Space Needle Fireworks Show 2011
Photo by Shannon Kringen / flickr

This week has needed some good news on transit, and King County Metro is providing it:

From 4 am on New Year’s Eve to 4 am New Year’s Day, riding King County Metro will be free!

Metro will be running on its Sunday schedule, but extra trips will be added on routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 24, 32, 36, 40, 41, 62, 65, 70, 101, 106, 120, 124, 150, 255, RapidRide A, B, C, D and E Lines, and ST 550, ST 554. Thanks to the September route restructure (with funding from SDoT), there is already a substantially-more-robust night owl bus network.

Both Seattle Streetcars will be running until 1 am that night, and will also be free, running every 15-18 minutes. But walking will likely be faster than the SLUS in the post-midnight crowd, and there will be others needing that ride and the limited space.

Link Light Rail will be running an extended schedule that night, with trains departing Angle Lake Station every half hour from midnight to 1:30 am and departing UW Station every half hour from midnight to 2 am. Fares will still apply.

The Tacoma Link streetcar will run until ca. 1:00 am, and is always free.

Sounder will serve the Seahawks’ regular season finale the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, and then will not be in service on New Year’s Day.

The Seattle Center Monorail will close down at 11:15 pm in preparation for the traditional pyrotechnic show from atop the Space Needle, and re-open approximately 12:20 am, and then run until 1 am. It isn’t free either, and it still only takes cash. ORCA and bankcard acceptance is in the works, but still months away, at least. The integration of the monorail into the public transit fare system may be the most exciting transit story to look forward to in 2018.

Stay safe through the holidays. If you are going to partake of mind-altering substances, leave the driving to someone you trust.

21 Replies to “Ride Metro FREE on New Year’s Eve”

    1. Expect the extra bus trips to be deployed similarly to the way they are after games/events. I don’t know how that will work for non-downtown buses. Essentially, don’t expect extra trip times, but expect a better chance of getting onto trips that have previously been overloaded after midnight on NYD.

  1. When ST says 2 AM, does that mean Last Trip is 2 AM, or We’re Done at 2 AM.

    Where I now live in Norfolk, Virginia: 2 AM would mean we’re done (and last train would’ve been 1:30)

  2. “But walking will likely be faster than the SLUS in the post-midnight crowd”

    I was at Lake Union Park for New Year’s a few years ago, and the fields I normally lament as empty and not very inviting were packed full of people. After the fireworks there was a line over two trains long to get into the streetcar. I live a 45-minute walk away on the near side of Capitol Hill, but I wasn’t in any hurry so I stood in line just to listen to what the people before and after me said about the streetcar. After twenty minutes and one or two trains coming I left and walked home.

    I occasionally went to Gasworks Park when I lived in the U-District and had a bike I could stash a couple blocks away. But since I moved to central Seattle I’ve never been to Gasworks on New Year’s even because of the time-consuming nature of getting out of it and I don’t have a bike anymore and it’s a longer distance.

    If you live in east Seattle there are other alternatives. Melrose Avenue is always closed north of Denny and you can watch from there, although now with the tall buildings in SLU you can only see the Space Needle itself from a few specific locations. And on Eastlake there are shoreline pocket parks.

  3. Sort of disappointing that service is only every 30 min on Link. 15 minutes would make much more sense.

    1. Yes, it’s surprising. If it’s worthwhile having service at all then it’s worthwhile having it every 15 minutes. I can see 30 minutes between 2am and 5am, but not in the early night. Do they think people want to stand half an hour in underground tunnels?

      1. Welcome to the world of graveyard shift workers having to wait 2 hours for their night owl bus in the rain and cold.

      2. Yes, my roommate is one of those. His job in Kent starts at varying times between midnight and 7am. The last 150 leaves Convention Place at 1:30pm and gets to north Kent at 2:15. So he sometimes waits 45 minutes for a 3am shift, or another hour for a 4am shift, and coming back can also depend on the first morning bus. When he started or came back from military leave he had to take the most bus-unfriendly shifts, but after several months an opening comes up for bus-friendly shifts. The upside is no rush-hour traffic, or at most reverse-commuting in the morning.

    1. There are no protected bikeshare lanes, so I think most who think of that will resort to walking.

  4. Yet another reason why have two separate agencies determining fare policies in our region is confusing and unfair. When ST and Metro provide combined service within King County – why should it matter whether you are served by a Metro bus vs. ST? But if you are lucky to have Metro – free trips for you. If your route got replaced by ST – sorry, no gift for you, you aren’t worthy and should pay.

    Yes, it’s more the principle of the matter. And if the fare doesn’t matter, then why make it free for anyone? And if you make it free, then do it for everyone. One set of policies and fares inside the county for everyone, please.

    1. Wow! Not one word of gratitude for Metro doing what lots of people here have been asking for?

      That’ll teach them to read and respond to the commentariat.

      Is everything Metro does right, and does unilaterally, a reason to blow up the whole transit system and replace it with an uber-bureaucracy? … that won’t do any of the nice things the individual agencies do unilaterally?

      1. Public transit should be public – the public should be treated equally, it should not matter which agency operates or brands the service. The fact that we have two sets of websites, two schedule formats, different transfer policies, different prices (thankfully going away). None of that is productive or helpful to riders, and you’d never design it that way. If we streamlined all this, how much money could we save and reinvest in service? And on routes which both agencies serve, tell people they can either with the same policies.

        If free transit is going to be provided on New Year’s Eve, why shouldn’t it include Link and ST’s buses? If you are trying to discourage drunk driving, why should people from Bellevue or Redmond or Bothell or Federal Way be treated differently than people from Kirkland or Renton or Kent?

      2. Seattle is helping to fund the free rides with Metro. Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, Federal Way, Kirkland, Renton, and Kent are not.

      3. And why stop with merging King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Community Transit, and Everett Transit into Sound Transit? Think of all the efficiency that could be achieved by letting Amtrak run all the transit nationwide?

    2. The region decided to have a regional transit overlay rather than doing it through the county-based transit agencies. You can still get to everywhere in Seattle on Metro if you choose. Downtown to Rainier Valley, take the 7 or the 106. Downtown to Lake City, take the 70 and 65. At night they’ll be fast, and the 7, 70, and 65 are full-time frequent and have night owl. Going to Bellevue, Bothell, or Issaquah you’ll have to take Sound Transit, but that’s beyond the distance that free fares are essential or fireworks-watchers are likely.

  5. It’s about time they did this, I never understood why they didn’t offer free rides on NYE when other agencies have done this for years.

    Don’t drive and stay safe everyone!

  6. Free rides will also hopefully translate into faster rides, without the overhead of fare payment.

    1. Ah, yes! I spoke to soon above about the “not one word of gratitude”. Thank you for showing that we Americans are not collectively a bunch of entitled ingrates.

  7. Are there any late night(after midnight) options for people from the Eastside/Redmond? Extra 545s? Please?

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