UW Station (under construction at lower left) opens 50 yards from Husky Stadium in 2016
UW Station (under construction at lower left) opens 50 yards from Husky Stadium in 2016
Gridiron and rainy season are fast approaching. Husky football has returned to Montlake. Until U-Link opens in 2016, your best bet getting to a game is either hope there is room on Metro’s non-expanding fleet of local service, or take a $5 shuttle from one of eight park & ride lots. Once again, cash and the UW Athletics Season Pass are the only fare media accepted on these shuttles.

Three park & ride lots will have shuttle service to Seahawks games. These are also cash only, $4 each way, and happen to come from lots where routes 41, 255, and 554 are just as convenient, and cheaper.

For those going to the Seahawks though, the least-congested rides to the game are special runs of Sounder to and from, and all-day frequent Link service.

For out-of-town visitors, Link is your express from the airport to Century Link Field, and the first leg of your connection to Husky Stadium (until UW Station opens in 2016). From downtown, routes 255 and 545 get you to Montlake Freeway Bus Station, from which you have a picturesque half-mile walk north to Husky Stadium across the Montlake Bridge.

If going to Century Link Field, an all-day ticket on Link is your cheapest option ($5.50). Choose Airport Station to Westlake Station, so you have all-day access to the full line.

If you are going to Husky Stadium, I would suggest getting an ORCA card at Airport Station ($5 – Yes, we know it is by far the most expensive bus smart card in the country.). ORCA allows for free transfers within two hours. Load it up with at least $5.50 in e-purse to get to and from Husky Stadium. The regional day pass option is also available for a limited time, at $9, plus the cost of the ORCA card. Sound Transit has a snazzy video to help you out.

Don’t even try driving to the game. You will be stuck in gridlock, and you will not find parking.

30 Replies to “Metro Shuttles and Sounder Sunday Runs Return for Gridiron Season”

  1. Great article. I used to go the Husky games with my dad and his dad back in the day. Riding the bus from Ballard was as much a part of the tradition as anything else.

    Don’t forget the boats, too. There are a number of private boats that go to Husky stadium before game day (http://www.seattleite.com/tailgating-seattle-style-husky-game-day-cruises/). They aren’t cheap, but look like fun (and could be fairly convenient depending on where you live).

    Then you have the ferries that will take you to the Seahawk game (unless it gets too crowded). I don’t know if they run additional passenger ferries, but I think it would make sense.

  2. I greatly enjoyed going to a few Sunday Mariner’s games this season because they ran the Sounder.

    I’ve always taken the Sounder to Seahawks from Kent Station.

    When they buid Angle Lake I will go to a lot more Mariners’ night games!

    1. It would be nice if Sounder ran one more run after baseball games. I think it would be good for baseball fans, and just people working late. Same with soccer games (and hockey and basketball, if we ever get those again).

      1. Right now the attendance doesn’t justify the extra trip. They keep up this run they’re on and fill safeco up consistently then I’ll change my mind.

      2. The Sunday Mariners Sounder were not jam packed, standing only, like Seahawks, but as the summer wore on (and I believe this is the first year of Sounder Mariners) the cars filled more and more. Awareness, and yes, a good team, might bring in more passengers over time.

        Again, I’m quite willing to drive and park at Angle Lake for a night trip into Seattle…in fact, I greatly look forward to it, but if by some chance they add even just one night Sounder, say leaving at 10:30pm back to Seattle, I would take that first, and might even reconsider subscribing again to the Seattle Symphony.

        I’m also disappointed they did not run Sounder during Bumbershoot. But this year I intend to ride it to Puyallup Fair for sure.

    1. It is my understanding that the Husky and Seahawks shuttles are paid for by the respective organizations, the University of Washington and the Seahawks so they are not considered part of the regular transit service therefore the Orca cards are not valid on either shuttle service. In the case of the Huskies it was part of the agreement with the city to provide the shuttles some years ago when the stadium was expanded from 58,000 to 75,000. Husky Stadium is not located in the most ideal location when it comes to access and parking so the shuttle service was started to help minimize the number of cars trying to get to the stadium. For the same reason the Seahawks have paid for their shuttles to their games since the stadium opened in 2002.

    2. Still, if those agreements had been signed after ORCA was ubiquidous — and if this were a city where ORCA were ubiiquidous — you’d think it’d have been included in the agreement.

      1. For e-purse yes, for passes, not obvious. It’s far from uncommon for even enlightened transit agencies to exclude specials from their pass programs.

  3. Well, if Sound Transit is expecting to boost ridership numbers on Sounder North they sure aren’t going to accomplish anything with that schedule for Sept 4th (the one linked to).
    Unless there is some truly, truly exotic entertainment onboard.
    12hrs 59 min…one way!
    (Is this a pre-production web page?)

      1. Let’s hope the fans read it closely enough, too.

        That and which train to board AFTER the game.

    1. Ha!
      That’s what I get for trying to navigate this site on my phone.

      I didn’t realize that the original link was to the Regular Season page, and (incorrectly assuming it was for Thursday, Sept 4th), that means…

      No Sounder Service for ‘Opening Day’ for the Seahawks.

      And the regular commuters will be having lots of fun getting to the platform!
      At least they know what train to board.

  4. “Don’t even try driving to the game. You will be stuck in gridlock, and you will not find parking.” A lot of people park a mile or so away, then walk in. Many residents around 24th ave e., just south of the stadium, offer up their front yards to park in for a small fee. This area is usually free of gridlock, too.

    1. “Don’t even try driving to the game. You will be stuck in gridlock, and you will not find parking”

      Brent, I enjoyed reading this article. Im sorry you had to end it with such biased and closdstatement. It hurts your credibility as an author.

      1. Agreed. Any fair and balanced, or to not infringe on Bill O’Reilly’s copyright, open-minded person already understands that the volcanic and seismic considerations in this region are capable of transporting a huge number of sports fans and their vehicles very long distances, very rapidly with nobody stuck anywhere until the end of their trip.

        Theoretically, an Auburn, or even Enumclaw, resident could be propelled all the way down the Green River en route to the game, along with not only his van but his house, his whole neighborhood, his town, and thousands of tons of huge rocks and trees.

        And by the same calculation, a sudden detonation of the dormant volcano under Safeco Field touched off by howling fans could propel everybody directly back to the former location of their homes with a brief side-trip to the stratosphere- but at least the final ten miles will be pretty fast.

        Without anybody having to buy an overpriced ORCA card. The “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific is still negotiating about getting into the program. So c’mon. Brent. Be fair. And balanced. See you at the game, Bill.


      2. Plus the fact that they don’t know where the residential areas are or whether it’s safe to park there or how far out a likely spot would be. The ship canal and I-5 and other barriers make it difficult to judge how long the walk would be or where to go if you’re not familiar with the area, and the UW campus its easy to get turned around and lost in because there are few straight lines. (“Go around the right of that building, and then the left of that building, and it will be in front of you.”)

    2. “Small fee”, haha. Try $10.

      It should probably say, “People who drive in are accustomed to walking a mile or longer to the stadium, from either Montlake or west of Brooklyn. Judging by their Husky seat cushions, they are regular alum fans and consider the walk part of the game experience.”

      1. Be advised that a good portion of parking on campus is reserved for the Tyee (donor) season ticket holders, and that this changed for the worse, as far as general public parking goes, when construction began on the Link station.

        If you are not tailgating, i.e. getting there a few hours early, expect to not be able to park particularly close by. This all is dependent on the opponent, of course, but you’re rolling the dice if you expect to show up a half hour before kickoff and park anywhere closer than the U District. It will also take you upwards of an hour to get out normally. Plan on this if deciding to drive! (There’s a reason that approximately 20,000 fans come via the bus shuttles!)

        If you are coming from the north and don’t want to use the $5 shuttles, the 65 and 75 have historically run an extra bus or two on their regular routes prior to the game, meaning you can park along Sand Point or 35th and take a short bus ride to the stadium. You can catch the return on Montlake directly outside Hec Ed, where the buses wait until full then depart. There are usually 2-3 of them there to start. They are normal routes and so accept ORCA and are on regular Metro fares.

        Using the 520 flyer stop and walking is great and a lot of fans come that way–if you haven’t done it before, going to the U District and walking through campus is lovely as well. Due to parking issues, the walk circle for sports fans is considerably more than the 1/4 mile rule of thumb–and it is, at least for the college game, definitely part of the experience.

        The shuttles work quite well and have been very efficient. I rode them for years when not tailgating and it’s really a no-brainer. It was preferable when your game ticket got you on, but as was mentioned the UW pays for the service so have decided to recoup their costs that way.

    3. haha ya rly. That was a pretty goofy last sentence. Seattle is not Tokyo or London (or Mexico City or NYC even) — driving to events is dead easy if you’ve got cash and a plan. Unless you have totally unreasonable expectations you’re unlikely to get home at the end and think you’ve made some kind of grave mistake.

    4. I think it was a good way to end it. The article bounces around a lot (switching from team to team) but the last several paragraphs are aimed at folks who are visiting from out of town or aren’t familiar with Seattle or its transit. We’re kind of a podunk town in a lot of ways, but we have big city traffic. It’s easy to assume that, for example, I-5 is smooth sailing on a Saturday. It isn’t. Add in a ball game, and you have a really big mess on your hands. Yes, an experienced person might know the tricks of the trade (how to avoid the busy streets and find parking that isn’t too bad, but requires a hefty walk) but the “out-of-town visitor” (for whom much of the article was written) would be screwed.

  5. There are also extra buses for Husky games from downtown and Lake City/Sandpoint. They are regular fare. The last few years I rode Link to the downtown one and let me tell you all the cash payers are PAINFUL especially when it stops at 1st/Marion and all the ferry folks get on! I long for the days when the bus was free with your game ticket.

  6. Don’t forget about the bike option. The stadium is right across from the Burke Gilman Trail, and the bridges over Montlake north of the stadium, are still open, in spite of the construction. From what I’ve seen passing through there in years past, the Husky staff provides lots of temporary bike racks on gameday, so parking shouldn’t be a problem.

    For pretty much anyone in north Seattle, the bike option is probably fastest.

    1. Indeed: The valet bike parking is totally free, and you don’t even need to bring a lock. The bikes are kept inside the locked arena concourse, with staff watching them throughout the game. Opens three hours before kickoff, closes one hour after the game ends.

  7. Also, that $5.50 Link day ticket helps you avoid lines for payment at the machines on the return trip.

    1. Thanks, Glenn. But there really is something every Portland resident can do to improve fare policy here. Start calling the entire Sound Transit Board repeatedly, describe Portland’s day-pass program, and start ridiculing them for what we’re doing until they hang up or start screaming and running out of their offices banging into things.

      In addition, start persuading, or bribing, various reporters and TV news people to investigate, embarrass, and “raise questions” about the discrepancy. Also, maybe best of all, have the Portland Chamber of Commerce do a massive “Portland is Better” campaign, with top billing for the pass issue. Call it “win-win” for both cities, and their traveling residents


  8. All SeaHawks and Mariners fans on Link Light Rail usually don’t have to pay after the game because the trains are so packed you’ll never be asked for proof of payment. How much does sound transit loose on these high ridership days–Thousands of dollars all in the name of professional sports and a poor fare collection system at the platform. there are more fare evaders than sound transit is aware of but better to overlook this loss of revenue for more important issues–like getting trains through the clogged “bus tunnel”. It’s not the DSTT.

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