5th/6th Transit Pathway

Updated: March 27, 2019

What's happening now?

New pathway and bus stops at 5th Ave and Marion St
The new pathway and bus stops at 5th Ave and Marion St

Last week the Seattle downtown transit tunnel closed to buses and installation of the new 5th/6th Transit Pathway was completed. We added 3 new bus stops, completed new striping, installed new signs and a new traffic signal. 

Thank you to all those who worked with us on the planning and design of the new transit pathway. We appreciate all the help and your patience as we worked next to busy downtown properties. 

Using transit to keep people moving

Get ready and make a plan before you go, Seattle - the Seattle Squeeze isn't over yet. There will be more buses on downtown streets and more riders getting on and off buses. 

We're working with Seattle Police Department to educate everyone on how to use the new transit pathway. We're also monitoring downtown traffic and our traffic engineers are in the field observing operations. We'll continue to monitor the changes and make adjustments as needed.

Bus Routes

Bus routes have changed. If you ride one of these routes, you will now get on and off at new bus stops downtown:

41, 74, 76, 77, 101, 102, 150, 252, 255, 257, 301, 308, 311, 316, 550

Find your new route details here. In addition, if your bus is on 3rd Ave, you'll be able to tap your ORCA Card before you get on and board through any door. Check out King County Metro's blog for more information.

King County Metro map with updated bus information after the March 23 service change

Map with updated bus information after the March 23 service change

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Project Overview

A new transit pathway on 5th Ave and 6th Ave from Cherry St to Olive Way will provide more transit capacity and improve travel time and reliability for northbound buses. The King County Metro routes that will use the new transit pathway to access I-5 northbound include: 74, 76, 77, 252, 255, 257, 301, 308, 311, 316. The existing, northbound transit lane on 5th Ave will be extended 2 blocks to Marion St, where it will connect to 6th Ave and continue north to Olive Way.

The pathway will consist of an east side painted bus lane in effect 3 - 7 PM, Monday - Friday. We'll install 3 new bus stops, widen existing lanes, add right-turn signals, and remove or alter some parking.

The new northbound transit pathway will also include new bus stops at Marion St, Union St, and Pike St. By increasing transit capacity on these streets, we can move more people efficiently in the center city during the Seattle Squeeze. Bus service will be outbound only, and mostly in the evening peak period.

Parking Changes

Some on-street parking will be removed and new time limits will be added to some remaining parking spaces. On-street loading zones, and access to alleys, off-street parking garages, and loading bays, will also be maintained on most blocks. See the map below for more details. 

Benefits

Creating an exclusive, transit-only pathway boosts reliability, travel speed, and capacity. This helps balance the street network so that the travel mode that carries the most people - transit - gets more dedicated space. 

To serve transit effectively, the pathway lane(s) will be closed to all private vehicles during pathway operating hours, which include the evening peak period (3 - 7 PM) on weekdays only. We're looking at access options for the pathway during other times. Emergency vehicles and first responders can use the pathway, but private for hire vehicles and shuttles cannot. 

What's a transit pathway?

Transit pathways make riding the bus faster and more reliable in congested urban settings like downtown Seattle. They are investments in moving people to and through downtown Seattle. Dense, constrained street grids have the highest potential transit ridership and tend to be places with the slowest and least predictable traffic speeds. 

Transit pathways create exclusive, transit-only lanes that get turning vehicles, frequent stops, and unpredictable traffic movements out of buses' way. They boost reliability, travel speed, and capacity which promotes the quality of the transit line and system.

Project Map

5th and 6th Ave Transit Pathway Map

Click to enlarge

Project Background

A new era of tough traffic will begin when the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) permanently closes the Alaskan Way Viaduct in early 2019. 

Even after the new SR 99 tunnel opens, transportation challenges will continue as buses move out of the transit tunnel to make room for the Washington State Convention Center addition and extending light rail; our region continues to grow; and private and public projects reduce capacity on our streets. We'll all have to adjust to a new normal. 

But there's good news. The City, WSDOT, King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Port of Seattle are working together to keep people and goods moving, and when work is done we'll have a world-class downtown. 

Schedule

Our plan is to update signals, paint lanes, and build new bus stops in early 2019, and open the new pathway to transit riders on March 23, 2019.

Funding

This project is funded by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District

Materials