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Delivering on transit improvements for the #SeattleSqueeze: New ORCA readers & all-door boarding coming to 3rd Ave bus stops.

King County Metro buses and a bike rider on Third Ave, Seattle. Photo by Jeanne Clark.

Despite transit use decreasing in other metropolitan cities, this hasn’t been the case for Seattle. In fact, ridership has climbed in the last seven years with upwards of 50 percent of downtown commuters taking transit. That’s pretty amazing.

So, what’s a region to do to move more people through our ever-growing city? We invest in the most efficient way to get more people moving – transit improvements! Currently, Third Ave is our main thoroughfare for buses traveling in and out of downtown.

Since August 2018:


☑️  We expanded the bus-only hours on Third Ave.

We expanded the bus-only hours from Stewart St to just south of Yesler Way. This means for seven days a week, from 6 AM in the morning to 7 PM at night, Third Ave is reserved for buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians.


☑️  We’re adding new ORCA transit card readers and real-time bus arrival signs.

And now, new ORCA transit card readers and real-time bus arrival signs are in the works at every single stop on Third Ave between Yesler and Denny. This means starting on March 23, you’ll be able to tap your ORCA transit card prior to boarding the bus to speed up your bus on-boarding.

Permanent off-board fare readers already are installed at 21 of the corridor’s 31 bus stops, and installation at the remaining ten stops is scheduled April through December 2019. Until permanent equipment is installed, transit operators will serve as ORCA boarding assistants and will scan riders’ ORCA cards using handheld fare readers at ten stops during weekday commutes between about 3 – 7 PM, the busiest period for boarding on Third.


Just tap it.

We all know you’re smart Seattle, but given the influx of growth and new users unfamiliar with the ORCA transit card readers, here’s the skinny on how to use an ORCA card reader. Prior to boarding your bus on Third Ave, tap your ORCA transit card on the reader at your bus stop before your bus arrives or you board. Then just hop on your bus.


B U S  &  B U S  R A P I D  T R A N S I T

Tap at the ORCA card reader when you board. Or if your bus stop has an ORCA transit card reader or is on Third Ave and at stops along Westlake Ave N, just tap your ORCA cards at fare readers at your bus stop prior to boarding. Failure to tap may result in a citation.



Tap at the turnstile. Or, staff can tap your card on their card reader.



Tap on a station platform reader before you board.



Tap at the ORCA card reader on the station platform prior to boarding. Tap off when you exit so the correct fare is calculated. Failure to tap may result in a citation.


Metro buses on Third Ave, Seattle. Photo by Jeanne Clark.

Adjusting and prioritizing transit is a key way to making sure people can keep moving reliably and affordably throughout Seattle. We really appreciate our partners at King County Metro for their collaboration and hard work with us to make these critical transit improvements.


Seattle’s new normal – #SeattleSqueeze

Over the next five years, Seattle’s downtown will be in a state of transition to meet the needs of our growing city and region – #SeattleSqueeze. We’re making changes to our city and to our regional transportation system and help people get where they need to go safely and efficiently. New mobility projects are being developed and constructed to connect communities to downtown with fast, regular service and to create the public spaces our growing region needs.

For more information, tools, and resources on  #SeattleSqueeze, please visit our website!