With the Spring 2019 service change, routes 21X, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, and C Line began serving two stops on 1st Ave. This will be the first time this century that [ed: some of these] southwest Seattle routes will connect directly to Pioneer Square. Both stops are centered on King Street, albeit at the furthest end of the intersection, with the northbound stop closer to Jackson and the southbound stop nearly at Dearborn.
The two stops add an important connection to routes that previously used the viaduct’s Columbia and Seneca ramps, making them an anomaly amongst the rest of the downtown routes as they did not serve any stops in or near Pioneer Square or the International District. With the viaduct out of commission, routes have been traveling along 1st Avenue South making a quick jog on Dearborn to access the new ramps to SR-99.
A walk between these new stops in Pioneer Square and their next closest stop is three quarters of a mile, or about 15 minutes. These new stops will be a boon to anyone heading to Pioneer Square or even the adjacent stadia.
Additional stops in Pioneer Square along 1st are not likely to happen, as SDOT’s Ethan Bergerson explains:
Many of the sidewalks along First Ave are built on top of empty spaces dating back to when the street was rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, with retaining walls and support structures built over the next 50 years. While these walls are strong enough to support the weight of passenger-sized cars in the right lane, some of these retaining walls could not safely support the added pressure of buses travelling in the right lane adjacent to the sidewalks. This is not an issue at the new bus stop locations which were specifically chosen because they are not adjacent to any empty underground spaces.
1st Ave has parking restrictions on both sides weekdays from 6-9 and 3-7, so the right lane is usually unavailable outside these times anyways.
Eventually, Columbia will become a 2-way transit pathway connected to Alaskan Way. While the stops along Alaskan Way have yet to be decided, Metro notes that it is unlikely that they would switch to Alaskan Way before at least one pair of stops is available on Alaskan (in Pioneer Square and/or at Columbia).