel or electric trolley buses could be used.
- Enhanced Bus – assumes a more basic level of improvements and priority features for existing transit service. Diesel or electric trolley buses could be used.
Why do we do planning studies?
Planning studies are the first step in a process to move from vision to reality. The farther along we can get in the planning process, the better position we’ll be in to identify and secure federal grant funding, leverage local partnerships and dollars, and make these projects happen.
SDOT is building better public transportation infrastructure through projects that improve corridors and connections. The goals of these projects are to:
- Help transit run faster and more reliably
- Improve overall capacity to move people around the region
- Improve transit connections and rider experience
The South Lake Union Streetcar has been up and running since 2007. The First Hill Streetcar line is currently under construction and scheduled to begin service in 2014. For more information, visit the Seattle Streetcar website.
Priority Bus Corridors
We’re upgrading several key transit corridors, three of which are planned Metro RapidRide lines. The Transit Master Plan identified 16 corridors that form the backbone of the public transportation network, carrying high numbers of transit trips, showing the potential to generate many additional riders, connecting neighborhoods, and supporting sustainable growth.
Click on the projects below to learn more:
Rainier/Jackson Project (Metro Route 7 and other routes)
New bus bulbs, crosswalks, signal queue jumps, and ITS equipment, including electronic real-time schedule information signs, are in place. As of late 2013, SDOT is working to identify additional improvements to Route 7 speed, reliability, and bus stops.
Rainier/Jackson Project Website
TPCI Rainier Corridor Mailer 2/10/10
Transit Improvements Coming to Rainier Avenue
FAQ about Rainier/Jackson Project
FAQ about on-street parking changes on Rainier Ave
Questions? Contact Jonathan Dong at Jonathan.Dong@seattle.gov.
NW Market/45th Project (Metro Route 44 and other routes)
This corridor links Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Fremont, Wallingford and the University District. It is home to one of the most heavily used Metro routes in the system, the 44. Improvements include bus bulbs, queue jumps, and stop consolidation resulting in faster and more reliable service. The project could speed up Route 44 by up to 20%.
SDOT NW Market/45th construction website featuring construction updates and information
NW Market/45th project planning website
“Ride the 44” Facebook page featuring video, rider incentives, and information about the corridor
NW Market/45th Travel Time Improvement Information
Questions? Contact Jeff Bender at Jeff.Bender@seattle.gov.
Third Avenue Corridor
SDOT and Metro collaborate to implement targeted spot improvements around the city. These improvements utilize the same approach that drives the transit priority corridor projects, but spot improvements are lower cost and have a faster turn-around time. Bridging the Gap has helped fund a variety of projects like this, from a new queue jump at Columbia Street and Second Avenue to bus lanes on Battery Street and Wall Street.
Current Spot Improvement Projects:
- Whitman Ave N Safety Improvement
SDOT plans to make changes at the southern end of Whitman Avenue N where it intersects Green Lake Way N/N 46th Street to improve pedestrian, motorist, and transit safety at this intersection.
Only vehicles traveling towards Ballard southwest-bound on Green Lake Way N may legally enter northbound Whitman Ave N at Green Lake Way N. All other movements onto northbound Whitman Ave N at that location are illegal. Southbound, traffic on Whitman Ave N may legally only turn west onto the upper N 46th St roadway and continue west to Aurora Ave N.
However, the existing configuration of the Whitman Ave N/Green Lake Way N intersection fails to prevent illegal movements, including southbound Whitman Ave N to northeast-bound Green Lake Way N, eastbound N 46th St to northbound Whitman Ave N, and westbound N 46th St to northbound Whitman Ave N. During a four day observation period, over 25% of cars using Whitman Ave N made illegal movements. These illegal movements create a significant safety risk to other vehicles and pedestrians.
To reduce illegal maneuvers and improve traffic flow and safety, SDOT proposes to install a traffic island at the southern end of Whitman Ave N where it intersects Green Lake Way N and N 46th St. After installation of the traffic island, southbound traffic on Whitman Ave N will be physically prevented from turning onto Green Lake Way N and the N 46th St lower roadway. In addition, traffic on Green Lake Way N and N 46th St will be prevented from traveling north onto Whitman Ave N. In addition, pedestrian safety improvements are being installed in this area through a separate project. (The contact for this separate project is Terry Plumb. He can be contacted at Terrance.Plumb@seattle.gov or (206) 733-9053.)
Collectively, these projects will improve pedestrian, motorist, and transit safety at this intersection. SDOT recognizes these changes will create some impacts for residents. However, access to and from Whitman will still be available one block north via N 47th St.
The project is fully designed. The goal is to complete construction in summer 2014.
This work is part of the City’s Road Safety Action Plan to reach zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. If you are interested in learning more about what Seattle is doing to increase safety for all roadway users, visit www.seattle.gov/besupersafe.
Jeff Bender – Project Manager, Policy and Planning Division
Email Jeff.Bender@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-8837
- Historic Bus Shelter Rehabilitation
SDOT plans to rehabilitate two existing historic bus shelters while maintaining their unique historic character. The shelters are located are:
- Southeast bound Westlake Avenue @ Dexter Avenue
- Northbound Rainier Avenue @ South Wildwood Lane
Westlake and Dexter Historic Bus Shelter
This shelter is located in northeast Queen Anne at southeast bound Westlake Avenue North and Dexter Avenue North. The shelter was constructed sometime between the late 1920s and 1935, and served two railways at this time. The Seattle-Everett Interurban Railway ran along Westlake Avenue North from 1910 to 1939. The Seattle Municipal Railway, which was a streetcar system, had two routes that served the stop. The #21 Phinney route ran along Westlake Avenue North, the #6 South Seattle-Nickerson route ran along Dexter Avenue North. It’s unknown exactly when these two routes stopped, but the Seattle Municipal Railway ran from 1914 to 1941. In 1941, the streetcar was replaced by the “trackless trolley” (i.e., trolley bus) and diesel buses.
Today, the bus shelter serves passengers who ride King County Metro Routes 40 and 62. Over 50 passengers board at this location every day.
SDOT has been working with the Queen Anne and Fremont historical societies and members of the public for input on the rehabilitation project. A public meeting was held on March 6, 2014. SDOT’s rehabilitation plans include repair and repainting of the shelter roof, frame, and benches and other options to improve the passenger waiting experience. Additional amenities may include installation of an historical marker, a trash can, pedestrian-scale lighting, and/or new paving and landscaping.
For more information, check out the article written by Queen Anne Historical Society President Michael Herschensohn on the history of the shelter and SDOT’s rehabilitation project:
For more information, please contact:
Seattle Department of Transportation
Credit: University of Washington Libraries, 1935.
Credit: Brian Macik, SDOT, February 11, 2014
Rainier and Wildwood Historic Bus Shelter Rehabilitation
This shelter is located in the Brighton area of the Rainier Valley neighborhood at northbound Rainier Avenue South and South Wildwood Lane/South Holden Street. The location of this shelter served the Seattle & Renton Southern Electric Railway. The stop provided trolley access for properties to the east in what was then Brighton Beach, now called Seward Park. The Seattle & Renton Southern Electric Railway began in 1891 and ran until 1937. There has been some type of shelter at this location since at least 1910, but the construction date of the current shelter is unclear.
Today, the bus shelter serves passengers who ride Metro Routes 7 and 9. Nearly 200 passengers board at this location every day.
SDOT is working with the Rainier Valley historical societies and members of the public for input on the rehabilitation project. A public meeting was held on February 27, 2014.
SDOT’s rehabilitation plans include repair of the shelter structure (roof, brick/mortar, and benches) and other options to improve the passenger waiting experience. These may include installation of interior lighting, a trash can, brick pavers, station name signage, an historical marker, and/or community art. More information will be provided after the shelter and bus stop area design is finalized.
For more information, please contact:
Seattle Department of Transportation
Credit: University of Washington Libraries, 1910
Credit: Brian Macik, SDOT, January 10, 2014
- Broad Street Bus Lane
To help move people quickly and reliably on Metro’s RapidRide C/D Line and other transit routes, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is planning to convert one westbound lane on Broad Street between First and Third Avenues from a general purpose traffic lane into a “Business Access and Transit” (BAT) lane. The BAT lane will serve ten Metro Routes (routes 1, 2, 13, 19, 24, 33, 15E, 17E, 18E and RapidRide D), which carry a total of about 8,000 riders per average weekday.
The BAT lane will be reserved for buses, bicyclists, and right-turning vehicles, 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. Changes go into effect starting in spring 2013.
To accommodate the BAT lane, SDOT is making the following changes:
- Restrict six on-street parking spaces on the north side of Broad Street between Second and Third Avenues between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday
- Remove thirteen on-street parking spaces on the south side of Broad Street between First and Third Avenues
- Remove five on-street parking spaces on the west side of First Avenue north of Broad Street
- Install a westbound left-turn lane on Broad Street at Second Avenue
- Install an eastbound bicycle lane on Broad Street between First Avenue and Denny Way
- Fremont Avenue North Bus Stop Expansion
SDOT proposes expansion of bus stops on Fremont Avenue North, between 34th and 35th Streets, to improve general traffic and transit operations. Space for the expansion will be created by removing one passenger load zone, two commercial loading zones and 40’ of general parking.
The demand for these revisions is driven by an increase in transit service and ridership in the area as well as interest in improving general traffic flow along the block. Since September 2012, transit service to these bus stops has increased from about 8 buses an hour to 15 buses per hour during the peak, greatly increasing the likelihood of concurrent bus arrivals at both northbound and southbound bus stops. Since two large buses can’t fully pull to the curb at either the northbound or southbound bus stops, buses often have to block a general purpose travel lane until the space is cleared. This causes delays to riders and to drivers that get stuck behind the waiting buses. Similarly, restricting parking along the block will allow buses to move through intersections without having to wait for vehicle queues from the traffic signal to clear. Over 1000 riders use these bus stops each day; these revisions will provide great benefit to them as well as general purpose traffic. A diagram of all proposed parking revisions is shown below.
In the southbound direction, the bus stop is proposed to be extended north to the existing no parking zone. This will require removal of the existing off-peak 3 minute passenger loading zone and the off-peak 30 minute commercial load zone. A commercial load zone may be added on eastbound N 35th Street west of Fremont Ave N in order to compensate for the removal on Fremont Ave N if businesses express interest. In the northbound direction, the bus stop is proposed to be extended north to N 35th Street. This will require removal of the existing off-peak 30 minute commercial loading zone and approximately 40 feet of general purpose parking. There is currently 80 feet of commercial load zone on eastbound N 35th Street just east of Fremont Ave N as well as mid-block alley access for business loading use.
- Greenwood Ave N Transit Improvements
The City is developing plans to improve bus zones, access, and transit speed and reliability on Greenwood Ave N between N 85th St and N 105th St. Bus service on this corridor includes routes 355, 5x and 5 which carried over 2 million riders (6,500 per day) in 2011. The bus stop element of the project involves upgrading bus stops and sidewalks adjacent to bus stops, closing some stops, and relocating others to improve bus stop spacing (the distance between stops) along Greenwood. (Click here to see SDOT’s 2012 Greenwood Corridor Concept Plan, which led to this project.)
The project will also include the installation of sidewalks, primarily focused on the east side of the street, and will provide long-sought continuity between existing sidewalks along this part of Greenwood. As funds become available, the City will pursue design and construction of sidewalks on the west side of the street.
Each of the new bus stops will include what is known as a “bus island,” which makes the stops more efficient by keeping the bus in the travel lane while stopped to load and unload passengers. In addition, it reduces conflicts between buses, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians. (Existing bus islands are located on Dexter Avenue North on the east side of Queen Anne Hill below Aurora, on South Jackson Street along the route of the new First Hill Streetcar, and on Fourth Avenue South at Main Street.)
The existing bike lanes on both sides of Greenwood will be improved as part of the project. These bike lanes are currently located on the right edge of the street, between the parking lane and the travel lanes. With the installation of bus islands, the bike lanes will run between the planting strip and the bus island at bus zones. Bus riders will cross the bike lane to get to and from the bus island. Signage will alter bicyclists as they approach the bus island of the need to slow down and to watch for pedestrians. Crosswalk markings in the pavement will reinforce the expectation that bikers are to yield to pedestrians.
The project is about half designed. The goal is to begin construction in late 2014 or early 2015.
- SW Genesee St and SW Avalon Way Parking Removal
Metro introduced Route 50 in September, 2012 as part of a major service change. In order to improve safety for Route 50 some parking will be removed on SW Genesee St. Parking restrictions are needed along SW Genesee St. to provide space for Metro Route 50 which operates every twenty minutes during the peak hour and every thirty minutes during the day. Also, in response to community requests, SDOT added a new traffic signal at Genesee and Avalon which requires some striping changes and additional parking restrictions.
Beginning February 2013, residents will notice the following changes:
- Parking will be removed on the north side of SW Genesee Street between SW Avalon and Delridge Way SW
- Parking will be removed on the south side of SW Genesee Street between SW Avalon Street and 30th Avenue SW.
The City recognizes that these changes will have impacts on residents. Parking is available on side streets as an alternative to parking that was removed. If you have questions or comments about this change or Seattle’s transit policies and programs, please contact me at (206) 233-8564 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Aurora Avenue North and North 65th Street Pedestrian and Bus Stop Improvements
RapidRide E Line service is scheduled to begin this fall 2013 and a RapidRide station is planned at Aurora Avenue North and North 65th Street. To better connect pedestrians to this station, SDOT has designed a set of pedestrian improvements and a Business Access and Transit lane, which include:
- New RapidRide E Line bus stop at Aurora Avenue North and North 65th Street, which includes a new bus shelter, bicycle rack and real time information kiosk
- New sidewalk connections, curb extension and curb ramps on the west and north side of Woodland Place North and North 65th Street.
- Intersection revision and new all-way stop at Woodland Place North and North 65th Street.
- New curb extension and curb ramps on Aurora Avenue North and North 66th Street
- New Business Access and Transit Lane on the west side of Aurora Avenue between North 115th Street to North 38th Street
The project is scheduled for construction starting late summer 2013 and will be completed in fall 2013.
- 15th Ave E and E Galer Safety Improvement
SDOT plans to improve safety on 15th Avenue E just north of the intersection at E Galer Street. SDOT has identified a significant traffic safety issue on 15th Avenue E that needs to be addressed.
15th Avenue East between E Galer Street and E Garfield Street consists of an 8-ft wide southbound bus layover lane, an 8-foot wide southbound travel lane, a 9-foot northbound travel lane, and an 8-foot wide northbound parking lane. With this configuration, the southbound travel and layover lanes are too narrow and southbound vehicles currently cross the centerline when buses are in the layover lane, creating an unsafe condition. Between January 1, 2008 and August 11, 2013, there have been three motor vehicle collisions on 15th Avenue E between E Galer Street and E Garfield Street. One collision involved a vehicle being struck from the left side, one collision involved a parked vehicle being struck from behind, and one collision involved one vehicle being struck head on by another vehicle.
To prevent future collisions from vehicles crossing the centerline, SDOT proposes to widen the lanes by removing 10 parking spaces (eight general parking and two load zones) on 15th Avenue East immediately north of East Galer Street. The proposed lane configuration consists of an 11-foot wide southbound bus layover lane, an 11-foot wide southbound travel lane, and an 11-foot wide northbound travel lane.
SDOT recognizes these changes will create some impacts for residents. Parking will still be available on the east side of 15th Ave E immediately north of the safety improvement area, on both sides of 15th Ave E south of E Galer St, on the south side of E Galer St east of Grandview Pl E, on E Grandview Pl, and on E Garfield St.
This work is part of the City’s Road Safety Action Plan to reach zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. If you are interested in learning more about what Seattle is doing to increase the safety for all roadway users, visit www.seattle.gov/besupersafe.
SDOT Spot Improvement Toolbox
Bus bulbs: SDOT constructs sidewalk extensions at some high volume bus stops. A wider sidewalk improves passenger waiting areas and eliminates the need for buses to merge in and out of traffic..
Transit lanes: Transit lanes help move bus riders efficiently and improve safety for everyone on the road. Depending on the situation, Seattle employs either bus only lanes or business access and transit lanes which allow buses and vehicles taking a right turn.
Queue jumps: Short bus-only lanes at signals allow transit to bypass traffic lined up at intersections. SDOT has built and is planning queue jumps at numerous locations around the city.
Transit signal priority: Signals are adjusted to give buses extra time to get through intersections. The signal will either change to green earlier than normal in response to an approaching bus or stay green longer than normal to allow an approaching bus enough time to pass through. The signal then recovers over the next cycle to return to its normal phasing.
Parking Restrictions:When an intersection or road segment is particularly prone to gridlock, one potential solution is to restrict parking to create another travel lane. A rush hour parking restriction can provide significant travel time savings by targeting specific choke points. Similarly, in some situations SDOT can help improve peak traffic flow through restricting left turns for non transit vehicles. SDOT conducts a thorough analysis of traffic flow, parking utilization, turn lanes and potential transit benefits before imposing such restrictions.
Electric Trolley Bus Improvement Projects
About Trolley Buses:
Seattle’s electric trolley buses run on 100% emission free electricity. The City of Seattle is committed to working with King County Metro Transit to expand and improve the existing trolley bus network. There are currently 70 miles of streets with trolley service, connecting some of the densest neighborhoods in Seattle. Trolley buses carry a fifth of all King County Metro riders.
In 2011, Metro concluded a major study of the costs and benefits of trolley buses. Metro compared the life cycle costs of replacing the trolley bus fleet to replacing the fleet with diesel hybrid buses and found that new trolley buses would have a lower overall cost and far less negative environmental impacts. As a result, Metro is procuring a whole new fleet of 155 comfortable, modern trolley buses which will feature auxiliary power to travel short distances off wire among other improvements.
Aside from producing no global warming emissions, modern trolley buses are much quieter than diesel buses, perform better on steep hills than both normal buses and rail vehicles, and feature auxiliary power units which allow the vehicles to drive off wire if necessary.
Uptown/ Belltown Electric Transit Improvement (affects Metro Routes)
Seattle will work with Metro to install new overhead wire on Denny Way between 3rd Avenue and 1st Avenue. This will increase speed and improve reliability for trolley buses entering downtown. Each trip would save an average of two minutes, making more efficient use of Seattle’s service hours.
Approximately 9,700 riders board the affected trolley buses every weekday. SDOT and Metro are also considering consolidating and improving bus stops in the area for additional time savings and improving streetscapes for pedestrians as well as waiting passengers.
This project included major bus stop rebuilds at six locations on Third Avenue in Belltown. Bus stop sidewalks are now wider with new shelters, benches, lighting, information signs, bike racks, and other amenities. The project also included foundations for future electronic real-time bus schedule information signs which Metro plans to install in 2014. Each of these bus stops – at Virginia, Bell, and Cedar streets - serves hundreds of riders headed to and from Queen Anne and North Seattle.
Questions? Contact Bill Bryant at email@example.com.
Ballard-Uptown Project (Metro Route 15 and other routes, future RapidRide D Line)
SDOT is working closely with Metro to implement RapidRide in this corridor which serves downtown, Belltown, Uptown, Interbay, Ballard and Crown Hill. Metro is managing and funding the project. Upon completion, average bus travel time in this corridor should improve by 10-20%.
2010 Ballard-Uptown Information Sheet
King County Metro’s RapidRide D Line website
Questions? Contact Jonathan Dong at Jonathan.Dong@seattle.gov.
Rainier/Jackson Intelligent Transit Systems (ITS) Project (Metro Route 7 and other routes)
Phase I of the Rainier/Jackson Corridor improvement project is complete. New bus bulbs, crosswalks and queue jumps are in place. In 2012, Phase II – Rainier/Jackson ITS - will install transit signal priority at six intersections and electronic real time bus arrival information signs at 13 high-ridership bus stops, along with a fiber optic network that will be available for use for numerous transit and non transit related purposes.
Questions? Contact Jonathan Dong at Jonathan.Dong@seattle.gov.
Arterial Asphalt and Concrete Projects
Arterial Asphalt and Concrete (AAC) projects are major reconstructions of arterial streets. These projects present excellent opportunities to cost-effectively improve transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. Under the Complete Streets Ordinance, adopted in 2010, Seattle must consider all users in the design of road projects. This assessment includes bus riders, pedestrians, bicyclists, freight, and automobiles. For a complete list visit the AAC website. The following AAC projects include significant upgrades to bus stops and facilities:
Opening of McGraw Square, 2011
Integrated, seamless transit systems rely upon hubs for smooth and reliable transfers between transit services. SDOT takes an active role to ensure that Seattle’s primary transit hubs are pedestrian friendly, safe and enjoyable places.
The three key intermodal hubs in the Downtown area include:
- Colman Dock
- King Street Station
Recent hub improvements have included the opening of McGraw Square which is part of the Westlake Hub. As a nexus of light rail, buses, the Seattle Center Monorail, and the South Lake Union Streetcar, Westlake Hub connects thousands of people to destinations across the region, every day. Visit the McGraw Square project website for details.
King Street Station
King Street Station is currently undergoing a $50 million renovation. The City teamed up with a variety of partners to restore the station, create a new pedestrian plaza on Jackson and much more. The work will ensure that King Street Station is a vital hub and gateway to Seattle for another hundred years.
Visit the King Street Station website for details.