Third Avenue through downtown is the city’s most heavily used transit corridor, with over 42,000 transit boardings each weekday, with riders getting on and off some 2,500 buses. Working to make this transit experience easier, quicker, and more enjoyable, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro are working together to install an array of transit improvements along the corridor.
This past fall SDOT installed nine Transit Information Kiosks along the corridor. These electronic information boards allow bus riders to visually track the projected arrival times of their buses in real time through the kiosk’s digital display. Alongside the kiosks are the ORCA card readers, which allow Metro RapidRide (routes C, D, & E) passengers to pay for their rides before the bus arrives, thereby reducing the time required for boarding, and getting those commuters home just a little quicker. As of this posting, only two of the nine ORCA readers are operational, those serving the C and D Lines. The remaining seven will become operational on February 16, the day Metro begins its E Line RapidRide service on Aurora between downtown and Shoreline.
The next element of the project will be a series of improvements at the bus zone on the east side of Third Avenue between Pine and Stewart (in front of Macy’s). Construction which is currently slated to begin in February, and be completed within several months, will include:
- A Transit Information Kiosk, with ORCA card reader,
- New paving with photocatalytic material and new patterning – expanded width of sidewalk by six feet,
- A new artistic intersection treatment at Pine Street,
- The addition of new trees at the north end of the block, near the corner at Stewart,
- Expanded bus operations north 40’ in the south bay of Macy’s loading dock when not in use,
- New transit canopy,
- New pedestrian scale LED lighting to improve visibility and comfort,
- A new “street elements zone” to organize trash cans and bike racks, and
- A new red curb treatment
Macy’s will join the effort with their own improvements. For instance, they will install art panels at the loading bay, lit from above; add interest in their store windows, including partnering with artists and non-profit organizations; and add lighting that will enhance the parking garage façade and skybridge to create a “Macy’s space” on both sides of the street.
The remainder of the Third Avenue Corridor design is currently being developed. The goal is to complete construction of the Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements in 2016.