photo:  Wikimedia
photo: Wikimedia

This Friday, July 4th, will see every transit agency in the region running on a holiday schedule, which in most cases means their Sunday schedule.

Metro, ST Express, Pierce Transit, and Everett Transit buses will be running on their Sunday schedule. Both Central Link and Tacoma Link will also be running on their Sunday schedule. For bus routes, you are advised to check for re-routes.

Tacoma Link will only be running every 24 minutes, and shut down approximately 6 p.m. The last southbound Central Link train leaves Westlake Station at 11:50 p.m., as is customary on Sundays, but will continue all the way to Seatac Airport Station.

Community Transit and Kitsap Transit buses will not be running. Sounder trains and the Vashon Foot Ferry will also not be running.

Some added evening service is planned for the South Lake Union Streetcar before and after the fireworks show. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., service is scheduled every 15 minutes. From about 7:30 p.m. until about fireworks show time at 10:15 p.m., the streetcar will operate every 10-15 minutes, with service stopping temporarily during the fireworks show to better position streetcars at South Lake Union Park to carry passengers exiting the event. After the fireworks show, southbound streetcars will only travel non-stop to the Westlake hub, and return non-stop to South Lake Union to pick up additional customers exiting the event. Service will conclude by midnight.

The West Seattle Water Taxi will be operating on an extended Sunday schedule. The last departure from Pier 50 on the Seattle waterfront will be at 10:30 p.m. and the last departure from Seacrest Park in West Seattle will be at 11 p.m. The free West Seattle shuttles – Routes 773 and 775 – will operate on a normal Sunday schedule.

Washington State Ferries has a route-by-route breakdown of service changes and advice on when to travel.

There will be fireworks shows all over the region, but none larger than the aforementioned Lake Union show, with festivities going on all day at Gas Works Park and South Lake Union Park. Arrive very early if you want to find space at either park, but crowds tend to ring the lake from all public viewpoints well before 10 p.m., and the buses are always very slow getting through the crowds afterward. So, don’t depend on making a connection.

30 Replies to “4th of July Schedules”

  1. Great job SLU Streetcar. That will really make SLU available to anyone that can get to Link.

    Not so great Metro. I guess I’ll plan on walking home.

    1. Possibly good job streetcar- we’ll see how bad the traffic on Westlake, since it doesn’t have it’s own lane:(

      1. There’s no sugarcoating it – I fully expect the traffic on Westlake after the event to be complete gridlock, and that anyone not disabled who rides the train will be wishing they had just walked. I also expect pedestrian traffic to spill out into the street, as the sidewalks along Westake are not nearly wide enough to handle these kinds of crowds.

        Having the trains run non-stop is a place to start is an interesting idea, but I think much more drastic measures are needed to keep people moving. For example:

        1) Close Westlake completely to cars after the event, including both moving cars and parked cars. This would give the streetcar its own lane, giving it some hope of moving. The space normally occupied by parked cars would be a very welcome extension of the sidewalk for those who want to walk.

        2) Post big signs after the event saying the streetcar is for people with small children or disabilities only (and their companions) and that able-bodied people please be considerate of others and walk. I believe that no matter what is done, the streetcar won’t have the passenger capacity to come anywhere close to meeting demand, so we can at least channel its use to the people that need it most.

        (If the role of the streetcar is explicitly to carry people with disabilities, it would probably be a good idea to serve all stops along the route).

      2. I meant in terms of operations – they’re at least trying.

        I love [asdf]’s option 1. Cars have plenty of roads to sit in traffic in after the show – we have the ability of moving a large number of people past traffic, and should use it.

      3. If this isn’t an argument for giving streetcars exclusive lanes, I don’t know what is. Its a always a giant pain to get away from these big events via transit, and if we can get service scheduled that has its own lanes to help people escape, I think we will see a lot of really full trains.

        Once link is capable of getting folks north of Westlake Center, we will wish we had more monorail cars for getting people out of Seattle Center on new years eve. It will be the best escape route.

      4. The nonstop service is the same as it was when I was there for the 4th a year or two ago. After the fireworks the line was two or three streetcars full. I stood in line for maybe 20 minutes, not because I was in a hurry to get anywhere but to talk with other passengers. One streetcar came and took the front of the queue. I left the line and started walking home probably a bit before the second streetcar came, because I live several blocks east of Westlake Station so it’s a 20 minute walk whether I take the streetcar or not.

  2. Who exactly are the later Water Taxi runs for? The fireworks show on Lake Union doesn’t start until 1015 or so meaning no one is making that 1030 boat back to West Seattle. I get the 1100 departure is just a revenue earning deadhead but the schedule isn’t serving anyone getting home from the show.

    1. I think that in the best of times, the water taxi serves a very small number of people.
      Avg daily ridership is around 500 passengers.
      The Super Bowl celebrations however, did cause record crossings.

      1. Charging an arm and a leg probably isn’t the best plan, if your desire is to be seen as a routinely-usable part of an integrated urban transport network.

  3. For anyone who feels compelled to drive to the fireworks because our transit network at 11 PM on a Sunday is completely inadequate for an event like this – you can save yourself a lot of time and aggravation by choosing a parking place with a quick getaway after the event (e.g. next to Aurora or I-5) over trying to grab a spot as close as possible (which will probably be fruitless anyway, as street parking within a mile of Gas Works Park is typically filled as early as 12 noon).

    The local streets around Gas Works Park are always gridlocked after the fireworks, but if you strategically position the car so that, after 20-30 minutes of walking to it, you can immediately take off down either I-5 or Aurora, you’ll probably do all right getting home.

    Also, for anyone living within 2-3 miles of Gas Works Park, getting in the car at all (or messing with transit) is a complete waste of time. There’s nice weather in forecast, so just walk. Lots and lots of people walk 2-3 miles home from this event – even at 11:00 at night on the way home, the streets will not be deserted. Even for those living as far as 6-10 miles away, riding a bike home from the event is likely to be as fast, if not faster, than driving, and certainly way faster than transit.

    1. I will probably walk 3 miles home up a large hill with small children. It’s really not worth driving.

    2. Last year, my wife and I watched the fireworks from a great strategic spot on upper Queen Anne. After the event (to which we drove, partly to carry lots of party supplies), we didn’t even try to access Aurora or I-5. We drove straight west onto 15th W, and just used 15th/Holman/105th to get to Northeast Seattle. It was like driving at 11 on any other night.

    3. Yes, there are plenty of places to watch, like from houses in the Eastlake neighborhood if you know anybody there, or the little pocket parks on the Eastlake side. Melrose Avenue north of Denny will probably be pedestrian-only too, although the view isn’t that great because of buildings in SLU. But if you go north to around Lakeview Blvd the buildings stop blocking it. You can also look down over the freeway and watch cars get busted by cops when they stop to watch the fireworks.

  4. Maybe everyone in the region wouldn’t be funneling into SLU all at once and creating gridlock if people were allowed to set off their own fireworks, like they were in my day. You call it progress, but I say things are getting worse. In my day, dogs weren’t allowed in grocery stores, restaurants and planes. In my day you could buy fireworks at the local fireworks stand and bring them home and were free to blow off your hand. And if you burned down your neighbor’s house, it was his fault for not watering his roof. In my day the ice cream truck used to drive around blasting Greensleeves. Now you people have banned ice cream truck music. Really?? So this is what you people get. Your generation created all this by disallowing patriotic Americans from setting off fireworks in their neighborhoods.

    God bless America and God bless Bellevue.

  5. I’ll be taking my bike and slicing through the traffic to get to the Fireworks Concert at Kent’s Lake Meridian (Kent Kangly becomes impassible at about 8pm…there are numerous shuttles as well)

    I might also do like last year and hit the fireworks tent at the last minute to buy some rocket packages at 50% off for a few c-notes, and then shoot them off in the street (legal here in Kent, 4th July only).

  6. That’s the great shame about the 4th of July on transit. You’d love to take the bus there, but they are on a Sunday schedule, ALWAYS, so unless you live in Seattle next to a route that runs until darn near midnight or the SLU Streetcar, you are out of luck.

    1. And every other big festival and event in the city! Try riding the bus at 12:15 am on Jan 1, or home from Bumbershoot, to the Fremont Solstice, during the Pride Parade. The demand is predictable, but Metro cannot plan for it. If anything, it’s a PR problem. People will ride the bus at these times when driving is just unreasonable, but they have such a bad experience that they will never come back. If instead they realize transit is a viable alternative, they might try it in less extreme circumstances.

      1. I really don’t understand why there isn’t a “Fireworks Schedule” for New Year’s and the 4th. Keep Sunday scheduling during the day to save money, then run heavy to/from downtown at night with a longer tail of late night runs than usual.

        Its only two nights, so the budget impact wouldn’t be gigantic. But the PR impact of fast, efficient service for people who don’t often take transit would help create support for funding and recruit new riders.

        Lastly, they’re not just high transit use/gridlock days but heavy drinking days as well. It’s absurd that we don’t provide a good enough transit option to keep people off the road.

    2. What puzzles me about this is that Metro, Sound Transit, and the city should see July 4th and similar major events as a form of public outreach- an opportunity to show off and advertise themselves to people that otherwise don’t use public transportation- growing future ridership, generating goodwill, and building political support for transit expansion and improvements.

      Instead, they run a mostly restricted schedule that’s more appropriate for a quiet, slow holiday like Thanksgiving, with infrequent, overcrowded buses stuck in traffic. This isn’t the way to show potential riders and voters that public transportation can be an effective way to get around the the city.

      I don’t know if this isn’t better handled for lack of funding, poor planning, or incompetent leadership, but it seems like Metro, ST, and the city are missing some important opportunities here.

      1. Several years ago, when I lived in Redmond, I always drove into Seattle to watch the fireworks for the simple reason that I could not trust the 545, with it’s hourly service and expected huge crowds, to get me back. Lots of and lots of other people do the same and the result is gridlock on many Seattle streets.

        At a minimum, July 4 should be Saturday schedule, rather than a Sunday schedule, at least within Seattle. Better would be something like what happens for Husky games, with special event buses lined up near the venue to take everyone home. For big events drawing more than a critical mass of people, it should be a requirement of whoever is sponsoring it to pay for extra bus service, just as it is a requirement to pay for extra traffic cops.

    3. For what it is worth, here they are operating MAX and the streetcar on Saturday schedules, but buses on Sunday schedules.

  7. Imagine the view from the Uptown-SLU-CapHill gondola. And the number of people it could move in and out of that area without touching traffic.

    1. As a respected transit planner and this comment section’s elder statesman, I believe building a gondola for a one-day-a-year event is imprudent. Besides, what’s the point of building walkable neighborhoods if people aren’t actually going to walk anywhere?

      1. I’ll give you some homework. Try out commuting from Uptown to SLU and CH for a week during rush hour. Let me know how that goes. Then try out walking, to see if it’s faster than the #8. I honestly don’t know the answer to that one.

  8. It appears that One Bus Away does not reflect the half-hourly schedule, still showing 15-minute intervals. I am referring to the 48 in particular. Would make so much more sense if buses did regular weekday schedules today since so many people are out and about all day. Save the holiday scheduling for Thanksgiving and Christmas, when most people stay home.

    1. OBA is showing the regular weekday schedule.

      Do not rely on it for any trips whatsoever this evening.

  9. Metro will have about 25 extra buses out after the fireworks on numerous routes serving Fremont and SLU, but this is not publicized.

    1. I caught one on dexter for a few blocks, which was a nice surprise. I had just been walking by a stop when a bus happened to come.

  10. Vancouver, WA is having extra shuttle service added around their event, and generally seems like they have a decent plan for handling evening crowds, which they do on fact mention on their web site.

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