Public transit contributes to healthy neighborhoods. It encourages pedestrian activity, smart growth, and economic development. The City is committed to making transit an efficient, affordable choice for a 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 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.
High-Capacity Transit Planning Studies
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 two 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:
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 is installing in 2012. 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.
Rainier/Jackson 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 phase II SDOT will install transit signal priority and electronic real time arrival information signs with a fiber optic network.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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. Improvements include the installation of bus bulbs and curbs at bus zones, improved stop spacing, drainage and sidewalk location planning.
The project consists of 2 parts. The first phase includes a survey of the corridor to establish City right of way boundaries, evaluation of current bus stop conditions, evaluation of stop spacing, and 10% of bus stop improvements. First phase was completed in 2012. The completed survey will make it easier for the City to move forward with sidewalk projects as funds become available. Final design will begin in 2013. Construction of initial bus stop improvements will begin in late 2013 or early 2014.
Corridor plan recommendations for bus stop reconfiguration and improvement
The next phase of the project will be the creation of a broader corridor plan. This plan looks at all transportation elements of the corridor including sidewalks, bike facilities, parking, roadway use, intersection operation and bus stop design resulting in a long term plan for improvements along the corridor. The schedule for this phase will depend on funding which has not been identified.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.