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Bus-Only Lane Extension Planned for Rainier Ave S | Seattle Transit Measure

A person waits at a Rainier Ave S intersection as the Metro Route 7 bus travels by in the bus-only lane. Photo: SDOT

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Get ready for some important changes coming to Rainier Ave S. We are finalizing the design to extend bus-only lanes one mile north between S Walden and S Grand streets in 2024.

We’re also piloting new street treatments to emphasize that people driving should only use the lanes when turning right into a business or street within the next block, and launching a new educational campaign.

At a Glance:

  • Extending northbound bus-only lanes on Rainier Ave S to support the nearly 64,000 trips made on the Route 7 bus weekly, improve access to the future Judkins Park Link Light Rail Station, and prepare for RapidRide R Line upgrades.
  • Installing raised street markings and additional signs to emphasize only buses and people turning right within the next block should be in the bus-only lanes. Learn more in this related blog post.
  • Launching an educational campaign to remind people of how bus-only lanes work best.

In 2022, community input informed how to operate a section of Rainier Ave S when the second phase of northbound bus-only lane is installed. This extension builds on the Phase 1 Rainier Ave S Transit Priority, which was funded by the Seattle Transit Measure and the Route 7 + Multimodal Corridor Project improvements completed in 2023 thanks to the Levy to Move Seattle.

Vicinity map

Map of key aspects of Rainier Ave S and surrounding communities in southeast Seattle. Lines show where current and future bus only lanes are along Rainier Ave S. Neighborhood Greenway routes are shown in green lines traveling north to I-90.
Map showing the location of upcoming bus-only lane extension from S Walden St to S Grand St, along Rainier Ave S. Graphic: SDOT
A graphic showing travel lanes along Rainier Ave S. There are two southbound vehicle lanes, a center turn lane, a northbound vehicle travel lane, and a northbound bus-only lane. People walk along the sidewalk on both sides, next to trees.
Graphic looking north on Rainier Ave S illustrating the street layout of two southbound general purpose lanes, a center turn lane, one northbound general purpose lane, and one bus-only lane. Graphic: SDOT.

The above graphic shows the planned street layout, which is estimated to save people riding the bus 5 minutes during congested morning hours.


  • Adds a new traffic signal at S Grand St to promote transit reliability and safer crossings for people walking and rolling
  • Makes riding the bus more reliable and useful
  • Supports an affordable travel option that reduces pollution
  • Connects people to the future Judkins Park Link Light Rail Station scheduled to open in 2025
  • Builds a foundation for Metro’s plans to upgrade Route 7 to RapidRide R Line
  • Supports Levy to Move Seattle investments to encourage more people to ride Route 7
  • Maintains a center turn lane supporting continued freight service to nearby businesses


  • Increases travel times for people driving northbound on Rainier Ave S by up to 9 minutes during the morning hours
  • Results in need to monitor for traffic diversion on neighborhood streets

Promoting appropriate use of bus-only lanes through street treatments and new educational campaign

To keep bus service frequent, reliable, and a good travel option for Seattleites, we work with our partners at King County Metro and install bus-only lanes around the city. After they have been in place for a few months, we observe the locations to better understand if the lanes are helping to keep buses moving and if people are following the rules of the road.

Our findings to date indicate that, when used in the right locations, bus-only lanes support good bus service. However, when not occupied by a bus, people driving sometimes misuse them to move around traffic.

Not only is weaving in and out of traffic unsafe, but it can disrupt bus reliability and make walking and rolling along the sidewalk uncomfortable.

So, as we follow through on plans to extend the northbound bus lane on Rainier Ave S from S Walden to S Grand St, we will also pilot new treatments to discourage people driving personal vehicles in the bus-only lane between S Oregon St and S Edmunds St. You can find more details about these treatments in this blog post.

Ultimately, we hope people driving will allow themselves enough travel time so these investments become unnecessary, bus service is not impacted, and everyone arrives at their destination safely.

Another way to encourage people to change their behavior is to share knowledge. People may be new to the neighborhood, unfamiliar with bus-only lanes, or new to driving.

We’ll begin running a simple digital ad campaign in late 2023 and into 2024 to help people understand the value of bus-only lanes and that they should not drive in them. We’ll also place translated ads in Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Somali, and Vietnamese on multicultural media online platforms.

Digital advertisement that says 'keep buses moving - don't drive in the bus lane' with the SDOT logo and icons of buses, people walking, driving, and a cityscape in the background.
Example of an informational digital ad emphasizing the importance of not driving in bus-only lanes. Graphic: SDOT

Stay informed:

Editor’s note (11/30/2023): The map graphic was updated to show the full extent of the current Neighborhood Greenway route extending north to I-90.