The way you get around Downtown Seattle is changing once again. Beginning March 23, all-door boarding will begin along Third Avenue throughout downtown, all buses will move out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to surface streets, and frequency will increase on a number of high-volume bus routes. We have compiled all the things you need to know in hopes to make this an easy transition for employers and commuters. Utilizing an ORCA card will help reduce wait times and make for a smoother commute.

All Doors Open Along Third Avenue

Boarding your bus along Third Avenue is about to become faster. To reduce wait times and congestion along the country’s most heavily-used transit corridor, King County Metro will begin all door boarding for all bus routes serving Third Avenue. Starting March 23, riders can pay their fare using standalone ORCA card readers at all downtown stops along Third Avenue. Once only available for Rapid Ride routes, this will allow riders to board at any door. Standalone ORCA fare readers are already available at 21 of the 30 stops on Third Avenue. King County Metro will install new readers beginning in April. In the meantime, each stop will be staffed with ORCA boarding assistants who will scan ORCA cards using handheld readers during the evening peak commute.

Buses Hit the Streets from Downtown Transit Tunnel

If you are one of the 37,000 riders that board a bus inside the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, your bus stop is moving to a nearby surface street. All buses inside the tunnel will transition to stops on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Avenues. Additionally, there will be a newly dedicated transit pathway on 5th and 6th Avenues. All bus routes will begin surface street operation on March 23. The transition will make way for Sound Transit’s future Link Light Rail expansions to Northgate, Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Redmond. See below for the new bus stop locations for the seven affected routes: 

Route 41:
  • To Downtown Seattle: 3rd Ave and Stewart St
  • To Northgate: 3rd Ave and Olive Way/Howell
Route 74:
  • To Downtown Seattle: Union St and 2nd Ave
  • To Sand Point: 5th Ave, 6th Ave, and Pike St
Route 101:
  • To Downtown Seattle: 4th Ave S, 4th Ave, and Pike St
  • To Renton: Union St, 2nd Ave and 4th Ave S
Route 102:
  • To Downtown Seattle: 4th Ave S, 4th Ave, and Pike St
  • To Renton: Union St, 2nd Ave, and 4th Ave S
Route 150:
  • To Downtown Seattle: SODO Busway, 4th Ave S, 4th Ave, and Pike St
  • To Kent: Union St, 2nd Ave, 4th Ave S, and SODO Busway
Route 255:
  • To Downtown Seattle: Stewart St and 5th Ave
  • To Kingsgate and the Brickyard P&R: 5th Ave, 6th Ave, and Olive Way
Sound Transit Route 550:
  • To Downtown Seattle: 4th Ave and Pike St
  • To Bellevue: Union St and 2nd Ave

Visit King County Metro for more information and route maps.

There are lots of exciting changes happening this month. Utilizing an ORCA card is your best bet for a smooth transition and faster boarding. Thousands of Seattle employers offer an ORCA card as an employee benefit. We at Commute Seattle can help tailor an ORCA for Business Program to meet your company’s needs. For a limited time, companies new to transit benefits may be eligible for a 50% rebate of up to $10,000 over a year when investing in an ORCA program. Schedule a free consultation with one of our transportation specialists to learn more!

Commute Seattle_ORCA for Business_Free Consultation Button