5th/6th Transit Pathway

Updated: December 21, 2018

What's happening now?

We'll begin installing a new transit pathway on 5th Ave and 6th Ave in downtown Seattle in early 2019. The new 5th/6th Transit Pathway will provide more transit capacity and maintain transit speed and reliability when it opens March 23, 2019, during the Seattle Squeeze.

We're working with downtown Seattle stakeholders and our partner transit agencies to finalize a design and prepare for installation. Please sign up for our email update list to get regular information about the project.

Photo of transit only lane

A transit-only lane like this one will soon extend to Olive Way


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. 


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. 


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.


This project is funded by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District