Seattle Transit Riders will get more Late Night Bus Service this Fall

In September 2017, Seattle will more than double its service investment between 2 and 5 a.m., establishing new late-night connections throughout Seattle, and providing late night cross-town transit options for the first time ever.  Currently, Seattle fully funds the Night Owl Network (routes 82, 83, and 84) after a Metro service reduction in fall 2014.

These investments are possible through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) and the passage of Prop. 1 in November 2014 by Seattle voters.

NightOwl1 2-13-17Seattle will provide a simple, easy-to-use late-night network, balancing the needs for service on high-ridership routes while providing coverage across the city.  To do this, SDOT proposes the following investments:

  • Replace current Night Owl routes 82, 83, and 84 (funded by the City of Seattle) with two late-night round trips on the following routes: 3, 5, 11, 70 – serving neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Central Area, Eastlake, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Queen Anne, and University District. Other routes already provide late-night service to areas such as South Seattle and West Seattle.
  • Seattle-funded late-night service on routes 65 and 67 serving Northeast Seattle areas including Lake City, Children’s Hospital, and Northgate for the first time.
  • Seattle-funded cross-town connections from Ballard to the University District on route 44 and from Mount Baker to the University District on route 48. These investments expand late-night bus travel options for riders without having to go through downtown and diversifying travel options to, from, and through the University District.

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To compliment this network, Metro will fund the following:

  • Add two late-night round trips – at about 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on route 120 serving Delridge.
  • Provide hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies.
  • Extend Route 124 from Tukwila to Sea-Tac Airport after 1 a.m., increasing options for travelers and workers.

As with all STBD investments, SDOT will monitor the performance of these service investments to ensure we are providing the best system for our riders.  The map shows the Night Owl investments that will be implemented in September 2017.

nightowl3 2-13-17

These service investments are included in the September 2017 Service Change Package Ordinance that has been transmitted to the King County Council.

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More than 70% of Downtown Seattle Commuters Choosing Not to Drive Alone

A new Commute Seattle survey shows that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters opt for transit, ridesharing, biking, walking and teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. CS survey graphic 2-9-17

That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35% in 2010 to 31% in 2014.

Commute Seattle 1Employers see the value of a good transportation system. Downtown employers have invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits. Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95% of the increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.
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In addition to private sector investment, voter-approved initiatives TransitNow, Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), and the Levy to Move Seattle have provided funding for new transportation options for downtown commuters. These include City of Seattle and Metro coordinated service expansion of the RapidRide C and D lines, and implementing the 2nd Avenue and Westlake protected bike lanes, which enhance safety and bike capacity to and through downtown.

These results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30%, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.


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We got snow! Here’s what we did

In preparation for the Snow event on Monday February 6, we put our response crews on 12-hour shifts, that began on Sunday evening. Our trucks started treating streets and elevated structures. By the time you woke up on Monday to find out kids had a snow day, here’s what SDOT crews had already done.

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Early morning Monday:

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Pine Street

  • Mayor Murray visited SDOT Charles Street Maintenance facility to chat with local media and Maintenance Division Director Rodney Maxie about our Winter response.
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Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Maintenance Operations Division Director Rodney Maxie with media.

  • Crews treated elevated structures and overpasses with salt.
  • SDOT hand crews treated pedestrian routes.
  • Our Incident Response Teams responded to traffic incidents.
  • SDOT tree crews cleared downed trees and branches obstructing streets, such as W Mercer Place.
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Tree down at W Mercer Place east of Elliot Ave

By Midday:

  • SDOT crews continued to patrolling snow and ice routes, plowing and treating as needed.
  • SDOT tree crews continue to respond to downed trees in the right of way.
  • We replenished our materials in preparation for the evening.


  • Gold & Emerald routes were mostly bare and wet going into the PM commute.
  • Protected Bike Lanes were also clear.

Monday overnight into Tuesday:

  • 30 trucks worked overnight treating the Gold and Emerald priority routes for the Tuesday morning commute.

Good job team! Safe Travels Everyone!

Check out our Winter Weather Home page that has lots of useful information that can help you prepare before snow falls next time.

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City Reminds Travelers to use Extra Caution in Cold Weather

SDOT reminds residents to take great care when outside during winter weather conditions.

In addition to challenging travel conditions, trees can be significantly weakened by heavy snow and/or ice and can fall, putting those below at risk. Bent and broken tree limbs weighed down by snow or ice can fall unexpectedly, so take time to be aware of your surroundings. Particular caution should be taken when in parks and heavily wooded areas.

To report a downed tree that is blocking a city street or sidewalk, please call SDOT’s 24/7 Dispatch Center at 206-386-1218.

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Potential Strategies to Keep the Region Moving through Downtown Seattle Construction outlined

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Potential strategies to improve the mobility and experience of people through downtown Seattle were jointly released today by the City of Seattle, King County Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association. The four agencies are working together under the umbrella of One Center City to keep commuters from across the region moving through Downtown Seattle as growth continues and major transportation projects move forward.

Participate in the One Center City online open house now through February 17.

Nearly 230,000 people commute in and out of downtown Seattle from throughout the region, with many thousands more coming to shop and attend cultural events. Over the next 20 years, Seattle’s center city is projected to add 55,000 more jobs, which will employ people from throughout the region, and 25,000 more households.

All this activity places even more demands on our regional transportation systems. One Center City is developing a 20-year vision for keeping people moving to and through the downtown core, with recommendations to also address some temporary mobility challenges from a number of near-term projects happening concurrently from 2018 to 2023, including:

  • Demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and construction of a new Seattle waterfront,
  • Construction of a new downtown streetcar which will connect the First Hill and South Lake Union streetcar lines via 1st Avenue and Stewart Street,
  • Continuing public and private construction, including expansion of the Washington State Convention Center set to begin in late 2018, and
  • The long-planned conversion of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to a rail-only facility. Relocating buses that now use the tunnel to surface streets will enable the extension of light rail to Northgate in 2021 and the Eastside and Lynnwood in 2023 – at which time light rail can operate every four minutes in each direction through the Center City, with four-car trains that can move up to 800 riders each.

Without action, studies show the resulting congestion on downtown streets will slow cars and buses on major thoroughfares to a walking pace during the afternoon rush hour. The potential strategies outlined today seek to avoid those outcomes:

  • Street and traffic improvements – These include priority transit treatment through downtown, channelization, signal timing, changes to curb uses, improvements to pedestrian walkways, and new protected bike lanes.
  • Transit service restructuring options – Bus routes now using the tunnel would be shifted to surface streets as soon as late 2018; others could be rerouted to connect with light rail stations at the north and south ends of downtown Seattle with transfer to and from congestion-free light rail.

These potential strategies were shared with the project Advisory Group, key stakeholders, community organizations and traditionally underserved populations, and are available for review and comment at onecentercity.orgThe online open house is available now through February 17.

The four partner agencies will use input received in February to develop a package of recommended strategies for further outreach and evaluation. Metro Transit and Sound Transit will conduct outreach over the coming year on potential changes to transit service, and no changes to transit service can be made without approval by the Metropolitan King County Council and the Sound Transit Board of Directors.OneCenterCity_logo_c_tagline

One Center City is an unprecedented public/private partnership between the City of Seattle, King County, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle Association to create a 20-year plan for how we move through, connect to and experience Center City.  The plan will set priorities for how we use our streets, and identify specific programs and projects for an integrated transportation system and enhanced public spaces.

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SDOT’s 2016 Accomplishments

Meeting the challenges of a rapidly growing city while improving safety, delivering its core services, and providing more options for travelers, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) focused on advancing key initiatives in 2016. With funding from the nine-year Levy to Move Seattle, SDOT has worked diligently in 2016 to deliver on work across the city.


With Seattle’s Vision Zero safety campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, the city successfully lowered speed limits on streets in the center city from 30 to 25 mph and on all residential streets from 25 to 20 mph.

As part of SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, we added 15 blocks of new sidewalks, implemented crossing improvements at 17 intersections and improved 16 walking and biking routes to school throughout the city. To provide safer and more comfortable routes for walking and bicycling, we added more than 11 miles of neighborhood greenways, which are designated routes on non-arterial, low traffic volume streets with added safety improvements.


In partnership with King County Metro, the City of Seattle funded the extension of the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and the RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square in 2016. The extension and splitting of the RapidRide C Line and D Line were designed to improve the reliability of the two lines, which carry more than 21,000 riders each weekday, while connecting riders to growing employment markets.


Examples of work funded by the Move Seattle Levy include more than 36 lane-miles of street paving, 120 curb ramps built, 770 crosswalks marked, 5,500 trees pruned and 560 lane-miles of arterial streets striped. Several neighborhoods across the city also benefitted from microsurfacing (36 lane-miles of streets), a preventative maintenance surface treatment that preserves roadways. Nearly 100 percent of pothole requests were filled within three business days.

Other accomplishments in 2016 include:

Bicycling facility improvements:

Traffic operations:

  • Retimed 260 traffic signals in the downtown core
  • Connected 9.5 miles of arterials to Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology

Open space:

Construction management:

  • Hired 36 new inspectors in 2016, who are the eyes on the street for private and utility construction work, tasked with ensuring that mobility and right-of-way are maintained
  • Access Seattle Construction Coordination Program implemented Director’s Rule 10-2015 Pedestrian Mobility in and around Work Zones, which provides ongoing safety standards for pedestrians around construction zones in Seattle

Notable achievements:

  • Development in key freight policies: the Freight Master Plan, the South Lander Street Bridge Project and the Urban Freight Lab – a 3-year partnership with the University of Washington
  • A successful year for grants – grant awards totaled more than $184 million in 2016, more than double the previous high of $87 million in 2010

In 2017 SDOT will be looking ahead to: 

  • The replacement of the historic Yesler Bridge over 4th Ave
  • Extension of the 2-way protected bike lanes on 2nd Avenue
  • Pilot adaptive signal system in South Lake Union, more responsive to real-time traffic conditions, with the Mercer corridor being the first application of adaptive signal control in the city
  • The N 92nd Protected Bike Lane connecting the future light rail station at Northgate to North Seattle College and new elementary and middle schools opening Fall 2017 at the old Wilson-Pacific school site
  • The Interbay Trail Connections Project which redesigns 20th Ave W, Gilman Ave W, and W Emerson Pl to include protected bike lanes linking the Ship Canal Trail, Elliott Bay Trail and Ballard Locks
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City Officially Opens Westlake Protected Bike Lane

The Westlake protected bike lane on the west side of Lake Union is now officially open, connecting the Fremont Bridge and surrounding trails and parks to South Lake Union and downtown. Driven by an extensive community input process, the completed project addresses the pedestrian, bike and vehicular conflicts the corridor’s undefined parking and sidewalk space created.

People biking now have a separate space to ride, making the area safer and more comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The project also improves safety for all users by featuring a pedestrian path for people walking that is separate from the bicycle lanes. The designated space for people biking also makes the parking lot more predictable for drivers, which makes this scenic corridor more accessible for residents, employees and customers.

“Our goal is to provide safe, reliable, and predictable transportation infrastructure that connects people to homes, jobs, and recreation,” said Mayor Murray. “We heard from local businesses and residents that preserving public parking was a key priority to maintain economic opportunity. I’m happy to say we were able to build a protected
bike lane, improve pedestrian crossings, and preserve 90% of the original parking. I’m proud of the work the community and the City has done to make today a reality.”

The opening celebration on September 15 featured speakers, giveaways, snacks, games and a ride-along led by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly.

“The Westlake protected bike lane makes everyone’s trip along the corridor safer and more predictable,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “My thanks to the Design Advisory Committee for its critical work on this important safety project.”

The Westlake protected bike lane project began in fall 2013 and attracted hundreds of attendees to project open houses and community meetings. Project design was overseen by a Design Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of local businesses, residents, freight, and the bicycle and pedestrian communities. With this community input built into the design, the Westlake protected bike lane creates a safer, more comfortable corridor for people walking, biking, and driving while preserving approximately 90 percent of the parking. The City thanks the Westlake community’s residents, businesses, customers and commuters for their patience throughout the completion of this project.

Visit the Westlake protected bike lane project web page for more information at

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Community Members Invited to Develop Temporary Pop-up Parks for PARK(ing) Day Plus+

SDOT is now accepting applications to turn on-street parking spaces into pop-up parks and street improvements for its PARK(ing) Day Plus+ event in September. Each year, residents, businesses and organizations participate in the international PARK(ing) Day program to engage their communities in rethinking how streets can be used.

Applications to create a PARK(ing) Day Plus+ installation are due by August 5. The short, free application can be found on SDOT’s website. It requires a site plan, location description, and documentation of neighbor notification. Completed applications or questions can be emailed to

PARKngDayCollageThis year, SDOT is partnering with the Department of Neighborhoods to offer funding to PARK(ing) Day Plus+ participants through the Small Sparks grant program. Small Sparks grants (up to $1,000) can be used for projects and events that help build stronger and healthier communities. Grant applications must be submitted by August 5. Interested applicants can contact or call (206) 233-0093.

Seattle has participated in PARK(ing) Day since 2007, and based on its success, SDOT is expanding the event into PARK(ing) Day Plus+ this year. It will now span two days: Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17. In addition, applicants are encouraged test out temporary street improvements, such as bike lanes and sidewalks, as well as the pop-up parks that have been the focus of the event in the past.

The original PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 by San Francisco design firm Rebar and has become an international event celebrated in over 160 cities. The event intends to raise awareness about the importance of creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city.

More information about PARK(ing) Day Plus+, including application examples and guidelines, can be found on SDOT’s website. We’ve also included a photo gallery of past PARK(ing) Day installations, so take a peek and get inspired!

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Major Signal Retiming Improves Traffic Flow on Key Center City Corridors

SDOT today released the initial results of its recently completed traffic signal retiming project in the downtown core. A comparison of travel times before and after the Next Generation Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Center City Signal Timing Project was implemented shows notable travel time reductions as well as more consistent travel times on downtown streets. These signal timing improvements, completed and modified over the past several months, join recent transit, walking and biking enhancements to improve travel through Seattle’s Center City.

Seattle Skyline Day

Below is a snapshot of weekday travel times from March 2015 (before signal retiming) to March 2016 (after):

  • Central Business District:
    • Fourth Avenue northbound from Jackson Street to Virginia Street:
      • Peak morning times improved 6% or by 25 seconds.
      • Peak afternoon times improved 36% or by 3:09 minutes.
      • Overall improved 19% or by 1:25 minutes.
    • Third Avenue southbound from Stewart St. to Yesler Way (a main commute transit route):
      • Peak morning times improved 4% or by 19 seconds.
      • Peak afternoon times improved 11 % or by 1:14 minutes.
      • Overall improved 5% or by 28 seconds.
  • Denny Way Corridor:
    • Denny Way eastbound from Western Avenue to Dexter Avenue:
      • Peak morning times improved 9% or by 20 seconds.
      • Peak afternoon times improved 24% or by 1:41 minutes.
      • Overall improved 11% or by 33 seconds.
  • Additional travel time reductions during off-peak hours:
    • Northbound Fourth Ave from Jackson St to Virginia St improved by 39 seconds.
    • Southbound Second Ave from Denny Way to Stewart St improved by 3:32 minutes.

SDOT implemented its Next Generation ITS Center City Signal Timing Project in December 2015 and completed work in January 2016. The project divided downtown Seattle into zones and retimed traffic signals in each zone, such as the Central Business District (CBD), Pioneer Square, Belltown, and the Denny Way Corridor.

Highlights of the ITS project:

  • Retimed 260 traffic signals in the downtown core.
  • Divided the existing traffic signal system into a multi-zone network, allowing SDOT greater flexibility to control signal timings for different sections of the network while keeping other zones constant.
  • Adjusted pedestrian crossing times at every downtown intersection to meet current national standards and increase the time pedestrians have to clear intersections before vehicles start moving.

The cost of the signal project was $1.35 million, paid for using REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) funding. Comprehensive signal retiming programs have documented benefits of a 7% to 13% reduction in overall travel time, a 15% to 37% reduction in delay and a 6% to 9% fuel savings (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2009).

In addition to its major signal timing project, SDOT has made a number of other transportation improvements to keep people moving in downtown Seattle:

The extension and splitting of the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and the RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square was funded by the City of Seattle and began in March of 2016. These changes were designed to improve the reliability of the two lines, which carry more than 21,000 riders each weekday, while connecting riders to growing employment markets.

Thanks to this investment and on-street improvements, C Line on-time performance increased from 80.7% in April 2015 to 84.9% in April 2016. D Line on-time performance increased from 81.4% in April 2015 to 86.7% in April 2016. As a result, for the same time period:

  • C Line ridership increased 27%, about 2,300 new daily rides; and
  • D Line ridership increased 23%, over 2,600 new daily rides. 

The Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane (PBL) was upgraded in April 2016 between Denny Way and Pike Street to improve safety and efficiency for people biking, walking and driving. The project included new traffic signals with dedicated left turns, planter boxes to clarify and buffer the bike lane, and raised driveways to encourage travelers to look out for each other. After the initial PBL installation occurred on Second Avenue the rate of bicycle collisions dropped by 82% and the rate of serious bicycle collisions (involving an injury or fatality) dropped by 79%.

In addition to these transportation improvements, the Director’s Rule for Pedestrian Mobility In and Around Work Zones provides ongoing safety standards for pedestrians around construction zones in Seattle. The Director’s Rule took effect January 1 and makes navigation around construction sites easier and safer for everyone, including those with disabilities. Important standards outlined in the new rule include the requirement that contractors use solid, cane-detectable barriers instead of cones to define the outer edge of pedestrian reroutes, that clear and consistent signage be used, that specifications for meeting ADA sidewalk ramp requirements are met, and that sidewalk and lane closures are only used as a last resort.

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Transit Improvement Installation to begin on Westlake Ave N between Stewart and Mercer Street this Weekend

On Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20, SDOT will begin installation of new bus lane improvements on Westlake Ave / Westlake Ave N between Stewart St and Mercer St.

Beginning Monday, March 21, the new bus lanes can only be used by buses 24/7. These changes are in preparation for new service from the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union that will begin the following Saturday, March 26. Implementing the bus only lanes a week in advanced of the March 26 service change provides opportunity for drivers to adjust to the new bus lanes and also takes advantage of dry weather, producing higher quality markings.

The new northbound center BUS ONLY lane (between Harrison St and Mercer St) replaces the left turn lane from Harrison to Mercer. Additionally, people driving will be restricted from:

  • Making northbound left turn Westlake to Mercer. (click to view map)
  • Making southbound right turns from Westlake to Mercer.
  • Making northbound and southbound left turns from Westlake to Republican.
  • Making southbound right turns from Westlake to Republican.
  • Making northbound right turns from Westlake to Harrison.
  • Making southbound right and left turns from Westlake to Thomas.
  • Making northbound right turns from Westlake to Thomas.
  • Making northbound left turns from Westlake to Denny (during the middle of the day)

Westlake Map v2

Please plan your new route in advance to allow for adjustments to the changes. SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is completed.

New RapidRide C Line service and the SLU Streetcar will start using the BUS ONLY lanes. The changes make it possible to double the number of people using transit along Westlake Avenue during the afternoon peak commute between 5p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, which is the equivalent of adding another travel lane.

Ready for more bus service? Learn about the New RapidRide C Line service coming to SLU starting March 26.

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