King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit released the September 2018 service changes to I-90 bus routes, prompted by the closure of the Rainier Freeway Station.
Construction of Judkins Park Link Station, part of East Link, requires the closure of the Rainier Freeway Station and the I-90 bus ramp that connects buses to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT). The East Link Extension and the Judkins Park Link Station are expected to begin operation in 2023. Changes to the bus routes are scheduled to take place September 22, 2018.
Of the buses impacted by the closure, some will bypass Rainier Avenue South and others, to maintain bus access to the Rainier Valley, will use a new bus stop at South Charles Street. All will continue to serve downtown Seattle
Sound Transit 550: Starting in September, buses will simply bypass the Rainier Freeway Station and continue to access the DSTT via I-90. All downtown Seattle stops will continue to be serviced.
Sound Transit 554: Buses traveling west will exit I-90 at Rainier Avenue South and travel north on Rainier. After serving a new stop at South Charles Street, buses will turn west onto Dearborn Street then turn north onto Fourth Street. From there, buses will access downtown Seattle via the same streets as the current route.
For riders heading to the Eastside, the last downtown Seattle bus stop at 5th Avenue South and South Jackson Street will move to 2nd Avenue Extension South and South Jackson Street. Eastbound buses will also stop at the new stop at S. Charles St. before merging onto I-90.
Metro 111, 114, 212*, 214, 216, 218 and 219: Starting in September, these buses will bypass Rainier Freeway Station, continuing to downtown Seattle via their current routes, servicing all subsequent stops.
For buses heading east, the last downtown Seattle bus stop at 5th Ave. S. and S. Jackson St. will move to 2nd Ave. Ext. S and S Jackson St. Metro suggests eastbound riders wanting to access Rainier Ave. use ST 554 or Metro 217; both routes will stop at the new bus stops at S. Charles St and S. Rainier Ave.
Metro 217 and 212* (reverse peak only): Westbound buses will exit I-90 at S. Rainier Ave. and stop at the new bus stop at S. Charles St. After that, buses will then turn west on S. Dearborn St. and follow the current route.
Eastbound buses will also use the new stop at 2nd Ave. Ext. S. and S. Jackson St. (replacing the stop at 5th Ave. S. and S. Jackson St.). Buses will then stop at the new bus stop on S. Charles St before merging onto I-90.
*Quick note: Reverse-peak 212 trips refers to riders heading to the Eastside in the morning and Seattle in the afternoon.
These changes are expected to increase travel times. Metro said buses using Rainier Ave. are expected to take an additional six minutes during peak times. Sound Transit estimates that during peak travel times there will be an increase of up to six minutes for ST 554 and up to three minutes for ST 550, with reverse peak and other time periods experiencing less of an increase.
Stop times and schedules for each route will be available in August for the September 22, 2018 service changes. There will be no service changes to Metro routes 7, 9 or 106.
ST and Metro are holding several drop-in sessions to answer questions about the upcoming service changes:
- Thursday, January 18, 2018 | 3:30 – 7 p.m. – Issaquah Transit Center
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 | 3:30 – 7 p.m. – Bellevue Transit Center
- Thursday, January 25, 2018 | 3:30 – 7 p.m. – Rainier Freeway Station
Details are also available through an online open house.