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New 24/7 red bus lanes on Olive Way are just the beginning

New red bus lane on Olive Way

New red bus lane on Olive Way. Credit: Dongho Chang.

We’re a third of the way to our goal of 90 new blocks of red bus lanes by the end of 2020.


A few weeks ago, Mayor Durkan announced that her proposed budget would create 90 blocks of new red bus lanes by the end of 2020. Since then, we’ve been wasting no time adding red markings at strategic locations downtown to help keep transit moving. This past weekend, we turned a four-block stretch of Olive Way into a 24/7 red bus lane, bringing us over a third of the way towards our 90-block goal.


The brand new red bus lanes are on Olive Way between 4th Ave and 8th Ave. Thirty-nine bus routes use Olive Way, and this will mean a more reliable trip for about 33,000 people each day. Previously, these lanes only prioritized buses at certain times of the day, but they will now be solely devoted to keeping buses moving reliably 24/7.

Map of Downtown Red Bus Lanes

Map of Downtown Red Bus Lanes


SDOT crews have added a total of 32 blocks of red bus lanes so far in 2019.


Since the Mayor’s September announcement of the largest ever expansion of 24/7 red bus lanes, we added red markings on Westlake Ave, Pike Street, 5th Ave, and now Olive Way. Red treatment was also added to two blocks on Terry Ave and nine blocks on Rainier Ave earlier this summer.


Adding this much red colorization so quickly is a huge feat. To create the scarlet boxes, we use methyl methacrylate (MMA) which bonds to the pavement and is more durable than paint. MMA requires special equipment, handling, and storage and will only set if the temperature is above 55° F and the pavement is dry. We’ve been working on nights and weekends to limit the impact to bus service, and our hard-working crews have devoted 12 and 14-hour shifts to get as much done as possible before the rainy season.

Photo of Signs and Marking crew.

Thank you to the Signs & Markings crew who worked through the night to keep transit moving.


Lots more red lanes coming in 2020.


We’ve got big plans to keep on adding new red bus lanes in 2020. Once weather conditions allow, we’ll add red to the new two-way Columbia St Transit Pathway, which will be a crucial step to open a more efficient and reliable Waterfront route for buses heading between West Seattle and downtown.


We also expect to add red markings to another five blocks bus lanes downtown on Pine St and Terry St. West Seattle bus routes will also benefit from red bus lanes on SW Alaska Street from 35th Ave SW to 42nd Ave SW. The biggest change will be completion of about 30 blocks of red lanes in both directions on Rainier Ave between S Mead St and S Henderson St.

Crews adding red to Westlake Ave in September.

Crews adding red to Westlake Ave in September.


Red bus lanes are one of the many ways we invest in transit.


Red markings help to make bus lanes more visible to drivers so that it is clear where cars are not allowed. This helps increase compliance with bus-only restrictions, which is essential to keeping transit and our city moving.


The voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District and Move Seattle Levy both helped pay for the 90 blocks of new red bus lanes and our transit spot improvement program.


This is just one of the ways that we are working to keep transit reliable for our residents. In addition to red markings, we are also investing in new bus stop shelters and head start signals for buses. Seattle Police Department will continue to be out there enforcing the rules of the road and ticketing drivers who violate the law by illegally blocking buses. City leaders will also continue to push for new laws allowing us to use cameras to automatically enforce bus lane restrictions and keep the city moving.